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Kierce Takes Impromptu Course in Marketing

October 11, 2000|DARIN ESPER

Kevin Kierce of Reseda was not thrilled that two of the four United States Auto Club Western Sprint Car series races scheduled for Irwindale Speedway were canceled, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Kierce, who is seventh in the points standings in his rookie season coming into Saturday's race at Irwindale and will make his USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet debut the same evening, is putting in his own time and energy to promote the race.

Kierce and four other sprint car drivers will be at Speedzone in the City of Industry from 7-9 p.m. Friday to sign autographs and race go-karts against fans in an effort to drum up interest in the Irwindale races.

"It came down to a money deal between USAC and Irwindale," said Kierce, who is the defending Ventura Racing Assn. dirt track sprint car champion. "I'm just trying to show USAC and Irwindale that we are willing to do anything it takes to help promote the race and improve relations between USAC and Irwindale, this being my only home track in this deal.

"We run in seven states, and this is the only thing within 100 miles of home."

Joining Kierce at Speedzone will be Troy Cline of Santa Clarita, Todd Ellison of West Jordan, Utah, Tony Hunt of Fair Oaks and Shauna Hogg of Roseville, Calif.

Ellison leads Burney Lamar of West Sacramento, 757-712, heading into Saturday's season finale. Hunt has 704 points.

Hunt, Cline and Hogg--who is 10th with 401 points--are bringing their sprint cars to Speedzone, while Kierce will have his sprint car and his silver bullet car on display. Irwindale Speedway has provided 12 pairs of general admission grandstand seats for the drivers to give to fans.

According to Doug Stokes, director of communications for the Speedway, Kierce is not the first driver to take it upon himself to promote a race, and several drivers have made promotional appearances at the Speedway's request.

"I wish we had more of them doing what Kevin is doing," Stokes said. "[Midget driver] Wally Pankratz [of Orange] does stuff like that all the time. He'll call and tell us he's appearing someplace and ask us for two-for-one passes to hang out, and there's a number of teams that come out when we ask them to."

Kierce, who took his sprint car to cruise night at Cruiser's Car Wash in Northridge on Friday, got the idea for the Speedzone event after talking with several drivers.

"A couple of the guys said earlier in the year, 'Let's go to Speedzone on a Friday when we're out there, it's a blast,' and I just took it from there."

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The sprint cars will race a 40-lap main event, but the silver bullet cars--formerly known as silver crown cars--will be the featured attraction, racing 100 laps.

Dave Darland of Kokomo, Ind., leads Tracy Hines of Indianapolis, 512-492, with two races remaining.

The silver bullet cars are an updated version of the front-engine roadsters used in the Indianapolis 500 as part of a USAC national series in the 1950s and '60s by drivers including A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Bill Vukovich Sr. and Johnnie Parsons Sr.

NASCAR Winston Cup stars Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, and rookie Jason Leffler of the NASCAR Busch Grand National Division series came from the silver bullet series.

"If you can go out and win a championship or a bunch of races in a silver [bullet] car, you're pretty much guaranteed a ride anywhere," Kierce said.

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Sean Woodside of Saugus completed one lap of the Food 4 Less 150 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour race Saturday at Irwindale, retiring when the car's rear end broke.

Woodside fell to fifth in the points standings with two races remaining.

Keith Spangler of Chatsworth was the highest finisher from the region in fourth. Matt Crafton of Tulare won.

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Former Palmdale resident Ron Hornaday Jr. finished ninth in the All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300 Busch series race Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

Hornaday is fifth in the standings.

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Cory Kruseman of Ventura won the 30-lap VRA sprint car main event Saturday at Ventura Raceway, using an outdated chassis.

Kruseman, an SCRA regular who took a week off from that series, dueled Greg Taylor of Ojai for most of the race.

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