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Prestigious 14th annual Tribute to Al Hinds converges at Placerville Speedway this Saturday

By: Gary Thomas, Special to the Telegraph
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The El Dorado County Fairgrounds based Placerville Speedway is ready to kick-off the biggest month of the season this Saturday evening when the 14th annual Tribute to Al Hinds takes place at the quarter-mile.

Al Hinds was the second promoter of the Placerville Speedway. Hinds took operation of the track with business partner Richard Hirst from its founder, Bruno Romani, in 1968, three years after it first opened when the facility was built around an existing community football field.

The operator of a local machine shop by trade, Hinds loved the community where he lived. In his final years of life he enjoyed sitting with some of his best friends every night in the grandstands at Placerville Speedway and loved watching young talent make a name for themselves in the sport.

Former track announcer, publicist Bill Sullivan said of Al Hinds, “From the day he set foot on the red clay at Placerville Speedway to the very last race he attended, Hinds continued to display his true love for auto racing and the community in which he brought it to. Even in his final years he continued to help young drivers, entertain fans and most importantly he spent a great deal of time talking to and mentoring those that helped in speedway operations. When Hinds spoke, anyone who cared remotely about the future of the sport would sit down and listen.”

The three regular divisions will also be vying for extra money come Saturday. The Thompson’s Auto Group Winged 360 Sprints will award $2000-to-win, $1500 for 2nd and $1200 for 3rd! Ltd. Late Models will be $600-to-win, $500 for 2nd and $400 for 3rd. Pure Stocks will be $500-to-win, $400 for 2nd and $300 for 3rd.

Last time out with the Thompson’s Auto Group Winged 360 Sprint Cars it was Roseville’s Sean Becker who made a late pass for victory aboard the Dan Monhoff owned No. 88n machine. It was the third triumph of the season for the multi-time Nor-Cal champion, tops in the Sprint Car division this season. The most recent race saw him get around Penngrove’s Buddy Kofoid in heavy traffic. Both Becker and the 15-year-old phenom Kofoid are expected back at the Tribute to Al Hinds this Saturday.

The battle for the track championship continues to tighten up with only four Red Hawk Casino point races remaining. Elk Grove’s Greg Decaires continues to lead the way in search of a fifth title while driving the Dale Milller Plumbing No. 4sa sprinter. Visalia’s Steven Tiner however, has chipped away at the advantage each week and now has it down to just 18-digits going into the Tribute to Al Hinds. Both Decaires and Tiner have two victories to their credit this season.

More Thompson’s Auto Group Winged 360 Sprint Car competitors expected on Saturday will include Paradise’ Kyle Hirst, Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli, Fair Oaks’ Jake Morgan, Citrus Heights’ DJ Freitas and Kalib Henry, Hollister’s Tony Gualda, Calistoga’s Mike Benson, Camino’s Justin Johnson, Placerville’s Cody Fendley, CJ Humphreys and Mike Cook, Napa’s Kirt Organ, Oakdale’s Shawn Conde and others.

Live Oak racer Matt Michelli continues to dominate the Ltd. Late Model division following his sixth win of the season during the most recent event on July 22. The ultra-exciting final corner victory came by the narrowest of margins over Ray Trimble, who ranks second in the points, 37-markers behind Michelli. Mike Lightfoot, Tyler Lightfoot and last year’s track champion Eddie Gardner round out the top-five in the standings heading into Saturday.

The Pure Stock title is still up for grabs with a tight race continuing between Dan Jinkerson and Jason Palmer. Jinkerson holds a six-point advantage over Palmer with four events remaining. Both drivers have captured three wins this season and a fourth would be a big help in the grand scheme of things this Saturday. Nick Baldwin, Scott Grunert and Rick Grunert round out the top-five. Orville Owens has been the hottest driver as of late, claiming the last two victories.

Also joining the card on Saturday will be the Bay Cities Association Midget Lites. The previous four appearances have seen four different winners with Craig Dillard, Zach Keefe, Scott Kinney and Dakota Albright all taking checkered flags.

Adult tickets this Saturday will cost $15, while seniors 62 plus and juniors 12-15 will be $13, children 6-11 are $6, five and under are free! The pit gate will open at 2pm, with the front grandstand gate opening at 3pm. A happy hour will be offered from 4pm-6pm in the grandstands featuring discounted Coors Light and Coors Original at the beer stand.

Drivers meeting will be held at 4:30pm, with cars on track for wheel packing at 5pm, ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust qualifying scheduled to begin around 5:30pm and heat races expected to fire-off around 6:30pm.

The Placerville Speedway is located on the beautiful El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville, California. Take Hwy US-50 to Forni Road/Placerville Drive exit. Then go north on Placerville Drive to the Fairgrounds. The physical address is 100 Placerville Dr., Placerville, CA 95667. For more information on the Placerville Speedway log onto http://www.placervillespeedway.com.

Since opening in 1965 the Placerville Speedway has been a favorite among fans throughout Northern California. Well known for its steep banks, distinctive red clay, loyal fan base and extremely close action, the track is located just 40-minutes up the hill from the capital city of Sacramento.

Look for weekly promotions from Placerville Speedway in each edition of the Folsom Telegraph.