By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
There is an element of excitement about open-wheel racing that transcends age barriers - whether you're talking about 20-something Amy Barnes or 60-something Bob Beck.
The two local drivers will be on the track tonight for Champion Speedway's 100-lap California Asphalt Sprintcar Association feature event. The evening's "Salute to Indy" show will also include a 50-lap Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets feature race and a Vintage Midgets exhibition.
The show promises to be a good one - featuring West Coast entries from San Diego to Seattle - according to Champion General Manager Les Kynett.
"Traditionally, the Salute to Indy is our biggest show of the year," Kynett said. "It's the beginning of summer, the first holiday, we always have great weather, the crowd turnout is always great and the drivers like to come up here and make a long weekend out of it."
And the fans always enjoy the racing.
"Open-wheel racing is always great," said Beck, a Carson City resident who began racing in 1964 at San Jose Speedway.
How long ago? Just check out the Beck Racing website (www.beckracing.com): "Beck Racing got its start in 1964, when Bob Beck built his first race car, a 34 Ford five window coupe. It was chopped, channeled, and frame Z'ed in front. The power plant was a 327 Chevy engine with hi-performance OEM heads, six Stromberg 97 carburetors. That was the big engine in supermodified racing then."
Tonight will be the start of a new season for Beck.
"We just converted this car from a dirt sprinter to pavement sprinter," he said last Saturday after a tune-up session at Champion. "We just hot lapped it. Everything seemed OK. We'll just have see what happens next week."
Barnes, a Minden resident who grew up within sight of the lights at Champion, always looks forward to racing before hometown fans.
"We'll be out here full-force," Barnes said after running hot laps last Saturday before an audience that included her son - 3-year-old Gavin. "I always enjoy the local aspect, being out on the local track. It's fun."
Barnes enjoyed her last outing at the Carson City track, a second-place finish behind Bryan Bullard in the 100-lap feature race last Sept. 18 at Champion's season-ending Silver State Classic. She also won a feature race at Champion in 2002.
Her last race didn't go quite so well the weekend of April 8-9 in Idaho. "I blew the rear-end out, so that was an early exit," she said.
Barnes, whose team will have a second car on the track driven by Eric Silsby, expects the racing to be exciting.
"I think it should be a real good show," Barnes said. "There should be a good crowd, a good car count and hopefully we'll be able to put on a good show ourselves. I'm due. I'm way past due."
Brian McClish of Santa Rosa won a rain-delayed 51-lap CASA feature race at Ukiah Speedway on May 14. Nick Rescino of San Francisco, the defending CASA champion, finished second in the main event and also set a CASA track record with his 12.091 qualifying time on the quarter-mile banked Ukiah track.
Meanwhile, the Midgets will make their first appearance at Champion since 2001.
Thomas Meseraull of San Jose posted his third BCRA victory in four attempts this season when he took the checker flag at Sacramento Raceway Park last Saturday.
One young entry is 18-year-old Lynsey Tilton from El Cajon in the San Diego area, who will be making her first pavement start with the BCRA. In 2004, she was the Arizona Midget Association's Rookie of the Year during a season in which she cracked the top 10 in seven of her eight races. She also graduated from the Lyn St. James Driver Development Program and in March this year she was one of three selected by Speed Secrets to participate for its Driver Development Scholarship. The Santana High School senior carries a 4.3 grade point average and plans to major in mechanical engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the fall.
The Vintage Midgets will also appear as an exhibition, according to Kynett.
"These are Midgets from the old days, old restored cars that raced in the '30s, 40s, 50s and '60s," he said. "That was back in the days when there were no roll cages. They used to call it 'tuck and roll' - if you saw you were going to crash, you grab the bottom of the steering wheel and duck your head down as low as you could get. Those were the days when brave men were brave."
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.