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(7/8/24 - Ben Deatherage) Watsonville, California ... The gorgeous and scenic Ocean Speedway is set to host the NARC 410 Sprint Car Series on Saturday, July 13th, for the 14th Annual Howard Kaeding Classic. Up for grabs will be one of the largest race purses of the season, including a huge $6,900 payday for the winner of the 30-lap feature event.
"This event has gotten bigger and better each year, and it gains more and more momentum," commented event organizer Bud Kaeding, Howard's grandson. "The campground is full, and the afterparty Friday night has grown tremendously. It's turned into a really fun event. I've been fortunate enough to have a bunch of support not just in the local area but across the country helping me raise money for the purse, and there have been guys that have been there since the first one, and it's really cool to see the involvement and support."
The race pays homage to Howard Kaeding, the patriarch of the legendary Kaeding racing family.
Kaeding was victorious in 136 main events at the now-defunct San Jose Speedway, which is an all-time record. He won track titles at San Jose in 1973 and 1974 and boasted an incredible streak of 17 consecutive wins, all while starting in the rear of the field.
The event features multiple sponsors and contributors to enhance the purse. Companion divisions include the IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, and WMR Midgets.
The track will open the weekend with a Friday night bout featuring the Ocean 360 Sprints, IMCA Northern Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, and WMR Midgets.
Once the racing concludes on Friday, there will be an "afterparty" fully catered by the High Five Pizza Company. On Saturday at noon, the annual Howard Kaeding Luncheon will take place in the large tent in the pit area. Both events benefit the NARC Benevolent Fund and will feature live music. A suggested donation of a minimum of $20 would be appreciated for each function.
Who To Watch
Cole Macedo has only participated in the Howard Kaeding Classic twice. The last time he raced with NARC at Ocean, he was seventh in 2019. The Lemoore racer, aboard the Tarlton Motorsports #21, has logged a ton of laps at the facility over his career and would love to add a NARC win at the Howard Kaeding Classic to his impressive resume.
Runner-up last year, Justin Sanders has been the man at Ocean. The Aromas ace has managed to post four career Howard Kaeding Classic podiums, including winning in 2022. Overall, Watsonville has treated the driver of the Mittry Motorsports #2X rather nicely, with three wins and nine podium finishes in twenty-four starts.
Macedo and Sanders are tied for the NARC championship point lead after 16 events of the 23-race campaign.
Defending race winner Shane Golobic was ecstatic at the drop of the checkered flag in last year's HK Classic. The Fremont racer had won four times at the facility with NARC but finally got the win at the Kaeding after finishing second in 2014, 2016, and 2019.
Running for Bates-Hamilton Racing, Justyn Cox will look to click off a big payday for his team. Now calling Roseville home, Cox's best run at Ocean with NARC was in 2016 when he finished fifth at the Pombo-Sargent Classic. His best performance at the Kaeding was twelfth in that same year. He already has garnered a big win with the series at a similarly shaped track at Cottage Grove earlier this season.
Speaking of Kaeding, Bud will look to add another win of this sentimental event to his family to his name. The Campbell chauffeur won his grandfather's race in 2019 and 2014 and was fourth in the 2023 edition. Also, the 2017 NARC champion has had the second-highest wins on the track since 2000, making five trips to victory lane.
Speaking of Williams Motorsports, they have won this race an amazing five times: Jonathan Allard (2012 & 2013), the two times with Bud Kaeding mentioned above, and Kyle Hirst (2020).
Hirst has an amazing record for this race as he has won it the most times, three, with three different car owners! This includes Roth Motorsports in 2015, Tarlton Motorsports in 2016, and with Williams in 2020.
Tim Kaeding will be in the field with the Williams Motorsports team. Calling San Jose home, the 2002 and 2011 NARC title winner is the most winningest driver at Ocean with NARC since 2000, with seven visits to victory lane. However, he has yet to win the Howard Kaeding Classic. His career-best was second in 2011 and was third in last year's race. Kaeding has only been outside the Top 10 four times in his previous 22 NARC starts at Ocean.
