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Motts Wins Soares Memorial Top Dog Race
At Antioch Speedway
Antioch, CA...September 15...Bobby Motts Jr scored the win in the 20 lap All Star Series A Modified Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. This was the Third Annual John Soares Sr Memorial Top Dog Race, which honors the track's founding promoter. Motts is the reigning track champion, and this was his first win of the season. He started on the front row and led all the way. However, during the latter stages of the race, point leader Nick DeCarlo took a few looks to the inside in an attempt to get by. Motts remained strong on the outside and fought off the pressure of DeCarlo for a well-earned victory. Kellen Chadwick finished a close third, followed by Terry DeCarlo Sr and Anthony Slaney.
Two-time DIRTcar Late Model champion Richard Papenhausen won his third 20 lap Main Event of the season. Papenhausen started on the front row and led the race from the start, followed by Shawn DeForest in the Dennis Souza car. As the previous winner, point leader Jeff Decker started back in the fourth row, and he made a Turn 2 pass on Chester for fourth moments before Rod Oliver came to a stop in Turn 2 while running third. As Papenhausen led the rest of the way, DeForest fought off Decker's every attempt to get by for what would be a season-best second place finish for Souza. Mike Hynes and Oliver rounded out the Top 5.
Reigning Limited Late Model champion Kimo Oreta used a front row start to win his fifth 20 lap Limited Late Model Main Event of the season, but he still lost the point lead to heat race winner Mark Garner, who finished second. Oreta led from the start of the non-stop event with Mike Walko an early second. An inside pass in Turn 4 of the seventh lap gained Mark Garner second, but Oreta had a straightaway advantage by then. That never changed in the waning laps as Oreta won ahead of Garner, Walko, Ryan Cherezian and Mike Gustafson.
Rookie Josh Leach won his first career 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. Michael Cooper sprinted out to the early lead ahead of point leader Chris Sorensen as Leach worked his way into third on lap three At the midpoint of the race, Leach and Sorensen exchanged second a couple of times before Leach gained the position on lap 14. An inside pass in Turn 2 of the 15th lap gained Leach the lead. Sorensen moved into second on a lap 18 restart, but Leach brought it home to victory, 0followed by Sorensen, Cooper, Breanna Troen and Cameron Swank.
David Rosa won his first 20 lap Dwarf Car Main Event of the season. Rosa now has almost 60 career Main Event wins at the speedway, mostly from his days in the Street Stocks where he was a two-time champion. Adam Teves led most of the race. David Rosa was running second with five laps to go and made his winning move on lap 18. Teves began to slow on the final lap as David Rosa won ahead of David Michael Rosa, 2010 champion Jerry Doty, Mario Marques and Teves.
The All Star Series racing action returns next week with Wingless Spec Sprints, DIRTcar Late Models, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
Unofficial Race Results
All Star Series Antioch SpeedwayDIRTcar Late Models
Heat Winners (8 laps)-Chester Kniss, Jeff Decker. Main Event (20 laps)-Richard Papenhausen, Shawn DeForest, Jeff Decker, Mike Hynes, Rod Oliver, Kimo Oreta, Chester Kniss, John M Soares.
A ModifiedsHeat Winners (8 laps)-Buddy Kniss, Bobby Motts Jr. Main Event (20 laps)- Bobby Motts Jr, Nick DeCarlo, Kellen Chadwick, Terry DeCarlo Sr, Anthony Slaney, Trevor Clymens, Doff Cooksey, Mike Salazar, Terry Kaiser, Buddy Kniss.
Limited Late ModelsHeat Winner (8 Laps)-Mark Garner. Main Event (20 Laps)-Kimo Oreta, Mark Garner, Mike Walko, Ryan Cherezian, Mike Gustafson, Chad Hammer, John Evans.
Hobby StocksHeat Winners (8 Laps)-Breanna Troen, Josh Leach. Main Event (20 Laps)-Josh Leach, Chris Sorensen, Michael Cooper, Brianna Troen, Cameron Swank, Ricky Foster, Angela Brown, Lindsay Buirch, Ed Letterman, Anthony Wellborn.
Dwarf CarsHeat Winners (8 Laps)-Jerry Doty, David Rosa. Main Event (20 laps)-David Rosa, David Michael Rosa, Jerry Doty, Mario Marquez, Adam Teves, Troy Stevenson, Mike Corsaro, Troy Stevenson Sr, Chris Becker, Timmy Ryan.
20th Spec Sprint Season Continues At Antioch Speedway
Antioch, CA...Just four races remain on the 2018 All Star Series racing schedule at Antioch Speedway. This Saturday night offers up another five division program that will include the return of the Wingless Spec Sprint division. Also back in action will be the DIRTcar Late Models, Limited Late Models, B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks. The racers are running out of time to make their moves in the standings.
