CALISTOGA — The Louie Vermeil Classic, a Labor Day weekend tradition at Calistoga Speedway, has been moved to the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico for 2021 due to the uncertainty of COVID-related crowd restrictions imposed by Napa County health officials.
“The Louie Vermeil Classic just wouldn’t be the same without fans in the grandstands,” said promoter Tommy Hunt of HMC Promotions. “We simply don’t know if crowd restrictions will be lifted in time for us to put on the event, and we needed to make this decision early in the year because many people make plans for this race long before September.”
Hunt emphasized that moving the race was temporary, based on Butte County’s more relaxed rules for crowds and in-person gathering, and that he was hopeful the Classic will return to Calistoga Speedway in 2022.
“Calistoga was Louie Vermeil’s home and Calistoga Speedway will always be the spiritual home for the Classic,” said Hunt, “even if we have to take it on a road tour this year.”
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The pending resumption of the City of Calistoga’s efforts to purchase the Napa County Fairgrounds —which include the speedway — from Napa County also added uncertainty to the scheduling of the Classic this year. Those negotiations were derailed last year by the economic fallout from massive wildfires and COVID-related disruptions to tourism in the Napa Valley.
The race honors the legacy of Louie Vermeil, a co-founder of the Northern Auto Racing Club — now known as the King of the West/Fujitsu series — who nurtured sprint car racing at the half-mile oval in California’s noted wine country and throughout Northern California for over 50 years.
The Louie Vermeil Classic — which was not held anywhere in 2020 due to county-imposed crowd restrictions — includes a racing doubleheader the weekend of Sept. 4-5 featuring both the non-wing 410 sprints car of the USAC/CRA and winged 410s of the KWS/Fujitsu series.
Hunt emphasized that all events fans associate with the Classic will be included in Chico — the induction dinner for the Calistoga Speedway Hall of Fame on Friday night, music entertainment, and wine and beer tastings at Butte County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Details about purchasing tickets for the 2021 Louie Vermeil Classic will be provided closer to April 1, when they go on sale.
The weekend following the Louie Vermeil Classic, Silver Dollar Speedway will host the four-day Gold Cup Sept. 8-11. It will feature the touring NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws sprint cars on Friday and Saturday and a unique format all four nights for 360 sprint cars competing for the Platinum Cup.
At night on Wednesday and Thursday, the 360s will run qualifying races to earn a spot in Friday’s “B” main event and Saturday’s “A” main event for the Platinum Cup.
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