By Lance Jennings,Doug Allen photo
SANTA MARIA, CA – AUGUST 31, 2011… This Labor Day Weekend, September 3rd & 4th, the Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series will travel to Calistoga Speedway for the 4th Annual Louie Vermeil Classic. The popular race is also a co-sanctioned event with the USAC Western Racing Classic Series and will also feature the USAC Western Midget Series. There will be plenty of pre-race festivities for race fans to enjoy and cars will hit the scenic 1/2-mile race track at 5pm.
Saturday’s 30-lap main event carries a $3000-to-win, $300-to-start purse, with a bonus of $50 per lap. The following night, the purse increases to $5000-to-win, $500-to-start, and a bonus of $100 per lap. Steve Howard at So-Cal Performance is offering additional contingencies and raising tow money for teams traveling from Southern California, Arizona, and other states. In addition, monies will be raised from raffles, wine tasting, silent auctions, and beer garden events. Calistoga Speedway is located on a California State Fairgrounds and has a 95db at 100ft muffler rule- no Knoxville type mufflers. USAC/CRA tire rules apply for Aluminum block 410s, while local 360s can run their approved Hoosier Tires on all four corners.
“The Bulldog” Kevin Swindell won the inaugural Louie Vermeil Classic in 2008 behind the wheel of the Tom Rolfe #10 machine. Current USAC/CRA point leader Mike Spencer won the following year in Ron Chaffin’s famed #50 and “The Demon” Damion Gardner swept last year’s program in Rod Tiner’s #83. As this writing goes to press, Gardner will be back to defend his victory in the PACE Lighting #71 Eagle and fellow Indiana competitor Robert Ballou is set to go in Keith Ford’s #73 entry.
Calistoga’s Louie Vermeil Classic will mark the twelfth and thirteenth events of the 2011 campaign for the Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series. To date, five different drivers have stood atop the podium with Mike Spencer leading all drivers with five feature wins. In June, “The Kruser” Cory Kruseman scored victories at Watsonville and Santa Maria. Matt Mitchell also has two feature wins at Perris, and Bud Kaeding claimed victory at Hanford. Austin Williams earned his first career series win at Santa Maria on August 13th.
Temecula’s Mike Spencer sits atop the point standings in Ron Chaffin’s #50 Madera Produce / Grubstake Mini Storage Maxim. The 3-time defending series champion was fourth at Perris on August 20th and currently holds a thirty-four point lead over the competition. To date, Spencer has four Sander Engineering Fast Time Awards, four heat race victories, one Competition Suspension Inc. Semi-Main win, eight top-10 finishes, and leads the series with 114 feature laps led. Mike will have his sights set on Calistoga’s victory circle.
Nic Faas of Huntington Beach is second in the championship points. Piloting Mark Alexander’s #4 Scott Sales Company / VP Racing Fuels Spike, Faas claimed second at Perris on August 20th. The 2008 Rookie of the Year has two Sander Engineering Fast Time Awards, four heat race victories, one Keizer Wheels Hard Charger Award, and eight top-10 finishes on the year. Nic holds the USAC Western Midget track record at Calistoga and will be looking for his first main event win of the year.
Yorba Linda’s Matt Mitchell sits third in the standings, forty-five points behind Spencer. Piloting the J.W. Mitchell Motorsports’ #37 Mancha Realtors / Sierra Springs Maxim, Matt won at Perris on August 20th. Last Saturday, the former USAC Western Midget Series Rookie of the Year won the $7150 Vendor’s Cup for Ventura 360 Sprints. To date, Mitchell leads the series with five heat race victories and has one Keizer Wheels Hard Charger Award, nine top-10 finishes, and forty-nine feature laps led on the year. Matt will be looking to add Calistoga feature wins to his resume.
Yorba Linda’s Austin Williams is fourth in the point chase. Driving Jack Jory’s #2 John Jory Corporation / AMA Plastics Viper, Williams was ninth in the Perris feature on August 20th. The 2009 Rookie of the Year has one heat race victory, one Competition Suspension Inc. Semi-Main win, one Keizer Wheels Hard Charger Award, eight top-10 finishes, and thirty feature laps led to his credit. The son of Hall of Fame driver Rip Williams will be looking claim victory at the famed Calistoga Speedway.
