USAC/CRA SPRINTS MAKE CALISTOGA DEBUT AT NAPA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS AUGUST 30-31
California’s Napa County vineyards will reverberate August 30-31 as the thundering USAC/CRA Sprint Cars make their debut at the historic 1/2-mile clay Calistoga Speedway. The two nights of racing, also incorporating the USAC Western Midgets, will continue a history of spectacular racing which began at the track 71 years ago!
Saluting the late Louie Vermeil, the two races will showcase the best in American dirt-track Sprint racing in a pair of 30-lap features on the track which only once previously played host to USAC Sprint cars. In 1996 Ronnie Day won a 30-lap race which was part of that year’s USAC Western Sprint Car Series.
Vermeil, who died in 1987, was a California racing legend and was a driving force behind the establishment of motorsports in the Napa Valley. A top auto mechanic, he helped found the Northern Auto Racing Club sprint car organization and built and owned many race cars in addition to organizing and conducting races at the fairgrounds. He entered a car in Calistoga’s first race in 1937 and was the 1950 American Racing Association’s car owner champion. His famed Owl Garage was a local institution for a half-century.
Steve Howard of So-Cal Performance in Downey, Calif. has arranged for the Calistoga events to serve as a tribute to Vermeil, whose sons Dick and Stan have guaranteed tow money for traveling teams. Lap prize money is also planned. Dick Vermeil was named 1999 NFL Coach of the Year and led the St, Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. He also served as head football coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs and is the only head coach with victories in the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl. He earned football “Coach of the Year” honors on four levels, High School, Junior College, Division 1 NCAA and NFL.
Termed “The Hot Springs of the West,” Calistoga is located at the northernmost end of the NAPA Valley Wine Country. In 1999 the Calistoga Track Champion was none other than Bud Kaeding, USAC’s Silver Crown Champion the past two years!
USAC racing first appeared at Calistoga in 1993 when Billy Boat won a Midget race there. Subsequent Midget races were won by Wally Pankratz, Johnny Cofer, Tony Stewart and Jim Keene, while Boat, who won the last USAC race there in 1996, ended up with four total Calistoga triumphs.