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Dotson, Ryland, Johnson, Myrick Win John Fore Jr
Dirt Track Nationals At Merced Speedway
Merced, CA...October 26...Ethan Dotson won the 30 lap IMCA Modified Main Event Saturday night at Merced Speedway. This was the Fourth Annual John Fore Jr Memorial Dirt Track Nationals, and the win paid $2,000 to Dotson. Dotson was the winner of the IMCA Nationals in Boone, Iowa back in September and swept the IMCA Modified and IMCA Sport Modified Main Events on both nights of the recent Bakersfield Speedway Bud Nationals.
Dotson had the front row for the Main Event and charged into the lead from the start ahead of Tim Balding. Dylan Thornton made an inside pass in Turn 2 of the fourth lap to take second. Only two yellow flags slowed the race, the second of which happened on the fifth lap. Dotson maintained command on the restart and pulled away just a little bit. However, Thornton began to make a run on Dotson and challenged him as they hit traffic on lap 15. Dotson made some good moves and put a little bit of distance between himself and Thornton, but Thornton again caught him with five laps to go. Again, Dotson made a strong move on the outside of two slower cars and used that cushion to pull away from Thornton in victory. Friday night winner DJ Shannon finished third, followed by Bobby Hogge IV, Tim Balding, Jim Pettit II, Paul Stone, Jerry Flippo, Randy Brown and Darrell Hughes II.
The IMCA Modifieds had 25 competitors, and Dotson, Shannon, Balding and Stone won their respective 10 lap heat races. Oregon visitor Doug Lockwood won the 12 lap B Main ahead of Craig Cassell and Billy Wilker.
Fred Ryland won the 30 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event. This was the second win of the season for the track champion, and it paid $1,200. Fred shared the front row of the feature race with his wife, Patti Ryland. In the early goings, Fred lead Patti, and a red flag waved when contact sent Nick Spainhoward rolling on the front straightaway. Spaonhoward was not hurt, and the Ryland's continued to run at the front of the pack on the restart. Chase Thomas made an inside pass in Turn 4 of the seventh lap to take second from Patti Ryland. As Fred Ryland began to work slower traffic by the midpoint of the race, a frontstretch pass on the 15th lap gained Michael Johnson third. Fred Ryland worked heavy traffic in the later stages of the race and made no mistakes as he brought it home to an impressive victory. Chase Thomas settled for second, followed by Johnson, Patti Ryland, Randy Brown, Billy Simkins, Paul Stone, Andrew Peckham, Troy Foulger and Adriane Frost.
There were 26 cars in this class, and the eight lap heat race wins went to Fred Ryland, Tyler Blankenship, Michael Johnson and Chase Thomas. Jesse Burks won the 12 lap B Main ahead of Foulger and Trevor Clymens.
Cody Johnson won the 30 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. The Bakersfield Speedway star had a front row start and led all the way for the $1,000 victory. Johnson led Michael Scruggs and Nick Johnson early, but Nick Johnson pitted during a lap two yellow flag. After two more yellow flags, the final 23 laps went all green. Cody Johnson set a rapid pace and pulled away to a comfortable lead, while Bruce Nelson, Buddy Shepherd and Michael Scruggs had a spirited duel for second. The only thing that could stop Cody Johnson was the heavy traffic he worked in the waning laps, but he made all the right moves to take the checkered flag in first. Nelson would hold on to second despite late pressure from Domissie Scoggins. Shepherd settled for fourth, followed by Joe Gallaher, Tyler Guzman, Colby Quinton, Kristie Shearer, Timmy Crews and Allen Neal.
There were 33 Hobby Stocks on hand for this one, and eight lap heat race wins went to DJ Keldsen, Dylan Wilson, Cody Johnson and Shepherd. The first 12 lap B Main win went to Austin Van Hoff ahead of Mike Germait and Guzman. Quinton won the other B Main ahead of Dexter Long and Devon Belton.
Dan Myrick won the 20 lap Mini Stock Main Event. Myrick is the current Central Valley Mini Stock point leader, and the win paid $400. He started on the front row and raced into the early lead ahead of Gene Glover. Dakota Keldsen settled into third on lap four, but he had his hands full in a four-car battle as Myrick checked out on the field. A slower car spun in front of Myrick on the backstretch to bring out a lap 10 yellow flag. Myrick continued to lead Glover on the restart, and Greg Baronian made a low-pass in Turn 4 the 14th lap to take third from Keldsen. However, Baronian pushed high in Turn 4 of the 16th lap, allowing Keldsen to regain third. Keldsen began pressuring Glover for second and moved by on the back straightaway on the final lap. Jeff Durant got a run on the inside of Keldsen as they raced to the checkered flag and grabbed the second position as Myrick won comfortably. Keldsen settled for third, followed by Glover, Baronian, Jason Cook, Shawn DePriest, Jerry Tubbs, Clinton Massey and Chris Corder. Eight lap heat races were won by Keldsen, Corder and Myrick.
Riley Jeppesen won the 15 lap California Sharp Mini Late Model Main Event. This was his third win of the season. Jeppesen led from the start ahead of track champion Timmy Crews and Logan Clay. A low pass in Turn 2 of the third lap gained Kaylin Lopez third. Lopez closed in on Crews as that was the closest battle for position the rest of the race. Jeppesen would score the victory, and Crews would held off Lopez for second. Clay settled for fourth, followed by Carson Guthrie and Kennzzie Brown. Jeppesen also won the eight lap heat race.
This race concludes 2019 season. For further information on the happenings at the track, go to www.mercedspeedway.net or check out the Merced Speedway Facebook page.
Shannon, Foulger, Irwin, Corder Win First Round Of
John Fore Jr Memorial At Merced Speedway
Merced, CA...October 25...DJ Shannon won the opening round of the John Fore Jr Memorial Dirt Track Nationals Friday night at Merced Speedway. The win was the third of the season for Shannon and paid $1,000. He withstood a late-race challenge from IMCA Nationals winner Ethan Dotson for the victory.
Tim Balding had a front row start and set the early pace ahead of Jim Pettit II. Shannon got by Pettit for the second position on lap four and set his sights on Balding. Following a yellow flag on lap 13, Shannon took the lead from Balding on the restart. Dotson made an inside pass in Turn 4 of the 15th lap to take third from Trevor Fitzgibbon and made a similar move two laps later to grab second from Balding. Dotson steadily gained on Shannon until he caught him with two laps remaining. After taking the white flag, Dotson made an inside move through Turns 1 and 2 and pulled even with Shannon. Shannon got a nose advantage going through Turns 3 and 4, but they bumped wheels coming out of the fourth turn. They crossed the checkered flag with Shannon claiming the victory by inches over Dotson. Balding settled for third, followed by Paul Stone, last season's champion Darrell Hughes II, this year's champion Troy Foulger, Dylan Thornton, Fitzgibbon, Pettit and Jerry Flippo.
The 23 car field ran four eight lap heat races with wins going to Foulger, Dotson, Stone and Balding. Randy Brown won the first 12 lap B Main ahead of Flippo and Jeff Streeter. Craig Cassell won the other B Main ahead of Bailey Jones and John Osgood III.
