Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pit Stops, Plus Dixon Speedway, Kern Raceway, More

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I made the decision to edit the originally posted content in order to await a final decision on the matter of Antioch Speedway.  We'll have more on that once we get the final word.

Pit Stops

We were all set to proclaim the winner of the bid to run Antioch Speedway for the next five years, but we have to put that announcement on hold for the next few days out of respect to the interested parties. Things still have to clear a few hurdles before it's officially announced. However, we can tell you that there were only two interested parties who ultimately submitted bids. This will probably come as a surprise to some, who were expecting to see at least one other experienced promoter step in and make a challenge.

When all was said and done, however, Jeremy Prince was the only one to step forward and challenge the incumbent promoter John M Soares and Oval Motorsports. Prince has been active in recent seasons as a promoter of Dixon Speedway, which has a successful Micro Sprint program these days. He also raced at Antioch in multiple divisions in the past and is the son of a past Vallejo Speedway competitor. Soares has overseen many changes and improvements to Antioch Speedway during his 20 years as promoter.

Ultimately, there wasn't a lot of chatter on social media regarding Antioch Speedway, but there was good reason. Many Antioch Speedway competitors were in Las Vegas competing in The Duel In The Desert. The 21st running of this event drew several drivers from Antioch in both the Modified and Sport Modified classes. For the roughly 300 Modified and Sport Modified racers who made the trip, it wasn't just about going out there and trying to get a win. It was the opportunity to go out there and attempt to tame the 1/2 mile dirt oval.

The Antioch racer who had all of the other locals talking on Saturday night was Buddy Kniss. Kniss has rapidly climbed the ladder at Antioch Speedway from Dwarf Cars to Limited Late Models and now Modifieds. He also balances a very busy schedule during the year that sees him competing in baseball as well. The third generation racer entered the Young Guns race. From his front row starting spot, Buddy proceeded to lead all 10 laps for the popular victory. The team, which includes father Chester Kniss, had battled various mechanical problems with their cars during the three day event, but Saturday was the night that sent them all home with a smile.

More information has emerged in regards to the Hobby Stock and Pro Stock Series that have been proposed for 2019. The California Hobby Stock Challenge Series was announced to be a five race series, and all of the events will pay $1,000 to win and $100 to start guaranteed for series members. Thanks to the sponsorship acquired so far, they will be paying $1,000 to the five race series champion, $500 for second and $300 for third with everybody down to tenth getting at least $100 and the Top 10 getting trophies.

Selected dates will include one pavement show at Madera Speedway. The Richie McGowan Memorial Hobby Stock Race at Bakersfield Speedway will also be a series event. The Danny Simkins Memorial at Santa Maria will be included. The Mike Cecil Memorial event at Watsonville and a race at Antioch Speedway. The series is already generating much interest, and series tracks will allow the drivers to run their set of rules at the varying different events. Tow money will be offered based on the distance the drivers travel from their various home tracks, which has been outlined on the California Hobby Stock Series Facebook page.

Gordon Russell Jr, who has served as the Business Manager for the Nevada Pro Stock Association, recently made an announcement on one of his videos on Facebook. The proposed Tri State Pro Stock Series has four dates secured, including the Billy Geyer Memorial Race in Yreka in May of 2019, the Gordon Russell Sr Memorial Race in Cedarville in June, a race at Reno-Fernley Raceway in Nevada and a September event at Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway. All races will pay at least $1,000 to win, according to Russell. Point fund money is being secured. An as of yet unannounced fifth event could be added to the schedule, and speculation is that this could be at Southern Oregon Speedway. Russell pointed out that if it becomes a five race series, there may be a one race throwaway rule for the drivers. The Nevada group, the Oregon group and drivers representing various California tracks could all be a part of the special series, and speculation is that there could be over 40 drivers at some of these events.

The Central Valley Mini Stock Association is planning for their biggest season yet next year, and they have expressed an interest in having a race at Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville in the event that this track gets opened in 2019. The group came into being with the majority of their races at the 1/5 mile dirt oval Lemoore Raceway in 2017. However, Series President Dan Myrick is looking to add at least three other tracks to the schedule in 2019 and is working on rules that'll keep the group in line with the other efforts in the area.

Myrick expressed an interest in supporting Rocky Hill Speedway recently. Sonny Sell has gotten everybody talking since starting his effort to clean up the place. In the past two years, Rocky Hill Speedway has fallen into a bit of decay. Sell has done weed abatement and has removed all of the bleachers from the hillside as he plans to install new ones. Though the intent is to get racing going again at the over 70 year old racing facility, Sonny is careful not to make any big proclamations as far as what to expect in 2019. His activity has certainly gotten the community talking, and various racers have even shown up to offer some support in the cleanup effort.

The Camp Fire, which has ravaged the town of Paradise, has taken a heavy toll on the racing community. Several racing teams have lost everything in the fire. Some of the teams we know to have been affected include Sprint Car racers Justin Funkhouser, Bill Hopper and the Perry family. Marysville Hobby Stock champion Shannon Collins and past Antioch Hobby Stock champion Dan McCown also lost homes in the fire. King of the West and Sprint Car Challenge Tour champion Kyle Hirst also lost some of his property. This is just a list of the names that we know of, but it's likely that others were affected as well.

California racing scribe Daren Ricks Campbell, who is very active on Facebook in writing articles for various racing teams, also lost his home. Rather than putting up a GoFundMe page, Daren has put it out there on Facebook that he will write season recap articles for drivers for just $35. In this way, he feels like he isn't just taking, but he's also giving back to the racing community. Even in a time when he has lost so much, this young writer is still trying to help the sport.

Find Daren online at his official web page https://drcmotorsportsmedia.com/

People looking to help families in need will probably be more effective by donating to area churches that are raising supplies and money to help those who were affected. Or, look up names of those people on GoFundMe and donate directly to them there. When donating to some of the national charities, sometimes the help doesn't get there as quickly as needed.


Laughton, Hagopian, Stoll Win Lonnie Kaiser Memorial 
At Dixon Speedway

 Dixon, CA...November 2-3...Chad Laughton won the 30 lap Wingless Micro 600 Main Event Saturday night at Dixon Speedway. It was the second night of racing at the 6th Annual Lonnie Kaiser Memorial Race, which pays tribute to the late Vallejo Speedway Hardtop racer. Laughton was joined in the Winner's Circle by Jake Hagopian in the 600 Super Micro Sprints, Caden Stoll in the 600 Restricted Micro Sprints and Junior Sprint competitor Caleb Debem.

The highly-competitive Wingless 600 Micro field had some of the best competitors from California, and Laughton set himself up in a good position by winning the 10 lap Trophy Dash to start the evening. With a front-row Main Event start, Laughton charged into the early lead ahead of 600 Super feature winner Jake Hagopian, who was trying for a double victory evening. The lead two ran that way through a pair of mid-race yellow flags, but the red flag on lap 12 signaled the end of Hagopian's run in second. JJ Bright took up pursuit of the flying Laughton on the restart. However, Laughton ran smoothly and hit all of his marks for the impressive victory. Bright was running second until being overtaken by Brandon Carey on lap 23. Carey would finish second, followed by Adam Kaeding and Robbie Lewis. Bright settled for fifth, followed by Petaluma Speedway champion David Engstrom, George Nielsen, Angelina Dempsey, Josh Hurley and Danny Carroll.

The two-day event saw the drivers qualify on the clock on Friday night and run heat races that would determine who ran the Dash and where everybody else would lineup for Saturday's big show. The Wingless division had 33 competitors, and Lewis was the quick qualifier on the 1/5 mile dirt oval with a 10.747 lap. Engstrom was second quick at 10.772. They ran 10 lap heat races on Friday night, and Hagopian won his ahead of Lewis. The second heat race went to Carroll ahead of Engstrom in a closer battle. Bright won the third heat race over Blake Parmley and the final heat race victory went to Nielsen in the closest battle of all in front of Carey. 

Jake Hagopian grabbed the 30 lap feature win in the 600 Super Micro Sprint feature. It was another highly competitive field, and Hagopian led all the way in victory. Hagopian raced into the lead at the start ahead of Cody Key. JJ Bright settled into third on lap two, and the lead three cars ran in that order for the rest of the race. Though Hagopian didn't quite pull away from Key, who ran a close second, he nonetheless ran a flawless race for the win. Bright was a strong third, followed by Nathan Bordenave, Brandon Carey, track champion Kyle Mentch, Vincent Duggan, Jessica McManus, Darrell Busby and Ethan Lesser.

Key was the quickest of 23 Super 600 Micro competitors in qualifying with an impressive lap of 10.088. Nathan Bordenave was second quick at 10.127. There were three heat races on Friday night, and the first 10 lap event went to Hagopian ahead of Blake Bower. Busby held off Key in a close race for the second heat race win. Mentch won the third heat in another good battle with Bordenave. Saturday's eight lap Dash went to Key ahead of Hagopian.

Caden Stoll grabbed the victory in the 25 lap 600 Restricted Micro Sprint Main Event. Stoll led the race from the outset with Rickey Sanders in pursuit in second. The race had four yellow flags, but it was Stoll leading Sanders on each restart as they drove to a 1-2 finish. Jade Avedisian was a race long third as Matthew Tatoole, Sage Bordenave, Brandon Riveira, Thomas Vo, Izaac Sharp, Riley Whitehouse and Jeffrey Pahule rounded out the Top 10.

Stoll bested the 15 car field in Friday night qualifying with a lap of 10.834. Pahule was second quick at 10.914. Sanders won the first of two 10 lap heat races in front of Avedisian. The second heat win went to Pahule ahead of Bordenave. Saturday's six lap Dash win went to Stoll in front of Sanders.

The young competitors of the Junior Sprint Car division got to compete during the weekend, and it was Caleb Debem winning their 20 lap Main Event. Debem got the lead from the outset and drove an impressive race to win by over half a lap in front of Peyton Whitehouse. Brody Rubio settled for third, followed by Cynric Vo, Colton Key and Lucas Mauldin. In Friday night qualifying, Key had the fastest lap of 13.477, beating a 13.639 effort of Debem. The 10 lap heat race win went to Mauldin, just ahead of Debem. On Saturday night, Debem won the four lap Trophy Dash in front of Maulden.

Special thanks to the amazing sponsors this year for the Lonnie Kaiser Memorial Race

All-Flow Mufflers
Barton Chiropractic
BMC Consulting
Booher Consulting
CED Bay Area
CMP Motorsports
Crow Enterprises
Dales Guitars and Music Lessons
Debem Racing
Grandpa Bill in Memory of Grandma Pam
Hamblin Motorsports
Hoosier Tire West
JBR
Joe’s Racing
Keizer Aluminum Wheels
KPR
Line-X Kustoms & Accessories
Motion Media Wraps
MTR
MTZ Auto Repair
Neal & Son Transportation Inc.
Pacific Elecric
Pro Gas
Allied Propane Service
Salmon Motorsports
SD Plumbing Inc.
Snap-On Tools by Joe W. Lewis
Team Ford Woodland
Stork Club
Valley Pacific
Xtreme Scaffolding & Swing Stage, Inc.


