The brainchild of former Californian harness racing secretary, Dave Goldschmidt, is now going into its fifth year. The 2012 installment of the East-West Amateur Driving Challenge will take place on April 13th and 14th at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, California.
The Californian contingent has won four of the first six annual events, but the Easterners have assembled their most competitive team ever and looking to make it two in a row. For the first time, all four Eastern drivers are making a return trip to the left coast.
Team East, comprised of four of its historically strongest Billings drivers, will be treated to spring in The Golden State, and four races on each of two weekend nights. Local horsemen will enjoy increased purses for the events and fans will be treated to seeing a variation to the professional drivers they see night in and night out at the track.
Joe Faraldo, with 134 lifetime wins, leads the Eastern Team which has amassed 309 career victories between them. Las Vegas odds makers have made the Easterners the favorites to win the spoils. Veteran amateurs Peter Gerry, Steve Oldford and Tony Verruso round out the squad, all of which have 40 or more victories to their credit.
Team West has quite a different look to it. Overall, the Californians pale in years of driving experience, but their two most experienced drivers race much more frequently than their Eastern Brethren. Dave Siegel (189 wins) and Rick Bertrand (38 wins) lead the western contingent with relative newcomers Amanda Fraser and Karen Isbell, who have each been driving for less than two years. Home field advantage will be in Team West's favor, but the combined experience of the Billing's Boys will be running in their favor.
Alan Kirschenbaum, California Harness Horseman's Association President remarked, "The CHHA is happy to continue to support the Challenge as it has the last several years. As an avid amateur myself, I know how much diversity amateur driving brings to our program out here and all over North America. We are particularly appreciative of the Billings group traveling such a long distance to support this unique series."
Dave Elliott, Cal-Expo's General Manager agreed. "We love the notion of this special annual amateur event. Amateur racing is at the historic heart of harness racing and we are happy to endorse it. Our local club and the Billing organization are shining examples of what can be accomplished in amateur competition."
TrackMaster will be providing Racing Fans free programs for the two-day event on their web site.
For information about the California Amateur Driving Club, the Challenge or Amateur Driving in general, please visit www.thecadc.com.