The Calistoga Speedway at the Napa County Fairgrounds in California will be buzzing with the excitement of auto racing fans and the reverberation of high-powered engines when the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars take to the track on 30-31 August 2008. This will be the first time that USAC/CRA (United States Auto Club/Champion Racing Association) Sprint Cars will be competing on the historic half-mile Calistoga Speedway in a race that is sure to uphold the track’s seventy-one year record for hosting spectacular racing.
The two highly competitive thirty-lap races will pay tribute to the late Louie Vermeil, who died in 1987. This well respected Californian racing legend served as a driving force for the establishment of motor sport in the Napa Valley, being instrumental in the founding of the Northern Auto Racing Club. Vermeil was an expert auto mechanic whose local Owl Garage was an institution in the area for around fifty years. Vermeil built and owned a number of racing cars, as well as playing a significant role in organizing races at the Napa County Fairgrounds. Calistoga’s first race in 1937 had one of Louie Vermeil’s cars in the line-up and he was the American Racing Association’s car owner champion in 1950.
In addition to the USAC/CRA Sprint Car races, the two nights of racing will include the USAC Western Midgets. Although this is the first USAC/CRA Sprint Car race to be held at Calistoga, USAC racing first made its appearance on the track in 1993, with Billy Boat winning a Midget race and going on to notch up four Calistoga triumphs in the following years. Other Midget race winners at Calistoga include Wally Pankratz, Johnny Cofer, Jim Keene and Tony Stewart.
Steve Howard of So-Cal Performance in Downey, California, put forward the idea for the upcoming racing event to serve as a tribute to Louie Vermeil whose sons Stan and Dick Vermeil are contributing tow money for traveling teams, as well as lap prize money.
Calistoga is referred to as “The Hot Springs of the West” and sights to see include an impressive erupting geothermal well, affectionately known as “Old Faithful”, a petrified forest, the superb architecture of the Calistoga City Hall and the fascinating Calistoga Water Truck Sculpture. Auto racing enthusiasts traveling to Napa County for this exciting USAC/CRA Sprint Car event, will have much to see and do when they are not enjoying the excitement at the Calistoga Speedway.