Out Here it’s All About the Kids
(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 170 main event victories across California and Oregon. This is the seventh of a series of columns.)
Tear Offs • by Andy Forsberg | I’m 43 years old and I never feel like an old man when I’m racing, but there are a lot of times when I am the oldest driver on the track. It’s crazy. The sprint car driver age dynamic here in California is so different than the rest of the country. In the Midwest and back east, 40-something-year-old drivers are pretty common, and there are very few kids racing.
But out here in California it’s all about the kids. I’m talking about the youngsters who started racing outlaw karts and micro sprints when they were still in the single digits. They’re taking over the California sprint car world. In case you don’t follow sprint car racing, that’s how so many of today’s young stars got their start driving race cars. They start racing at Cycleland, Delta, Lemoore, Visalia, Red Bluff and a couple of other tracks.
And it all kinda comes back to when people ask me what makes me so successful. And I just say, with a laugh, “Well, all the good people leave and go back east to bigger and better things in racing.”
I don’t want to say it leaves less competition here in California, because I don’t want to insult anybody who races here full time. But people like Brad Sweet (33); Kyle Larson (26); Rico Abreu (27); among others, left California and went on to further their racing careers where there is more opportunity. So they thinned the pond a little bit, so to speak, and made things a little bit easier for some of us weekend warriors.
I can’t say Brent Kaeding wouldn’t have won as many races as he did during his heyday, but the competition would have been different for Brent if guys like Randy Hannagan (52); and Paul McMahan (50); would have stayed out here to race.
It’s the same with me in my generation. If any of those guys would have stayed here in California to race full time, the dynamics would no doubt be more than a little different. Again, I have to be careful how I say this, because I don’t want to piss anybody off, but it’s easier to do well in California when you have people continuing to move on to race in other parts of the country.
I mean, just think if Larson had stayed in California. He would be dominating every sprint-car race around here. Nobody would be winning any races. Can you imagine if Sweet, Larson and Rico were the guys to beat every weekend at Chico or Placerville?
Shane Golobic, who is from Fremont and 28 years old, has been fast and he’s won a couple of races so far this season. He beat me in the last couple of laps of the main event at Placerville recently (June 1). I know he’ll be going back east to race this summer. So I won’t have to contend with him, which is nice.
I joked with Shane after the race as he was going across the scales. I wished him good luck in Indiana and said, “It won’t hurt my feelings if you just stay there for the rest of the season.” He just laughed.
Like the other guys I mentioned above, Shane got his start racing as a kid (quarter midgets) and he’s been driving race cars most of his life.
But that’s OK; racing is my version of going fishing, or skiing, and like I’ve said before, if it’s not fun, I’m not gonna do it. I’m still having too much fun.