When the World of Outlaws national sprint car tour returns to the Napa Valley this Friday and Saturday night to close out the 2018 season at Calistoga Speedway, it promises a rematch between two drivers who dominated the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown last year.
Brad Sweet of Grass Valley and 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donnie Schatz of Fargo, N.D., have been riding each other’s bumper all year. The most dramatic example was the recent Knoxville Nationals in Iowa, considered the Indianapolis 500 of sprint car racing. Sweet claimed the biggest win of his career with Schatz finishing second by a mere fraction of a second in the closest finish in the race’s six decade history.
Last year, they each claimed a victory on the big half-mile Calistoga track in the two-night event. Sweet says he is looking forward to coming back for another. “I enjoy coming to Calistoga and it’s one of my favorite tracks,” said Sweet, who also picked up his sixth win of the season in the opening night of the Gold Cup in Chico last weekend. “I’ve had three wins there in the last three years and any time you have a record like that, at any track, it’s fun to go back.”
At least 15 of the nation’s top touring professional World of Outlaws drivers are expected to take on some of Northern California’s top drivers from the King of the West series over the two nights of racing.
The weekend also marks the first race of the year at Calistoga Speedway for Napa Valley driver Rico Abreu, who has been touring with the World of Outlaws and other series in the Midwest most of the summer. “I always get excited about racing at Calistoga because it’s close to home,” said Abreu, who won the Gold Cup finale last Saturday night for the second time in his career. “I think the Outlaws race is the only one I haven’t won at Calistoga and I would like to.”
Saturday night will also feature separate main events for two other series, including the “360” sprint cars of the Civil War Series and the IMCA All Star Modified Tour, making the night a “triple header” of racing.
Racing on Friday and Saturday nights begins with qualifying at 6 p.m. with heat races and main events at 7 p.m. Calistoga Speedway, one of the few half mile racing ovals in the western part of the country, is located on the Napa County Fairgrounds.