Racing: Gualda seeks experience in travel year

 

Things are changing for 12-year-old Hollister racer Tony Gualda.

After engine problems put a hole in the racing team’s budget, Gualda and his manager – his dad – Tony Gualda senior decided to try something new.

Instead of racing at one track during the racing season trying to build points – which started in late April – Gualda would travel between a series of race tracks hoping to build his experience for the next level, the elder Gualda said.

“This is what he wants to do,” he said. “Touring California is basically what he is going to be doing (once he goes pro). We are grooming him for different competition.”

After five races – and four top-5 finishes – the young Gualda is doing just that.

“I think it’s really good to be touring,” he said. “I’m racing at three tracks with better racers. I’m looking forward to be running up front.”

The pair will travel as far south as Visalia to compete in 600 cc 5/8 Restricted racing – something he started driving in last year. So far this year, the traveling has been successful. On Saturday, Gualda competed in his fifth race of the year – and first at Lemoore Speedway.

After taking first in the race’s first heat – finishing with a time of 4:26.479 – Gualda finished 11th place out of 13 after finishing only 24 of the race’s 25 laps. Gualda was one of five racers to complete fewer than 24 laps.

“There has been a lot of competition,” he said. “There are a lot of people with bigger budgets, new cars and new materials. It’s fast and a lot of fun.”

Without that equipment, though, Gualda has still found success because of his driving style.

“I just drive smooth,” he said. “It’s good to have all that equipment but you don’t need it.”

Even without the top-of-the-line equipment, Gualda has performed well, including racing the fastest lap at an April 23 event.

“That was great,” he said.

Eventually, though, when Gualda turns 14 he’ll race a late-model stock car at Roseville, the elder Gualda said. The move, which won’t be for another two years, will have Gualda moving from the familiar dirt path to asphalt.

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