The Supermodified Ultimate Pavement Racing Series will honor the late Billy Vukovich III with the 10th Annual running of the Billy Vukovich III Classic 100 at Mesa Marin Raceway presented by SupermodifiedScorecard.com.
In what is considered one of most prestigious and toughest races on the schedule, the SUPRS competitors are not only focused on what will be a tough battle but also ultimately, the reasons why they are running this event.
Two time and defending winner Steve Callahan of Cayuhoga Falls, OH understands as well as anyone that winning this event is not just another win. “I’m going into this race just like I did the other two, with a lot of focus and hoping that I can bring it home with a win because it means a lot to me since it’s about Vuky,” he said recently.
Though sitting fourth in Gold Crest points and a the first back to back winner of this race, Callahan has yet to visit victory lane and will have his work cut out for him against the likes of current point champion and 2009 Vukovich III Classic winner Ray Sand, Jr. To date this season, Sand, Jr. parked his #18 in victory lane eight times and is on his way to tying John Davidson on the SUPRS All-Time Win list with 74 feature victories.
Davidson, of Sacramento, CA, is the only three-time winner of the event and would love nothing more than to make a run at the race his website SupermodifiedScorecard.com sponsors. “I’d really like to have a shot at a fourth Vuky Classic, but with work and the kids, I doubt that I can make it,” he explained. “I love that track and I was a big fan of Billy’s so it’s really a bummer I can’t be there.”
Billy Vukovich III was a three-time starter of Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, the first third generation racer to compete in the race and like his father and grandfather before him was named the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Rookie of the Year.
While many in the mainstream motor sports arena will remember Billy III as a rising star of the IndyCar ranks, the supermodified community will always claim him as one of their own. Starting out just like Bill Vukovich and Bill Vukovich II, Billy got his start in midgets in his home state of California and was a champion in that division. He quickly moved through the ranks to the supermodifieds and competed for famed supermodified car builder Jim Belfiore before moving to larger, better funded teams in California’s Central Valley.
During his supermodified tenure, Vukovich III claimed the 1986-87 USAC Supermodified Championship. In 1987 alone he won an incredible 12 of 17 races with a string of seven consecutive victories. He was also a two-time winner of the prestigious Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway and was a threat to win when he competed at Madera Speedway in the Vernon Reitz “Spirit of Madera” machine.
Vukovich III was also a part of the storied return of winged supermodified racing to Oswego Speedway, competing there in an exhibition race against Eddie Bellinger, Steve Gioia, Jr. and Bentley Warren. This event was the forerunner of the return of winged supermodified racing to Oswego Speedway with 1992 ISMA wing show and set the stage for ISMA’s 1992 East vs West series and ultimately the 1995 East vs West Shootout at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Vukovich III was killed at the age of 27 while practicing for a CRA pavement sprint car race at Mesa Marin Speedway on November 25, 1990.
Each year Madera Speedway runs the Vukovich Classic in honor of all three generations of the racing Vukovich family. There is an annual Billy Vukovich III golf tournament held to raise funds for the Billy Vukovich III Scholarship Fund for students of Billy’s high school Yosemite High School where there is also a memorial honoring the 1981 graduate who loved meteorology and amateur weather forecasting.
SUPRS Billy Vukovich III Classic 100 History
- 2005 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: Bud Flath
- 2006 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: John Davidson
- 2007 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: Devin Gee
- 2008 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: John Davidson
- 2009 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: Ray Sand Jr
- 2010 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: Bobby Gangwer
- 2011 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: John Davidson
- 2012 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: Steve Callahan
- 2013 Billy Vukovich III Classic Champion: Steve Callahan