As the dust settled on a thrilling Saturday night at Vado Speedway Park, it was a spectacle that unfolded under the glow of the April 27th evening sky, marking a memorable moment in the 2024 racing season. The evening kicked off with the POWRi 360 non-wing sprint cars hot lapping for their season debut, bringing together a mix of seasoned champions and eager newcomers. Among them, Caleb Stelzig, last year’s season champion, returned, his presence bolstering the lineup. Adding to the night’s fervor was the Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser, passionately supported by the Omega Delta Phi fraternity from UTEP, which saw race fans and participants alike contributing generously to a noble cause.

S. H. Automotive Pure Stocks
The night opened with David Garcia Jr. pulling off a thrilling victory in the S.H. Automotive Pure Stocks. Starting from the twelfth position, Garcia Jr. showed remarkable skill and determination, navigating through the pack and taking advantage of every opening. His rival, Sharrii Minks, kept the pressure high throughout the race, challenging Garcia right up to the final laps. Garcia’s tactical prowess and calm under pressure earned him his third consecutive win of the season. His post-race celebration was doubly sweet with a victory pie, marking a festive end to a hard-fought race.

Hulsey Racing Legends
In the Hulsey Racing Legends, Angel Garcia emerged as the standout driver, overtaking Allen Gutierrez after a tight battle. Garcia’s strategy was impeccable; he chose his moments to attack and defend wisely, securing a well-deserved first-place finish. The race was a showcase of his growing skills and his ability to handle the intense competition, especially from the hungry Gutierrez and the dominant Luke Solis. Garcia’s first ever victory lap was celebrated with a humbling slide of victory pie, a nod to the fun-filled atmosphere at the park. Looking forward to a bright future ahead for young Angel Garcia.

POWRi Sunset Grill Non-Winged Sprint Cars
Caleb Stelzig stole the show in the POWRi Sunset Grill 360 Non-Winged Sprint Cars race. After recovering from an early spin, Stelzig maneuvered through the field with surgical precision to reclaim and maintain his lead, securing a well-deserved victory. His performance was a perfect example of resilience and expertise, demonstrating why he is considered the top talent in this class and a legend in the making. Stelzig’s victory was celebrated with cheers and a playful pie-smashing from his girlfriend, adding to the evening’s jovial spirit.

Extreme Landscaping USRA Stock Cars
The Extreme Landscaping USRA Stock Cars race was a rollercoaster of emotions and lead changes. Jed Smith, who initially dominated, unfortunately spun out, adding an early twist to the race dynamics. Bryan Shannon Bennett emerged victorious, marking his first win in the season. Bennett’s ability to navigate through traffic and capitalize on opportunities as they arose was nothing short of masterful. Jonathan Burton and Josh Cain also delivered commendable performances, showcasing their racing prowess with Burton nearly stealing the lead in the final laps. Bennett shared his elation and credited his team’s return to a tried-and-true setup that helped secure the win. The joy was palpable as his wife playfully pied him in celebration, all in good spirits for the Wounded Warrior fundraiser.

Rancho Milagro USRA Modifieds
The highlight of the evening was the Rancho Milagro USRA Modifieds, where Jake Gallardo displayed a masterclass in dirt track racing. Competing against Jay Rosales, who has made a notable return after ten years, Jake Gallardo showed why he’s the force to be reckoned with, executing a perfect low-line maneuver with just seven laps to go to overtake Jay Rosales—who impressively returned after a decade away from racing. Gallardo’s win was a mix of precise driving and race intelligence, proving his prowess and adding another victory to the ‘Professor’s’ impressive season tally. Gallardo expressed immense satisfaction with his car’s performance, explaining his strategic decision to switch lines mid-race which ultimately led to his victory. The celebration was joyous, with his daughter ready with a pie to celebrate her father’s win, underscoring the family atmosphere that permeates the track.

Emotional Celebrations and Community Spirit
The air was thick with the scent of competition and community spirit, as the track echoed with the roar of engines and cheers of the spectators. With a blend of high-speed races, heartfelt tributes, and community engagement, the evening at Vado Speedway Park was not just about racing; it was a celebration of competition, camaraderie, and the sheer joy of dirt track racing.

As the last car crossed the finish line and the final pie was thrown, the event left an indelible mark on all who participated. Stories of triumph, camaraderie, and a little bit of pie-filled fun filled the night air, setting a high bar for the rest of the season at Vado Speedway Park.

Remember, racing fans, keep the wheels turning and the spirits high, and I’ll see you at the next race for more heart-pounding action!

Your trackside companion,
Dr. Joaquin Acosta