Montgomery, Dalby, Duinkerken 
Win George Snider Classic Race At Kern County Raceway

Bakersfield, CA...November 2...Kaleb Montgomery scored the victory and in the 30 lap Wingless 360 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Kern County Raceway. The occasion was the George Snider Classic On Dirt, and Montgomery gained the lead halfway through the race. For the first 14 laps, Tristan Gaurdino led Montgomery and Geoff Ensign. Unfortunately, Gaurdino had problems for a yellow flag after 14 laps. Montgomery assumed the lead at that point, followed by Ensign and Steve Hix. The Top 3 ran closely, and Ryan Timmons moved past Hix for third on lap 20. Ensign was wheeling the Ted Finkenbinder car and kept the pressure on Montgomery for the final 10 laps. However, Montgomery was up to the task as he won ahead of Ensign, Timmons, Michael Faccinto, TJ Smith, Gaurdino, Hix, Koen Shaw, Shannon McQueen and 2018 RaceSaver Sprint Cars Series runner-up Albert Pombo. Montgomery was the first driver out on the track and out-qualified the 15 competitors with a lap of 14.177. Timmons had a 14.218. They ran two eight lap heat races with wins being recorded by Ensign and Faccinto.

Robert Dalby scored the win in the 25 lap Midget Main Event. Dalby had a front row start and led all the way, but he was pressured early on by Ensign in the Finkenbinder entry. Max Adams was running a close third and took second from Ensign on lap 16. However, nobody was going to stop Dalby as he scored the hard-fought victory ahead of Adams and Ensign. Shannon McQueen settled for fourth, followed by CJ Sarna, Jonathan Henry, Kyle Beilman, George Rucker, Ashley Heredia and Matt Stewart. In qualifying, Dalby bested the 12 car field with a lap of 14.437, beating the 14.581 of Adams. They ran two eight lap heat races with wins going to McQueen and Beilman.

The IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car competitors were on hand for what was basically an unsanctioned race, but IMCA State of California champion Grant Duinkerken won the 25 lap Main Event. Monty Ferreira was the early Main Event leader ahead of Duinkerken and Richard Weddle. Following a lap three yellow flag, Ferreira continued to lead with Duinkerken in close pursuit. Duinkerken was pressuring Ferreira over the next few laps before making his pass for the lead on lap 10. Once in front, Duinkerken stretched his lead to about a straighaway by the waving of the checkered flag. Ferreira settled for second. Grant Champlin took third from Kyle Rasmussen on lap 17 and would finish there as Rasmussen settled for fourth. Brandon Warmerdam, Chris Ennis, Michael Pombo, Tony Everhart, Weddle and Phil Heynen made up the balance of the Top 10. Warmerdam was the first qualifier and set the fastest lap of the 12 car feild with his 13.210 effort. Ferreira was second quick at 13.258. Warmerdam won the first eight lap heat race, and Rasmussen grabbed the victory in the second eight lapper.


Abreu Wins Thriller In Gary Patterson Memorial 
At Stockton Dirt Speedway

Stockton, CA...November 3...Rico Abreu scored the $4,000 win in the King of the West/NARC Fujitsu 410 Winged Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway. The occasion was the 35th Annual Gary Patterson Memorial Race, and Abreu and new champion Kyle Hirst brought the crowd to their feet with a thrilling battle.

Hirst set the early pace in the Main Event ahead of Shane Golobic and Abreu. Golobic was giving it a good run, but a tangle with a slower car on lap seven brought out a red flag and ended his race in disappointment. Hirst led Abreu and DJ Netto on the restart. Abreu began to pressure Hirst for the lead and made a brief move to lead the 19th lap. Hirst went zooming back to the front a lap later with Abreu in very close pursuit. Following a lap 26 yellow flag, the battle intensified. Hirst led the restart, but it was nearly a photo finish at the line. Abreu went charging into the lead on lap 28 and led the rest of the way for the crowd thrilling victory. Hirst settled for second, followed by Netto, Mitchell Faccinto, Bud Kaeding, Colby Copeland, Willie Croft, Chase Johnson, Andy Gregg and Jason Statler.

A solid turn out of 28 competitors came out to close the 2018 season for the Winged 410 Sprint Cars. Golobic was the second driver out to qualify and set the standard at 12.895 for the fastest lap. Hirst was second quick at 13.072. They ran four 10 lap heat races, and Tanner Thorson won a close battle with Croft in the first heat race. The second heat race win went to Copeland ahead of Hirst. Justyn Cox won by a comfortable margin ahead of Netto in the third heat, and Faccinto outran Kaeding to win the fourth heat race. Hirst grabbed the pole for the Main Event and $1,000 by virtue of his six lap Sun Valley Trophy Dash win ahead of Golobic. The back of the pack was filled by the top finishers of the 12 lap B Main, and Bobby McMahon won that race ahead of Kurt Nelson, Dustin Golobic, Kenny Allen and Gary Paulson.

Shane Golobic collected the big $5,500 victory in the Sprint Car Challenge Tour race, which is sponsored by Elk Grove Ford and presented by Abreu Vineyards. The Gary Patterson Memorial Race, which was the biggest event of the season for the tour, wrapped up an exciting season as Kyle Hirst won the championship. Michael "Buddy" Kofoid raced into the early Main Event lead ahead of Shane Golobic and Colby Copeland. After the second yellow flag of the race on lap 4, Justyn Cox began to pressure Copeland for third, making the pass on lap six. Kofoid led through another yellow flag. However, on a lap 14 restart, Golobic charged past Kofoid for the lead. Golobic set a good pace down the stretch, but Cox began to make a run. Cox took second from Kofoid on lap 27 and closed in on Golobic before settling for second. Kofoid was third, followed by DJ Netto, Rico Abreu, Sean Becker, Kalib Henry, Copeland, Garen Linder and Willie Croft.

The Sprint Car Challenge Tour brought 43 cars for their season finale and did qualifying just a little bit differently. The drivers drew for their heat races, and they came out as a group to qualify on the clock for each heat race. That determined the lineups for those races. Kofoid won the first 10 lap heat race ahead of Henry. Golobic outran Netto to claim the second heat race victory, while Tanner Carrick outran Becker to win the third heat. Tucker Worth outran Abreu for the victory in the fourth heat.

Kofoid managed to grab the pole position for the Main Event with his six lap Trophy Dash win ahead of Shane Golobic. Thanks to Race Punk/San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, the win paid Kofoid $1,100. Ben Worth won the 12 lap C Main ahead of Joey Ancona and Kenny Allen. Hirst had to win the 15 lap B Main to make it into the Main Event. Justin Sanders, Kyle Offill, Bradley Terrell and Zane Blanchard rounded out the Top 5.


Solwold, Faccinto Win Features
 On Opening Night Of Gary Patterson Memorial

Stockton, CA...November 2...Jason Solwold won the 25 lap Winged 360 Sprint Car Main Event Friday night at Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway. This was Night #1 of the 35th Annual Gary Patterson Memorial, and the Winged 360 Sprint Car feature paid $2,500 to win. Solwold used his win over Tanner Carrick in the six lap Trophy Dash to earn the pole for the Main Event. He would lead all the way for the victory. Carrick ran second for most of the race, and as the midway point hit, it was close between the lead two cars. However, Tony Gualda began to close in on the lead duo, and Carrick was passed by Gualda for second on lap 20. Justyn Cox briefly gained third, but he lost the position to DJ Netto on a lap 22 restart. The three lead drivers ran closely in the remaining laps, but Solwold prevailed at the checkered flag. Gualda settled for second, followed by Netto, Cox, Kalib Henry, Shawn Conde, Shane Golobic, Colby Copeland, Mitchell Faccinto and Mason Moore.

The Winged 360 Sprint Cars brought 38 cars for the special event and Solwold set the quick time of 12.975, beating the 13.248 effort of Michael "Buddy" Kofoid. Eight lap heat race wins went to Matt Peterson, Copeland, Cox and Gualda. Solwold outran Carrick to win the six lap Trophy Dash. It was Conde winning the 12 lap B Main ahead of Chico and Placerville champion Andy Forsberg, Kyle Offill, Moore and Garen Linder.

Michael Faccinto won the 20 lap C&H Veterans Services Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event. Faccinto was driving the Barry Pries car, and he won for the third time this season while Shawn Jones wrapped up the series championship with a fifth place finish. Faccinto led from the start of the race with Petaluma champion Shayna Sylvia running second for the first two laps. Jake Morgan settled into second on a lap three restart. Despite some yellow flags and red flags during the course of the race, Faccinto maintained the lead on each restart. On the 16th lap, three-time series champion Terry Schank Jr moved past Morgan for the second spot, but Faccinto won by nearly a straightaway. Morgan settled for third, followed by Jarrett Soares, Jones, past Chico champion Angelique Bell, Tony Bernard, Adam Teves, Robert Floyd and Troy DeGaton.

There were 25 Wingless Spec Sprint competitors, and two-time series feature winner Bradley Terrell set the quick time of 16.107, beating the 16.501 of Faccinto. The three eight lap heat races were won by Jones, Faccinto and Schank. However, there were enough scratches to cancel the B Main. Sylvia won the six lap Trophy Dash ahead of Faccinto.

Ben Weisz won the 20 lap Dwarf Car Main Event. For most of the race, it looked like Jonathan Henry would be victorious. Henry set the early pace ahead of Ryan Winter, who was driving the Shawn Jones car. Following a lap 10 caution flag, Weisz moved into second, but he surrendered the position to Danny Wagner on a lap 11 restart. It was Henry leading Wagner and Weisz when the yellow flag waved on lap 17. It was a good battle on the restart with Henry leading one more lap before being passed by Weisz, Jones and Wagner. The Top 3 remained the same to the finish with Petaluma champion Scooter Gomes finishing fourth. Shawn Whitney finished fifth, followed by Josh Weisz, Eric Wiesler, Henry, Ryan Plexico and Dan Geil. The two eight lap heat races were won by Winter and Ben Weisz.


The Editor's Viewpoint

 In an instance, your life can change. I'm still recovering from the loss of my home and know what a struggle that is, but I also look in the mirror to see the blame for all of that. For the people of Paradise, California, it wasn't really their doing. A fire swept across that town and burnt many people out of their homes. In an instance, they lost everything that they owned. It also took a toll on the racing community as several competitors lost everything. Among the people I am aware of are Bill Hopper, Lyle Hopper, the Perry family, Shannon Collins, Dan McCown and Justin Funkhouser.

Up-and-coming racing scribe Daren Ricks Campbell also lost his home in the fire. Basically, the people in Paradise are in need of any help they can get. Even the basics, clothing and toiletries, are very important at a time like this. You will see various GoFundMe pages on social media directly linked to racers. Or, there may be churches in the area or community centers. Donate there. With some of the bigger organizations, sometimes all of the money and things don't get where they need to go or take too long to get there.

Getting back to Campbell, he's not starting a GoFundMe page. Instead, what he's doing is offering his services to write season recap articles for the competitors. It's really a nice deal for the kind of recap that he gives at only $35. He will be doing research for the drivers, and if he reaches out for any help in getting information, I will offer my services to him free of charge. Support Daren as he is the next generation in motorsports journalism and is providing great coverage to our racing community.

Find Daren online at his official web page https://drcmotorsportsmedia.com/

I'm dumbfounded by all of the race tracks that don't have somebody out there handling publicity. These days, they can even hire somebody who is not on site and pay them some money to get recap articles and preview articles and that kind of thing out to the public. A few of the tracks that I covered have the budget to pay people. When I think about that, I look at somebody like Daren who could do the job. Perhaps one or more of these race tracks might be interested in reaching out to him for a season recap article or even to cover a banquet for those who haven't had theirs yet? Just a thought.

