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It’s our final race; Tribute to Al Hinds will close Placerville Speedway with day long events

Race car show and fan bbq kicks off 121h annual event with high winnings for three divisions


Greg DeCaires


PLACERVILLE, CA – Race fans from El Dorado County and the surrounding communities are gearing up for one of the biggest nights of open wheel racing in the sierra foothills as Placerville Speedway pays homage to a legacy in local racing. This Saturday, it’s time for the 12th Annual Tribute to Al Hinds at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds presented by Thompson’s Auto Centers. This event will be the last time in 2015 that the El Dorado County Fairgrounds will feel the thunder of auto racing as the exciting racing season officially comes to an end.

In celebration of this 50th Anniversary season finale, the winners of all three of Placerville’s Championship divisions will earn bonus winnings in honor of Hinds’ legacy courtesy of the collaborative effort by Thompsons Auto Centers, Red Hawk Casino, Domco Plumbing and Jay’s Mobile Welding and Fabrication.  Twelve years ago this event was born after the passing of the well known early track promoter and mentor, Al Hinds, a longtime Placerville resident and true race fan that touched the lives of many of today’s up and coming drivers in the sport today.

It is due to the continuous support of the speedway’s local sponsors that the legacy of Al Hinds continues in grand fashion for its 12th consecutive year. Not only will Saturday’s winners earn a lucrative bonus sponsored by Thompson, the event caps off a big day in local racing as Thompson’s Auto Center hosts a big race car show with hot dogs and drinks for fans and race teams from 11 a.m, until 2 p.m at their dealership located directly across from the fairgrounds. The special event will feature numerous race cars and drivers that will be on hand, all showing appreciation for Thompson’s efforts in continuing to make racing richer at the track he has been so involved with for decades.

In past years, the Annual Tribute to Al Hinds always fell on a Civil War Series date. After many requests by drivers of the other divisions, last year it was converted into a multi division program so all divisions can benefit from added winnings and join in the festivities for all the fans during the day.  When the checkered flag falls on the final point race of the season Saturday night the Sprint Car winner will earn $2000 for their victory. The Late Model winner earns $1000 and the Pure Stocks will earn $500 to win with the added funds from Thompson and the track promoter.

Al Hinds was the second promoter of Placerville Speedway. Hinds  took operation of the track with business partner Richard Hirst from its founder, Bruno Romani, in 1968, three years after it first opened when the facility was built around an existing community football field. Since that time, Placerville Speedway has become one of the top auto racing venues in Northern California, much due to the efforts of Hinds, who brought the community together with what was known as a rough and tumble facet of the sport back in the day.

From the day he set foot on the red clay at Placerville Speedway to the very last race he attended, Hinds continued to display his true love for auto racing and the community in which he brought it to. Even in his final years he continued to help young drivers, entertain fans and most importantly he spent a great deal of time talking to and mentoring many of those who are involved with the operations of the facility today, from officials, announcers and even the track promoter himself. When Hinds spoke, anyone who cared remotely about the future of the sport would sit down and listen.

When Hinds managed Placerville Speedway, the cars in competition were nothing like they were today. In Hinds’ later days of life, Cast iron transitioned into aluminum. Titanium began to replace just about anything that could break and aerodynamics became a factor on cars that now carry computerized scoring equipment that records speeds nearing 100 mph. However, none of that changed Hinds’ classic theory in the business of racing promotions; if you build it they will come.

The operator of a local machine shop by trade, Hinds loved the community where he lived. In his final years of life he enjoyed sitting with some of his best friends every night in the grandstands at Placerville Speedway and loved watching young talent make a name for themselves in the sport. This Saturday, such talent is sure to fill the field more than Hinds would ever imagine.