Caeden Steele from Easton cut his teeth at Ocean over the last few seasons. With all his remarkable runs this season, it would be a big moment if he could break through and open his NARC-winning account at this event. In the last two seasons, he's made the show and is looking for his first Top 10 at the HK Classic. Based on his 2024 performances, that seems to be an achievable goal.
It'll be a home game of sorts for Gilroy's Jarrett Soares. Soares has ten feature starts at Ocean when NARC has been to town, and his best finish was tenth in 2016.
Tanner Carrick of Lincoln will be in the house. He was 11th last year but had a masterclass run in 2021 when he was the runner-up.
A shark to be on the lookout for at Ocean is 2005 NARC champion, Sean Becker. The driver of the Don Bjork owned entry from Roseville could become a two-time HK Classic winner backing up his first win in 2021.
Other Rookie runners to watch this weekend are Clovis' Dominic Gorden and Gauge Garcia from Lemoore. Both drivers have also run a lot of laps at this facility in their young careers and will look to put that to good use.
Additional NARC regulars in attendance will be Dylan Bloomfield from Oakley, Penngrove's Chase Johnson, Nick Parker of Chico, Benecia's Billy Aton, DJ Netto of Hanford, John Clark of Windsor, Ryan Bernal of Roseville.
Fan & Competitor Info
Ocean Speedway is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 2601 E Lake Avenue in Watsonville. The Pit Gates will open at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday; Front Gates at 3:30 p.m., and qualifying will kick off at 5:00 p.m.
The NARC 410 Sprint Series is the leading 410 Sprint Car tour west of the Rocky Mountains. Since 1960, they have enthralled countless thousands of fans at tracks up and down the Pacific Coast. For more information, visit their website at www.narc410.com or social media pages.
The Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway can be viewed live on Floracing.com.
Former Howard Kaeding Classic Winners
2011- Evan Suggs
2012- Jonathan Allard
2013- Jonathan Allard (2)
2014- Bud Kaeding
2015- Kyle Hirst
2016- Kyle Hirst (2)
2017- Buddy Kofoid
2018- Colby Copeland
2019- Bud Kaeding (2)
2020- Kyle Hirst (3)
2021- Sean Becker
2022- Justin Sanders
2023- Shane Golobic
The NARC 410 Sprint Car Racing Series is also sponsored by Hoosier Racing Tires and Floracing.com. Associate and product award sponsors include Automotive Racing Products (ARP), Beacon Wealth Strategies, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Bullet Impressions, Diversified Machine Inc., Jim Allen Promotions, Kaeding Performance Center, Kimo's Tropical Car Wash, KSE Racing Enterprises, Lifeline LLC, Maxim Racing Products, Mettec Titanium, Pyrotect, Saldana Racing Products, Schoenfeld Headers, Scelzi Enterprises, SCI Racing Products, Starr Property Management, System 1 Ignition, Ultra Lite Brakes, Williams Roofing, Wilwood Disc Brakes, and Winters Performance Products.
Cole Macedo, Lemoore - 2056
Justin Sanders, Aromas - 2056
Justyn Cox, Clarksburg - 2000
Caeden Steele, Fresno (R) - 1987
Bud Kaeding, Campbell - 1973
Dylan Bloomfield, Oakley - 1963
Gauge Garcia, Lemoore (R) - 1944
Dominic Gorden, Clovis (R) - 1931
Nick Parker, Chico - 1911
Tanner Carrick, Lincoln - 1808
Chase Johnson, Penngrove - 1695
Billy Aton, Benicia - 1588
Dominic Scelzi, Fresno - 1327
John Clark, Windsor - 1318
Shane Golobic, Fremont - 1230
Tanner Holmes, Jacksonville, OR - 1200
Sean Becker, Roseville - 1071
Robbie Price, British Columbia - 1046
Jarrett Soares, Gilroy - 959
DJ Netto, Hanford - 950

July 27 - Santa Maria Speedway