It’s not often, in fact 17 years to be exact.
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But there’s another now that Tony Fonseca became the latest local car owner to celebrate a championship after his self-built, Red Hawk-sponsored Midget Lite race car claimed the title last season of the Bay Cities Racing Association traveling series.
Fonseca, a 20-year Placerville resident, has been at it (car owner) since 2008 and around racing a lot longer. As an owner, a Fonseca-built/owned car had top-three finishes four of the last five years, never below fifth place, and a 2009 Rookie-of-the-Year in Pete Paulson.
His background in sprint cars set up his transition to the Midget Lites.
“They’re set up like a sprint car and I liked the fact they’re fast,” Fonseca said. The BCRA bunch is a great group of guys to be around and made it easy on us guys (from sprints) and make it competitive.”
Fonseca would prefer to drive but a series of “bad” motorcycle accidents — and his wife’s insistence — meant he’d have to forego the urge.
Enter Scott Kinney who drove Fonseca’s Midget Lite to the title. Kinney’s relationship dates back to an association with Fonseca’s uncle, Orv Johnson, whom Kinney drove for in 2004 when he won his first Midget Lite title. At the time Fonseca was “wrenching for them.”
Johnson, a member of the BCRA Hall of Fame, started racing Midget Lites back in the 1980s.
“He’s been around a long time, has been a mentor to me and taught me everything I needed to know to be a crew chief,” Fonseca said. “Scott (Kinney) decided he wanted to drive for us and did an excellent job.”
So much so that Kinney, who racked up four consecutive wins during the season, will return next year as Fonseca’s driver.
‘We started off with a bang, lost a motor and were sluggish but overall stayed consistent,” said Kinney whose career had been tempoarily stalled due to the economy. “I went from sitting on my couch to back in the seat again since Tony called. Having top of the line parts and the best motor you can get makes my job a lot easier.”
With Kinney on board last season, Fonseca Racing had six scheduled stops at Placerville Speedway and made five after one weather cancellation. The series also took the duo to Antioch, Petaluma and Bakersfield. Overall, Kinney won six of 10 main events to amass 731 points, two ahead of second place in a very close and contested season. In terms of owner points, Fonseca was third.
Red Hawk, where Fonseca’s No. 9 Midget Lite spent time on display, was vitally important to the team’s championship season. The race car has also been at the El Dorado Food Bank in Cameron Park where Fonseca’s helping to promote the Race for Hunger.
“They took good care of us, were positive, gracious and treated us like family,” Fonseca said. “Their sponsorship made us the team we are — better equipped and a better car. They’re great people, excited about our progress and are willing to help us out more. We know if we ask them they’ll help us.”
Sounds like this local union is poised for good things ahead.
Note: Ray Rust was the last local open wheel driver to win a title in 1995 for local car owner Butch Wylie.