Tulare, CA – February 2, 2015…It’s become an annual tradition to open the season at Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series invading the one-third mile clay oval. This year’s version of the weekend however, adds even more excitement, as the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will co-sanction each night with the “Greatest Show on Dirt” on Friday & Saturday March 13 & 14.
This coming season is the 12th overall year that Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway will host the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. The inaugural event occurred in September of 2003 when 20-time series champion Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Indiana scored the victory over Aliquippa, Pennsylvania’s Tim Shaffer and local favorite Jason Meyers from Clovis, CA. In five of the past six years there has been at least one California native who has tasted victory with the World of Outlaws in Tulare.
The double header last season saw Rutherford, CA’s Rico Abreu race to his first career World of Outlaws victory during the final night. The always hard charging driver also claimed a trio of wins with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series during the year, including triumphs at the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial in Chico, the Wine Country Classic at Calistoga Speedway and the Gold Country Shootout in Placerville. The WOO win was Abreu’s fourth career victory at the Thunderbowl, which is also the track he earned his first ever KWS triumph at in 2012. The now 23-year-old will be in action both nights on March 13 & 14 in Tulare.
One of the more accomplished World of Outlaws drivers at Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway happens to be Brownsburg, Indiana’s Joey Saldana, who will return to the track aboard his Motter Motorsports No. 71m Sprint Car. The veteran competitor has claimed four WOO features at the Tulare based facility, which ranks as the most of any driver. Saldana last season raced to seven World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series wins and ended the campaign fifth in the final standings.
The King of the West 410 Series competed in four events last season at Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway, with wins picked off by Easton’s Tommy Tarlton, Chico’s Kyle Hirst & Jonathan Allard, as well as Australian James McFadden. In addition to March 13 & 14, KWS will be in action three more times at the one-third mile clay oval this season. Those events include the Chris & Brian Faria Memorial on May 16, the Peter Murphy Classic on July 25 and the KRC Safety Fall Shootout on October 10. The March weekend awards KWS drivers & teams show up points, with the first full-point event taking place in Placerville on April 4.
The upcoming season marks the 30th anniversary since the Golden State/ King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series came into existence. It will also be the second full season contested with the direction & leadership of John Prentice and Brent Kaeding, who assumed management of the series at the end of 2013. Along with the Tulare weekend, the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will also be co-sanctioning the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series double header at the Calistoga Speedway on Saturday & Sunday April 11 & 12.
“It’s going to be a big year for the King of the West Series, and co-sanctioning the races at Tulare & Calistoga with the World of Outlaws certainly increases the growing competition between the King of the West racers and the Outlaws,” said John Prentice of KWS & Prentice Motorsports Group. “Our drivers & teams in California have performed great the last handful of years when the World of Outlaws have come to town, so partnering up is a big deal. We hope all the fans that come to Tulare in March will see just how much talent we have on the local level and will return to the track when we are there during the rest of the season.”
Also competing both nights at the Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl in March will be the Wingless Sprints of the USAC West Coast 360 Series. The action last season at Thunderbowl Raceway was dominated by Hollister’s Ryan Bernal, who captured multiple main events at the track. Bernal is expected to pull double duty in March competing with both classes. The Saturday finale will also see the new Western RaceSaver Sprints make their debut. In total the RaceSaver Sprint Car Series will compete in Tulare seven times throughout the season.
Tickets for the March 13 & 14 double header are available by contacting the box office at 559-688-0909. All seating is reserved for the weekend with Bleacher tickets being $40 and Grandstands being $45. More info and a seating chart can be found online at www.thunderbowlraceway.com
“We’re really excited about the March weekend to open the season at Thunderbowl Raceway,” said promoter Steve Faria. “Adding the King of the West Series with the World of Outlaws should guarantee one of the best fields of Winged 410 Sprint Cars we’ve ever seen here. Having the USAC West Coast Wingless 360’s both nights will be great as well. Fans will truly have the best of both worlds each night, so I can’t think of a better way to kick-off the year. The number of quality teams we’ll have in the pit area is going to be pretty special and we can’t wait to see it.”
Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway is located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds on the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare, California. From the junction of SR 99 and SR 137, go west on SR 137. At South K go south one-half mile to the Fairgrounds. Camping is also available at the fairgrounds located off turns three and four.