The 20th season for the Wingless Spec Sprints only has two more races left to go. 2004 champion Bob Newberry can put himself in a nice position to win the title with a good performance this weekend. Newberry has won four Main Events this season with two second place finishes, but his last two starts have allowed Shannon Newton to cut his lead to 33 points. Newton has turned the pressure up on Newberry by scoring three of his four second place finishes in the last four races and one of his two wins. Without a little bit of bad luck for Newberry, it may not be enough in the end.
Past Chowchilla Speedway champion Brandon Burd is still looking for his first win of the season. With a pair of third place finishes in the last four races, Brandon has taken a pretty good hold of third in the standings and is 29 points behind Newton for second. The star of the most recent race was Alan Miranda, who drove to his third feature win of the season. Miranda has missed races and is not currently in the Top 5 in the standings. Fourth-ranked Roy Fisher has three season-high third place finishes and is still looking for his first win. He leads newcomer Scott Martin by 26 points in the race for fourth. Martin is another 20 points ahead of division original Rick Panfili in the battle for fifth. These drivers are anticipated this week along with rookie Mackenzie Newton and James East.
The closest battle at the track continues in the Limited Late Model division. Kimo Oreta tops the leader board in feature wins with five aboard the Sun Drop Racing Team #15 car. Despite getting his most recent win, however, Oreta lost the point lead to heat race winner Mark Garner by just two points. Garner has a knack for getting heat race wins, and this has certainly kept him running strong in the point race. Garner recorded his third second place finish last time out and also has three wins, but he can feel the pressure. He knows that he needs to continue to do well with a hard charger like the reigning champion Oreta still in the hunt.
Mike Walko continues to make his presence known in the battle. He has recorded four feature wins, four seconds and four thirds in 14 starts, but he finds himself 20 points behind Oreta with three point races remaining. He can still pull it off, but he needs some bad luck for his two rivals. Meanwhile, Ryan Cherezian continues his quest for his first win of the season. With a second place finish and four thirds, Ryan has a good hold on fourth in the standings. These four are anticipated this week, and other drivers to look for include two-time winner and two-time champion Mike Gustafson, John Evans, Chad Hammer and Lori Brown.
The good news for the DIRTcar Late Model competitors is that point leader Jeff Decker had his worst finish last week. The bad news is it was a third place finish. Decker has been the driver to beat in his quest for a fourth Antioch championship. He's recorded an impressive five wins and two seconds and has stretched his lead to 48 points over the consistent Rod Oliver. Oliver has all Top 5 finishes in his eight starts, but he's coming off of his two worst performances so far in fifth. With three-time winner Richard Papenhausen 16 points behind him in the race for second, Oliver may need a win to hold on to his position.
There's a battle going on for fourth between the last two "Rookie Of The Year" winners in this division. After recording three straight fourth place finishes, Mike Hynes has moved to within six points of Kimo Oreta. Oreta has had slightly better finishes this year with a pair of thirds in the Sun Drop Racing #03 car. These five drivers are anticipated this week, and others to watch for include Dennis Souza, Rob Norris, John M Soares and Paul Guglielmoni. Last week, Chester Kniss was doing well with a heat race win and running strong in the Main Event until suffering motor issues. Unfortunately, that may result in his last start in this class for the season.
The B Modified championship has already been locked up by 2016 champion Trevor Clymens. Any wins now are just icing on the cake. He had a division-leading seventh victory last time out. With the division not on the card last week, Trevor again ran with the A Modified class. Chuck Golden used his recent finish in fourth to take a 10 point lead over rookie Ryan DeForest in the battle for second. Ryan's father Shawn took the wheel of the #72 car last time out and finished fourth. While Ryan has won a Main Event this year, Golden has finished as high as third as he continues to battle for his first win of the season.
There's also a race for fourth in the standings, being led by newcomer Kenny Shrader by three points ahead of Tommy Fraser. Fraser got a new car recently and has enjoyed two of his best finishes so far with a win and a second. He would definitely have to be considered a threat to win again this week. You can never be sure who will show up on any given week, but other drivers to watch for include last season's top rookie, Todd Gomez, Kevin Brown, Matt Taylor, Randy Brown, one-time feature winner Brent Curran and recent R Charles Snyder Salute winner at Southern Oregon Speedway, Guy Ahlwardt.
Even after getting his new car this season from the shop of Baker Motorsports, Chris Sorensen couldn't have imagined the season he would have. The 2010 champion could clinch his second Antioch Speedway title with a decent performance this week. He's done just a bit better than decent with six feature wins so far and a division-leading nine seconds. This means that frequently to get the win, you have to go through Sorensen. That was the case for two of the recent first time winners, Anthony Wellborn and last week's victor, Josh Leach.
