NARC NEWSLINE – MARCH 1, 2021, By Jim Allen … Wouldn’t you know it? The more things change, the more they remain the same. Everybody opened their 2021 sprint car calendar with promise and hope, desperate to sit in the main grandstands and watch some dirt track racing in California. Next thing you know, the World of Outlaws drop the Golden State portion of their schedule faster than a prom date with a STD, and the ASCS national events slip away faster than our tax dollars in California. Not exactly the start we were looking for but it will get better. Just remember that promise and hope thing you had back in January … because … I promise things will get better, so do not give up on the second thing.
In the meantime, let’s take the opportunity to clear up a few things about the upcoming season. In some cases, statements are being made, and questions are being asked, that seemingly make no sense. Let’s take a few minutes and let me verify and clarify a few of them for you:
“What do you mean the main grandstands are the pits?” … Okay race fans, this one has been confusing for some people, so get out your decoder ring and I’ll help you understand the big picture. Every time we post on social media about an event, the first five responses almost always are … “Are the main grandstands open?” or “are tickets being sold?”
Until you see the 49ers, Kings, Lakers, Rams, Warriors and Clippers sell “tickets” to their events, the California baseline has been set. But look at this way (in code): Most dirt track pit areas have less than desirable seating and sight lines for the loyal teams, sponsors, fans, and crew members who drive and power the sport. To provide a solution, promoters statewide have done us a huge favor. As a customer service feature, they have graciously opened their main grandstands as an extension of the pit area to enhance the open wheel experience. Extra seating? Problem solved! Improved sightlines? Mission accomplished! So, if you want to watch sprint car racing in person – something we highly encourage you to do – buy a pit pass and mosey over to the grandstands to enhance your entertainment pleasure.
“Do I get a hot pass or a cold pass?” Think of it this way, the hot pass represents the pits working around hot race cars. The cold pass represents a cold beer in the grandstands. Enough said.
“Did the world fall off its axis? Are you telling me that the Vermeil is in Chico? The next thing you are going to say is the Bradway is in Placerville?” Yes, that is exactly what we are saying and that is good news. With Calistoga Speedway overall ownership/lease situation stumbling around like a bad scene from some zombie flick, promoter Tommy Hunt made a smart business decision to move the Louie Vermeil Classic to another venue. He knew that his great two-day event would lose some serious momentum or collapse entirely if it went dark two years in a row. Dick Vermeil and several other key event supporters agreed with this fact and now the open wheel battles of the NARC King of the West and USAC/CRA sprint cars will be fought on the quarter-miler at Chico, rather than the half-mile at Calistoga. Considering that the Dave Bradway Jr race moved after 29-years at Silver Dollar to Placerville Speedway, it was a great way to get the NARC sprint cars back to Chico. And while we will lose the “flat out HammerDown” aspect of Calistoga, the wheel-to-wheel battles at Silver Dollar are typically epic.
By the way, camping spots at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds are going fast, so don’t delay in getting yours. This show promises to have an old-school Gold Cup Race of Champions feel to it. There will be six racing events over an eight-day span at the track. I think we will call that … “Dreamweek.”
And I almost forgot this one, “the Peter Murphy Classis is now at Tulare AND Hanford?” Yes! It will be a great weekend.
Are our tracks under attack? While that question may sound like something reserved for a video game, the answer is YES! We all know about Calistoga and Petaluma, but now we should probably throw Santa Maria Raceway into the mix. A housing development and homeowner association is creeping up on the backside of the track and has engaged lawyers in an attempt to shut the place down. They are claiming that SMR must have an EPA study performed in order to grade any dirt on the property; something that has happened every year since 1964. It reminds me of the people who buy a home next to an airport and then complain about the noise after they move in. If that isn’t the biggest pile of lawyer spew you’ve ever seen, nothing is! With that move they passed politicians as the most hated profession.
San Luis Obispo County is also doing little to help the Santa Maria Raceway operate with super restrictive COVID-19 rules, making it more likely they will score a million-dollar lottery ticket than be able to hold a practice day at the facility. Yes, we are being attacked.
The Outlaws aren’t coming … again? You got it! Hopefully in the Fall. Next question!
