Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa


Hanford, CA- As I followed the A&A Motorsports hauler into Hanford, I was thinking great! This team is ready to race. I was also thinking that this is one helluva drive from Auburn to Hanford. As I knew Andy Forsberg and the team would have to be in Placerville the next night for the Civil War Series.

After checking into my room, it was a pleasant surprise to meet Kings Speedway announcer and super nice guy Dave Munoz. Dave does a great job, but more importantly is a class act.

Beautiful weather greeted the fans and Golden State Challenge Series stars and cars for the double-header show at the 3/8 mile facility. The pits were packed with a nice mixture of rookies and veteran drivers.

As I made my usual pit walk, I met nice guy and car owner, Dennis Wright who is the owner of the Wright Motorsports immaculate blue #99’s. 20-year-old Shawn Wright will wheel the 410 for many of the GSC races, while the 360 will be piloted by 18-year-old Brandon Carey.  


Shawn Wright

As the cars started lining up to be pushed out for hot laps, I saw the GSC P/R man Gary Thomas. We talked it up a bit, and took in hot laps. Gary was up in the booth this night and did a whale of a job.

Obviously the track was getting faster and faster with each hot lap session. It’s amazing that these guys can haul the mail in the turns on a “greasy” track and run as hard as they do without screwing up.

Qualifying was set for the 29 cars in attendance. I know it serves its purpose, but I don’t really don’t like qualifying, so I decided to grab a couple of burgers. Well, as I was walking between Andy Forsberg’s and Sean Becker’s haulers, I hear an engine rev real high, then I saw Andy going end-over-end. It was a hard one. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the gasser from Auburn walk away, I also started thinking about there race tomorrow (Saturday) at Placerville. Needless to say, they loaded up and headed home as heat #1 was lining up.


Andy’s mount on the hook after the qualifying flip

As all the heat races were all posted, I kept thinking man; all of these heats should be pretty damn good. Sometimes we have a heat that looks to be a yawner, but not on this night. The Golden State Challenge Series looks to be really tough this year. It’s never been an easy series anyway, but with the mix of drivers that the series has this year, and not to mention the guys that will drop in from time to time, it will make every night a “get the elbows way up race”.

Heat race time! I made the walk to my favorite spot to the turn #1 bleachers to watch them go at each other. This night there would be 4 stout heats. I settled in with some friends as the rockets were being pushed onto the track.


Heat #1 would show that Ricci Faria hasn’t lost a step. Mike Stallings was on it, testing crew-chief Brian Cannon’s wrenches. You could see the confidence shining through the visor as Mike was running the wheels off the thing. Faria was coming however and made an absolutely sick outside move on the top of 3-4 passing Stallings. Brad Sweet 2nd, Roger Crockett 3rd, and Stallings 4th all transferred. Brad and Crockett both came from the 3rd row.

Heat #2 was another good one. Veteran moves abound coming from Salinas’s masher Ronnie Day. Ronnie got my adrenaline pumping in this one. He started on the outside of the 3rd row and entertained the crowd with his take no prisoners driving style. Kody Swanson was doing a fantastic job, leading most of the way. However, Ronnie threw in all his chips and passed Jim Skinner, Jason Statler and then took the lead from Swanson in one lap! When Ronnie went under the checkered flag, the 2nd place car was on the middle of the backstretch. Also moving into the main was; Swanson 2nd, Statler 3rd, and Jonathan Allard 4th.

Heat #3 took the green flag and “Campbell Mafia” member Brent Kaeding who started in the 6th slot was coming and coming fast. A hold your breath moment occurred on the front strait as Taylor Malsam spun in front of the pack; thankfully nobody got tangled up in it. Matt Shelton did a great job and brought the win home as a super racy Willie Croft took 2nd, BK 3rd and Jason Botsford all transferred to the main.

Heat #4 was all Craig Stidham until he encountered engine woes wile running hard up front. Kyle Hirst was awesome in this heat. Rookie Shawn Wright inherited the lead and did a great job winning the 4th heat. Sean Becker 2nd, Kyle Hirst 3rd, and Brett Miller 4th all went into the show.

