One of the San Joaquin Valley's top motor sports events returns to Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare this weekend.
It's the fifth annual Peter Murphy Classic, organized by its namesake and featuring two nights of open-wheel racing by California's top sprint car series on the third-mile, banked clay oval at the Tulare County Fairgrounds.
Friday night is the Sprint Car Challenge Tour, the second-year series backed in part by NASCAR star Kyle Larson for cars powered by 360-cubic-inch engines. Saturday night, many drivers will install 410-cubic-inch engines and compete with the King of the West/Northern Auto Racing Club series.
All of the Valley's top teams are expected including Easton-based Roth Motorsports and Tarlton Motorsports and Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports. Those teams, each with an out-of-area driver, hold the top three spots in the points standings through four races on the KWS/NARC 16-race season schedule: Kyle Hirst of Paradise (368), Shane Golobic of Fremont (358) and defending series champion Bud Kaeding of Campbell (341).
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Two rising sprint car drivers from the Valley, Cory Eliason of Kingsburg and Carson Macedo of Lemoore, are plying their trade in the Midwest. But the Valley banner will be carried this weekend by the Scelzi brothers, Dominic and Gio, as well as Hanford's Mitchell Faccinto and DJ Netto and others.
Kaeding was the 2017 NARC Peter Murphy winner, pocketing about $11,000 from a purse that's pushed to around $40,000 as Murphy hustles for sponsorship.
Murphy moved from his native Australia to Clovis to pursue sprint car racing in the U.S. and was a star before he suffered near-fatal injuries in a 2013 crash. Since, he's devoted to raising his family and raising the profile of his namesake racing event that helps raise awareness of the nonprofit NARC Benevolent Fund for injured racers.
The U.S. Auto Club West Coast Sprint Car series (wingless 360s) is the undercard both nights.