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The City Journals

West Valley father-son win at Magic Valley Speedway

Oct 01, 2019 11:16AM ● By Greg James

Chuck and Chaz Groat have taken their winning ways north with the closing of Rocky Mountain Raceway; Chuck won the midget track championship in Twin Falls, Idaho. (Photo courtesy of Julie Groat)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The closure of Rocky Mountain Raceway at the end of last season forced several racers to find a new home for speed. 

West Valley resident Chuck Groat won the Magic Valley Pipe Midgets track championship at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. His son Chaz placed second, 23 points behind him.

“They call me Flyin' Fossil because I am the oldest in the class,” Groat said. “It is a fun class and we have lots of younger drivers. I would guess more than half the drivers are 16 (years old) or less. After this week I have officially retired from full-time racing to help Chaz with his goals. This makes two years in a row. I did not win a race at all up in Twin, but finished every night and was consistent.”

A consistent final race was enough for Chuck to hold onto the championship, but Chaz had an early lap crash that put his standing in jeopardy. With the help of friends and family he was able to get the car rebuilt and back on the track. He finished seventh in the race and he held on to second overall for the season. 

The father-son combination was more than a track rivalry. Chucks retirement will allow him to spend more time preparing Chaz and his cars.

“I find myself watching him as a proud parent. My son is in front of me racing and I can’t get ahead of him is what I like, but I love to work on the cars. I like driving, but now I can focus on his racing and building his car,” Groat said.

Chaz is a sophomore at Hunter High School. He hopes to acquire a larger sprint car with a crate motor for next season.

“Racing is like the carrot,” Chaz said. “I have to get good grades to keep racing. Just like any other athlete.”

Chaz is good friends with fellow competitor Natalie Waters. They both have plans to drive bigger cars next season. 

“Chaz and Natalie are about the same age and good friends,” Chuck said. “They are both looking to move into the sprint car class. We will still focus on midgets and slowly build into the bigger car. The crate motor class runs at Twin and at Meridian (Idaho). The cars are not necessarily faster, just bigger and heavier.”

Midgets run a Ford Focus methanol-injected engine. At this altitude it can produce about 155 horsepower and weigh about 1,100 pounds. Chuck figures he invests roughly $15,000 into each car and, depending on accidents and wear, can run $200-$1,000 a night to keep them race worthy.

Magic Valley Speedway has become the family’s new second home after the closure of Rocky Mountain Raceway. The Twin Falls track is a third mile oval with less bank.

“The setup is different, but it is perfect for these smaller cars. It is a little tighter and tougher to pass,” Chuck said. “Our class has stayed together to race up there, but it has been disappointing to see less cars from here making the trip. RMR was like a second home. It is a family thing for us. Julie (Chuck’s wife) makes the food and helps take the pressure off.” 

The Groats close out their racing season Sept. 21 in Meridian, Idaho. Chaz won his first career main event there in 2016.