Saturday’s event is expected to draw a strong crowd as it is the final points race of the season and will crown the season champions as well as offer extra winnings. Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove, a driver who has raced many years under the sponsorship of Thompson’s and now Foothill 7 Television which is owned by the Thompson Auto Group, will look to maintain his current point lead into the final green flag of the night to become the 2015 track champion. Dominic Stone of Folsom will look to lock the Late Model title down as he enters the night with a still narrow lead. Woodland’s Scott Grunert will look to complete his second Pure Stock championship with a strong finish Saturday.

The three track regulars are joined by the Bay Cities Racing Association Saturday night as the winged Midget Lites take to the track the compete in their final race, the “Tracy Taylor Memorial”. Drivers and cars from all divisions will be on hand at the Thompson’s car show event featuring hot dogs from Stymeist Auto Body. It all starts at 11 a.m. at the Buick GMC Dealership directly across from the fairgrounds.  Racer’s will be permitted to park their haulers at the speedway while their cars are displayed for hundreds of fans that are expected to come out and meet the drivers. Thompson’s Auto Center’s will be rewarding all the drivers that participate in the car show as well.

The grandstands at Placerville Speedway will open at 5 p.m. Qualifying for this final night will start at 6:30 followed by racing at 7. For further information visit the track website at

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Reserved Tickets Now Available for October 10th Placerville Speedway Awards Dinner

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The 2015 Awards Dinner for Placerville Speedway will be held on October 10, 2015 at the American Legion Hall, 4561 Greenstone Rd, Placerville, 95667

Doors will open at 5:00, no-host bar at 6:00, and dinner at 7:00. Tickets will be $25 per person. Dinner seating is limited to 175. Advance reservations must be made prior to Oct 1, 2015 by mailing a check to P.O. Box 726, Roseville, CA 95661 or by calling the business office, (916) 783-3478 and pay by credit/debit card.

Reserved table seating is for season champions only, all other seating will be on first come first serve basis and attendance will be limited to only those with dinner tickets due to capacity.

This event will honor the drivers of the 2015 Red Hawk Casino Championship Season in the Domco Plumbing Sprint Car Series and Limited Late Model Series and the Jay’s Mobile Welding Pure Stock division. Reserve your seats today before it’s too late!

Placerville Speedway will host one final event prior to the October 10th Awards dinner, the September 19th Tribute to Al Hinds and Championship Finale. More information can be learned at



Tilford, Stone, Becker take wins in Tribute to Donnie Tilford at Placerville




PLACERVILLE – The stands were packed at Placerville Speeedway Saturday night as the penultimate race of the season paid tribute to legendary local driver Donnie Tilford. The second to last Red Hawk Casino Championship event of the season presented by Thompsons Auto Group, Domco Plumbing and Jay’s Mobile welding offered inflated winnings in honor of the late Folsom resident who was known well for his fierce competition as well as his support for the sport in the way of driver and car development all the way up to his untimely passing in 2014 due to heart complications.

While heavy winnings were the theme Saturday night, no cash value could be put on the win on this very special night for Folsom’s Jon Tilford. The veteran driver and former champion, won the $500 Pure Stock feature event to earn the most memorable victory of his career in the event that paid tribute to his late uncle who was responsible for his beginnings into the sport and long support. Tilford shared the celebrating in victory lane Saturday night with Sean Becker of Roseville who won $2000 in the Sprint Car division and Dominic Stone of Folsom who won $1000 in the Late Model division.

The Pure Stock division saw Matt Tilford start on the pole position where he was overtaken on the initial start by second place starter Dan Jinkerson of Diamond Springs. Jinkerson took a commanding lead and led through several late starts that took place in the first six laps of the race. It was lap six during a yellow, however, that Jinkerson suffered front steering failure and retired to the pit area, putting Tilford back to the lead position for the restart with Les Friend of Galt on the outside.  Friend overtook Tilford on the seventh lap only to have Tilford answer back and muscle his way past the former track champion as he made a slight error in the second turn.

