From Gary Thomas
The King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series is geared up and ready for round number four in the fight for the season long title this Saturday night at the always exciting Petaluma Speedway. So far this year the KWS warriors have visited Antioch, Placerville, Chico and it’s now on to the coastal climate of Petaluma for the much anticipated return to the facility this weekend.
The event on Saturday is billed as the inaugural “Salute to Baylands” and marks the first Winged 410 Sprint Car race at the sticky 3/8 mile oval since 2010. Fans and teams alike have been wanting to see the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series back on the hooked up Petaluma gumbo and now they have their wish. It is expected to be a fun night for all involved, as we pay homage to the now defunct Baylands Raceway Park that was located in Fremont, California.
Petaluma Speedway had been a staple on the Northern Auto Racing Club/ Golden State 410 Series schedule over the years, but a multiple-season hiatus from the track occurred from the late 90’s to 2004. In 2005 the Golden State 410 Series returned to Petaluma and ran each season through 2010, until another hiatus was seen over the last couple years. In total there have been 11 Winged Sprint Car events held at Petaluma Speedway since ’05.
Second generation driver Kyle Hirst leads the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series standings going into the “Salute to Baylands” on Saturday. The 25-year-old from Sacramento has scored podium finishes in each of the first three events, including a runner up effort last weekend at the “Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial” aboard his Dennis & Teresa Roth owned Roth Enterprises No. 83jr mount.
Sitting just one-point back of Hirst in second happens to be last Saturday’s big winner at the “Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial” young Rico Abreu. The hard charging driver from St. Helena picked up the biggest win of his young career last weekend at the Silver Dollar Speedway and went home with over $8500 for his efforts during the night. Abreu has claimed finishes of fourth or better in all of the first three races in his Abreu Vineyards No. 24 sprinter.
Three-time & defending King of the West 410 champion Jonathan Allard has been the most dominant driver in 410 competition at Petaluma since 2005 and currently ranks third in the series standings. The Chico native has claimed five victories at Petaluma Speedway out of the last 11 Winged 410 events held at the track, including the most recent race in 2010. Allard is coming off his first podium of the KWS season last Saturday in Chico.
Fresno’s Craig Stidham has had a consistent start to the year and goes into the “Salute to Baylands” on Saturday holding down the fourth spot in the standings. The former “Trophy Cup” winner has scooped up top-10 finishes in every race so far this season. Opening night winner Willie Croft currently rounds out the top-five in KWS points while driving the Clyde Lamar Tri-C Machine mount, which was seen quite often at the Baylands Raceway Park.
The front gate at the Petaluma Speedway will open at 4pm on Saturday May 11 with racing anticipated to get underway around 7pm. Adult tickets cost $20, with it being $15 for seniors/juniors. The pit gate will open at noon for competitors. The vintage Baylands Raceway Park autograph session is scheduled to go on from 5pm to 5:30pm so be sure and stop by to see past racers & officials such as Tim Green, Chuck Gurney, John Golobic, Brent Kaeding, David Vodden, George Hague and more.
The Petaluma Speedway is located in the southern part of the wine country at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds just off Highway 101 in Petaluma, California. Fans are recommended to bring a jacket and warm clothes if you have never been to the Petaluma Speedway, as temperatures usually do chill off once the sun goes down.
On the Internet:
King of the West Sprint Car Series-
Official Website- http://www.kwssprints.com
You Tube- http://www.youtube.com/user/
Official Website- http://www.petaluma-speedway.
About the track:
The Petaluma Speedway is a 3/8 mile clay oval and has been a welcomed stop over the years for teams with the Golden State/ King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series. The tacky and hooked-up speedway has often produced exciting competition, as lapped traffic seems to create some of the most hectic racing towards the front of the field of any track on tour.
The all-time 410 track record at Petaluma Speedway is held by 2009 Golden State/ KWS titlist Tyler Walker, who set the mark on August 1 of his championship year. “T-Dub” toured the 3/8 mile oval for the track record in 11.990 seconds aboard the Scott Chastain owned NMI Industrial Contractors No. 24 machine.
