(Torrance, CA, February 27, 2024) The California Lightning Sprint Car Series will kick off its historic 30th season with a pair of races during the California Mid-Winter Fair at the Imperial Valley Raceway this Friday and Saturday, March 1st and 2nd. Joining the CLS for this week’s exciting races will be the SoCal Lightning Sprints. Racing will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and 6:30 on Saturday. The main event will be 20 laps each night.

Heading the list of entries for this weekend is six-time CLS champion Bobby Michnowicz of Oak Hills, California. He first won the series championship in 2012 and followed that title by winning four in a row in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. He won his sixth championship with a phenomenal season in 2023. In 16 races, the now 60-year-old star posted five wins. However, his most impressive stat was 15 top-four finishes in the 16 races. The only time he finished out of the top four was his only DNF of the year. That came after two straight wins and was followed by two more in a row. In addition to his five victories, the Oak Hills, California star’s ledger for the season included six second-place finishes, one third-place result, and three fourth-place outings.

“You have Bobby Michnowicz, Jeff Dyer, Eric Greco, and Aiden Lange,” CLS President “Rockstar” Jon Robertson said when asked who he thought the heavy hitters would be this year. “Then you have Connor Speir, Cody Nigh, and whoever the Schweitzer’s are bringing to the club. Look at that kid (Brodey Graham) they brought in last year. Dyer’s kid (teenager Seth Dyer) is actually picking up the pace and is going pretty good. The competition is going to be fierce. They are just the tip of the iceberg. Of the 10 cars that show up at every race, any of them are capable of winning on a given night. They are just going to have to string together a bunch of good nights (to win the championship).”

“This is like my ninth or 10th season with the CLS,” Robertson went on. “This is looking to be a pretty spectacular year. All of the old gang is coming back. We have some new teams coming on board, and some other new rookies coming in later in the season as they are eligible (age wise). We should have a pretty good season. We have a lot of really good races and a good schedule starting this weekend. It is one of our better schedules and it is pretty exciting. We have a lot of good stuff going on starting off with this coming weekend at Imperial. We should have quite a few cars down there and it should be a spectacular show.”

In addition to those drivers, two-time CLS champion Brent Sexton (1999 and 2008) will be on hand on Friday night. If the inaugural USCS Sprint Car race at Ventura gets rained out on Saturday, he will be at Imperial both nights. If Ventura does not get rained out, Sexton will be racing there and AJ Bender, who won one of the season openers at Imperial last year, will drive Sexton’s #44.

Beginning at Imperial is nothing new on open-wheel fans. Starting in 1956, the original California Racing Association Sprint Car Series raced during the fair for decades and was known back then as “El Centro.” The races combined with the fair made the events among the most popular stops of the season.

The significance of competing at the famous facility has not been lost on Richardson. Even though the racing is not on the giant half-mile as it was in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, it is still in front of the grandstands and on the same plot of land on the fairgrounds.

“It is a racing landmark,” Robertson said of Imperial. “When I first started racing 30-some-odd years ago, that was one of the first tracks I ran at with USAC. It is always a great crowd and the racetrack just keeps getting better. Last year it was fantastic and since then they have done a lot of work on it. I am expecting a really good show with two days of great racing and the fair going on. What is not to like?”

Last March when the CLS visited Imperial Valley to open the season, USAC/CRA Sprint Car star AJ Bender and rising teen star Braden Chiaramonte won the two main events.

The pit gate will open at noon on Friday, driver check-in is 3:00-4:00 p.m., wheel packing will start at 5:00 with hot laps and single-car qualifying to follow. The first race of the night will begin at 7:00. On Saturday, the pit gate and driver check in times will be the same. Wheel packing will be at 4:30 and again will be followed by hot laps and single-car qualifying. The first race will start at 6:30.

One week after the season openers, the CLS stars and cars will travel 317 miles from Imperial for its first of six 2024 races at the famous Bakersfield Speedway.

The CLS would like to thank the following companies for being partners in the 2024 season. Extreme Mufflers, and Hoosier Tire.

2024 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Schedule

March 1 Imperial Valley Raceway Mid-Winter Fair

March 2 Imperial Valley Raceway Mid-Winter Fair

March 9 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

April 13 Merced Speedway CSL vs BCRA Civil War #1

April 20 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

May 4 Ventura Raceway CLS

May 18 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

June 8 Ventura Raceway CLS

June 15 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

July 5 Santa Maria Raceway CLS

July 6 Santa Maria Raceway CLS

July 27 Santa Maria Raceway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #2

September 13 Bakersfield Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #3

September 14 Ventura Raceway CLS

September 28 Ventura Raceway CLS

October 5 Merced Speedway CLS vs BCRA Civil War #4 Albright Memorial

October 26 Ventura Raceway CLS

November 15 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – No Points

November 16 Placerville Speedway Hangtown 100 – No Points

November 26 Bakersfield Speedway CLS

To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at and follow on the club’s Facebook page

2023 California Lightning Sprint Car Series Final Point Standings

  1. Bobby Michnowicz, Lomita, CA … 2026
  2. Eric Greco, Palmdale, CA … 1883
  3. Aiden Lange, Lakewood, CA … 1509
  4. Jon Robertson, Torrance, CA … 1434
  5. Connor Speir, Fillmore, CA … 1383
  6. Jeff Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … 1349
  7. Seth Dyer, Yucca Valley, CA … 1440
  8. Cody Nigh, Camarillo, CA … 959
  9. Pat Kelley, Chino, CA … 927
  10. Brent Sexton, Lakeside, CA … 817


1994 Tony Everhart

1995 Gary Sexton

1996 Rob Sczymczak

1997 Jon Rahe

1998 Chris Rahe

1999 Brent Sexton

2000 Greg Bragg

2001 Greg Bragg

2002 Greg Bragg

2003 David Cardey

2004 Keith Janca

2005 Johnny Bates

2006 Donny Gansen

2007 Shane Rossen

2008 Brent Sexton

2009 Stuart Hielschier Sr.

2010 Jarrett Kramer

2011 Tim Brown

2012 Bobby Michnowicz

2013 Stephen Limon

2014 Bobby Michnowicz

2015 Bobby Michnowicz

2016 Bobby Michnowicz

2017 Bobby Michnowicz

2018 Jarrett Kramer

2019 Jarrett Kramer

2021 David Gasper

2022 David Gasper

2023 Bobby Michnowicz

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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