Friday, March 9, 2018

Antioch Speedway And Merced Speedway Prepare For Playdays, Butch Althar And More

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Playdays Signal Start Of 2018 season 
At Antioch Speedway And Merced Speedway

If the weather holds, cars will take to the track at both Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway on Saturday afternoon. This will be the first of two opportunities for the drivers to get practice laps on their respective home tracks before the season starts at both places. Antioch Speedway had scheduled an additional playday for March 3rd, which unfortunately was claimed by rainy weather.

For Merced Speedway, there is an added incentive for the racers to make those practice laps. On March 24th, the track will be honoring the memory of past champion Bill Egleston, who lost his life in a crash at Perris Auto Speedway earlier this year. As of this moment, the IMCA Modified Main Event that night will pay $3,000 to the winner. IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks make up the four division program at the Merced Speedway season opener.

The 2018 schedule for Merced Speedway features all of the big events that you would expect. Promoter Ed Parker has booked the Ted Stofle Classic, the Timmy Post Memorial, Legends Night, the John Fore Jr. Memorial and the Matt And Glass Cancer Fundraiser, among other big events. In fact, each of the four main divisions will race slightly more than they did last season, and the Valley Sportsman and California Sharp Mini Late Models will also have championship seasons. In addition to the five cars from last season, the auhorized dealer, Michael Shearer, has three new cars ready to go in the Mini Late Model class.

Meanwhile, back in Antioch, promoter John M Soares is doubling down with more of the same in his 21st season has promoter. The track will continue to feature the Winged 360 Sprint Car class, but there's news there. John endeavored to book races on nights in which neighboring Petaluma Speedway did not have the class, leaving just two conflicts on the schedule for this division. The first one doesn't even happen until July. Wingless Spec Sprints return for their 20th season at Antioch, while the DIRTcar Late Models, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars are all on the schedule as well.

The Bay Are Hardtops return for four visits, including the Chet Thomson Memorial, but the revival of the Four Banger division has yet to materialize. Dave Mackey reports that his #1 Hardtop will be ready for the first Antioch race. Tommy Thomson returns this year in a completely redone green #39 car, thanks to long time crew chief Gary Faw and his son, and both Doug Braudrick and Ken Retzloff are among those anticipated for the first Anitoch Hardtop race.

Antioch will have its first big Dwarf Car event on April 7th when the Western States Dwarf Car Association holds a King Of California race. Also back on the schedule will be the Jerry Hetrick Memorial, the Larry Damitz Memorial, the John Soares Sr. Top Dog Race and the Fall Brawl, among other big events. The heaviest scheduled divisions continue to be the Hobby Stocks and B Modifieds, which both will compete at Antioch over 20 times again this season. The A Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Dwarf Cars have also seen a noticeable increase in the number of dates scheduled.

It's an exciting time to return to the race track. You still see the green grass growing in places after the rain during the offseason. The cars in many cases feature brand new bodies, just waiting for the first dent. It's a good bet that it won't take long either. After the two playday events, Antioch Speedway's season will open on March 24th with an event that will feature Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.

The beautiful thing about a playday is that drivers can test new set ups, make sure the parts are working right and in some cases even get their very first laps behind the wheel of their new cars before the season opener. The rumor mill has been slow to produce much news, but two interesting news items circulated in the last couple of weeks regarding A Modifieds for third generation racer Mark Garner and Miranda Chappa. Chappa got a car from Nick DeCarlo, though we haven't heard what her plans are for this season. She won last season's finale for Dwarf Cars and at last report still has a Wingless Spec Sprint.

Garner clarified that his plans are to try to win The Limited Late Model championship for his father, the late Jerry "The Maverick" Garner. Mark came very close last season before settling for third, while finishing second in B Modified points. The 17 race schedule for the Limited Late Models will offer plenty of opportunity to get some wins, and Garner knows that consistency will be the key. Mark further reports that son Billy Garner will have the Hobby Stock formerly owned by Jim Freethy, which has won multiple Main Events at Antioch Speedway in the past.

