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By Dick Jordan

The upcoming 6th Annual “Louie Vermeil Classic” August 31 and September 1 at the Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway will offer an unprecedented $10,000 to win for drivers participating in the Honda USAC Western Midget Series.
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The event showcases USAC’s AMSOIL CRA Sprint Cars and Honda Western Midgets and has become a signature event for race fans on the West Coast.

Held at the spectacular half-mile dirt oval at the Napa County Fairgrounds, the races have in six short years produced some of the biggest memories of each year and this year’s action should extend that tradition.

Each night’s racing features a 25-lap Midget and 30-lap Sprint race and the prize money for the Midgets ranks this event among the largest in American history, with Midget racing dating back roots which started in California back in 1933.

Additional incentive for Midget drivers will be the unprecedented “promoter’s option” being offered both Calistoga feature winners for the November 23 “Turkey Night Grand Prix” USAC season-closer at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway. Race organizer J.C. Agajanian and Perris Auto Speedway owner Don Kazarian are excited that their event will have the honor of including these winners in their prestigious 98-lap classic.

The Louie Vermeil Classic will also serve as the first race since the historic half-mile speedway was renovated. Fans and drivers will get the first glimpse of the newly configured race track and the upgraded amenities around the fairgrounds. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that this upcoming race weekend is the only scheduled event to take place on the half-mile at Calistoga in 2013. Back in April the scheduled World of Outlaw race was canceled because of incumbent bad weather.

Calistoga Speedway Operations Manager Tommy Hunt and Napa County Fairgrounds CEO Carlene Moore are pleased to be able to announce this historic purse for the “Louie Vermeil Classic. “This is something we had dreamed about doing since the inaugural Louie Vermeil back in 2008,” said Hunt. “With that kind of money on the line it puts this race right up there with the Nation’s best.”

The historic and scenic Calistoga Speedway half-mile is consistently rated as the most beautiful dirt track in the country. It is also the oldest continuously operating dirt track on the West Coast. The fairgrounds have been hosting races since 1937. For more information, visit

Tickets for the Louie Vermeil Classic can be purchased by calling 916-773-7223. Fans are also encouraged to attend the Friday night Calistoga Speedway Hall of Fame induction dinner. Tickets for that event can also be purchased by calling the same number listed above.

Last year’s Sunday night 25-lap main event saw nearby resident Rico Abreu of St. Helena pick up the popular win. Abreu, at the time, won an astounding $7500. Abreu currently races for USAC National Midget powerhouse team Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Racing and is one of many top drivers already entered for this event. Former Sunday night winners of the Honda USAC Western Midgets at the Louie Vermeil Classic include Johnny Rodriguez, Josh Ford, Cory Kruseman and Johnathon Henry. The added money is sure to attract a wide arrange of well know USAC midget drivers and teams.

Norco, CA driver Ronnie Gardner sits atop the dirt portion of the Honda USAC Western Midget Series with 485 points. He currently holds a 54-point lead over Anaheim’s Jake Swanson. Sitting third in points is David Prickett of Fresno. Calistoga’s all-time midget track record holder Shannon McQueen of Tehachapi is fourth in points. McQueen’s one-lap track record is 20.470. Rounding out the top five is Norco’s Cody Swanson.