BOISE, Idaho -- For second generation driver Craig Bell of Kuna, Saturday night at Meridian Speedway will seem like old times. Bell returns to Meridian leading the point standings of the NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series after his first career win last Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
Bell cut his racing teeth at Meridian Speedway, a place that he and his family have won numerous championships, but moving up to the NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is the next step in his racing career. A step he hopes to make the most of. The win in SLC last weekend catapulted Bell to the top of the point standings and put him in position to claim his first series title. “That was a big night for our team,” Bell said. “I am so pumped about this series and returning to Meridian (Speedway); the fans will see some great racing not seen before.”
The NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is in its second year of operation that brings together to top Late Model stock car drivers from through out the Intermountain West region. Local businessman and long-time Meridian Speedway track announcer Mike Minegar of Boise saw Late Model racing declining all over the region and put together the foundation for a successful regional touring series. In 2003, there were more than 100 Late Model type stock cars in the region and most were sitting collecting dust. “I love racing,” Minegar said. “The drivers and fans in our area deserve great racing and with the backing of a lot a great sponsors we were able to create something truly unique.”
New to the series in 2005 is Meridian Speedway and many of the series regulars are excited about coming “home”. Meridian Speedway is steeped with tradition and has been a Treasure Valley landmark for more than 60 years. Davey Hamilton and Randy Tolsma started their racing careers started on the tricky quarter-mile paved oval. Former NASCAR Northwest Series champion John Dillon of Eagle called Meridian Speedway home in the 1980’s and now is a regular on the RMCS.
“Racing at Meridian (Speedway) is important for a lot of our teams,” Minegar said. “Many of the drivers got their start here and I know there are a lot of fans that have supported this series and are excited that we are racing at Meridian this year.”
The NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series will visit Meridian Speedway twice this season. The event Saturday night will feature the many of the top Late Model drivers from around the region competing for one of 24 starting positions in the 75-lap event. Former Meridian Speedway track champion and two-time series winner John Nesmith of Meridian leads a local contingent that hopes track experience and knowledge is the key to victory Saturday night.
The NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is a regional touring series that allows competitors to gain experience on different types of asphalt oval tracks up to 3/8-mile in length. It is a high-quality, professional racing series that offers maximum opportunity at an affordable price serving the Intermountain West. The motto of the series is to “Race Hard and Have Fun!”
Bell tops the series point standings after two events by one point over 19 year Bryan Warf of Meridian. Defending 2004 series champion Zan Sharp of Wellsville, Utah is third with Retro-Designs Rookie leader John Newhouse and local favorite David Minegar rounding out the top five in the standings.
The NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series will feature 13 races at four area race tracks. Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho will host the series five times in 2005 including the series finale Saturday, September 17. Chaparral Speedway in Eagle, Idaho will have three visits in 2005 beginning with the June 18 event. The series will return on July 16 and then again on September 3. Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City, Utah will host four races at the regions marquee facility including two special 125-lap events.
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To check out the schedule and all the racing results plus an amazing photo gallery, go to www.rockymountainchallengeseries.com.
Admission Saturday night at Meridian Speedway: Adults - $15.00, Seniors - $7.00, Children (6 – 12) $5.00 and Children 5 and under are always Free.