Local motor sports: Paul Hawes steps away from Marysville Raceway but not the sport

Kyle Larson will be seen in an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Hammer Down.”
Kyle Larson will be seen in an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Hammer Down.” The Associated Press

Paul Hawes can scratch “promote local racetrack” off of his bucket list. The Olivehurst resident is stepping away from promoting Marysville Raceway Park after eight years to do other things, he said.

“I’m 61 years old and working two 50-60 hours-a-week jobs just isn’t fun anymore,” said Hawes, who owns H&H Trenching, a road and parking lot construction firm. “I want to buy an alfalfa ranch and within the next five years get out of the construction business and concentrate on racing.”

Hawes owns four race cars – two 360-cubic-inch winged sprint cars and two wingless sprinters. His son, Jeremy Hawes, races one of the winged 360s and Misty Castleberry has driven one of the wingless sprinters to numerous track championships.

The plan, Hawes said, is to sell three of the four cars and requisite equipment to focus on Jeremy’s 2015 racing events so the family can run an aggressive schedule and travel across the country to some of the bigger races in places such as Knoxville, Iowa. They plan to compete for the title each week in the Civil War Series. Hawes was the track’s 2014 Rookie of the Year in the premiere 360 division and finished third overall.

Paul Hawes’ expertise with grading machines and earth movers has transformed the Marysville track into one of the most consistent and fastest tracks in the region.

The shows and series he’s promoted have grown considerably under his watch and, more importantly, the track is profitable, he said.

“It is a valuable property, and the track is a player in the region,” Hawes said. “(New promoter) Dennis Gage can walk into something positive and with his 410 (cubic-inch) contacts, it gives Marysville Raceway Park more clout and can expand even more.”

Gage is a longtime racing professional and is the promoter at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway.

“I’m looking forward to next season,” Hawes said, who will no longer have to worry about the track condition, or concessions, or the gate receipts, etc. “There is a lot of stuff I haven’t been able to do.”

Cortopassi brothers honored

Sacramento brothers Ed and Roy Cortopassi were honored last month by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum for their contributions to the sport.

The museum’s annual reunion features some of the sport’s most famous and historic cars and drivers, and the Cortopassi brothers are known for creating the sport’s first streamlined and enclosed-cockpit dragster, the Glass Slipper, in 1955.

That same year, the car reached 181 mph at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats. It won its division in the 1956 NHRA Nationals and was voted America’s Most Beautiful Competition Car at the 1957 Oakland Roadster Show. In 1972, Hot Rod magazine took possession of the Glass Slipper from the Cortopassis and the car started the nostalgia drag racing movement.

Ed Cortopassi drove the Glass Slipper as recently as 2009. He passed away in August at age 79. Roy still lives in Sacramento.

Larson stars in Nickelodeon series

Elk Grove native Kyle Larson will be featured later this month in a new NASCAR documentary series on Nickelodeon titled, “Hammer Down.” The series, aimed at teens and pre-teens, is produced by NASCAR Productions, and the episode will give all-access passes into Larson’s life and career. Other drivers to be featured include Camping World Truck Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Blaney and K&N Pro Series East driver Kenzie Ruston.

Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at or @editorwriter001.