CHICO — On Thursday night, the World of Outlaws returned to Chico for the second night of the 68th annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway.
Grass Valley driver Brad Sweet, who grew up racing in Chico and now races for the Outlaws, is No. 1 in World of Outlaws Sprint Car driver points with four wins, 33 top-5 finishes and 48 finishes between the top 10. Sweet was the World of Outlaws Champion in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Sweet returned to Chico for this year’s Gold Cup not only as a driver, but also as part of the new promotion group at Silver Dollar Speedway SLC Promotions.
“I grew up in this career. It has always meant a lot to me and it has always been a great event on the West Coast. It’s the biggest World of Outlaw race on the West Coast, so putting my touches on it and trying to bring back some of the traditions is really fun,” said Sweet.
Despite his resume, Sweet has yet to claim a career Gold Cup.
“I always wanted to win the Gold Cup,” Sweet said. “When you’re a pro and you’ve done it as long as I have, I feel like once I get in the race car it’s all business. I think when I’m out of the car I can focus on other things and still have a really successful drive. I think I want to win the Gold Cup as much as I’ve always wanted to win it and maybe more now.”
Sweet recalled dreaming as a child of being here one day and competing against the World of Outlaws, before joining the tour. He said that the race has had a very big impact on his life.
“So to be here competing, to be here promoting, to see all the people (on Wednesday) and everything that’s going on is really cool,” Sweet said. “We have such a good group of outlaw drivers at the moment, so to win any race is super special. This one is just extra special to me. There’s so much in it, having all my family and friends, my hometown, I’m giving back to the event and we’re bringing back a lot of the traditions.”
Sweet said the promoter in him wants locals to do good, for fans to engage and cheer on their local riders as well.
Competing against Sweet will be two World of Outlaw drivers who placed first and second in last year’s race.
Pennsylvania-based Logan Schuchart won the Gold Cup in 2021 and said he felt great about winning what he called “one of the most prestigious races in our sport.”
“It may not pay what it used to, Brad and Kyle are trying to make it a great event again and live up to the pay scale, but as far as making it a prestigious event for me, being from Pennsylvania It’s great to be able to win a prestigious race here in Cali,” said Schuchart.
Schuchart said racing at Silver Dollar Speedway is very different compared to tracks on the East Coast. He said drivers in Pennsylvania are required to use the fin on their speed cars much more than at the Chico track, where he said, “it’s more about putting on jeans and lighting gas.”
“I wasn’t used to that when I first started coming here, but now that I’ve been on the Outlaw tour for nine years, we have a decent resume here in California with the Outlaws,” Schuchart said. “Happy with that, we have been able to win numerous races and get one of the most prestigious in California with the Gold Cup.”
Competing against Schuchart and Sweet was James McFadden, an Australian racer who raced for the World of Outlaws. Unlike Schuchart, who said Chico is different from the tracks he used to race on, McFadden said racing Chico is very similar to racing in Australia.
McFadden said the tracks in Australia are smaller than Chico’s, have a bowl ring style, have more grip and aren’t as steep as some of the other tracks the World of Outlaws competes on. He laughed too as he pointed out that the food and coffee were more like home.
“In that respect it’s fun to come to Chico and do all of that,” McFadden said.
McFadden placed second in his first year at Chico in 2021 and was hoping to keep the momentum going this year.
“It’s a tough place because there’s so little to get through clean and smooth,” McFadden said. “We need to keep the nose clean but keep the points there for Saturday by remembering that Saturday is the big night but you still have to be in the hunt.”
McFadden pointed to the stiff competition with Kyle Larson, Sweet, the Outlaw drivers and the locals who race the track regularly.
The Gold Cup will continue on Friday with the second night of the World of Outlaw competition, plus fan action and a Chill Feed bikini contest and Miss Gold Cup.