McMahan Returns Home to Calistoga Speedway for Harvest Classic Calistoga Speedway has always been a special place for Paul McMahan. Growing up in Elk Grove, California, which is less than 100 miles from the track, he fondly recalls watching ...
McMahan Returns Home to Calistoga Speedway for Harvest Classic
Calistoga Speedway has always been a special place for Paul McMahan. Growing up in Elk Grove, California, which is less than 100 miles from the track, he fondly recalls watching non-wing sprint cars race on the spacious half-mile as a boy. He also vividly remembers cutting his teeth on the always tough California sprint car racing scene in the late 1980's and early-to-mid-1990's, competing at the track a number of times with a great deal of success.
He will have another opportunity to return to his home state this weekend and compete at his home track in the heart of the Napa Valley wine country with the World of Outlaws in the Harvest Classic on Saturday, September 1 and Sunday, September 2.
"It's always great to get home," said McMahan, driver of the Bass Pro Shops Eagle. "Calistoga and Chico (Silver Dollar Speedway) are two of my favorite tracks. It's nice to get back to California and see family and friends there. It's been a while since we have been out there and I will get to see a lot of the fans I have not seen for a while."
McMahan will have plenty of family and friends at the track to watch him compete. For many of these folks, it is their only chance to see him race during the year, as the series visits the track just once this season for the big two-race weekend. While he will be focused on winning on the track, he will also make sure to visit with as many people as he can off the track.
"My whole family including my aunts, uncles and grandfather all come out to the races," he noted. "My brother will be out there to watch and also my nephew. It will be good to get home and hopefully we can put on a good show for them."
McMahan has four career wins at the half-mile with the former N.A.R.C. series (Northern Auto Racing Club), including three in 1995, the same year he claimed The Scarborough Trophy for winning the Calistoga Speedway track championship. Last season he led six laps in the preliminary feature of the Harvest Classic, before finishing second, while he was sixth in the 30-lap finale.
"Calistoga is very fond of me," he said. "I have won several races there. I'm really looking forward to going back. Last year we had a second-place (in the preliminary feature) and hopefully we can run up front again."
When asked what has been the key to his success at the half-mile, McMahan smiles and shrugs. Growing up in California, he was used to racing on tight bullrings and Calistoga was one of the few half-miles he competed on during the early stages of his career.
"It's about the only big track in California and a place I adapted to real quick back when I was younger," he explained. "It's a neat place to go to. It's a beautiful race track with a beautiful setting with the hills and the wine country right behind it. It's a place the fans look forward to and enjoy coming to every year."
With 60 events in the books this season, McMahan is focused on the last couple months of the season, as well as beginning to prepare for the 2008 campaign. Like most drivers, he is quick to point out that after the completion of the Knoxville Nationals, the end of the season goes by pretty quick, with a number of breaks built into the schedule for travel.
"The stressful parts of the year are gone, but it's not laid back by any means," said McMahan. "It is a little bit easier on the crew and they get a few days off here and there so they can relax and do things they enjoy to do. Once the Knoxville Nationals are over, it is more laid back. We look forward to having a few days off."
McMahan heads to Calistoga Speedway with two A-Feature wins this season, including at Eldora Speedway, which is owned by his car owner, NASCAR star Tony Stewart. He also won at Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin in July. McMahan is solidly in the Top-10 in championship points on the strength of 31 Top-10 finishes, with 11 of those being in the Top-Five. He has set quick time in time trials seven times this season, in addition to winning the Crane Cams Dash three times, to earn the same number of pole positions.
"We just need to win a few more races," he said. "The car has been fast lately. We just have to capitalize on a win. We've been close a few times and hopefully we can win a few more by the end of the season and move up a couple of spots in the points."
McMahan would like nothing more than to win a World of Outlaws event at Calistoga Speedway. The series has competed at the half-mile for 19 consecutive seasons. Dating back to 1978, 14 different drivers have earned A-Feature wins with the series at the track, and McMahan would like nothing more than to add his name to this list at his home track.
"It would be pretty cool to win at Calistoga," he smiled. "I have run second there twice and haven't been able to pick up a win. If I can win there in front of the people that used to watch me race 15 years ago, it would be big. Just to have the family and friends there and win a race would be awesome."