Western Springs, NZ - Young Americans Invading

Young American's Invading Western Springs. AN invasion of young American oval track racing talent will challenge the local stars at Auckland's Western Springs Speedway later this month. Western Springs has confirmed a United States team ...

Young American's Invading Western Springs.

AN invasion of young American oval track racing talent will challenge the local stars at Auckland's Western Springs Speedway later this month.

Western Springs has confirmed a United States team comprising three first-time visitors to New Zealand for the annual Tri-nation USA-Australia-New Zealand test series which starts on December 26.

The team is: Ricky Shelton, age 21 of Huntington Beach, California, Clay Klepper, age 22, of Caruthers, California, Steve Paden, age 18, of Downey, California.

Shelton is regarded as one of the rising stars of the US midget racing scene. He won the United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Three Quarter midget car title in 1996 and followed up in 1997 by winning the Western States midget crown in his rookie year.

This year Shelton moved to the Mid-west to contest USAC National midget series and finished third overall, winning six feature races in the process.

Shelton's mount in New Zealand will be a Stealth chassis with a Fontana engine.

Klepper will bring a Stealth-Gaerte to New Zealand. Klepper was fifth in the 1997 USAC Western States title and voted Most Improved Driver.

This year he has campaigned in both the Western States and national arenas and finished ninth in the Western States standings.

Teenager Paden will race his TCR-Esslinger. Paden won his first USAC Western States feature race earlier this year and finished sixth in the championship.

The choice of new names marks a `youth policy' and is a move away from importing established `forty-something' stars such as Sleepy Tripp and Jimmy Sills.

Springs promoter Willie Kay believes the determined young American trio will deliver an exciting spectacle.

``They're fast, fearless and they've got a `go for it' attitude,'' Kay said.

``They're climbing the ladder fast in American racing and are desperate to impress.''

The Western Springs international Midget racing makes its traditional Boxing Night opening on December 26 with the first three races of the tri-nation test series.

The series continues December 29 with three more races and the Barry Butterworth Memorial feature race while the test series wraps up on January 2 along with the World 30-lap Derby. The meeting scheduled for Tuesday January 5 includes time trial qualifying for the 50-lap Classic which will be raced January 9.

Graham Hughes, SportsWeb (NZ) Ltd http://sportsweb.co.nz

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Series Midget
Drivers Steve Paden , Clay Klepper , Ricky Shelton