While the field for the 3rd Annual SRL Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway (CA) is laden with West Coast talent, the event is also drawing drivers from all over country with varying resumes. The entry list includes NASCAR champions, Super Late Model touring series champions and track champions. Among the list of track champions is former Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) champion Willie Allen.
Allen of Bon Aqua, Tennessee has won multiple track championships at Nashville during his career, most recently in the 2015 Pro Late Model division. He has a very sturdy Willie Allen Racing (WAR) operation that competes both at the Fairgrounds and throughout the Southeast, but for the trip out West he’s joining forces with another team for his first attempt at the Winter Showdown as a driver.
“I’m going to be driving from Brian and Eric Richardson. We did their shocks last year and helped them with some setup stuff in SRL, they ran a couple of races last year. We developed a relationship; Eric drove one of our cars in Pensacola last year for the Snowflake,” Allen told Speed51.com. “We’ve continued to grow that friendship, they said they’d like me to drive their car in the Showdown, so I’m really fired up and thankful for the opportunity for sure.”
While this will be his first Showdown attempt as a driver, Allen got a lot of experience in SRL in 2016 atop the pit box for a big operation with one of the series’ bright up and coming hot shoes.
“I was crew chief for Blaine Rocha at NTS Motorsports for the whole SRL season last year and I actually made a few laps there last year in Blaine’s car,” Allen explained. “He had to take SAT’s and couldn’t make it for morning practice so I took it out for some laps. I love the track it’s a blast, real fast.”
Following that crew chief experience and unexpected practice session, Allen is more than ready to take on the Showdown behind the wheel.
“I’m real excited to run the race, definitely a bucket-list race. I think one of the biggest races of the year on the calendar,” Allen stated. “We’re going to try and get out there and test early so we can be as competitive as we can.”
Despite less in-car time during 2016, Allen believes he can turn the time spent going across the Southwest to an advantage.
“I think being out there all last year, actually being crew chief for Blaine in the Winter Showdown, I got to see the race and the characteristics of the track for that time of year. I got some good notes,” Allen said. “It’s a leg up being there all year, learning the drivers and teams, knowing what those cars want with them being a little different weight then here on the East Coast. I think they’re going to have a different tire going back to this race, so I think it will be a clean slate for everyone. I think that helps our chances too.”
Put all that experience together with what Allen feels is a solid team with fast cars, and he feels like he can take the $30,000 winner’s check back to the East Coast on February 11.
“We wouldn’t be going if we didn’t think we have a shot,” Allen said confidently. “I’m driving for a great team with great cars, great motors, great everything that it takes to win. Hopefully go and have a great test, be competitive; it’s a long race, a lot of things can happen, but I think we got a shot for sure.”
If you cannot make it to Kern County Raceway Park for the 3rd Annual Winter Showdown, you can see both nights of racing Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 right here on Speed51.com. Click here to purchase your live pay-per-view video ticket today.
-Story by Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Mike Thweatt/MTRN