MOTOR RACING / SHAV GLICK : Noffsinger Seeks CRA Title at Ascot
Brad Noffsinger missed on his first shot at NASCAR’s Winston Cup stock car racing, but he can’t wait to get another chance.
In the meantime, his sights are set on winning the California Racing Assn.'s final season of sprint car racing at Ascot Park. Noffsinger won the CRA in 1986 and 1987, which gave him a springboard to Winston Cup racing.
When his bid for rookie of the year fell short in 1988 and he lost his sponsor at the end of the season, he came home to resume the sprint car career that began when he first raced for his father, Ace Noffsinger. He won nine races last season but finished fourth, behind Ron Shuman, Jerry Meyer and Rip Williams in CRA standings.
“I might have gone back south to run stock cars again, but the idea of running the last season at Ascot kept me home,” Noffsinger said. “I love Ascot and I felt if this is going to be the last season, I had to be here. I drove my first sprint car race in J.C. Agajanian’s car around 1980 and Cary Agajanian has been very supportive of my stock car effort, so I feel like I can’t do enough for them.”
Ascot Park, where the Agajanian family has been promoting races almost continuously since 1957, will close after the Turkey Night midget race in November to make way for an industrial park.
At the halfway mark of the CRA season, Noffsinger’s win last Saturday night pulled him within 57 points of leader John Redican, 2,165-2,105. Defending champion Shuman is fourth, 110 points back of Noffsinger, with Williams third.
“It’s funny racing against Redican,” Noffsinger said. “He used to race for my dad, and in those days I was a kid who swept out the floors at my dad’s shop in Cypress. We’re still good friends of the Redican family, but it seems funny being out there racing for the lead with John.
“John is amazing. He says he’s only 45, but he’s sure been around a long time. He drove seven years for my dad and only won one race. This year, though, he’s driving like he’s younger and tougher than ever.”
Redican has won seven CRA main events this season. The only other multiple-winners are Noffsinger with four, Shuman and Lealand McSpadden with three and Brent Kaeding with two.
This week could create a good deal of movement among the leaders as the CRA will conduct a 30-lap main event Saturday night and the 50-lap Firecracker 50 on Tuesday night, both at Ascot Park.
“The difference between winning at 30 laps and winning at 50 is driver conditioning,” Noffsinger said. “And I think the advantage is all mine because most of the other guys up front are much older than me.”
Noffsinger is 29, Shuman 37, Redican and McSpadden 45.
In 1988, Noffsinger finished third behind Ken Bouchard and Ernie Irvan in Winston Cup rookie of the year standings, but he was much more of a rookie than the other two.
“I had never driven on asphalt anywhere until the end of the ’87 season when I drove at Mesa Marin. When some of the guys there were invited to race in Australia, I went along and it was the first time I’d ever seen a superspeedway.
“I was set to run the CRA again when Mike Curb gave me a call in April and asked if I’d like to test his stock car. He said he was looking for a driver to replace Ed Pimm.”
Noffsinger finished 14th in his first race. It was his highest finish of the 17 races he made. Both Bouchard, who has since also quit Winston Cup racing, and Irvan were graduates of NASCAR short-track asphalt racing.
“I can’t wait to try it again, mainly because the people down there are so helpful. Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt couldn’t seem to do enough for me, telling me how to drive the different tracks and how to set up my car. Benny Parsons couldn’t fit in my car, but he’d drive me around the tracks in a pickup truck and tell me what to do and where to do it.
“Every track I went to, it was the first time I’d even seen it. Next time I’ll feel a lot more comfortable. If I can’t put together a package for Winston Cup--and that can mean as much as $1.5 or $2 million for a serious effort--I’ll definitely try to do the Winston West series. and get as many miles in as I can. After all, if Dick Trickle can make rookie of the year at 48 (as he did in 1989), I needn’t hurry.”
STOCK CARS--The Winston West series, with Bill Sedgwick of Van Nuys the points leader, will be in Portland this weekend. Derrike Cope, the Daytona 500 winner who got his start in the West Coast series, will drive a Chevrolet in the 100-mile race Sunday at Portland Speedway. Cope won his first race there in 1984 and won again in 1988.
Special Fourth of July programs are scheduled at Ascot Park and Saugus Speedway next Wednesday night. NASCAR Winston Racing Series pro stocks will run at Ascot, with Saugus featuring hobby stocks. Both will have a demolition derby and fireworks. . . . Sportsman drivers will hold their usual Saturday night program at Saugus, along with hobby stocks and jalopies. . . . A 150-lap international enduro for foreign and domestic compacts will fill Ascot’s track on Sunday night.
The NASCAR Southwest Tour will be at Mesa Marin Raceway on Saturday night for the Wrangler Jeans 100 with the pack looking for a way to stop Doug George of Atwater, who won his second consecutive race in a Ford last Saturday night at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. George, 29, had not won a race in five years before breaking through at Sears Point three weeks ago.
Santa Maria Speedway will hold a 250-lap factory stock enduro Saturday night. . . . Also scheduled are sportsman cars Saturday night at Cajon Speedway and a 50-lap main event for street stocks Friday night at Ventura Raceway.
MOTOCROSS--With the stadium Supercross season over and the national 500cc series not starting for more than a month, most of the nation’s leading riders will be at Mammoth Mountain this weekend for the year’s biggest non-points races. Jeff Stanton, who won his second consecutive Supercross championship and its $50,000 Camel bonus with a sixth-place finish last Saturday night in the Coliseum, is entered, as is France’s Jean-Michel Bayle, the world 250cc champion who lost the Coliseum race by inches to 17-year-old Damon Bradshaw in a dramatic finish that saw Bradshaw half off his bike as he fought to reach the finish line without falling. Many observers among the 40,067 spectators called it one of the most exciting finishes in the sport’s young history. . . . Erik Kehoe of Saugus will miss the Mammoth Mountain race with a shoulder broken from a fall in the Coliseum.
Billy Liles, the Georgia rider who was leading the world 500cc championship series, broke his leg in a fall during practice for the Italian Grand Prix and will miss the remainder of the season, including the U.S. Grand Prix on Aug. 26 at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Park. . . . The Continental Motosport Club’s summer series will continue Friday night at Ascot Park and Sunday at Glen Helen Park.
FORMULA 5000--Jerry Foyt, youngest son of A. J., will make his professional open-wheel debut this weekend in a United States Auto Club race at Willow Springs Raceway’s 2.5-mile road course. Foyt will also race Tuesday night in a Formula 5000 race on Cajon Speedway’s tight, paved oval, which will be held in conjunction with a USAC midget race.
MOTORCYCLES--The American Road Racing Assn. will hold a series of Grand Prix motorcycle sprint races Sunday and the Firecracker 500, a 500-mile road race, July 4 at Willow Springs Raceway. . . . Sidecars will return to the speedway racing program Friday night at Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Speedway bikes will also race tonight at Ascot Park’s South Bay Speedway with national champion Bobby Schwartz and Englishman Phil Collins renewing their rivalry with track leader Mike Faria.