Former sprint car racer Peter Murphy on his career-ending accident
California’s best sprint car drivers converge this weekend at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway for the sixth annual Peter Murphy Classic, an event with such pull that one driver is making a cross-country trip for it.
Anchoring the event both nights is the Sprint Car Challenge Tour featuring winged cars powered by 360-cubic-inch engines, the same rules employed by the local Kings of Thunder series.
The wingless U.S. Auto Club West Coast 360 Sprint Cars join the show Friday night. The King of the West/Northern Auto Racing Club series for winged sprint cars with 410 cubic-inch engines race Saturday night for an $11,000 purse.
The weekend of racing on the third-mile, banked clay oval is courtesy of the event’s namesake. Peter Murphy of Clovis suffered a career-ending injury as a sprint car driver in 2013 but now helps run races. He works year-round to add special purse money and features to his classic, which helps raise money for a drivers’ benevolent fund.
After rain plagued the start of the racing season, it has heated up in May with more than 100 cars entering races around Northern California. With other tracks taking this weekend off, all the top drivers figure to be in Tulare with the possibility of racing in up to four main events.
The most zealous of that group is Dominic Scelzi of Fresno who plans a cross-country racing week: He was set to drive his family’s car with the World of Outlaws tour on Wednesday in Pennsylvania, then fly home to race Easton-based Roth Motorsports cars in both the SCCT and KWS/NARC series.
Other top challengers this weekend are recent local winners Mitchell Faccinto and DJ Netto of Hanford and Coarsegold’s Scott Parker, who won the last race at Tulare.
Who’s missing? Scelzi’s 17-year-old brother, Gio, is racing with the Outlaws through the weekend for an Indianapolis car owner; Lemoore’s Carson Macedo is coming off a third-place finish last weekend with the Outlaws and sits fourth in season points for car owner Kyle Larson; and Kingsburg’s Cory Eliason is second in points with the All-Star Circuit of Champions for Washington-based Rudeen Racing.
Gates at Tulare open at 3 p.m. each day with racing starting at 6 p.m.