The offseason is upon us now. I was going to make a few observations about the bidding season for the promoter's position at various race tracks. At the top of the list is Antioch Speedway, and you can believe that I have some things to say on the matter. However, I'm waiting for the entire process to go through before commenting. I'll leave it at this. At stake is the future of who runs the race track for the next five years.

You will see a 2019 season at Antioch Speedway, but what happens depends on who is ultimately named as the promoter. John M Soares of Oval Motorsports put in a bid as did Jeremy Prince. What surprised me about the whole matter was that they were the only two who submitted bids. When I think about it, it really shouldn't surprise me that much. It is an expensive proposition running this particular race track, and it's not getting cheaper. Given the challenges of making rent and everything, I don't blame the other rumored established promoters for not ultimately jumping in.

While we're in the midst of all of this news, word came out of Dixon that Jeremy Prince was injured in an accident at that track. I don't have all of the details, but I understand there was a bit of heroism involved as Jeremy moved to protect his wife from injury. He sustained severe burns, and he is now recovering. Steve "Bubba" Dempsey, a past Petaluma Speedway champion, has created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for Jeremy, which you can find  HERE

While we wait for this bit of information, it should be clear to everybody that regardless of who wins, things will go on as scheduled. Oval Motorsports will go about their business of bringing improvements and making it all happen as they have for the past 20 years. Even if Prince is down for a little bit, should he ultimately be awarded the contract, he has people who can get the job done. This really means that people should be getting their race cars ready. Other than that, I'm not speculating.

Merced Speedway is out for bid now. I believe the RFPs went out to those who expressed interest on the 6th, and there's about a one month period in which they are required to fill everything out properly and submit a bid. I'm not really worried about Merced Speedway as I know there will be a 2019 season. You hear a lot of rumors, and now I'm curious to see who ultimately puts in a bid.

The big player in the game may be John Prentice, who also runs the track in Watsonville. However, there is local interest from the Stone family, and I got word last week that there was another unnamed entity who was looking. Didn't get the name, but I was told we would be familiar with who this is once it's announced.

I await the fair board meeting at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in Yreka on the 20th. This is when they will make it clear what their intentions are for the big race track and the little race track. The rumor is that they are looking to find a new promoter and may even be interested in running the track themselves. What is rumor and what is true, I don't know. I do know that there are things that need to be done to turn the program around.

Whether it's the current association or a new promoter, they have to understand that the show cannot go on as it has. They need to start working on things to attract the cars back to the speedway. This might include attempting to rebuild an IMCA Modified class or a Street Stock division, starting the Hornets class or whatever. It might ultimately come down to switching from Saturday night racing to Friday night racing. One can only speculate. The truth will come out as to what the fairgrounds wants to do at the upcoming meeting on the 20th.

I was watching live scoring last weekend. Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway was in the plans and I also planned to throw Dixon Speedway in on the deal. They do their own thing out there on the 1/5 mile dirt oval with a nice little 600 Micro program. As I was getting live scoring set up, I discovered that Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield was running a dirt race. I threw them in on the deal, although I was a little surprised that they ran that type of program. It was also a Sprint Car show, but they were doing different things than Stockton.

I look at Dixon Speedway and am very intrigued by that place. It actually entered my radar prior to anything that happened before it was Cora Speedway. There was just a 1/5 mile dirt oval that I had heard about. The late Willie Myatt built a race car. Not news, he built many, but I think this was the last car he built for Bill Fairhurst. It was sold, and the guy who had it was reported to have rolled it practicing on that little track. I was told of Bobby Bankson practicing his NCMA car there, some 4 Cylinder cars practiced there and even a Winged Sprint Car.

Immediately, ideas started going through my mind about what could be. Orland Raceway is a 1/5 mile track. So is Ventura. What could be done at Dixon? On the way home from the RPM Promoter's Workshop in 2002, I recall going to Dixon with Don O'Keefe. Sadly, I didn't have film for my camera and we didn't have these digital phones we have now. I wanted to take shots and really ramp up the rhetoric. See if I could get some interest.

I started talking to racers at Antioch Speedway. You see, I had this thought. I go out there, see what it cost to rent the track for a day, even prepay the little food trailer so that people could eat on me, and we put cars on that track. I run a stopwatch, set unofficial records and just have a fun day of it. People could talk about what it is they'd like to see at that track and how things could go from there. Maybe we start something? Maybe we just have a fun day at the track.

My own mind was racing with the possibilities, but I didn't want to aim too high. I thought that this track could be one for the Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Dwarf Cars and that sort of thing. However, I did have a Wingless Spec Sprint driver and a Modified racer who were interested in practicing as well. Most of the drivers who told me they would go were Hobby Stock racers and we're talking about a dozen.

What ultimately turned me off on this deal was just the way things were going for me personally. I was wondering how many people might really back me up if I did this, because I would be throwing hundreds of dollars Into something that might only just be that one day and nothing beyond that. I had delusions of maybe one day being a promoter. Can you believe that? Fortunately, the loss of my home and the fact that I'm pretty much broke has cured me of that delusion, but I was a dreamer back then.

It was interesting to hear people later on that year, the final year before I walked away for over a decade, and they wanted to know if this was going to happen. So I had to tell them how I just couldn't do this under the circumstances. I wasn't a rich person then. I was ghetto rich. That is to say, I had more money than I'd ever had in my life, but people would laugh at what that was. Yet, I was willing to put $1,000 or more into doing something for racing. Heck, I wrote in my book how I was willing to pay Tom Sagmiller's Merced Speedway fine in Reno if it meant Chowchilla Speedway could finally get sanctioned. That's another story.

I walked away from the sport. Then, I heard about the troubles they had at the Vallejo Speedway 2 site. They had to move the track to another spot at the fairgrounds and then they ultimately were going to be kicked out. They were looking at Dixon. You know the sad thing about Vallejo? They have a nice fairgrounds location, and once horse racing died out, they could have followed the example of Stockton and allowed auto racing to come in. Can you imagine historic Vallejo once again hosting a race track for big cars? It's been talked about lately, but I don't know that this will ever come to pass.

Steve Hazelton was the guy's name back then, and he is the one who initiated Vallejo Speedway 2. I've heard this and that said about the guy, but he gets points in my book because he gave the next generation of racers a place to race. Some of those drivers have moved up to bigger and better things too. And at one time, Steve even ran some Hornet races on his little track, which I thought was really cool. It didn't take off, although I think part of that had to do with the troubles they were having with the fairgrounds.

Steve wanted to keep it going, and there was even a rumor at one time of him moving to another location in American Canyon. Actually, that track would have had big cars too. Didn't come to pass, and eventually his sights were set on Dixon. However, the racers went after it too, and that's when they formed CORA. The track was there, but they had to put everything up around it. The walls, the fencing, the lighting, the press box, the bleachers. You get the picture. A lot of things were donated, including people's time building stuff. Cora Speedway, which is now Dixon Speedway, came to be because of the effort of the community.

On the sidelines, I was always peeking in at message boards, looking for race results and all of that. I would look hard for information on that little track. I saw one of their newsletters, and it's downloaded into my files somewhere. Russell Shearer brought his two Hobby Stocks out there at one time. I actually ran into him when I was walking home one day, and he pulled in and we chatted about that little track. I thought it was really cool, and there was a distinct Antioch Speedway flavor to the place. Some of our drivers were getting their kids into the sport via this track.

Side issue, but wouldn't it be cool if Antioch Speedway cut a track in the infield for the youngsters to go racing? I had thought that perhaps the one building where they run the RC Cars on the fairgrounds would work for a winter series, but it might be a tad too small. However, I think kart racing on the infield at Antioch is just the thing. They need to inspire a new generation of racers, and I have come to appreciate these kids, having worked at Southern Oregon Speedway for three years as the announcer, publicity director and point keeper for the kart track.

Dixon Speedway grew and prospered. They established a Micro 600 class. Where they are these days, they have Super 600s that allow you more, Restricted 600s for the budget minded and Wingless 600s, which I think are pretty darn cool actually. There's also a Junior Sprint Car class. They've done karts and all that you would expect from a smaller track, but they also looked to do bigger things. I think this had been talked about, but it never quite worked out.

It's a small track, like I said. Yeah, you can actually run bigger cars if you configure it differently, but you're also talking money. Through the years, however, they've had full BCRA legal Midgets, Hardtops, Modifieds, Spec Sprints and other types of bigger cars make laps on that track. When it came to racing, they looked over at the Mini Stocks and the Dwarf Cars. You get into problems with these two classes for very different reasons. I come out in favor of this type of racing.

The problem with Dwarf Cars is that they are an association driven group. It's not that there aren't race tracks out there that have their own divisions, but in this area of California, you now have three different groups staking their claim on what this division will do. The NorCal Dwarf Car Association is the oldest of the three and carries a bit of clout. For instance, they can pretty much punch their own ticket in Northern California, and yet they've turned a cold shoulder to Orland Raceway, not even offering them a non point event with half of what they normally get, which would still go over big there.

So, Dixon was trying to get Dwarf Cars. Anybody who might come from the one track that doesn't run an association, Antioch Speedway, and whatever stragglers might come in from NorCal and South Bay ran there. Though they had their moments in car count, it never took off. I don't think there was the desire from Dixon officials to really put it out there that they were running this class. It's really a shame. For one thing, Dwarf Car racing in California was born on the small track at Delta Speedway in Stockton. It could still work in Dixon, but you need a dozen or so drivers committed to doing it.

The Mini Stock division also probably would have taken off. At one point, they were running a more open Mini Stock class for some dates as well as entertaining the Four Banger division. They had some good races there. What did the effort in was the fact that several of the area tracks stopped running the class. By 2015, there was no Mini Stock class at Chico, Marysville or Antioch. Without cultivating your own class, you have to rely on visitors who aren't coming because they don't have a home track where they're coming from either.

It's somewhat easier to focus on 600 Micros and Outlaw Karts, and the world needs that too. You also don't have the same type of demand when you're running these classes. You're trying to get racers to come out and compete, which they do. You're not as worried about how much you pack the grandstands. Some people come in with the teams, and you're okay with that. The minute you start aiming higher, you're putting yourself in a position where are you need to get the spectator count up.

On the other hand, I'm still of the opinion that there is a Mini Stock program there in the waiting. You could also add Dwarf Cars to that, but, you're going to need to do something to entice some of racers that don't like to be told what to do by associations. Without walking the facility now, I don't know if a Pure Stock division could even happen. As I said, there would be work to be done. And as always comes up in these deals, how much money do you have?

One reason I like a place like Dixon is because of its location. You can pull people from the Sacramento area and the Antioch area and even the Stockton Modesto area. You just have to give them a reason to come. I would certainly do the Mini Stock Enduro race once a year. I saw footage of the one they did a few years back, and it went pretty well. Understand that I'm not saying in any way shape or form that you drop or deemphasize the Micro Sprint class. They are the effort that this track revolves around.

What I am saying is that you could take a look at those divisions and see about cultivating something else. Certainly, it centers around the Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars, but there might be other things you take a look at too, such as Mini Late models or different variations of the Mini Stock class if there is an interest. And you look at maybe doing something once a month. With Dwarf Cars, you have to be sure to keep off of the key dates that the associations run.

But Dixon Speedway has been around for over a decade. It's continuing a racing tradition in the area that actually goes back quite a few years. It's been a while since they ran cars at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds has changed that much, but they had many big Sprint Car shows through the years as well as open shows that would bring Super Modifieds, Hardtops and the Sportsman division together. This is one of the reasons why I was intrigued by this little track in Dixon when I paid my visit back in 2002.

