KENNEDY: California Coast


LOS ANGELES — Speedway openings in California have been in the news lately. The new three-eighths mile, semi-banked clay Stockton 99 Dirt Track at the fairgrounds in Stockton attracted a standing-room-only crowd of 10,000 March 22.

The touring World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series had 44 cars present. NASCAR Sprint Cup triple champion Tony Stewart and rising star Kyle Larson, 20, flew in together on Tony’s personal jet from the Fontana NASCAR event. Larson won the 30-lap feature and Stewart finished ninth.

Stockton promoters Tony and Carol Noceti were thrilled by the initial event turnout at the track they built in the infield of the horse-racing track. They have booked a varied slate of racing events monthly on Saturday nights when their Stockton 99 Speedway quarter-mile paved track is dark.

The April 6 reopening of Irwindale Speedway drew 59 race cars, 10 demolition derby cars and a near-capacity crowd estimated at 6,000. An aircraft jet-powered pickup truck and a 10-minute pyrotechnics show kept the large crowd in their seats until the 10:30 p.m. final aerial burst. The track ran its last race Nov. 26, 2011 after 13 consecutive years of racing on the paved half and third mile ovals.

The prior track operator filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Feb. 2012 and oval racing was quiet for more than a year.

Jim Cohan, president/CEO of Team 211 Entertainment, LLC, stepped forward and became the master leaseholder to return NASCAR racing to the track on which his organization runs a stock car driving school. He installed experienced individuals in key track positions and rehired announcer Bruce Flanders to the post he held from 1999-2008. As race-hungry fans streamed through the turnstiles Cohan said, “I can’t believe this. I didn’t expect it to be full.”

Irwindale half-mile track winners were Ryan Partridge (late models), Ryan Reed (super late models), Zack Green (super stocks), Ryan Bragdon (mini stocks) and Stan McDonald (demo derby).

The scheduled opening of the new Kern County Raceway Park half and quarter-mile semi-banked paved track in Bakersfield has been postponed two weeks from April 20 to May 4. A track press release on April 9 from Charlie Beard, president/CEO, cited construction delays for the delayed opening.

A practice session for racers was held April 13. Another practice day will be held April 20. Fans will be admitted free of charge to the grandstands to watch racers practice for opening night. KCRP track owners are in the process of hiring a racing director, starter, and announcer this week. Track lighting was tested last week for six hours and lighting is ready.

Dirt Entertainment, LLC ran its first race of 2013 March 16 at the clay, three-eighths mile Route 66 Motorplex in Victorville. The URA sprint car and midget doubleheader had 18 unlimited sprints and four limited midgets, plus 11 NMRA-TQ midgets in the pits and about 1,000 spectators. David Cardey (sprints), Kyle Cline (midgets) and Anthony Lopiccolo (TQs) won the main events.

The Orange Show Speedway conversion from a paved to dirt track needed more time. The San Bernardino quarter-mile reopening was delayed from March 23 to April 27. Four URA race dates are scheduled from June 1 to Nov. 8. On April 15, promoter Scott Burns announced the revitalized OSS track open practice session was moved from April 19 to April 26. Promoter Scott Burns’ Route 66 Motorplex track has four dates booked from May 11 through Nov. 30.

URA racing consists of sprint cars, midgets, with a variety of support classes —lightning sprints, TQ midgets, legend and dwarf cars, plus WRA vintage open wheel race cars — rotating at his Victorville and San Bernardino tracks.



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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.