STOCKTON — The Northern California Sprint Car season comes to a close in a big way next week with the Stockton Dirt Track playing host to the two-night Tribute to Gary Patterson weekend starting tonight.
The highlight of the doubleheader is the 33rd annual Tribute to GP on Saturday, which features the only night all season long that the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series and the Civil War 360 Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster are showcased on the very same night. Overall in fact, it will only be the third time it has ever occurred in the 31-year history of KWS and the 26-year history of Civil War.
Each series champion will be crowned in the unique Stockton Dirt Track winner’s circle, where fans are invited to gather around and enjoy the ceremonies. Next week is also the first chance to see the new improvements that are taking place at the track. The lightning fast clay oval has had the front stretch brought closer to the grandstands, something many fans have asked for since it debuted in 2013. A new flag stand has been built to go along with the new scoreboard that debuted in July.
Going into the Tribute to Gary Patterson, Paradise’s Kyle Hirst leads Campbell’s Bud Kaeding by 28-digits at the top of the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series standings. The 28-year-old Hirst is looking to become a three-time series champion and join Brent Kaeding and Jonathan Allard as the third driver to reach three career titles.
Bud Kaeding won at the Stockton Dirt Track on June 18 during the Jimmy Sills Classic and hopes to snatch the title away during championship night. Clarksburg’s Justyn Cox, Hanford’s DJ Netto and Grass Valley’s Jason Statler round out the top-five in points.
The Civil War 360 Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster features an even closer battle at the top of the standings with eight-time series champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn leading Princeton’s Mason Moore by 16-points.
The previous three Winged 360 Sprint Car events at the Stockton Dirt Track, including last year’s Tribute to Gary Patterson have all gone to Forsberg in the familiar C&M Racing No. 7c machine. Chico’s Michael Ing, Roseville’s Sean Becker and Watsonville’s Justin Sanders complete the top-five going into the finale.
Two-time Tribute to Gary Patterson King of the West winner Rico Abreu is also set to be on hand performing double duty, competing with both the King of the West Series and Civil War Series on Saturday.
The 24-year-old from Rutherford has four career Stockton Dirt Track wins to his credit, which ranks number one since the facility opened. Abreu has had another phenomenal season in 2016, winning the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, the Gold Cup Race of Champions, the Iron Man 55 and the Rock-N-Roll Gold Cup among others.
The overall Tribute to GP weekend opens with championship night for the Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprints, along with Dirt Modfieds, Dwarf Cars & Vintage Cars on the slate.
During the day on Saturday from 1pm to 4pm a car show, driver autograph session & live band will entertain the crowd behind the grandstands. Come early and make a day of it to help us finish off the season with one big party.
Known as the “Dancing Phantom from Stockton,” the “Preacher,” the “Hostile Hippie” or just simply “GP,” Gary Patterson was one of the most colorful characters of his time and captured a number of major wins in his career, including the Gold Cup Race of Champions, the Super Dirt Cup in Washington and the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ascot Park among others.
Patterson lost his life in a Sprint Car crash at Calistoga Speedway on Memorial Day weekend 1983 and an event in his memory has been held every year since. “GP” moved to Stockton, California in 1957 and began his career at the Stockton 99 Speedway. This year marks the fourth season in a row that we’ve paid honor to Patterson in Stockton.