How do you defend a 2019 title in 2021 when the series crowns a champion every year? As you are aware, we only ran 120 feature event laps in 2020 (four events). It has been established that the series stage a minimum of 10-races to legitimately crown a champion. In reality, even that is not even fair. Anything less diminishes the accomplishments of hardworking NARC champions of the past, who had to grind their way through extensive racing campaigns to log their spot in the history books. As it sits, DJ Netto has been able to bask in the glory of being the defending King of the West champ for an extra 12-months or so. Nothing wrong with that – he earned it.
Will (favorite driver name here) be running for 2021 points and the NARC King of the West championship? The answer is more than likely. There are a ton of drivers and teams who have expressed their support to the NARC King of the West series and have their equipment dialed in and ready to go. However, if California continues to stay in super lock down mode and the Outlaws, All Stars and other states continue to flaunt their full-house racing events on PPV, expect several CA teams to hit the road. That traveling shortlist would probably include the likes of Justin Sanders, Austin McCarl, DJ Netto, Shane Golobic, Tim Kaeding and Dominic Scelzi. These boys just want to race!
There you go! Hopefully, I have managed to clear up a few things for you!
NARC NOTES: 2021 Membership forms can be downloaded at NARC410.com. There are no changes to the 2020 rulebook. That can also be downloaded off the club website. … Chase Johnson is looking for a full-time 410-winged ride! … Kyle Offill and Blake Carrick would be the early frontrunners for rookie-of-the-year. … Something tells me that Iowa driver Austin McCarl will be a tough man to beat with Paul Baines turning the wrenches in the Tarlton Motorsports KPC. … News from Kalib Henry’s camp is that he plans to be a frequent NARC competitor this season. … All of our events will be available on FloRacing.com. … Keep in mind that the 2021 schedule is heavily “backloaded” with 15 of our 20-events taking place after July 1st. Some things are worth waiting for! …
… Sunnyvalley Bacon is back to sponsor the only trophy dash in the nation that is “Powered by Bacon.” … It’s been fun to see the transformation of the track and pit area at Peter Murphy’s Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford. Mr. Murphy is on a mission and has a vision that he is chasing hard. … Look for the NARC King of the West sprint cars to invade the Pacific Northwest in 2022. … Predictions for 2021 include Blake Carrick, Kyle Offill and Austin McCarl winning their first NARC-KWS race; Sean Watts picking off his second; DJ Netto winning at least three features, including his first since June 2017; and 2005 series champ Sean Becker hitting a dozen for his KWS career. The Kaeding’s will win a handful. … Can you believe it has already been 11-years since Kyle Larson won the 2010 King of the West title? …
… Our condolences go out to the friends and family of “Mr. Excitement” Anthony Simone and the “Flying Frenchman” Bill Deschamps. Both were classic old school racers who had no fear behind the wheel of a race car. Simone seemed invincible with some of his exploits on and off the track, many which earned him “legend” status. Deschamps had more of a workmanlike effort in his winning approach and was a friend to all. Deschamps also contributed his time as a NARC Board Member for 13-years, including President for four. More importantly, once both drivers hung up their helmets, they helped future generations cut their teeth in their race cars. They will be missed.
It’s hard not to notice that the racing family is losing way too many people these days.
THE 2021 SEASON OPENER: The good news is NARC King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Car season is so close you can almost smell the racing fuel in the air. The bad news is … if you cannot smell it, you might want to get tested for COVID-19. But seriously, the March 20th Stockton Dirt Track will take place, barring a hurricane-force rain out or major earthquake centered in the San Joaquin Valley. This event salutes the one and only Northern Auto Racing Club driving legend LeRoy Van Conett. We will see you in the pit area around hot race cars or in the grandstands with a cold beer. Either way, you should be there because promoter Tony Noceti is excited to get the 410’s back on his reconfigured racetrack.
Coming to you live from Auburn, CA. See ya!
Thanks Jim. Been a little. Anyway answered some of my questions and also put fear into me. I live in SLO county (Oceano) and have been attending sprint car shows at SMS from 1976. I was not aware of its dire situation. Any suggestions on how I can help fight this battle to save the track. I’m battling cancer right now and need to battle for that track Doug built as his dream. Please let me know. George @ (805) 305-9196
We will keep you posted. Thank you for the support.
Also keep me posted if there is anything I can do to help save SMS. Loved racing there and about 3 years and 10 months from retiring and want to make several road trips to watch races all over this country. But we have to have the tracks open for that to happen.