spo cars

BIG RACE DAY planned for Saturday beginning with a giant race car show at Thompson's Auto Center followed by the Tribute to Al Hinds Civil War finale at Speedway. Photo by Bill Sullivan


Tribute to Al Hinds rescheduled for Wednesday

By From page A9 | September 20, 2013

Note: Placerville Speedway has informed the Democrat that threats from Mother Nature has forced this event to move to Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Race fans from El Dorado County and the surrounding communities are gearing up for one of the biggest nights of open wheel racing in the sierra foothills as Placerville Speedway pays homage to a legacy in local racing. This Saturday, it’s time for the 10th Annual Tribute to Al Hinds at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds presented by Thompson’s Auto Centers.

This event will feature the fire-breathing sprint cars of the Civil War Sprint Car Series in one of its highest paying regular events of the season with a $3000 to win event sponsored by Thompson’s Auto and Truck Centers of Placerville. Ten years ago this event was born after the passing of the well known early track promoter and mentor, Al Hinds, a longtime Placerville resident and true race fan that touched the lives of many of today’s up and coming drivers in the sport today.

It is due to the continuous support of longtime area auto dealer Ron Thompson that the legacy of Al Hinds continues in grand fashion for its tenth consecutive year. Not only will Saturday’s winner pick up the $3000 victory that includes a $1000 bonus sponsored by Thompson, the event caps off a big day in local racing as Thompson’s Auto Center hosts a big sprint car show and free bbq for fans and race teams from 11 a.m, until 2 p.m at their dealership located at 126 Forni Road in Placerville.

This year’s event is expected to be bigger and better than any before as some 20 open wheel race cars are expected including the top sprint car drivers that will duel for the championship later in the night along with a number of teams from the Bay Cities Racing Association Midget Lites and select stock cars that have come forth with an interest to join in the big afternoon where fans and teams can enjoy a great BBQ which will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County.

The Thompsons Auto Center Car Show and BBQ will offer fans and teams hamburgers, hot dogs and refreshments along with the race car display and live music by Cynthia Renee and Chris K during the afternoon. This event is a great affair to bring the whole family to as the drivers will be on hand with many goodies and autographs for youngster who can get up close and sit in the race cars to make memories of a lifetime.

Al Hinds was the second promoter of 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. Since that time, Placerville Speedway has become one of the top auto racing venues in Northern California, much due to the efforts of Hinds, who brought the community together with what was known as a rough and tumble facet of the sport back in the day.

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 many of those who are involved with the operations of the facility today, from officials, announcers and even the track promoter himself. When Hinds spoke, anyone who cared remotely about the future of the sport would sit down and listen.

When Hinds managed Placerville Speedway, the cars in competition were nothing like they were today. In Hinds’ later days of life, Cast iron transitioned into aluminum. Titanium began to replace just about anything that could break and aerodynamics became a factor on cars that now carry computerized scoring equipment that records speeds nearing 100 mph. However, none of that changed Hinds’ classic theory in the business of racing promotions; if you build it they will come.

“I miss that guy, it didn’t matter that the cars have changed and are going twice as fast they were back then, he knew how to promote racing and he still knew how to prep a track, ” recalls Alan Handy, the promoter of Placerville Speedway who just signed a new contract with the El Dorado County Fairgrounds to continue operations for the next three years.  “He would come out here during the week and sit for hours and watch the grader. If he saw me doing something wrong, he told me his opinion. He was almost always right every time whether I liked it or not.”

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. This Saturday, such talent is sure to fill the field more than Hinds would ever imagine.

Saturday’s event is expected to become standing room only due to the caliber of competition and the expected winnings along with the following the Tribute to Al Hinds continues to have with the local business community. An early arrival to the speedway is suggested to insure ideal seating. In addition to the championship, the Tribute to Al Hinds will also host the traditional return of the “Hug Your Flagman” event that has become the side show to this annual race year after year.

Saturday’s race will be a shoot out for the 2013 Civil War Series Championship as former two time series champion Sean Becker of Roseville took over the point lead from 7 time champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn with his victory at Petaluma Speedway last Saturday night. The quest for the prestigious title is sure to be a barn burner all the way to the checkered flag as these two longtime rivals race side by side for a repeat crown and look to hold off the challenges of season long top runner Justin Sanders of Prunedale who will look to work his way back to the top in a quest for his first title.

Over 30 of California’s top race teams are expected Saturday night, including defending race winner Steven Tiner of Elverta who will be among the many top drivers at the Thompson’s Car Show with the likes of Scott Russell, Andy Gregg, Jimmy Trulli, Cody Spencer, James Sweeney, Greg DeCaires, Chase Johnson, Andy Forsberg, Richard Forsberg, Charlie Cagle, Matt Barber, Sean Becker, Brett Rollag, CJ Humphreys, Casey McCloed, Colby Wiesz and more.  The former championship Midget Lite team of Red Hawk Casino’s Tony Fonseca is expected along with top series drivers Richie and Joey Hoover and more.

Saturday’s race will mark the final Civil War Series event to take place under the promotion of Handy Racing Promotions. Beginning in 2014, Mark Prentice of Ocean Speedway will assume the management of the traveling series as Handy will act as a consultant for the year to come. The event also marks the final race of the year at Placerville Speedway which will go dark until April of 2014 when action will resume under the promotion of Handy who recently signed a new three year contract with the El Dorado County Fairgrounds to continue the operation of the racing facility that opened in 1965.

In addition to the Civil War Sprint Cars, the Midget Lites of the Bay Cities Racing Association will be in competition Saturday night to insure an action packed night of open wheel racing. Many of the Midget Lites will be on hand for the Thompson’s Car Show and BBQ earlier in the day.

Tickets will go on sale at the speedway starting at 5 p.m. Adult tickets will be $16, seniors $14 juniors $12 and children $6. Those under six will be admitted for free. Admission to the Thompsons Car Show and BBQ event is free for all ages. For further information visit the Placerville Speedway website at or join us on Facebook.


Bill Sullivan

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