By Mike Spieker
HANFORD, Calif. (February 25, 2019) – While the local dirt tracks in the Red River Valley offer extremely tough competition night in and night out, it’s every driver’s dream to rise above that competition and make it to the national circuits. For one Fargo driver, that dream has taken its next step.
Seventeen-year-old Tim Estenson has dominated the legends car division at the three local dirt tracks – Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, Buffalo River Race Park in Glyndon, Minn., and Norman County Raceway in Ada, Minn. In the last two seasons, Estenson has tallied 49 wins in the legends division and five track championships, far more than any other competitor in the class.
Last week Estenson announced he will be racing a sprint car in California to start his 2019 season. Estenson will be competing in a second entry for the family-owned team, Netto Racing.
“This is such an awesome opportunity. I never thought I would get the chance to do this at such a young age,” said Estenson. The young Fargo driver turned his first laps behind the wheel of winged sprint car Sunday afternoon during a practice session at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford, Calif.
Estenson does have some experience with an open wheel race car. Towards the second half of the 2018 season, Estenson ran a lightning sprint – a three-quarter scaled winged sprint car with a 1000cc motorcycle engine. Estenson turned heads in the lightning sprint, winning two features in just eight starts. Both wins came on a historic night at Buffalo River Race Park, where he collected a total of three feature wins in the same evening, a record for the 65-year-old race track.
After his practice session on Sunday, Estenson said the biggest thing he noticed was the difference in power between the sprint car, which has 900-plus horsepower, and the 175 horsepower lightning sprint.
“I learned more in that one practice session (with the Netto Racing team), than I probably would have in a couple seasons on my own,” said Estenson.
Once on track, Estenson again turned heads. The Netto Racing team was impressed with Estenson’s lap times and said he is ready to go racing.
Estenson will be competing in at least the first five King of the West Series events, a regional 410 cubic inch sprint car touring series based in Calif. Several drivers in recent years have graduated from the King of the West Series ranks and have gone on to win World of Outlaws events, including full-time World of Outlaws drivers Brad Sweet, who drives for former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, and Carson Macedo, who drives for current NASCAR star Kyle Larson. Larson is also among the drivers who came of out the King of the West Series and has went on to win a World of Outlaws feature.
Estenson’s Netto Racing teammate, D.J. Netto, is a young but experienced sprint car driver and will be a big key in Estenson’s development as he begins his sprint car career. Netto owns three King of the West Series feature wins.
Depending on how Estenson’s first races go, his team may bring a sprint car up to North Dakota so he can compete with the Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint Cars – a touring series that competes weekly at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks and travels across the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Estenson said the extra seat time locally would be beneficial, especially against the stout talent that runs regularly in the area. As time allows, Estenson will also run his JDP Electric lightning sprint at Buffalo River Race Park.
Estenson’s first race with Netto Racing will be this Saturday at Stockton Dirt Track in Stockton, Calif. “The first few races, I just want to be able to hold my line, be smooth, and consistent. I want to respect other drivers and hopefully earn their respect too. My goal is to just bring the car back in one piece at the end of the night and improve my finishes as I get more races under my belt,” he said.
Estenson hopes this opportunity is a step to eventually running his own sprint car team. “If everything goes well in the next couple years, my uncle Tim and I might start our own team. We’ve talked about doing a little traveling with the World of Outlaws and seeing how that goes.”