Troy Foulger won the 25 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event. Foulger was driving the All Spec Racing Modified owned by Todd Gomez. Paul Stone jumped into the car that Jarrod Mounce drove to the Watsonville championship this year and led the first two laps before Foulger got a good run exiting Turn 4 of the third lap to jump from third to the lead. As Foulger led the way, Stone held on to second until surrendering the position to a Turn 2 pass by Bakersfield Speedway star Steven Johnson on lap 15. During the final laps, Foulger caught slower traffic, which allowed Johnson to close in on him. However, Foulger made the right moves and brought it home to victory. Johnson settled for second, followed by Stone, Nick Spainhoward, Andrew Peckham, Billy Simkins, Fred Ryland, Chase Thomas, Tyler Blankenship and Bruce Nelson.
The 24 competitors ran four eight lap heat races, and Thomas, Spainhoward, Johnson and Foulger picked up the wins. They also had a pair of 12 lap B Mains, which transferred the Top 3 finishers into the Main Event. Jesse Burks won the first race with a late pass on Patti Ryland as Paul Espino finished third. Cody Parker won the other race in front of Chuck Weir and Richard Ragsdale.
Kevin Irwin won the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. Irwin led a Bakersfield Speedway sweep of the Top 4 positions. The race was restarted twice due to crashes that eliminated past champions Michael Shearer and Raul Rodriguez. Irwin charged into the lead at the start ahead of Domissie Scoggins. Nicholas Johnson moved into third on lap five and made a low pass in Turn 4 of the seventh lap to take second from Scoggins. As Scoggins was fighting to hold on to third, Johnson tried to reel in a big Irwin lead. Both Cody Johnson and Buddy Shepherd got around Scoggins on lap 11. Irwin set a rapid pace and caught slower traffic. However, that didn't keep him from scoring the impressive win. Nicholas Johnson finished second ahead of Shepherd, Cody Johnson, Scoggins, John Hensley, George Silva, DJ Keldsen, Austin Van Hoff and Allen Neal.
There were 28 Hobby Stocks, and the four eight lap heat race wins were earned by Scoggins, Cody Johnson, Meghan Myers and Keldsen. Neal won the first 12 lap B Main ahead of Jeff Lacy and Lee Ragsdale. Van Hoff outran Mike Germait and Rodriguez to win the other one.
Chris Corder won the 20 lap Mini Stock Main Event. Corder was driving the car of the late Robert Jackson, who died in an auto accident due to somebody who was texting and driving last year. He is a three-time Merced Speedway champion, and he took advantage of his front row starting position to lead all the way. Corder set the early pace ahead of Central Valley Mini Stock point leader Dan Myrick and reigning CVMS champion and Greg Baronian. Baronian made an outside frontstretch pass on Myrick to gain second on lap seven and started pressuring Corder for the lead. Just as Baronian was making an outside pass on Corder to gain the lead on the backstretch, Austin Sprague lost a wheel in Turn 4 to bring out a lap 15 yellow flag and negate the past. After a pair of yellow flags botched restart attempts, Corder led Baronian and Myrick on the restart, and they would finished in that order. Clinton Massey finished fourth, followed by Shawn DePriest, Gene Glover, Jerry Tubbs, Lauren Oliveiea, Tracy Glass and James McGranahan. Massey, Baronian and Dakota Keldsen were the eight lap heat race winners.
For further information on the happenings at the track, go to www.mercedspeedway.net.
Wheeler, Rayburn, Killingsworth, Flowers Close
Siskiyou Speedway Season With Victories
Yreka, CA...October 26...Jake Wheeler won the 25 lap Interstate Sprint Car Series Main Event Saturday night at Siskiyou Golden Speedway. Wheeler is the 2016 Southern Oregon Speedway champion. He was once again piloting the car owned by Ron Osborne, which he has driven to victory twice in Medford this year. The night featured a Halloween theme with a costume contest and kids trick-or-treating with the racers on the front straightaway during intermission.
Wheeler drew a fourth row starting position for the feature race with fellow past Medford champion TJ Winningham starting in the second row. Winningham and Scott Fox ran in contention as Wheeler quickly moved his way to the front of the pack. Wheeler got around Winningham and went on to score the impressive victory. Winningham settled for second, followed by Fox, Anthony Pope, Tyrell Mead, Steven Snawder, Cooper Desbiens and Brody Sim. Snawder and Mead were the eight lap heat race winners.
Bruce Rayburn Jr won the 25 lap Late Model Main Event. Rayburn was piloting the Joey Tanner Willamette Speedway championship car, which is now owned by Pete Bowne. The second-generation racer shared the front row with Dustin Knight, but Knight had problems early on. Rayburn had his closest competition from Chris Biggs, but in the end he was too fast for everybody in victory. Biggs held onto second ahead of seven-time Medford Modified champion Mark Wauge, Bob Dees, Eric Massey, Cliff Massey, Jason Schultz, Knight and Dana Bowers. Dees and Wauge were the eight lap heat race winners.
Ethan Killingsworth scored the victory in the 20 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event. Killingsworth is the champion this year, and this was his division-leading fourth win of the season. Both Killingsworth and Matt Sanders picked up their respective eight lap heat race wins, and that put them both on the front row for the feature race. Sanders has won at four different venues this year, including twice in Yreka. However, Killingsworth would prevail in this battle with Sanders settling for second. Colt Boswell placed third, followed by Isaac Sanders, Zak Potts, Rich McCoy, Randy Wright, Ryder Boswell, Cale Cunial and Chris Silva.
James Flowers won the 20 lap Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock Main Event. This was the first win of the season for Flowers, and he outran his father, Scott Flowers, to get the job done. In finishing second, Scott Flowers notched his first career championship. James Flowers had started in the third row with his father in the row behind him, but both came up through the pack. Following James and Scott were Matt Harlow, John David Duffie, Rick Lukens, Colby Hammond, Steve Borror and Ginny Flowers. Borror and Duffie were the eight lap heat race winners.
Marilyn Yawnick won the 20 lap Jefferson State Jalopy Main Event and the eight lap heat race. This was the division champion's fourth win of the season, and she held off JJ Smith for the feature win. Three-time winner Michael Colson settled for third ahead of Karl Bernstein.
Following the trick or treating with the kids and the drivers in the infield during intermission, there was an Outlaw Kart exhibition race, which was won by Dallin Dagata.
This wraps up the 2019 racing season. Keep up with the latest happenings by checking out the Siskiyou Golden Speedway Facebook page or going to www.siskiyougoldenspeedway.com.
Forsberg, Ford, Schank Win At Marysville Raceway
Marysville,, CA...October 26...Andy Forsberg won the Winged 360 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Marysville Raceway. This was the annual H&H Trenching Gold Fever Sprint Car Spooktacular event. Forsberg is the Placerville Speedway Sprint Car champion.
Forsberg started back in the fourth row of the feature race, and polesitter Shane Hopkins set the early pace. Blake Carrick was an early second, but he surrendered the position to Forsberg on a lap eight restart. Forsberg set his sights on Hopkins, and he finally put the moves on him to grab the lead on lap 14. Forsberg pulled away just a little bit from Hopkins in the closing laps to score the victory. Cole Macedo finished third, followed by Carrick, Chico champion Sean Becker, Jake Haulot, Colby Wiesz, Marysville champion Michael Ing, Korey Lovell and Geoff Ensign.
