CHICO, CA (5-9-11) – This Friday night war will be declared on the high banks of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Some 30 or more of California’s top 360 sprint car teams will converge for battle on the high banks of the quarter-mile clay oval for the third round of the traveling Hoosier Racing Tires Civil War Sprint Car Series.
When it comes to speed thrills in area sprint car racing, the Hoosier Racing Tires Civil War Series will never disappoint an open wheel race fan and is sure to bring new fans back to the track once they witness the spectacle. The latest version of California’s premier series for 360 cubic inch powered winged sprint cars has just recently begun and is already looking and is shaping into a stellar chase for the coveted statewide championship title.
Friday’s event is the third of 14 events at six of California’s best known race tracks that will experience the thrill of Civil War Sprint Car Racing. The hosts of this tour span Northern California from the Sierra Foothills to the Wine Country and the Coastal Region. Saturday’s event and every regular Civil War Series event will pay $2000 to the winner and $300 to start the 22 car A-feature.
Overall, this series will compete for more than $250,000 over the year and an outstanding championship fund of $40,000 in championship funds is in place with $10,000 of that amount going to the 2011 Civil War Series Champion alone. Additional contingency awards throughout the year are expected to reach the $30,000 mark in various products as well.
Friday night will mark the first of three visits to Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. After this week, the series will return on Memorial Day weekend for their second appearance during the Silver Dollar Fair and once again in September when the series opens the Gold Cup week with the Pacific Sprint Cup Invitational.
Entering Friday’s race, two time series champion Sean Becker of Antelope has returned to the forefront of the Civil War Series point standings. Becker won titles in the Civil War Series in 2008 and 2009 and nearly captured the 2010 title until mechanical woes on the final race of the year dashed his hopes of a record breaking third consecutive title.
Becker is currently in a three way tie for the lead position and Silver Dollar Speedway could not be the better location for the Oroville native to look for an upper hand on the competition. Becker learned the ropes of sprint car racing on the banks of Chico. He is a former track champion here and also captured the Golden State Challenge Series title back when the tour considered Chico its home.
Currently, the driver known as The Shark shares the lead position in the Civil War Series with the young man known at the Human Highlight Reel, Geoff Ensign, of Sebastopol. Steven Tiner of Visalia is third in the tied trio for the point lead. Sitting fourth is Penngrove’s Alissa Geving. The driver known as “Chicko” is eight points out of the lead and holds off the defending series champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn by a single point.
Sitting just out of the top five is former champion Mike Henry of Citrus Heights who is tied with Sacramento’s Herman Klein. Shawn Wright of Fresno is 8th in the standings followed by Chico’s own Brett Miller and Kyle Hirst of Sacramento.
As the Civil War Series takes to the track Friday night the campaign regulars will be joined by former World of Outlaw’s regular Johnny Herrera of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s been nearly ten years since Herrera competed at Silver Dollar Speedway. In his previous visits here he always had strong runs during the annual Gold Cup and Mini Gold Cup events.
“We never got a win in Chico but we had our share of top finishes,” said Herrera. “I think we got in the top five a few times, It’s been awhile since I’ve raced in Chico. I always enjoyed racing there and I’m looking forward to the Civil War this Friday and Placerville on Saturday.”
Best known for his success with the Outlaws tour, Herrera is now focused on the 2011 American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) championship title. The tour will compete out west this summer, including Placerville Speedway for a two day appearance at the conclusion of July.
Herrera, 44, will be behind the wheel of the #35a sprint car fielded by Harold and Janet Main out of Grass Valley. This season Herrera and Main have teamed together to compete in the ASCS National Tour. Routinely Herrera runs the #45x in the ASCS tour.
Highlights of Herrera’s racing career include a Rookie of the Year title in the World of Outlaws tour in 1986. As of 2009 he had 12 feature victories in the tour. In 1991 he was named the Most Improved Driver Award. In 1991 Herrera won the track championship at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, IA. He captured the nationally known Kings Royal in 1996, earning a winners purse of $50,000 after leading all 30 laps of the affair.
In 2002 and 2003 Herrera teamed up with former NASCAR Crew Chief Billy Wilburn and drove the popular #2W sprint car in the preliminary feature race at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He raced a number of non winged sprint car in the all areas of the United States and won the Roger McCluskey Classic at Tuscon USA Raceway. He was also the series champion in 2007 in the SCOA Winged Sprint Car Series in Arizona and won the season title in the Hollywood Hills Speedway Non Winged Class the same year.
As Herrera and the winged warriors of the Civil War Series converge on Silver Dollar Speedway Friday night they will be joined by the Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Car Series for a double billing of superb open wheel competition.
The front gates of Silver Dollar Speedway will open at 6 p.m. on Saturday night with qualifying starting at 6:30 followed by racing at 7. Adult tickets will be $16 at the gate. Seniors will be $16. Juniors will be $12 and Children will be $6. For further information on this event visit www.civilwarsprints.com or www.silverdollarspeedway.com.
Photos courtesy of Steve LaMothe from Steve’s Racing Photos.