Cajon prepares for season opening

Cajon Speedway Starts 44th Auto Racing Season with 1300th Race. EL CAJON, CA (04/03/04). Triskaidekaphobia is the fear or phobia concerning the number 13. But for one of the drivers in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series, that...

Cajon Speedway Starts 44th Auto Racing Season with 1300th Race.

EL CAJON, CA (04/03/04). Triskaidekaphobia is the fear or phobia concerning the number 13. But for one of the drivers in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series, that number will be very lucky Saturday night when Cajon Speedway kicks off its 44th season of auto racing with the Coors Light 125.

This traditional season opener will mark the 1300th night that the 3/8-mile paved oval has hosted an oval track racing event since July 15, 1961. In fact only a handful of drivers who will be in competition this weekend were even born when the Gillespie Field track first opened.

One of those is defending race winner Mark Meech of La Mesa. Meech grew up in the East County and has spent many Saturday nights wheeling 3000 pound stock cars around the tricky oval. In fact Meech, who is now 47 years old, has earned two track championships at Cajon. He pocketed super stock honors in 1984 and gained the championship trophy in the Grand American modifieds nine seasons later. Meech is a part time racer now; he runs occasionally with the Southwest Series and runs a handful of the late model sportsman events during the regular Cajon season.

This will mark the 23rd visit of the Southwest Series to Cajon, the only racing venue that has hosted the traveling series every year since its inception in 1986.

Action gets underway Saturday with practice from 1:00 -- 3:00 pm. Qualifying starts at 5:00 pm. A non-qualifiers' race will be contested at 6:45 pm with the 24-car, 125-lap finale following. Gates will open at 1:00 on the east side and 5:00 on the west side. Ticket prices are $12 on the east side and $10 on the west side for adults and $5 for children age 6 -- 12; children age 5 and under are free with an adult.

The Southwest Series have already completed three events in 2004; their 2004 schedule calls for 14 events across California, Colorado, and Arizona.

Saturday night's Coors Light event carries $44,765 in posted awards. Thirty-four drivers have filed an entry form. With only 24 starting the marathon 125-lapper, a quick qualifying run will be very important.

Among the locals hoping to keep Meech out of victory lane again is the 2003 series champion, Auggie Vidovich II of Lakeside. Vidovich is not defending his title; he is limiting his runs with the NASCAR Southwest Series in 2004.

Other local drivers entered for the Coors event include Eddie Bryans of El Cajon, Joe Herold of Poway, Don Kerr of Alpine; John Luecht of Chula Vista, Todd McLauchlan of Alpine, Randy Nelson of El Cajon, and Jeff Seifert of Jamul.

In addition to Meech, only two other NASCAR drivers who have made his way to victory lane at Cajon in a Southwest Series event are entered. M.K. Kanke is the only driver with three SW Series victories at the track; those came in 1993, 2001, and 2002. Craig Raudman, the 1995 and 1999 victor, is also entered. Other hopefuls include 2002 season champ Eddy McKean, Jim Pettit II, Burney Lamar, and Eric Holmes.

Cajon Speedway will commence its regular Saturday night fare for the local stock car racers on April 10. On a normal Saturday night four of the six local divisions will see action. David Beat will be defending his NASCAR late model sportsman championship. Mike Jackson will be back in the Grand American modifieds. Eric Ferguson will be hoping to repeat season long honors in the street stocks. In the pony stocks, Hector Leon won his initial championship in 2003. Bomber stock ace Rick Hagen is returning to the street stocks after his foray into the bomber stocks in 2003. Matt Arnold will be gunning for his third straight title in the factory stocks.

Again in 2004, the legend cars will make monthly appearances. The Allison legacy cars will also make occasional visits. And those always popular train racers and destruction derby crashers will be back about once a month.

The Supermodified Racing League comes to El Cajon for its annual visit on May 8. And on May 1, KGB and Dodge will team together for their "Race of Champions"; that event should include four current Nextel Cup drivers.

-cs-

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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Eric Holmes , Joe Herold , Burney Lamar , Craig Raudman , Auggie Vidovich