The top winner in the season so far with seven victories is Cameron Swank, but the reigning division champion finds himself chasing Michael Cooper in a good battle for second. With five victories to his credit so far, Cooper leads Swank by just four points. Some might think it is refreshing to see that the rookies Wellborn and Leach won the most recent two point events. However, the top rookie in the field right now is Breanna Troen. Breanna picked up a fourth place finish last time out to maintain a 77 point advantage over Leach and an 81 point lead over Wellborn. Unless she stumbles, she's in a good position to win the *Rookie Of The Year" honors. Other drivers to watch for this week include John Wacht, Haley Gomez, Joey Ridgeway, Ed Letterman, Syd Smyth and Lindsey Buirch.
Saturday night offers a good lineup of racing for the fans to enjoy. Antioch is where the Wingless Spec Sprint division got its start and it's the last Northern California track offering full Late Models for the fans. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
Hughes, Ryland, Nelson Share Merced Speedway Spotlight
Merced, CA...September 15...Darrell Hughes II is closing in on the 2018 IMCA Modified championship at Merced Speedway following his division-leading fourth Main Event win of the season. Because he has the highest point average, Hughes found him self-starting back in the sixth row in the 21 car field. However, he rapidly worked his way to the front of the pack and maintained a fast pace all the way to the checkered flag. Ramie Stone battled Brian Pearce for several laps before claiming the second position with cousin Paul Stone also getting by Pearce for third. Vincent DePalma out of Glendale, Arizona finished fifth ahead of Troy Stone, Jarod Fast, Steve Streeter, Monty Tomlinson and Ray Mayer. Eight lap heat race victories went to Hughes, DePalma, Ramie Stone and Tim Cecil.
Reigning IMCA Sport Modified champion Fred Ryland returned and recorded his first 25 lap Main Event win of the season. The other story of the night was incoming point leader Bruce Nelson's disappointing finish back in 19th. This opened the door for a point lead change, and Danny Roe recorded his best finish of the year in second, followed by Jack Aguiar and Jeremy Hoff. Hoff emerged with a four point advantage over Roe heading into next week's point season finale. Kelly Wilkinson charged from 15th starting to finish fifth, followed by Patti Ryland, Cody Parker, Tim Ragsdale, Mark Squadrito and KC Keller. A big turnout of 26 cars required a 15 lap B Main to fill up the remainder of the feature, and Tim Elias won that race ahead of Neill Barcellos and Anthony Giuliani. Eight lap heat race wins went to Keller, Roe, Ragsdale and Patti Ryland.
Shannon Nelson stayed in championship contention with her first 25 lap Hobby Stock Main Event win since 2015. She had Austin Van Hoff and point leader Kodie Dean running closely behind her all the way as they finished in that order at the checkered flag. Dean holds a five point lead over Nelson heading into the final point race on Saturday. Chad Ragsdale finished fourth in only his second start of the season, followed by Brandon Pugh, John Hensley, Roy Hart Jr, Race Shelton, Kristie Shearer and Mike Germait. Dean and Nelson each won eight lap heat races.
Teen leadfoot Allen Neal emerged with his first career 20 lap Mini Stock Main Event win. He scored the win with Lee Ragsdale in close pursuit in second. It's still a close battle for the championship heading into the finale as Ragsdale leads Neal by just three points. Watsonville visitor Abigail Kennedy was a solid third, followed by Tyler Jackson, Jennifer Rodgers, Mark White, Dakota Keldsen, Shawn DePriest, Jerry Tubbs and Deanna Stockton. Eight lap heat race wins went to Keldsen and Rodgers.
Tim Crews collected his fourth 15 lap California Sharp Mini Late Model Main Event win of the season. In doing so, he assured himself that all he needs to do this week is take a green flag to secure the championship. Crews won the race by nearly a straightaway ahead of Carson Guthrie in his season best performance in second. Raulie Rodriguez, Riley Jeppesen and Ian Shearer rounded out the finishing order, all on the lead lap. Crews also won the eight lap heat race.
The point season ends this weekend with the special Matt & Glass Cancer Fundraiser event. This race honors long time Merced Speedway supporter Matt Van Hoecke, who passed away in 2014. IMCA Modifieds will be competing along with IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stock and California Sharp Mini Late Models. For further information, go to www.racemerced.com.
Merced Speedway Remembers Another Member Of The Racing Family With Fundraising Event
Merced, CA...The championship season will come to a close at Merced Speedway this Saturday night. It's also a special event remembering Matt Van Hoecke. Matt ran the successful Matt & Glass Race Car Bodies company just down the street from the track and also was the track's official vendor for several years. When he passed away in 2014, they began running the Matt & Glass Cancer Fundraiser event. $2 on every adult admission will go directly to the American Cancer Society. The IMCA Modifieds will be competing along with the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and California Sharp Mini Late Models.
It's fairly cut-and-dry in the IMCA Modified division. With his Main Event start, third generation racer Darrell Hughes II will be the champion. In fact, once Darrell takes a green flag in his heat race, he's guaranteed enough points to seal the deal. He could park and watch the Main Event, but it's likely he'll try to close the point season with another victory. Darrell charged from deep in the pack last week to record his division-leading fourth win of the season. He now has a division-leading 10 Top 5 finishes and a 32 point advantage over Brian Pearce.