Garner's chief rival in Limited Late Models may be reigning champion Kimo Oreta, though Jim Freethy and Mike Gustafson will be others to keep an eye on. Late word is that Chris Long now has the John Keith Limited Late Model for this season, while Angela Brown and Long's daughter may be seeing driving duties in the #99 Hobby Stock. Brown, the daughter of long time racer Bob Brown, has raced a Hobby Stock in the past. Getting back to Oreta, there was footage not too long ago in Marysville of Kimo driving the #03 Late Model at that track's playday.

We haven't heard a lot regarding who is returning or joining the various divisions, but there are sure to be a few surprises at the playdays. In Antioch's Hobby Stock division, Chris Bennett has announced some new sponsors as he gets ready for his sophomore season. After sending his old car to the wreckers, 2010 champion Chris Sorensen has a new car being prepared. 2017 runner up Brent Curran is preparing for his move up to the B Modified division after winning top rookie honors in Hobby Stocks last season. Reigning champion Cameron Swank was seen at the New Year's race driving a Chevelle. And this is just a sample of the Hobby Stock news. It was the best supported division last season.

After making a late season appearance in his Winged 360 Sprint Car last season, the news wasn't so good for 2nd generation racer Dan Gonderman, who will be sidelined due to a work related injury. Daughter Abigail Gonderman drove to a Top 10 season and top rookie honors last season in the Wingless Spec Sprint division. We've gotten word that Robert Floyd and Adam Teves are ready to go, while Alan Miranda has begun working on his Spec Sprint. Things are also coming together for Rick Panfili as he rebuilds his car from last season's hard crash and has sponsoorship from Archie's BBQ, VFW and Twin Tigers Karate.

It was announced last season that Buddy Kniss will be joining his father Chester Kniss in the A Modified division this season at Antioch. 2016 B Modified champion Trevor Clymens and reigning champion K.C. Keller are ready to go, and we've also seen progress on both the Tim Hammett and Robby Senn cars. Senn is up from Hobby Stocks and is a rookie in B Modifieds.

News has been slow to circulate out of Merced, but we know there are several cars being prepared for the Mini Stock division. This should include a new truck owned by past little truck champion Kevin Lockerby. Resident Mini Stock boosters Chris Corder and sister Jennifer Corder are anticipated along with Destiny Carter and Lucy Falkenberg. Joe Terry will be living his dream as he makes his division  debut, and announcer Dale Falkenberg continues to do things to help build this class. Chris Corder surprised some people when he bought a Sportsman last year. If he really gets the itch to get behind this division, it would be just the shot in the arm the Sportsman division really needs. There has also been a sighting of both the Sportsman and Sport Modified of Tim Prothro.

Antioch area racer Ricky Brophy has been working social media to gauge interest in a Wingless 360 Sprint Car race on April 21st at Merced.  Promoter Ed Parker is trying many things to give the fans a variety of entertaining open wheel shows, including RaceSaver 305 Sprints, BCRA Midgets, BCRA Midge Lites and WSDCA Dwarf Cars, and he's interested in giving this exciting style of open wheel racing a try if he can get some support.  Brophy, Shawn Arriaga, Jeremy Ellertson, James Smith and Adam Teves are among those who have expressed interest. NWWT President and reigning champion Rob Lindsey commented that he would have been interested in supporting the show had his group not had a race booked at Cottage Grove, Oregon Speedway that night.

Drivers are itching to get their race cars on to the track, and playday this Saturday at Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway is just the opportunity to do so. We'll be keeping an eye on both tracks. For further information, you can go to the official Merced site at or the official Antioch site at

In Memory Of Butch Althar

I just read that Butch Althar died. I'm sorry to hear the news. I've heard a few good announcers in my time in the sport. There are a few people who have announced who are very important to me and influenced me. One of them is Butch. He may be the best announcer I ever heard at Antioch Speedway.

I shamelessly borrow the line that he used to use at the end of his shows. "May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live." I do that in part as a tribute to him. One of the biggest regrets I have in my time as an announcer at Antioch Speedway was the night I didn't invite Butch up to the booth. He was interested in announcing with me. It really didn't stick with me that night the way it does now. He wanted to know if he could do it again, if he had that ability. I know he did. That's the thing.

