Dorothy Talan-Quaid: Fast Friday fun |

Dorothy Talan-Quaid: Fast Friday fun

Racing fans looking for family entertainment on a Friday night need look no further than Auburn, California, where the motorcycle-racing season is in full swing.

From May through Sept. 7, Fast Fridays Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn offers good, clean family fun on Friday nights, unless you’re sitting in the front row, where dirt from the tires of competing motorcycles can coat the clothing of avid fans! It’s loud, exciting racing, whether you’re wearing an extra layer of dust down in front row, close enough to almost touch the riders, or sitting in the top row of the grandstands with a full view of the track.

The Friday night race schedule offers a number of qualifying “heat” races, ending with the main event. Riders compete for points, cash prizes and bragging rights while flying around the dirt track on 500cc motorcycles (usually Jawas, manufactured in the Czech Republic), racing with no brakes while relying on their skills and equipment to get them to the checkered flag. Auburn residents Bart Bast and Tommy Hedden, Citrus Height’s Bryan Yarrow and Reno’s Mike Faria are some of the many professional motorcycle racers who regularly compete at Fast Friday events.

Race promoters are proud of the family atmosphere they try to maintain at Fast Fridays Speedway, according to Dave Joiner, who has co-owned Fast Fridays Speedway with his brother, Mark since 1995. That may explain why attendance at Fast Fridays has continued to grow in each of the last four years.

“The philosophy of having a family atmosphere really involves the community. We’re convinced we have survived this long because we have the support of the community,” Joiner said. Creating that atmosphere meant changing the content of Fast Friday events “from the biker and beer crowd” to family-friendly entertainment. That meant eliminating activities like the bikini contests and tightening security, Joiner said, adding that beer is still served at the racetrack but the added security helps with crowd control during the event.

Adding to that family atmosphere are activities for kids, including a jump and bounce house, an activity center, a very popular climbing wall, half-time shows and plenty of food. Concessions feature kid favorites such as slushies, snow cones and a candy store. In addition to traditional racetrack food, such as hot dogs, corn dogs and french fries, vendors offer more ‘adult’ food, like tri-tip sandwiches and weekly specials, including chow mien or enchiladas.

Those who stay for the entire event get an added bonus; after the last race of the evening, fans are invited to meet the drivers in the pit area. Many drivers hand out their own autograph cards for signing or autograph programs and whatever else a fan might present for signature. It’s fun for all, according to Joiner.

“These riders are great performers,” Joiner said. “They love to race and put on a show – that’s what separates speedway racing from other forms of motorcycle racing.”

In addition to the regularly scheduled races, Joiner said there are a few exciting additions to this summer’s events. Challenge Elimination Series and Extreme Sidecar Series rounds will be held through August, when the finals for those series are scheduled. A North-South “Civil War” rivalry enters its 16th year on July 20th, when the top 8 northern and southern California riders come together at Fast Fridays Speedway for what Joiner calls a “unique team format” style of racing. The final round of the AMA National Speedway Championships Series will occur on August 31st and the track championships are scheduled for September 7th, during the Gold Country Fair.

The Fast Fridays Speedway is located on Recreation Drive (off Auburn-Folsom Road) in Auburn, at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Children nine and under are admitted free to Fast Fridays, children age 10-15 and seniors pay $6-10, depending on the event, and all other tickets cost $10-15, also depending on the event.

All seats are general admission and seating is limited; once the allotted number of tickets is sold, that’s it. The speedway suggests buying tickets online at, to insure admission to individual races. More information is available by calling Fast Fridays Speedway at (530) 878-7223.

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