The California Racing Assn., after holding its traditional sprint car opening two weeks ago in El Centro, will return to home base at Ascot Park for the first night event of the season Saturday. It will be the first of 32 main events on the half-mile dirt oval in Gardena.
Lealand McSpadden, one of the busiest drivers on the West Coast, will enjoy what to him amounts to a quiet weekend in the Ascot opener. The 39-year-old veteran from Tempe, Ariz., hopes get into one of the winning streaks for which he has become renowned among sprint car drivers.
Two weeks ago, the Tempe Tornado, as he is known in Arizona, finished fifth in a World of Outlaws feature at Phoenix on Saturday afternoon, hopped a plane to San Jose where he won an opening night race at Baylands Raceway Park that night, then flew to El Centro where he finished third in a CRA race Sunday afternoon.
"All in a week's work," McSpadden said with a laugh. During the week, McSpadden is an aircraft parts machinist in Tempe, a position he has held for 15 years.
Last weekend McSpadden did nearly as much traveling and didn't get in a race. After work Friday, he flew to San Jose for a two-day show at Baylands. That night, after practice and time trials, it rained and the show was postponed to Saturday. More rain canceled Saturday's program so McSpadden caught a plane to Phoenix in hopes of racing that night at Manzanita Speedway.
"I only had one problem," he said. "My crew wasn't expecting me back and I couldn't round them up, so I had to sit it out."
McSpadden is hoping to get in the groove the way he did in 1984 when he won 17 features, including three straight in the CRA/Arizona Challenge in Phoenix, the $75,000 Dirt Cup at Alger, Wash., and the Baylands Summer Nationals on consecutive weekends. He also won a California Civil War series race at Ascot as a representative of the Northern Auto Racing Club.
Saturday night he will drive his Arizona Gambler, owned by Bill Krug Enterprises. It is the same car he drove at Phoenix and El Centro two weeks ago. When he is in Northern California, he drives Jim Reed's sprinter.
CRA President Gary Sokola announced that his organization, besides running 32 races at Ascot, will invade Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas in May for six races in nine days.
Ricky Hood, the CRA leader from Memphis, is not entered Saturday night and does not plan to run the full season here. That leaves Jeff Heywood of Huntington Beach, who is one point behind Hood, as the ranking driver here. Heywood had a third and a second at El Centro.
Defending CRA champion Eddie Wirth of Hermosa Beach is not in the top 10 after missing the first race and finishing fifth in the second. Mike Sweeney of Carson, now in ninth place, is driving for Bruce Bromme, who had three-time CRA champion Dean Thompson as his driver for 13 years. Thompson, who helped Bromme win the award as No. 1 car owner last year, retired after last season.
SPEEDWAY BIKES--The final race of the Spring Classic will be run Saturday night at Long Beach Veterans Stadium with four riders--Kelly Moran, Lance King, Alan Christian and Sam Ermolenko--separated by only three points. Long-track specialist Bobby (Boogaloo) Schwartz is also in contention, even though he stands sixth. He is only five points out of first place and won the 1984 American Speedway Final with a perfect score of 15 points on the quarter-mile Long Beach oval.
MOTOCROSS--The Continental Motosport Club will open its 19th season of night competition Friday night at Ascot Park. It will be the first of 31 Friday night meetings, which this year will also include ATVs, quads and new classes for Yamaha BW 200s and Honda Fat Cats. . . . The CMC/Skoal Bandit Golden State Nationals closed an eight-moto series with the following champions: 125cc--Jim Tarentino, Los Angeles, Suzuki; 250--Russ Wateman, Canoga Park, Honda; 500--Phil Larsen, Bremerton, Wash., Yamaha.
INDY CARS--Beatrice Companies, sponsors of the Carl Haas-Paul Newman car driven by 1984 CART/PPG champion Mario Andretti, plans to withdraw its sponsorship. A company spokesman said: "Beatrice will have only a limited sponsorship role with the team for the remainder of 1986 in preparation for complete withdrawal from the sport next year." . . . Cindy Sullivan, former Miss Glendale, has been named Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the Indy car race there April 13. . . . Mike Groff of Northridge is one of five drivers entered in the American Racing Series, a 10-race training ground for future Indy Car drivers. The series will open April 6 at Phoenix. Others entered are Jeff Andretti of Nazareth, Pa., Mario's son; Jerrill Rice of Tulare, Kim Campbell of Dallas and Fabrizio Barbazzo of Italy. . . . Tom Binford will remain chief steward of the Indianapolis 500, a post he has held since 1974, it was announced by Roger McCluskey, competition director of the sanctioning United States Auto Club. Don McGregor of Glendale was named a deputy technical director. This year's race will be run May 26.
OFF ROAD--Walker Evans, an eight-time winner of the Baja 1000, was a featured attraction at the 56th Geneva Auto Salon in Switzerland. Evans was in Europe to help design an off-road test area at Goodyear's new Mireval Proving Grounds in southern France. . . . Mickey Thompson has announced May 3 as the date of his Rose Bowl Gran Prix. Thompson's closed course racers will be at the Astrodome on Saturday night.
NEWSWORTHY--R. W. (Kas) Kastner, veteran sports car racing figure from Torrance, has been named national motorsports manager for the Nissan racing program for IMSA, SCCA and off-road racing. He replaces Walter Carter, who resigned. . . . The Porsche Owners Club will hold a time trial Saturday and Sunday at Willow Springs Raceway, near Lancaster. They will share the track with Toyota celebrity drivers practicing for their race during the Long Beach Grand Prix.