Cool Santa Maria Welcomes Golden State Challenge Sprint Cars Saturday - By Bobby Gerould, 07/08/03 - Rocklin, CA. - …Santa Maria Speedway is a track that every race fan should have on it's "must visit" list. Built with meticulous care by the late, Doug Fort, the track is situated in a semi amphitheater of natural terrain. Eucalyptus trees dominate the landscape providing the bleacher area with protection from the winds. The clay oval is a short 1/3 mile with a surface that stays naturally moist due to its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Saturday night, Santa Maria Speedway will host round 17 of 21 in the Golden State Challenge winged 410 sprint car series.
Santa Maria Speedway has been a favorite place to race for Golden State teams for many years. Nettie Fort and her late husband Doug have taken tremendous pride in the track, allowing sprint car fans a ton of good times. While the temperatures in the California valley are in triple digits, Santa Maria Speedway will be somewhere close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during hot laps. Just a hop and skip from the track is the renowned Pismo Beach area. One of the added attractions to making the drive to Santa Maria is the opportunity to drive a vehicle on the beach at Pismo's Oceano Dunes. Other than Daytona Beach in Florida, it is the only place in the USA where you can do such a thing. While Daytona is flat, Pismo is full of sand dune hills that allow thrill seekers to test the limits of ATV's like the sprint car drivers do at the track.
For "King of California" points leader Brent Kaeding, it is a return "home" of sorts. In 1978 "BK" was sprint car Rookie of the Year at the Speedway. Since then, the son of Super Modified driving legend Howard Kaeding has gone on to tally 11 Golden State Challenge championships. Brent is the all-time career leader in feature wins for the travelling series with 62 checkered flags to his credit. To put his dominance in perspective, Steve Kent is number two on the all-time list, and has 24 wins. Kaeding won the GSC race at Santa Maria last year.
Perhaps the biggest "limit-tester" on the Golden State series is Brent's boy, Tim Kaeding. Tim is already third on the all-time winner list with 17 victories. However, the young 24 year-old, 2002 "King of California" has struggled in recent Golden State events. Tim did not finish at the most recent race at Antioch Speedway, which was won by newlywed Jason Statler. Statler tasted his sweetest career win at Santa Maria Speedway in 1999 when he captured a World of Outlaws feature. Track record holder, Kevin Pylant of Santa Cruz will race his Dad's #14p. Pylant sped to an 11.547 clocking on May 19, 2001.
Experiencing Santa Maria for the first time will be Iowa's Dennis Moore Jr. The colorful character is currently in second place in the Golden State points standings in his rookie year on the circuit. Meanwhile, fellow first-year Golden State tourist, Andy Forsberg, will look to advance further in the rankings. Forsberg took over fifth place last weekend when 2002 Rookie of the Year Craig Stidham didn't make the feature at Antioch. The series' most improved driver in 2003 might be Jason York. The 2000 Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico) champion has raced forward, and shown the ability to finish races while others crash out. York and his wife Julie, who form the family operated team, will be making an eight-hour tow from Chico.
Drivers also expected at Santa Maria Saturday night include: Mike Quigley, Blake Robertson, Doug Lippincott, Brian Coelho, Rick Fowzer, Davey Key, Garrett Ishii, and Mike Faria. Santa Maria Speedway has been named "Best Short Track Operation West of the Mississippi" on two separate occasions. Periodically, the track will "take rubber" but that mostly only happens on the second night of back-to-back races. In other words, the stand-alone Saturday event should provide a fast sticky surface for the best winged sprint car teams in the Western United States.
The track is located 1/3-mile north of the U.S. 101 on Hutton Road. BR MotorSports Qualifying is scheduled for 6:30 PM. The Golden State Challenge "King of California" series is presented by Hoosier Tires, CL Bryant, BR MotorSports, and B&B Oval Track Products. For more information please call (805)-466-4462For more information on the World Wide Web: www.GoldenStateChallenge.com