The 2018 Perris Auto Speedway Young Gun Sprint Car champion and 2019 USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year, Eddie Tafoya Jr., will be back on his old stomping grounds, Perris Auto Speedway, for the Glenn Howard Classic this Saturday night. It will be his first race back in So Cal since April. He will be staying on the home front to finish out the last five races in the USAC/CRA Series
Last offseason Tafoya, who lives in Chino Hills, California, announced his intention to spend much of the season competing in the toughest traditional sprint car series in the world, the USAC National Sprint Cars. That is just what he did. Following his original plans, he started the year in Florida and contested 20 races with the national group. Six other races were rained out and he ran two open shows. In addition, he contested three USAC/CRA races earlier in the year.
Hitting so many new tracks, Tafoya was on what seemed like foreign soil. Yet, for the most part, he did not ask a lot of questions.
“I mean, I don’t really ask too many questions too often,” Tafoya said. “I try to listen to people. I don’t really go out of my way to ask questions. We just try to figure it out. I think that is a good way for me to learn. Just trying things. I have to figure out how to do these things and not have someone helping me all of the time and spoon-feeding me. It feels good when you get in the main and you know that you and your guys did it all by yourselves.”
Tafoya did not cherry-pick the easy races with the National Series for his 2023 schedule. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He opted in for races at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway, Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway, the grueling Indiana Sprint Week, and Kokomo’s Smackdown. Those tracks accounted for 14 of his 20 starts back there. They are some of the fastest, most competitive tracks in the country and they draw the toughest drivers.
That level of competition can be very tough in more ways than one. Bent parts and broken pieces are one of the hazards of the game. However, the smooth-driving Tafoya managed to steer clear of the mayhem. That is a huge benefit to any racing program and a team’s finances, too.
“Knock on wood, so far, we have hurt one radius rod and one drag link, that was it,” Tafoya said. “That was on the same night during Sprint Week. We have been pretty fortunate to keep our wheels clean this year. Last year or the year before we picked up a lot of speed and had some big crashes and wrecked our stuff. That kind of set us back for a couple months trying to figure things out and get the ball rolling again. When you can show up every night and keep driving it (without damage), it definitely benefits you in the long run.”
“I feel pretty good,” Tafoya answered when asked if he was happy with the way things went on the national tour. “The nights I was good, I had bad luck or adversity. You know, I pulled a bad pill or we barely missed transfers. At Texarkana, I qualified 17th. Three-tenths would have put me in eighth place I think it was. Things like that. When you are competing at that level, things just kind of have to fall in place.”
In addition to the tracks Tafoya had competed on in the past, he was on some new ones this year. He thinks going to tracks he had never been to before helps.
“I would say it helps with experience,” he explained. “You see a lot of different stuff. When you come back to places you do know and there is something different, you can lean on your notebook and your memory bank. Maybe you have seen something like that before and can adjust for it.”
Tafoya closed out the USAC National Series portion of his season with races at the Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, and Texarkana 67 Raceway in Arkansas two weeks ago. He qualified for both main events through the heat races. At Devil’s Bowl, he placed second in his heat. He started 22nd in the main on the big, fast track and drove forward to 18th. The first Texarkana race was rained out, but in the finale, he finished fourth in his heat and 20th in the main.
For fans who want to see Tafoya and the other USAC/CRA stars in action on Saturday, the spectator gates will open at 5:00 p.m. with racing at 7:00. Adult tickets are $30.00. For fans 65 years of age and older, it is $25.00. For kids six to 12 it is just $5.00 and children five and under are admitted free. The fairgrounds charge $10.00 for parking. Advance tickets are available until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. They can be purchased online at tix.com or by calling 1-800-595-4849. For fans who do not wish to buy advance tickets, there will be plenty of tickets for everyone at the ticket window on Saturday.
Perris Auto Speedway is conveniently located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds (home of the Southern California Fair), one hour east of Los Angeles and one hour North of San Diego. To get to the track, take the 215 freeway, exit on the Ramona Expressway, and go three miles east to the fairgrounds. For directions online, the address to enter is: 18700 Lake Perris Drive and the zip code is 92571.
The Specialty Fasteners #51T team is always exploring corporate partnership opportunities. If you or your company would like to be a partner with the hard-working sprint car squad, please contact Eddie Tafoya Jr. via phone at (909) 393-3999 or by e-mail at mailto:[email protected]. He will be happy to talk to you and lay out the team’s plans.
Tafoya’s great-looking shirts and hoodies are available online at www.specialty-fasteners.com.
Tafoya has a great YouTube channel at the following link https://www.youtube.com/shorts/1hrmC5L80EU.
Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51.
Eddie Tafoya PR
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