Rico Abreu will race for a cause at Calistoga Speedway on Saturday.
Abreu and his father David are hosting this weekend’s Boys and Girls Club Dirt Classic benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga, Calif. The event will feature two separate classes — Sprint Car Challenge Tour 360’s and the King of the West-NARC 410-winged-sprints.
Abreu, along with Tony Stewart and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., are scheduled to race this weekend on the 80-year-old half-mile dirt track at Napa County Fairgrounds — just an hour north of Sonoma Raceway.
Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and other drivers are expected to attend. Gates open at 1 p.m.
“We’ve always wanted to promote a race there,” Abreu said. ‘This was the perfect weekend, with NASCAR in town, to share our love for grassroots racing with friends like Kyle, Tony and Kasey — and support one of our favorite charities at the same time.”
Abreu, who grew up in St. Helena, is proud of the Napa Valley’s ongoing philanthropic endeavors benefitting health and education. As a youngster, Abreu and his siblings participated in the local Boys and Girls Clubs activities and after school programs. Children and youth associated with the programs will be in attendance at the track on Saturday.
“We’ve always supported the Boys and Girls Clubs as well as the mental health programs in our valley and the hospital,” Abreu said. "My dad (owner of Abreu Vineyards) donated 40 of the best magnums of Napa Valley 2010 vintages. The proceeds benefited the local school and the Boys and Girls Clubs.”
Initially, Abreu had hoped to raise $50,000 through the benefit. They have exceeded the initial goal and hope to double that number by Saturday’s event. Abreu believes it’s important to expose the younger generations to racing — and create a show that will attract future fans.
“My dad has always supported my racing and with Calistoga Speedway being just about five-miles away from where I grew up, we wanted to make a few upgrades to the track — like fencing and safety,” Abreu said. “It’s such a beautiful facility now — the whole area. The city of Calistoga is built into the mountainside of Mount St. Helena. We wanted to help the speedway, make it bigger and draw fans.
“Before I started racing, the speedway was on the verge of shutting down. Everyone had a bad taste about local, short-track racing. The Outlaws would come to town and no one would show up. But the Hunt Family has gotten involved to promote the facility and now I feel like it’s going in the right direction.”
Since taking time off from NASCAR, Abreu has concentrated on Sprint Car and Midget racing. With most of the features centered in the Midwest, he’s been based out of Tony Stewart’s Indiana retreat this summer. Abreu has ventured far from Victory Lane. He reunited with Keith Kunz to win the Midget race at Lawrenceburg (Ind.)Speedway on June 11.
Although the two-time Chili Bowl Nationals and USAC Midget Champion is concentrating on open-wheel racing for now, he’d like to take another shot at stock cars.
“I haven’t given up on NASCAR,” Abreu said. “I’m just taking a step back. We’re going to regroup and possibly put something together for next year.”
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|Drivers||Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , Kasey Kahne , Tony Stewart , Kyle Larson , Rico Abreu|