Rico Abreu makes last lap count at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway Friday night

By Gary Thomas

Fernley, Nevada....St. Helena's Rico Abreu made a final corner charge on the high side of the speedway to get by Kyle Hirst in thrilling fashion and score his second King of the West 410 Sprint Car main event win of the year on Friday night in Fernley, Nevada. Hirst hung on for second with Sacramento’s Willie Croft, the night's fastest qualifier Craig Stidham of Fresno and defending KWS champ Jonathan Allard from Chico rounding out the top five. 

“That was pretty awesome right there and I hope you fans enjoyed that show,” said Abreu on the front stretch. “I was just hoping that Kyle (Hirst) would follow those lappers and I’d get a chance to make something happen up high. Luckily for us that’s how it worked out and we are standing here in victory lane again. Big thanks to Paul Silva and all my guys. We’ve been running strong and hopefully we can come back tomorrow and do it again.”

A total of 28-cars signed into the pits on Friday at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway, for what was the first of 10-nights of racing for the King of the West 410’s at the track this season. The 30-lap main event came to the line with Dash winner Craig Stidham and Kyle Hirst on the front row. After a few spins and a red flag during the early portion things got going after one-lap was complete, in fact the final 29-circuits were clicked off caution free. 

Hirst led the fast moving field once green flag laps ticked away and weaved his way by lapped cars with perfection, as he looked for his second win of the year. All along however, Rico Abreu stayed within striking distance of the Roth Enterprises No. 83 jr mount. With the race winding down Abreu closed right up to the bumper of Hirst and when the white flag waved, he looked to make his move. Going into the final set of corners a big gaggle of lapped cars was just ahead of Hirst, which gave the 21-year-old Abreu the opportunity he needed.

Abreu blasted to the high scary side and got the momentum he needed to charge around Hirst and score the thrilling victory. It marked the fourth career win with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series for the talented St. Helena youngster. Abreu also continues to lead to lead the KWS points going into tonight’s action at the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway. For Hirst the runner up finish was another consistent effort with the series and was his fourth podium in the first five races of the season. After his win last week Croft rounded out the podium in Fernley on Friday to continue his impressive start to the year.

Craig Stidham capped a strong night by earning his best finish of the KWS season in fourth and Jonathan Allard rebounded nicely from an opening lap incident to complete the top-five. The remainder of the top-10 was filled by Grass Valley’s Jason Statler, Sydney, Australia’s Peter Murphy, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, Washington driver Jared Ridge and Des Moines, Iowa’s Chris Martin, who started last on the grid.

Racing continues tonight for the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway for round six of the 2013 season. Qualifying is slated for 6:30pm with racing at 7pm. 
Action packed schedule featuring King of the West 410’s, Fernley 95a Series, AMA National Motorcycles & more on tap for Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway dirt oval in 2013

By Gary Thomas

Fernley, Nevada - February 14, 2013…The upcoming season is set to be the most anticipated in the history of Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway and with that the 2013 schedule has been released for the three-eighths mile dirt oval.

King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series Managing Director Dan Simpson has taken over the manager position of the newly renamed Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway and several things are being planned for the three-eighths mile oval. Among those include a refurbishing of the track surface and an overall facelift for the facility.

Highlights on the 2013 racing schedule at RTF Speedway include five weekends of competition for the powerful - fire breathing King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series. The west’s premier 410 sprint car tour will be in action at the track on May 17 & 18, July 5 & 6 for the “Cherry Bomb Classic,” August 9 & 10, September 13 & 14 and October 25 & 26.

The KWS 410 fields are expected to be fully loaded, with extra money on the line when teams compete at RTF Speedway. The lucrative purses will be $3,500 to win the A-main and a very stout $1,000-to-start. The purses are focused on paying down solidly to make sure all teams in competition have a piece of the pie. The stout payoff has already gotten immense interest from teams all around the West Coast.

