PLACERVILLE, California — Second generation open wheel racer Billy Strange of Elk Grove, California is set to begin the 2010 winged sprint car racing season. Strange is geared up and planning to compete in a number of different Northern California venues in the season to come aboard his Strange Motorsports #28x sprint car.
"I'm looking forward to the new racing season," said Strange, who enters his third consecutive year of racing sprint cars locally. "We're looking to run at Placerville and I just picked up a 410 motor so we plan to get our feet wet with five or six races in the Golden State Challenge series."
Racing is deep in the roots of the Strange family. Billy Strange Sr was a well known modified racer at Placerville Speedway in the late 70's and 80's. Prior to that he was a successful flat track racer in the American Motorcycle Association racing various dirt tracks in California such as Calistoga Speedway and more. Billy Strange Sr. continued his success behind the wheel up until 1988 and had numerous accolades to his name with the majority of his victories coming in modifieds but a good share of success in super modifieds and sprint cars as well.
Prior to 2007, Billy Strange had very little experience behind the wheel of a race car. Although he spent many Saturday night's watching his father race his interest in music succeeded the high speed thrills he chases today.
"I spent ten years trying to make it as a lead vocalist and songwriter in the music businesses," said Strange. "We traveled up and down the west coast and I even did a small stint of acoustic stuff on the east coast."
At one point during his music career, Strange even signed on to an independent record label with Blue Fire Records under the name Parallel Shift. However, in time his desire to follow in his father's footsteps drew much of his interest in music more towards racing and he then began to raise a family. After a short stint in the Bay Cities Association Midget Lites division he made his sprint car racing debut at the track where his father performed well and returned to help him, Placerville Speedway.
In 2009 Strange made 11 starts at Placerville Speedway. He finished 16th in the overall point standings despite the absences and garnered a solo top ten finish during the year racing among some of Northern California's toughest competitors.
"Our finishes don't really show how competitive we were last year," said Strange. "We had several top runs and just ended up being the victim of circumstance in many of them."
In addition to Placerville Speedway Strange raced twice at Marysville Raceway Park last season where he finished 11th on one occasion and 9th on his second which tied his career best finish in a sprint car. This Saturday he will begin a new season at Placerville Speedway as the 2010 point racing season opens.
"I want to run enough races to qualify for the Forni race at Placerville," said Strange. The Mark Forni Classic is an annual race in honor of the late fairboard member and former car owner. The event requires drivers to compete in at least six of the weekly point races or Civil War races at Placerville prior to the event to qualify for the $5000 bonus it pays to the winner.
"The Forni race is exciting because it showcases someone that meant a lot to the community and it features the majority of the best sprint car drivers in the area. The way it is set up this year also highlights the importance of Placerville Speedway with Mark Forni."
Following the Forni Classic, Strange and his team will review their progress in the championship point standings at Placerville Speedway to determine their plans for the remainder of the year. They will then decide if they will make a run towards the title or travel around to various events.
"If we're close to the top five in the point standings at that point then we will run all of the point races at Placerville," he added. "We definitely want to make some 410 shows and run the Gold Cup in addition to Placerville this year."
Strange Motorsports has a number of marketing partners that they are thankful. Among their supporters are ART Enterprises, Rex Hutchison Racing Engines, Kevin Sharrah Designs, Swepco Lubricants, MotoWear International, America's Tire, High Country Painting and Amerikote. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor on the #28x sprint car can contact Billy Strange through his website at www.billystrangejr.com