Pearce, meanwhile, is playing defense as four-time champion Ramie Stone closes in on him in the race for second. While Stone finished second last week, Pearce was still driving to his fifth Top 5 finish of the year. It's now a seven point lead for Pearce over Stone. Stone has had multiple podium finishes in recent weeks and seems to be knocking on the door to his second win of the season. Cousin Paul Stone does have two wins and occupies fourth in the standings. These four drivers are anticipated this week along with Troy Stone, Justin Villanueva, Ryan Porter, Jarod Fast and Derek Nance.
The close championship battle in the IMCA Sport Modifieds took a turn for the worse last week for two-tme Hobby Stock champion Bruce "Bubba" Nelson. Nelson didn't finish the race and as a result slipped back from first to third in the standings. Jeremy Hoff used a fourth place finish to gain the lead, but he's clinging to a slim four point advantage over Danny Roe, who had a season-best second place finish. Past Antioch Speedway champion Hoff and Roe are still looking for their first wins of the season, but Hoff leads the class with seven Top 5 efforts. To think that Roe had a heart attack last year and is doing as well as he is with a shot at the championship is quite remarkable.
While the Top 3 drivers battle it out for the championship, the Thomas brothers compete for the fourth point position. Three-time winner Tanner Thomas leads brother Chase Thomas by just 11 points. Chase is a one-time winner this season, and his lead over two-time winner Kelly Wilkinson is just eight points in another close battle for fifth. Other drivers to watch for this week include Cody Parker, Mark Squadrito, Jared Mounce and one-time winners Chuck Weir and Nick Tucker.
The pressure is on in the Hobby Stock division. Despite winning eight times this year out of his 11 Top 5 finishes, reigning champion Kodie Dean comes into the point finale with a slim five point advantage over the tenacious Shannon Nelson. The wife of two-time champion Bubba Nelson finally recorded her first win of the season last week, and she too has 11 Top 5 efforts. Though she got the win, she was closely pursued by Austin Van Hoff and Dean at the end.
Van Hoff may be the hottest driver in the field in recent weeks. He scored his two wins in the last four races and now trails Kristie Shearer by just seven points in another close battle for third. Shearer had one of her worst finishes of the year further back in the Top 10 last week, but her 12 Top 10 finishes is second only to Nelson. John Hensley is quietly having his best season in fifth, and other drivers to watch for include Mike Germait, 2016 champion Michael Shearer, Robbie Loquaci, Race Shelton and Kalob Shelton.
Not to be forgotten in the mix is another close battle for the Mini Stock championship. This has been the best season yet for the entry-level division. With several new competitors joining the ranks, at times the count has reached into the twenties. There are three drivers still in championship contention heading into the final race. Teen competitor Allen Neal turned the heat up on point leader Lee Ragsdale by winning his first career Main Event last week. Though Ragsdale leads the division with eight Top 5 finishes, he still searches for his first win. As he clings to a slim three point advantage over Neal, Ragsdale may need that win this week. One time winner Tyler Jackson is 16 points out of the lead in third. Jennifer Rodgers holds a 12 point advantage over two-time winner Shawn DePriest in another close race for fourth. Other drivers to watch for this week include three-time winner and three-time champion Chris Corder, past Mini Truck champion Kevin Lockerby, Bryant Desaire, Jason Belton Jr and Joe Terry.
The California Sharp Mini Late Model division will crown its first champion ever at the speedway. The roster is filled mostly with teen competitors, and four-time winner Tim Crews leads Carson Guthrie by 21 points. Unless something bad happens, Crews should win the championship. Riley Jeppesen is a one-time winner with a slim seven point lead over the steady Ian Shearer in the race for third. These drivers should be there, and others to watch for include Logan Clay and five-time winner Jesse James Burks.
Saturday night brings the point season to a close, raises money for a good cause and honors one of the most well-respected and we'll liked men of the speedway. After the track goes dark for a week, there will be a purse of over $15,000 on the line in the annual John Fore Jr Memorial Race on October 5th and 6th. For further information, go to www.racemerced.com.
Sawyer Wins All Star Series IMCA Modified Race At Calistoga
Calistoga, CA...September 14...Robby Sawyer won the 20 lap All Star Series IMCA Modified Main Event Friday night at Calistoga Speedway. The IMCA Modifieds ran in support of the World of Outlaws event. Sawyer is currently second in points at Bakersfield Speedway and he had a front-row start for the race. With Troy Foulger starting in the second row, the win was anything but easy. Foulger was wheeling the Bowers Racing Modified, and he ran closely behind Sawyer as a constant threat throughout the race. When the checkered flag flew, Sawyer scored the victory just ahead of Foulger. Ryan McDaniel ran third just ahead of IMCA State point leader Shane DeVolder. Antioch Speedway point leader Nick DeCarlo finished fifth, followed by Tim Balding, Brian Cass, Petaluma Speedway champion Oreste Gonella, Ocean Speedway point leader Cody Burke and Duane Cleveland. Richard Papenhausen was the final lead lap finisher in 11th in the 22 car field.