The dash was not only a very entertaining one, but a stout one; Kyle Hirst was balls to the walls in this one.


Kyle Hirst was racy all night!

The semi was won by Garrett Ishii followed by Stephen Allard 2nd, Evan Suggs 3rd, and Steven Kilcup 4th.

The way these guys were going after each other in the heats, I couldn’t wait for the main event.

When we went green, the gloves immediately came off, as Kyle Hirst and Sweet who started in row #1 were on kill. We went yellow on lap-3 for Garrett Ishii. The top-3 at this point was; Sweet, Hirst and J. Allard.

We got 2 laps in as a yellow was thrown on lap-5 for Ronnie Day. The green light went on again, and battles broke loose allover the race track. 

Jonathan Allard was trying to rip off the Peter Murphy Graphics on the Morrie Williams #0, as he got the point! Lap-10 was not a welcome one for Willie Croft however as he banged the front strait wall, too bad as he too was making some really nice moves.

A lap-10 restart proved disastrous for Jason Statler who was on the move. Going into turn-1, he hopped a wheel and took off! The car lost the top wing midway through the flip and the car just kept flipping, eventually landing by the fence outside of turns 1-2.

The green flew on the speedway once again, but Ronnie Day was running’ hard and got caught up with a couple of cars coming off of 2. The scary part was that the car got on the left side which at that point I thought that he was going to take a tumble. The car drifted onto the track surface, but thankfully nobody hit him.

On the restart BK, who was running 4th dropped to the bottom of the race track and took the 3rd spot away from Hirst.

Yellow again! Shawn Wright came to a stop on lap-15


RC was on the gas big time!

Your top-5 at this point idling past us under yellow are; J. Allard, Sweet, BK, Hirst, and Crockett.

Green again! Hirst and Crockett are letting it all hang out. The racing is intense, fast and furious. Drivers are trading spots on every lap, wheelies; cars are bicycling in the turns. Unfortunately the red comes out for a vicious series of flips by Stephen Allard on lap-20. Stephen is OK.

Top-3 ready for the restart are; Stephen’s Brother Jonathan, Sweet and Brent.

Lap-21 Kyle Hirst made the save of the night. The car got sideways coming out of 4, and he did a masterful job of gathering it up.

Lap-23 Sweet slid JA on the restart, what a move! JA is coming back with his never give up driving style. The steering broke on Steven Kilcup car, and he pounds the wall head on! The red comes out again.

The lap-23 restart was sick, as JA threw the #0 to the bottom of the track. He couldn’t make it stick, but he was giving it his all.

Lap-24 is a heartbreaker for not only me and the fans, but for Kyle Hirst. Don’t let his finish deceive you. This kid was on the gas big time. I give him two-thumbs up for controlled balls out driving.

Kody Swanson popped out of gear on lap-25 slowing us down again.

Don’t let these yellows fool you by any means. The action was superb, even if it was for a lap or two at times.

The lap-25 restart was a wild one. Sweet and Allard made contact after the cone and the cars jumbled up a bit, but kept them all shiny side up. It was now Roger Crockett’s time to shine. Roger passed two cars on the backstretch and put himself in the 2nd spot giving Roger Henderson’s #7N all it could stand.


Brad Sweet earned this one!

When the checkered flew, the top-3 was Brad Sweet, Roger Crockett and Brent Kaeding. Jonathan faded to the back. He may have run out of fuel.

A big thank you goes out to the staff at Kings Speedway for holding the Golden State Challenge Series events. Be sure to mark your calendars, as the series will return to Kings on Saturday July 21st.

When the Golden State Challenge Series comes to a town near you, I encourage you to check them out. The GSC will be at Placerville Speedway next Saturday March, 24th. Follow this great series here:

This Saturday March 24th the BCRA Midgets and the SCRA Sprint Cars will both be on the menu at Kings Speedway. Follow the happenings at the track here:

See you soon!






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