On Saturday night, they paid tribute to Lonnie Kaiser. I knew that this race was special. Of course, Lonnie raced Hardtops at Vallejo Speedway back in the day. But a few years back, I recall that they did have some of these other divisions on this night. The core four classes this last weekend delivered 70 cars. That's a nice turnout for this place, and it's a great way to end the season.

I've heard rumors about this and that, but the fact is there are plans already in the works to continue this program in 2019. They made an announcement that they were changing the point system for next year. So, racing goes on at Dixon Speedway. It's a worthy effort and something that's also worthy of putting on your schedule of tracks to visit at some point during the season.

Kern County Raceway is kind of an interesting deal. The track came to be as a pavement track alternative to the closure of Mesa Marin Raceway. They have a nice NASCAR program that they run on the pavement track, but it was also decided to put together the dirt oval on the property. Some people, including myself, questioned whether adding this track was necessary given the extensive history and tradition that is Bakersfield Speedway down the street. When people think dirt track racing in the area, they immediately think of Bakersfield Speedway.

Kern County Raceway was very careful in the way they rolled this track out. They made it clear that they weren't trying to replace the established track. They chose Friday nights as the night to run their races, and they run at the most bi-weekly. They do run classes that are generally associated with Bakersfield Speedway, but their Modified divisions are not IMCA sanctioned. I don't know if they've even pursued IMCA sanctioning.

This is a sore spot with me, because I was in a similar situation when I was at Chowchilla Speedway and Merced Speedway. Chowchilla wanted the IMCA sanctioning and ran on a night that the established IMCA track, Merced Speedway, did not run. But because the promoter at Merced at the time did not want Chowchilla Speedway involved, IMCA sided with that person rather than what the racing public wanted. I couldn't tell you if something similar is happening in Bakersfield. I can't imagine Scott Schweitzer being too worried about Kern County, although as a promoter, I'm sure he has thoughts going on in the back of his mind.

But there's another thought that I had about Kern Raceway. The pavement track is sanctioned by the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. As far as I know, that track and Irwindale Speedway are the only ones in the state with NASCAR sanctioning. My thought was, I wonder what would happen if they went with a sanctioning for the dirt track as well. Is this even something they would do? Would the Bakersfield Speedway racers want to buy a NASCAR license? Of course, this is me wondering who might be the first dirt track in California to go to a NASCAR sanctioning. We haven't seen that happen since around 2004 at Watsonville.

The other thing that lets me know that Bakersfield Speedway is okay with Kern Raceway having a dirt track as long as it's doing it on a Friday night is the fact that they have worked on a few things together. Most notably is the Motor City Throwdown weekends where they run Kern one night and Bakersfield the next. Scott has shown a history of being willing to work with other tracks. The last time Rocky Hill Speedway had a full season, Scott had worked out a series where the two tracks could share the Hobby Stock, American Stock and Mini Stock divisions for a series championship. I think Scott is one of those promoters who gets it.

if Kern Raceway keeps its eyes on the prize and doesn't try to overstep and compete for the Bakersfield Speedway market, I think this could be a good thing for racing in the area. They know that the pavement track is the primary track, but they can get ten or a dozen races in on the dirt track every year too. With a working relationship with the guys down the street, there's no reason that some of those scheduled dirt races can't be a little more special.

The open-wheel crowd will be heading down to Bakersfield Speedway for a USAC Midget race on November 17th, then, the USAC National Midgets and USAC West Coast 360 Sprints will be at Ventura Raceway on November 21st and 22nd for the Turkey Classic. Since they weren't doing anything this last weekend in California, it was decided to run a Wingless 360 Sprint Car race and Midget race along with the unsanctioned 305 Winged Sprint Cars. The question was, could it work? There were enough drivers in the area who were ready to go that they had about a dozen cars per class, and the show went on. I also like the idea that Kern Raceway entertains running Sprint Car shows in addition to the Stock Car oriented stuff. For instance, they ended their season in October with a show that featured the King of the West Winged 410 Sprint Cars. This race last Saturday was not even on the original schedule, so it was hastily put-together and still did okay in the car count department.

Tony Noceti is a player in the racing world. Tony was the guy that came in and rescued Stockton 99 Speedway from fading away for good. He's also the guy who came to the Stockton Fairgrounds when horse racing was taken out and said he could build a dirt oval and put on some big shows. To be honest, that last thing was huge for Stockton. For years, people have wondered if they could put dirt track racing on at the fairgrounds, and Tony made it happen. He wasn't content just to say here is a dirt track and some races either.

When Tony started putting together the schedule, World of Outlaw Sprint Car racing was a part of the equation. All of California's big Winged Sprint Car efforts, the King of the West, Civil War, Sprint Car Challenge Tour, Hunt Spec Sprint Series and even the BCRA Midgets got a chance at the track. And, people started coming out to watch. Racers wanted to be a part of this thing. It's been a success so far. About the biggest concern that racers have is the track can be rough on equipment. This does happen in racing, but we are seeing cars get destroyed. Whether this is because the track is a little bit big or for other reasons might be open for interpretation. But the bottom line is, people are coming to Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway, and Tony is the one who made it happen.

When it came to the Gary Patterson Memorial race, he gathered some of the true legends of open-wheel racing for an autograph session with the fans on Friday. Then, it was a $2,500 to win Winged 360 Sprint Car show along with the Hunt Series and Dwarf Cars. The weekend ended with a huge race for the King of the West Series and Sprint Car Challenge Tour. This was one of, if not the, biggest Winged Sprint Car racing weekends in Northern California this year.

I find it interesting that we get into November and we're still racing. Heck, there will be racing throughout November for those looking if the weather allows it. I make the joke, and perhaps I shouldn't, that on Christmas day there could be a track eventually running a Salute to Jesus or something along those lines. Believe me, if a racing promoter thought they could get away with it and get some fans, they'd do it. As it is, tracks are starting to look at a New Year's race as an option.

This happened around the time as I was walking away from Chowchilla Speedway when Tom Sagmiller got the idea of a New Year's Bash. George Steitz, being a guy who is all about putting on big races, threw his support behind Tom and they started doing those races. Fast forward to 2015, and Oval Motorsports stepped in with a full slate of New Year's racing. At the time, they were promoting Antioch, Merced and Chowchilla Speedways. So, Antioch had a two-day opener, followed by one race each at Merced and Chowchilla. Being as they were running an IMCA sanctioning, car count started out strong in both Modified classes and got smaller as the week wore on.

John was entertaining a new year's race the next year, but plans couldn't be hashed out fast enough to make it into reality. That, and he was in the process of walking away from Chowchilla and selling Merced to Ed Parker. But, the New Year's show came back last year. There had been rumblings about it coming to Antioch again next year, but that was an Oval Motorsports idea.

II'm sitting up here waiting on news and I know others at Southern Oregon Speedway are curious as well. There will be an awards banquet for this season, but it's likely to happen in late January. The Top 10 drivers in all of the regular classes and top rookies are set to be honored on that night. Management is currently working on plans for the 2019 season, and more will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

Other than that, I'm just going to kind of step into the background and watch things. My own future hangs in the balance of what is decided in the coming weeks. This means that I cannot announce what the plans are for what this blog will cover next year, other than to say the blog will continue. There are some intriguing things in the works that I'm following, one of which I think would go over very well in California with certain racers. But I can't speculate or speak anymore on that. I can enjoy this time away from racing to regroup and slowly work on other projects. When things get going for me, I'm all in and very busy.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your support. On that note, I'll in this column. Until next time...

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pits Stops: Speedways Go Out To Bid And Other News


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Pit Stops

It's an interesting time right now in the sport of auto racing, and a lot hangs in the balance. We will find out next week what will be happening with Antioch Speedway. The fairgrounds is accepting qualified bids to run the race track for the next five years. Merced Fairgrounds will also be accepting bids for the next promoter at Merced Speedway. There is also uncertainty in the air at Siskiyou Motor Speedway.

These decisions have a direct impact on what the racers and fans can expect at their respective tracks. Some may be calling for change and others may be calling to stay the course. Whatever the case, we'll find out very soon, and then we can get back to the business of running races.

For the past 20 years, John and Donna Soares have guided the good ship Antioch Speedway under the Oval Motorsports banner. Sadly, Donna passed away in October. Having spent his whole life in the sport, John is determined to put another bid in and keep running the speedway. We've heard that past Pure Stock, Street Stock and Limited Late Model competitor Jeremy Prince will be bidding for the track with Mikey Slaney, among others, involved on the team. We just recently heard that Prentice Motorsports Group has expressed an interest and there is a second experienced and well known promoter that is rumored to be looking. As we can only classify this as a rumor, we will keep that name out of it for now.

Love them or hate them, Oval Motorsports has done many good things for the speedway through the years. When they first came to the track, some of the biggest car counts competed at the speedway. With assistance from Don O'Keefe Jr and Don Martin II, the Wingless Spec Sprint division was started in 1999. The track continued to cultivate the divisions that were there and also added Limited Late Models. This was a sign of things to come as the Street Stock division was absorbed by the Limited Late Models by the end of last decade. The A Modifieds continue to be featured prominently, Sport Modifieds have been added to the equation, Hobby Stocks are now almost 25 years old and Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Late Models are also part of the show.

Antioch Speedway continued to hold big Modified shows through the years and also gave the fans a welcome surprise when the World of Outlaws were invited to race on multiple occasions. Soares continues to think big, while still offering the fans all of the stuff that they have become familiar with. Improvements were made around the facility, and more importantly, there was the commitment to keep the show going through good and bad times. Bills got paid, and racing continued at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds.

So, what would a 22nd season under the current promotional team have to offer? Another blowout race is planned, and this one could be the biggest one in the speedway's history in terms of purse. It would hopefully attract an even bigger car count than seen before at one of these specials. Sanctioning is being entertained for certain divisions, which would probably go over pretty well with the drivers. Clean up and improvement around the facility, more of an effort to put out the word and stimulate interest and, perhaps the most important of all to the competitors, no big rule changes are being planned for the divisions. What you see is what you get.

This is important because the drivers have what they have. Currently, the All Star Series has the above mentioned divisions as well as Dwarf Cars. Sometimes it's not as easy as just getting another car. Drivers have what their budget allow. Picking a sampling of some of the driver's concerns, there are worries of certain divisions not continuing in the event of a change at the top. As this is something that we haven't verified through discussion with any of the potential candidates, we'll leave that as speculation for now.

The interest expressed by Jeremy Prince led to the speedway being put up for bid. Prince hasn't raced at the track for quite some time, but he was a front-runner in every division in which he competed. He has spent his time in recent seasons at Dixon Speedway, promoting the Micro Sprint racing program. Dixon was a community effort when it got started, meaning people were donating and supporting from various businesses in the hopes that the place would thrive. It also has a distinct Antioch Speedway flavor when you look at some of the names who have come through those gates through the years. Though the track is a 1/5 mile clay oval, there have been times when bigger cars, such as Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars, have raced and a few other classes have held practice laps.

Though we're not privy to whatever plans Jeremy has for the racing program, he has been vocal in his belief that changes that he would bring to the track would lead to more fans in the stands and more drivers in the pits. The fair board was intrigued enough with what he was saying that the place went out for bid, and we are looking at the possibility of change at the top for the future.

