KENNEDY: California Coast


LOS ANGELES — A new one-hour Lucas Oil MAV-TV American Real TV show titled “Won & Done” was taped at the Irwindale Dragstrip Feb. 7. Future shows will be taped on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Irwindale Dragstrip weekly street legal drag racing “test and tune” events from 4 to 10 p.m. Rich Christensen served as show host.

NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Morgan Lucas, son of owner Forrest Lucas, served as co-host. The event featured street legal vehicles racing two-by-two down the eighth-mile dragstrip with TV cameras taping the action for later airing. This show will air April 4. The show paid out $4,000 cash that night. Heat winners each received $500 cash and the right to complete later. Losing cars (as verified by VIN numbers on each car) are banned for life. Any vehicle that is undefeated for 10 races will win a $50,000 bonus. The public is invited to attend taping of these events.

The Spears Southwest Tour Series (former NASCAR Elite Southwest Tour) held its 2012 awards banquet Feb. 9 at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. Champion Derek Thorn and the top 20 drivers, plus top 10 car owners were honored. Jeff Oleen received the rookie-of-the-year award. Zane Lovelace won the perseverance award. John Pitre took the Jeff Anthony Spirit of 76 Award.

The top 10 SRL Legend car drivers led by champion Darren Amidon also were honored.

The Los Angeles Times sports section on Jan. 29 ran a 24-paragraph, 22-inch, six-column story about fast-rising driver Kyle Larson. The page four story by staff writer Jim Peltz also had a large photo of Larson in his racing uniform with his helmet crouched on a race track. The story revealed Larson’s maternal grandparents, Japanese-Americans Manjo and Betty Miyata, spent World War II in the internment camp at Tule Lake, Calif., near the Oregon border.

Larson won 30 features in 123 races last year. So far in 2013 has won a preliminary 25-lap main event in a midget at the Tulsa (Okla) Chili Bowl, finished a close second after starting 11th in the ARCA 200 stock car race at the 2.5-mile Daytona Int’l Speedway on Feb. 16, won a USAC 30-lap midget main Feb. 17, and won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model 150-lap feature on a four-tenths-mile oval on the Daytona backstretch Feb. 18.

The versatile Californian raced in both the NASCAR Modified Tour and K & N Pro Series stock car races Feb. 19. Larson won the November USAC Thanksgiving Midget GP on the Perris (Calif.) clay half-mile a month after winning the NASCAR K & N East stock car championship as a rookie. His full-time gig for 2013 will be the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the Turner Scott Motorsports No. 32 Chevrolet.

United Racing Ass’n was the name of a post-World War II midget racing sanctioning organization that flourished in southern California before it disbanded many decades ago. The name has been reborn for a new organization — Dirt Entertainment — led by former 410 sprint car driver Scott Burns.

A Feb. 13 press release announced that 410 sprint car veteran driver Steve Ostling has been hired as URA competition director. Ostling has been the USAC-CRA 410 sprint car racing director in recent years. URA will conduct races at two dirt tracks in Southern California — Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino and Route 66 Motorplex in Victorville.

The four primary divisions will be unlimited sprint cars, limited sprint cars (360s), unlimited midgets and limited midgets (Ford Focus).

Young drivers stepping up to new racing challenges this year include:

• Spears SW Tour rookies Donny St. Ours, a Legend Car Silver State champion in car No. 1, Austin Barnes, Lucas Oil 2012 Modified champion in car No. 61, and Brandon Loverock, a super late model winner in No. 25. Spears SW Tour has 14 other rookies from various racing backgrounds, including SLM veteran Andre Prescott and Mariah McGriff.

• Jessica Clark, 19, a USAC Ford Focus Midget western champion and NASCAR S2 stock car veteran, will be racing the Lucas Oil modified in which Austin Barnes drove to the 2012 series championship.

• Sergio Pena, a 19-year old Virginian, will drive the No. 16 Bill McAnally NAPA Toyota in the NASCAR K&N West Series.

Irwindale Speedway will reopen its half-mile oval on April 6 after having no races on the track during 2012. Practice days (all classes) have been set for Saturdays March 16 and 30.

Track management announced recently that original track announcer Bruce Flanders has been rehired as track announcer for 2013. Harold Osmer and Neil Nissing have agreed to publish the track printed program again as they did in the past. They will print a new color program for each of the 15 scheduled NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series events scheduled from April through October.

The annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach IZOD Indy Car race on April 21 has been shortened from 85 to 80 laps (157.4 miles). The reduction should make it more of a race instead of a fuel-saving “economy run” with strategy by team engineers and managers becoming as important as drivers throttle use.

Indy cars also altered the race distances of several other events in 2013 with some races lengthened.



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Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy is a veteran motorsports journalist. He worked as the CRA sprint car publicity director for 11 years beginning in 1968 and his Racing Scene column has been a motorsports staple since 1979.