USAC Midgets Gardner

Ronnie Gardner won both USAC Western States Midget races at Bakersfield Speedway last year as well as the series championship. The series opens its season on Saturday night at the third-mile clay oval. 

BY TOM MACHT For The Californian

For the third straight weekend Scott Schweitzer will be hoping to open the gates and get the Bakersfield Speedway season in gear.

The third-mile clay oval was supposed to get its season started on March 3 but was rained out. Next up was March 10 but rain also wiped that night out.

And now the 73rd consecutive season is set to start this Saturday with a USAC Western States Midget/Bay Area Racing Association combination race. Fitting, since the first race ever held at the track was a United Racing Association Midget race in 1946.

Maybe that’s a good omen.

“I tell you what, I’ve had multiple rainouts in a year but never two in a row,” said Speedway owner Scott Schweitzer. “This is uncharted water for me.”

Schweitzer knows he can’t fight Mother Nature and a Bakersfield Speedway Twitter post on Monday shows he has retained a sense of humor.

“We are still all set to go racing when ever Mother Nature lets us go!!!! Maybe I should consider racing on Mondays??? It’s always beautiful weather on Mondays out here…,” he posted with a picture of the track under partly cloudy skies.

But once again, forecasts are calling for possibility of rain all week with the probability dropping to 20 percent or less Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve been prepared and ready to go since (March 3),” Schweitzer said. “It’s just a waiting game. We have to wait until the weather comes to our side. I’m just shrugging my shoulder now. It’s out of my control.”

With the big World of Outlaws Sprint Car show set for March 24, Schweitzer said he’s really hoping he can get in Saturday’s race, just to get everyone up to speed.

“We’ve got some new staff members, concession stand workers, ticket takers and with new people you’d like to get at least a night under their belts before a big event like the Outlaws,” he said. “The forecast has been getting better so hopefully we get this one under our belt. I’m ready to go racing.”

Also set to race on Saturday are IMCA Stocks, American Stocks and the California Lightning Sprints. Action starts at 6.

West Coast Shootout at Famoso

The West Coast Hot Rod Association will host the California Shootout Saturday and Sunday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

The WCHRA features heads-up index racing for full-bodied cars on both the quarter mile and eighth mile in a variety of classes as well as bracket and grudge racing. Practice runs take place on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Racing gets under way on Sunday at 8 a.m.

Quick shifts

Matt Erickson got the jump on a final restart with four laps to go and held off Bakersfield’s Buddy Shepherd to win the season-opening Late Model race on Saturday night at Madera Speedway. Originally set for night, the race was moved to the afternoon and ran a shortened 80 laps to just beat incoming rain. Kercie Jung of Bakersfield won the Bandolero feature with Kale McClenny of Bakersfield taking the Mini Cup win.

The second Cal Club SCCA U.S. Major Tour races will be held Saturday and Sunday at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond. Action begins at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Mike Griffith can be reached at 661 395-7390. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeGriffith54. 

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