Cody accepts trophy for a win at a King of the Wing feature race in Stockton.
Cody Gerhardt of Madera, California, grew up in a family that raced and built sprint cars. His dad Kevin and his uncle Kent, and their father and grandfather have all participated in sprint car racing. In Fact, a major race in the USAC Pavement Sprint Car Racing Series is the Gerhardt Classic, a 100-lap race on a 3/8-mile track that's named after Cody's great grandfather. And yes, Cody has competed in the race and in his rookie season qualified seventh in a field of 15 cars and finished eighth.
He won the Northern, Southern, and Western United States Midget Championships in 2010.
The fourth generation Gerhardt to race got started when his father bought him a quarter midget. "He took me up to the Madera Speedway, which is close to our home, and I trained there. When I was ready I raced. I was 5 years old and I was hooked," he said.
He progressed through the USAC Ford Focus Midget Racing Series and the Mini-Sprint Series and then on to racing winged pavement sprint cars. While he was moving through the classes from midget to sprint wing cars, Gerhardt's dad and uncle started Western Speed Racing in 2002. Cody joined the team in 2009.
The team, which also includes racer Dylan Nobile, competes in California in the Western King of the Wing Series and in Indiana, Idaho, Washington, Utah, and Arizona in the National King of the Wing Series. Drivers that have raced for the team include Jason Leffler, Tony Stewart, Bobby Santos, and Dave Steele.
Cody and the team had to overcome some setbacks. For example, in 2015 Cody's dad and uncle built a brand new car that featured a Diablo Chassis. Although they finished second in points in the Western Series and the vehicle was very competitive, they still experienced steering box issues throughout the campaign and had to keep changing it out.
"If we didn't have that problem I'm sure we would have won the championship, but we had a couple of DNFs," said Cody. According to Cody, the car wasn't ready to race at the beginning of this season because the engine wasn't complete. "So in the first event of the year I had to drive Ken Hamilton's famous Pink Lady and I finished second," he said. "We missed the next race due to an accident with our car that happened in practice."
However, they won the BCRA Midget Car Feature on May 7th and the Winged Sprints on June 11th. Both events took place at the Madera Speedway.
Western Speed Racing Team #40 and #60 cars finish second and third at Madera Speedway in 2016.
In the June 11th race, Cody qualified the Western Speed Racing's #40 Winged Sprint car 2nd with a 12.851 time and placed 2nd in the second heat race. Dylan Nobile qualified the team's #60 car 4th with a 12.888 time and finished 3rd in the second heat. Cody started 5th in the 3rd row and Nobile started 3rd in the second row. Both drivers were held up for 11 laps of the 30-lap race. Cody was in 5th and Dylan made a pass on the outside to capture 3rd place. Dylan finished 2nd after fighting to make a pass for the lead and Cody took 3rd.
Western Speed Racing will compete on July 9th in the 13th Annual Gerhardt Classic at Madera Speedway. According to Cody, the team will be racing in eight to nine more races including the Gerhardt Classic. He added that some events are in California and some take place in other states such as Washington and Idaho.
K&N Engineering is a major sponsor of the Western Speed Racing Team and a valued partner.
"K&N has been sponsoring the team for eight years and sponsoring me through my career before I joined the team," he said. "I've had a great relationship with K&N. They are great people to work with. Every time we needed something, they were on it right away.
Other sponsors of the Western Speed Racing Team include Lucas Oil, K1Racer Gear, University Market, Fresno Van Rental, Anderson Landscaping, XRP, Steele Performance, Johnny's Muffler Services, Brannon Corporation, Yak Graphics, Dennis's Body Shop, Truck Covers USA, Nobile Truck Accessory and Performance Trailers, Inc., and Paul Eskesen Motorsports.