2006 SERIES CHAMPION – Eric Schmidtadmin
Celebrating the Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series 20th season, we are looking back to our previous champions. We have already commemorated Nathan Tucker, Jeff Anthony, Ron Strmiska Jr., Steve Belletto and Jason Fensler as the series’ first five champions. We now reach the 2006 season, and the first champion who is still currently active in the series. That driver is Roseville’s Eric Schmidt.
With the closing of Mesa Marin Raceway, and the final season for the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series, the SRL competed in only eight events in 2006. Four events were run at Madera Speedway, two at Altamont Motorsports Park and single events at The New Stockton 99 Speedwayand Shasta Speedway. The series averaged 23.9 cars per event, while 46 drivers scored championship points.
Schmidt had a great season, scoring two victories and seven top-five finishes, while leading 111 laps and taking home $11,000 for his efforts. He entered the final event of the season with only a five-point lead over Jim Courage Jr. He won the Madera finale to score his first travelling series title by 11 markers.
Schmidt made his first start in the SRL in 2004, after scoring the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model Track Championship at Stockton 99 Speedway. He finished 12th that first season, and entered the 2005 season with a much stronger effort. He won two races that following year, finishing third in the championship standings. His 2005 effort set the stage for his championship run in 2006.
“I would say winning the championship was our goal going into the 2006 championship season”, Schmidt recalled. “We had started running in 2004 and had got to the winners circle in ‘05. My car owner Frank Jordan and Golden State Racing had built a championship winning team, and we stepped up our program in ‘06 with a new Victory Circle car, and it all payed off with the championship.”
Schmidt returned to local short track racing over the next few years, scoring another NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model Track Championship, this time at ALL AMERICAN SPEEDWAY – ROSEVILLE CAin 2007, He had 11 wins in 20 starts, during the NASCAR Regional window. He returned to Super Late Model competition in 2011 with a limited schedule in both the SRL and Pacific Challenge Series (PCS). In 2013, he won the PCS Championship in his only full-time campaign. He would end his PCS career with eight wins in only 20 starts.
On the SRL side, he competed in abbreviated schedules from 2011 to 2017, when he ran eight of the nine events, scoring a top-five and five top-10’s. His 2018 season ended with a return to Victory Lane and eight top-five’s in nine events. It came down to the final event of that season, but he narrowly lost the title to Jeremy Doss. In 2019, a five-race abbreviated schedule found Schmidt scoring only a single top-five, but setting a New Track Record at All American Speedway.
With Schmidt’s experience in the series, spanning 16 seasons and 67 starts, he has seen a lot of changes over the years. From racing for $2,000-to-win, to $10,000-to-win. From $300-to-start to $1,000-to-start for those on the Spears Manufacturing Frequent Flyer Program. From running at three different facilities to now having visited 15. The 2018 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Championship Runner-up has seen a lot of changes, but to him the biggest change is the competition on the track.
‘The difference between now and then is the depth of the competition”, Schmidt described. “There are at least 10 cars that can win at any race now. The technology and the equipment it takes to compete nowadays is crazy.”
Schmidt got his 2020 season off to a solid start by finishing seventh at Irwindale Speedway. The next scheduled event for the series is the “JM ENVIRONMENTAL, INC. 127 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM” from All American Speedway on May 16th. He would love to repeat his Track Record breaking performance from 2019. But this time, he would like to finish it off in Victory Lane.