SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The King of the West-NARC Fujitsu 410 Sprint Car Series will be in action this Saturday for the 10th annual Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway.
The lucrative event will be showcased in front of an empty grandstand due to strict state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions. It was made possible due to the outpouring of sponsorship support in honor of the living driving legend.
Saturday’s nights show will feature more than $32,000 in prize money, including a $5,000 payday for the winner of the 30-lap headliner. Each starter in the 24-car main will earn a minimum of $700. This is the second night of a two-day HK Classic program at Ocean Speedway, featuring a regular racing program on Friday night.
This marks the second race of the season for the King of the West series, utilizing a schedule that has endured 13-cancellations so far due to the pandemic. The Northern Auto Racing Club announced three weeks ago that the traveling series will not crown a champion after 60-consecutive years of doing so. The Howard Kaeding Classic could also be the season finale assuming California continues its lock down on spectator sports.
This race was made possible through donations of businesses and supporters directly tied to the racing community. Bud Kaeding has spearheaded the fund-raising efforts in honor of his legendary grandfather, a winner of more than 500 main events.
“To be honest, I was surprised by the response we received from supporters of the event,” said Bud Kaeding. “I knew going into this project that it is was going to be tough to pull it off. In years past, I just worked on contributing to the existing payout, but this year I knew that raising the full purse would be a tall feat. The support by the teams and sponsors has been incredible.”
The only drawback of the 10th annual event is not providing race fans with the ability to attend in person. The event will only be available on FloRacing/Speedshift TV pay-per-view. Racing teams will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing in the pit area.
“Not having race fans attend really takes away the atmosphere for me as a racer,” explained Bud Kaeding, a 21-time winner on tour, including last year’s race. “Not seeing fans after the races and not seeing a smiling kid after an autograph is something I hope ends soon.”
The motivation to continue the event without an annual gap comes directly from the source – the 88-year-old Howard Kaeding himself.
“He (Howard) is always on me about making flyers and getting the word out to the community in February and March,” said Bud Kaeding. “He usually puts ads in the local papers and goes to local restaurants and auto parts stores to hang flyers. So, I guess you could say he looks forward to it, which drives me to succeed also.
“As a driver, team owner, and promoter I can’t thank all of the supporters of this years event enough. I know this has been an off year for everyone and I am beyond thankful for everyone that has contributed. Without their help this event wouldn’t be possible.”