Little known Norco National Speedway, located deep in Norco horse country, hosted the first annual Memorial Day 25 lap feature monday evening. Rob Ferguson outlasted favorite Blake Miller on the last lap of the shortened feature when Blake’s red car quit coming to the flag. Rob then bested Chet Gardner in a close hard fought battle throughout the event.
Blake Miller started the day off with fast time on the small oval at 11.60, in his Honda powered racer. With six go-carts complete with rollcages in the house it was a fun evening. They had already raced at Bobby Graham’s home track nearby earlier in the afternoon, but were ready to have some more fun at proprietor Mac McAuliffe’s Norco National Speedway.
The little track is smaller than the width of Mac's property, making it nearly 55 feet wide and probably twice that long. There is great lighting so the races can be day or night. I can’t tell you where it is or I’d have to kill you, but it is nestled back behind some nice houses and even beyond their farm animal barns and caged areas. You have to know the password to get back there, and word has it there is racing several nights a week with the Gardner clan always in attendance.
We arrived during one of the hot lap races with five cars on the track kicking up a little dust now and then. When the gang pulled into the little pit area, it was announced they would be qualifying soon for their race. I would be the official timer? Five cars were 5 horsepower Honda motored carts and the other , always to be known as the Garage Sale Special, had a Briggs and Stratton motor in it. This cart belonged to a neighbor named Tom Lawrie, who with his friend Russel put it together with parts found mostly in garage sales. The other carts were all similarly built, as Jim Gardner used his tubing knowledge to create the roll cages, as safety is an important issue. The small motors mean the cost will be almost nothing once you buy a cart and motor. The proprietor, Mac, said the whole package is easily done for under $2000. The four stroke motors perform great and the very small tires work fine on them. Bigger tires don’t work because they would drain the motor and slow them down. The point of this KGRA (kids go racing association) is to have fun and be competitive with simple rules, no “cheater” rules, and whoever wins – wins.
The list of drivers was longer than the number of cars, so after qualifying there would be two heats with three cars getting different drivers. The drivers were Jim and Chet Gardner, Ronnie Gardner, Rob and Daniel Ferguson, Tom lawrie and his partner Russell, and Blake Miller. They have a winners trophy, from a Perris Auto Speedway trophy once won by someone in the group. These races go on weekly, and the winner gets to take the trophy home until the next race.
The two heats were ready to go, with the top two going into the main event. Four carts took off at the starter's hand wave. Russell didn’t get far in his Garage Sale entry and in fact did not start because of a problem when his tie rod came unbolted and he had no steering. This put him on the wrecker, a 4 wheeler pulling a small trailer. They loaded it up and took it to the pit area to repair for Tom to drive in the next heat. Blake then chased and passed Chet and Jim to win the first 10 lap heat, with Chet and Blake moving to the main. The last heat featured Rob and his son Daniel, with Ronnie and Tom if he could get the Garage sale entry ready. Rob and son were the two transferring, after Ronnie spun out and Tom came in last.
It would be an inverted main with Miller on the back and Ronnie, who failed to transfer from his heat, in the Garage sale car for reason’s I quite didn’t understand. The officials seem to be the drivers, so decisions were made at the spur of the moment and things went on. Ronnie was driving a cart with only the right rear wheel driving it so would be at a disadvantage from the get go, but he was in.
The Memorial Day race was intended to be a 50 lap race, but Mrs Wags hunger pains encouraged a shorter event. The “officials” decided 30 laps would do. Off they went and it didn’t take Blake long to muscle by the others and grab a big lead. Chet and Rob seemed to be his competition, but Chet and Daniel got into a tussle for track position, and a yellow flew for them to get untangled. On the restart Rob was in Blake’s rear view mirror and they circled the track time and time again until I, the official lap counter, got up to 25 as best I could. Blake slowed before he crossed the finish line on lap 25, and Rob took the lead. All the cars pulled in thinking they had run 40 or 50 laps, ready to end the night. Even after hearing it was only 25, they agreed it was finished and Rob got the victory and the cherished trophy. The winner’s circle pics were taken by Mrs Wags and the race was official. After Rob came Chet, Blake, Daniel and Ronnie.
It was fun watching these "kids", “young and old”, having a great time together. There are more carts rumored to be coming out to challenge the kids, so we shall see. I didn’t get any indication on how many races have gone on in this series, but for sure the next one will be some night soon and the trophy might change hands. The setting is perfect and the small amount of noise is far enough away from the neighboring houses, it is a home run in these kids mind.
Thanks to Mac and his racers for the invite and the fun we had, looking forward to the first Wagtimes night with hot dogs and cokes for a family affair, HAH!. If you ask me any questions about what I saw out there, I will have to decline any knowledge, but if there really is a Norco National Speedway, the word will surely get out. It makes me want to get a cart and go have some fun, but then I hardly have time to do what I do, so I’ll just be content to be a guest on occasion and watch. Until next time guys, keep on racing.