There were 27 competitors, and Rowdy McLenon set the quickest time of 12.173 to beat the 12.186 of Justyn Cox. Eight lap heat race wins went to Carrick, Macedo, Brad Bumgarner and Ing. Ensign won the 13 lap B Main after taking the lead from Burt Foland Jr early on. Foland settled for second ahead of Mike Monahan.
Jimmy Ford won the 20 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event. Ford is a two-time Mini Stock champion at the track. Richard Vander Ploeg led four laps before tangling with Chuck Golden for a yellow flag. Driving the David Pierce car, track champion Todd Cooper took over the lead ahead of Ford. Ford moved past Cooper for the lead on lap 12, but Cooper ran closely behind him. Ford kept his cool in the closing laps for the well-earned victory as Cooper settled for second ahead of his brother, Brian Cooper, David Larabee, Timothy Allerdings, Mike Merritt, Alan Furuta, Golden, Vander Ploeg and Bryce Campbell. Merritt and Golden won their respective six lap heat races.
Terry Schank Jr won the 20 lap Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event. Schank is a three-time Hunt Series champion. With the benefit of a pole position start, Schank bolted into the lead at the start and would lead Josh Young for the entire distance. The race only had two yellow flag slowdowns, and the second yellow flag would fall for Kevin Box and Cort Marchuk on lap 11. Orland star Nathan Johnson moved into third on the restart and would finish there, followed by Braiden Moniz, Wyatt Brown, Box, Kaimi Moniz-Costa, James Thomson and Marchuk. Schank also won the eight lap heat race.
Cameron Haney Jr won the 15 lap Crate Sprint Main Event. Haney had the pole and led all the way in victory. Cody Smith ran second before his race ended on lap six. Brandon Dozier took over second, but he trailed Haney buy a straightaway at the checkered Flag. Jaylon Deas finished third ahead of Chad Thompson and Cody Smith. Smith won the eight lap heat race, and Chad Stancil was a Main Event scratch.
On November 9th, The Mel Hall Memorial race will be made up from the May 26th rain out. This event will feature the Civil War Sprint Car Series and the Hunt Wingless Spec Sprints. For further information, go to www.marysvilleraceway.com.
Johnson, Bender Win At Ventura Raceway
Ventura, CA...October 26...Chase Johnson won the USAC Midget 30 lap Main Event Saturday night at Ventura Raceway. The Penngrove competitor seems to compete in various open-wheel divisions, which also includes Winged and Wingless Sprint Cars. Johnson maneuvered past early leader Ben Worth on the 13th lap and would proceed to lead the rest of the way for the victory. Worth held on for second, followed by championship hopeful Cory Elliott, Shannon McQueen, Josh Lakatos, Robbie Josett, David Prickett, CJ Sarna, Terry Nichols and Saldana Racing Products hard-charger Kyle Beilman, who started back in 18th.
Incoming point leader Robert Dalby settled for a disappointing 14th and holds a slim 25 point lead over Elliott going into the 52nd Annual Western World Championships, which happens at Arizona Speedway in San Tan Valley, Arizona on November 15th and 16th. Johnson, Dalby and Lakatos won their respective 10 lap heat races. Elliott set the fastest time on the 1/5 mile clay oval with a lap of 13.112, beating the 13.137 of Robbie Josett.
AJ Bender won the 25 lap Lucas Oil POWRi California Lightning Sprint Main Event. Dominic Del Monte led 10 laps before bringing out a yellow flag. Bender was running second at that point and took the lead on the restart with Cody Nigh settling into second. The duo drove to a 1-2 finish, leaving the battle for third. Aiden Lange held third until being overtaken by Grant Sexton on lap 16. Sexton would finish third, followed by Jarrett Kramer, Lange, James Turnbull, Jeff Dyer, Del Monte, Brent Sexton and John Robertson. Eric Greco set the fast time of 12.743, beating the 12.833 of Bender. The eight lap heat race wins went to Robertson, Jason Arnolde and Lange.
Jeff Fillingame scored the victory in the VRA Sprint Car Main Event. Fillingame started up front and led all 20 laps in victory. Trent Williams finished second ahead of heat race winner Rick Hendrix. The third place finish also wrapped up an impressive championship season for Hendrix. Ricky Lewis finished fourth, followed by Brent Owens, Chris Meredith, Tyler Hatzikian and Colby Johnson.
Brody Fuson picked up the win in the Western Midget Racing division. Fuson started on the front row and proceeded to lead all 20 laps in victory with Kevin Woody settling for second. Randi Pankratz won a heat race and finished third in the feature to secure the division championship. Heat race winner Jessica Swanson finished fourth in the Main Event, followed by final lead-lap finisher Greg Edenholm. Wally Pankratz, Joey Bishop, Tyler Slay, Keoni Texeira and Blake Bower rounded out the Top 10 finishers. Following Pankratz in the championship race were the absent David Prickett and Texeira.
Trent Morley won his heat race and also scored the victory in the 20 lap VRA Dwarf Car Main Event. Morley had to make a little effort to score this victory. Johnny Conley paced the first three laps before his race came to an end as Tom Morley took over. Morley only led a pair of laps before being overtaken by new division champion Jason Horton. Horton led until Trent Morley put the moves on him on lap 15 to take the lead. Morley led the rest of the way with Horton settling for second. Horton also won a heat race. Gage Cheek scored a podium finish in third. Tom Morley would settle for fourth, followed by Jeff Brink, Brad Curnel, Shane Linenberger, Jeff Hinz, Tim Morse and Bobby Meneley. Following Jason Horton in the standings were Trent Morley and Tom Morley.
The track was considering going to IMCA rules for the Hobby Stock division, but that plan has been abandoned for next year as some of the regulars would not have been legal for the class. Ricky Lewis won the division championship this year by just 15 points ahead of Tom Stephens Jr. Alyssa Smith solidified her third place ranking by winning the October 19th point season finale. There were 10 starters in that race
Jack Parker ended up winning the IMCA Modified championship. Despite winning the September 28th point season finale, IMCA State champion Trevor Fitzgibbon finished seven points behind Parker in second with Terry Hershberger ranking third in the final rundown.
Ventura Raceway will be hosting the 79th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix event on November 27th and 28th. The USAC Midgets and USAC 360 Sprint Cars will be competing on both nights. For further information, go to www.venturaraceway.com.
The Editor's Viewpoint
I'm sitting here in a power outage at the race track as I'm writing this. Merced Speedway just had the John Fore Jr Memorial race. I was a little bit disappointed in General Manager Doug Lockwood and his decision to eliminate some of the special races that the speedway has had in recent years. I considered it almost miraculous that the track's General Manager at the time, Doug Williams, managed to revive the Ted Stofle Classic when he did. The Timmy Post Memorial and the Matt And Glass Cancer Fundraiser races were both very special to the Merced Speedway schedule. All three of these races fell by the wayside under the leadership of Lockwood.
Before I give praise for what just happened, I need to nitpick this. I disagree strongly with Doug's decision to eliminate these races. Ted Stofle was an absolute Stock Car racing legend. Some say he was the greatest Stock Car racer on the dirt in California in the 1970s, and I wouldn't disagree with that statement. Matt was special because of all the things he did for the racers for all of those years, and it wasn't that this race was some big event for money. It was that money was raised to fight Cancer in Matt's name, and people loved the guy. I get a big kick out of looking at Angela Brown's race car with the Matt And Glass sticker on it.
