The American Motorcyclist Assn. has been conducting national championship races at Ascot Park since the half-mile dirt track opened 33 years ago, and when the AMA holds its final event--a Camel Pro series half-mile Saturday night--there will be seven former winners entered.
Harley-Davidson teammates Scott Parker of Swartz Creek, Mich., and Chris Carr of Manteca, Calif., will be fighting for the series championship held by Parker the past two years. With only two of 15 events remaining--at Ascot and in Sacramento on Oct. 6--Parker holds a 216-202 lead in the battle for a $100,000 bonus from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and $50,000 from Harley-Davidson.
"We've got to win at Ascot to have a chance," Carr said. "I know I can win there because I've done it three times, and it helps to have that kind of confidence. But if we're going to catch Scotty, we need help."
Help may be forthcoming from Doug Chandler of Salinas, the newly crowned AMA Superbike champion, who is returning to the track where he has won four times; and Steve Morehead of Findlay, Ohio, who won the half-mile race at Ascot last spring. Morehead also won at Hagerstown, Md., on a half-mile track.
"Steve gets around Ascot pretty good, and he could mix things up a little," Parker said. "The way I look at it, he could help me as much as he could hurt me. But I know I can win here, too."
Parker, 28, has won the past three pro races, all on mile ovals. Like Carr, he has won three times at Ascot: in 1982, 1984 and in the 1988 fall race, when he clinched his first AMA championship.
Carr, 23, holds the Ascot qualifying record of 21.175 seconds, but Parker was the fastest qualifier last May.
Chandler, 25, could be the surprise after skipping the pro dirt track series this season to concentrate on road racing. He rode a Rob Muzzy-owned Kawasaki to the Superbike championship and finished second to teammate Scott Russell in the 750cc Supersport class for stock production bikes. In the season's final Supersport race at Willow Springs, Chandler won, with Russell second.
Chandler also won world championship Superbike races in Brainard, Minn., and Japan.
When Chandler won his first road race last year at Mid-Ohio, it put him in an elite group with Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts and Bubba Shobert as the only riders to complete a grand slam of AMA events--mile, half-mile, short track and TT steeplechase on dirt and road race on asphalt.
"I haven't been in a dirt track race since San Jose last May, but that shouldn't bother me," Chandler said. "I've always liked Ascot, right from the first time I rode there when I was 16. It's a great track. I really hate to see it come to an end."
Chandler had a streak of nine victories at Ascot as he moved up the ladder through novice and junior classes to expert. He was only 18 when he won a national TT race at Ascot in the spring of 1984.
Other former Ascot winners entered include Ronnie Jones of Oklahoma City, Jay Springsteen of Lapeer, Mich., and Ricky Graham of Salinas.
In addition to the 20-lap championship race, there will be a Camel Challenge matching the fastest six qualifiers in a five-lap dash for $17,500, of which the winner receives $10,000. Last year, Carr won both, but this year, Parker has won five challenge races.
Time trials will begin at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with the first heat at 8.
Ascot Park is scheduled to close on Nov. 22 to make way for industrial development.
Motor Racing Notes
POWERBOATS--Ron Braaksma, fresh from a record top fuel drag run in his "Madness" of 227.10 m.p.h. at Augusta, Ga., heads the field for this weekend's International Hot Boat Assn. Fallnationals at Castaic Lake. The three-time IHBA top fuel champion from Downey will be out for revenge against Ralph Padilla's "Quarterflash" from Garden Grove. Padilla upset him during the recent Chief Auto Parts Nationals at Puddingstone Lake. Sixteen classes of boats will be at Castaic.
Scott Gillman's victory last week in the Champ Boat class of the International Outboard Grand Prix series at Puddingstone Lake put the driver from Orange into a tie with defending champion Bill Seebold of St. Louis with one race remaining, on Oct. 7 at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
STOCK CARS--Saugus Speedway will close its regular season Saturday night with the annual Fall Spectacular, which will include a 100-lap sportsman race, two 50-lap main events for street stocks and Figure 8s and a train race. The sportsman race will be the first of a four-race series that also will include events at Orange Show Speedway, Cajon and Las Vegas.
Tony Zaffino, who has won Figure 8 and economy oval classes at Ascot, will continue his quest for the pro stock championship Sunday night in a 30-lap NASCAR Winston Racing Series main event. Zaffino's victory last week moved him into second place behind Marcus Mallett. . . . Street stocks will race Friday night at Ventura Raceway.
MIDGETS--United States Auto Club regulars will take their Western States series to Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino Saturday night and share billing with street stocks.
MOTORCYCLES--South Bay Speedway at Ascot Park and the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa will close their regular seasons this week. Bobby Schwartz and Mike Faria will continue their season-long battle for Ascot supremacy tonight, and the Fairgrounds will have Fan Appreciation Night Friday, with team racing featured. The U.S. Nationals will be on Oct. 6 at Costa Mesa. . . . CMC motocrossers will race Friday night at Ascot Park.
The Barstow-to-Las Vegas desert race, which has been held the past seven years on Thanksgiving weekend, has been canceled by District 37 officials after the Bureau of Land Management's delay on a land impact study made it impossible to obtain a permit in time to conduct the race. District 37 officials plan to apply for a 1991 permit.
KARTING--The California Grand National track championships will be held Saturday night at the Indio Fairgrounds, 11 miles southeast of Palm Springs on Highway 111. The favorites include Steve Greenland of Reseda, 1989 Ascot Park and Glen Helen champion; Troy Cline of Hawthorne, last year's Carlsbad champion; and Rodney Argo of El Segundo, this year's leader at Carlsbad and Hanford.
SPRINT CARS--The California Racing Assn., essentially a dirt track organization, will try asphalt Saturday night when the series moves to Cajon Speedway in El Cajon. It will be the CRA's first appearance there since 1978.
SPORTS CARS--The California Sports Car Club will hold regional championship races Saturday and Sunday at Willow Springs Raceway. Unlimited stock cars in the Toyota super production series also will be on the program.
DRAG RACING--Skip Balk holds a narrow lead over Don Petrillo and Mark Fenton Jr. as the SoCal Pro Gas Assn. holds its final points race Saturday at the Los Angeles County Raceway, near Palmdale.
MISCELLANY--Tom Kendall of La Canada, who recently clinched the SCCA Trans Am championship in a Chevrolet Beretta, will make his first NASCAR Winston Cup oval track start Sunday in the Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. . . . Veteran off-road racer Sherman Balch, who suffered lower back injuries in a helicopter crash while preparing for the Nevada 500 earlier this month, is recovering from two surgeries and expects to resume racing his Nissan Pathfinder truck later this year. . . . The Roy Winkelmann racing team has announced plans to run the full 1991 Indy car season with a new Lola-Cosworth driven by John Paul Jr.