Kyle Hirst from Loomis Wins at Placerville Speedway

Kyle Hirst, originally from Loomis, California continued his successful season at Placerville Speedway on Saturday night. The 23 year old is the son of former Northern Auto Racing Club champion, Rick Hirst. He has been racing for 18 of his 23 years and racing sprint cars since 2004 at the age of 16. Kyle was the American Sprint Car Series National Rookie of the Year in 2010. The following is a report of Saturday night’s racing including Pure Stocks and Late Models.

Kyle Hirst from Loomis, a winner in Placerville. Photo by Donna Peter.
Kyle Hirst from Loomis, a winner in Placerville. Photo by Donna Peter.

PLACERVILLE, CA (5-21-11) – The 2011 Fast and Furious Dirt Track Racing Season resumed at Placerville Speedway Saturday night with three divisions of racing on the quarter mile clay oval that has been home to auto racing for 46 consecutive years in El Dorado County. On this particular night, all three divisions produced a night of action that could very well go down in history as one of the most exciting point races in recent history.

In the 360 sprint car division, Kyle Hirst of Sacramento celebrated his first win of the season in victory lane but he was by far, not the only driver to lead the feature event. Placerville’s own Chris Curtiss drove to his first win of the year in the Pure Stock division. In the Limited Late Model division, Les Friend of Galt took home his second feature win of the year.

“This track was incredible tonight, Alan Handy always prepares a great racing surface but tonight it was extremely fast,” said Hirst, after a celebratory fist pumping atop his wing to a cheering grandstand. “I can’t thank my team enough and Steve Smith for the opportunity to drive this car. This was a wild race. I was in the right place at the right time with the car to do it.”

A total of 30 cars entered Saturday’s sprint car division and Hirst was one of the 20 that qualified for the feature event. He started ninth in the field and quickly worked his way into the top five where one of the most heated battles in recent history took place for the lead. Spectators in the grandstands didn’t know whether to stand or sit during the race and most did a little bit of both.

Mike Henry of Citrus Heights was the initial leader after the green flag waved Saturday night. Henry was pressured early in the race by Elk Grove’s Greg DeCaires and the two veteran drivers traded the lead position several times while Placerville’s Scott Russell and point leader Andy Forsberg of Auburn were rapidly closing in right behind the leading duo.

Forsberg worked his way up front and hijacked the lead during a restart on the 10th lap. Once in front the defending track champion appeared to be on his way to his first season win at home until a right rear tire began going down on the F&F Racing #x1 and he spun while leading in the third and fourth turns to draw a yellow flag.

With Forsberg at the rear of the line up with new rubber. The race resumed with Henry, DeCaires, Russell and Hirst all playing in the same sandbox for the lead. DeCaires led the event until the 20th lap when Hirst muscled around him and took the lead for the final five laps. Hirst was chased to the checkered flag by DeCaires and Russell. Sean Becker of Antelope finished in fourth over Placerville’s CJ Humphreys who started 15th in the race.

Placerville native, Chris Curtiss won the Pure Stock division. Photo by Donna Peter.
Placerville native, Chris Curtiss won the Pure Stock division. Photo by Donna Peter.

Saturday’s Pure Stock race was just as exciting as the sprint cars with a track veteran leading the early laps and the defending division champion driving his way into the battle and taking home his first win of the year.

At the waving of the green flag Dominic Stone of Folsom drove from the fourth starting position into second place and then overtook polesitter Dennis Armstrong for the lead. Armstrong battled back and traded positions several times with Stone while Curtiss moved in on the action, driving up from the sixth place position where he started.

For much of the race, Stone, Armstrong and Curtiss battled for the lead, often driving side by side and three abreast at times in a battle for the win. Late in the race Stone experience handling woes that allowed both Armstrong and Curtiss to pull out in the front where they began a two man battle for the lead. On the 17th lap Curtiss was able to overtake Armstrong in the fourth turn to drive his way to his first win of the season. Armstrong finished in second followed by Clarence Holbrook III of Galt, Chris Van Roekel of Grass Valley and Kyle Grunert of Woodland.

“That was really a fun race for me tonight and a good show for the fans,” said Curtiss. “Dennis Armstrong is a veteran at this place and to race hard and clean with him like that for the win is really an honor. Either of us could have won this tonight but racing with him for the win was really special. I really want to thank my wife, my family and all my sponsors for their help with this car. We got the first one out of the way and maybe now we can get a few more.”

Les Friend from Galt got his 2nd win of the year in Limited Late Models. Photo by Donna Peter.
Les Friend from Galt got his 2nd win of the year in Limited Late Models. Photo by Donna Peter.

In the Limited Late Model class, Friend started fourth and worked his way into the lead late in the race. The waving of the green flag saw second place started Matt Davis of Auburn take the initial lead over pole sitter Dan Brown Jr. of Grass Valley.

Two laps into the race Friend powered around Davis on the backstretch to take a lead he would never relinquish. By keeping a tight line all the way around the quarter-mile, Friend defending the efforts of Brown and point leader Tom Arbogast of Auburn, Brown and Jay Norton of Shingle Springs.

“This place is where it is at when it comes to good racing,” said Friend. “I’ve been running up here on and off for the last 20 years and there is no place else I want to race now. Just last week I got an offer to race a modified at Roseville for the rest of the year, all expenses paid and I told the guy no because this is where I want to be and where I want to win a championship. We have the best surface and the greatest fans right here every Saturday night.”

Racing at Placerville Speedway is presented by Handy Racing Promotions Incorporated. The 2011 racing season is sponsored by Red Hawk Casino, Hoosier Tires, Riebes Auto Parts, The Mountain Democrat, Coors Light and Pepsi Cola. Additional promotional consideration includes Carls’ Jr. Resturants, The Windfall Classifieds, Arnolds for Awards, Minuteman Press, The Paint Spot, Dunn Consulting, ADCO Driveline, Roger Miller Concrete and more.

Championship point racing resumes will take a week off next Saturday but will return on June 4th. Tickets for the July 29th and 30th ASCS Bullring Nationals are now on sale at the track business office at (916) 783-DIRT. Learn more at It’s all happening at Placerville Speedway, where more than one million fans have entertained with fast and furious dirt track racing all summer long since 1965.

Media Release from Handy Racing Promotions

As always, our thanks to Donna Peter from for the generous use of her photos.

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