Once in front, Tilford lead a caution plagued event past the halfway point where he restarted the race with Friend on the outside. It was at the 14th lap however, when Jon Tilford charged into the picture as he worked his way up in the previous laps from the final position into fifth for the restart in which he charged to the low side and passed both Friend and Matt Tilford to take the lead with a crowd razing pass.

After his fan pleasing pass, a yellow flag forced a double file restart with Friend on the outside of Tilford and his brother right behind him. The green flag saw Tilford power into the first set of turns and assume a healthy lead once again while Friend and Matt Tilford battled for the second position. At the finish line it was Jon Tilford with the emotional win over Matt Tilford. Friend finished in third over Nick Baldwin and Jason Palmer.

“I am so excited I can’t even think straight, said Tilford. “All I could think of was how my Uncle Donnie’s last  car enabled him to stick his inside front tire against the edge of the infield and enable him to pass multiple cars. I had gotten all the way back up there so I decided to give it my all. I don’t know if it’s something I learned from him by watching him race as a kid or if he was in this car with me tonight. Maybe it was a little bit of both. No race can ever compare to winning  this one here tonight. This is my biggest moment here and always will be.”


In the Sprint Car division, Becker started Saturday’s race in the sixth place starting position. With the waving of the checkered flag, Logan Seavey of Sutter powered his way into a healthy lead early in the race while Becker worked his way into podium contention, racing with point leader and defending champion Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove to race his way into second place behind Seavey.

After stalking Seavey for 14 laps, Becker made his move on the 15th lap. Driving to the extreme high line of the track, Becker gained momentum to pull aside Seavey as the two exited the fourth turn. Traveling down the front stretch, Becker powered into the lead on the outside before reaching the next turn.

Once in front, Becker never relinquished his lead all the way to the finish line in his Dan Monhoff  owned sprint car, where he finished ahead of Seavey, DeCaires, Benson and Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli. Becker has one all notable events at Placerville Speedway in his career, the Forni Classic, the Tribute to Al Hinds and now, the Tribute to Donnie Tilford.

“Anytime you have a memorial race the win is always special, it’s not about the added money its about the meaning of it and how it honors someone that did so much for a track or a community. I’m honored to win this race tonight and be down here with the Tilford family. Logan Seavey drove a heck of a race here tonight and that kid is loaded with talent. He’s starting to run strong up front each week and is going to be winning some big races.”


In the Limited Late Model class, Jay Norton of Shingle Springs led much of the race after starting on the outside of the front row.  Former Champion Tom Tilford of Citrus Heights started third in the field. Racing with very high emotions on the night that honors his late uncle and mentor, Tilford gave it everything he had to get past Norton for the lead and did so on the 16th lap when he muscled below Norton in the second turn and took the lead down the backstretch.

Once in front, Tilford began working his lead to one of a couple of car lengths over Norton who was overtaken for second place by Stone, who started in fifth position. Once in second place, Stone closed in on Tilford’s lead and pulled to the inside of the turns three and four approaching the checkered flag and the two leaders raced hard to toward the finish line where Stone stole a heartbreaker of a win from Tilford. Tilford finished in second place followed by Norton, Ray Trimble of Auburn, and Ken Micheli of Live Oak.

“I have to dedicate this win tonight to Donnie Tilford, he was a great friend of mine. He was a big part of this racing community and a big part of the Folsom community and I miss him. My car wasn’t perfect tonight and it took me some time to get up there. It feels great to win this tonight in honor of Donnie and celebrate with the Tilfords.


Racing returns to Placerville Speedway on September 19th with the season finale and the Tribute to Al Hinds event.

