Chasing gold in California began in 1848 when James W. Marshall first found gold in the town of Coloma, and that passion to find it lives on today in many circles. In the world of Sprint-car racing, this time of year attracts the best in the sport to the World of Outlaws (WoO) Craftsman Sprint Car Series Gold Cup Race of Champions, the 64th annual edition of which takes place this weekend at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, a little more than 100 miles northwest of where the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s began.
Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) driver Donny Schatz and the Textron Off Road/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb-backed team are seeking to add a prestigious Gold Cup victory to their list of 2017 accomplishments. The eight-time and reigning WoO champion and his crew of Rick Warner, Steve Swenson and Brad Mariscotti have already come up big in three major races this season, and adding another California triumph or two to their win total this season and making Schatz a three-time Gold Cup winner is the weekend goal.
Only Steve Kinser and Jac Haudenschild have scored three or more wins in the Gold Cup since the WoO began sanctioning the event during its inaugural season back in 1978. Schatz won his first Gold Cup in 2004 and scored his second two seasons ago to join Andy Hillenburg and Kyle Larson as two-time winners.
Schatz earned his 15th career California WoO victory earlier this season at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, continuing his recent run of success in the state. He won three California WoO A-Features in 2016 and five in 2015. The Fargo, North Dakota racer’s first California triumph was his flag-to-flag victory in the 2004 Gold Cup finale. Schatz led all 30 laps of his qualifying-night feature the night before and all 40 laps of the A-Feature to add the coveted Gold Cup trophy to his collection, which at the time included a Western World victory and a National Open triumph. Eleven years later, he became a two-time winner during his storybook 2015 season, when he raced to 31 triumphs en route to his seventh WoO title.
The two-night Gold Cup, which includes a full program both Friday and Saturday nights, continues the Outlaws’ post-Knoxville Nationals run through the West. Schatz followed his 10th Knoxville victory aboard the TSR No. 15 Textron Off Road/Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J with a win at River Cities Speedway in his home state of North Dakota. He’s stacked seven top-five finishes in the eight races since that have been contested in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington and Oregon, including last night’s stop at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Oregon, where Schatz finished fifth.
Following the Gold Cup this weekend, the remainder of the 2017 WoO campaign will consist of 18 races, including two more nights in California as Schatz leads the series back to Calistoga for the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown next weekend. After the two-night program at the picturesque Calistoga Speedway, the teams will travel across the country for races at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania, before closing out the month with the three-night National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: SILVER DOLLAR SPEEDWAY / GOLD CUP
• Donny Schatz made his Silver Dollar Speedway debut in September 1997 during his rookie season with “The Greatest Show on Dirt” at the Gold Cup. He finished 11th in his qualifying night and 18th in the Gold Cup finale.
• Schatz earned his first top-five finishes at Chico in the 1999 Gold Cup, coming home fifth and fourth, respectively.
• He led every lap of his preliminary feature and all 40 in the 2004 Gold Cup finale to score his first Silver Dollar Speedway WoO A-Feature victory and 23rd of his career. He now has 246 career WoO A-Feature wins.
• He scored spring wins at Silver Dollar Speedway in the Mini Gold Cup in 2012, 2015 and 2016. In 2012 and 2015, he also won a main event at the track during the Gold Cup.
• Last season, Schatz made a big charge forward after starting 17th. His run to a podium finish came up a few laps short when he made contact with Jac Haudenschild while attempting to make a pass for fourth.
• This will be the 21st Gold Cup for Schatz, who has been part of the event since joining the tour in 1997.
SCHATZ FAST FACTS: 2017
• Through 68 of 92 scheduled races in the 2017 WoO campaign, Schatz leads the point standings with 8,970 and holds a 92-point lead over Brad Sweet. Schatz leads the series in wins with 17 and top-fives with 51. He and Sweet are tied for most top-10s with 58.
• With 20 A-Features races remaining, Schatz is looking to win at least three more races in order to reach the 20-win mark for the fifth consecutive season. Last year, he became the first driver in WoO history to win 20 or more races in four consecutive seasons. He has previously won at 11 of the 13 tracks left on the schedule.
• Schatz has already won three of the Outlaws’ marquee races of 2017, scoring his third Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway, his fifth Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, and his 10th Knoxville Nationals triumph. He’s looking to add the Gold Cup, Summer Nationals and Williams Grove National Open to that list.
ENTER TO WIN A DONNY SCHATZ-THEMED HDX
Winning the biggest races of the season and a WoO championship isn’t the only goal in 2017 for TSR, Arctic Cat and Schatz. There is shared passion to reach greatness without limits. And fans are encouraged to join the ultimate limitless ride by entering to win by random draw a customized, one-of-a-kind, Schatz-themed Arctic Cat HDX 700 all-terrain vehicle online through Oct. 1 atwww.arcticcat.com/donnyschatzhdx.
The grand-prize winner will receive a trip for two to the Outlaws’ season-ending World Finals in Charlotte, including participation in a prerace ceremony. The winners will receive tickets to the World Finals and receive the keys to the Schatz-themed HDX from the eight-time champion during pre-event ceremonies.
The pit gates open at Silver Dollar Speedway at 2 p.m. PDT Friday and Saturday. The grandstands will open at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visitsilverdollarspeedway.com or call 530-891-6535.
Race fans unable to attend this weekend’s races can catch all of the action on DIRTVision.com. Live video coverage is available for a fee or audio coverage is available for free as Johnny Gibson, “Voice of the Outlaws,” calls the action as he does at all WoO Craftsman Sprint Car Series events on the DIRTVision.com. Visit to DIRTVision.com for more information.
Fans are encouraged to follow the progress of Schatz, TSR and the No. 15 Arctic Cat/Ford Performance/Curb J&J throughout the campaign on the web and social media. More information can be found at www.TonyStewartRacing.com, www.arcticcat.com, and www.donnyschatzmotorsports.com.
Tony Stewart Racing: Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TonyStewartRacing or on Twitter and Instagram @TonyStewart_Rcg.
Donny Schatz: Facebook at www.facebook.com/DonnySchatz or on Twitter and Instagram @DonnySchatz.
Arctic Cat: Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArcticCat or on Twitter and Instagram @ArcticCat_atv @ArcticCat_Snow
Curb: Facebook at www.facebook.com/CurbRecords or on Twitter and Instagram @CurbRecords.
Ford Performance: Facebook at www.facebook.com/FordPerformance or on Twitter and Instagram @FordPerformance.