(OCTOBER 18, 2003) Perris Auto Speedway promoter Don Kazarian announced on Saturday that one driver at 8th Annual Budweiser Oval Nationals, presented by Temecula Valley Pipe and Supply, will receive a very special award. On Saturday evening ...
(OCTOBER 18, 2003) Perris Auto Speedway promoter Don Kazarian announced on Saturday that one driver at 8th Annual Budweiser Oval Nationals, presented by Temecula Valley Pipe and Supply, will receive a very special award. On Saturday evening November 15th, the top point driver from the two qualifying nights will be given the 1st Annual Dean Thompson Award. The award is named after the three-time CRA champion who passed away from heart failure at age 53 on October 7th.
Drivers will accumulate points towards the award on Thursday November 13th and Friday November 14th through qualifying, heat races, preliminary mains and 25-lap A mains each night. "With the drivers entered in this race, it is going to be a war for the Dean Thompson Award," stated Kazarian. He continued, "J.J. Yeley, Richard Griffin, Rip Williams, Jac Haudenschild, Cory Kruseman, Mike Kirby, Troy Rutherford and a lot of other stars will be in contention for the award. It is fitting that the driver who ends up number one after two intense nights of racing will win the Dean Thompson Award as Dean was in the number one position throughout much of his racing career."
Indeed Thompson was in the number one spot throughout much of his career. He was the CRA Rookie of the Year in 1972 and won his first ever CRA main event at famous Ascot Park on April 27, 1974 while driving for legendary car owner Bruce Bromme, Sr. By the time he hung up his helmet, the popular driver from Carson, California had a record 103 CRA wins. Driving for Bromme, Thompson won the CRA championship in 1980, 1981 and 1982. In addition, the likable driver with the infectious smile beat the best in the business four times (1979, 1980, 1982 and 1985) to win the prestigious Pacific Coast Open at Ascot.
Thompson's most memorable win may have come at the 1982 Pacific Coast Open. With a bevy of superstars from across the nation on hand, Thompson beat them all and held off the great Steve Kinser for a crowd pleasing win that is still talked about today.
The CRA record book is like Thompson's own personal journal. He is ranked first in:
Lifetime Main Event Wins...103
Most Lifetime Heat Race Wins
Most Heat Race Wins in One Season...22
Most Consecutive Heat Race Wins...6
Most Consecutive Fast Times...7
For his immense driving skills, stand on the gas style, wins and records, Thompson was inducted into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1998. Any Sprint Car fan who was lucky enough to see him race will remember him as one of the greatest sprint car drivers of all time.
Perris Auto Speedway is conveniently located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds, home of the Southern California Fair, approximately one hour east of Los Angeles. Take the 215 Freeway, exit at the Ramona Expressway and go east two and a half miles to the fairgrounds.
Advance tickets for the Oval Nationals are on sale now by calling 1-800-595-4849 or (909) 940-0134. Fans can also order tickets from the Internet at www.tix.com or www.perrisautospeedway.com.