Twenty-seven miles from its original location and 13 years later, the October Classic is back.
From 1977 to 2005, the October Classic served as the final race of the season at the old Mesa Marin Raceway in East Bakersfield. The track shut down after that last race in 2005.
This weekend the October Classic returns in a two-day format at Kern County Raceway Park featuring the top two series on the West Coast — the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and the Spears Southwest Tour.
The K&N West drivers wrap up their season Saturday in the NAPA Auto Parts 175. The Southwest Tour drivers will qualify Saturday before having their own day to shine on Sunday in the Bulwark FR 175. Super Stocks also will be in action on Sunday.
Ron Hornaday Jr., who cut his racing teeth at Saugus Speedway and Mesa Marin Raceway before going on to win four NASCAR Truck Series championships, will serve as Grand Marshall on Saturday night.
“I love the nostalgia of all sports and the October Classic was a big part of the auto racing history in our community,” KCRP General Manager Larry Collins said of bringing back the classic. “A lot of fans went to the October Classic over the years and we still have competitors who were part of it over the years. We also have competitors who weren’t even born the last time one was held.”
Started as a one-day event in 1977, the October Classic morphed into a four-day celebration of short-track racing by the time it ended.
“We’ll see where this one goes,” Collins said. “We felt the mix of the K&N cars and the tour cars was a good fit at Mesa Marin so we wanted to start this one off that way.”
It will be an especially busy weekend for a pair of drivers — Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn and and Trevor Huddleston of Agoura Hills — who will be competing in both the West and Southwest Tour races. Those are the only two drivers pulling double duty.
Thorn has two wins, 12 top-fives and has finished in the top-10 of all 13 K&N West races, and has the championship nearly locked up heading into the finale. Thorn won the West championship in 2013 and this is the first time he’s competed in the series full time since then.
Thorn’s Bob Bruncatti Racing team and rival Bill McAnally Racing team drivers occupy the top six point positions and five of those drivers account for eight wins.
BMR drivers have won the last four West races at KCRP with Derek Kraus riding a two-race win there, having won the final race last fall and opening the season with a win back in March. Kraus leads the series in wins with three and is fourth in points.
Bakersfield’s David Mayhew will competing in the K&N West race, just his third outing of the season.
The Southwest Tour field is expected to feature 30 drivers, the second largest this season.
Thorn is the winningest driver in Southwest Tour history, has four championships and has won three of four races in a part-time schedule this season.
Jeremy Doss is the SWT point leader, 40 points up on Eric Schmidt with two races remaining. Doss has two wins this season while Schmidt has one. Jacob Gomes won the last race on Sept. 29 at Madera Speedway.
Three other Bakersfield drivers are entered: Jacob Smith, Tanner Wattenbarger and Scott Sanchez. Cole Kane of Frazier Park also is among the entries.
Blaine Perkins of Bakersfield raced to victory last Saturday in the Fall Classic 100 Late Model race at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Perkins qualified second and started from the fourth position.