TURKEY NIGHT GRAND PRIX WILL BE HOMECOMING FOR USAC CHAMP!
(Perris, CA, November 16) When the 72nd Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix returns to a dirt track for the first time since 1998 at Perris Auto Speedway on Thanksgiving night, it will be a homecoming for newly crowned Mopar USAC National Midget champion Darren Hagen. The Riverside, California native will be racing in front of family and friends for the first time since sewing up the crown last weekend at Canyon Raceway Park in Peoria, Arizona.
Hagen has traveled a long, hard road since racing as a youth on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds where he won his first IKF National Go Kart triumph at the Apex Kart Racing track and a California Lightning Sprint National as an underage driver at The PAS.
"It has definitely been worth it (the sacrifices to get to the top)," the affable 26-year-old said by phone on Wednesday. "Anytime you put God first it is going to be an enjoyable roller coaster ride. We have had the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows and through it all there has been something great to every situation."
Hagen, who has captured four USAC National wins on his march to the this year's title and numerous other victories throughout the years, knows how important this championship is. "It is my biggest accomplishment in for how hard we have worked at it," said the racer who is now headquartered in Avon, Indiana and who only gets to spend about three or four weeks in Southern California throughout the year. "We have come up short a couple of times losing it by 13-points last year and breaking my back (in a Sprint Car crash at The PAS) a couple years ago finishing third and missing Turkey Night. The year before that I think we finished second. We had a big wreck that year and had some bleeding on the brain, broken ribs and a collapsed lung. So, to overcome all of that and finally win the National title is just unbelievable."
Hagen stated the championship really has not sunk in yet and probably will not until the team gets to see the trophy and celebrate with team owner Don Fike at Turkey Night. "He (Fike) has been trying to win the USAC National championship since I think 1998," Hagen exuded. "He is pretty happy. They (USAC) asked us if we wanted to do the trophy presentation at Canyon, but he had business to take car of and could not be there. We told them no as it would not be the same without the car owner. We wanted him to be a part of every little bit of this since he helped me get my dream and my goals."
In addition to celebrating with his team, it is going to be special for Hagen to celebrate in front of his family and hometown friends at The PAS on Thanksgiving. "God has had it set up the whole time that we end the season as national champion in my hometown," Hagen stated. "It is huge. You have some of the greatest supporters that follow me and I have had some great times there. It will be really cool for them and for me. I am going to give something out to a kid or a fan in the stands. Don't know which kid or which fan, but I have something pretty cool I am going to give out to them."
With the title sewed up, Hagen and the RFMS Team are focused on bringing home the checkered at America's longest running and most prestigious Midget race on Thanksgiving night. "We had a meeting with the team and the car owner going into last week's race," Hagen stated. "The car owner said, 'there is no pressure here, we want you to sweep the night.' We came up one spot short of sweeping. We were first quick in hot laps, first quick in practice. won the heat race and finished second in the main (to Kyle Larson who the night before was second in the NASCAR Truck race at Phoenix International Speedway). That is the same look we have for Turkey Night. Our goal is to win everything on the racetrack."
There has been a huge buzz among fans and teams since it was announced that the 72nd running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix was returning to dirt for the first time since 1998. Hagen believes that no matter where Turkey Night is held, it is huge. "Turkey Night is Turkey Night no matter where it is held," he said. "There is not a greater racetrack in the country to have Turkey Night back on dirt than Perris. The PAS has the best fans, great announcers, great concession stands, great restrooms, a great pit area to see everything from and great grandstands. If you have never seen it before on dirt, it will be pretty cool to see some big slide jobs at Turkey Night."
When the final checkered flag falls at the Turkey Night Grand Prix, Hagen will still be busy with racing. He will be heading to Arizona to help with some testing for Danica Patrick's cars at Tony Stewart Racing. 2013 will see him debut at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "We plan on chasing the National Midget title again in 2013, unless NASCAR opportunities crop up and cause conflicts in the schedule," Hagen said. "I am going to try to race as much as I can next year in anything and everything including racing around the lawn on the lawn mower."
Hagen wanted to be sure to thank all of the sponsors who made the 2012 USAC Midget championship possible. RFMS Racing, Liberty Village, Hinchman Racing Uniforms, Blumlux Watches, Bell Helmets and Al and Diane's Red Onion.
Fans can come out and watch practice for the Turkey Night Grand Prix and the 1-800LoanMart Street Stock Turkey Bowl, for free on Wednesday night, November 21st.
The two nights following the 72 Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix, The PAS will host the inaugural 1-800LoanMart Street Stock Turkey Bowl with a purse of $22,500. Thus far. the Turkey Bowl has drawn entries from as far away as Iowa.
Advance tickets for the Turkey Night Grand Prix and the 1-800LoanMart Street Stock Turkey Bowl are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling: 1-800-595-4849. You can also order tickets online at: http://www.perrisautospeedway.com/ or http://pas.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=7
To keep up with all of the latest Perris Auto Speedway news, photos, gossip and receive special offers, sign up at The PAS Facebook site at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php - !/pages/Perris-Auto-Speedway/11387679868
You can also keep up with the latest news and receive special offers from The PAS Twitter site: http://twitter.com/perrisautospdwy.
Perris Auto Speedway wants to thank its corporate sponsors for the 2012 season. 1-800LoanMart, 777 Racecars, Aaron's, Ahern Rentals, All Coast Construction, Amsoil, Ayers Hotel and Spa, Budweiser, Champion Towing, City of Perris, Comfort Inn, Day Construction, Daytona Boat & RV Storage, Frazee Paint, Hoosier Tires, K&N Engineering, P.I.P.E., Pepsi-Cola, Pick-A-Part Auto Salvage, Prolong Super Lubricants, Scott Sales, Snap-on, Soboba Casino, Square H, Swedish Speed, Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Trench Shoring, US Foods, Valley Auto Salvage, White Nuckl USA and Zanzabuku Sports Lounge.
Video and DVD productions of all racing events at Perris Auto Speedway are available from Loudpedal Productions. For more information on these productions you can contact them by calling (805) 844-3854, E-mailing mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit the web site http://www.loudpedalvideo.com/
For more information call The PAS at: (951) 940-0134.
Perris Auto Speedway is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds (home of October’s Southern California Fair), approximately one hour east of Los Angeles and one hour North of San Diego. To get to the track, take the 215 freeway, exit on the Ramona Expressway and go three miles east to the fairgrounds.
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2012 PERRIS AUTO SPEEDWAY SCHEDULE
November 21st - Practice for the Turkey Night Grand Prix - free for fans in the stands
November 22nd - 72 Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix for the Mopar USAC National and Western Midgets.
November 23rd & 24th - 1-800LoanMart Street Stock Turkey Bowl - $1,500.00 to win on Friday and $4,000.00 to win on Saturday.