The ARP Turkey Night Grand Prix presents the Don Basile Rookie of the Race award annually, and each year honors the excellence of a first-time feature starter in the 98-lap classic.
This year’s crop of 30 Turkey Night Rookies arrives to stake their claim and the big race with USAC’s NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, which will be celebrated for the 81st time this Saturday night, November 26 at Ventura Raceway, California takes place to make their first mark .
No rookie has won the race since Warren Mockler’s last-lap exploits in 1986. Mitchel Moles outperformed everyone else making their Turkey Night debut in the 2021 race and finished third to round out the podium.
Almost half of this year’s 61-car field belongs to the plethora of Rookie of the Race contenders. This year’s group includes first-time 2022 USAC National Midget winner Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio), as well as December 2021 Gateway Dirt winner Jonathan Beason (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma) and 2021 USAC East Coast Sprint Car Champion , Alex Bright (Collegeville). , Pa.).
USAC Western States Midget winners make up a sizable portion of the rookie class, including Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, California), Brody Fuson (Bakersfield, California) and Cade Lewis (Bakersfield, California).
Reigning USAC West Coast Sprint Car Turkey Night winner AJ Bender (San Diego, California) is also part of the crew, as are USAC West Coast Sprint Car winner Daniel Whitley (Ferndale, California) and BC39 Stoops Pursuit winner Dominic Gorden ( Clovis, California). .).
New Zealander Travis Buckley (Auckland, New Zealand) is the sole international representative at the event. He will be joined by his first Turkey Night hopes, Californians Terry Nichols (Delano, CA), Jake Hodges (Camarillo, CA), Caden Sarale (Stockton, CA), Joey Bishop (Camarillo, CA). ) and Steve Hix (Ventura, California).
Badger Midget racing veteran Bryon Walters (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin) will make his first Turkey Night outing. Brothers Blaze Bennett (Parker, Colorado) and Lance Bennett (Aurora, Colorado) join the event from the Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association.
Josh Hodge (Brownsburg, Indiana) and Scott Orr (Columbia City, Indiana) hail from Indiana, while Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, NC) travels coast-to-coast. Zach Telford (Middleton, Idaho) and Teddy Bivert (Payette, Idaho) have the Idaho connection going as they make the long haul from the north.
Adjacent Arizona brings with it a handful of newcomers, including Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Arizona), Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Arizona) and Jim Vanzant (Prescott, Arizona) along with brother and sister Logan and Tuesday Calderwood (Goodyear, Arizona). ).
The award, named for track owner, promoter and 1999 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee Don Basile, made its debut in 1998 with Kasey Kahne as the first recipient.
Over the years, Turkey Night’s Don Basile Rookie of the Race honors have been presented to some of America’s most talented young racers. A look at the list reveals some of the top names from the sport over the past two decades, including two race winners and seven who will be in the field this year.
Tanner Thorson won the Don Basile Rookie of the Race award in 2013 and eventually won the race in 2015. Additionally there is a talented group of former rookies who will all be in the hunt for a first Turkey Night win this Saturday night including: Carson Macedo (2016), Jason McDougal (2018), Cannon McIntosh (2019) and Moles (2021).
Automotive Racing Products, the title sponsor of the 81st edition of the Turkey Night Grand Prix, will pay $10,000 to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship event in Ventura on Saturday night, November 26th.
Wally Pankratz and Dick Woodland of the National Midget Hall of Fame will serve as Grand Marshals for the event.
Friday, November 25th will host Midget practice as well as USAC West Coast Sprint Car Heat Races, Qualifiers and Dash Races, with the Sprint Car Semi-Feature and Feature Events and the 98-lap USAC Midget Season Finals to be held on Saturday 26 November.
On Fridays and Saturdays the pits open at 11:00am Pacific with the drivers briefing at 2:45pm, the grandstands open at 3:00pm and the cars on track at 3:15pm.
Friday tickets are $22 for adult general admission, $18 for seniors/military/students, and free for children 12 and under. Box passes are $45 each for members and $50 for non-members.
On Saturday, all unreserved tickets are $35. Reserved seats are $45 for children 13 and older and $25 for children under 12. Pit passes are $45 for members and $50 for non-members.