WS: FF: El Cajon: Event preview

EL CAJON, CA. The usual fare at Cajon Speedway is full-fendered stock cars. But this Saturday night, the track will host their first of three open-wheeled shows this year. The United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States sprint car series ...

EL CAJON, CA. The usual fare at Cajon Speedway is full-fendered stock cars. But this Saturday night, the track will host their first of three open-wheeled shows this year.

The United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States sprint car series is coming to town. The brand new USAC Southern California Ford Dealers Ford Focus Midget Car Series will join them in action on the 3/8 mile paved oval. Also on the card will be the vintage sprint and midget racecars. Those old time racecars, some of which are more than fifty years old, will stage exhibition events.

Race time is 6:45 PM. Qualifying runs start about 5:30. The sprint cars will battle through several preliminary events before tackling the pavement for a 50-lap finale. The midgets will contest a 20-lap feature.

This will mark only the second race ever for the Ford Focus midgets. The cars utilize a 175-hp, 2-liter Ford Zetec engine, like the one used in the Ford Focus, one of the world's top-selling passenger cars. Engines are prepared by S.C.R.E.A.M of Torrance, Calif. and provided to racers for an approximate cost of $7,500 each according to USAC VP/Competition Director Mike Devin. The new series marks the first time that a spec engine backed by one of the three big automakers has been utilized in a major open-wheel racing series. "Building this program around the production two-liter Ford Focus Zetec engine made perfect sense, said Ford Racing Technology director Dan Davis. "The engine is such a capable powerplant that the performance was there from the beginning. We didn't need to change anything internally within the engine to get the performance we were after."

The USAC Western States sprint car series is in its fifth season. They made their first appearance at Cajon Speedway last March. Randy Bauer of Kingston, Washington prevailed in that contest. Bauer is not running with the series this year; nor is defending champion Tony Hunt. But a strong contingent of sprint cars has entered the event. Atop that list is Jeff Gardner of Fresno. He was the series' first champion back in 1998. He was the fast qualifier at Cajon last year and finished fourth in the main event.

Following Saturday night's open wheeled event, the focus of the Cajon Speedway season switches back to the stock cars. The NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge will get underway on Saturday night, April 6. The local late model sportsman, street stock, pony stock, and bomber stock competitors will make their first start of the season.

The USAC Western States sprint cars and Ford Focus midgets will return to Cajon on October 12. In another open wheeled spectacular, Sid's Auto Body brings the Supermodified Racing League, the fastest short track racecars on the west coast, back for the third consecutive season on July 20.

-usac-

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Hunt