On Hosting a Party for the West Capitol Raceway Alumni

(Andy Forsberg of Auburn, CA, has been driving sprint cars since 1994. A second-generation racer, he’s won an unprecedented 10 Civil War Series dirt sprint car championships. He’s claimed multiple track titles at Placerville and Chico and has over 170 main event victories across California and Oregon. This is the fifth of a series of columns.)

Tear Offs • by Andy Forsberg | We hosted the first (and last) annual West Capital Raceway Alumni Pizza Party here at our sprint car shop in Auburn, last Tuesday (June 4) and about 70 people showed up. It was old racers, fans and friends. I originally thought maybe 10 people would come but it kept getting bigger. We put all of our race cars out on the driveway, including my dad Richard’s restored Lloyd sprint car, and filled the shop with tables and chairs and showed old West Capital Raceway videos. We got 15 pizzas from Costco and had lots of beer. As you can imagine, there was plenty of bullshit going around, too.

If you’re a member of the West Capital Alumni, you’re getting up there in age. The speedway, which used to be located in West Sacramento, closed in 1979. That was 40 years ago, so, you do the math.

My dad raced and won races there. It was home of the annual Gold Cup Race of Champions from 1956 to 1979. Today the track lives on only in the memories of the people who raced and went to the speedway, and through the concerted efforts of Bonnie Chisholm, who organizes the events, like the one we hosted.

That feeling of community is important in racing. It’s a legion of racing people and it’s something that I enjoy seeing and being a part of. My dad and I talked about the history of Forsberg Racing: It’s been 51 years now.

Leroy Van Conett was here. He was probably the guest of honor. As far as the cool factor goes, whenever Leroy walks into the room, he’s typically the coolest guy there.

Jeannie, Tommy and Tony Hunt were here. Jeannie and Tommy are the promoters at Calistoga Speedway and they talked about the upcoming Louis Vermeil Classic and Hall of Fame dinner that’s scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Their son Tony, who used to race sprint cars, is a Hollywood stunt driver and he works on big-time movies and commercials. He was talking about how he’d just wrapped working on the new Ford vs. Ferrari movie.

Tony also talked about how he got to drive his grandfather’s restored 1960 Indy car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, the day before the 500. Tommy said it brought back a lot of memories because he was 14 years old when he watched his dad race that car. Tommy had designed the paint job for it. 

Today the track lives on only in the memories of the people who raced and went to the speedway, and through the concerted efforts of Bonnie Chisholm…

Apparently, Tony made some pretty fast laps with the car around Indianapolis—to the point where a couple of times he said was going faster than he felt comfortable—and he got the car a little sideways in the turns. I can appreciate that because I like to put the hammer down when I drive my dad’s Lloyd at vintage races. But since we own that car, if I stuff it in the fence, we can fix it. It’s not a big deal. But if Tony had wrecked that restored Indy Car, the rich guy who owned it would have been pretty upset, no doubt, and who knows what would have happened. Anyway, not many people get the opportunity to drive around Indianapolis in a beautifully restored Indy Car, so I liked hearing about it.

We also had Scott Russell and Rick Faeth in the house to talk about the latest in promotion at the their respective tracks: Placerville and Petaluma.

I brought out about 10-12 old racing scrapbooks and photo albums. Some were mostly of my dad and some were mostly me. We had some cool old Racing Wheels newspapers, including one from the last race at West Cap, and some old programs.

Personally, I don’t remember much about the track. My only distinct memory of the place was from when I was 3 years old and I got lost there after watching two tow trucks tow a car away after a big crash, one in the front, one in the back. That fascinated me. Somehow, I had talked my mom into letting me go down to the fence and watch but after the wreck had been cleared, I couldn’t find my way back to our seats until finally my dad found me smashing aluminum cans and brought me back to my mom.

Other than what I’ve seen on video, I don’t remember the racing itself at West Sacramento. But I guess you could say it’s one of the first tracks where I started to learn about racing.

And as far as our next West Cap Pizza Party, if you missed out, sorry for your luck, it’s not happening again—not because it wasn’t a blast—because I’m just not really into hosting events. Plus, we’re out of beer.

Video: courtesy of Rich Moore