I know the argument is you can't have a memorial race for everybody. Yeah, whatever. In this day and age, when you're trying to get people to come out to the track, you do whatever you can. When you have a memorial race, it doesn't always mean that it has to be for bigger money or any of that. Just a nice trophy would work. Maybe just a small increase in the purse. I don't know. What Doug said was that everybody would be honored at Legends Night, but as I understand it, the honorees were Porter family. As of yet, Merced Speedway still hasn't started a Hall of Fame. Doing this would be remarkably easy, and I nearly had the late Ed Parker ready to get it started. You already have Legends Night and a Legends Breakfast the Friday morning before the show. What happens is people get bogged down in small details, and before you know it, those small details prevent it from happening.
Doug did keep the John Fore Jr Dirt Track Nationals on the schedule. John wasn't really around for that long, but he did make an impact. Ed Parker established this race as an IMCA Sport Modified show back in 2016, and it has grown to include the core four divisions that the speedway has. It was also moved to October. One thing I will give Doug Lockwood credit for is he put together a rather nice schedule, despite the lack of certain key memorial races. Not only were there some big IMCA Modified shows, there were also some big open wheel events. A nice mixture. This is something to build a future on.
When you're trying to book a postseason race in October, the goal is to get as many race cars as you can. I'm kind of amazed that there aren't that many races that have established long traditions. Watsonville has been building the Pat And Jim Pettit Memorial Dirt Track Shootout, and it's going to be 10 years old next year. Bakersfield Speedway has the Bud Nationals the second week of October, and this race has happened for over 30 years. This leaves open dates for other tracks to get big races. Hanford and Tulare have taken shots at big Stock Car type shows, but in recent years they've backed off. Antioch Speedway takes looks here and there and just had the West Coast Nationals the week before. Petaluma has the Adobe Cup at the beginning of October, but there's room to grab a date and build a tradition.
As I said, the John Fore Jr Memorial race was established by Parker and moved to October by Parker. He had turned it into a four division show last year, but he passed away before he could see it through. The show wasn't as big as it could have been that year, but under the circumstances, I understand. Ed's son, Cody Parker, oversaw a lot of that. Margie Mejia was the woman behind the scenes who kept things going when we lost Ed. The show went on, and even if the numbers weren't as big as they could have been, it wasn't a bad show in 2018. Doug came in this season with the goal of making it a little bit bigger.
Honestly, there is potential for Merced to host something extraordinary. Something on the level of a George Steitz show could be possible. However, you're also dealing with big show fatigue. Drivers have already run the Bakersfield show and are gearing up for Las Vegas. A Steitz level show would bring huge fields in each division. Merced had respectable fields both nights, and there were almost 120 cars competing on Saturday. That's not bad. Is it big by open show standards? Maybe not, but it was one heck of a show nonetheless. I don't get a sense that Doug and Merced Speedway were swinging for the bleachers with this race. Put it this way, the purses were bigger than usual, but they were reasonable purses. The three primary classes delivered enough cars for B Mains to be required, which always helps with the purse when you get more cars than you will run in the Main Event.
The secret of George Steitz was pretty simple. He had a nice to win prize for his divisions, but the Main Event starters were not getting more than their entry fee to get into the show. However, this was attractive enough to get lots of racers. You had enough cars to go three or four letters into the alphabet in Mains, and those purses were more than paid for. In his case, George went the extra mile to make it fun for everybody. It doesn't require a ridiculously huge purse to make an open show tick. It requires a good format, a well run program and the feeling that this is a place that you need to be. Throughout the season, there's been lots of positive buzz regarding the Modified show at Merced Speedway, so there were drivers ready to come to come out for this event. They came from as far south as Ventura and as far north as Oregon to be in Merced.
I believe that Merced Speedway has the potential to establish something really strong with this event. You always want to end the season on a high note, and I think this race accomplished that. I think there are still more cars and more fans to be had, but this requires some finesse and some intelligent planning. I don't subscribe to the theory that you need to dump a bunch of money into the purse to accomplice this goal. You just need to establish this as a fun event with a regular date people can circle on their calendars. Perhaps the end of October will be the regular time for this show? As far as money to win, I don't think $2,000 for the IMCA Modifieds, $1,200 for the IMCA Sport Modifieds and $1,000 for for the Hobby Stocks is bad. $400 for the Mini Stock winner was nice as well.
Actually, you can get yourself into trouble when you are worried about topping your biggest race. Pettit is a good example of that. There was a time when they kept raising the winner's purse for the IMCA Modifieds, and it reached $10,003 at one point. The family reassessed things at that point, and they settled on the $3,003 first prize they have now. I don't think the IMCA Modified purse needs to go much bigger, if at all, at Merced to keep the show going. It's the little touches you might be able to add to the program that could make a difference. I'm sure Doug and his staff had to be pleased with the way things went, and they should be proud of this show. Every track should have a few marquee events throughout the season with one to go out on if possible, and I think Merced Speedway is accomplishing that.
I seriously questioned why Kevin Barba would book races into October at Siskiyou Golden Speedway. You deal with colder weather and the possibility of rain that far north in California. On the other hand, weather patterns in the last couple of decades have been such that you've certainly got a chance to get some racing in. I think part of the reason Kevin went this far was to pay the bills to keep things going. However, this wasn't merely about money. I also believe he was looking to see what other divisions might be there for possible scheduling in 2020. There were some things to be gained by going to the end of October.
What made me nervous about the schedule was the fact that the annual Rod Restad Memorial race on September 21st produced some 60 cars in the pits. By all accounts, that final point race was a success, and it was also the biggest car count Kevin had achieved at the speedway. I know that he had announced from the start that he was going into October, but I was starting to wonder if maybe he would rethink his position and end it there. He did not. He doubled down, and the car count nose dived to around 20 the following week. It didn't get much better at the next race, and I thought that at that point he might be doing more harm than good to his effort.
In the midst of those numbers, however, there were some positive signs being shown. Yreka hosted their first Late Model race in several seasons. Granted, there were only five cars that came in from Medford, but it was still something different. Kevin had announced that any division that could give him five or six cars would have a purse paying show, and that prompted Sprint Car drivers to question whether they could be involved in this. The problem with that Late Model show was that it was impromptu. Nobody knew Late Models were going to be there that week, and the track was not really able to gain the potential fans it could have had if it were known ahead of time.
It was sounding like the Sprint Cars were going to do the same thing. You might get a half-dozen Sprint Cars, but it would happen that next race and the fans wouldn't know anything about it. This is when the Interstate Sprint Car Series officials stepped in. They reached out to Kevin to set a race date, and that date was last Saturday. The Interstate Sprint Car Series was relaunched as a Limited Sprint Series prior to the 2018 season, and I was well aware that officials were interested in booking at least one date at Yreka. The date they were thinking of was Week of Speed in August. The problem is the Siskiyou Speedway track is basically closed during much of August to allow for the Siskiyou Golden Fair to take over the area.
