Forni Classic remembers community servant who was taken far too soon

placerville speedway

By Bill Sullivan, Handy Racing Promotions, Inc. Media Relations

PLACERVILLE, CA (7-12-10) – This Saturday will be a special night at Placerville Speedway as the evening will pay tribute to the late Mark Forni. At the end of this much anticipated night of competition, one elite Sprint Car driver will proudly hoist the prestigious trophy and add their name to the list of winners of the lucrative Fourth Annual Mark Forni Classic that pays an unprecedented $5000 to win and $225 to start.

Saturday’s race is the richest of the year at Placerville Speedway and features an invitational field of 28 drivers. Each of the drivers competing have earned their place on the roster of this great event by making six overall starts during the 2010 season at Placerville. But Saturday’s event is about much more than a huge payday. It’s about remembering a man that was a dedicated community servant and lost his life far too young.

The Forni family has a great history in El Dorado County and deep ties to the El Dorado County Fairground and much of the land on which it sits. Much like his forefathers, Mark Forni had a great passion for the county fair and its attributes, especially the race track. From the time he was a young child and the days when Placerville Speedway was known as “Old Hangtown Speedway,” Mark was actively involved with the weekly auto races, always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need involved with the sport he loved.

Later in life, Mark continued his contributions to local auto racing, sponsoring many race teams with his business, Forni’s Trucking. He later became a member of the El Dorado County Fair Board and focused on the issues regarding the future of the fair and the speedway. Mark Forni believed in working relationships. He understood the importance of race promoters, sponsorships and the one key element for every event to be successful, the paying spectator. Mark understood that the customer wants a top value for their dollar, that safety always comes first and that the relationship between the racing promoter, the fair board and the community must be one of great stature for decades to come. Mark Forni went well beyond the call of duty to insure all such elements became fact and not fiction and his influence lives on today in many aspects of the racing community and that of the El Dorado County Fair.

“Mark was the guy who got it done no matter what,” said Alan Handy of Handy Racing Promotions. “It didn’t matter how big of a problem we may have had. He would call me up see what it would take to fix it. He didn’t just provide the resources either. Mark would be right there lending a hand right down to his final days. I miss him, I think everyone here misses him, he was a great guy.”

In November of 2004, Mark was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. During his final months, Mark had the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family and spend some special moments with his wife and children, a bittersweet time for those who knew and loved him so much. In the summer of 2005, Mark passed away at the early age of 45 and it was friends and family that put together a memorial service that was a dymanic tribute to Mark and met his very own wishes down to the finest details.

The Forni family and the community bid farewell to Mark at the one place that meant so much to him, Placerville Speedway. With more than 500 people in attendance that afternoon for Mark’s “Celebration of Life,” the community mourned in a fashion best suited for him. It was the only public memorial of it’s type in the history of the El Dorado County Fairgrounds and it pulled on the heart strings of everyone who knew Mark. This Saturday night heavy hearts will be commonplace as drivers, family members and the hundreds of friends who miss this true friend of the community gather to honor him in the grandest fashion, the Mark Forni Classic.

For Mark Forni, sprint car racing and his local racetrack were a very special part of his life and those he left behind are making sure his legacy carries on. Mark’s widow Karen Forni-Feathers has filled his empty seat on the El Dorado County Fair Board of Directors since his passing Much like Mark, Karen is a strong supporter of auto racing in conjunction with the El Dorado County Fair along with all of their children and members of this incredible family that is deeply rooted in El Dorado County. Many of them will be in the grandstands Saturday night as this month marks the fifth anniversary since Mark’s untimely passing.

Don’t miss the richest night of local racing this Saturday with the annual Mark Forni Classic. With the added eligibility format this year at the request of area race teams, sponsors and the Forni family those drivers that have supported their local venue will be rewarded with the richest payday of the year. Not only will the winner of Saturday’s race pick up $5000, everyone who competes in the A-feature will receive a minimum of $225 courtesy of Alan Handy and the numerous members of the business community that have come together to make this venture financially possible.

Drivers that are qualified to compete in Saturday’s race include two time Mark Forni Classic Champion Sean Becker. Additional entries include Andy Forsberg; Mike Henry; Justin Johnson; Colby Wiesz; Mason Moore; Scott Russell; CJ Humphreys; Shane Golobic; Jimmy Trulli; Jeremy Phillips; Billy Strange Jr.; Nicole Miller; James Sweeney; Trevor Canales; Chad Compton; Charlie Cagle; Josh Bates; Craig Swim; Steven Tiner; Stephen Allard, Troy Machado and Cody Lamar, David Silveria, Herman Klein and Jimmy Steward, Billy Butler and Scott Hall.

In addition to the increased winnings for the sprint car division, funds have been added to the stock car divisions at Placerville Speedway Saturday night. Each class in competition will pick up a $250 bonus. The Pure Stocks will race for a $550 payday while the Dirt Solutions Late Models will contest for a $750 win.

Regardless who takes home the trophy and the big money on Saturday night, the Mark Forni Classic is a night that is about far more that fast cars, checkered flags and incredible paydays. It’s about remembering a man that had a very short time on earth and in such a short time developed a legacy of community service that will long be remembered and appreciated by all whom benefit from it today. The track these drivers will compete on Saturday night may very well be there due to Mark’s dedicated passion to insure the future of auto racing in El Dorado County.

Last year a total of 32 cars competed in the Mark Forni Classic. This season many eyes were watching the statistics throughout the year to see who would become eligible to compete in this event. The new format brought drivers to Placerville Speedway on a regular basis that don’t normally compete on a regular basis. It brought a great deal of excitement to the fans leading up to this race.

In our sport, anticipation and fanfare is an important concept of event promotion. In the end the concept has worked as 28 cars will form the field on Saturday night. The program will feature full heat races, a b-main and a feature event for the Sprint Car division while the stock car classes will utilize a similar format.

The grandstands at Placerville Speedway are expected to fill quickly this Saturday for the Mark Forni Classic so an early arrival to the speedway is suggested. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Qualifying starts at 6;30 followed by racing at 7. Adult tickets will be $12, juniors and seniors $10, children $5 and under six will be admitted for free.

Throughout the week to come further details on the Fourth Annual Mark Forni Classic will be published at and