VENTURA, Calif. – Carson Macedo is one of the California natives who knows full-well what the Turkey Night Grand Prix and its rich racing history mean to his home state.
However, the Thanksgiving night classic has proved elusive for the 23-year-old Lemoore, Calif., young gun.
From the time he was a full-time midget racer with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports in 2016, Macedo has yet to taste victory in the holiday special, though he won the sprint car portion of Turkey Night last November.
Now, Macedo is back with Tarlton Motorsports for another go at Ventura Raceway, hoping to conquer the beachside, fifth-mile dirt track Thursday night for one of the biggest wins of his still-young career.
After a year on the road with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, reuniting with the team that helped to launch his racing career was “like riding a bike” according to Macedo.
“It’s been really fun,” said Macedo, who earned Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year honors with the Outlaws this season. “We didn’t really miss a beat. We haven’t had the results that we’ve really wanted to as a whole (on the West Coast swing), but we’re racing with a great group of people … and that’s what this sport is about, is the people. Paul Baines (crew chief), Tyrone, Tommy and Tom Tarlton, obviously … and we even got Sean Dyson from Australia onboard, with Complete Parts & Equipment. Actually, his engine is the one in the midget. That’s been neat and we’re happy to represent him here.
“It’s always fun to race with people that you’re close to, and to be back with this group, it’s tight-knit.”
Macedo has run the second half of the California Swing with the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, but on paper, it would appear to have been frustrating at first glance.
Despite a finish of 15th at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway on Saturday, and only the 17th-fastest lap in Turkey Night practice on Wednesday, Macedo is confident in the speed he and his team have shown.
“We just got caught up at Bakersfield, but I think we had a solid car,” Macedo said. “This deal is just about putting it all together. A 98-lap race is a long time, and a lot of things can change, so we just have to try to qualify up front, stay in the mix and give ourselves a chance in the second half.”
Macedo is also one of a handful of drivers tackling the challenge of double duty during Turkey Night, racing his midget as well as a non-winged 360 sprint car with the USAC West Coast Sprints.
It’s a scenario that poses its difficulties, but one that Macedo relishes as a driver.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a challenge, but we love that,” he said. “That’s what we came in to do is, is challenge ourselves and have some fun and, and run both those cars to the best of their potential. We were able to win the sprint car race last year, but then this time I just spun out on my own in the qualifier and kind of struggled from there.
“Hopefully we can dig ourselves out of a hole and put ourselves in a good position in that car too, but we feel decent about where we’re at with the midget.”
For Macedo, who will head to New Zealand to race following the conclusion of Turkey Night before the World of Outlaws trail reignites in February, he’d like to send off his American racing season in style.
But equally as important, he wants to win a race that’s known worldwide in front of his home crowd.
“It’d be outstanding to win it. Turkey Night’s always a big event and a big race, but it means something unique to those who have grown up here. It’s special,” Macedo said. “I’ve ran really well here in the past, but hopefully we can find that same kind of speed Thursday night and really put together a good run.
“For sure, it would be pretty cool to put it all together in the midget and be on the frontstretch at the end.”