RODDA: A Rewarding Drive To Placerville

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Ron Rodda

LINCOLN, Calif. – Since moving to Lincoln in June of 2002, many trips up highway 50 to Placerville Speedway have occurred.

None of the 44 mile drives has been more rewarding than the April 15 journey to see the second Sprint Car Challenge Tour show accompanied by the Hunt Nonwing Spec Sprints.

Leaving two hours earlier than usual was a lucky move as spots in the sets of pit grandstands were getting very scarce, even though it was only 3 p.m.  By race time, the front stretch stands were sold out and only standing room in the pit area was available.

It was not as crowded in the pits as the World of Outlaws race 17 days prior, but it was the largest non-Outlaw crowd at Placerville in at least 15 years.  Also very crowded was the competitor area, with 63 winged 360s and 31 nonwing spec sprints occupying every square foot available.

This may have been the largest field of winged 360s ever in California for a one-day show.  The Trophy Cup and the Fall Nationals have bettered 63, but those are not one-day events.

Besides promoting Placerville Speedway, Scott Russell has been the person who has been the leader at forming the new SCCT.  While plenty of people have helped along the way, Russell has been the catalyst that made it all happen.

For a second year promoter, it is an amazing success story to date with sponsor support not seen in California racing prior to this year.  While only two shows have been held, the 60.5 average car count shows the level of support for Russell and his group from car owners and drivers.

California has been the location of many racing dreams; one only has to count the number of new tracks that were to be built that never happened.  Russell and friends took an idea and have made it into something that has only one flaw…they have such a level of support that they get too many cars to make curfew.

Both races have gone well past the state mandated curfew time despite the Placerville officiating crew efficiently running the show.  Nine heats, three dashes, two C mains, two B mains, and of course two A mains following qualifying everyone when it is two push start classes is a time consuming show.

The next two SCCT events will be different.  This coming Friday the Tulare Thunderbowl hosts the series and getting 40 or so cars is likely.  The distance from the majority of SCCT teams home area plus being a Friday will make it difficult for some to tow to Tulare.

The following weekend it is Petaluma Speedway hosting the fourth SCCT race with two support divisions on their schedule.  Petaluma probably faces the strictest time constraints of any California dirt track with a 10 p.m. curfew.  It is also the only track in the state with a shopping center across a two-lane street from the pit area.

Petaluma will probably draw mid-50s or more for SCCT teams, with those two support divisions adding to the pit crowd and subsequent time pressures.  It is also very likely the grandstands will be jammed, creating a rare win/win for another track.

It is fitting that such a remarkable night of racing at Placerville occurred, it being the track promoted by the SCCT main man.  Qualifying for the 63 wings moved along well as the track is more efficient at that than any other track in the state.  The spec sprints group qualified to take care of that duty fairly quickly.