Week of Speed really needs another date to help it along. As Medford chooses not to participate in the series, it starts later than officials would like. They would like to have Yreka be a part of this. I'm not going to tell you that this is going to happen in 2020, but I can tell you that series officials are looking at doing something at Yreka. So, this hastily scheduled Interstate Sprint Car Series race was almost like a test to see what was out there. While this was scheduled, several Late Model drivers also voiced an interest in being a part of that show, and Barba agreed.
I can't tell you when the last time was that Siskiyou Golden Speedway had a Sprint Car and Late Model show on the same bill, but it happened on Saturday. This, in my opinion, was probably Kevin's shining moment in his inaugural year as the promoter. Though I've had some criticism for the way things have been scheduled and changed on the fly, this race was booked in plenty of time to get the interest of the fans. It was booked in plenty of time for the racers to know and be ready to go racing. I'm not going to tell you that they flooded the pit with cars, but both divisions delivered enough cars to give the fans a good taste of what they have to offer. There were eight Interstate Sprint Cars and nine Late Models. Add to that the eight Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks, 12 IMCA Sport Modifieds, four Jefferson State Jalopies an even the kids who ran an exhibition with their Outlaw Karts, and you had over 40 competitors for the final race.
The biggest problem at Siskiyou Golden Speedway is easy to see. They don't deliver enough cars on a regular basis. Once upon a time, they did. The show has dwindled down to IMCA Sport Modifieds and Mini Stocks and whatever visiting divisions they can get. They watched their IMCA Modified division basically die on them, though I think Kevin could resurrect this class if he made the effort. There are drivers there who want to race in Yreka. Even if there aren't a bunch, the six or eight cars you could get to restart this thing is better than having nothing at all. Fans want to see cars, and two divisions with 20 cars total on average is simply not enough for some fans to want to spend money to come watch.
Kevin didn't enter the picture with blinders on. He knew the program was struggling and knew that change needed to be made. Perhaps it was the late announcement that he would be promoter that hurt his effort to book a schedule and forced him to do some things on the fly. Whatever the case, he got through the season, and the later part of the season saw the success of the Rod Restad and this last race. He left the fans with something exciting to go out on, and the Sprint Car Main Event winner, Jake Wheeler, started in the fourth row and scored the victory. The Rayburn family returned for the first time in several seasons with a victory in the Late Models. The night was a winner.
Kevin has been working on family-friendly things, giving away free passes to get people to come check out the show and doing whatever he can to change the perception that this Speedway is fading away. Saturday night was a successful effort, and it's one he can be proud of. It's also raised the track's status as a place that can offer bigger shows for the fans. You are likely to see an Interstate Sprint Car Series race on the schedule next year, perhaps even a Limited Sprint race or two. You could even see Late Models. You can expect anything at this point as Kevin knows he needs to get more cars and give the fans more of a show. You want fans in the seats? Give them more cars to watch.
I give Kevin credit for pulling this one off, but I wonder if the relationship between Yreka and Medford will warm up a little bit. Medford Promoter Mike McCann entered the picture at a track who's own show had fell to a point where only 18 cars showed up for a three division show one night in 2015. McCann invested heavily in rebuilding this program. If there's a Late Model division or a Limited Sprint Car division for Yreka to borrow from Medford, it's only because McCann made the investment in paying a good purse to get the cars out there in the first place. I already know the question Medford would ask in any potential partnership with Yreka. What do we gain?
I know a lot of people would like to see the track that's doing better off just lend a helping hand to the track that isn't, but it's a business. If you're not taking care of your own business model and building your own show, you're not getting fans. Even though Medford had another solid season this past year, they are not out of the woods just yet. Lots of work has to be done to maintain the progress and build upon it. Partnerships can work, but a potential partnership that Medford might have with Yreka is incumbent upon Yreka being able to provide visiting drivers to Medford. There is potential with the IMCA Sport Modifieds, but Yreka can't really work with Medford in IMCA Modifieds without having its own class. They must work on building that back up.
My opinion on the matter is that a stronger Yreka partnering with Medford would be a winner. If I had the power to make it happen, Yreka would become a Friday night track with occasional Saturday shows thrown in when scheduling allows. In that way, you could have Medford drivers more free to go to Yreka without missing a local show and vice versa. Yreka could work on cultivating an IMCA Modified show and establishing other classes. The only negative in a point series sort of way is that the two tracks are in two different states. You're not going to rank high in the IMCA State point race because you cross the border to run at the other track. So, without creating a Medford/Yreka series of your own, there is no bigger point race beyond the track point race.
It's a bit of hypothetical thinking, but it's not likely to happen. When you have a track that has run on Saturday night for as long as Yreka has, it's risky to change it to Friday. My contention is that numbers are low enough at Yreka that you could make that move and build from there. However, I believe no move would be made unless it was with the understanding that there would be a partnership. I see no partnership forthcoming. Medford will stay the course. There will be a few adjustments next year, and the track will try to improve upon what's been done for the past four years and make the fifth year under McCann that much better.
As a promoter in your first year, you have to learn. From the outside looking in, it may seem like those guys don't know what the hell they're doing and all of that. A new promoter should be confident in thinking they can do it better, but they're going to learn a lot in that first year. Kevin got a wake up call from the start when a car crashed through the fence on the front straightaway, prompting the rest of the show to get cancelled. He's had his struggles behind the scenes that have challenged him, but he's persevered. Just when things might have looked hopeless, things started to get better. He's learned some things that have worked for him, and he'll continue to learn.
I think the first thing is bringing a sense of stability to the race track. Kevin is working on accomplishing that goal. The next thing is improvement of program. You're building your car count, figuring out what divisions you can run and all of that. Kevin's made much progress, and this will be reflected in the 2020 schedule. There's also been improvements to the facility and in fan interaction. One would have to say that Kevin's first year has certainly been better than the previous year, and that's a positive. There is much progress yet to be made, but there certainly is hope that it's going to get better. As I said, I give Kevin credit for having probably his biggest night of promoting to close the year.
I would certainly recommend getting out of the season now. Then again, the last month would not have happened in Yreka had that been my call. Then, they wouldn't have had the night they just had. Kevin has already announced a playday for November 2nd, and the danger you get into when you're making moves like this is thinking maybe you could even book another race or something of that nature. Drivers need time to recoup their budgets and fix their race cars, and promoters need the off time to make more improvements to the track and make plans for next season. Hopefully, the playday this Saturday is all that will happen. Just a play day, and then it's time to plan for next year. But, even if they try to go much longer, the weather will tell them what they can and can't do.
Marysville Raceway had the H&H Trenching Sprint Car Spooktacular Saturday night, and there were 27 Winged 360 Sprint Cars in the pits. They were the headliners of the night. There were only a half-dozen Crate Sprints, and there were nine Wingless Spec Sprints despite the fact that the track dropped the class from it's regular rotation two years ago. The IMCA Sport Modifieds also had a 10 car show. I think those numbers were within the parameters that were expected. I doubt management thought they would have a huge field of Spec Sprints since they're not promoting the class. However, there might have been a little bit of disappointment that only six Crate Sprints were there. Given the fact that management dumped Spec Sprints in favor of this other Winged Sprint Car class and it still isn't delivering double digits, I can't imagine people are too happy. I know I wouldn't be. Then again, I always thought of it as a stupid decision for Chico and Marysville to ever add Crate Sprints in the first place as it only divided a good car count. The Crate Sprints have failed to deliver so far. By now, they should be averaging double digits. They are lucky to get that.
