Midgets on dirt and winged Sprint Cars on asphalt are on tap this weekend as Bakersfield Speedway and Kern County Raceway close out their season with major events.
A USAC National Midget race takes place on Saturday night on the third-mile clay oval at Bakersfield Speedway. On Sunday afternoon, the fastest cars to hit the paved KCRP half-mile oval will be crowning a national champion in the fourth annual George Snider Classic King of the Wing Sprint Car race.
First, a look at the Midget race, which also includes points for the USAC Western State Series.
It is the first time in 17 years, to the day, a National event has been held at the Speedway and is the penultimate race of the season. The finale is the 77th Turkey Night Grand Prix in Ventura on Thanksgiving night.
Jay Drake won the last National Midget race at Bakersfield, driving for Keith Kunz of Columbus, Ind. Kunz’s current driver, Spencer Bayston of Lebanon, Ind., leads the National points heading into this race.. Bayston, who has three wins, holds a 66-point lead as he makes a run at his first national title. Bayston was the series Rookie of the Year in 2015 and runner-up last season.
Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla., has a pair of wins this season and is second in points followed by Shane Golobic of Fremont; last year’s champion Tanner Thorson of Minden, Nev., who has won twice; and three-time winner Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis.
Although this is the first National race at the track in nearly two decades, the Western States Series has stopped at the track in all but one season since 1987.
The Western States Series had two races in Bakersfield this year and series points leader Ronnie Gardner of Riverside came away with wins in both of them. The Speedway has been a good fit for Gardner, who has six wins over the last three years. He will be looking for his first National win on Saturday.
Gardner holds a commanding 128-point lead in the Western States Series as he heads toward a fifth consecutive title.
Also expected to compete is Cory Elliott of Bakersfield, former Western States Series champ Shannon McQueen of Tehachapi, and Terry Nichols of Delano.
Elliott won a race earlier this year at Santa Maria but suffered injures that kept him out of two races when he flipped in a heat race at Ventura on Sept. 16.
Also in action will be Hobby Stocks, American Stocks, NMRA Three-quarter Midgets, and Mini Stocks. Racing start at 6.
King of Wing at KCRP
The King of the Wing Sprint Car series will crown its national champion Sunday evening at Kern County Raceway, as the series ends with back-to-back California races.
Sprint cars teams will roll into KCRP Sunday morning following a Saturday night race at Irwindale Event Center.
John Giesler of Meridian, Idaho heads into the final two races with a 40-point lead over Jason Conn of Prince George B.C. Series rookie Tristen Spiers of Adrian, Ore., is in third, 20 points behind Conn.
The winged sprinters are easily the fastest cars to compete at KCRP with JoJo Helberg of Santa Rosa setting the track record during the inaugural race in 2104 at 14.296 seconds (125.909 mph).
Helberg won in 2014 with Sierra Jackson winning the last two races.
As for national championships, no driver has repeated. Helberg won in 2104, Jackson in 2015 and Davey Hamilton Jr. emerged with the title last year.
Also taking place on Sunday will be the Brown and Reich Petroleum Super Stock Shootout with $1,000 going to the winner of the third annual race.
Gates open at 3:30 p.m. with King of the Wing qualifying kicking off the action at 5.
ANRA at Famoso
The American Nostalgia Racing Association winds up its season this weekend at Auto Club Famoso Raceway with the Fuel and Gas Season Finals.
Competition will take place in a total of 16 nostalgia and Junior Dragsster classes with championships being decided in all.
The race will honor Anita Borden, an 8-year-old who lost her life last Saturday in a Junior Dragster accident at the Perth Motorplex in Australia. In the wake of the tragedy, racers from all over the world have shown support by taking a photo of their helmet with the hashtag #HELMETSOUTFORANITA to honor her love for the sport. The Junior Dragster drivers at Famoso will take a group picture of their helmets this weekend, followed by a moment of silence.
“We want to pay tribute to Anita and show international support for her family,” said ANRA President Butch Hedrick. “Losing a fellow racer is tough, but it makes it even tougher when it’s a child that had so much potential.”
Qualifying takes place on Saturday with eliminations on Sunday. Action starts at 9 a.m. both days.
The Spears Southwest Tour winds up its season on Saturday night at The Bullring in Las Vegas with Derek Thorn of Bakersfield poised to come away with his fourth series championship. Thorn has won three of the eight races and holds a nearly insurmountable 129-point lead over Ricky Schlick … Bakersfield drivers finished 1-2 in the Sport Mod portion of the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas last Saturday night. Chris McKellar got the win and Nick Spainhoward came in second. Bakersfield’s Michael Johnson was fifth. Rob Sanders of Bakersfield finished ninth in the IMCA Modified feature.