25 drivers came to compete in this rare opportunity for the IMCA Modifieds to run the historic half-mile oval. Foulger won the first eight lap heat race ahead of Cass. DeVolder outran Raymond Keldsen to win the second heat. Austin Burke scored the win in the third heat ahead of Gonella and the final heat race win went to Sawyer in front of Balding. There was also an eight lap B Main to determine the final starting spots in the Main Event. Freddie Plourde III won that race ahead of Papenhausen, Bud Walberg, Oregon racer Preston Jones and James Hite.
Grady, Langenderfer Win On Fan Appreciation Night At Orland Raceway
Orland, CA...September 15...Saturday night was Fan Appreciation night at Orland Raceway, and that meant the fans got an opportunity to meet their favorite racers up close before the races. It also meant a return of the popular California Hardtop Association along with the Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks and Mini Trucks.
Tom Grady earned the victory in the 20 lap California Hardtop Main Event. Grady took the lead early on from Ken Clifford with Jason Armstrong and local ace Mario Romano also getting by. It was a good battle at the front of the pack. Grady came out just ahead of Armstrong and Romano for the victory. Ken Retzloff recovered from an early tangle to take fourth as Clifford settled for fifth.
Jeremy Langenderfer won another 20 lap Pure Stock Main Event. Langenderfer just recently wrapped up a championship season at Silver Dollar Speedway, and the defending track champion was hoping to make up some ground in the point battle here. Though he scored the win, point leader Paul Stevens was nipping at his heels in second as Thomas Pavlik rounded out the Top 3.
Tom Davis continued his quest to repeat as Mini Stock champion with another 20 lap Main Event victory. For much of the race, Davis had to contend with the fast Ford Pinto of Jason Libbee, who had earlier won his heat race. With two laps to go, Libbee's hood came up as the yellow flag waved. He was forced to restart at the back of the pack, and Davis won ahead of last starter Donovan Chilton. Libbee recovered for a third place finish.
Keith Ross continued his march towards another Mini Truck championship as he won the 20 lap Main Event. Olin Crain gave him a good run before settling for second ahead of 2016 champion Dan Webster. Second-ranked competitor William Fogle picked up his first heat race win.
Racing continues on September 29th with another full lineup that will include the Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, 600 Micros and Wingless Gas Sprints. This will wrap up the point season with two special shows scheduled for October. For further information, look for the Orland Raceway Facebook page.
Reno/Fernley Raceway Unofficial Race Results September 15
Nevada Pro Stock Association
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Merced Speedway Unofficial Race Results September 15
Darrell Hughes II
John Osgood III
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Kiely Ricardo DNS
Austin Van Hoff
Roy Hart Jr
Robbie Loquaci DNS
Kalob Shelton DNS
Mini Late Models
Madera Speedway Unofficial Results September 15, 2018
46th Annual Harvest Classic
360 Super Modified/Wing Sprint
Donnie Large Jr
Jesse Love IV
USAC Speed2 Midgets
Results are not official
1 #42 Matt Erickson
2 #1 Tyler Herzog
3 #45 Jason Aguirre
4 #88 T Dillon Tucker
5 #44 Mike Shapiro
6 #96 Loren Kutz
7 #43 Eloy Bazan
8 #14 Aaron Mullins
9 #17 Will Martyn
10 #75 M Matt Kutz
11 #55 Kent Cam
13 #2 Jarret Gilmer
14 #88 I Joey Iest
15 #16 L David Lewellen
16 #26 Del McIntosh
17 #09 J Jay Julieson
Results are not official
1 #24 Dave Lander
2 #40 s Bert Stephens
3 #10 Shaun Reynolds
4 #21 Patrick Geiger
5 #33 Ryan Reynolds
Results are not official
1 #23 Jason Lawton
2 #06 Tim Curtis
3 #56 Kyle Fortney
4 #14 H Jillaun Holden
5 #9 Kyle Labrie
6 #5 Mike Marley
7 #42 Manny Gonzales
8 #55 Kurt Davison
9 #28 Michael Stearns
10 #21 Joshua Dross
Legends Of Kearney Of Bowl
Qualifying (list is only for names who were there, not a contest)
Results are not official
1 #26 Gary Hildebrand
2 #98 Tony Pereira
3 #33 Phil Moradian
4 #55 Curt Taylor
5 #45 Bob Hutton
6 #15 Jeff West
7 #70 Dewayne Woodward
9 #96 Mike Friesen
Santa Maria Raceway
Winged 360 Sprint Cars
Cory McDonald DNS
Gary Rayburn Jr
Sean Martin Sr
Ventura Raceway Unofficial Results September 15, 2018
VRA DWARF CARS
1 69 Johnny Conley
2 18 Tom Morley
3 14 Tommy Velasquez III
4 5 Robert Peters
5 93 Jason Horton
6 41 Nick Velasquez
7 4 Tommy Velasquez II
8 55 Mike Long
9 25 Shane Linenberger
10 57 Jeff Hinz
11 48 Trent Morley
12 88 Jeff Brink
13 65 John Harris
1 28 Trevor Fitzgibbon
2 22 Dave Phipps
3 61 Donald Houghton
4 21 Austin Rodarte
5 72 Austin Grabowski
6 55jr Jack Parker
7 11 Andrew Greiman
8 48 Chuck Costabile
9 09 Luis Espinoza
10 34 Scott Olsen
VRA SENIOR SPRINT CARS
1 27 Tyler Hatzikian
2 15 Rick Hendrix
