When it comes to versatility, few young drivers can compare to rising teenage star Braden Chiaramonte. The El Cajon, California racer proved that again in his last weekend of racing on May 19th and 20th. On the 19th, he ventured to Central California to race his 600CC non-wing micro at Keller Auto Raceway at Plaza Park in Visalia. Twenty-four hours later he was out of the micro and into a powerful, winged 360 sprint car at the famous Thunderbowl in Tulare.
As usual, the young driver and his team had a haul from his El Cajon, California home to Plaza Park. To be exact the 1/5 mile semi-banked oval in Central California is located 315 miles from the Chiaramonte family abode. Once the crew got settled in at the tiny track in Visalia, they prepared for qualifying against the other 12 600cc non-wing micros on hand. The other competitors immediately got a look at the young driver’s luster when he timed in second quickest at 12.190. That was just shy of the fast qualifier’s 12.121 lap.
The time trials effort put Chiaramonte on the outside of row two for the second heat race. He quickly established himself as one of the favorites for the 30-lap main event when he advanced two spots forward to finish second in his first-ever appearance at the track.
The 16-year-old, who is nicknamed “Spare Change” and who has already recorded three wins on three different tracks in 2023, started in the third position in the main. The young star became embroiled in a crowd-pleasing slider fest as he raced with the fourth-place car. On lap 20, he crossed to the inside and was tagged from behind by another driver. He spun bringing out a yellow flag. That meant he had to go to the back for the restart.
Many would just ride out their time when starting at the back with only 10 laps to go. That is not part of Chiaramonte’s chemistry and that sets him apart from other young racers. As many have seen in the past, he set off on a frantic pace to get through the pack. He set his sights forward and immediately began picking off cars. This was despite his oil filter coming loose and eventually losing all the oil. With all of that going against him, he still drove through the field for an impressive fourth-place finish.
The drive from Visalia to Tulare for Saturday’s Kings of Thunder Winged Sprint Car race was 297 miles shorter than the journey from El Cajon to Visalia. The race was the annual Chris and Brian Faria Memorial and things did not start the way Chiaramonte hoped for. In qualifying he hurt the engine and was running on seven cylinders throughout the show.
While the engine issue hindered his performance, Chiaramonte’s determination kept him competitive. His time of 15.266 was the 11th best of the 13 cars on hand. In his heat, he started and finished sixth.
For the 25-lap main, he started in the 11th position. On Lap four he was up to eighth. He took over seventh on the ninth circuit and stayed there for the duration. Considering that he was running with one less cylinder and giving up a lot of horsepower to the competition, it was an impressive performance.
Chiaramonte would like to thank all his sponsors who have made his racing efforts possible. RTL Traffic Control, AM Ortega, Hyper Racing, King Racing Products, Tiner-Hirst Enterprises, and Keizer Wheels.
Braden Chiaramonte PR