Prentice Motorsports Group took over Ocean Speedway and has kept the Watsonville area track going despite the threats against it for the past few seasons. A criticism from the Stock Car crowd is that the track has seemed to shift focus more towards Sprint Car racing, but it should also be pointed out that two of the biggest events of the season are Stock Car oriented. But the fact that Prentice would put a little bit more focus on having big Sprint Car races should not be downplayed.

Prentice Motorsports Group currently owns the longest running Winged 360 Sprint Car Series in California, the Civil War Series. He has also started the All Star Modified Series for the IMCA Modifieds, and it's a good bet that both series would see dates at Antioch under his leadership. It's also safe to say that the IMCA sanctioning would return for the Modifieds and Sport Modified divisions. There might be certain divisions currently on the roster that would be on shaky ground, though we won't speculate on this.

What Prentice offers that Prince does not is experience as a promoter on this level with a proven record. At one time, Prentice also owned the King of the West and Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series, and he guided them for a brief time before they moved on to other promoters. He's not a man who shies away from taking risks to help keep racing going.

We can't speculate too much on what a Prentice guided Antioch Speedway might look like, and likewise we can't speculate on the name of the other promoter with experience who might be looking. That particular person has been rumored throughout the season, but to our knowledge, they haven't submitted a proposal as of yet. They would have until Monday to do so, but it is possible that they will do just that.

People are going to speculate on who will run the track and who would be best for the job. This is something we have certainly not shied away from in the past. Our support remains behind Oval Motorsports with an understanding that eventually change will come at the speedway. However, given the revolving-door situation that some tracks have experienced, we just want the right choice to be made for the future. What is important is that racing continues at Antioch Speedway.

The Prentice announcement was a bit of a surprise as we have been speculating as to who might take a look at Merced Speedway. We heard late last week that Prentice had inquired about that race track as well, which raises the intriguing question. Is John Prentice seeking to run three tracks in 2019, and can he pull it off? Given the challenge the Civil War Sprint Car Series has faced in light of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour coming in, having two other tracks would seem to be a positive for the oldest Winged 360 Sprint Car sanctioning in Northern California. Plus, the All Star IMCA Modified Series would have two other places to visit. With Merced, you also have a natural working relationship that has done well between there and Watsonville through the years.

As of now, all we know is that Prentice inquired about Merced. We also know that the Merced fair board sent out registered letters to various potential promoters in the hopes of generating some interest from somebody who knows what it takes. The two names we've heard rumored as interested in Merced Speedway are longtime racer Chris Shannon and the Stone family. Ramie Stone has been helping with the race track prep this year. Both groups are respected by the community and seem like good picks. No big changes would likely be offered, and none are really needed. We also strongly believe in the Merced County Fairgrounds' commitment to keep racing going. They've always maintained a good relationship with their race track. Therefore, you can rest assured that racing should continue there in 2019.

The Siskiyou County Motorsports Association has held the reigns of Siskiyou Motor Speedway since 2000. This was forced upon them due to the revolving-door promoter situation the track had in the 1990s. Racers enjoyed competing locally so much that they fought to keep the track open. That necessitated organizing the association and doing everything they could to raise the funds each year and keep the gates open.

With an association, you have more people involved in keeping it functional, and sometimes human nature has taken over. A couple of times the association's back was against the wall. This happened again during the offseason prior to this past season when funds came up missing. Undaunted, the association elected new officers and kept the show going this season.

There was still a need to raise money to pay for some things, and the season was further hampered by the fact that rain ended two shows as everything was under way. Also, there was the cancellation of the big Sprint Car show as fire crews used the fairgrounds as a base. The season still went to a conclusion and they will be honoring champions at the awards banquet on Saturday night.

What's subject to speculation is where the track goes from here. The association is still making plans to open the gates and working on making things bigger and better in 2019. However, there have been rumors regarding the future. One report is that the fair board is looking for potential bidders to run the race track, and we have heard of one person who was contacted in the area who has declined the opportunity.

On October 16th, the big track and the kart track were both listed as separate items on the fair board meeting agenda. What we don't know is how that meeting went as minutes have not been posted. There was also a meeting on September 18th in which Tony Cunial was among the representatives of the kart track. Cunial even expressed his opinion that the little track should be separated from the SCMA contract because of problems that have occurred. This led to further discussion about the little track and its impact on the community. Fair CEO Cliff Munson gave some background on the kart track and auto racing contracts and mentioned that nothing would be decided until both contracts expired at the end of October.

It was added that no indoor kart racing would happen until after December 31st as the indoor arena has been booked. It was also pointed out that the fairgrounds could financially get by without having racing, but it is a good community event. With both tracks on the agenda for the October 16th meeting, it's likely that other interesting thoughts were expressed, but where things go in the future is still in question.

Most racing enthusiasts in the Yreka area would agree that racing needs to continue in 2019. Though this season was at times challenging, at least it went on. Obviously, there's room for improvement, but there's also a desire among the board members to improve on everything as they overcome the obstacles that made this year such a challenge.

Saturday's order of business is the annual awards banquet. There will be a bigger recap article for Siskiyou Speedway in the future, but we do know that champions will be crowned in the IMCA Sport Modified and Mini Stock divisions. Also, the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock competitors have been invited to be a part of this banquet with the Top 8 drivers and a hard luck driver being awarded. A few members of the SCMA were at the Outlaw Pro Stock awards banquet in Klamath Falls on October 20th.

Briefly, Trevor Tiffee and longtime friend Ryder Boswell were the ones battling at the top of the IMCA Sport Modified standings, but Tiffee prevailed for his first championship aboard a car that he has affectionately named Eleanor. Tiffee will be retiring that car and bringing a new one out for 2019. He was a Main Event winner earlier this year, and likewise, Boswell won his first career feature on his way to a second place point ranking. Both drivers are SCMA members and will therefore be among those honored at the banquet.

In the past, there has been somewhat of a controversy among IMCA members and those who also join the SCMA. Joining the SCMA helps the association keep things going and also leads to benefits that the drivers receive during the year, including pit admittance discounts and the right to vote on association matters. It would seem to be in the racer's best interest to support this, but we've had IMCA champions in the past who opted not to join. Therefore, they were awarded with whatever IMCA advertises, but the association didn't honor their accomplishments at the banquet with trophies. Boswell and Tiffee were strong supporters of the association this year, and the Boswell family has a record of being supportive and working hard to keep things going.

Marilyn Yawnick set out to score her third straight Mini Stock championship, and that's exactly what she did. Once again, she was very consistent, and this time she held off teammate "Magic" Mike Whitaker for the honors. Whitaker give it a valiant effort as he was hoping the numbers would play in his favor. He too was looking for his third championship, having won titles in 2010 and 2014. Unfortunately for him, he would settle for a close second with another past champion, "The Holy Terror" Terry Kendrick, ending up third. Kendrick also supported the show with multiple cars. It was nice to see the youth movement at work in a good rookie and fourth place point position battle between Zac McMurray and Darek Alford. Alford was a feature winner this season, but McMurray was a bit more consistent with his finishes earlier in the season to snag top rookie and fourth place honors.

The Outlaw Pro Stock Association champion will be Dr. Scott Lenz. Lenz  won all but two of the Yreka races, so it's not a surprise. The consistent Scott Flowers will end up second in the final run down with third going to Matt Harlow. The association's decision to honor the Pro Stock drivers stems from the fact that they gave great support in car count throughout the season. It is hoped that this relationship will continue between the two groups in 2019 and beyond.

Banquet season is kicking off this  weekend as the Coos Bay Speedway competitors will be honored this Saturday as well. Once again, we will do a season recap article later, but NASCAR Whelen All American Series point fund money will go out along with trophies for the top competitors. The NASCAR point fund money is listed at $15,000 among the Division 1 through Division 4 classes. Brody Montgomery will pocket $5,500 for his Super Late Model championship. He was never seriously threatened in his bid to win the title as Thor Kristensen settled for second for the second time in the last three years. Dyllan Siewell  repelled a late-season surge by two-time champion Wayne Butler to win the $1,000 Sportsman Late Model championship. Ken Fox won the $700 championship for the Street Stocks ahead of the consistent David Smith, and rookie Tyler Tullos captured the $500 championship in the Hornets division in an impressive season that saw him outrun April Warmack and Hannah Robison, who were second and third respectively. Sam Talon repeated as the Mini Outlaw champion, and Brett Hulsey won the Winged Sprint Car title ahead of 2017 champion Lawrence Van Hoof and two-time champion Dave May, who surprised the field with his win in the ISCS Sprint Car finale to end the season. Saturday night will be a night to celebrate as plans are already underway for the 2019 season.

The Outlaw Pro Stock division did get to make a visit to Coos Bay Speedway as well as calling Siskiyou Motor Speedway their home track in 2018. Roy Bain has been spearheading an idea along with Nevada Outlaw Pro Stock representative Gordon Russell Jr. This would be called the Tri State Series. But, the effort has the added desire of trying to put the rules in line between the various groups. Obviously, the more places a driver knows that they can bring their cars, the better it is for the longevity of the division. As it is now, the proposed series would honor each association's rules.

Targeted dates include the Billy Geyer Memorial Race at Siskiyou Motor Speedway and the Gordon Russell Sr Memorial Race at Cedarville Speedway. The latter race is what brought motorsports back to Cedarville after a lengthy absence. Russell's father raced at the speedway for years, and Gordon was quick to point out when they announced the first event that this race was as much to honor all of the people who helped make the place special. With these two dates secured, a date in Nevada and a potential date at Southern Oregon Speedway would give them four dates to shoot for in 2019.

What's interesting is that when this series was proposed, longtime Marysville area Stock Car competitor Jerry Bartlett declared his interest. Bartlett has competed at many race tracks in the area and is a past Orland and Marysville champion. In recent seasons, he's competed in the IMCA Sport Modified division, but he has a desire to go back to his roots. Bartlett also opened a big door for the Pro Stock movement when he negotiated a date for the group with Tony Noceti at Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway. This has the potential to be a huge series, and we're eagerly anticipating the announcement of the schedule and the other particulars.

We've remarked in the past that it seemed only a matter of time before a Hobby Stock series was proposed in California. Actually, when IMCA dropped the hammer on the Sport Modified Challenge Series after one season, we thought some of the people involved might turn to the Hobby Stocks. As it turns out, we're hearing reports of past Chowchilla Speedway promoter Tom Sagmiller putting together a five race Hobby Stock series that would take place at four dirt tracks and one pavement track. Significant sponsorship money has also been secured, and the idea would be to make all of these races special events at the various tracks.

Already on board for the pavement track is Madera Speedway. At Bakersfield Speedway, the series will come to town and support the annual Richie McGowan Memorial Race. At Watsonville, the series would come to town to support the annual Mike Cecil Memorial Race. At Santa Maria Raceway, the series would be a part of the annual Danny Simkins Memorial. We are still waiting for confirmation on the other date, although Antioch Speedway was discussed. Much like what they're doing with the Pro Stock Series, this series would allow drivers to run their set of rules at whatever track for these selected events.

There are still some loose ends to be tied up with a few races before some people completely close the book on the 2018 season. Several California competitors are gearing up to bring their IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds to Las Vegas for the annual event there. Well over 100 IMCA Modified drivers have already signed up for the race that will pay $7,777 to the winner. The IMCA Sport Modified division has seen over 50 drivers register for a race that will pay $1,777 to the winner.