Join nearly 5000 friends of Placerville Speedway on Facebook, where you can interact with other fans, drivers and staff in a positive, family friendly fashion. You can also follow Placerville Speedway on twitter to keep up to date on events to come. Visit the official track website at Follow Placerville Speedway on Twitter


Placerville Honors Legendary Donnie Tilford this Saturday night

10649920_10152405518338925_2637179356818256957_nPLACERVILLE, CA – This Saturday will bring inflated winnings and great memories of a racing legend together at Placerville Speedway as the second to last Red Hawk Casino Championship event of the season pays homage to the late Donnie Tilford, one the most decorated stock car wheelmen in the history of Placerville Speedway. That’s right, Saturday night marks the second annual Tribute to Donnie Tilford and Big Trophy Night at Placerville Speedway.

The second edition of the Tribute to Donnie Tilford offers inflated winnings to all three divisions Saturday night. The Sprint Car Division will be racing for a $2000 to win bounty while the Pure Stock division will earn $500 on this special night. The most notable money on the line will be in the Limited Late Model Division as they honor the stock car patriarch with a $1000 victory check. The Limited Late Model division was a class that was always at the attention of Donnie Tilford as he continued to mentor, sponsor and wrench for various drivers in his final years. Tilford was known for not only helping his own family race generation after generation, he too was the go to guy for drivers seeking advice, driving tips and set up tricks through the years. Tilford’s sudden passing due to heart complications last year saddened the racing community who will also hold a special place in their heart for the man that was tough in stature but overwhelmingly generous to all who knew him and cherished his friendship.

“There’s a stereotype that racers are supposed to be small in stature with cat like reflexes, well someone forgot to tell Donnie Tilford that long ago and he proved them all wrong with great success behind the wheel,” were words spoken by Alan Handy, Placerville Speedway’s track promoter, when the news of Tilford’s passing came last year. “He was a winner, a multi time champion, but most importantly an even better friend and I miss that big old bear every week.”

Much of the dirt track racing community was stunned in March of last year when Tilford passed away in his sleep at just 58 years old, leaving behind a legacy in the sport that spanned the beginning of his racing career well past his retirement in 1991 when he hung up his helmet and went to help his son and nephews find their place in the sport, not only assisting them financially but more importantly sharing his wealth of knowledge, his winning ways and mentorship in a very competitive sport where the combination of car set up is just as important as a winning attitude.

“Stock car racing on the clay at Hangtown is what brought this family together. It’s with all of our fans, fellow racers and the staff of Handy Racing Promotions that continues to keep this family tight and this sport strong,” was a statement made by Jon Tilford in the wake of his uncle’s passing. Jon Tilford won the 2006 Pro Stock Championship under the guidance of his late uncle and now spends most of his time trackside wrenching for his brothers Tom, Matt and his cousin Nathan while occasionally stapping behind the wheel to pick up a victory nearly each time he drives.

This Saturday, Jon Tilford will once again climb behind the wheel and join Tom Tilford, Matt Tilford and Nathan Tilford in competition to race in memory of his late mentor and here. “This is what he lived for,” he added. “He believed in driving fast and taking chances.”

There will undoubtedly be many heavy hearts on both side of the fence this Saturday at Placerville Speedway and among them will be Donnie’s son, Nathan who debuted the number three Pure Stock that replicates the Team USA car that Donnie drive in Australia early in his career in the inaugural Tribute to Donnie Tilford.

“My Dad was my hero, he raced like he lived and always helped his competitors because competition makes you better. Not only in racing but in life,” he said. “The best thing about Placerville Speedway doing this special race is that it will give my son the opportunity to see how important his grandfather was to this sport.”

With the added money on the line in all three of Placerville Speedway’s divisions and just two point races remaining in the season there is no doubt that many drivers will be driving fast and taking chances Saturday night. This special night of racing is one any race fan surely will not want to miss with all three championship titles nearly remaining undecided and field of competitors that will be second to none in honor of the late Donnie Tilford.

The grandstands will open at 5 p.m Saturday night on this big bang for buck night with five full divisions. Adults are $15, Seniors $13, Juniors are $12, Children $5 and those 5 and under are free. Placerville Speedway is located on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds at 100 Placerville Drive.

