The central San Joaquin Valley motor sports season roars to a finish the next two weekends with the 33rd annual Cotton Classic at Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford and the 25th annual Trophy Cup at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.
It starts with the Cotton Classic on Saturday night, this year fortified with three California winged sprint car series competing in more than 200 laps of racing on one night: Northern Auto Racing Club/King of the West, Sprint Car Challenge Tour and Western RaceSaver Sprint Series.
The primary difference: size of the engines. NARC/KWS permits engines up to 410 cubic inches. The SCCT backed by NASCAR star Kyle Larson (a former Cotton Classic winner) is for 360s and the RaceSavers are limited to 305s.
The Cotton Classic highlights a theme that runs throughout Valley racing: family. Two father-son combos are past champions: last year’s winner, Mitchell Faccinto of Hanford, and his father, Monte; and Bud Kaeding of Campbell (in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car) and his father, Brent.
Brothers are in focus, too: 18-year-old Cole Macedo of Lemoore is enjoying a breakout season, winning the Civil War Series for Easton-based Tarlton Racing and then getting his first career sprint car win in last month’s race at Hanford. He’ll be in a Sacramento-based NARC car Saturday before returning to the Tarlton seat for the $200,000 Trophy Cup Oct. 18-20, one of the richest purses in U.S. 360 sprint car racing. Oh, and his teammate then will be 22-year-old brother Carson Macedo, who just finished a runner-up season in the Tony Stewart-owned All-Star Circuit of Champions and is busy this weekend racing with the World of Outlaws in the Midwest.
Another set of brother is making waves. Sixteen-year-old Gio Scelzi of Fresno is running this weekend with the Outlaws but will be back for Trophy Cup. Gio’s 21-year-old brother, Dominic Scelzi, recovering from a broken leg suffered in a Sept. 1 Outlaws race, is already back racing with a win last weekend at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville and figures to be a leading challenger this weekend.
Saturday is the penultimate race of the season for both NARC and SCCT, which will crown champions next month in Stockton. Kyle Hirst of Paradise, racing for Easton-based Roth Motorsports, is the runaway leader in SCCT points but holds a precarious 13-point lead in NARC. Hirst crashed out of last week’s main event at Kern Raceway Park on the first lap and Fremont’s Shane Golobic (racing for Tarlton) won to cut the margin to 1,270-1,257.
The open-wheel racing in Hanford and Tulare follows the biggest payday of the season at Madera Speedway, the 150-lap Short Track Shootout for late model stock cars. Logan Zampa of Napa was the $10,000 winner over season champion Matt Erickson of La Grange.
The track closes its season with the 12th annual Pumpkin Smash on Oct. 20.
- 7 p.m. Saturday
- Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds, Hanford
- $30-$35 advance, $35-$45 at gate
- 559-651-1990, www.racekingsspeedway.com
- Oct. 18-20, 6 p.m. each night
- Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway
- $45-$50 Thursday and Friday, $50-$55 Saturday, senior and children discounts
- 559-688-0909, www.thunderbowlraceway.com