‘Hey buddy, want a ride?’
The offerings to race fans just keep getting better at Champion Speedway.
In a tradition started by Po’ Boy Racing (hobby stock division) two years ago, two late model cars this year have been created just to give race fans a ride on the track, by top-notch drivers.
Jim Bawden, who recently purchased a former Skoal Bandit Winston Cup car driven by retired NASCAR driver Harry Gant, recently had modifications completed to the car which included the addition of a passenger seat and safety equipment.
Rides in the car will be offered through a “raffle system.” Anybody age 18 or over can purchase tickets. If their ticket is drawn, they get to ride in the race car. This will be no carriage ride through the park, the driver will bring the car “up to speed” on the track.
After Gant last drove the car in 1991, it was sold to another race team and eventually converted to a show car. Gant had 474 starts, 18 wins, 17 pole positions and 123 top-5 finishes in his Winston Cup career, earning more than $8 million.
The 1991 Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile is in original condition, newly painted and cleaned up. It is a super speedway car used at the larger tracks. It has been reconfigured to run at Champion Speedway. The car may be converted to a road course set-up to race at Sears Point, Watkins Glen and other road courses in the future.
The mechanics of the car is being done by Robby Shelton of Shelton Racing; BJ Barnhurst of Kiss Racing and Fabrication did the safety upgrades.
Bawden said he bought the car for a couple of reasons, but primarily because it was an original and complete Winston Cup car that had been converted professionally for ride-alongs.
“I had the idea to give rides so that fans could actually see what it takes to race on the Champion Speedway track,” said Bawden.
“Secondly, the car will be used to promote the speedway through displaying and showing the car in various locations in Northern Nevada and California. We already have numerous requests to show our (Landmark Homes Racing) cars and this car will be more available as we will not be racing it weekly.
“Several Oldsmobile dealers have made requests to display the Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile on their sales lots and showroom floors.”
Joining Bawden in the ride-along theme is Michael Hohl Motors in Carson City. Employees of the dealership have gone the step one extra and are dedicating its rides to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“This is just for giving kids rides — any kid,” said Tom Nodzak, service manager of Michael Hohl Motors.
The Chevrolet Monte Carlo was built and will be driven by local favorite, Chet “The Jet” Danburg.
“We wanted to do it,” said Nodzak of the endeavor. “It will be fun.”
The legal logistics of giving rides to passengers under the age of 18 are still being worked out. Track officials will let the public know when rides are available to younger race fans.