At Stockton 99 Dirt Speedway, it's time for the 35th Annual Gary Patterson Memorial Race. It's a two-day show that kicks off with a $2,500 to win Winged 360 Sprint Car race along with the season finale for the Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series and Dwarf Cars. On Saturday night, it is the season finale for The King of the West/NARC Fujitsu 410 Sprint Car Series. The Sprint Car Challenge Tour will also have their season finale. It's interesting to note that Kyle Hirst leads both series, and he's out to see if he can get a double feature win. If he were able to pull that off, he would pocket over $10,000 for the weekend. Hirst leads Shane Golobic by just 16 points in the close King of the West Series championship battle.

Gary "The Preacher" Patterson was a popular and well-respected competitor, and this event will be special. On Friday, several open-wheel legends will be on hand to sign autographs for the fans. This is the last opportunity in the northern California area to enjoy a big Sprint Car show. After that, you need to head down south for the wingless action of the USAC Sprint Cars and Midgets at Perris Auto Speedway and Ventura Raceway.

Stockton 99 Pavement Speedway ran an Open Wheel program this past Saturday and Sunday nights. In a bid to establish a Winged Sprint Car presence, the track booked several Gunslinger Winged 410 Sprint Car Series races. We have heard that the final two races last weekend would conclude a championship season, but we haven't heard who the champion ended up being. We do know that the Saturday show featured a 13 car field with Allan Hutchison winning that race in a good battle with Audra Saselli and Eric Humphries. 11 competitors returned on Sunday, and Saselli won that race ahead of Gordon Rodgers and Hutchison. Rodgers, Humphries, AJ Russell and Justin Kawahata are the other four feature winners this season. We suspect that the championship might have come down between Rodgers and Russell, but we've had no confirmation.

In addition to the Legends of Kearney Bowl Super Modifieds and USAC Speed 2 Midgets, the BCRA Midgets ended their 2018 season as part of the doubleheader. On Saturday night, Jesse Love IV picked up what would be his third straight Stockton victory. Love got the win ahead of Chad Nichols, Cody Gerhardt, David Goodwill and Mark Malipaard. The Sunday win went to Gerhart, but Nichols clinched the BCRA Pavement championship in second. Dylan Noble, Malipaard and Skeeter Flake rounded out the Top 5. Maria Cofer will be the BCRA Dirt champion, while the Overall championship goes to Love.

The USAC Speed 2 Midgets were on hand for both events, and Toni Breidinger returned to be a double winner on the weekend. Breidinger won the Saturday show by taking the lead from Overall Series point leader Adam Lemke on lap 19 and bringing it home to victory. She was followed by Lemke, second-ranked competitor Joey Iest, Dylan Tucker and Bryant Bell. Breidinger was on a roll, and she again made a late pass on Lemke to steal the victory on Sunday. Lemke fell from first to third on the last lap as Iest finished second. Tucker and Bell completed the Top 5 .

In Marysville, the H&H Trenching Gold Fever/Sprint Car Spooktacular event brought down the curtain on another season. There were 27 Winged 360 Sprint Car competitors doing battle for the $2,000 prize. Not surprisingly, Chico and Placerville champion Andy Forsberg got the win ahead of Civil War Series champion Cole Macedo, Cody Hodgson, Sean Becker and Michael Ing. Ing had to win the B Main ahead of long-time Sprint Car competitors Mike Monahan and Pat Harvey Jr to get into the Main Event.

The Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event prize money went from $500 to win to $700 to win due to a field of 10 cars. Jake Morgan won a close battle with Antioch Speedway point runner-up Shannon Newton for the impressive victory. Peter Paulson, Brent Youngman and Petaluma Speedway competitor Tony Bernard completed the Top 5 . The Crate Sprints were challenged to bring 10 cars for an increased purse, but they managed 7 for the $400 to win Main Event. Tim Sherman Jr grabbed that victory by a comfortable margin ahead of Jeff Macedo, Cameron Haney Jr, Jaylon Deas and Mike Sayre.

The indoor racing season has begun, and there's some interesting news to report from the Red Bluff Outlaws. In the 500 Open Kart division, Tanner Holmes scored his first win in this class at Red Bluff. Holmes had a phenomenal end to his season in the Kendal Oil Winged Sprint Car division out at Southern Oregon Speedway by winning the last two point races at the track. His win in the finale was even more impressive considering he went from fifth to the win within the final seven laps using an impressive outside groove effort.

Dixon Speedway is preparing for the 6th Annual Lonnie Kaiser Memorial event on Friday and Saturday. We mentioned that over 50 competitors in three classifications of Micro Sprints ran the point season finale on the 20th of October. Kyle Mentch walked away with the 600 Super Micro championship ahead of Dillon Horsley and Jeff Rosas. Danny Carroll won the Wingless Micro 600 championship by a wide margin ahead of Petaluma competitor George Nielsen, who held off Angelina Dempsey by just seven points for second. The 600 Restricted class had the closest battle at the top as Brandon Riveira won his championship by just seven points over Matthew Tatoole. Jeffrey Pahule finished third in the standings. A huge field of competitors is anticipated this weekend as the Lonnie Kaiser Memorial event is one of those shows that everybody wants to be a part of.

While we wait to find out who will be promoting Merced Speedway next year, we do know that the first Saturday of January will be banquet night. They will be celebrating some great championship racing all the way around. Darrell Hughes II won the IMCA Modified championship as he got hot late in the season and pulled away from Brian Pearce and Ramie Stone, who finished second and third respectively. Jeremy Hoff won a close IMCA Sport Modified battle with Danny Roe and Bruce Nelson. Kodie Dean won most of the races, but he still had to take it to the season finale to defeat the consistent Shannon Nelsen in the Hobby Stock division. It was Allen Neal winning a close battle with Lee Ragsdale for the Mini Stock championship. Timmy Crews won the California Sharp Mini Late Model championship, and Watsonville Hall of Famer Jerry Cecil is the Valley Sportsman champion. All in all, there were a lot of great things that happened on the track at Merced Speedway, though the racers moved on with heavy hearts after promoter Ed Parker passed away.

We've heard nothing about point racing at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford. However, it was just revealed on their Facebook page that there will be a January 12th awards banquet honoring the King of Kings Winged 360 Sprint Car, IMCA RaceSaver 305 Sprint Car, IMCA Stock Car and Mini Stock champions. There is no trace of the Sprint Car or Mini Stock point standings, but they will be posted soon.

We know that Jason Cook won the lion's share of the Mini Stock races with Andy Boydston and Clinton Massey also among the winners. But who won the championship remains to be seen. You can venture to the IMCA webpage and find that Brock Hamilton won the IMCA Stock Car title ahead of Alan Mendes and Preston Martin. Hanford is where the IMCA Stock Car movement started on the West Coast, and it continues to have success with a growing car count. The RaceSaver Sprint Cars ran at several different venues, so we wait to see if there will be an actual Hanford champion crowned. The California State point race was won by Grant Duinkerken ahead of fourth generation racers Albert Pombo and Michael Pombo.

The ending of the point seasons at the various venues doesn't just signal a break and preparations for the annual awards banquets. It's also the start of racing Silly Season. Drivers will be buying new cars and making moves into different classes, but it's an even more active offseason when it comes to determining who will be running certain race tracks. There is sure to be more news in the days ahead.


The Editor's Viewpoint

I'm going to try my best not to drone on this time. Actually, I debated about whether I even wanted to go ahead with these columns, but considering what's going on right now, I felt like it was necessary to put something out there.

At the moment, I'm in a bit of a holding pattern regarding my future. I'm not sure where things are going for me in 2019. Will I be more active in the sport, less active or maybe not at all? I don't know. I can't say much at this time. I will point out that this is not an indication of any other changes at any of the racing venues that I have been a part of in the last year. This only pertains to me and where I will be. I hope to have some confirmation soon, whatever that might be.

Personally, wherever I might go down the road, I only hope for the best for the sport. Even if I'm not involved, I want it to be successful and to continue to be a place where kids can go to enjoy a good night of racing and dream about what they can maybe one day be. Maybe they want to be a driver like somebody they're cheering for on the track, or maybe it inspires them to reach for their own goals.

I also point out that I'm not against any promoter who makes a real effort to promote racing. I've always had an understanding of what they go through to keep the gates open, but my education in recent years has led me to an even deeper understanding. It's not easy. You go through a lot as the promoter of a race track, and this is a job that's not for everybody.

I have deliberately been mum on the subject of Antioch Speedway and its future. I know it has one. There will be racing in the future. There's too much money coming through those gates for the fairgrounds to shut that place down. The bottom line, however, is they are seeing dollar signs where perhaps there isn't. They're already getting more money than any other fairgrounds with regards to the race track on the location. And they see more money. They want more money. They're not looking at things that in my estimation they should be looking at it.

I am an unapologetic supporter of John Soares, his family and Oval Motorsports, but this is deeper than that. I'm not going to point out that the bills have been paid and they've done well with him for 20 years. What I am going to say is what the fair board is not doing is taking a look at the sport in general and how it has undeniably gone downhill in the past decade. A lot of people think that if you would just do this one thing or that one thing, instantly it's going to be better. Reality is, there's a lot more to it than that.

If the fair officials would take a look at various venues in the area, they would note that they struggle to get fans in the grandstands. Sometimes they struggle for car count. That's the way of a lot of tracks. You have to have a love of the sport to take on the challenge of being a promoter. It will wear you down and it will beat you down. When you have successes, you can't sit back and enjoy them, you have to get back in there and figure out how to do it again.

I am of the opinion that we can do better at Antioch Speedway in the future. I've had conversations with John on this topic when I visited, and I like some of the things he was talking about doing. I think he has a mind to make one final run at things and show the world. There are some good people who are working with him, but there's room for improvement too. People need to be involved for the right reasons, and I think that's part of the problem that has hit the track in recent years.

Could there be more people in the stands? Yes. There's a lot of potential. The track has seen its better days, but we're also in 2018, going on 2019. It's not easy. You can't look at racing through the eyes of somebody 30 years ago. You might have been there then, but things have changed. So, to get the numbers up, you have to try many different things, and you have to keep at it. You need to forge relationships and reach out to the community around you. You use every tool at your disposal, and you work hard.

The investment that Oval Motorsports has made in that race track is not insignificant. There has been a commitment. There have been various times when John has even stepped in to try and help other race tracks become successful. The most notable in these efforts is Merced Speedway. It's never been lost on me that the 2010 season might not have happened there had it not been for John. It has not been lost on me that the people's concern about the unsafe conditions on the back straightaway were addressed when John completely redid the track. But this isn't about talking about the many things that he has done.

The fair board is entertaining the idea of change. This doesn't necessarily mean that they will change the people running that race track. What they're out for is more money first and foremost. They'll go with the person that they think can get them the most money, or at least that's the theory. What I worry about is lack of vision and understanding on the fair board's part putting that race track in a position where it fails. One wrong move, and things can get much worse than they are now.

We are at the end of an era at Antioch Speedway. Whether it continues for another five years or however long, the time will come when we have a changing of the guard at the top. The Soares family's place in racing history is undeniable. Sure, there have been things people didn't like about them, but they have brought an awful lot of good. There's nothing left to prove, and John could walk away today and be assured that he did his best and did many good things in his time. But I think there's also a bit of a concern on his part. Will things be okay when he walks away?

