By Gary Thomas
Santa Maria, CA – May 18, 2011…One of the more unique dirt track facilities in California will be on tap for the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series this Saturday night when the tour makes a stop at the Santa Maria Speedway for round number six on the season.
An earlier start time will be in place for Saturday with the front grandstand gate opening at 3pm, qualifying around 5 and racing at 6. The pit meeting is scheduled for 3:45pm. The pit area will also be open for fans to wander around in and see the teams from 9am to just after 1pm.
Doug Fort built the Santa Maria Speedway in 1964 and helped mold it into one of the top dirt tracks in the country as the owner/promoter until his passing in 1999.
The one-third mile clay oval has been named “Best Short Track Operation West of the Mississippi” on two separate occasions and is nestled in a semi amphitheater of natural terrain, sheltered by dense eucalyptus trees at the top and to the back of the bleacher area.
Since taking over as the current promoter of Santa Maria Speedway Chris Kearns has continued the tradition and has done a tremendous job with the track and facility. Each time the Golden State 410 Sprints have been in action at the track over the last couple years the series has competed in front of a packed house.
Something exciting for Saturday night is sure to be the Last Man Standing Trophy Dash that will have $1000 up for grabs and will be winner take all! When adding up prize money and contingencies for the night drivers will be racing for nearly $30,000 total during the event.
The top-4 qualifiers will be part of the Last Man Standing Dash that starts out with four cars going four laps. The last place car will then pull off and the three remaining cars will go green for three more laps. After that the last place car will pull off again and the last two cars will race for two laps with the winner taking home a grand!
Current Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series point leader Tim Kaeding of San Jose will make his Santa Maria Speedway return on Saturday behind the wheel of the renowned Roth Motorsports No. 83 mount. “TK” was a winner with the Golden State 410 Sprints in 2004 at Santa Maria and will be trying to rebound after a 20th place finish in Tulare last week. Kaeding hasn’t competed at the Santa Maria one-third mile oval in seven-years.
A new driver has moved to second in the KWS standings following this past Saturday, as Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs now sits 22-markers back of the point lead going into the Santa Maria Speedway. Suggs has had success in the past at the one-third mile clay, setting fast time and finishing runner up at the track in July of 2009 aboard the Suggs Racing No. 33e.
After getting upside down while battling with T. Kaeding for the lead last week in Tulare Jonathan Allard of Chico will be gunning to regroup at the Santa Maria Speedway on Saturday. The two-time California Golden State 410 champ is now third in the KWS points and eight-markers behind Suggs, as he continues his seventh season driving the familiar Oakhurst, CA based Morrie and Katie Williams No. 0 sprint car.
1978 Santa Maria Speedway Rookie of the Year Brent Kaeding is coming off his best run of the season and comes into the weekend ranking fourth in the KWS standings. “BK” last Saturday finished runner up in the feature and will bring his famed No. 69 machine into Santa Maria looking for victory. The living legend was also a winner with the World of Outlaws in 1997 at the Santa Maria Speedway.
Continuing to be one of the strongest drivers so far this season is Sacramento’s Willie Croft, who had a great run going last week until contact with the wall resulted in a flat and left him with a 14th place finish. The driver known as “Double Down” rounds out the top-five in points and will be trying for his second win of the year on Saturday in the Amerikote No. 29 mount.
Other drivers expected this weekend will include 1999 World of Outlaws winner at Santa Maria Speedway Jason Statler of Grass Valley, 7-Industries factory driver Andy Gregg of Placerville, ’08 Golden State 410 Rookie of the Year Brent Bjork, 1996 NARC Speedweek champ Bobby McMahan of Elk Grove, Hoseheads/Grant’s Fine Art KWS Rookie of the Year contender Kenny Allen from Chico, Former Outlaw driver Brad Furr from Stockton, Visalia’s Steven Tiner, Merced’s Mark Barroso, Rio Vista’s Dan and Danielle Simpson, Oakhurst’s Doug Gandy and more.
Adult tickets will cost $20 on Saturday with seniors, student and military costing $18, kids 6-12 $6 and children five and under free.
The Santa Maria Speedway is located 12 miles inland from the Pacific coast, three miles north of the city of Santa Maria and is located a 1/4-mile north of the US 101/166 interchange on Hutton Road. The facility is one hundred seventy miles north of Los Angeles and 260 miles south of San Francisco.
More information on Saturday’s event can be found at http://www.kwssprints.com and http://www.racesantamariaspeedway.com
Next weekend the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series will head for the picturesque and beautiful Calistoga Speedway for two-night’s of racing on Saturday and Sunday May 28 and 29. Sunday’s event will be the annual Salute to Walter T Ross, paying respect to the former Northern Auto Racing Club president and car owner.
On Saturday June 4 KWS will be in action at the Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway in Hanford, before heading to the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico on Friday June 10 for the Tribute to Gary Patterson/ Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial. One night later on Saturday June 11 the series will venture north to the Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, Oregon.