The former Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Series competed at the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway on two occasions, with those occurring in 2004 and ’06. The inaugural event saw Santa Cruz, California veteran Kevin Pylant race to the win driving his father Don’s No. 14p machine. The most recent event in ’06 then featured defending KWS champion Jonathan Allard dominating the main event en route to victory.

The weekly Fernley 95a Racing Series will be an important part of the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway once again in 2013. The Fernley 95a Series will take to the RTF Speedway for its season opener on Saturday April 13 that will be preceded by a play day on April 6. Other Fernley 95a Series races on deck include April 27, May 11, May 25, June 1, June 22, July 20, August 24, September 7 and the season finale September 28.

Divisions that will make up the 2013 Fernley 95a Series include IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Western States Dwarf Cars, Mod Minis, Outlaw Karts and KWS Sprint Lites. The classes will also have point races during various King of the West 410 events throughout the year at RTF Speedway.

The KWS Lites are sure to make a splash at the RTF Speedway in 2013, with ten total dates at the track and a pair of races at Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon. The KWS Lites feature Winged Spec Sprint Cars that emphasize an economic way of getting into Winged Sprint Car racing. Dates for the KWS Lites at RTF will be April 13, May 18, June 22, July 4 & 5, August 10, September 7, September 14, October 5 and October 26.

The USAC Western Classic Series will bring their brand of exciting Wingless Sprint Car racing to the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway on Saturday August 17.

A two night IMCA Modified Shootout will also be held on Friday & Saturday October 4 & 5. Along with the IMCA Modifieds other classes during the two night shootout will include the Sport Mods, Pro Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars, Mod Minis, Pure Stocks and KWS Lites.

An exciting and much anticipated event on the schedule will be on Friday September 27 when the AMA Pro Flat Track Motorcycles invade the speedway. The AMA Pro Racing Grand National Championship Series will invade the RTF clay for the first time ever on their bikes that can reach speeds over 130mph. The event will be held in conjunction with Street Vibrations in Reno and is expected to bring a packed house to the track.

“We are looking forward to kicking off a new era at the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway this season and have a lot of variety for fans to check out at our facility,” said Dan Simpson. “Everyone is eager to see the 410 Sprints up here and we’ll have a great mix of that in 2013. We’re also thrilled to have the AMA Grand National Championship Series at RTF Speedway and other special events as well for the first time. All in all it’s going to be a great season of racing.”

The new Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway is Northern Nevada’s premier three-eighths mile clay oval and is home to the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series and the Fernley 95A Racing Series. RTF Speedway runs from early-April until late-October and features everything from Winged 410 Sprint Cars to IMCA Dirt Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars, Motorcycles, Outlaw Karts and more.

The Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway dirt track has been in existence since 1999 and is geared up for its best season to date in 2013. The overall facility also includes a road course, drag strip, motor cross track, off road course, gun range, paint ball facility and has been tabbed as “Racings Field of Dreams.” More information and the full schedule can be found at
KWS Lites division to make splash at the Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway during 2013 racing season 

By Gary Thomas 

Fernley, Nevada – January 22, 2013…The motorsports community in Northern Nevada is eagerly awaiting the 2013 season at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway and the Winged Sprint Car crowd will get even more than expected, with the announcement of the newly formed KWS Lites. 

The initial meeting for the class was held in mid-December in Fernley, Nevada and featured nearly 30 people representing 18 teams in attendance. The basic concept behind the Winged KWS Lites division is to help organize the many Economy Sprint Cars in the area that utilize low cost engine packages, such as those seen in Spec Sprints. 

“I think it was a very productive first meeting for the KWS Lites division,” said King of the West Operations Manager George Hague. “We are very enthused about having a 12-race series for the Lites and look forward to working with Gary Thomas on helping to promote the division, much like we have with the King of the West 410’s. There will be a championship fund & weekly purse announced in a few weeks, with 10 of the 12 races counting towards the championship.” 

