National Dirt
Thursday, 17 November 2016


Brady Bacon (#76m) and Tanner Thorson (#67) battle for the lead during "Jason Leffler Memorial" at Wayne County Speedway in October. Brady Bacon (#76m) and Tanner Thorson (#67) battle for the lead during "Jason Leffler Memorial" at Wayne County Speedway in October. Jeremy Rhoades Photo


Fans who congregate at the Ventura Raceway for the 76th Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix next Wednesday and Thursday, November 23rd and 24th, will have a chance to see a bevy of racing stars, including NASCAR divers Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu, as well as two championships being decided. Spectator gates will open at 3:00 PM each day with qualifying at 3:30 and racing at 5:30.

After closing out their NASCAR seasons this weekend in Miami, Larson, who won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in August; Bell, who is one of four drivers left in Friday’s championship showdown in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; and Abreu, who is closing out his rookie season in the truck series, will head to Ventura for the prestigious midget race.

Larson, a native of Elk Grove, California, engraved his name in the Turkey Night history books in 2012 when he won the 98-lap main event at Perris Auto Speedway. Bell, who hails in Norman, Oklahoma, won the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Perris two years ago. Popular St. Helena, California’s Abreu almost joined his good friends on the TNGP victory ledger in 2015, but a flat left rear late in the race knocked him out of contention.

Like Larson, Bell and Abreu, several other stars will be jetting in for the high profile 98-lapper. Most notably will be the four drivers still in contention for the 2016 USAC National Midget championship. Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson carries a precarious 9-point margin over Lebanon, Indiana’s Spencer Bayston going into the Thanksgiving night race.

While those two have a distinct advantage heading into the finale, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon, who sewed up his second USAC National Sprint Car championship last week, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chad Boat are tied for third and still have a mathematical chance of winning the crown.

Boat’s father Billy won the Turkey Night Grand Prix the only other time the race was held in Ventura in 1997 and he is one of the Grand Marshal’s for this year’s race.

While not quite as tight as the fight for the National Championship, the USAC Western Midget Series title could come down to next Thursday as well. Heading into this Saturday’s race at the Bakersfield Speedway, Norco, California’s Ronnie Gardner is 121-points in front of Hanford, California Michael Faccinto.

Gardner, the grandson of Ronnie Duman who finished sixth in the 1968 Indianapolis 500, can set a Western Midget record by winning his fourth straight title. He is currently tied with legendary Sleepy Tripp who won three in a row in the early 1990’s.

Another contender in the star-studded field will be Concord, California veteran Damion Gardner. Known affectionately to his fans as “The Demon,” the slender driver sewed up his fifth USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series championship last Saturday night when he won the Oval Nationals for the third time since 2009 at Perris.

Gardner, who established the land speed record of 211.59 MPH for a sprint car at the Bonneville Salt Flats two years ago, is no stranger to midget racing fans. In 2008, he won the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Three years ago, he had the Turkey Night Grand Prix in the bag when he lost a left rear wheel with five laps to go.

In addition to the midgets, the USAC West Coast Sprint Cars will be competing both nights. On Wednesday, they will qualify, race heats and a main event. On Thursday, the sprint cars will come back with B-main events and a $3,000.00 to win finale.

The midgets will practice on Wednesday. On Thursday, they will qualify and run preliminary main events leading into the night’s 98-Lap Turkey Night Grand Prix feature. There will be an autograph session at the track during intermission on Wednesday night.

Advance tickets for the 76th Turkey Night Grand Prix are available by calling: 805-648-7223.







Turkey Night Grand Prix Winners

1934 Bob Swanson – Gilmore Stadium

1935 Ted Sizemore – Gilmore Stadium

1936 Ronney Householder – Gilmore Stadium

1937 Ronney Householder – Gilmore Stadium

1938 Bob Swanson – Gilmore Stadium

1939 Mel Hansen – Gilmore Stadium

1940 Roy Russing – Gilmore Stadium

1941 Rou Russing – Gilmore Stadium

1945 Danny Oakes – Gilmore Stadium

1946 Perry Grimm – Gilmore Stadium

1947 Johnny McDowell – Gilmore Stadium

1948 Bill Vukovich – Gilmore Stadium

1949 Perry Grimm – Gilmore Stadium

1950 Bill Zaring – Gilmore Stadium

1955 Johnnie Parsons - Gardena Stadium

1956 Edgar Elder - Gardena Stadium

1957 George Amick - Gardena Stadium

1958 Joe Garson - Gardena Stadium

1959 Tony Bettenhausen - Gardena Stadium

1960 A.J. Foyt – Ascot Park

1961 A.J. Foyt – Ascot Park

1962 Bill Cantrell – Ascot Park

1963 Mel Kenyon – Ascot Park

1964 Parnelli Jones – Ascot Park

1965 Dick Atkins – Ascot Park

1966 Parnelli Jones – Ascot Park

1967 Gary Bettenhausen – Ascot Park

1968 Sam Sessions – Ascot Park

1969 George Benson – Ascot Park

1970 Gary Bettenhausen – Ascot Park

1971 Bill Engelhart – Ascot Park

1972 Tony Simon – Ascot Park

1973 Bill Engelhart – Ascot Park

1974 Danny McKnight – Ascot Park

1975 Mel Kenyon – Speedway 605

1976 Bubby Jones – Ascot Park

1977 Gary Patterson – Ascot Park

1978 Rick Goudy – Ascot Park

1979 Ron Shuman – Ascot Park

1980 Ron Shuman – Ascot Park

1981 Ron Shuman – Ascot Park

1982 Ron Shuman – Ascot Park

1983 Kevin Olsen – Ascot Park

1984 Ron Shuman – Ascot Park

1985 Brent Kaeding – Ascot Park

1986 Warren Mockler – Ascot Park

1987 Ron Shuman – Ascot Park

1988 Chuck Gurney – Ascot Park

1989 Chuck Gurney – Ascot Park

1990 Stan Fox – Ascot Park

1991 Stan Fox – Saugus Speedway

1992 Ron Shuman – Bakersfield Speedway

1993 Ron Shuman – Bakersfield Speedway

1994 Jordan Hermansador – Bakersfield Speedway

1995 Billy Boat – Bakersfield Speedway

1996 Billy Boat – Perris Auto Speedway

1997 Billy Boat – Ventura Raceway

1998 Jay Drake – Bakersfield Speedway

1999 Jason Leffler – Irwindale Speedway

2000 Tony Stewart – Irwindale Speedway

2001 Dave Steele – Irwindale Speedway

2002 Michael Lewis – Irwindale Speedway

2003 Dave Steele – Irwindale Speedway

2004 Bobby East – Irwindale Speedway

2005 Jason Leffler – Irwindale Speedway

2006 Billy Wease – Irwindale Speedway

2007 Dave Darland – Irwindale Speedway

2008 Bobby Santos III – Irwindale Speedway

2009 Bryan Clauson – Irwindale Speedway

2010 Bryan Clauson – Irwindale Speedway

2011 Caleb Armstrong – Irwindale Speedway

2012 Kyle Larson – Perris Auto Speedway

2013 Dave Darland – Perris Auto Speedway

2014 Christopher Bell – Perris Auto Speedway

2015 Tanner Thorson – Perris Auto Speedway