I knew that he had been through some health issues, but that wasn't the reason. It wasn't even about having to share the microphone with somebody. I would have LOVED to work with him. Me being so anal about having everything set up perfect, I didn't have all of my sponsor sheets laid out. My writing kind of sucks. I wanted to set everything up on cards neatly printed. So I said, "Let me get everything set up and we'll do this." I should have said, "Come right up and announce with me." We don't get do-overs in life. I know that all too well, and this was a moment I'd like to have back.

Butch raced and announced at Vallejo Speedway and earned the love of respect of the racers there. He announced at other places as well before coming to Antioch. I remember him being a breath of fresh air. An announcer who actually shows up before the races to get information and talk to the drivers. A novel concept. I know that announcers in that era sometimes just read from the rosters, which meant they were messing up names all night. We had a few of those at Antioch.

It's one of the things I learned from Butch. Take the time to talk to the racers and know what you're talking about. Sponsorship is very important, so make sure you have everything up to date. And don't just write those sponsors down on a list, actually announce them. I've seen drivers lose sponsors because the announcer didn't do his job properly. Not Butch. He knew what the hell he was doing.

I also remember when he lost the gig in Antioch. This never should have happened. I know that he was one of the best in the game and probably came at a higher salary than the guys who read names from sheets and told a few jokes on race night. People loved what he did, and it was just another stupid management decision, in my opinion, to not hire him. When I look back and think I was a little bit rough on management back in those days, these are the things that remind me that, no, maybe I wasn't.

What was interesting is during that time when he was negotiating, Butch happened to be in the area. He drove his big RV into our little mobile home park to come talk to me about what was going on. I was not pleased that he wouldn't be announcing at Antioch, but it made me smile to know that he had some really good offers waiting for him. Of course, we ended up with an announcer who is admittedly very well known in the Antioch racing community and had catch phrases he loved to say, but I still remember who the best announcer was there. We didn't have him nearly as long as we should have.

I know Butch was called upon to do various awards banquets through the years.  He had charm, wit and a great sense of humor. An award's banquet MC'ed by him was an enjoyable event. Back at the end of 1988, Mike Johnson wanted to present the NCMA in the best light possible for their awards banquet.  So, he paid Ron Albright to cover it an Butch to MC it. Butch was his usual entertaining self and did an awesome job.

Butch was very professional about everything and didn't really make a big deal out of not being invited back to Antioch. He knew that was the nature of the business. I loved his sense of humor. I recall one night when Corky Patrick had painted his Street Stock pink and had the fire suit to match. Butch decided he would call him Pinky Patrick that night on the PA. Corky wasn't amused. He told me so, and I went to tell Butch. He already had a hunch before I said anything. Butch had the biggest smile on his face when he said, "He didn't like it, did he?"

I know Butch was honored with awards at Vallejo Speedway. It always brings a smile to my face to know that people like him are shown appreciation like that. I have been thinking about him. I always go back to the time when I could have had him up there announcing with me and blew it. As I announced again, this time at Merced and Chowchilla, I kept thinking that I would pull him up to the booth with me if I saw him.

The DCRR Magazine was just getting started when Butch was announcing at Antioch. I would take the time to write down sponsors for him and help where I could. We get a chance to touch people's lives when we are involved in this wonderful sport, and Butch touched a lot of people's lives. I'm better for having known him.

I'm working at track now that had a beloved figure, R Charles Snyder, announcing for many years. I'm proud to have had a hand in helping put together the race that honors the man now. I don't know if Butch will ever get such an honor, but as long as I'm still here, I will honor him by doing the best that I can. I learned from one of the best.

The Editor's Viewpoint

I saw an interesting topic come up on Facebook regarding letters after the car numbers. The person was wondering why the Watsonville cars had the circles around the numbers and what happened to all of that. Of course, this happened back in the days when you had Bob Barkhimer promoting all of these tracks. This continued for a while after he sold to Ken Clapp.

It could get a bit confusing when we had special nights and there were 40 or 50 cars in the pits in one division. This happened more often back in those days. We also used to only need two divisions back then. So depending on where you were from, you ran the circle or the letter after your number.

