Grass Valley champs chase sprint car gold at Marysville Raceway Park |

Grass Valley champs chase sprint car gold at Marysville Raceway Park

Submitted to The Union

A pair of Grass Valley-based championship drivers and California's premiere winged 360 sprint car tour will open the 2014 season at Marysville Raceway Park Saturday night.

Paul and Kathy Hawes will offer their inviting, fan-friendly facility for Round 1 of the Flowmaster, Hoosier Tire California Sprint Car Civil War Series. This is the first top-notch, season-long, clay track racing series that will be offered during the early part of the season this year in California. The California Sprint Car Civil War Series will be decided in special events that touch the length and breadth of California.

This event will kick off the run for the title in the California Sprint Car Civil War Series and will feature a superb field of professional sprint car stars and cars as no winged 360 sprint car races are scheduled within 500 miles of MRP and it will also be the start of California sprint car racing's inaugural run for the Triple Crown. With the Triple Crown format in place for this event, look for some nationally ranked superstars from the 410 ranks to throw their hats into the ring for race No. 1 at MRP. For instance, central state sprint car superstar, Tommy Tarlton from Easton has said that he will be going after the Triple Crown. Drivers from the California Sprint Car Civil War, the King of the West sprint car series and the West Coast's Taco Bravo Series can claim some $40,000 in additional prize money by sweeping all three series. All three series have inked dates that do not conflict.

Among the championship caliber drivers that will be reaching for the lion's share of some $20,000 in prize money Saturday include Auburn's Andy Forsberg (seven-time Civil War Champion), and the "Colfax Comet" Colby Wiesz. Forsberg in the F&F x1 and Wiesz in the family hot rod will be among the favorites. Wiesz may well have an advantage at MRP as he has a record 52 MRP sprint car feature event wins to his credit; the all-time record. MRP is decidedly Wiesz's home track with three track titles to his credit as well.

Two Grass Valley-based championship teams will enter this rich event. "Bad Fast" Billy Wallace will be in the hunt as well as one of the bravest drivers in winged sprint car racing in California, Jeremy Burt. Wallace is the defending three-time champion at MRP. Wallace has been on an amazing tear over the last three years.

Wallace is also a two-time winner of California Sprint Car Civil War Series events at MRP in year's past. Wallace has an impressive 34 feature event victories in winged sprint car racing at MRP.

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Burt, the 2007 MRP winged sprint car champ and runner-up in points last year, said he will be at this year's California Sprint Car Civil War Series opener. Burt is coming back from severe back injuries that had him in a brace for five months after a vicious crash at MRP in 2012's season finale.

The Grass Valley hot-shoe's brave come back garnered him another runner-up finish in the point standings last season and return trips to victory lane.

The former King of California 410 Series champion, Jonathan Allard, is expected in the famous Tri-C No. 3. Allard has appeared infrequently at MRP, but has been very quick and had dismal luck during a couple of recent events. Former King of California sprint car champion, World of Outlaws feature event winner and the defending California Sprint Car Civil War Series champion Sean Becker is scheduled to saddle up for this one in the Main No. 35m. Becker flew to victory in both of MRP's open events last season. He dominated last year's Toller Memorial, and then he pulled off a spectacular last lap, last-turn victory in the Gold Fever Open that closed the 2013 MRP sprint car season. He scooped up some $5,000 in cash plus contingencies for his efforts here last season.

Becker, Forsberg and traveling racer Greg Decaires have accounted for the last 10 California Sprint Car Civil War Series championships. Decaires came from 18th in the Sherm Toller Race in 2013 to an amazing third place finish, riding the rim all the way in a breathtaking charge to the front. All three will have their work cut out for them as, not only do they face tough competition from other travelers, but regional and local stars as well.

Some other local stars to watch for include Marysville's Jeremy Hawes. Hawes' spectacular driving style in the wingless sprint car classes garnered him dozens of victories.

This will be the first time that Hawes will seriously challenge the best stars that the western region has to offer in the premiere 360 racing class.

Another pair of local stars to watch for includes MRP champion sprint car driver Cort Dozier and nephew Brandon Dozier, both of Marysville. Brandon Dozier got to victory lane again last year at MRP. Cort Dozier has victories in both sprint car divisions and also was victorious again last season.

The expanded series format at MRP will offer a 30-lap feature event that will pay $2,000 to win plus the contingency bonuses and one of the finest, boldest looking trophies offered in sprint car racing.

A full program of qualifying, heat races and last chance races will seed the crowded, tightly packed 22-car starting field. Some 18,000 horsepower will take the green flag in 100 mph feature event action in the main event.

A mountain of talent is expected. Thirty-eight of the western region's finest 360 winged sprint car superstars tested the Marysville clay the last time the California Sprint Car Civil War Series came to town. The traveling Civil War Series will also return to MRP for the annual Mel Hall Memorial Race on May 24. Justyn Cox in Harley Van Dyke's red 5h grabbed the Hall trophy last year. That team will also be expected Saturday.

Gates open at 5 p.m., hot laps at 6 p.m., qualifying follows hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing is scheduled immediately after qualifying.

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