Since it’s inception eight years ago, The Mark Forni Classic is the biggest race of the year at Placerville Speedway that had never been claimed by a local driver.
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Until Saturday night.
After years of trying, Placerville driver Andy Gregg and car owner Scott Russell won this prestigious race Saturday, claiming the $5,000 victory in honor of the late Fair Board Member and community icon.
Saturday’s big victory at Placerville Speedway had emotions running high all night long among the many drivers whom Forni assisted during his life that ended at the early age of 45 after a hard fought battle with cancer in 2005.
Such emotions were just as powerful within the capacity crowd that packed the grandstand to witness the event, many of which flooded into victory lane to celebrate with Gregg the moment he climbed from Russell’s car.
“This is just awesome to finally win this race, I can’t thank my sponsors and team enough for all their continued support and the Forni family for continuing to put this event on each year,” said an emotional Gregg to announcer Bradley Kennedy. “This isn’t about the big money here tonight, it’s not about the money. This is about great people who believe in me and these people have believed in me for so long. I could care less how much this pays, this is for them and Mark tonight.”
After a series of caution plagued starts for Saturday’s 30-lap feature event, Gregg eventually started on the outside of the second row for the waving of the green flag. Second place starter Colby Wiesz of Colfax muscled into the lead at the start of the event, overtaking pole sitter Carson Macedo of Lemoore for the point while Gregg dueled with fellow local James Sweeney for the third place position.
Overtaking Sweeney for third and then Macedo, Gregg set his sights on Wiesz for the lead and the two drivers battled their way into lapped traffic early in the race. With 13 laps complete, the two leaders went into the first turn in traffic where Gregg made his move for the lead he would never relinquish.
Once in the front position, Gregg’s mission was far from over. With the added bounty on the line he found California’s best gunning for this top spot into the final laps of the race. Sacramento’s Willie Croft worked into the second position with 17 laps down and began chasing Gregg. Croft fought a flat tire in the final laps of the race but never held back.
At the finish line it was Gregg followed by Croft in the top two positions. Justin Sanders of Prunedale drove to the third place position and took over the Civil War Series point lead once again with the effort. Defending two time Forni Classic winner and seven time series champion Andy Forsberg was fourth at the line followed by Steven Tiner of Elverta.
Preliminary competition on Saturday night saw Sacramento’s Billy Butler win the opening heat race of the evening. Jason Statler of Grass Valley claimed the win in heat race two. The third heat of the night went to Mason Moore of Princeton while Gregg started his winning ways in the fourth heat race of the night.
The 10-lap C Feature was claimed by Wilton’s Matt Peterson. Croft was the winner of the B feature where he was followed by Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli, Tiner and Chad Compton of Fair Oaks.
In the visiting Nor Cal Dwarf Cars, Ryan Winter took home another Placerville Speedway victory Saturday night. Winter shot into the lead at the green flag for the 20-lap race. In the latter laps of the race Winter was challenged by Kevin Bender and the two top runners raced for the lead. Bender attempted a final turn slide job on Winter that was well received by the crowd but unsuccessful. At the finish line it was Winter followed by Bender, Scott Dahlgren, Chuck Conover and Doug Martin.
In addition to honoring the late Mark Forni, Saturday’s race benefited the Leukemia Lymphona Society Team in Training charity. This fundraiser was organized by longtime race fan Carla Tilford and her family. The event offered hundreds of great door prizes donated by businesses throughout El Dorado and Sacramento County. In the raffle alone, Placerville Speedway fans raised nearly $1,500 for the cause. This amount excludes the winnings in which various drivers also committed to donate to the effort.
This Saturday night is another big night at Placerville Speedway as it will be Mountain Democrat Kids Night. Kid’s bike races will take place on the race track at intermission and all kids under 12 get in free.
The weekend will be capped off with the 40th Annual Hangtown Destruction Derby on Sunday presented by the Placerville Police Officers Association which will award all kids under 12 at the Speedway event a complimentary ticket to Sunday’s Derby.
For further information visit www.placervillespeedway.com. For additional information on the upcoming Destruction Derby visit www.hangtowncops.org.