Rules packages are currently being finalized for the KWS Lites and another meeting will be held prior to the start of the season. A consistent set of rules will be put together to make things equal for all the competitors involved and to keep costs down. There have been a number of Economy Sprints race throughout Northern Nevada and the idea is to build an organization and tie it all together at RTF Speedway. 

“We will continue having meetings to get everyone on board with what we are doing,” commented Simpson. “We’re really excited to get the season started at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway, because it’s going to be a great year. We also look forward to working with the Ruby Mountain Winged Sprints in the 2013 year as well, which is really going to help build up an economic sprint car class for people to get into.” 

More info on the KWS Lites can be acquired by contacting the KWS Series office at 707-374-2222 and will also be on our RTF Speedway website that is under construction athttp://www.rtfspeedway.com 


KWS Lites 2013 Schedule of Events at Reno Tahoe Fernley Speedway & Rattlesnake Raceway

Saturday April 6 (Playday)

Saturday April 13 

Saturday May 18 

Saturday June 8 (Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon) 

Saturday June 22 

Thursday July 4 
Friday July 5

Saturday August 10

Saturday August 31 (Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon) 

Saturday September 7 

Saturday September 14

Saturday October 5

Saturday October 26
Big things are going to happen next spring when the oval track season begins. The King of the West sprint car series is now based out of 95A Speedway in Fernley.

Asked about the move, owner Dan Simpson said, "I think there is a lot of room for us to grow in Northern Nevada. And my feeling is there are more motorheads here than there is in all of Central California."

A veteran racer himself, Simpson grew up in Spokane, Wash. where his father worked on a crew for a dirt track racer. However, when it was time to start racing, he chose to be a road racer and mainly campaigned with the SCCA. 

This all changed when his daughter Danielle was born. After that he spent the next two decades focused on his business ventures and raising horses.

When his daughter turned 21 he started looking for something they could do together. One of his employees suggested racing a Dwarf car but Simpson wanted something different.

Then he discovered Spec Sprint Cars, which are wingless cars that use an engine rule to keep them inexpensive. To help his daughter get started, he built a practice track on his property.

It was an interesting and somewhat scary proposition watching his daughter race.

"Her skill levels weren't there and boom, she was out there just hammering it," he said. "When you take somebody off the street that's never raced, it's scary and she's had some nasty wrecks."

Things changed when Simpson himself began to race a Spec Sprint Car. 

"I said, 'aw,' this is it. I was 60 and it was just a lot of fun so I was hooked," he said. 

After a year, he moved up to the winged 360 sprint cars but noticed there were many wrecks and much trashed equipment in that series. Then he took a look at the Golden State Challenge series that uses 410 sprint cars and noticed they didn't have so many wrecks.

He added that when they did, those wrecks were spectacular.

The 410 class uses winged sprint cars and are just like those used in the World of Outlaws. So both he and his daughter began to race these cars.

And over the years they've both been involved in some of those spectacular crashes but so far neither have suffered injuries.

Reflecting on the difference between racing on pavement and dirt Simpson said, "I honestly think dirt track racing is the hardest form anywhere. The skill level is amazingly high as the track is changing every lap, the turns are different, drivers are tearing it up in front of you and you're coming up on lap traffic in two laps.

"It's amazing to me, having driven some sophisticated road racing cars is that I thought we were pretty skillful until I got on the dirt. I will never in the remaining years of my lifetime be able to conquer and develop all these skills."

Any tire-to-tire contact in sprint car racing usually results in one or both cars begin launched. As a result the drivers are strapped into a containment seat, their arms are tethered and their knees are positioned in brackets to hold their legs in place.

In the sprint car world it's not of a matter if a person car is involved in a flip but when, so all the safety equipment keeps the amount of injuries to a minimum.

After a few seasons with the 410s, Simpson noticed the series was going downhill and losing cars.

"About four and a half years ago, Brent Kaeding, Maury Williams and others came to me," he said. "We were talking about how our car counts had gone down, promoters didn't want to pay any money and this was at the beginning of the season so it was already looking bad."