3 66 Chris Meredith
4 5j Joey Bishop
5 16 Tom Stephens Sr
6 6 Bruce Hiroshima
7 54 Nate Robinson
8 1k Mike English
9 2k Paul Mircikv
10 21k Eddie Williams
11 2 Wally Pankratz
1 33 Mike Leach Jr
2 26 Chris Tramel
3 1 Randi Pankratz
4 12k Mike Mehl
5 11r Keoni Texeira
6 37 Mike Leach Sr
1. Ronnie Gardner
2. Michael Faccinto
3. Robby Josett
4. Robert Dalby
5. Shannon McQueen
6. Jake Swanson
7. C.J. Sarna
8. Tristan Guardino
9. David Prickett
10. Clayton Ruston
11. Daniel Anderson
12. Ashley Hazelton-Heredia
13. Mike Leach Jr
14. Kyle Beilman
15. Dylan Ito
16. Alex Schutte
17. Bruce Hiroshima
18. Bryan Drollinge
19. Tristan Thomas
20. Randi Pankratz
21. Keoni Texeira
The Editor's Viewpoint
There's drama at Antioch Speedway. What else is new, right? I suppose you can say that at most race tracks. Show me the race track where things run smoothly all the time and nobody is unhappy. I have yet to find Utopia Speedway. So, personnel has changed on the Fair Board, and it seems they want more money from the race track. That's the bottom line. They have it in their minds that they can get it too. We shall see about that.
This problem was created by John M Soares, and I'm not saying that in the way that you might think. I'm going to go back in time to the end of 1997 when the track was taking bids for the next promoter. Most people just assumed it would be businesses as usual. West Coast Speedways would get the track, right? Things were going well enough with their racing program. Car counts were doing okay. Attendance was acceptable. John wanted to be a promoter.
What do you do when you've had a successful racing career, you were born into the sport and you don't want to quit even when you're about done with your driving time? Well, if you were brought into the sport as the son of a legendary promoter, you get into the game yourself. That was the case with John. He was still managing Team USA in the successful USA vs Australia thing that was happening in Australia during our offseason.
As I understand it, John was looking around at another place. I know he took a look at Newman. Hills Ferry Speedway. Can you imagine a few to tweeks being made to that place and big cars racing there? A few people have discussed this possibility. In fact, years after John looked, it came very close to happening with the man I work with, Mike McCann. That's another story. Prior to coming to Antioch, John looked at Hills Ferry.
Nobody expected Antioch Speedway to go under new management. Sure, everybody expected somebody would take a shot at it, but the incumbent always wins, right? Well, John was interested. I remember hearing those words and getting really excited about it back in 1997. I was on board with John. Truthfully, I still am. The problem he had was that he would be heading out to Australia again and wouldn't be able to oversee everything in the process. But hey, your father is a promotional legend. He can oversee things just fine, right?
I've heard different stories about what happened. John was going to put up a nice bid to begin with. As he told me back at the time, you look at the facilities and see what you can offer that the current regime is not doing and then make your bid. John knew what he was going to do, and it was a nice proposal. What I've been told is that his dad was just a little bit worried about whether John was going to win or not, so the bid got raised just a little bit more. You might say they bet the ranch on this one.
Having a promoting legend as a father certainly doesn't hurt when you go into this process. Plus, we're talking a lot of money. The fairgrounds was getting mid five digits more with John than they got from the previous management in his early years. Of course, from the get-go John was not happy about how much he had to pay to keep this thing going. He was doing better numbers in the pits than the track had ever done before, and the grandstands were looking pretty good too. I was there in those days, and it was a heck of a run. Us against our detractors, but we showed them that the place wouldn't fall apart under John.
Since then, it's been a never ending negotiation for John. Numbers have gone down, numbers are going down at a lot of tracks. This isn't 1978. It's not 1988. It's not 1998 either. This is 2018, and you fight for everything you can get these days. You're dealing with people who have shorter attention spans these days, and I'm sure these handheld gadgets we carry with us contribute to that. You can have nights where things pop, but you have a lot of nights that aren't so good. The hope is that it all averages out at the end of the season, or you're paying the difference out of your own pocket. That's how it's been going for John. And if the fairgrounds is getting a tidy sum, but only the minimum due to lower numbers, you'll have Fair Board members who wonder how much more money is out there.
