From racing classes for youngsters, to entry-level divisions on to 800-horsepower Sprint Cars, Bakersfield Speedway is serving up a varied menu of racing for 2019.
Opened in 1946, the third-mile clay oval in Oildale begins its 74th consecutive season of racing action on March 1 with the Western RaceSaver Sprints, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and American Stocks. The season winds up Nov. 23 when the USAC National Midget Series rolls into town for the third straight year.
By the time the season is done, the facility will have held 29 events featuring 20 different racing divisions.
As usual, the “house” divisions — IMCA Modifieds, Sports Mods, Hobby Stocks, IMCA Stocks, Mod Lites, American Stocks, Mini Stocks and Mini Dwarfs — will see the most action, topping out at 13 events for some of the divisions.
The USAC 410 Sprint Cars will compete one time (on May 11) as will the USAC Western State Midgets (April 6).
“Our goal again in 2019 is to provide a racing schedule that will give our fans a wide range of high-quality racing entertainment at Bakersfield Speedway and we are confident we reached that goal,” said track owner Scott Schweitzer.
What is not usual is the schedule. In past years the track was usually only dark two Saturdays from March through September. This year there will be five off weeks during that time frame.
The track will take its usual Fourth of July break (dark on July 6) but will be dark three weeks in August and the first week of September. The only August races are on Aug. 3 and the annual Mike Moshier Classic on Aug. 24.
It might have been one more week off from racing were it not for the race honoring the memory of longtime race announcer Mike Moshier.
“We really like the date with the Moshier Classic and didn’t want to move it,” Schweitzer said. “It’s good for his family and we’ve been really successful with it.”
More weekends off mean fewer races for most of the divisions. But Schweitzer sees that as a benefit to racers.
“We’ve shortened up the schedule and are giving the racers some weekends off,” Schweitzer said. “It’s tough for those guys to chase points when they run 16-18 races a year, so by cutting back a few dates, it should help them.
“Of course there are some guys that want to run more and they will go to other tracks. But we are giving them a chance to race less.”
Missing from competition during the regular season will be Late Models, which had seen a dwindling car count the past several years. The Late Models, however, will be in action on both nights of the 33rd annual Budweiser Nationals on Oct. 11-12.
“We get a lot of Late Models from up north and some from out of state for the Bud Nationals so we’re going to run them as usual there,” Schweitzer said. “I hope the division rebounds. It may take some changes, but I’m not the guy to oversee that.
“I have my own classes trucking along I have to keep my eye on with all the changing technology.”
Another change for the Speedway will be the start time. In recent years, races started at 6 p.m. early in the season then switched to 7. All races this season will start at 7 with the front gates opening at 5.