Still, the Meridian, Idaho sprintcar racer holds the memorial race named for Tom and his brother Bob with reverence for reasons other than the supermodified drivers’ legacies.
“My parents grew up with the Naylors and then we’ve got stories of how (Naylor family members, including Tom) held me when I was a baby,” Giesler said.
Perhaps that distance history — a memory known only through stories told much as the Naylor legacy is passed down today — is what makes Giesler drive just a little bit harder when the race comes around every May.
On Wednesday night at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway, Giesler couldn’t be touched in the Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial Classic, capturing his first victory of the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcar Series season and becoming the third different driver to win in the series’ season-opening Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek.
Giesler shook off a mediocre beginning to the night to build a 1.563-second winning advantage over second-place Bryan Warf, a fellow Meridian racer, to make sure the Naylor trophy stayed at his house for another year. He became the first back-to-back winner of the race since Davey Hamilton won two of his three trophies in 1988-89.
Giesler has won three of the past four Naylors, joining Hamilton, who also won in 1994in third place on the all-time victories list behind Rick Veenstra (six wins, 1985-86, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1999) Kenny Hamilton (five wins, 1983, 1991, 1995, 2001, 2003).
Giesler now has won five of the 13 features run in WWS history, putting him at the top of the list.
He qualified fifth on a night when Canadian Jeff Montgomery picked up fast time with an 11.464-second lap around the quarter-mile paved oval.
The Langford, British Columbia veteran couldn’t make the quick qualifying time pay off and finished more than two seconds behind Roseburg, Ore.’s Andy Alberding in Trophy Dash A.
Giesler was nearly two seconds behind Victoria, British Columbia’s Matt Mansell, who won the A Heat. Cody Gerhardt of Fresno, Calif., was runner-up, eighth-tenths of a second off the pace.
The Western Winged Sprints run the fourth leg of the five-race Speedweek on Friday with the first night of the BOB FM Diamond Cup XXV. Giesler won last year’s Diamond Cup — and a diamond ring.
Ameristar Diamonds will furnish this year’s ring, which goes to the driver who scores the most points during the two-night event, which will conclude Saturday with fireworks in more ways than one.
Friday is Stinker Stores Family Night. Family passes are available at participating Stinker Stores in the Treasure Valley.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing at 6:30 p.m. both nights.
On Friday, adult tickets are $15; and on Saturday, adults get in for $18.
There is a $2.50 military and senior discount each night, and children ages 7-11 get in for $4 less than adult prices. Children 6 and younger are always admitted free.
ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway
Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series
Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial Classic
Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek No. 3
Wednesday’s unofficial results
WWS Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial Classic (50 laps) — 1. Johnny Giesler, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Bryan Warf, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian, Idaho; 4. Brandon Johnson, Meridian, Idaho; 5. Jeff Montgomery, Langford, British Columbia; 6. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah; 7. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 8. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 9. Cody Gerhardt, Fresno, Calif.; 10. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia
(Four laps each)
A Dash — 1. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 2. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian; 3. Jeff Montgomery, Langford, British Columbia; 4. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah
B Dash — 1. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 2. Cody Gerrhardt, Fresno, Calif.; 3. Brandon Johnson, Meridian; 4. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia
(Eight laps each)
A Heat — 1. Mansell; 2. Gerhardt; 3. Johnny Giesler, Meridian; 4. Montgomery; 5. Murgoitio
B Heat — 1. Jackson; 2. Bryan Warf, Meridian; 3. Johnson; 4. Burdett; 5. Alberding
Montgomery, 11.464 seconds