The thing about the fairgrounds management is they don't know what it takes to run one of these tracks. They don't know the trends in the sport. They don't know any of that. What they do know is the money that keeps coming in from the track that helps sustain the fairgrounds. So when the governor at the time took money out of the budget that went to the fairgrounds, it left them all scrapping to get what they could get to stay afloat. And, they get quite a bit of money out of Antioch Speedway. It's probably the most expensive fairgrounds in the state for racing. I'd certainly need to do some research on that, but I know it's definitely up there.
John is paying a big rent, and I'm sure he's only paying the minimum because of the way these things work out. If you're doing better, the fairgrounds gets an even bigger piece of the pie. I'm sure the numbers are such that they aren't often getting more than the minimum. John runs that place 30 times a year. Look at the other tracks in the immediate area. Most of them are running around 20 times. Look at the roster John has. He's rotating classes and for the most part giving classes the night off with two exceptions. But the purse money he is spending on his classes is high.
A challenge has come in. John was set as per his contract to be able to just reup for five more years, but a monkey wrench was thrown into this thing. Somebody expressed interest in bidding for the track, and the Fair Manager position has been replaced since then. The time was right for what just happened. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but the Fair Board is now pushing to put the track out for bid. What's interesting about that is I would bet that some major players will step into this once we know for sure whether or not the track can go out for bid. So, the people who initiated this challenge may not even come out the winners in the end.
John has a system that his enabled him to keep the thing going 30 times a year. He rotates divisions, has a high purse and by the end of the year, he's hoping it pencils out. If it doesn't, and sometimes it doesn't, he takes the money out of his own pocket to keep those gates open. You can say what you want about him, and people certainly will, but he has his own money really invested into it. Why? I know people will cite various theories, but it boils down to a love of the sport. If he didn't love it, he wouldn't be doing it. Plain and simple.
Now, I've heard some assumptions that have been said by the Fair Board, but I would hope they sit down and really look at things. A new promoter would definitely want to do things differently, and they would probably look at some of the divisions and start trimming the fat. That means you might not see Sprint Cars as a division under the track's umbrella. You might not see Late Models either. Modifieds would probably take on a more prominent role, but could you run them 30 times a year? No. So, I would love to know how somebody coming in there could cut the schedule back and still pay upwards of $90,000 or more. I don't see how that pencils out.
Do I blame the Board for exploring their options? No. But, you would hope that they're not looking at this thing through the eyes of somebody 30 years ago. That's not where we're at. I can tell you that a major change at a track when morale is low will initially see a bump in attendance and car count. Whether it's sustained or not remains to be seen. There's a honeymoon period for the people who are optimistic. Eventually, that ends
Now I've heard second hand what was being said, and I can't comment on that. The biggest reason why is I don't know what's rumor and what's true. I prefer to look at people on their own merits and decide for myself whether what they are offering would be right for the track. I just know what's happening now. I know the investment being made and the money being paid. I doubt that somebody coming in there will get the fairgrounds more money out of the track. I may be wrong about that. They would certainly take a look at the way things are done and start trimming the fat in their own budget. The fairgrounds will want more money, and a promoter is not doing this stuff for free. You want to get money out of it too. The next person will probably be coming at this from a little bit different perspective than John, who's not into this thing for the money. If he was, he would have quit 10 years ago.
I know John has a specific formula for getting them the money that he has paid them, and it's probably not the right way in other people's eyes. But I still believe in this day and age you need to rotate divisions and not put the burden on any one class. I also believe other promoters might look at purse money and decide whether it's worth the investment or not. By my way of looking at things, I'm not sure how they could get up to a 30 race schedule by removing certain divisions from the equation. The number 20, give or take a race, seems more reasonable.
Might they be able to make more money per race than is being done now on a schedule with less dates? Yes. I believe that's very possible. For one thing, when you have change, there's the curiosity factor that follows. You will likely see more fans coming out to watch. The core classes are likely to be A Modifieds, B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks. You might throw the Dwarf Cars in on that, and after that I'm not sure what stays, what goes and what could be added. But in that group of divisions, I'm sure car count could go up initially. How high? I couldn't speculate. But again, you still have to maintain those numbers every race, and it's not 1998.
I think I know where the numbers are in the grandstands, and I'm sure there's a thought that you can get the numbers much higher than that. I'm not convinced it's as easy as all of that. You can get an increase of some level, but what level that is I'm not sure. But, you're going to have to bust your ass to do that. One medium is not the only way to get the word out. In other words, radio, TV, neither of which is cheap, newspaper, internet, various guerilla marketing tactics. You're going to have to try all of that at various times. And here's the little diddy that will interest you. Just throwing money at it alone isn't going to get the job done.