You knew you were in for some tough competition in the 1980s when the circle cars came to town. Those were the Watsonville guys, and they were fast. Those were the guys that usually competed for the NASCAR Regional Championship. I don't know why they didn't have a w after their numbers. So, if you weren't really paying attention or the car was lettered a certain way, you didn't really even notice the circle sometimes. The San Jose drivers didn't have to run a letter after their numbers. Why no s there? Interestingly enough, for several years the Late Models didn't even get Regional points. The Super Modifieds, who weren't really even running for the NASCAR Regional Championship, would get those points.

This makes for an interesting discussion at Merced. After San Jose moved on from Super Modifieds to Sprint Cars, Merced Speedway added the California Modified class. This was the old style, reminiscent of Super Modifieds, but a little bit more affordable. For two years, Merced gave that class Regional points and nearly brought the championship home both times. The driver, Gordon Rogers, who never finished lower than third and only did that on one night a week of racing. That put him at a disadvantage to all of the big players who had two nights of racing and therefore more bad nights they could throw away.

Merced Speedway had the m after their car numbers. I used to look forward to seeing those drivers come to Antioch, because this didn't happen all the time. Merced and Antioch both ran on Saturday nights. Merced Speedway was the home track of Doug Williams. Doug was the only Merced local to win a NASCAR Regional Championship, which was considered an upset back in those days. Some people might underestimate those racers in Merced, but they could be very tough to beat.

I speak of the 1980s with the lettering, but it goes back before that too. In the 1960s and 70s, Petaluma Speedway was part of the NASCAR family. What's interesting is you had John Soares Sr. promoting Petaluma and Antioch for Barkhimer, and you had Bert Moreland promoting Watsonville and Merced. Barky could be found in San Jose with the very competitive Super Modified program he had cultivated at the Old Tully Road pavement track.

You had two different circuits going on that were part of the NASCAR State championship. You had Antioch and Petaluma working together and Merced and Watsonville working together. There were opportunities for the drivers to go from one circuit to the other, and when you had that happen, you had bigger races than you were already getting. And these were big racing programs to begin with. Petaluma competitors ran an n after their numbers. Not sure where the n came from. Why not a p? Stockton, which wasn't part of either circuit, ran the j after their numbers.

Some might say the end of the Barkhimer Legacy tracks came in the mid 1970s. This is when he sold his interest to Ken Clapp. Clapp ran that all the way to the bitter end as the tracks slipped one by one from his grasp. I know he's seen as sort of the "elder statesman" on the west coast. When NASCAR wants an opinion on the west coast, you'll sometimes hear a sound bite from him on a TV broadcast. However, he was no Bob Barkhimer. To me, it's a shame that people don't remember Bob. He's really the guy who built up so much of the racing that we still enjoy in California at some places.

Racing promoting is something that sometimes feels like a lost art. I've had this discussion with Mike McCann sometimes. Mike, I know, is an admirer of the work that Bob Barkhimer did as a promoter. And Bob had his detractors. They declared WAR on him by forming the WAR Association at a few tracks that Barkhimer didn't control. It always comes down to people thinking that they can do it better than you, even when it comes to a guy of Barkhimer's stature.

But when you look at it, promoters back in those days had a certain flair to what they were doing. It used to be a big deal in the 1960s and early into the next decade when you had a Powder Puff Race, for instance. It's kind of condescending to women now, but it was a big deal then. We're going to let our wives and girlfriends drive our cars. Uh oh! But, those events were actually very entertaining, and I discovered through my research at Antioch Speedway just how much the newspapers hyped those events up. They were a selling point. What was going to happen to the cars, and which woman was going to win?

This was pretty much something that happened at many of the tracks for years, but gradually women broke through the gender barrier. Some tracks were a little bit slower to progress than others. At Antioch, we saw our first lady drivers in the mid 1970s, Lesley Green and Gloria Johnson. Newspaper articles chronicled John's misgivings about the whole idea, but he knew this was something that had to happen. There was a time when women weren't even allowed in the pits. Yeah, that's the era Jonn  came from. But men like him and Bert Moreland were the ones who opened the gates and allowed women not just to be in the pits, but to compete as well.