Saturday’s event is sponsored in part by Red Hawk Casino, Domco Plumbing, Jay’s Mobile Welding and Fabrication, Riebes Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tires, The Mountain Democrat, ADCO Driveline and the Paint Spot of Placerville and Cameron Park.

Join nearly 5000 friends of Placerville Speedway on Facebook, where you can interact with other fans, drivers and staff in a positive, family friendly fashion. You can also follow Placerville Speedway on twitter to keep up to date on events to come. Visit the official track website at Follow Placerville Speedway on Twitter


Many things are finer with age; DeCaires celebrates 48th birthday with another high dollar win and Placerville Posse Challenge title.


PLACERVILLE, CA (8-22-15) – It’s said that many things just get better with age. Saturday night, a Placerville Speedway such theories proved accurate as Elk Grove’s Greg DeCaires celebrated his 48th birthday with an aggressive charge to his sixth feature victory of the year in the 2015 Red Hawk Casino Championship Series. This win was DeCaires’ sixth of the season with his Dale Miller owned team and lucrative in the way of winnings and titles as well.

Saturday’s race was the finale in a four race campaign known at the “Placerville Posse Challenge.” This special mini series paid added winnings to all three divisions courtesy of Riebes Auto Parts and in conclusion dished out additional championship funds courtesy of the track’s title sponsor Red Hawk Casino.

Celebrating in celebration with DeCaires was Limited Late model race winner Matt Micheli who took home a $750 win on this night while his counterpart, Dominic Stone of Folsom captured the Posse Series title. Jason Palmer of West Sacramento won the Pure Stock feature event to take home $500 and celebrate with Vacaville’s Dan Smith, winner of the special series in this division. The night leaves just two remaining point races in the 50th Anniversary Season at Placerville Speedway.

In the Sprint Car feature, the 25-lap race saw Napa’s Kurt Organ take the lead from the pole position while DeCaires started on the outside of the front row, aside Fair Oak’s driver Jake Morgan who was on a mission to challenge DeCaires for the Posse title, entering the event just six points behind the leader.

While Organ powered his way to a distant lead over DeCaires early in the race, Morgan’s hopes for the crown came an end on lap three when a scuffle and spin along with Placerville driver Matt Barber put him to the rear of the line up with three laps down.
Once restarted, the race saw Organ continue to run strong out in front while DeCaires worked to close the gap between he and the lead and Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli made it a threesome as he moved in behind DeCaires to apply pressure for the bridesmaid position.

After several attempts that fell short, DeCaires was able to make his move on the 16th lap when Organ made the slightest error in turn three and allowed DeCaires to slide to the inside. The two leaders rubbed wheels as they entered the backstretch with DeCaires accelerating into the top spot that he would then never relinquish.

“He was pretty much checked out for most of that race, I wasn’t sure that moment was going to come where I could get around him,” said DeCaires. “We went into one and two and he bobbled just enough that I could finally get underneath him and race him clean. This was a fun race tonight and I have a lot of people to thank for giving me the opportunity to do this. With the sponsors I have backing me, this crew and especially Dale and Tara Miller this has become one of the beast year’s I’ve had and I think there’s still a few more left in this old guy”

In victory lane, DeCaires was flogged with hugs from family, friends, crew and fellow drivers offering hugs, kudos and birthday wishes. While most of his counter parts are half his age or less, DeCaires continued to prove on this night that he is still one of the sport’s most competitive, well respected drivers. DeCaires is looked up to by most of his up and coming counterparts.

“Let’s see, I’m 48 years old, this track is 50 years old and I have been out here doing this for more than half of them,” that’s pretty crazy,” said DeCaires. “But it’s not the added winnings that fuel the desire on night’s like tonight, I love this place and love these fans and I drive just as hard if its one dollar on the line or $2000.”

Jimmy Trulli finished third in Saturday’s race while Matt Peterson of Wilton finished in fourth place. Placerville’s Andy Gregg rounded out the top five after challenging the top runners throughout the evening.

