KENNEDY: California Coast


LOS ANGELES — The 20th annual Trophy Cup, founded and run by Dave Pusateri, was conducted again at the three-eighths mile clay Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., Oct. 17-19.

The fan-pleasing aspect of the Trophy Cup each year is a fully inverted 24-car main event with the fastest cars in the back. The result is a passing-filled Trophy Cup feature every year.

Trophy Cup profits go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Over the years donations have topped $740,000. Thirteen drivers have won the event with Brent Kaeding the leader with victories in 1996, 98, 99 and 2005.

Night one was a non-wing 360 event with 30 cars present and a $32,300 purse. Richard Vander Weerd won the 40-lap feature, charging from 18th to victory. Ryan Bernal won the initial Trophy Cup first non-wing feature in 2012.

The Saturday night winged sprint car feature came down to the final lap with NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson and his friend Brad Sweet battling for victory. Their cars came together on the final lap in the fourth turn and Sweet rolled.

Larson’s Paul Silva-owned No. 57 limped across the finish line past the waving checkered flag with a flat right rear-tire and stopped near the infield. Ironically, Larson’s girlfriend, Katelyn, is Sweet’s sister.

On Nov. 2, Larson and Sweet again battled for ninth place in the NASCAR Nationwide Series 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Larson finished ninth and Sweet 10th.

One of the fundraising features at the Trophy Cup was an auction of Kaeding helmets worn by Brent and his sons, Tim and Bud. Larson and his USAC National Midget Series teammate Rico Abreu engaged in spirited bidding for the glass-encased Kaeding helmets. Larson’s winning bid was $32,000 and he promptly donated the Kaeding helmets display to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.

The Trophy Cup started at San Jose Speedway in 1994 with a one-day format. During the first three years, it was a 410 event. It has been a 360 sprint car event since year four. Pusateri later moved the Trophy Cup to tracks in Watsonville and Hanford before settling in Tulare. It became a two-day event in 1996. In 2008, the event was a three-day event for a year. Half of the total purse is paid as usual, but the other half goes to the top 24 in Trophy Cup weekend points. The three-day total purse in 2013 was $110,000.

USAC Western Midget Series point leader Ronnie Gardner won the Petaluma Speedway 101-lap John Soares Classic in October. The speedway is located within sight of the U.S. 101 freeway. Gardner drove Mitch Johnson’s No. 68 Stewart/Esslinger in the USAC and Bay Cities Racing Ass’n co-sanctioned event. BCRA began racing in 1939. Gardner has won the last three mains and has nine feature victories in 25 USAC features this season. He has a 189-point lead over Jake Swanson with five races remaining in November. Gardner won at six clay tracks —Ventura, Petaluma, Visalia, Watsonville, Chico and Bakersfield. He is a fourth-generation driver from the Gardner family that in the 1930s competed in the Indianapolis 500.

Midget owner/driver David Prickett has put his three midgets and equipment up for sale. He and wife Brittney’s unborn baby has serious medical problems that requires their full attention. The “blue baby” will need expensive open-heart surgery. Prickett has been a frontrunner in BCRA and USAC Western Series for years and ranks fourth in 2013 driver points.

Spears Southwest Tour Series stock car teams will race for “Spears Frequent Flyer Program” money in 2014 for the third consecutive year. The program rewards Spears SW Tour teams $1,000 for starting four consecutive main events in the Spears traveling series. Races at the end of 2013 will count toward the four-in-a-row bonus money.

Tim Kaeding won the 30th anniversary “Tribute to Gary Patterson” 30-lap sprint car race Nov. 2 at the Stockton Dirt Track at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. He drove the Dennis and Teresa Roth No. 83 and beat USAC Midget Series star Rico Abreu by 2.349 seconds. Geoff Ensign placed third. In qualifying Jonathan Allard set a track record of 14.400 seconds.

Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield sold all 200 tickets to the Nove. 9 inaugural season track championship awards banquet. The site will be on the grounds of the track that opened in April. Half-mile champions are David Mayhew, Tim Smith and Brock Thompson. Quarter-mile champions are Billy Lay, Buddy Shepherd and Tyler Bannister. Eighth-mile champions are Jerry Flippo and Kyleigh Forster.