Thinking about the problem, and after a second meeting, Simpson told them a committee wouldn't work. Then he volunteered to be the turkey, or the guy everyone could scream at.

"As soon as I said that, we had the financial crash and the world went to hell in a hand basket. And no good deed goes unpunished," he said.

At that time it was called the Golden State Challenge and soon become the Golden State King of the West Series, which Simpson took over in 2008.

"I looked at it, could see what needed to be done but I wasn't sure we could accomplish it," he said. "I felt if I invested some money we could make it fly. Then Goodyear came along, gave me sponsorship and we couldn't have done it without them."

With Goodyear's departure from dirt racing this year, Simpson is very appreciative of their support. Now, he looks forward to working with the Hoosier Racing Tires, as they will supply tires for dirt racing.

The first year was a struggle but now things have turned around. The average car count is 28 per race, up from 14 and while it can vary from 50 to 26 cars, Simpson said the perfect car count is 32.

This move to Northern Nevada came from an inquiry by the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. They asked if it was possible to put a dirt track for a race in one of their parking lots.

His answer was, "Yea, I could put it there but it's going to be a mess, it'll be awful, no body will be able to see anything and you'll have dirt everywhere. And after we're done, you'll hate us."

Next suggestion was a stadium but that didn't fly so one of his staff began to inquire at towns in the region that had tracks. The best response came from Fernley and then the tourism people got involved.

"I'm not thinking we're not going to turn the world upside down and we're going to have to try really hard. But I think what we've got that Rich Cable (who built the track at Fernley.) didn't have is a form of racing that is super, super exciting. It's the best fan based racing in the world," he said. 

Simpson now has a 10-year lease on the track. He's also changing the name to the Reno, Tahoe, Fernley Speedway and the when the usual car classes run, those events will be called the 95A series.

The longer name includes both Reno and Tahoe so when people query this area his series might also be listed.

With spring not that far away, there is a lot of work being done to the facility. The goal is to make the racing safer and the fans more comfortable.

Replacing the track lights with LED units will make it brighter and better for video. Eventually, there might be large screens and a LED billboard at the track's entrance.

The track itself is being reshaped to bring the inside edge lower to make it wider with more banking, improving the fencing as well as moving the Outlaw Kart track more to the center of the infield.

"We're going to try and have the track like they've never seen it before and all the races can be followed on a smart phone," he said. "But big plans are always superceded by the ones you don't get done."

The coming winter will determine just how much of those changes, which include extending the bleachers and adding nice bathrooms, will be finished for the season opener.

As far as the KWS shows go, he said, "We're trying to get it all down to where we can get 'em in and out in two and a half hours. And then if they want to stay and come over and visit with us in the trailers and get us to sign autographs and do all that it's great."

He knows when families attend the races, their children are only good for about three hours. So before the racing begins, he'll have drivers go up in the stands to meet their fans, both younger and older.

On the KWS race nights, the Outlaw Karts will be the filler event for intermissions and Simpson plans on using one of the regular car classes to round out the program.

There will also be a T-shirt trailer that sells not only shirts but will offer model cars for the younger fans.

He'll also bring in some names to help the season get off to a good start.

"We're going to try and open up in May and I'm hoping to open the series up here," he said. "I think what will happen is that we're going to bring fans good entertainment."

Helping the cause are two drivers from the World of Outlaws, Jac "The Wild Child" Haudenschild and two-time Outlaw champion Jason Meyers. Others include the Kaedings and veteran Jimmy Sills.

"The names will help draw the people but what really will get 'em is after they see one race and see these guys swapping the lead four and five times a lap," he said.

One thing in his favor is that the King of the West series has some devoted fans, some of which attend every race while others will attend many of them. So larger crowds are anticipated for these events.

While Simpson knows there are challenges ahead, he's optimistic about the future.

"The entertainment value I think is phenomenal but what we've got to do is get it introduced properly," he said.

So this coming spring Northern Nevada will see some really hard core, exciting and action packed racing, 410 sprint car style.