Speedway 4

Fireworks were a big part of the seventh annual Richie McGowan Memorial race  at Bakersfield Speedway in 2018. 

Whether it’s on the dirt at Bakersfield Speedway or the pavement of Kern County Raceway there are sure to be fireworks galore on Saturday night.

Both are offering up some of the biggest racing nights of the year and both will fill the night sky with thousands of aerial bursts in a pre-Fourth of July celebration.

Here’s what’s on tap at the tracks.

Bakersfield Speedway

It’s the eighth annual Richie McGowan Memorial race featuring four divisions of competition, including McGowan’s favorite class, Hobby Stocks.

McGowan, who died in February, 2012, drove a Hobby Stock and his financial generosity also put many other drivers in the seat of a race car. McGowan’s number was 32 and, as always, the race will be 32 laps in his honor.

Also in action will be the track’s three other mainstay divisions: IMCA Modifieds, Sport Mods and American Stocks.

“This is probably our biggest event of the year, people love the fireworks,” said Bakersfield Speedway owner Scott Schweitzer, who also is a fireworks aficionado. “We’ve got 3,200 this year we’ll shoot off from the infield.”

The track has traditionally set the fireworks off from the infield, sort of up close and personal to the fans in the stands. But a couple of years ago regulations forced the fireworks to be launched from the south parking lot.

“It just wasn’t the same,” Schweitzer said. “So we made some changes and got it back in the infield the next year.”

Schweitzer said the fireworks will go off sometime around 9 p.m.

“It’s a crap shoot as to the exact time,” he said. “It depends on how our races are going. Last year we ran a couple of main events after the show.”

Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7.

Kern County Raceway

Four divisions will be in action but the show stopper is sure to be the fireworks, which will feature nearly 3,000 aerial explosions.

The racing action will feature the Spears Southwest Tour, the Lucas Oil Modified Tour, a national Legends race and Mini Dwarfs.

“This is always a big event and this year is even bigger with what we believe are the best two touring series in the western United States,” said KCRP’s Steve Hughes. “This is the first time since the Winter Showdown these divisions have been together on the same night.”

Both the Southwest Tour and Modified Series will run split features, a 100 laps for the SWT and 80 laps for the Modifeds. Both will run the first half of their races after opening ceremonies followed by the Legends race.

The fireworks show is set to go off after the second Modified segment, depending on how dark it is. The final 50 laps of the SWT race is set for after the fireworks show.

The Mini Dwarf drivers open the show right after gates open at 5. An on-track autograph session takes place at 6 with opening ceremonies at 6:45.

Quick shifts

Derek Mayhew of Bakersfield finished fifth last Saturday in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race on the road course at Sonoma Raceway. Mayhew gained the most positions after a clutch problem in qualifying left him starting 16th. Noah Gragson won.

Southwest Tour point leader Derek Thorn of Bakersfield will be skipping the race on Saturday night at KCRP as his team is competing in the Summer Showdown at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe., Wash.

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

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