Greg Bragg of Visalia is fifth in the point standings. Piloting Tom and Laurie Sertich’s #92 Huntington Beach Glass & Mirror / Pacific Business Machine Buckley, Bragg scored twenty-first on August 20th. In 2011, the 3-Time California Lightning Sprint Champion has two heat race victories, two Keizer Wheels Hard Charger Awards, seven top-10 finishes, and led seven feature laps. Greg and the Moose Racing Team will be looking for main event wins at Calistoga.
Among the other top contenders expected to be in action are Yorba Linda’s Cody and “The Ripper” Rip Williams, Riverside’s “Dynamite” David Cardey, Norco’s Ronnie Gardner, “Showtime” Danny Sheridan of Santa Maria, and many more.
The USAC Western Racing Classic Series is led by Lincoln’s Tony Hunt who scored last Saturday’s victory at Irwindale Speedway. Hunt is followed by Sebastapol’s Geoff Ensign, Fair Oaks’ Shauna Hogg, Scott Pierovich of Alamo, and San Francisco’s Tim Barber in the point chase.
Local 360 iron-block powered Sprint Cars are welcome to race with USAC/CRA. The 360s can run their local approved tires (all four corners must be Hoosier), but must meet series tech standards and race track muffler rules. The Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series does not have an entry fee or charge for transponders, but drivers must have one-way radios. In addition, the series is offering a bonus to the highest finishing 360 team. To be eligible for the $200 cash award from USAC and 20 gallons of methanol from So-Cal Performance, the owner or driver must have a current USAC membership.
Calistoga Speedway is located on the Napa Valley Fairgrounds in Calistoga, California. Reserved tickets are $30 and General Admission tickets are $25. For more information, please visit www.louievermeilclassic.net or call (916) 863-7223.
The following Thursday, September 8th, the Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series will compete at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway as part of the Gold Cup Race of Champions. For more information on that event, visit www.silverdollarspeedway.com or call (530) 350-7275. Chico has a strict muffler rule and recommends competitors to run the FlowMaster Suitcase, Spintech Suitcase, or 180 degree mufflers.
The Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series would like to thank Hoosier Tire, Circle Track Performance, Competition Suspension Inc., DJ Safety, Donovan Engineering, Electro Tech Powder Coating, Extreme Mufflers, Hilborn Fuel Injection, Huntington Beach Glass & Mirror, Keizer Wheels, Rod End Supply, Saldana Racing Products, Sander Engineering, and So-Cal Performance for their support. For more information, visit usacracing.com/cra or follow the series on facebook.
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS:
1-Mike Spencer-622; 2-Nic Faas-588; 3-Matt Mitchell-577; 4-Austin Williams-497; 5-Greg Bragg-404; 6-Cody Williams-398; 7-David Cardey-380; 8-Ronnie Gardner-370; 9-Rip Williams-369; 10-Rickie Gaunt-338.
USAC WESTERN RACING CLASSIC SPRINT POINTS:
1-Tony Hunt-562; 2-Geoff Ensign-530; 3-Shauna Hogg-469; 4-Scott Pierovich-436; 5-Tim Barber-403; 6-Audra Sasselli-314; 7-Jerry Kobza-286; 8-Cody Gerhardt-281; 9-Tim Skoglund-263; 10-Luis Ramos III-241.
LOUIE VERMEIL CLASSIC CHAMPIONS:
2008: Kevin Swindell
2009: Mike Spencer
2010: Damion Gardner
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT SCHEDULE:
September 3: **Calistoga Speedway – Calistoga, CA
September 4: **Calistoga Speedway – Calistoga, CA
September 8: **Silver Dollar Speedway – Chico, CA
September 24: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
October 8: Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
October 28: *Canyon Speedway Park – Peoria, AZ
October 29: *Canyon Speedway Park – Peoria, AZ
November 3: *Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
November 4: *Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
November 5: *Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, CA
November 12: *Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA
* = Co-Sanctioned Event With USAC National Sprints.
** = Co-Sanctioned Event With USAC Western Classic Racing Series.
This schedule is subject to change.