Brad Kennedy hoped the amplifier that powers the sound at Placerville Speedway could make it through his inaugural season behind the microphone as the new track announcer.
The amp, estimated to be 30 years older than Kennedy, 18, didn’t make it past the first race of the 2016 season. But the frustration is over as the audio system has been replaced with modern equipment and Kennedy can worry about smoke on the track from a wreck rather than smoke in the press box from the aged amp.
“It’s been an up-and-down season so far for me, but the racing has been really good and that’s what it’s all about,” said Kennedy, a Rio Linda resident who has been attending races since he was in diapers. “The racing has been a lot of fun to watch, and it’s good to be back at home track.”
Kennedy has the pipes of a much older announcer. At 16, he was the track announcer at Kings Speedway in Hanford, and he spent most of last summer as a crew member for a couple of high-profile sprint car teams, including Kraig Kinser’s World of Outlaws entry.
“Working last summer gave me the opportunity to see some of the huge tracks back east and how they do things there, including the announcers,” Kennedy said. “The experience gave me more knowledge of the sport and the cars, and I can give that to the race fans every Saturday night.”
He’s also soaked up racing knowledge from his family, which enjoys a rich legacy at the quarter-mile clay oval, in its 51st year of operation.
Kennedy’s maternal grandfather, Johnny Tiner, won a Northern Auto Racing Club A Main event at Placerville in 1983 by passing the legendary Chuck Gurney on the final corner. Kennedy’s uncle, Randy Tiner, started his career at Placerville in 1985, driving for another uncle, Rod Tiner, who also drove for many seasons at what was then Hangtown Speedway. Kennedy’s father, Tom, and paternal grandfather Wil Kennedy are former race car owners. Wil Kennedy won a track championship at Washington’s Skagit Speedway in 1992 with driver Marc Huson. Wil Kennedy also gave NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne his first sprint car ride.
“We are very happy to welcome Brad Kennedy as the announcer at Placerville Speedway,” new track promoter Scott Russell said in a press release. “We feel with Brad’s knowledge of the competitors, his family’s history in the sport, and specifically at Placerville Speedway, combined with his youthful exuberance, that he is the right man for the job. Our goal is to utilize Brad to create an informative and entertaining experience for the race fan.”
All Fast Fords
Sacramento Raceway is hosting the All Fast Fords and Muscle Mustangs event Sunday with drag racing, an autocross competition and a car show. Pro Muscle cars drivers will vie for the $1,000 winner’s take while Fords in the 10.00 to 13.99 ET brackets will race for a $600 top prize. Street machine drivers, including grudge matches, compete for a trophy and a Wednesday Night Fun Drags season pass.
Gates open at 7 a.m. The autocross begins at 8 a.m. and drag racing starts at 10:30 a.m. For more information, go to sacramentoraceway.com.
Hirst leads locals
Two-time King of the West 410-cubic-inch sprint car champion Kyle Hirst goes into Saturday’s Chris & Brian Faria Memorial at the Tulare Thunderbowl with a lot momentum after winning the prestigious Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial on April 30 at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway. The 28-year-old Sacramento native who now lives in Paradise won the Faria Memorial in 2014 and will compete in Tulare for Tarlton Racing.
Another Sacramento-area favorite is Willie Croft, who grabbed an impressive third-place finish at the Thunderbowl in March against the World of Outlaws.
Hirst and Croft lead a local contingent that includes Chico’s Jonathan Allard, Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Auburn’s Andy Forsberg, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler and Roseville’s Colby Copeland.
For more information, go to thunderbowlraceway.com.
Two of the finest motorcycle races each year in the Sacramento area are both scheduled for May 21. The Sacramento Mile’s opening ceremony at Cal Expo takes place about the same time as the final 450 cc moto is wrapping up at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova. If you are planning to attend both races or have a comment about the scheduling conflict, please contact Mark Billingsley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com or @editorwriter001