Remaining on the schedule is the November 9th Mel Hall Memorial race. This race was initially rained out on Memorial Day Weekend, so it's been rescheduled for after next week's Gary Patterson Memorial race at the Stockton Dirt Track. It's also being listed as a Civil War Series and Hunt Series event. I can find no evidence that the Civil War Series is even in existence at this point, and that does make me a little bit sad. I spoke with Watsonville track prep guru Tom Sagmiller at the West Coast Nationals, and he indicated that he knew nothing about Marysville being a Civil War race on this night.
I had some comments to make about it as it looked like there would be no champion crowned. Since before the last Watsonville race, you couldn't find Civil War Sprint Car points on the official webpage. After the Watsonville race ran, there was no indication that the rescheduled Mel Hall Memorial race at Marysville was being acknowledged by the Civil War. Marysville had it on the their webpage, but not a word from the Civil War. No race scheduled, no point race and it looks like the thing is dead, right?
I'm actually pleased to report that upon looking at a news release on my phone from Marysville concerning the November 9th race, they were talking about a point leader for the Civil War and hyping the deal up. I said to myself that this didn't sound right as just a couple of days ago I went to the official page and there were no points. Punching it in on my phone web browser, I found the point sheet. Koen Shaw is listed as the Civil War Series leader going into Marysville, which will be the fourth and final race. So, it looks as if John Prentice will make sure that the Civil War Sprint Car Series has a champion this year.
The real question is will it continue into a 30th season next year? Will there be enough races to make it happen? Will there be enough tracks to get involved? Some places have sided with the Sprint Car Challenge Tour and others don't appear to be interested in getting dates. On the other hand, there might just be enough interest to keep this thing going. Personally, I want to see that be the case. I know John may have upset a few people here or there, but the Civil War Series means something. Well, at least it used to and still can.
In my mind, a Civil War Series schedule probably doesn't need more than 6 to 10 races to be good enough. If Prentice is at the helm, then you could put two or three races on at Watsonville. As it seems as if Dennis Gage is still on board at Marysville, you could keep that going. Perhaps a race at Chico could be secured again? The harder question is, where do you get other race dates? I believe a Civil War Series should have four or five different tracks on its schedule. It's not likely to happen at Petaluma, and Merced has just thrown in with the Sprint Car Challenge Tour as well. Going as far north as Yreka might be stretching it a bit. Antioch Speedway? Not if John Soares is running the track.
I always like to play devil's advocate with situations like these. What would happen if? It's likely that if Prentice is going to work towards a series, he'll look at the All Star IMCA Modified Series first. Personally, I see potential to get that thing back up to eight or nine dates in 2020. The Civil War Sprint Car Series brand may not get that kind of attention, and that's unfortunate given it's lengthy history. There was a time when promoters worked together on that series, and it was normal to see 50 or 60 cars at any event. I don't think you're looking at 50 or 60 cars on average, even if this thing could be salvaged. However, you could get it into the 20s, and that would still be an entertaining show. To do so, it would take a lot of work. Is Prentice still willing to put in the effort? Are there enough promoters willing to work with him? The answers may be forthcoming after we see what happens with this November 9th date at Marysville.
I recently had a really good conversation with my friend Don O'Keefe on the subject of the Bay Cities Racing Association. This was on my mind back in August, and I recall writing something for a Viewpoint column. Unfortunately, it somehow got wiped out. I'd have to look back to see if I rewrote anything and posted my thoughts on the subject. In my opinion, the merger of BCRA and POWRi has been a failure. I think when they did that, some of the BCRA leaders felt that the national status of POWRi would help elevate their group, but this was never the answer. Don tells me that one of the BCRA people he spoke to with recently said the only thing the group is getting out of it is an insurance policy.
In BCRA, you have California's oldest sanctioning auto racing organization, and it's heritage is something that I believe should be preserved. You go back to the 1930s when you talk about BCRA. Back in the 1950s, BCRA was sanctioning races at several different tracks throughout the state, and they also had a booming Hardtop circuit in addition to the Midgets. Times have changed, and the organization always managed to adapt. It was through BCRA that some of the greatest Bay Area promoters, such as Bob Barkhimer, John P Soares and Bert Moreland, got their starts. Even when Barkhimer started his own association and eventually sold to NASCAR, he did all he could to help the BCRA keep going.
In the 1990s, the group was still viable, but they branched out to absorb the Mini Sprint tour that had been running under the Northern Stars banner. BCRA sanctions Midgets, Midget Lites and the Vintage Midgets. When I spoke with Don recently, he suggested that the Midget Lites group should basically merge with the Midgets, running the two groups together. He also suggested something I've been saying for a while. BCRA should stick with the dirt and drop the pavement idea. I believe pavement is being pushed by maybe a couple of staunch BCRA supporters, but it's doing more harm than good.
I'm going to elect to side step the idea of the Midget Lites being forced to run with the Midgets. My thinking is that BCRA is booking far too many race dates as it is. Drivers don't want to run 20 or more times a year. While it might be nice for BCRA to have dates at so many different race tracks, it really doesn't do them good when they're not producing a car count to entertain the fans. My belief is that you should cut back. BCRA has long had its strongest car counts on the dirt, even though they've had a mixture of dirt and pavement on the schedule.
You're not getting a bunch of Midget drivers coming from other places in the way you would with Winged 360 Sprint Cars. BCRA is the only full Midget game in Northern California. There is a fledgling Eco Tech Midget effort that's getting started at Watsonville and Ventura. It's not really anything new as they ran under the Ford Focus banner for a while, but leadership is attempting to make something of this in the way the Northwest Focus Midget group has done up in Washington and Northern Oregon. You can actually run this group with the Midgets on occasion, and I would certainly advocate for that.
Since there's not an abundance of Midgets to draw cars from at the moment, but there are several dirt track cars out there that are parked, a shorter schedule on dirt would work perfectly. Work with the tracks that are willing to book you, such as Petaluma, Watsonville and Placerville. Reach out to other tracks on the dirt to see what you can get. Look at 12 to 14 dates as your ideal schedule to get the car count up. When you look at where the strongest car count has come in recent years, as I have said, it happens on the dirt. Placerville this year was a good example of that. If you want to save BCRA, you don't need national sanctioning. You need a sensible schedule, a focus on dirt and an effort to bring cars back to the track, even if they are a bit older. It can happen. The question is, is there any desire to do it?
This year, BCRA didn't have a Hall of Fame picnic. I'm very disappointed in that. In recent years, these events happened at Petaluma, but I believe the weekend in question ended up going to USAC, rather than BCRA. Whatever the case was, it didn't happen. Now, I know BCRA has a pretty big Hall of Fame as it is, and you might be running out of people to induct. However, the idea of the pre race picnic and get together of the old guard and the new drivers is still a good thing to do. Perhaps you make it BCRA Legends night. This is a night when you have all three of your groups on hand, if possible, induct somebody into the Hall of Fame if you can or simply invite a few of the old timers out there as legends to be saluted on that occasion. Don't let this gathering fall by the wayside.
