For short-track auto racing fans, this is Gold Cup week. Work, school, chores and even sleep become secondary concerns during the Gold Cup, the biggest race of its type on the West Coast.
The Gold Cup Race of Champions runs this Wednesday through Saturday, September 7 through 10, at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Somewhere between 150 and 200 racecars and drivers from across the country are expected to compete on the quarter-mile clay oval.
Now in its 58th year (its 32nd in Chico), the Gold Cup is the second oldest annual sprint car race in the country. Only the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania is older. But the Gold Cup is not a static event, and this year will see some of the biggest changes in years.
The World of Outlaws, the country’s premier sprint car series, remain the Gold Cup’s featured attraction. But instead of running for three nights, the WoO will compete only on Friday and Saturday nights. In their place on Thursday night will be the non-wing sprint cars of the U.S. Auto Club’s Southern California-based CRA series, along with midgets co-sanctioned by USAC and the Bay Cities Racing Association.
Although there has been considerable grumbling from fans about the change, USAC is promising to bring more than 40 sprint cars to the event. Several national driving stars, including three-time Gold Cup champion Jac Haudenschild, have entered the race. And during the two-day Mini Gold Cup back in March, the midgets put on the best race.
The other major change is that the World of Outlaws will run separate races on Friday and Saturday nights. For decades, Thursday and Friday nights served as preliminaries, and then racers lined up for Saturday’s finale based on their results in the preliminaries. The format made for some wild on-track slicing and dicing. This year, everyone starts from scratch for Saturday’s concluding event.
Unchanged for several years is Wednesday’s opening night combination of the California Civil War Sprint Car Series and the local wingless sprint car class.
The bottom line also remains unchanged: The Gold Cup will attract a ton of top-quality race cars and provide hundreds of laps of dirt track racing over the course of four nights.
A number of Redding and Chico-area drivers are scheduled to compete at the Gold Cup, including 2011 Silver Dollar season sprint car champion Tyler Wolf, 19, of Redding.
For some people, the actual racing is only an interruption in the weeklong party. Other events on the official schedule include a post-race party in the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds pavilion on Thursday night, a golf tournament on Friday morning, a free barbecue across town at Vintage Hot Rod on Friday afternoon, the infamous Chili Feed and Miss Gold Cup bikini contest after Friday night’s races, and a fan appreciation barbecue on Saturday afternoon.
You can get all of the details on the Silver Dollar Speedway website.
On Today’s A La Carte menu:
Latino Independence Day … Shasta County’s Northern Hispanic Latino Coalition is hosting its 15th annual Latino Independence Day celebration from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, at Anderson River Park. In addition to having the usual cultural music, Mexican Cowboy demonstration, food, crafts and games, organizers plan a tribute to the victims of 9/11 and to law enforcement and emergency service responders. As always, no smoking or drinking at this free event.
Road closed … Highway 32 in Tehama County, from Elam Creek Campground to Potato Patch Campground (south of Highway 36/89), will be closed from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday on the weeks of September 12 and September 19. Caltrans officials insist that no traffic other than emergency vehicles will be allowed through. The closure is necessary for a highway rehabilitation project.
Paul Shigley is a freelance journalist based in Western Shasta County, CA, and wouldn’t dream of missing the Gold Cup. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
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