I've heard John say that he might end up being the last promoter at the speedway. When he says something like that, people start thinking he wants to kill this race track. But that's not really what he saying. What he's saying is he wonders if people fully understand what it takes to run that track. And I think that had John been able to find the right person who was willing to invest and learn from him, it's possible that he might have sold Oval Motorsports to that next person, secure in the knowledge that things would go on.

I'm not a mind reader. I'm not psychic. I have no idea what to expect when the fair board people grade the proposals that will have been turned in by the Monday deadline. I know that John and Oval Motorsports will submit their proposal. And I know that the board knows that when he says he's going to do whatever it is, they can take that to the bank. I know that Jeremy Prince and his people are taking a serious look at the place, and they have money behind them to back up their effort. For me to comment anymore on that would be unfair to Jeremy as I don't know what it is he will do if he gets his chance. I've heard the talk that they can put more fans in the stands and more cars in the pits, but this would be his first try on the big stage. That is with all due respect to Dixon Speedway, which has lesser demand than a place like Antioch Speedway.

I've had a name in the back of my mind that I still feel may go after Antioch Speedway, and it's a potential game changer. But because this person hasn't expressed public interest, I don't think it's fair to name the name. This person stepping in would probably be a Sprint Car friendly promoter. But speaking of which, I have been told that John Prentice of Prentice Motorsports Group is interested in making a bid.

This would not be the first time that John has looked at Antioch. There was the matter of 2009. But what makes this interesting is that my sources tell me that he's looking at Merced Speedway as well and has called them in that regard. Prentice has a history of promoting on the bigger level that cannot be denied. He's put on some huge races at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville for over a decade, and the track continues to live on despite certain neighbors trying to shut those gates. In fact, the word was that he just got a three-year contract extension there.

Can John Prentice win one or both of these bids? And if so, how is he going to run these places? He can't be there all the time, so he would have to delegate authority to certain people. I've heard of names linked to him at Antioch Speedway in the past that could be associated with an effort in 2019. I have even fewer doubts that he's got somebody down in Merced who could help him guide the ship. So, what's his game plan? What's he up to? Will he really be submitting bids? It's almost go time and all will be revealed.

As the editor and considering this is a column where I'm allowed to freely express my opinion, my hope Is that Oval Motorsports retains the track for another five years. I think that given the body of work and the good that has come, it's deserved. I say that not because of a dislike for anybody else I know is going after the track or who may go after the track. First and foremost, racing must continue. This is the track that sparked my love of auto racing to begin with. My opinion is that John gives it the best chance to keep moving forward.

Knowing what I know about the whole process, I'm disappointed to see that it was an untested entity that allowed for the track to go out to bid rather than Oval Motorsports getting the five-year option as I believe should have been the case. However, I certainly don't fault the fair board for looking around and seeing what else is out there. And if an untested entity inquiring about the race track enabled them to throw it out to bid to see who else might be interested, they were ready to take that chance.

What they have learned very clearly now is how much money has been invested by Oval Motorsports to improve the facility and what will be going away in the event that Oval Motorsports is not in charge of the track in the future. It doesn't come cheap running a race track. And certainly, when you get into heavily populated areas such as Antioch, it becomes more of a challenge and more expensive. I'm very curious where this is going to go.

I'm certainly not in a predicting mood right now. And, I freely admit that my respect and friendship of Soares might cloud my judgment a little bit on this. I've been saying for a while now that I am relatively certain that there won't be a change in who's promoting the track. I give it 80%, but I can't say 100%. It's mainly due to the fact that I don't know who all might be coming in that has experience. And if they make the right proposal, all bets are off.

Sometimes change at the top is necessary to move forward. I certainly understand that. One of the effects that a change can have on the track is which divisions are going to be competing. Divisions are going to change depending on what happens. I can say with relative certainty that the divisions you saw last season will be there next season under Oval Motorsports. It's more about how you book a schedule, what divisions might get more or less dates and what sanctioning may be used for certain divisions. Believe it or not, there's been discussion on sanctioning and the possibility that too many dates are being booked at the speedway, and John is keen on making some big improvements geared toward getting people excited about the place again.

John's been going through a difficult time right now, and I don't know if people can appreciate the fact that he has lost his wife of 58 years. It's one of those moments when you've lost a piece of yourself. How do you move on at that point? John probably wasn't as focused on that race track as he should have been heading into the season, but under the circumstances, I understand. He also had people in place that he thought could guide things when he wasn't completely focused on them. When he started to look and see what was and wasn't happening, that's when he realized that things needed to change for the future. This is also when things changed regarding what the fairgrounds would be doing. The movement began to put the track up for bid. Then, John lost his wife.

Through it all, he has looked at things and has freely admitted that he can make it better. What I saw from him when I was there for my visit was a desire to make the kind of effort that perhaps you haven't seen from him in a few years. Also, there seems to be a desire to make some changes in the personal that will usher in the newer vision and give it the best chance to be successful. And given the history regarding John and his family, it leaves me feeling pretty good about how things will be if he remains in charge.

I can tell you that if called upon to help the effort to build the excitement and get people back to Antioch Speedway, I'm prepared to do what I can do. What I've done over the past three years, in my own opinion, is not nearly enough. But, given the opportunity to do what I believe I have in my ability to do, I'll give 100% of myself to the cause of restoring people's confidence in the track. I don't know if we can recapture the real glory days of this track or any track for that matter, but I also know that you won't get anywhere if you don't try.

What I've learned at Southern Oregon these past three years is that one thing you need to do is engage the fans and the racers. The basic thing we have to understand is related to money. Why should I spend my hard-earned money to come spectate? Why should I spend my hard-earned money to come out there and compete? And if you don't give them a good reason, you won't get their patronage. You have to earn that, and it's different than it used to be. It's a never-ending job.

Back in the day, If you set things in motion properly, you could almost be on automatic pilot and watch as the crowd and racers came back. I'm not saying you didn't do anything, but efforts could go into different areas, and you knew the people were coming. But in this information age where people are on social media and walking around with smart devices, many things are competing for their attention. Many things come across that screen during the course of a day that are looking for them to open their wallets and give their money to that instead. You have to take this into account when you are trying to spread the good word.

Social media has played a big part in what I've done to work with Mike McCann in turning around the Southern Oregon Speedway program. The place was so far down in terms of the confidence that the racers and fans had in it that it was in danger of not being able to continue. With a guy like John Skinner in charge, there was certainly very much negative around that track. To me, it's a shame, because that track may not have seen the light of day without him. What kept things afloat in his final years was the fact that he would spend whatever money needed to be spent. But, the effort to attract people got lesser and lesser to the point where people stopped caring.

This is where we came in. I already knew that social media was something that needed to be engaged in, and Facebook became a very important tool. On race day, I was very active, because my theory was that people whose plans might have been cancelled on Saturday might see posts about racing and decide at the last minute to come to the track. When you're making later posts on Facebook and watching 20 minutes later as people are arriving, you begin to wonder if you're not on the right track.

Media outlets get articles, and that includes printed media. On about a half-dozen occasions, we've been on TV with simple video footage that I shot from my phone camera and a little bit about what was planned for the night. You have to try it all. What we also added to the equation this year was the Facebook Boost, which is a very inexpensive form of advertising that helps get your message to a wider audience within the radius of the track. Numbers went up some more. Compared to traditional means of advertisement, such as printed media, radio and TV, the Boost on Facebook seemed to be the most effective.

In addition to the social media effort, I really engaged in a non stop media campaign. My brief racing articles went out immediately following the races, and my more detailed articles came out a couple of days later. These were the ones written in the style of Gary Jacob. Results and points were up and easy to access. People didn't have to wonder what was going on. It was in the stories. It was in the preview articles. A little bit more was written in the Pit Stops articles. I also did a weekly audio show devoted exclusively to Southern Oregon Speedway. Does it make a difference? Without getting into specific numbers, attendance has gone up since we got here by some 40%. We have worked very hard for that.

There are areas that I certainly believe Antioch Speedway can improve upon. And I think if some of these things were tried, it would get people back. But just as it was with Southern Oregon Speedway, you're not going to do this and instantly see everybody show up. It's a little bit at a time, hard work and sometimes you might end up a little bit humiliated or feeling beat down from the negativity. You have to keep focused on what it is you're there for and your love of the sport, and you should remember that the majority of people are with you and don't vocalize it. Negative people seem to have the time on their hands to throw the hate at you.

And here I am getting wordy, which I said I wasn't going to do...

The bids are up at Merced Speedway and Siskiyou Motor Speedway for very different reasons. Merced Speedway has to seek change due to the passing of Ed Parker. I'm not so worried about Merced, because the fairgrounds has a commitment to that track. Of the names that I'm hearing that are interested in this track, Stone, Shannon, Prentice, I don't feel worried. I believe that having somebody local running the race track has some merit. Therefore, Stone or Shannon could do the job. Yeah, they've never run a race track before, but they've been around the sport long enough. Experience does still play a big part in the grading that goes into the proposals.

Therefore, John Prentice might seem to be the man to beat. He's looked at this track before. He looked prior to the 2010 season. The one thing he can offer is unity between Watsonville and Merced. Drivers tend to go to both tracks since they run on different nights, and what he can do is strengthen the unity between the tracks. He can also offer Merced fans some Sprint Car racing and even one or two of the big All.Star Series Modified races. He also has people from the Merced area that he can rely on to help run the program. The only thing that's left to be seen is whether he puts in the bid.

What's interesting is it's at least possible based on talk right now that Prentice could be running three tracks in 2019. These are the three tracks that once were officially linked together, Watsonville, Merced and Antioch. It wasn't too long ago that he was rumored to be on his way out of sport after facing backlash from his Civil War crowd, which resulted in the formation of the big Sprint Car Challenge Tour that runs its finale at Stockton this weekend. Prentice ended up selling the King of the West and Hunt Sprint Car Series, but otherwise he licked his wounds and got back to work.

It's not unusual to see a fairgrounds send out letters to potential promoters to find out if they're interested, and it happened with Merced Speedway. Several qualified promoters have received letters, and they're hoping that somebody with experience steps in. Because of the numbers, Merced Speedway might seem a more attractive deal for a potential promoter. They may have the cleanest, nicest looking racing facility in California and a Fairgrounds that works with the race track. Drivers have shown a willingness in recent seasons to support the track, and the biggest concern right now needs to be filling those grandstands with more fans and figuring out ways to accomplish that goal.

Siskiyou Motor Speedway could see a new promotional effort in 2019. As I'm writing this, the contract expires between the Siskiyou County Motorsports Association and the fairgrounds. When other promoters seemed to have given up after a challenging decade of the 1990s, the association stepped forward to make sure they would continue running races from 2000 to the present.

The association got screwed, although I'm amazed they let it happen. How the treasurer managed to walk away with so much money without the president knowing what was going on is something I don't quite understand. As the president, don't you want to see total proof of where the money is going? You're the one who is ultimately in charge with the treasurer as the one delegated to writing the checks and making sure that business gets taken care of. But it happened. It's not the first time that's ever happened with the association, and they bounced back the last time. I think they probably believed that they would do so again.

But last season was a brutal season for a lot of reasons. They still owed money and were working feverishly to try and pay it back. Then, car count took a dive in the IMCA Sport Modifieds right when it looked like the division was really taking off. Some of it was due to people who were unhappy, and other cases were that people were looking to do other things. The track had already watched as the IMCA Modified division died on it. That left only the Mini Stocks. The track was fortunate enough to schedule the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks for several dates as they needed a home track.

