The 2017 motor sports season is still a week away in the central San Joaquin Valley, but some of the region’s brightest stars are getting started this weekend.
The King of the West-NARC Sprint Car Series opens Saturday night at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico with a $5,000-to-win feature. The track has a regular Friday night series for winged sprint cars powered by 410-cubic-inch motors (same as King of the West) that has its season-opener, too, making for a full weekend of racing in the Sacramento Valley.
Easton-based Tarlton Motorsports, the two-time defending KWS championship team, reunites with 2015 championship driver Carson Macedo of Lemoore for this weekend and other early dates in California. The 20-year-old Macedo is scheduled to head east for the second straight year of Midwest racing, but not until spring.
Last year’s winning driver for Tarlton, Kyle Hirst of Paradise, is now driving the Easton-based Roth Motorsports car. Roth was not a full-time participant in California 410 racing last season, but has since pulled back on its World of Outlaws national tour.
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The rest of the Valley sprint car racing contingent is expected to head to Chico, too, including Hanford drivers DJ Netto and Mitchell Faccinto, Kingsburg’s Cory Eliason and Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi. Netto, who races a Sacramento-based car, is on a two-race winning streak – he won in Arizona in November to close out his 2016 season, then won Feb. 25 at Marysville Raceway.
Macedo, Eliason and Scelzi are all coming off successful swings through Australia.
▪ The U.S. Auto Club/California Racing Association season for wingless 410 sprint cars begins Saturday at Perris Speedway. Richard Vander Weerd of Visalia was last year’s series runner-up. The 24-date series includes stops April 8 at Tulare and Sept. 9 at Hanford.
▪ There’s been a bit of a shakeup in Northern California sprint car racing this season. The Northern Auto Racing Club, long the main sanctioning body for the sport in the region, disbanded in 2000 but is back as part of the KWS 410 series organization.
And KWS’ “little brother,” the nine-race Civil War Series for 360 sprints, has a competitor. The Sprint Car Challenge Tour has 13 dates. Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare has dates on each schedule, April 21 and July 22.
▪ Locally, Madera Speedway starts March 11 (Open Late Model Series featured), Thunderbowl March 17-18 (the Outlaw’s first dates on its 2017 swing through California) and Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford March 25 (USAC 360s).