The national World of Outlaws tour for winged sprint cars will close out the 2017 racing season at Calistoga Speedway this Friday and Saturday night, featuring eight-time national champion Donny Schatz of North Dakota and Northern California native Brad Sweet, both of whom will be defending their race wins from last year.
But if last weekend is any indication, the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown will live up to its billing, as some of Northern California’s top teams showed that they could out-gun the tour teams. Three-time and defending King of the West champion Kyle Hirst took top honors at the Gold Cup in Chico last Friday night after a wheel to wheel duel with Oklahoma’s Shane Stewart.
Stewart came back to win on Saturday, but Hirst and Sacramento driver Justin Sanders rounded out the podium as California drivers claimed six of the top 10 finishes both nights of the Gold Cup.
“They are always tough on the big half miles,” said Hirst, a three-time race winner on Calistoga, about the World of Outlaws teams. “But we’ll be ready for them.”
The race on the Calistoga half-mile oval will feature a tight battle for the Outlaws championship between defending titleholder Schatz and Sweet, formerly of Grass Valley. They are separated by only a handful of points in the standings.
The race will also provide local fans with their first opportunity to see veteran Jac Haudenschild, 59, a six-time Calistoga race winner, as he competes against his son Sheldon Haudenschild, who is in his first full time season on the tour.
A surprise entry among Northern California teams will be three-time King of the West champion Jonathan Allard, who made the trip from his home in New Zealand to drive for Roth Motorsports and substitute for Gio Scelzi, who is one month shy of the minimum age to race with the Outlaws.
“When Dennis called, I put down the phone, packed a bag and went straight to the airport,” said the popular driver who also lives in Chico.
In all, at least 25 of the top national and regional winged sprint car teams are expected at Calistoga, which is the last opportunity for fans to see the World of Outlaws drivers before the tour heads east.
Joining the World of Outlaws at Calistoga Speedway both nights will be the IMCA Modified tour, which is expected to draw modified racing teams from many local tracks throughout the region.
The Wine Country Outlaw Showdown begins with qualifying at 6 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights. Fans who purchase reserved seats can also receive a free Fan Pit Pass, which will enable them to visit with drivers and get a close up look at the cars, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Ticket and race information is available at www.woocalistogaspeedway.com.