I will point the finger at John with what I said at the start of this column. He helped make running this race track that much more expensive. But the style of promoting has also changed since the day he came in. He's not the instigator of it, but he certainly didn't fight those trends. You're using several divisions to get your car count on any given week. Before, the track had three core divisions and rotated a visiting division. But they could also book those three divisions about every week, or 22-24 times a season. Can car count hold up under that in 2018? In my opinion, no.
But with the old formula, you had the main class that got the bulk of the purse. That would be the A Modifieds. You had Street Stocks barely getting paid in the end. Many times, the fourth division that rotated paid their purse through the pit gates. When you counted car and driver and crew members, it usually paid for their purse, and the hope was they would bring a few fans to add to the overall numbers. This was pretty much Barky's old formula of 33% of the front gate gets paid for the purse. These days, that's out the window.
But the formula back then worked out just fine. Money was coming in in really nice numbers, and though John dwarfed what the previous regime was paying, the fairgrounds still made out pretty darn well. It was still one of the highest paid fairgrounds in the state. What he did was open them up to the possibility of more money. And once they got a taste of it, they wanted more. So whether it's John or somebody else, the fairgrounds is going to be looking for more money. John keeps fighting this battle out of a love for the sport. Maybe there's hope that the numbers are going to come around the way they were in the early days.
When somebody else comes in and starts losing money on a somewhat regular basis, will they want to keep doing this? That's the danger the fairgrounds gets into. So a question they're going to have to ask themselves is, will this person be able to afford this race track? Will they pay the bills to keep it going or will it shut down?
Like I mentioned earlier in this column, A wild-card is that if it is indeed determined that this track will go up for bid, other people will enter with different plans. It will be up to the fairgrounds to determine who to go with. Established promoters are likely to take a look, and at least one of them is likely to bid. And if John doesn't put up a competitive bid against them, chances are good that they will win it. It would be them against the unproven commodity of Jeremy Prince. I will admit Dixon Speedway seems to get by with their Micro Sprint program pretty well.
And the right person with the money and the experience might have a formula that will entice the fairgrounds to take a look. Go with what we're doing, and a whole different way of doing things, and you could see a bigger return overall. You'll see more people there per race, but we won't be racing 30 times a year either. What it really boils down to is if they really want John out, they're going to have to change their expectations and work with somebody. Any promoter that is constantly having to shell out more money than what they're taking in isn't likely to stick around for the long haul. You can't expect every promoter just to be in it for the love of the sport and not expecting to make a return on their investment. Promoting a race track is work, and it can wear you down
Let's be honest. People can rip on a promoter all day, and they will. But, promoters put a lot of time into what they do. So you're either going to have a promoter whose spending a lot of time at the race track to do it right and handling many details, or you'll have one doing that and maintaining a job during the week. I can guarantee you nobody wants to put that kind of energy out on something and not see a return. They might think they could do it, but if the numbers don't add up, they won't last. So what's going on at the fairgrounds right now is a risk.
John is looking for the door, but what he's hoping to do is be able to sell the operation to the next person and give them a blueprint to follow. Obviously, even somebody buying from him is going to want to change things around. Once they get an understanding for the numbers, an idea will form for a different way to do things. People can't help it. You may do it this way, but this will be the way I do it. Problem is, nobody has stepped forward with the money to buy out the operation just yet. And now, with the possibility that the track could go out for bid and John could lose, there's another thing to think about.
There's a lot of stuff at that race track that belongs to Oval Motorsports. In other words, there's a lot of stuff coming out of there if John loses the track. Do they have an understanding about how much stuff we're really talking about? Are they prepared for all of that stuff to be moved out if the next promoter is not willing to deal with John and buy it off of him? Will the loss of all of this stuff result in the track opening late or even losing a season? I can guarantee you it will make things a big challenge for the next guy.
I'm not surprised that the fairgrounds is entertaining change and thinking they can get more money. I question how much more money is really out there, and I doubt it's going to be as easy as people think. But, I also think that they better be paying close attention to what they're doing. They better be going over the numbers and getting a real understanding about what's at stake. The wrong move here could result in the track ultimately closing down. The right move keeps things going. The Fair Board is going to be looking at that, and anybody who is a newcomer to the game better be doing their homework. There's a lot of racers and fans out there who are counting on them to not blow it. Say what you will about John, and a lot of people do, the gates still open and racing still goes on. It's been that way for 20 years.
This isn't over just yet, and there are still some more chapters to be written in this story. But, the day is coming when we will see change. It's inevitable. It's just how all of that happens that is the big question. It's going to be more of a challenge than people realize for the next person to step in and take this thing over. And if it comes down to bumping John out of the picture and starting fresh, you better buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride. Hopefully, the destination will be to better days.
On that note, I'll end this column. Until next time...