By Scott Daloisio
(Perris, CA, May 22, 2017) The “Southern California Home of Major League Sprint Car Racing,” Perris Auto Speedway, will play host to one of the longest running and most historic events in west coast open wheel racing this Saturday night, May 27th, with the annual “Salute to Indy.” The popular Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series will be the main attraction on Saturday and it will be joined by The PAS Senior & Young Gun Sprint Cars and the California Lightning Sprint Cars. Spectator gates will open at 5:00 PM and the first race will begin at 7:00.
The salute to Indy has been a Southern California staple dating back to 1948 when Dempsey Wilson won the first one. From 1948 through 1990 the race was contested in all but five years. After legendary Ascot Park closed in 1990, the race was put on ice until The PAS opened in 1996. Since being reborn in 96′, the prestigious race has taken place each year except for 2008 when it was rained out.
Last year, Yorba Linda, California veteran Austin “The Big Game Hunter” Williams won the “Salute to Indy.” It was a popular win with the fans for the then 25-year-old as it was his first victory at the track he grew up at. To add significance to the win, 33-years earlier in 1983, Williams’ father, National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Rip Williams, won his first ever sprint car main event at the “Salute to Indy” at Ascot.
Austin Williams is the defending champion in the Salute to Indy. His father, National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Rip Williams, won the Salute to Indy in 1983. Please give photo credit to Doug Allen.
Heading into this week’s race, five-time USAC/CRA Series champion Damion Gardner, a three-time “Salute to Indy” winner, sits on top of the championship point standings. The Concord, California based driver leads Brody Roa of Garden Grove, who was the series points leader at this time last year, by 34-points. 2012 “Salute to Indy” winner Mike Spencer of Temecula, who ended a long dry spell with a win three weeks ago at Ventura, is third in the championship standings. Anaheim’s Jake Swanson is fourth and is followed by the three Williams brothers, Cody, Austin and Logan.
After Saturday’s 30-lap main event, all the USAC/CRA drivers in the race will immediately stop on the front straight and fans will be allowed onto the track to get autographs and take photos. In addition, one youngster will be presented with an official winner’s plaque signed by the winning driver.
The PAS Young Gun & Senior Sprints and California Lightning Sprint Cars will also be part of the holiday weekend event. In the Young Guns, 14-year-old West Covina High student Joel Rayborne heads the point standings. He leads 19-year-old UCR Mechanical Engineering student Daniel Anderson by 8-points. Hannah Mayhew, a college student from Acton, is third.
In the Senior Sprints (drivers 40 and over) Richard McCormick of Ague Dulce and Palmdale’s Rick Hendrix are tied at the top of the standings. Fairbanks, Alaska racer Danny Parrish is third. There were also be two drivers making their first ever appearance in the Senior Class on Saturday. Apple Valley’s John Aden, a former First Division Speedway Motorcycle racer and promoter of Victorville’s Wheel2Wheel Raceway, will be making his initial appearance. He and the other Seniors will be joined by Oxnard’s Jimmy May who last raced a sprint car at Terre Haute, Indiana in 2004.
The California Lightning Sprint Car Series will be making its first of two appearances at The PAS this year. Through the first six races of the CLS season, four different drivers have posted wins. Coming into Saturday’s race, 2010 CLS champion Jarrett Kramer sits on top of the points. 2016 “Rookie of the Year” and recent San Diego State graduate Cody Nigh of Camarillo is second and is only 15-points behind Kramer. Lakewood’s Aiden Lange, who turned 18 on Monday is third in the standings.
Adult tickets for Saturday’s race are $25.00. Seniors 65 and older get in for $20.00. Active military members with proper id, teens 13-18 with their school id and gets age 6-12 get in for $5.00. Children 5 and under are free. Parking on the fairgrounds is $8.00.
Advanced tickets for Saturday’s event are available 24-hours a day by calling 1-800-595-4849 or online at http://pas.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=922994. For those who do not wish to purchase advance tickets, there will be plenty of tickets available for everyone at the ticket window on Saturday.
Amsoil USAC/CRA Point Standings
- Damion Gardner – Concord, CA – 325
- Brody Roa – Garden Grove, CA – 291
- Mike Spencer – Temecula, CA – 269
- Jake Swanson – Anaheim, CA – 257
- Cody Williams – Corona, CA – 221
- Austin Williams – Yorba Linda, CA – 220
- Logan Williams – Yorba Linda, CA – 203
- Chris Gansen – Verdemont Heights – CA – 171
- Richard Vander Weerd – Visalia, CA – 151
- Tommy Malcolm – Corona, CA – 150