NARC NEWSLINE – May 4, 2024

NARC NEWSLINE – May 4, 2024, By Jim Allen … I’m sure we all agree when I say it’s been a rough start to the 2024 season. Not just with the NARC schedule, but with just about every dirt track north of the grapevine in California. Mother Nature came bouncing out of her corner like a heavyweight champ with something to prove and pummeled motorsports into submission with wet weather. If the current trend continues, on a prorated basis, NARC would feature a whopping eight races in 2024. The worse thing about it is the weather has typically been perfect all week long, getting everybody excited, before bad weather rolls in on Friday and Saturdays. And not to leave the rest of the country out of the loop, the Outlaws and High Limit also know how to quickly find their rain gear. Because of the choppiness of the schedule, few in open wheel racing have been able to establish any real kind of “weekly” routine, making the natives restless and much of social media poison with the alleged expert opinions of the week.One driver and team that does have their act together this season is Cole Macedo and the Tarlton Motorsports team. Two-fer-two! They survived the unpredictable Battle Royale at Chico and mastered the newly remodeled Stockton Dirt Track before anybody else could. The Tarlton-team, with Drew Werner on the wrenches, is looking for their first NARC title since 2016. By the way, both NARC races had a “Road House” feel to them as only 10 of 24 starters finished at Chico, and 13 at Stockton. Silver Dollar Speedway was described as 1990’s “old-school” rough, leaving aspiring drivers born in this century to struggle and figure it out. As luck would have it, Floracing capitalized on the Chico carnage for its ever-popular weekly crash highlight video … just from that one show. Man, that’s an ego killer! But like clockwork, history always repeats itself. There’s always a couple of events each year that look absolutely perfect on paper and then have you yelling at the steering wheel on the way home. The good news, those two are now behind us (fingers-crossed.)So with that, the NARC schedule has endured the the cancelation of the Dave Helm Memorial (3/9) and Peter Murphy Classic (4/13) in Hanford, the March Madness event at Merced (3/23), a postponement of the April 27th race at Stockton, and the postponement (yes, postponement) of today’s Tulare’s Chris & Brian Faria Memorial.  So if you are keeping score, it’s Mother Nature – 5, Cole Macedo and NARC – 2.Speaking of Stockton, everybody got their first glimpse on April 6th when the former 4/10’s mile oval transitioned into a quarter-mile D-shaped bullring. As expected, the opinions were brutal despite the fact that it took a mad scramble to make the race happen in the first place. It also rained for two straight days leading up to the race and that didn’t help the cause. It took a while to get the “new” Dirt Track raceable and the NARC heats didn’t push off until 8:00 p.m. and the main at 11:13 p.m. (Our goal is to be done by 9:30 p.m.) Also in the pits was SCCT and they had their issues as well, including a longer than normal main event. When you added it all up, the NARC feature was called 27-laps complete at the stroke of midnight. For all of the conspiracy addicts out there, the drivers were informed by radio during the previous caution period that the scheduled 30-lapper was going to be considered complete at midnight no matter what happened. It “happened” with a multi-car crash and wasn’t the way anybody wanted to end a chilly night. As Colt’s Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy says in his book, “nothing good happens after midnight.”  Especially in Stockton!When all was said and done, the overall opinion of drivers and teams leaned more positive than negative and suggested improvements to make it even better. That’s great news as promoterTony Noceti is committed to the further evolution and improvement of the facility. After the show, he committed to building wider turns with more banking and a backstretch wall from turn two to four.  Unfortunately, that turned out to be a ton of work and the weather didn’t cooperate (try to act surprised) to allow those upgrades to be completed before our scheduled April 27th race. This postponed the event to a highly-anticipated Sunday Twilight Show on May 19th, the day after the NARC sprint cars invade Thunderbowl Raceway(Twilight = Qualifying at 4:00 p.m.) That beats the tarnation out of another cancellation. We really need fans and teams to support this show as it could start a new trend and give race promoters another viable option.Other observers thought the Stockton postponement was the perfect opportunity for Peter Murphy to maneuver his April 13th rainout, better known as the Peter Murphy Classic, back into the schedule. However, Murphy already had a weekly show booked on that date. A few racing peeps wanted NARC to invade Kings Speedway which wasn’t going to happen because the Central California locals barely have enough opportunities to race already. Not to mention, the PMC, an event filled with auctions, pageantry, and a pole shuffle, features a $50,000+ purse and needs avid fan support to support that obligation. When you figure in liability insurance, water, lights, marketing, track prep, security, garbage, officials and the like, the total expenses are closer to $70,000. And I’m being conservative. While many open wheel loyalists would attend a 7:00 a.m. Christmas morning sprint car show on short notice, the average fan which makes up 65% of any crowd would be home unwrapping gifts. In hindsight, the April 27th Kings crowd was average at best meaning a high-dollar PMC would have been a financial blood bath. It was the right call.With that being said, there is no official date for rescheduling the 10th anniversary of the PMC. Murphy has run the gauntlet to squeeze it in somewhere, but others barked back about conflicts. It appears that California promoters are battling for the same 1500 core fans. Let’s hope we can figure this thing out.CALISTOGA SPEEDWAY:  Some fans may have had unrealistic expectations that a race schedule would be released soon after the City of Calistoga and Napa County worked out their differences and finalized the sale of the fairgrounds. In reality that was just the starting point and best-case scenario, nobody will see a schedule until 2025. Tommy Hunt said way back in February that it would take his HMC Promotions team about six-months to promote and orchestrate the activities that surround the awesome two-day Louie Vermeil Classic weekend.  