By Gary Thomas
Placerville, CA…The Placerville Speedway is geared up to honor one of its all-time biggest legends in the 57-year history of the facility, with the annual “Tilford Tribute” this Saturday April 23rd.
Divisions attacking the quarter-mile during the Tilford Tribute this weekend include the traveling Tri-State Pro Stock Series, the Mountain Democrat Ltd. Late Models, the Red Hawk Casino Pure Stocks and Mountain Democrat Mini Trucks.
The event honors the late Donnie Tilford, one the most beloved stock car drivers in the history of Placerville Speedway. During his final years Tilford mentored, sponsored and wrenched for various drivers well past his retirement from driving in 1991. A former Placerville Super Stock champion, Tilford succumbed to heart complications, and passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 58 on March 18, 2014.
“This weekend’s event will be a perfect way to honor one of Placerville Speedway’s greatest legends,” said track promoter Scott Russell. “We look forward to hosting the show while showcasing our Ltd. Late Models, Pure Stock and Mini Truck divisions, along with welcoming in the Tri-State Pro Stock Series for the only time this season. We hope everyone can make it out for what should be great night of racing at the Donnie Tilford Tribute.”
Tilford was known for his long-time residency in Folsom and for helping many other businesses transform from mere dirt into establishments in the area by means of his business, Tilford Excavating and Engineering that was based in the city. Racing his way to countless victories through the decades from tracks close to home like Placerville Speedway and as far away as Australia, Tilford put the city of Folsom on the auto racing map in his days behind the wheel.
Tilford's love was racing Stock Cars on the dirt. He began racing in 1971 at the age of 17 at Placerville Speedway and was a highly successful driver winning numerous open shows, main events and championships. He continues to be the all-time leader in Stock Car victories at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds quarter-mile, having claimed 71 checkered flags in the division.
Defending track champion Dan Jinkerson captured opening night with the Mountain Democrat Ltd. Late Models on April 9th. The Diamond Springs competitor picked up the win over Jay Norton, Dan Brown Jr., Tyler Lightfoot and Kiely Ricardo.
Three-time and defending Red Hawk Casino Pure Stock champion Nick Baldwin sits at the top of the standings going into race number three on Saturday. The Oakley wheelman captured victory on opening night and finished a close second to Rio Linda’s Ryan Peter last time out.
Tommy Sturgeon, Chris McGinnis, Michael Murphy and Ryan Murphy complete the top-five after two events. Also expected to tackle the bullring will be Jonathan Walsh, Russ Murphy, Mel Byers, Kevin Jinkerson and more.
Placerville’s Austin Struthers was a multi-time winner last season with the Mountain Democrat Mini Trucks and returned on opening night recently to snag yet another victory over Mike Miller, Howard Miller, Paizlee Miller and Thomas Jensen.
Adult tickets for the Tilford Tribute this Saturday April 23rd cost $18 while seniors 62+, military and juniors 12-17 will be $16. Kids 6-11 cost $8 and those five and under are free. Purchase tickets online at https://www.eventsprout.com/event/points-race-5 or at the gate on race day.
Grandstand seating is general admission at each event, except for the reserved seats marked for season ticket holders. Please note if patrons sit in a reserved seat, they may be asked to move. Pit passes can be purchased at the pit gate or on Pit Pay to take advantage of the expanded seating area on the hill.
The pit gate will open at noon, with the front grandstand gate opening at 3pm. Happy Hour is offered from 4-6pm in the grandstands featuring live music along with discounted Coors Light and Coors Original at the beer booth. The pit meeting will be held at 4:30pm with cars on track at 5:15. Hot laps and racing will follow.
The Placerville Speedway is located on the beautiful El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville, California. Take Hwy US-50 to Forni Road/Placerville Drive exit. Then go north on Placerville Drive to the Fairgrounds. The physical address is 100 Placerville Dr., Placerville, CA 95667. For more information on the Placerville Speedway log onto http://www.placervillespeedway.com
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Upcoming events at Placerville Speedway: Saturday April 23: Tri-State Pro Stock Series, Mtn. Democrat Ltd. Late Models, Red Hawk Casino Pure Stocks and Mtn. Democrat Mini Trucks | Tilford Tribute Saturday April 30: Thompson’s Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Mtn. Democrat Ltd. Late Models, Red Hawk Casino Pure Stocks and Nor-Cal Dwarf Cars | First Responders Night
Saturday May 7: Thompson’s Winged 360 Sprint Cars, USAC Western States Midgets, BCRA Lightning Sprints and Mtn. Democrat Mini Trucks | Mother’s Day Madness presented by Mountain Democrat