Momentum was hard to come by this year. At the early part of the season, when fans are really interested and drivers don't have anywhere to go, the numbers looked good on two occasions when it started raining midway through the program. Later on in the season, they lost the popular Sprint Car race due to the fire crews using the fairgrounds as a base. The season was not as productive as hoped, but they still soldiered through by running every other race that they had scheduled.

You can bet that the association is going over their game plan to continue running the track. We've heard that the fairgrounds is looking for potential promoters, but one such person who was approached declined. How many other potential promoters out there have been contacted? And is Siskiyou Motor Speedway appealing enough for somebody to come in there and face the daunting task of trying to build a program? You've got media outlets in the area who support racing that can help you, but you still need to put a program on the track that will make fans want to come watch.

There was some racing business to be discussed at the October 16th fair board meeting, but we have yet to see minutes. However, we do know that the contract between the association and the fairgrounds had to expire before they could announce their plans officially. All we have is the rumors that they are interested in either putting the track out to bid or over seeing it themselves, as has been done at Susanville. However, Susanville has had a rough go under fairgrounds leadership in recent years, and we're still waiting to hear what will happen with that race track in 2019.

If nobody wants to come in there and promote that race track, will the fairgrounds really run it themselves? And who would be among the people who might be interested in promoting? Is there a team that has been involved in racing in recent seasons that has the money and are willing to invest it? Might somebody from just over the border in the Medford area, such as John Skinner, Rick Rapp or David Hibbard take a shot at it? And if not, can the association make the right moves to turn things around? Some of the people from the kart effort are hoping to split off from the association, which may not be a bad move. The two tracks do go hand-in-hand in a way, but there are certain needs at the kart track that are not always in line with the big track. Will the board allow the two tracks to split?

Here are some things that we're looking at as ways to turn the program around. The IMCA Modified division has to be resurrected, and a Street Stock/Sportsman class should be given a shot as well. For the latter division, there's word that people are going to haggle over rules. However, here is how we see it. Get the cars out at the race track and see how competitive the drivers are with each other. You're not going to get anything if you don't put cars on the track first. Then, things can be sorted out during the year as more of a consensus is built over what the 2020 rules should be. But if you've got to half a dozen or eight Street Stocks in the area, which is rumored to be the case, get them back out at the track. Also, book the Jefferson State Jalopy group once a month. They might have half a dozen cars by the time next season rolls around, but half a dozen more cars for the fans to see is better than nothing.

The track has an IMCA Sport Modified division, and an effort should be made to get the locals back on board and get the car count up where it was in 2017. The Mini Stock division seems to be attracting new drivers, which is a good thing. It wouldn't be a bad thing to start a Hornets division if somebody were willing to build some cars and get drivers out there. But here's something else that we thought about.

It was actually a smart move by the association to not book on top of the R Charles Snyder Salute at Southern Oregon Speedway. However, it was also a missed opportunity not running the Friday night before the big Medford weekend. Drivers coming up from the south might have been tempted to stop in at Yreka had a race been an option there. Racers are racers. But, here's a bigger question. What if Siskiyou Motor Speedway became a Friday night track with some Saturdays thrown in there?

Some people will say that they can't get off work on Friday, but you also might not be starting your program at 6 on a Friday. You may aim for 7 sharp. Get those heat races on the track, and you still have a four hour window to get your races done. What is the point of Friday nights? Simple, Medford support. You're never going to get the drivers from the Medford area to support Yreka when Medford is running that night, but there are Medford racers who would love to run a second night. You get your cars any way you can, and a Friday night move might assist in this.

Another door this opens is the possibility that if you have the right sponsorship, you can book Medford divisions on Friday night. That would be divisions like the Limited Sprints, Late Models and Dwarf Cars. Of course, we know money isn't flowing in the streets, but if you had the sponsorship to support the cause, having a Sprint Car visit or two might become a possibility. Back in the 1990's, when Rick Hunsley was running the track, the track had Sprint Car shows. Then again, Medford didn't have a track. But if the track runs on Fridays and Medford is cultivating good divisions, this becomes an option.

A fan might not be interested in putting their money down on a ticket, but you tell them on Friday nights that they're going to get to watch Modifieds or Sprint Cars and know that the cars are coming, and this could be a game changer. Friday night racing in Yreka could get more cars at the very least. Friday night racing could enable Yreka to get more cars in their core classes as there would surely be some Medford visitation. And, if Yreka drivers started becoming more willing to go up north, who knows if the possibility of a series between the tracks could become reality. Suddenly, you've got a North vs South Border War. Sounds like a ticket seller to me.

Running a race track is a challenging business. You have to be careful when you're calling for the head of a promoter. Get rid of that guy and things are going to be better, right? In Hanford, they got rid of Dave Swindell. Compare Swindell's run at the track to what has come since. This is why you have to be careful what you wish for. And even in a crazy time when you worry about race tracks closing, tracks are opening. Through hard work, tracks like Orland Raceway under the leadership of Rich Hood are seeing better days again.

Down in Porterville, Rocky Hill Speedway seems poised to open their gates again in 2019. A team effort is being made to clean up the facilities and get it shipshape. This is the kind of news that we like to hear. What can they do in Rocky Hill? Actually, we believe that they were on the right track with what they had scheduled in the past, but it all sort of imploded. Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Super Minis seem the best choice, which is a program similar to what Orland does. We'll be keeping our eyes on this situation, and if there's a full scale racing media effort from us next year, it's likely that Porterville will be a part of it.

Is there a potential for another track in California somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley, Alameda County and Contra Costa County area to exist? A potential track that would have some form of auto racing on it? This is what we are investigating. There is word of a certain piece of property going up for sale, and there is interest in said property. The possibility would be cars on this track. We hate to be cryptic, but this is all we can give you at the moment.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered right now, and because of that, I'm not prepared to answer the question of where things are going for me in 2019. I know what I want. I just don't know if what I want will be what I get. Such is life, right? The only thing I can tell you is that if it's racing related, I'll give it my best effort as I always have.

I'm proud of our media effort that covered so many tracks this year and the fact that there were 10 tracks that got newspaper coverage during the year. I'm proud of the hard work that was put forth at Southern Oregon Speedway and the fact that we were seeing results along with the stress that you have to deal with from week to week. I'm proud that when the season was done here, I was able to return to my home track in Antioch and see that the Hall of Fame would get started. The fact that I got to announce a race for the first time there in 18 years was a bonus. It was like I never left, and part of me didn't want to get back on the train.

To sidestep the speculation, the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame subject should be addressed. I have been in contact with some people who will serve as part of the selection committee. I certainly didn't want to be the only voice in the decision-making process, and I took verbal heat from one person directly. I respected that person enough to take it, and could only explain that I did my best to get this thing started. I also believe that if I sat here doing a committee thing from Oregon, it would have been 2025 before something ever got started. I'm not in the mood to talk, I'd rather do.

The committee, to me, isn't merely about the selection process. I want people who have been there long enough to know some of the history and be able to make informed decisions. Plus, they would also be getting opinions from other people they respect who have been around, and thusly we would come up with the best list for 2019 that's possible. I already have ideas, as I'm sure they do. But who goes in is only part of the process, although a big part.

We have to consider the cost of the awards. We have to consider if we want to do a pre race picnic ceremony at the fairgrounds, a gathering some place the night before or if doing it at the track the way it was done this year works? What of the displays for the clippings? Could there be another type of display setup? This is part of what a committee would be handling. It's also possible that we could form an Antioch Speedway Alumni Association through this process, though those steps haven't been taken. I'm only tentatively looking ahead to 2019 right now and the next class.

I'll give you my opinion, which is not to be taken as a statement. If Oval Motorsports wins the track or at the very least if the Larry Damitz Memorial Race remains on the schedule, I personally believe that Larry should be inducted into the Hall of Fame that night. That won't be Hall of Fame night, just the night where he is honored. The Hall of Fame, at least I would hope, will have its own night on the schedule and we can properly plan it out. It can then be used to help generate excitement about going to the races that night.

Everything is up in the air. As I said, I debated about whether I was going to put something up on the blog for now. The next scheduled writing for me was to be season review articles for the tracks that we've covered and possible banquet stories. But as I sat here, I thought maybe something should be written in light of the big things coming up for Antioch Speedway and other venues. And if you're reading this, it means I went over these two articles and decided to go ahead and post them.

Since I went as far as I did here, I'll comment on the people who have been wondering why Stockton 99 Speedway's Gunslinger Sprint Car Series race didn't get much of a crowd last week. As I was trying to compile something about the show in the Pit Stops colmn, I realized a few things. First of all, the track, especially the pavement track, is slow on posting results. As of this writing, there are still no results posted on their MyLaps site. You want people to get excited about what you're doing? Let them know what you're doing.

I'm supposing that they only get about 300 to 400 fans to come watch these races. I make that assumption because I was told that there were about 350 people this last weekend, and in the Gunslinger opener there were 300 according to an article I read. They do get articles when the newspaper sends a reporter out there, but there doesn't appear to be anybody out there officially writing about the races.

I am baffled as to why some race tracks, and I won't name them, feel it's not important to hire a publicity person. They sit there with this belief that if they get the results up on their page and the point standings, it's good enough. Some tracks don't even go that far. Stockton is a track that eventually gets to it. But they still don't have a PR person. I read something about the championship being decided, and it might have been on their Facebook page. But I didn't read anything about who was leading the points going in, or, brace yourself, who won the championship.

So let me just be blunt. You can't expect people to pay a big ticket to go watch a race and not know what it is they're getting into. There are the casual fans who might venture for the heck of it. And, there are definitely the hardcore fans, increasingly smaller, who come no matter what. But you need to let the people know that these are 410 Winged Sprint Cars. You need to let the people know who the hell these drivers are. In many cases, as I have noted, these drivers ran with the NCMA before getting into this class. Did you know that after six races, there were six different winners? I didn't until I researched it. One week during the season didn't even have results posted. I was lucky enough that somebody came out and wrote an article that night for one of the newspapers.

They ought to know better. You really have to work hard to get the word out. Having somebody who does media, can help with social media and has an enthusiasm about that race track is a positive. But, it's also work. Promoters are frequently a little bit tight when it comes to money. Imagine that? I understand that to a point, but when they start cutting corners, this is one of the areas they choose. That and hiring an announcer that can engage the crowd. Sometimes the PR person and announcer are the same. And, I admit that they don't always come cheap. That can scare a promoter off.

What they don't always understand is that this is an investment in your product. You might be asked to pay $200 or more to have these positions properly filled. And then, you get promoters that shake their head and say no thank you. Do the math, and you can see that the investment is worth it. You have a track that has, let's just say, 500 people showing up every week. You decide you're going to spend $250 for somebody who's willing to do all of this. You charge $14 on a regular ticket and it's $10 for kids. After a few weeks, you've noticed your average go up from that 500 fans to 550. That's 50 more fans. You just gained your money back and then some. It's worth the investment to hire people to do these things, because they are the ones that get the people excited.

You may say that you already have the good drivers. People should come out and watch them. People aren't mind readers. Plus, people have other options. They have way more options on what to do on a Saturday night than ever before. It's not a guarantee that they will choose you just because you have some good racers or some good concessions food. You need somebody to remind the people of what it is you have and get them excited about coming. So, to answer the question as to why Stockton might have had such a low fan turn out for they're big open-wheel event, maybe they're not doing enough to educate the fans on why they should come? Just a thought...

But as it is, I have run my mouth for entirely too long. I'll end this column here. Until next time...