Micheli wins the battle, Stone wins the war in Late Model Posse Challenge

In the Domco Plumbing Limited Late Model Division, Micheli charged off the pole position to take the lead at the green flag of the 20-lap feature event. Micheli would lead every lap of this race. Stone started in the 14th position and charged his way into the bridesmaid spot shortly after the green flag waved with Ryan McDaniel of Olivehurst following suit.

Despite several attempts both low and high to get a clean pass on the leader, Stone was unable to overtake Micheli for the $750 win and finished second to claim the Placerville Posse Challenge Series title. McDaniel finished in third place followed by Ray Trimble of Auburn and Jay Norton of Shingle Springs.

“We always love running here and when there’s that extra money on the line you see a pretty solid car count in this division,” said Micheli. “This division could easily have 20 to 25 cars running each night in the future, it’s been great to see how it’s grown like this.”

Help from fellow drivers helped Palmer to Pure Stock victory

In the Jay’s Mobile Welding Pure Stock division, point leader and defending champion Scott Grunert of Woodland took the lead at the green flag with Palmer in his wake and Tim Mack of Diamond Springs closely behind the top two.

With six laps down, Grunert and Palmer were battling side by side in lapped traffic in a heated battle for the lead when Grunert suddenly pulled to the high side of turn three and came to a stop with drive train woes. Palmer assumed the lead for the restart and never relinquished the position as he worked his way deep into lapped traffic.

“A lot of people really helped me get this car back together and back out here,” said Palmer in victory lane. Palmer was referencing the race two weeks ago in which his car was damaged in a post race altercation that resulted in permanent suspension of the other driver but left him with a great deal of work. “So many people I race with her came together with help, parts and everything to get me back out here and I can’t thank them enough. We all look out for one another here. I wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for all of them.

At the finish line, Smith finished in second place, earning him enough points to claim the Placerville Posse Challenge Series. The series was lead previously by Dan Jinkerson of Diamond Springs who suffered mechanical woes Saturday night and fell out of contention. For Smith, the Posse title was something unexpected and well appreciated.

“We love this place and look forward to coming here every week with the family, we barbecue in the pits, it’s really what this sport is all about,” said Smith. “To win this here tonight is really special and this trophy is going to be proudly displayed back home. I told my wife I would cut off all this long hair when I won something up here so this week, it’s time for a haircut and I can’t wait to come back in two weeks and show everyone my new style.”
David Silva of Shingle Springs finished in third place followed by Matt Tilford of Citrus Heights and Rich Zoller of Cameron Park.

Jones takes borrowed car to victory in Dwarf Car feature


Ryan Winter took the lead with one lap down in the Nor Cal Dwarf Car division. Winter started third in the field and overtook Scott Dahlgren who started on the pole and second place starter Buddy Olshowka to advance into the lead.
Winter was challenged in the early laps by Jeff Fitch who spun in turn one with five laps down.

With 2 laps down the race underwent a red flag when Ray Smith of El Dorado rolled over in the first turn without injury. Once restarted, Winter powered into the lead until he was overtaken by Jones on the front stretch for the lead on the sixth lap. Jones was aboard a loaner car from fellow driver Dan Zuger in which he quickly adjusted to. Once in front, Jones dominated the race while Winter was challenged by the likes of Kevin Bender for second place. At the line it was Jones followed by Winter, Scott Dahlgren, Bender and Olshowka.

High Dollar Donnie Tilford Tribute Race up next


Placerville Speedway will go dark next week and returns to action on Saturday, September 5 for the second to last event of the year, the 2nd Annual Tribute To Donnie Tilford race. This special race features a $2000 win for Sprint Cars, $1000 for Late Models and $500 to Pure Stocks. The event pays tribute to the late Donnie Tilford, one of the area’s most decorated stock car racers who passed away last year. For more information on this event visit