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Champion Kicks Off 2004 Season This Weekend

Roger Diez

Les Kynett is back in the saddle at Champion Speedway, his third time around.

Kynett, who owned the track in the 1980s, returned to run the operation in 2001 for a new management group comprised of Jim Bawden and Henry Hodges. After three years and three general managers, they turned the track back over to owner Larry Burton, who immediately tapped Kynett to take the helm at the venerable Speedway. Kynett was quick to dispel any rumors that the property had been sold, noting that he has a five-year contract to operate the facility with an option for five more years.

“I want to pick up where we left off in 2001,” said Kynett.

Indeed, the sponsorship participation he built in 2001 will likely be surpassed in 2004. Valley Chevrolet/Pontiac and Carson Valley Chevrolet/Buick will be title sponsors for the season, providing funds for a tremendous ad campaign, with 8,000 spots to run on Charter Media automotive and sports cable channels over a five-month period. Travelers RV will sponsor the Western Modified division and provide a travel fund for out-of-area drivers, Model Dairy and Good Humor will sponsor the Sprint Car division, and Carquest/CIP Auto Parts will be the sponsor for the Desert Rose series.

Desert Rose competitors from out of the area will also receive a free motel room courtesy of Mike Millard of the Plaza Hotel and 10 gallons of VP racing fuel. Capital Beverages is back at Champion with Budweiser beer and a sponsorship package as well.

There will be 24 events starting with this Sunday’s season opener. The first two races will be Sunday afternoon shows, with the action switching to Saturday nights on May 1. Ten of the scheduled weekends will be special events, including the four Desert Rose 100-lap Open Comp shows for late model stock cars. To encourage participation, drivers will count only three of the four Desert Rose shows in their points total. The Champion will be crowned on Sept. 11 and will receive 1,000 silver dollars for his or her trouble. Individual race purses were still being determined at press time.

The California Asphalt Sprintcar Association will stage four 100-lap races for the Nevada State Sprint Car Championship. Sprint cars normally run no more than 40 lap mains, so tire management will be the key to success at Champion. The series, featuring USAC-legal sprint cars, kicks off Memorial Day weekend. The winner of the series will be awarded a championship ring, courtesy of Tim Rubsam at the Jewelry Bench in Carson City.

The All Star Race Truck Series will also make two appearances, and a possible show for the Supermodified Racing League is being negotiated for an August date. Another possible special event under consideration is a race for Nevada legislators or for western state Governors.

Kynett has put together an experienced staff for the 2004 season. Tom Shelton will be Director of Competition, Alex Hutchison Chief Pit Steward, Robbie Shelton Lead Technical Inspector, Elnette Metcalf Chief Timer, Jim Lawrence Flagman, and Mel Lawrence Track On Pit Steward. A Competition Committee composed of Tom Shelton, Harold Long, Rob Wood, Phil Perry, and Bob Oliver will set and interpret the rules and hear protests and appeals.

Local racing divisions will consist of Hornets, with a potential of 30 cars; Legends, with 20 or more regulars expected; Western Modifieds, with 15-20 cars possible; Late Model Sportsmen, with 15-20 potential entries; Street Stocks, with 20 cars expected; and Super Late Models, with possibly 15 cars.

Two sub-divisions of the entry level class, the Junior Hornets and Queen Bees, will also run.

Although the track will remain family-friendly, the emphasis will be on racing rather than other activities. The kids play area will be replaced with a sponsor pavilion for displaying cars, RVs and other sponsor wares. The bicycle races will also be curtailed, to run only on a few special evenings.

Ticket prices will remain affordable, with a $9 tariff for adults for the local division shows. Junior and Senior discount pricing is yet to be determined, and kids five and under are free. Pricing for the special shows will be in the $12 -$15 range for adults.

Champion Speedway’s 2004 season kicks off this weekend with a car show on Saturday and racing for all local divisions plus the Allstar Race Trucks on Sunday. Pit gates open at 10 a.m., and racing starts at 1.