A jubilant crowd packed the grandstands Saturday night at the Placerville Speedway on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds for the Mountain Democrat Kids Night, as they cheered on Justin Sanders, who celebrated a hard earned fourth victory in the Sprint Car feature event.
Sanders was joined by Ryan McDaniel, who won his fifth Limited Late Model feature. Matt Tilford added another Kid’s Night win to his resume in Pure Stocks, while Shawn Jones won the Nor Cal Dwarf Car feature event.
On this special night prior to the races, youngsters raced their bicycles during intermission, with the help of the drivers, for trophies and ribbons. This particular edition brought the community together, as the event raised funds for the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County. In the end, multiple brand new bicycles were presented in a free raffle courtesy of the Mountain Democrat and Lightfoot Automotive.
“This event is great, it’s awesome that the track continues to carry on this tradition for the kids each year,” Tilford said. “It gives kids the thrill of competing, and one day many of them may come out here like we do and become the drivers of the future.”
Jon Meyer, who works in advertising for the Mountain Democrat, assisted with the festivities. Meyer received a standing ovation after addressing the crowd over the infield microphone, and explained how strongly the Mountain Democrat supports the racing community in El Dorado County.
Sean McCartney, executive director of the Western Slope Boys and Girls Club, participated in the event to give it an entertaining touch. McCartney called the race action for the bike races, and thanked the fans and speedway promoters for all their ongoing efforts to benefit the organization through this race season.
“I can’t thank Placerville Speedway enough for what they have been doing for the Boys and Girls Club this season,” McCartney said.
In the Sprint Car feature event, Sanders started on the outside of the second row and moved into the third position at the opening green flag to challenge front row starters Andy Forsberg and point leader Greg DeCaires. After racing in the veteran’s wake for the first seven laps, Sanders made what could be described as a Hail Mary pass on the eighth lap, when he moved his Rudy Warrington owned No. 18 to the extreme high line, and passed both DeCaires and Forsberg for the lead as they exited the fourth turn.
Forsberg fought back, with Sanders in the immediate laps after the pass, but Sanders could not be caught, as he drove to victory. Forsberg finished in second at the checkered flag. Placerville’s Andy Gregg, who recently returned to California after becoming the 2014 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year, muscled his way to the third place position.
In the Pure Stock division, Tilford took the lead from pole-sitter Danielle Clauson in the opening lap and maintained his lead all the way to the finish line. Tim Mack of Diamond Springs finished in second place over point leader Scott Grunert and Eddie Gardner.
In the Limited Late Models, Ryan McDaniel led from the green flag to the checkered. McDaniel started on the pole and never relinquished the lead for the entire 20 laps. McDaniel was trailed by Jeff Olshowka, points leader Matt Micheli, Ray Trimble and Tom Tilford.
The three track regulars were joined by the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars. Mike Grenert took the initial lead in this 20-lap feature before Jones powered into the lead with a high-side pass in turns three and four to take a position he would never relinquish. At the line Jones was followed by Ryan Winter, Grenert, Kevin Bender and Chuck Conover.
Sunday’s 41st annual Hangtown Destruction Derby, presented by the Placerville Police Officers Association, took place. Results will be in Wednesday’s issue of the Mountain Democrat.
Catch the highlights and hear what the drivers have to say about Saturday night’s race on local El Dorado County TV station, Foothill 7 TV on Comcast, or online at foothill7tv.com to catch the weekly episode of “Foothill Thunder.”