(11/3/23) … NARC By The NUM8ER5!: The Tribute To Gary Patterson, By Ben Deatherage, Stockton, California … It’s hard to believe. Still, Saturday night will close things out for the 2023 season for the NARC 410 Sprint Car Series at the Stockton Dirt Track with the Tribute to Gary Patterson. What started in April will conclude with a new champion gracing the history books of the tour. NAPA Auto Parts has graciously contributed towards the purse to make it $4,000 to win and $600 to start.
The current track record is 12.543 seconds, held by Donny Schatz on September 13th, 2019. This is the first race the series has been to the Stockton Dirt Track since last year’s edition of the GP.
Corey Day is looking to become the 14th different NARC champion in the modern era (post 2000) if he can stay atop the points table at the end of Saturday night. Amazingly, Day and current runner-up Justin Sanders are the only drivers to win a Tribute To GP in the 410 category that inhabit the Top five in the championship standings. Dominic Scelzi has won GP honors before, but that was in the 360 ranks in 2017. Justyn Cox and Bud Kaeding would love to accomplish the achievement as well.
Twenty-three drivers have won the previous 39 completed Tributes to Gary Patterson. The list is full of Hall of Fame quality caliber drivers that have competed with the NARC 410 Sprint Car Series over the years. The most decorated NARC driver, Brent Kaeding (1985, 1994, 1999, and 2001), and 1986 and 1987 Golden State Challenge title winner Steve Kent (1996, 2000, 2005, and 2006) are level at four each and achieved all their triumphs at Calistoga Speedway, the original home of the Tribute to GP.
1990 and 1992 NARC champ Tim Green managed to win thrice at Calistoga (1986, 1991, and 1992), while contemporary national standout Rico Abreu slayed the field the last time the race was at Silver Dollar Speedway in 2012 before adding to more Tribute To GP wins at Stockton in 2013 and 2018. Rico also accomplished a 360 win at the race in 2019.
Half a dozen drivers have doubled their winning accounts in the race that honors the 1977 Gold Cup Race of Champions winner: 2002 and 2011 NARC champ Tim Kaeding (2008 and 2016), 2006, 2008, and 2012 NARC titlist Jonathan Allard (2007 and 2015), one of the greatest of all time in open wheel racing Jimmy Sills (1987 and 1990), Randy “”Boo”” Tiner (1993 and 1997), Shane Golobic (2014 and 2019), and the defending race winner Justin Sanders (2020 and 2022). Golobic powered his way to two GP 360 wins (2018 and 2021) while Sanders also nailed a victory in that same division last year too.
A lucky amount of 13 pilots parked it at the end of a Tribute To GP event. 1983 NARC champion Chuck Gurney won the very first one the following season (1984), Cory Eliason (2017), Corey Day (2021), Iowa transplant Dennis Moore Jr. (2003), 1987 NARC title winner Jason McMillen (1989), 2010 and 2011 World of Outlaw crown bearer Jason Meyers (2002), Jeff Swindell of Memphis, Tennessee (1988). The NARC top points earner in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2018 got the job done just once (2009), NARC and World Of Outlaw veteran Paul McMahan (1995), Kings Speedway promoter Peter Murphy (2011), 1998 Golden State Challenge winner Randy Hannagan (1998), Bay Area star Sparky Howard (2004), and Oregon’s Zach Zimmerly (2010).
It’s incredible to see this event continue to go on strong and preserve the history of a driver who was an integral part of the Northern Auto Racing Club. Some really cool t-shirts will be for sale to add to your collection, and the racing will be, no doubt, an exciting concluding round to what has been an excellent season. I hope to see everyone at the track as we take in one last round before we call it a wrap for 2023.