I'm not going to tell you that I've been the biggest fan of Midget racing through the years. I was offered a scorekeeping job with the group back in 1985 and declined as Stock Cars have been my love. You weren't going to get me to leave Antioch Speedway back then. I do have an appreciation of this form of racing. Looking back when BCRA had a bunch of races at Antioch in 1981 and 1982, the racing was pretty darn good. Drivers like Floyd Alvis, Rick Bussell, Bobby Morrow, Wheeler Gresham, Ted Montague, Tim Joyce, Victor Mancarini, Tom Enea and so on put on some great races. It can be that way again, but I believe it happens when you make a more reasonable schedule and do it on the dirt. Time will tell what happens.
Arena racing is something I've been advocating for since discovering this form of auto racing about five years ago. You're taking cars and running them in a Rodeo Arena sized venue. It's an off shoot of the concept I fell in love with back in the 1990s that had Mini Stock race cars running on the little 1/8th mile oval at Delta Speedway in Stockton. I was pessimistic about that until going out there and seeing how well those cars ran on that little track. You couldn't run 20 cars in a Main Event. I think it was 12 or 14, and they were very entertaining. They had a big car count throughout the 1990s until the Outlaw Kart program took over.
I suppose Arena Racing begin at the County Fairs. Not every Fairgrounds has a quarter mile or bigger race track. Some of them have little Rodeo Arenas, and many of them like hosting a Destruction Derby when the County Fair happens. This appeared on my radar back in 2015 when a Destruction Derby promoter added an Arena Figure 8 to the Alameda County Fair lineup. Three nights of racing. In this case, they paid a pretty nice sum to the drivers who came out to run each race, and they only asked for a half dozen of them.
I was also made aware of a little Derby Arena back in Hoagland, Indiana. Destruction Derbies are their mainstay, but they added a really cool attraction. Figure 8 races. They would run full programs of big cars and little cars with heats and Main Events. At the end of the night, they do the Destruction Derby. Other venues have run similar programs. Out west, we've had venues in Oregon and Washington doing a Figure 8 and also this Alameda Fair effort. Also, there was the Agri Race that happened at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds. I've seen them run on a track that I don't even know if it would measure as 1/8th mile in size. What's remarkable about the Agri Race is they have a set limit of entries. I think it was 24 cars this year, and they had 24 entities.
Now, a tight bull ring might not make it to 1/8th of a mile in size. I'm not sure. You could be looking at somewhere between 1/10th of a mile and 1/7th, but it's not very big. However, with the basic stock Hornet car, not to be confused with the regular Mini Stocks, you're not talking a bunch of money in a car, and you're not talking high speeds. In a little Arena 8, the cars don't go very fast. What you see with the Arena 8 is that you can get six cars on the track, no more than eight, and that's plenty. The fans get lots of action, there is contact, but you're not going so fast that you have as big a chance of getting hurt as you might in the bigger 8.
The Agri Race I looked at was interesting, because it's in such tight confines. You don't have a long straightaway to gather up speed, and it's all about getting through the turns as quickly as possible. They're not big, wide turns. The excitement comes when second-place comes in really hard behind first place and has to watch themselves or they might dump the leader. The officials at the Agri Race frown on any sort of rough driving. In other words, while an accident might happen, you'd better be trying not to dump the guy in front of you. There's still an art form in this sort of thing, and it is racing.
I'm still trying to shape this idea in my mind, and there is no real worry. It's not like I'm sitting on a pile of money and can make something like this happen anyway. My dream would be to move to Contra Costa County and establish an Arena Race Track. The ultimate goal would be to expand something to 1/5th of a mile, the size of Ventura or Orland. I'm looking for stuff the average working person can afford to race and isn't too expensive to come watch as a fan.
One of my beliefs is that racing doesn't necessarily have to be about the fastest cars going out there. If you give the fans a show with close competition, it doesn't matter how fast the cars go. In the 1980's, Late Models were fast at Antioch Speedway, but frequently the show of the night took place in those old, beat-up Street Stocks. Fans liked the competition, and people weren't rushing to get out the gates if Street Stocks happened to be running last. They wanted to watch these cars as much as they did the Late Models. It's all about close, competitive racing.
I'm looking for something here that can entertain and is something people can afford to do on a reasonable budget. The Arena Racing idea is perfect. In seeking to build any sort of racing venue, you're faced with all sorts of loopholes in California, but I think we've learned that it is not impossible to keep racing going. Look at the number of tracks we have in the state. However, my idea is offering something different and unique. The Hornet race cars I would like to use are affordable enough that anybody could race them. An Arena Race Track means that a full Main Event is achieved at 6 to 8 cars. If you deliver a dozen to 20 cars, you're talking about a full show with qualifying, Trophy Dash, heat races and B Mains. You could do that with oval and Figure 8.
I picture weekend warrior racing. This is somebody who's not seeking to travel up and down the road to go racing. Being able to put together a cheap Hornet race car might be appealing. They bring it out to the arena to run so many times a year and park it in the garage or alongside their house until next year. Give the fans enough close, competitive racing and they will show up. The venue I look at would have seating somewhere in the area of 600 to 800 in the grandstands. It doesn't take much to have a full grandstand, and even half full, it still appears to be packed. It's the place to be.
My Arena Racing idea would feature the Hornet race car, but there are other things that would be considered. In addition to the four-cylinder Destruction Derbies that we would host, Outlaw Kart racing, Micro racing, Dwarf Cars (see Vintage Duels and what they did in Grass Valley), Quads and even Motorcycles. Motorsports entertainment. The beauty of the Outlaw Kart program is that this is where the kids get in. You're instilling a love of racing in the next generation to help keep racing going at the big track as well.
My ideal venue, if I were to build a track, would be a Rodeo Arena sized venue, which might measure anywheres from 1/10th of a mile to 1/7th of a mile. The goal would be to have enough room to make it 1/5th in the vein of Orland Raceway or Ventura Raceway. If you look at what they do at Ventura Raceway on that little track, they run injected Wingless Sprint Cars and Midgets. I can assure you, that's one hell of a show. However, I wouldn't necessarily be looking to do those two things on my 1/5th. I might consider midcard to lower class divisions, such as Sport Modifieds, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and those sorts of things. This would be a long-range goal, though if a new track were actually being built, it would be the arena first.
The idea that I have is one that I call Friday Night Mayhem. Being that I'm looking to do something in Contra Costa County, in my dream at least, I wouldn't want to try to go head-to-head with Saturday night racing at Antioch Speedway. Saturday night would only happen if Antioch Speedway didn't have something scheduled. Otherwise, it's Friday night, and we have no problem encouraging fans to go to the Antioch Speedway on Saturday. In fact, if we were to cultivate a good Arena Figure 8, and Antioch Speedway was interested in hosting something like that on the infield, we would endorse it. That's the dream, anyways. Where could I build a track like this? That's the big question.
I'm sorting through these thoughts, and they still evolve. There's a lot I don't know. How much would it cost to operate such a venue and so on. In the midst of my stay here in Antioch, I took notice of the old Rodeo Arena. This was built during the 1980s, and these days they use it for paintball. The bleachers are still there, and the seating capacity has to be somewhere in the 800 fan range. The arena could host the things I talk about. The only question would be, could something like an Arena Racing venue be doable there?
