With dwindling Late Model fields for regular summer shows, Bakersfield Speedway promoter Scott Schweitzer was seriously concerned on how to treat the premier stock car division during the Bud Nationals.
At one point he contemplated going from the traditional complete two-day show (feature races both Friday and Saturday nights) to a Saturday night only feature.
In the end, Schweitzer, a big proponent of the division, stuck with tradition and the racers have responded: more than 20 are expected to be on hand for the 33rd annual event on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We’ve got a lot of racers that can’t support our weekly program but always plan for the Bud Nationals,” Schweitzer said. “We’ve got drivers coming from Northern California, Oregon and Southern California and feel like we’re going to have a good, solid show.”
Also running full shows on both nights will be IMCA Modifieds, and for the first time, Sport Mods. American Stocks and Mod Lites are featured on Friday night.
Hobby Stocks run heat races on Friday night and finish up on Saturday night with Pro Stocks also in action that night.
“I’d like to get the Hobby Stocks to a full two-day show but we have to try it with Sport Mods and see how it goes,” Schweitzer said.
While the other divisions help make the Bud Nationals such a big race (usually 175 total entries or more) Schweitzer said Late Models and the Bud Nationals are synonymous.
“The history of the Bud Nationals is Late Models,” he said. “People are used to coming to the Bud Nationals and seeing a full field of Late Models and cars that don’t normally run around here.”
Rob Sanders of Bakersfield is a big proponent of Late Models and was one of the few regulars during this year’s monthly shows.
“They’re the pinnacle of stock car dirt racing," said Sanders, who also drives a Modified. “The Modified is fun to drive as are other classes, sure. But every driver wants to go faster and (in a Late Model) you have all that horsepower, all that tire and the technical shocks that make it so fun to tinker with.”
But all that horsepower and those highly technical shocks cost money, which makes it a very expensive car to campaign.
Sanders, who admits to buying the best he can, says his latest new engine ran $45,000 with one set of shocks (no springs) going for between $7,000-$8,000.
It’s a price Sanders is willing to pay because he wants to have the best equipment when he runs the annual January races in Tucson which draw drivers from throughout the country.
“It’s a tough deal,” he said of Late Model car counts that dwindled to as few as five at some races. “I wish I had a crystal ball (as to the future in central California), but I’m always going to own a Late Model. I just hope it doesn’t die.”
Racing starts at 5 both nights.
ANRA at Famoso
The American Nostalgia Racing Association Fall Nationals are being held Saturday and Sunday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
The event is the third of four points races but will also serve as a bit of a tune-up for many drivers, who will be competing in the 27th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion the following weekend.
Qualifying and time trials begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday with eliminations getting under way Sunday at 9 a.m.
Derek Thorn of Bakersfield will be looking to extend his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West lead on Saturday night at All American Speedway in Roseville. Thorn has two wins, a series-high 11-top fives (in 12 races) and is 32 points ahead of teammate Ryan Partridge and Cole Rouse. The season wraps up at Kern County Raceway on Oct. 27.