Sam Stringer and Ray Wulfenstein loom large in the story of dirt track racing in Pahrump, and Pahrump Valley Speedway will honor both of them this weekend with races that evoke their memories.
Friday and Saturday will mark the third annual Stormin’ Mormon Showdown, a weekend of racing that evokes the memory of Ray Wulfenstein, whom Pahrump Valley Speedway owner Chad Broadhead called “one of the founders of this community.” He died in a January 2017 plane crash.
By then, the Sam Stringer Memorial Race had been run for four years.
“He was another pillar of our community, probably one of the best racers in the country,” Broadhead said. “He could have been NASCAR, no problem. He had so much talent. He could take a piece of junk and win in it.”
The first two years of the race, West Coast Super Stocks were featured because that was the last car Stringer drove on the track. His widow, Sheree, made the hard decision to change to Modifieds for the third year because that would draw more drivers. Back then, the race was held in July.
“When Ray Wulfenstein passed away, we decided to combine the two races together,” Broadhead said.
The idea has been a success.
“We had a good car count” that first year, Broadhead said. “It grows every time.”
Part of the reason for that is the prize money. The winner of each night’s Modifieds race will pocket $2,000. The total purse for the two 40-lap Modifieds races exceeds $15,000.
On Friday night, Sport Mods will run a 30-lap feature before the Modifieds race, while a 15-lap Mini Dwarfs race and a 30-lap Super Stock race will precede the Modifieds race.
Broadhead said that the track will not bring in quite that much money, but “we will do that out of respect to those two men. The whole weekend is devoted to these two men. We want to get a really good car count. That’s what the whole thing’s about.”
Another factor boosting the driver count this weekend is Sunday’s NASCAR Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“A lot of these Modified drivers are already here because of racing in Vegas,” Broadhead said. “They can just hop over the hill and come over here Saturday.”
Running a Mini Dwarf race to kick off the main events Saturday night is a crowd-pleaser that helps put more people in the stands.
“That’s the next generation of dirt track racing,” Broadhead said.
Additional drivers, a higher payout and crowd-pleasing races help boost attendance at a time of year Broadhead acknowledges can be a tough time to bring out people.
“We usually get a pretty good crowd,” he said. “It’s early in the season, it’s still cool. And people don’t want to go out when it’s cool.”
Friday’s events begin at 4 p.m., with a driver’s meeting at 5:45 p.m. Hot laps will be run at 6:15, with heat races getting underway at 7:10 p.m. An intermission will precede the main events, the Sport Mods and the Modifieds.
On Saturday, everything basically backs up two hours, with the day kicking off at 2 p.m. and heat races at 5:10 p.m. There will be an intermission before the main events, the Mini Dwarfs, Super Stocks and Modifieds.
Grandstand admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors over 55 and $6 for children ages 6 to 14. Children 5 and under are admitted free. A family six-pack is also available, with two adults and four kids under 14 admitted for $30.
Speedway points leaders
After Feb. 16 races
Modified: 1. Austin Keifer 40; 2. Bryan Wulfenstein 39; 3. Randy Thornell 38.
Sport Mod: 1. Clifton King 35; 2. Brady Gladd 34; 3. Joel Dean 33.
Super Stock: 1. Steve Wulfenstein 34; 2. Darius Mann 33; 3. Jim Wulfenstein 32.
Mini Stock: 1. RJ Smotherman 36; 2. Robert Smotherman 35; 3. Brandon Jones 34.
Dwarf: 1. James Lasiter 33; 2. Mark Hammill 32; 3. Ridge Abbot 31.
Coupe: 1. Mark Daub 33; 2. Allen Lokey 32; 3. Michael Johnson 31.
Hobby Stock: 1. Jay Ward 34; 2. Gege Murphy 33; 3. Doug Murphy 32.