I've heard rumors, though unconfirmed, that the paintball place might eventually move. This leaves an opening. It appears as if the rodeos and horsing events have gone by the wayside, which is a shame. This was a nice little venue for those things when it was built back in the 1980s as Antioch Speedway stopped being a place to host rodeos. They needed to keep money coming into the fairgrounds, and paintball became popular enough to pay the rent there. In absence of that, could Arena Racing happen?
I had a thought as I peered over the fence. Okay, maybe I walked a little bit further. I call it the Antioch Fairgrounds Arena and the program would be Friday Night Mayhem. A lot of things need to be cleaned up in the area surrounding the arena, but you've got enough area to pit your race cars. You could host an event like this within those confines without even using the Antioch Speedway pits. That is if you're thinking that it's possible for a racing promoter to come in and use that venue, while Antioch Speedway has its own promoter. This was the case in Chowchilla when Chowchilla Speedway ran and somebody else promoted the Barnburner Series.
On the other hand, if Antioch Speedway was to expand, this could be just another event promoted by the Antioch promoter. I'm sure that the arena racing idea that I pitch won't go over with everybody. Hornets on that little venue? But I think it could be a winner. Furthermore, whereas Antioch Speedway isn't hosting Destruction Derbies these days, the Antioch Fairgrounds Arena could host a derby and Arena Figure 8, and I bet you would pack the stands. You might even need to do what they do in Alameda, which means you have two or three nights where these events are happening during the annual County Fair. They would get more use out of this venue during the fair under my proposal than they currently get.
What I could see this venue doing, that is if Antioch Speedway were able to take on the promotional role there, is Outlaw Kart Racing. There's been an interest in establishing an Outlaw Kart venue here for the past few years, but it hasn't materialized. I think there's just a concern about using the infield for a race track due to the fact that there are scales in the infield for weighing cars afterwards, the water for the water truck is there and so on. I think those things have served to keep Outlaw Kart racing from happening.
The arena next to the speedway would serve as a perfect venue for this. You've got bleachers, you've got concessions and you've got everything you need to make something happen. If this is being promoted by Antioch Speedway, you can even use the Antioch Speedway pits if need be. However, I think you could still use the space that is there to run an event. Speedway management would not have to worry about the effects an Outlaw Kart track has on the big track. It would be next door.
The bigger question would be how much does this cost? It's not a secret that running Antioch Speedway is an expensive endeavor. I haven't seen the operational cost numbers for Fairgrounds race tracks, but I'd be utterly shocked if Antioch didn't rank in the Top 3 of the most expensive Fairgrounds to run a race track, if not the most expensive. It's not going to get any cheaper. Therefore, if Antioch Speedway management were to look into this venue, the Fairgrounds would have to cut them some sort of break. They couldn't gouge them at every turn the way they do on the big track. You're not talking about a lot of money. The same holds true if another racing promoter were to step in and run just that little venue.
You're not going to be talking about a lot of money here. Racers will not be running for big purses. You don't have huge seating capacity. If you can get 800 fans to show up, you're about at capacity. It's not likely that you could get away with charging a $15 adult ticket to this venue. Plus, there are other costs you have to associate with this venue, also considering you don't have as much money coming in. Therefore, if the Fairgrounds wasn't willing to work out some sort of deal, at least ways where they didn't have their hands in percentages and that sort of thing, it's not likely that the idea could get off the ground.
The question is, would they want some money or no money at all. If the paintball Arena ends up being taken out, what takes its place? Will there be rent money coming in? Now, if this thing were to come in and be successful, and if that meant more money coming in, negotiations might take place where the fairgrounds might try to get a few more dollars out of it. However, they're not going to be able to shake the little track down for money and get away with it for long before racing ends. I couldn't tell you what they'd have in mind to do, but I do see much potential there.
I'm not kidding myself. I'm lucky to have a roof over my head, and I certainly don't have the money to build a race track unless I had people investing in my idea. I'm not even sure that the Fairgrounds would entertain such an idea. The best bet may be the Antioch Speedway promoter taking on the smaller venue and putting somebody in charge of putting together the program. Whether that would ever happen, I couldn't begin to tell you. However, these sorts of ideas start with talk. When a plan gets put together, you never know. I still believe in Arena Racing.
I'm still here for a couple more days as I write this. I extended my stay in Antioch a little longer, thanks to John allowing me a place to stay. My curiosity was to see what exactly was in the cards for this race track as it enters its 60th consecutive season. I will still be evasive in talking about anything else, but many of you know what it is I'm looking at when I ask what the future is here. As I am still weighing my options for 2020 and looking for opportunities for myself and my involvement in the sport, this extra time staying here in Antioch seemed necessary.
I've been saying all along that I expect to be involved at a race track next year and to continue to be active on this blog. Nothing has changed in that. The blog activity may change a little bit as it became very stressful when it came to sending things out to media outlets to get tracks coverage this year. I still feel there is much for me to do in the sport, and I can be very helpful to the cause of building up a racing program. I feel that my work these past four years in Medford speaks for itself, and the work I've taken on with my media effort for all the different tracks shows more of what I can do.
This feels very much like a crossroads moment for me in any possible return to Antioch Speedway. I know what I can offer, and it's been humbling to me to realize the outpouring of love that's come my way. I wouldn't have been able to step back through those gates if it wasn't for some of the people who helped me make it happen. They treat me like I haven't been away for long, and I'm still a part of it. They make me feel like I am still a part of the family. It means a lot more than you know. I sometimes feel like I've run my course with racing and feel like it's a matter of time before I go away, but I also feel like there are things that I can do to help.
I look around at Antioch Speedway, and like other venues here on the West Coast, it's had its down moments in recent years. I also see an incredible potential to make things better. I know there are things that I do that can help make it better. I'm careful when I say things like this to not say if you hire me to do this I'm going to give you that. That is to say, I won't put any sort of attendance numbers behind what I think I can do to impact the show. What I do think is I can and will work hard every week and things will get better over time. The question is, do they want me here?
I feel that during these past four years, I have done everything from afar that I can to try to help the track. I feel like it's made a difference, but it hasn't made as much difference as it could have had I been here. There's things I can't do for this track unless I am here, and I'm a believer in the idea that every race track should hire somebody on the scene to work media, engage the racers and fans and promote the positivity of the race track. Antioch Speedway needs this, whether I am the one brought in here or somebody else is. So, when I say I'm at a crossroads, I really believe that I've done everything I can for here from afar, but I don't think it helps the track as much as somebody on the scene would.
So, I'm waiting to see what happens and if the appropriate conversation will happen before I board my train. That's all I know. There's a lot more I can say and may say when the time comes. I won't speculate on what's going on behind the scenes, but I will comment on whatever happens once I know what happens. Because I don't think it really helps the cause to speculate too much, I've kept my mouth shut on purpose. There should be news here within the next couple of weeks.
With this blog post, I have intentions of at least taking a couple of weeks off from the blog to take a little bit of a break. I'll be heading back to Oregon to take care of whatever loose ends need to be handled regarding this past season in Medford. If I know a little bit more when I head up to Oregon, it may impact what I do over the next few weeks. If something needs to be said, keep an eye on this blog, my Facebook page or more likely The DCRR Twitter page for my comments or whatever news. In the meantime, I think I've said plenty for now. Until next time...