We’ve made it into northern California and have seen some very good Sprint Car racing. What we have not seen for a few weeks is a regular weekend show. We’ll be getting back to normal now with our visits to Petaluma Speedway, Battle Mountain Raceway and All American Speedway.

Our trip from Mount Shasta down Interstate 5 into wine country was not without adventure. We hit the outskirts of Sonoma and Napa on a Sunday afternoon just at the height of the tourism season. The traffic was backed up a long way from Petaluma, which lies to the west of all of this. So, we decided to go north up Highway 29 to Calistoga and then west across the mountain to Highway 101 and then south unimpeded to our stay at the Petaluma KOA.

The road west from Calistoga was alright as far as an RV bus goes, but we took a wrong turn midway and got on a road that definitely was not intended for anything larger than a compact car. We found a turn-around spot, got back on track and made our destination without any mishaps. But it was hairy for a while there.

Our trip to Battle Mountain came about due to our original scheduled stop at the track in Winnemucca, Nevada, not running on that weekend. Because our schedule is a flow chart of sorts, we must stay on our routes in order to make the next stop. Since Winnemucca traded weekends with Battle Mountain, a nearby track, we chose to make BM our Nevada stop.

From there, we drove southwest down I-80 to Roseville, California, and All American Speedway for a great asphalt show. After this, it’s all south and east through California, Nevada, and Arizona. But first let’s see how these three tracks measured up.

Petaluma Speedway

This 3/8-mile dirt track originated as a quarter-mile track in 1954 and was changed to the larger configuration in 1963 at the fairgrounds where it still shares real estate. The feature event is sanctioned by PitStopUSA and is called the Sprint Car Series.

On this night, the Spec Sprints were running along with the IMCA Modifieds, Super Stocks, and Dwarf cars. There were 18 entries for each of the Sprint Cars and the Dwarfs. On other nights, the California Civil War Sprint cars and the 360 Sprints run special shows.

As for the track, the elevation is only 15 feet above sea level and as such, locals say it is affected by the tides in the San Francisco Bay. It is only 12 miles from San Pablo Bay, an extension of SF Bay. The level of moisture is what is affected and that dictates how much grip the track will have, as well as the dust level.

When we were there, we saw no dust at all, a strange occurrence for a dirt track and a welcomed relief. The dirt that makes up the track surface is a black sort of gumbo, and that is probably why it is so easily affected by the ground water.

The track has a pair of infield roads that serve as by-pass routes when there is a caution and blockage at one end of the track. The cars can continue to run, as Sprint Cars need to do, to avoid having to be pushed off again. This is a huge benefit and saves a lot of time and effort.

The track is operated by Rick Faeth and he is assisted and continually coached by the previous owner in the fine art of track preparation and maintenance. The morning after the races, Rick was on the grader working the track so that it would be ready for next week’s racing schedule. The management put on a great show and the racing was competitive and relatively incident free all night. Thanks to Ed and Rick for hosting us and if you’re ever in wine country in California, this is one track you just have to visit.

Battle Mountain Raceway

BM is more of a club track that was established in 1981 and has been recently refurbished. The current manager is Angie Gonzalez who acts as president of the group. As I said above, this was a last minute change to our schedule due to this track and Winnemucca racing on alternate weekends.

This facility is way out and away from any major city. It lies in a very remote section of northern Nevada. We drove 230 miles east from Reno and we were only 300 miles from our first stop on this year’s Tour in Salt Lake City. We were just 90 miles south of Idaho.

In this part of the country in the high desert, it rarely rains, but on this day, there were storms all around us, just not where we were. Although the skies stayed dark most of the afternoon, we stayed dry and the races went on as planned.

Today’s racing was the Silver Cup races for the Pro Stock division, which paid $3,000 to win. Also racing were the Winged Sprint Cars, Four Cylinders, Modifieds, and Dwarf cars. It is a two-day event that will conclude the next day, when we will be in Roseville, California. Such is our tight schedule for this Tour where we try to get in as many venues as possible, even if we only make one day of a two day event.

The track is built without outside walls in the turns. There are new grandstands and lighting throughout the pits and spectator areas, and the pits are lined with gravel so there is no dust or mud problems. That was nice.

We enjoyed the remoteness, likening it to Atomic City, although this area is much more populated than that. It’s nice to see tracks as close together as these two, work out their schedules so as not to compete for the precious few race teams and fans that are available. It keeps the gates open for both.