Once racing is officially on the agenda, expectations will be at a Mount Everest-level as local politicians have the place under a microscope to make sure they made the right choice. That means an infield pit area packed with sprint cars, an overflowing grandstand, a Gold Cup type of feel, and race fans spending their money downtown. Otherwise, all of the pot-banging we did to get the historic half-mile reopened would have been for naught. All those who agree, say YAH!By the way, Tommy Hunt is undergoing serious health issues these days, and we wish him a speedy recovery.NARC NOTES:  There are about 15 laps remaining to be sponsored for the June 1st Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial race in Placerville. Contact Karen Bradway-Tuccelli on Facebook if you are interested in sponsoring a lap in the 40-lap feature or 12-lap semi. … An entire nation gasped (on Floracing) when Ryan Robinson clipped the tractor tire coming out of turn two and flipped violently while leading at Silver Dollar Speedway at the Mini-Gold Cup NARC opener. While everybody, including wife Kylie, was attempting to comprehend what had just happened, Ryan had already managed to climb out of the Antaya Motorsports #16A and was stepping slowly to the pit area. His movements were purely instinctual as his eyes saw nothing but black after suffering his fifth racing-related concussion. Luckily, the safety crews caught up with him shortly thereafter. Ryan made an announcement a couple of days later that he is retiring from racing. You know it was a tough decision, but it was the right one. He knows that you can only scramble the eggs so many times. Never forget that this is a dangerous sport. … Willie Croft will be battling for the Skagit Speedway championship in Washington this year with “Rudeen” backing on his number 29 sprint car. He will be attempting to dethrone the defending champ, Trey Starks. …… Only six drivers have finished in the top ten in both races. Can you name them? How about … obviously Cole Macedo … Tanner Carrick, Bud Kaeding, Nick Parker, and rookies Gauge Garcia and Cadeen Steele. Carrick may be the most underrated driver in California with a sixth and third place finish in NARC competition, as well as two Ocean 360 wins to his credit. He is overdue to post his first NARC career victory. … Dominic Scelzi is back in California. He was planning to miss the first six NARC shows of the season while he was chasing races around the Midwest with the Outlaws and High Limit. As it turns out, he only missed two. He will be a “wild card” the rest of the season, attempting to steal victories as others chase the championship. … All, like in every single one of our events are on … David Castenada reports that work is underway at Santa Maria Speedway. After sitting dormant for a couple of years, the track needs serious love to make it race ready. Tony Pombo, who signed a lease-agreement for the place, is actively involved in the process.  NARC invades Santa Maria on July 27th – right about the time temperatures hit 110 degrees in the Central Valley. … Justyn Cox cracked three ribs at the Chico opener.  You know it was bad when he couldn’t golf! …… The new NARC 65th Anniversary Coloring Book is hot off the press. Thank you to Creative Finishes Plus and Andy & Candace Forsberg for sponsoring this project. Also, thanks to my wife Carol who did all of the artwork. We will pass them out to kids at upcoming events. … Which reminds me of a quick story from the last time we had a NARC coloring book in 2019. While handing them out to excited kids in Tulare, one impatient attractive woman (40ish) insisted on getting one for herself. I politely told her it’s kids first, since we need to keep them engaged so their parents continue to bring them to the races. I said if there are any left, I would hook her up.  A minute or two later, she impatiently works her way back in line and offers to flip up her shirt and show me the goods if I give her one. Excuse me, did I hear that right? Now I’m not going to say what actually happened at that point, but she walked away with crayons also. …THE ROAD TO THE DIRT CUP:  It’s hard to believe the Fastest Five Days in Motorsports are only about 40-days away. Based on phone calls, emails, and DM, there is going to be a large contingent of fans making this stellar road trip. It’s going to be a parade going up Interstate 5. If you haven’t locked down your tickets yet, each track’s website is ready to serve them up. By the way, the five FFDM shows pay $5,000 to win and $600 to start the A. The Northwest Focus Midgets will be the support division for the first four events. They put on a great show.From the FFDM Father’s Day finale at Grays Harbor Raceway, we continue North to the Jim Raper Memorial Super Dirt Cup. That group is busy putting together fan engagement activities for this showcase event. I’m spearheading the Super Dirt Cup Charity Golf Tournament on Wednesday, June 19th – the day BEFORE the three-days of racing kicks off. We are looking to accomplish two things … build on the “Club” in Northern Auto Racing Club by having an enjoyable day at the nearby Avalon Golf Links. And two, raise money for the NARC Benevolent Fund and the Rayce Rudeen Foundation. Please join us, no matter what your skill level. Off the record, this may become more of a drinking event than a birdie event. (#justsaying) Sign-ups are only $100 and that include golf, cart, box lunch, gift bag and a chance to claim a bunch of prizes and awards. Here is the only caveat:  You have to sign-up and pay before June 5th. … We are also looking for hole sponsors. Call me! … Who is your pick to walk away with a $62,000 payday at this year’s Super Dirt Cup?And the hot news of the moment … We have rescheduled the Chris & Brian Faria Memorial for October 12th at Tulare, which is the weekend before the Trophy Cup.  It is now part of a great show that also includes the Sprint Car Challenge Tour.  It’s shaping up to be a terrific October.With that, prepare to get busy because there are 13 NARC shows scheduled in the next 50 or so days. It’s going to flash by in the blink of an eye so get your travel plans dialed in.  Coming to you live from Auburn, CA! May the Fourth be with you. See ya!

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