Calistoga Weekend Upon Us Anticipation of Calistoga weekend almost too much for some to handle -- By Bobby Gerould -- August 29, 2008. Calistoga, CA. -- "I can't wait. I think its going to be the best thing ever." Words spoken by Johnny ...
Calistoga Weekend Upon Us
Anticipation of Calistoga weekend almost too much for some to handle -- By Bobby Gerould -- August 29, 2008. Calistoga, CA. -- "I can't wait. I think its going to be the best thing ever." Words spoken by Johnny Rodriguez, two-time United States Auto Club (USAC) Western Midget Champion, as he looks forward to the Louie Vermeil Classic this Saturday and Sunday at Calistoga Speedway. The event features both non-wing sprint cars and midgets.
Rodriguez was racing at Calistoga in 1996 as a winged sprint car driver when the midgets last made an appearance as part of a double-header show. "I remember seeing Tony Stewart in a midget but honestly I don't recall that much because it was, like, only my second race at Calistoga -- and I was ready to throw up."
But now "J-Rod" is an experienced veteran at age 32 and his comfort level on the half-mile dirt track is a far cry from his younger days. "I'm fired up to run a midget because Calistoga reminds me of Terre Haute." (Rodriguez is a former winner of the prestigious Hut Hundred at The Terre Haute Action Track in Indiana). "I hope the track is slick and 'on the fence'. I don't want a one-groove, on the bottom, type track."
Figuring as one of the favorites to win a midget feature this weekend, Rodriguez says he expects to be challenged by a minimum of three top racers. "Garrett Hansen will be fast. Robby Flock is going to be good, and that Nic Faas kid -- he has a Toyota engine that pounds!"
Other midget contenders expected include: Josh Ford, Matt Mitchell, Michael Faccinto, Scott Pierovich, Shannon McQueen, Shane Golobic, Kyle Larson, Ryan Kaplan, Ernie Bartley III, Quintin Crye, Matt Streeter, Travis Berryhill, and many more.
The sprint car division is highlighted by entries from Calistoga Speedway track champions Brent Kaeding (1985, 1988, 2007), Jason Statler (2006), and Sparky Howard (2004). Past track or series champs from outside Calistoga that are entered include Cory Kruseman, Tim Kaeding, Damion Gardner, Jesse Hockett, Mike Spencer, Rip Williams, Darrell Hanestad, Jason York, Andy Forsberg, and Danny Sheridan. Exciting youngsters Hansen, Daron Clayton, Blake Miller, Tyler Brown, Shain Matthews and Kevin Swindell will add spice to the show. Ford, Golobic, and Faas are expected to pull a 'double-shift' and race in both classes of cars.
The 2008 Calistoga Speedway track championship will be decided Sunday night. Each midget and sprint car feature will count toward the title. Statler leads Brent Kaeding by a scant two points entering the weekend. Other drivers 'in the hunt' that are entered this weekend include Calistoga's own Mike Benson, as well as Forsberg, and Larson.
As an added attraction Sheila Ross-Fasig is bringing her late father Walter's famous #56 sprint car as part of the WRA Vintage Car exhibit. Hall of Fame driver Leroy VanConett of Galt, CA. will take some laps in the car. VanConett is the winningest driver in the history of Calistoga Speedway with 31 career feature event wins on the half-mile. He also owns seven track championships.
Past Vermeil (Calistoga) Classic non-wing sprint car winners: 1975 -- Terry Crousore, 1976 -- 1977 - Gary Patterson, 1978 -- Johnny Anderson, 1980 -- Leroy VanConett, 1981 -- Chuck Gurney, 1982 -- Johnny Pearson, 1983 -- Ron Shuman, 1984 -- Lealand McSpadden.
Tickets are still available. They may be purchased in advance by calling (916) 863-7223. Cars are scheduled to be on the track each night by 5:30 PM.