By Ray Hamill — The Redwood Acres raceway is gearing up for its biggest night of the year on Saturday, with plenty at stake for the drivers in the points standings and plenty of access for the fans.
The annual Drivers’ Appreciation Night allows local racing fans the chance to interact with the drivers out on the track and the opportunity to meet them.
“Drivers’ appreciation night is always our biggest night of the year,” track promoter Blair Aiken said. “What we do is a meet and greet for the fans out on the front straightaway from 5 to 6:30 before the racing starts. It’s a huge event.”
According to Aiken, more than 2,300 fans showed up for the event last summer, and he is expecting more than 3,000 fans to be on hand this weekend.
Exciting races on tap
When the racing does get under way, all six divisions will be in action, including two that appear to be going right down to the wire.
In the Mid-City Motor World Late Models division, Eureka’s Mic Moulton leads David Henderson by just 12 points with just two events remaining.
The defending champion has been the most consistent driver at the track all season but has been unable to shake Henderson, who has been right behind him all the way.
Dane Nissen is 54 points further back in third, with Kenny Demello and Marty Walsh rounding out the top five.
The Bandoleros, meanwhile, feature an even tighter points race in what has been a tremendously successful debut campaign for the younger drivers’ division.
The Bandaleros feature competitors aged eight to 16 and were added to the program this season as a way of accommodating the next generation of drivers.
And the new addition has been everything the track had hoped for and more.
“The Bandoleros are a huge,” Aiken said. “The fans love it.”
Fort Bragg’s Lane Anderson leads the way in the points standings, with just three points separating him from Aiden Kimberling in second.
This division will likely go down to the final weekend of action on Sept. 7 and 8 although both drivers will be looking to take the initiative this weekend.
Kadence Mace, Maleesa Miles and Trey Daniels round out the top five .
Big leads for Ford, Redd
Nick Ford, meanwhile, has a sizable 68-point lead in the Compass Community First Roadrunners division, with Lindsey Zito in second, just five points ahead of Tim Ratzlaff.
If Ford is rolling toward the season championship, the battle for second in this division is one well worth keeping tabs on with two events remaining.
Amanda Lohr and Ronny Crump round out the top five, with just a single point separating the two in yet another intriguing battle.
In the Fortuna Wheel and Brake Bombers division, Jim Redd has a commanding 48-point lead over Wyatt Roach in second.
It’s been 10 years since the veteran Redd won the championship, and he’ll be hoping to hold off the challenge of Roach to secure the milestone victory.
“It’s been a good season so far,” he said.
Redd will be out of town this weekend and Brandon White will be driving the No. 44 car in his place.
Sam Brown, Ryan Walters and Chris Naughton round out the top five.
In the Humboldt Hydroponics Mini Stocks division, Brian Murrell Sr. has a 32-point lead over Eugene Palmer in second, with Scott Taylor 17 points further adrift in third.
With two evens remaining, Palmer and Taylor are running out of time if they’re going to catch Murrell Sr.
Trevor Eacret and Nick Ford round out the top five.
In the Northcoast Lighting & Electric Legends division, meanwhile, Chris Lawrence is in control in the points standings with a 48-point lead over Tyler Peach in second.
This division also features an intriguing three-horse race for third place, with just 21 points separating Aiden Daniels, Katina Baker and Brent Mack.
Saturday’s action will also include the annual Murrell 500 in the Mini Stocks division.
The race, which celebrates five generations of Murrells racing at the local track, has grown in stature in recent years, becoming one of the most anticipated races on the calendar.
A busy night of action will also include the Thunder Roadsters returning for one night in a memorial race for longtime Redwood Acres driver/fan Paul Peeples, who recently passed away.