NASCAR & Auto Racing

Local motor notes: Reno hosts Nitto National Championships

More than 100 drivers in five classes will descend this weekend on Reno’s Wild West Motorsports facility for the 2014 Nitto National Championship.

Ben Varozza of Diamond Springs is one of 11 local drivers entered in one of the five classes of off-road races.

Varozza, 33, is in first place in the points chase in Ultra4 Western Pro Comp Stock, also known as 4600. The other four classes competing on the wide-open and rock-crawler terrain include the 4400 class, which features unlimited alterations to the motor and chassis; the 4500 Stock Modified class and Legends and Rubicon Express Modified classes, which both feature tighter rules to limit modifications.

Varozza has two wins and holds a 2,616 to 2,569 lead over Fullerton’s Mel Wade. The Nitto National Ultra 4 Championships invites the best racers from the West and East regions of the series.

“The East and West are coming together to see who is the best,” said Varozza, who owns an off-road vehicle shop in Diamond Springs. “We don’t see each other too much during the season, so it will be nice to race against the best in the sport.”

Varozza was second last year in the 4600 class in the annual King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, in San Bernardino County. Drivers must complete the 165-mile course in less than 14 hours and each team must pass through seven checkpoints and stay within 100 feet of the race course centerline. Repairs can only be done on the track by the racers or in the pit area. The race is considered the sport’s Super Bowl and is so tough on vehicles that more than half of the field does not finish. Of the 29 drivers who started in the 4600 class last year, Varozza said only 10 finished.

Other local drivers competing in Reno are JP, Raul and Marcos Gomez of Lotus, Kevin Yoder of Grass Valley, Nick Vona of West Sacramento, Doug Evans of Chico and Justin Foxworthy of Auburn in the 4400; Marysville’s Kurtis Harryman in Legends; and Meadow Vista’s Jimmy Jack and Folsom’s Morgan DeRodeff in the Rubicon Express Modified.

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Taxi Cab Open

While no actual taxis will compete in the Taxi Cab Open on the clay oval at Marysville Raceway Park, just about every local driver of Limited Late Models, Super Stocks and Hobby Stock/Pure Stock race cars will.

The term “taxi cab” was coined by open-wheel sprint car drivers who consider the beat-up, fendered race car variety inferior, and track promoter Paul Hawes picked up on the name in good fun.

Hawes is paying $1,000 to the winner of the Late Models, $750 for the Super Stocks and $400 for the Hobby/Pure Stock class.

The event closes the track’s 46th season.

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NASCAR race a success

More than 80 race cars crammed into the pit area Oct. 11 at Roseville’s All American Speedway for the Toyota/Napa Auto Parts 150 that featured a K&N Pro Series West main event, the Pacific Challenge Series finale for Late Models, a Mini-Cup race and a media/celebrity race.

With a sold-out crowd, more than $25,000 was raised for the Placer County Breast Cancer Endowment.

“It’s so rewarding to have a NASCAR event in our hometown and community,” race promoter Bill McAnally said. “I want to thank everyone from the sponsors to the fans for their help in making this a fantastic event.”

Christian PaHud of Harrisburg, N.C., took the pole and won the Toyota/Napa Auto Parts 150 racing under Bill McAnally Racing’s banner. Napa’s James Bickford was second, followed by Brandon McReynolds, who also drives for McAnally. McReynolds moved into third place in the K&N Pro Series West standings, seven points behind Wilton’s Dylan Lupton with one race remaining.

Upper Lake’s Jeremy Doss won the Pacific Challenge Series 100-lap race, with Elk Grove’s Matt Scott right behind. Lincoln’s Danny Allen was third and finished the season second, six points behind series champion Mike Beeler of Salida.

Lance Hamilton of Airdrie, Alberta, won the Mini-Cup Open. Fair Oaks driver Andrew Payne was fourth.

KCRA’s Brian Hickey won the Basalite Media/Celebrity Blitz.

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