The event is the virtual season finale for racing in the central San Joaquin Valley – and arguably the biggest in the region, too. The driver who garners the most points in the Trophy Cup’s unique three-day format will be crowned champion and is guaranteed a $20,000 payday.
Each of the 25 starters in Saturday night’s 50-lap feature race is guaranteed to win at least $2,050.
It’s also a special event because it’s a major fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The event was started in San Jose by Dave Pusateri and migrated to the Valley in 2001, settling in Tulare in 2005. The Trophy Cup has generated more than $1.1 million for Make-A-Wish in combined proceeds from the races and associated auctions.
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Seventy-eight sprint cars powered by 360-cubic-inch engines are pre-entered for this week’s action on the one-third-mile clay oval at the Tulare County Fairgrounds. The track was recently renovated, with more room added on the bottom cushion to allow for more passing.
All cars on hand race in full events Thursday night and Friday night – heat races, trophy dash and main events, including a 30-lap feature. Drivers accumulate points for their finish and passing, helping establish the lineup for Saturday’s racing, where drivers accumulate more points.
It all leads up to the 50-lap finale, which takes the top 20 in the week’s points plus the top four finishers from the B main event. One more spot is reserved for a car owner who buys into the field.
What makes the Trophy Cup more exciting is that the better-performing cars start in the rear of the packs – making passing points more valuable.
Last year, Bud Kaeding of Campbell in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car won a preliminary feature and finished fourth Saturday night to join his father, Brent Kaeding, and brother, Tim Kaeding, as a Trophy Cup champion. All three Kaedings are entered again this year, with Tim reuniting with Fresno-based Roth Motorsports, the tandem that won the 2009 title.
In an interesting driver shuffle, Paradise’s Kyle Hirst, who’s leading the King of the West series points standings with Easton-based Tarlton Racing, is entered to pilot a Roth car, while Tarlton has entered cars for former two-time World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers of Clovis and Jonathan Allard of Chico, a veteran who has won several season titles in New Zealand.
All of the Valley’s other top sprint car drivers are entered, too, as well as several out-of-state contenders.
Racing is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.