(2/21/24 – By Michael Gilmer) … Bud Kaeding is a third-generation driver who has enjoyed tons of success on the NARC King of The West tour.  He has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top five of the NARC championship point standings 10 consecutive years. His crowning achievement during that span was winning the 2017 title with car owner Morrie Williams, and the “unofficial drivers title” during the shortened COVID season.

Based on those kind of results, many assume that Kaeding is supported by a huge team with even bigger money rolling in .., right?  Not exactly!  It is a common misconception that successful drivers like Kaeding are racing with pocket loads of money at their disposal. The truth is, he works very hard to hustle up his own racing budget each year.

“The finding money part of the race season has definitely gotten tougher then when I was a little kid,” explains Kaeding. “I feel like every winter all I’m doing is making phone calls and beating down doors. I actually used to go through the whole phonebook and call local companies to try to get sponsors. It seemed like an easier task when we had a local track here in San Jose. Now that we do not, and Watsonville being the closest track and it’s a bit of a struggle to get to on a Friday night, it’s been tough to generate local interest. The sponsors that we do have on our cars have all been a part of our race group. Whether it was my racing experience, or my dad‘s for 20 to 30 years, good people like that is what it takes to continue racing.”

Bud gives credit for his longevity and lasting success to all the consistent support from long time sponsors, and great supporters in his inner race circle.

So with all the time and effort he puts into his car, Bud is ready for another NARC season behind the wheel.  With some drivers leaving the NARC campaign with national aspirations, and new ones on the rise, Bud expects it to be an interesting race year.

“This year will be very tricky for sure,” he continued. “With guys like Dominic Scelzi and Corey Day not competing full-time out here, it kind of opens up two top spots . But with Justin Sanders getting better each year and the youth in the series obviously rising up every week and getting better and more competitive, it’s definitely gonna be tough. I feel that our knowledge, workmanship and dedication can still help propel us to get back on top. It’s been a tough couple years not winning a race within the NARC series, so for starters, that is our main focus; winning races. If we can reach that goal, then we start looking at winning the championship.”

Bud is quick to acknowledge his biggest supporters and critics.

“As far as pushing me as a driver and a competitor, my dad (Brent) has always been there,” said Kaeding. “He’s there to point out the good and the bad and what I’m doing wrong on and off the track.”

“As far as friendship and support to continue my career, George Maciel of Alviso Rock Inc. has been important in my life. My grandfather raced for George since the mid 80’s and when he retired, George started helping me in 1996. He is still a supporter of mine to this day. My wife and daughter are also supporters of what I do. They push me and keep me motivated to continue through the good and bad times.”

With this type of support, Bud is pushed to be his best every season. In 1996, he captured the San Jose Speedway 360 sprint car  championship. Almost 30 years later, the mission hasn’t changed.

Kaeding has built up a mountain of experience in his career at many different tracks on the left coast.   Does he have a favorite?

“Hanford used to be my favorite track,” said Kaeding, “but since they’ve changed the configuration of it so many times in the past five to ten years, it’s been hit or miss. We used to be really good there but we have struggled in the last year or so. Tulare is still one of my favorites and that place seems to be more intense than ever. I’m also pretty excited to see Santa Maria back on the schedule. I feel like we’ve always been pretty fast there, and we’ve always run up front when we go. But we have just fallen on some bad luck. Whether it be, getting crashed into or something breaking.”

With the 2024 NARC 410 Sprint Car season approaching quickly, there is no doubt that the competitive fire still burns extremely hot for Bud Kaeding and his support network and team.  Look for good things to happen!

ED NOTE:  Michael Gilmer is one of our guest columnist.  He is a 17-years-old high school student and resides in Diamond Springs, CA.

Bud Kaeding is looking to collect some NARC victories this season. Photo by Donna Peter