California Natives Ready to Race at Thunderbowl Raceway Tulare, CA--Feb. 23, 2007 -- For a group of four World of Outlaws drivers that were born and raised in the Golden State, this weekend will be a homecoming of sorts, as they compete in a...
California Natives Ready to Race at Thunderbowl Raceway
Tulare, CA--Feb. 23, 2007 -- For a group of four World of Outlaws drivers that were born and raised in the Golden State, this weekend will be a homecoming of sorts, as they compete in a pair of races at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California. They will contest two full racing programs on Friday February 23 and Saturday February 24, at the racy 1/3-mile in the first of two visits to the track in 2007 for the series.
Randy Hannagan, the 1995 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year hails from San Jose, as does Tim Kaeding. Paul McMahan is from Elk Grove, with Jason Meyers residing in Clovis. The demanding World of Outlaws schedule that stretches from February until early November keeps the drivers on the road for most of the year, and so when they get the chance to make it back home they make the most of the opportunity.
McMahan calls Nashville home now, but California will always be near and dear to him. He heads back to the area where he cut his teeth in sprint car racing, driving for two-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart's team. He enters the events at Thunderbowl Raceway ninth in World of Outlaws championship points, just 66 markers out of the lead. He picked up a Top-10 finish to start the season during the 36th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals.
"It's always nice to race in California," said McMahan, driver of the Bass Pro Shops Eagle. "When I first started racing, I ran at lot at Hanford Speedway, which is just south of Tulare. I made a lot of friends, and have a lot of fans who live in the Visalia and Fresno areas. Also, my family is from Sacramento, which is only about three hours away. Coming home to race in California is always a confidence booster. It's great to get to see so many family members and friends while we're there."
Kaeding has had plenty of success racing in the Golden State. He was the 2002 Golden State Challenge Series, King of California Champion. He also is a two-time Silver Dollar Speedway track Champion. To cap off last season, he won the prestigious Trophy Cup at Thunderbowl Raceway in a 360-sprint car that earned him a $15,000 paycheck
"It has its advantages and disadvantages," said Kaeding, driver of the Steve Kinser Racing Maxim, when discussing what it means to return home to race. "When you come to your home tracks, you have the pressure of your family and the crowd on your side. They expect you to do well after you have had a good season. The biggest thing is to go out there and race and try not to get involved in it too much until afterwards."
The driver with the shortest trip to Tulare is Jason Meyers, who has a scant 55 miles journey to the racy 1/3-mile. He climbed the sprint car racing ladder by turning countless laps on the tracks of his native state. Meyers is a multi-time winner with the Golden State Challenge Series, as well as the former Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC).
"It is nice to race at home," said Meyers, driver of the Primerica Financial Maxim. "I have grown up on those tracks and cut my teeth around there. It's always nice to get back there, but also a busy time as well. There is the stress there, but also being on the road all year, it is nice to get home."
While he enjoys being able to sleep in his own bed, and work out of his own shop, Meyers also gets very tied up when returning home. He always tries budget his time properly, so he can attend to all the tasks he has awaiting him, as well as visit as many people as he can, since he has few opportunities to do that during the season.
"It's nice to get to race close to home, but at the same time you get really busy when you race close to home," he admitted. "Number one you're trying to get home for a few days and then trying to catch up with people and going to your shop and reloading on things. It's normally kind of a stressful time. My family jokes that I've got to get back out on the road before they can see me."
Hannagan who now resides in Pittsboro, Indiana made it back to California a couple of times last season. One of those was to be with his mother while she battled illness. He also made it back to visit family and friends when the series was at Calistoga Speedway for the Harvest Classic. Hannagan may be away from home most of the year, but his fiancee Angie and son Mason travel with him to each and every race, and that makes it feel like he is at home every night.
"It always feels really good to be home," said Hannagan, driver of the Penthouse Magazine Maxim. "You get to reminisce and see some of your friends. It's a shame it's such a short time out here, but I'll take any time that I can get."
Tickets for the event on Friday February 23 and Saturday February 24 at Thunderbowl Raceway can be purchased by calling 559-688-0909, or by visiting www.thunderbowlraceway.com.