Tomorrow’s Gold Cup opener will officially end a 728-day drought since the last World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series last raced in California on September 14, 2019.
After two years away, Brad Sweet and Carson Macedo could not be more thrilled to finally bring The Greatest Show on Dirt back to their home state. After all, their absence from the Golden State in 2020 was historically significant
You see, California has been a staple for the Outlaws ever since Ted Johnson banded this group of road warriors together in 1978. From Steve Kinser & Sammy Swindell to Dave Blaney & Danny Lasoski to Joey Saldana & Daryn Pittman, Outlaws of all ages have trekked to the west coast during every single season conducted.
Between iconic fallen facilities like Ascot & Baylands and modern-day venues in Chico & Hanford, the state has seen 17 different tracks host 388 races, second-most only to the Posse’s porch in Pennsylvania.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the golden gates were locked just two weeks shy of the west coast’s spring swing. Series officials pieced together a makeshift 54-race schedule – second shortest in history – and for the first time ever, California was nowhere to be found.
This weekend, that wrong will be righted as the Outlaws and California reunite for the 389th time.
Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway will be the host party as the 67th running of the Gold Cup Race of Champions goes green. Next weekend, the west coast swing will wrap up at Hanford’s Keller Auto Speedway with the $21,000-to-win Tom Tarlton Classic on Saturday, September 18. For fans unable to attend, you can watch Every Lap LIVE on DIRTVision.
“It sucks that we haven’t been able to race in my home state, and really the west coast for so long,” Macedo said. “This weekend is long overdue. I hope the California fans show out and pack the place.”
For Sweet and Macedo, Silver Dollar Speedway specifically is home to some of the most special moments of their careers.
Sweet, a graduate of Grass Valley, attempted the first of his 732 World of Outlaws races at the Chico 1/4-mile during the 2003 Gold Cup Race of Champions. The rookie sprinter failed to make the Feature while “The King” Steve Kinser ran away with his 11th Gold Cup crown, but he planted the roots for a phenomenal career.
The Big Cat was only 17-years-old then and has since grown up to become an Outlaw superstar with 74 wins and back-to-back championships. His path hs ranged from outlaw karts at Cycleland Speedway to linking up with Kasey Kahne Racing in the USAC ranks to a trial in NASCAR to a home with the World of Outlaws.
At 35-years-old now, Jennifer & Don’s boy has already compiled a resume that makes him a lock for Knoxville’s National Sprint Car Hall of Fame when eligible. He’s said it time and time again, though, he’s not done yet.
Piloting the NAPA Auto Parts #49, Sweet only has 14 races standing between him and a third consecutive World of Outlaws championship. The home stretch to World Finals (Nov. 4-6) begins this weekend at Silver Dollar, where Sweet has won two Gold Cup prelims, but still dreams of topping Saturday’s finale.
“I’ve been knocking on the door at Gold Cup for the last few years, so hopefully this is the year we finish the job,” Sweet said. “I always love going back to California with all of the friends, fans, and family close to where I grew up. Plus it’s nice to stay at home for a few weeks, too. It’s just a fun time of the year. The situation in Placerville is unfortunate, but I’m excited for the chance to get some wins at Chico and Hanford.
As far as Macedo goes, Silver Dollar is where the biggest breakthrough of his career came, and Hanford is essentially home.
The date was September 8, 2014, and the Lemoore local was only 18-years-old and freshly out of high school. Driving the Tarlton #21X in only his sixth career World of Outlaws Feature, Macedo outran reigning champion Daryn Pittman to collect an emotional first career win.
Flash forward five years later to 2019 and he realized a teenage dream of becoming a full-time World of Outlaws driver for Kyle Larson Racing. He kickstarted his Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year campaign with his second career win at none other than Silver Dollar Speedway again, this time in March at the Mini Gold Cup.
Advance another two years to 2021 and you’ll find Carson in his third full season on tour, his greatest yet. It’s his first run with Philip Dietz and the Jason Johnson Racing #41 and Macedo has reached another level inside the cockpit. He entered this season with six career wins and already owns eight victories this year alone.
The 25-year-old rising star enters the return to California fresh off a $25,000 payday at the Skagit Nationals, the richest win of his career. Three nights at home will give him the chance at another Silver Dollar triumph, and next week he’ll be racing for family pride in Keller Auto Speedway‘s Tom Tarlton Classic (Sept. 18) with $21,000 on the line.
“I’ve made a lot of laps at these tracks we’re heading to, and they’re places I personally know I can excel at,” Macedo said looking ahead. “I’m really excited to race in front of my family, friends, and the hometown crowd again. Having the people close to me have that access again is important. We’ll get to go to the Tarlton shop and hang out next week. There are so many benefits of being at home.”
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch the west coast swing and all remaining World of Outlaws events live on DIRTVision – either online or through the DIRTVision App.