Recent winners of Golden State/ King of the West 410 Winged Sprint Car events at Petaluma:
2005- Sean Becker
2006- Jonathan Allard twice
2007- Sean Becker & Jonathan Allard
2008- Bud Kaeding & Jason Statler
2009- Tyler Walker twice
2010- Jonathan Allard twice
Baylands Raceway Park history from Bobby Gerould/HammerdownUSA and Auto Racing Legends of California:
“Baylands” was a hot spot for great sprint car racing during a much too short-lived time in the 1980’s. Located in Fremont, CA, in the heart of the thriving Bay Area, Baylands ran weekly winged sprints, as well as special World of Outlaws, CRA, BCRA, Golden State Challenge and NARC shows. Opening in August, 1981, and racing until November, 1988, Baylands played a vital role in the booming sprint car scene in Northern California.
Winning wasn’t easy at Baylands. The track required strong horsepower, and thus ruled out the underfunded teams. The Baylands Winners List is a Who’s Who in sprint car racing. Close proximity to major Bay Area airports made it simple for car owners to fly drivers in from around the globe. Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Bobby Davis Jr., Rich Vogler, and many others flew in to drive unfamiliar cars.
Fans (including us), would get all hyped for the special races at Baylands, because you knew you would see something fresh or different. The late, Rich Vogler raced for Harold Casto, Steve Kinser drove for Richard Lovell, and Sammy Swindell was a driver for Jim Klein.
The regulars at Baylands were among the best in the world. Jimmy Sills owned the joint. Not literally, but figuratively. Sills was special at Baylands driving for the Bailey Brothers in the black #01, but was equally strong in the Owen & Smith #14. Chuck Gurney, Jimmy Boyd, Tim Green, Ronnie Day, Darrell Hanestad, Chuck Miller, Steve Kent and the late Dave Bradway Jr., were there almost every Saturday night. Lealand McSpadden would buzz in from Arizona. Brent Kaeding was concentrating on NARC but ran as many Baylands races as he could. Oklahoma’s Tommie Estes Jr., replaced Bradway in the Tri-C #3 and ran often in 1987 and 1988.
Former champions at Baylands Raceway Park:
1982 – Jimmy Sills
1983 – Jimmy Boyd
1984 – Dave Bradway Jr
1985 – Ed Organ
1986 – Chuck Miller
1987 – Steve Kent
1988 – Chuck Miller
1st race – 8/14/81 – LeRoy Van Connett
Last Race – 10/8/88 – Steve Kent
Track closed November 1988
Top-10 in King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series driver standings after three rounds of competition:
1. Kyle Hirst 466; 2. Rico Abreu 465; 3. Jonathan Allard 437; 4. Craig Stidham 431; 5. Willie Croft 419; 6. Evan Suggs 416; 7. Chad Compton 368; 8. Cory Eliason 360; 9. Brent Kaeding 358; 10. Richard Brace Jr. 357
Winners so far this season with King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series:
Antioch Speedway April 20: Willie Croft; Placerville Speedway April 27: Kyle Hirst; Silver Dollar Speedway May 4: Rico Abreu
Upcoming King of the West events:
Next Friday & Saturday May 17 & 18 the King of the West 410’s will head for the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway in Fernley, Nevada for the first of five weekends of action at the facility. KWS Managing Director Dan Simpson also happens to be the promoter at RTF Speedway and during the off season a revitalization of the track surface took place.
Be sure and reserve your rooms at the host hotel for KWS in Sparks, Nevada the John Ascuaga’s Nugget. The KWS fan code to use is GKWS2 and to book your rooms visit http://www.janugget.com/hotel/
On Memorial Day Weekend the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will be in action at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway for the “Chris & Brian Faria Memorial.” The exciting double header will occur on Saturday & Sunday May 25 & 26 and will hopefully be the start of a new Memorial Day tradition for 410 Sprint Car fans and teams in California. The Tulare County Fairgrounds offers a great campground so we invite everyone to come on down and camp out for the special event at Thunderbowl Raceway. More information on the one-third mile clay oval can be found at http://www.thunderbowlraceway.