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There’s still plenty of local racing

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

With the Nextel Cup series off this weekend, and the Busch series at a road course in Mexico, I decided to turn my attention to the upcoming local racing season.

Champion Speedway is no more, but there’s still plenty of racing action within a fairly short driving distance. Reno-Fernley Raceway is already conducting open test and tune weekend sessions on the road course, and the first clay oval test and tune is set for April 1. There will be three consecutive weekends of test and tune on the oval for all the regular track classes, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the traveling series drivers taking to the track in sprint cars, midgets, and late model dirt stock cars on one or more of the three weekends.

The season at the clay oval officially kicks off on April 22, with “Flag night at the races.” IMCA Modified, Pro Stock, Pro 4 (formerly known as Modified Minis), Hobby Stock, and Pure Stock Mini divisions will all be on hand for the inaugural race of the season.

The same weekend, the road course will host the third annual Vintage sports car races, sanctioned by the Historic Motor Sports Association. A Sports Car Club of America regional race is set for the following weekend. In addition, Reno-Fernley Raceway has a karting school planned for the road course, with karts provided by the track. The curriculum is still under development.

Call (775) 575-7217, or check the website at http://www.reno-fernleyraceway.com for more information.

A little closer to Carson City, and a little earlier on the calendar, Thunder Bowl Speedway in Mound House plans a full season of flat track motorcycle racing, alternating with Outlaw karts. March 25 is the kickoff race for the 2006 Northern Nevada Championship Series for flat track bikes and quads.

The series, consisting of 15 races, will rotate between Thunder Bowl, Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon, and Hawthorne Speedway. There will be classes for every age and experience level of rider. Thunder Bowl dates for the flat track races are March 25, May 6, July 15, August 26, and October 7.

Outlaw kart dates had not been determined at press time. Call (775) 246-3396 for more information, or go to http://www.nevadaracing.com/thunderbowl.

Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon has a stock car program in addition to the flat track bikes, and the cars will run on an expanded dirt oval. The track length has been expanded to 1/3 mile with 15 degree banking in the turns. The scoreboard from Champion Speedway has been installed, along with additional track lighting, also courtesy of Champion.

April 15 is the first track date, a mandatory test and tune for rookie drivers. The season opener is slated for April 29. In addition to points races for the track classes (Pro Stock, 318 Modified, Bomber/Hobby Stock, and Gen X divisions), the schedule also features figure 8 races, mud bog races, and demolition derby. Call (775) 221-1676 or go to rattlesnakeraceway.tripod.com for additional information.Hawthorne Speedway has the new flat track for TT racing as well as a 1.25 mile Motocross course. The inaugural Motocross race of the season is taking place this weekend, with the first flat track TT event scheduled for April 8. Call John at (775) 945-5717 or go to http://www.mxha.org for further information.

Former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace isn’t in a Cup car this season, but he didn’t stay retired for long. Last week Wallace, who will be doing TV color commentary for the IRL IndyCar series this season, got some hands-on experience in a Penske Dallara-Honda on the road course at Miami-Homestead. Wallace, who teamed with a couple of IRL drivers in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona last month, was about seven seconds off the pace of regular Penske driver Helio Castroneves.

Part of Rusty’s duties as color commentator will be to drive demonstration laps at each of the IRL races this season. He will join a growing cadre of commentators performing such chores. Darrell Waltrip demonstrated restarts with Jeff Hammond in the passenger seat last weekend at California Speedway. Wally Dallenbach, see what you started?