Moreland went even further. He introduced Figure 8 racing to Watsonville. To the untrained eye, it could be a chaotic race that had crashing in the X. To a fan and enthusiast of that style of racing, it's so much more. The skilled racers could have the fans on their feet waiting for that moment in the X that never happened. They knew how to time it, and they were racing hard for a win at the same time. Figure 8 racing was legendary at Watsonville, and Moreland was the guy who made it happen.

I've grown to realize that these man had different circumstances to work with back in those days. You didn't have so many things competing for a fan's dollars, so when you had a grandstand seating capacity of 3000 people, most of these racing venues throughout the state packed the grandstands. Also, they did it with two, sometimes one division. Where we might see 60 cars showing up for a six division show in 2018, we would see 60 cars show up for one division in those early days. What time period would you rather spectate? As a racer, what sounds more appealing to you?

You had thrill shows and other sorts of things going on. You might even see Evel Knievel put on a show jumping buses in the infield. Orval The Daredevil Clown, Kansas Ed Beckley, Destruction Derbies. A promoter would throw in all sorts of fun stuff to get fans to come check out those races, and he didn't always jack up the ticket price when he did that. It was the land of milk and honey in racing. That's what the days of the circle, a and m numbers mean to me.

But, can you imagine social media and our way of thinking being the norm back in those days? They'd crucify those guys. Who the hell does Barkhimer think he is? Does he think he's God? Well, the racers have shown him. This means WAR!

I hold these promoters in high regards because they made it happen. They built the circuit that we enjoy today. Mike has shown me so many places back east that have closed down. I'm talking state of the art facilities in some cases. Brand new stuff, but they couldn't draw a fly. Now, these places just sit, perhaps never to hear the roar of the engines again. I know for me personally, the desire to relocate is mainly to go back to the Bay Area again, which I will do eventually. However, there have been a few race tracks that he's shown me that would be tempting to relocate to if somebody were making a go of it again.

Indiana, for instance, is seen as some sort of racing "Promise Land." And, it is impressive. They have some of the best open wheel racing you'll find anywhere in the country. I'm amazed at how many racing venues sit dormant there. We hear how low on the totem pole California is in racing. And believe me, California has its issues. Despite that, there are an awful lot of race tracks still going in California.

When I think of these great promoters, I know they have been there and done that. In many cases, they've been honored by being inducted into multiple Hall Of Fames for their accomplishments. They've proven their point. They paved the way, and others have followed them. I often wonder though, how would those great promoters do if they were running a race track now? There's only a few of them left who competed back in those days. I work with Mike up here, and John Soares Jr. in Antioch is about the only other one I can think of.

I can just see social media driving these people up the walls. They dealt with the newspapers pretty heavily back then. Billboard signs in town, posters in the windows of local stores and sometimes the television and radio. You might even see races broadcast sometimes. I know Indoor Midget Racing used to be on TV. The lack of a social media shielded them from the bombardment of negativity the modern day promoter deals with now.

Facebook back in those days was pretty simple. You had a bad night and you sat in the pits with other racers or your crew and family and complained about what happened that night. A few beers later, you might even say you were done with the place. But when you left, it would be, "See you next week." And if it really got heated, you didn't hit any dislike button or respond to that person's comment with a negative comment. Oh no. It might end in a fight in the pits or at the pizza parlor afterwards.

I wouldn't say that Bert, Bob, John or any of the great promoters couldn't do it. These men knew how to think outside the box. These man could throw a race track together in a short time and begin promoting. They were the doers of the racing community. And the racers generally respected them, because they knew how hard they were working. I'm just saying it's a different time now. I don't know that I would want to be a promoter if I had the money to invest in the sport today.

First of all, I don't like what we present as a racing program to the fans. It's no wonder attendance is down at so many venues. You're going to tell me that an 8 or 10 car division is acceptable? We had a word for 10 cars back in the day. Heat race. Now we convince ourselves that we have something with eight cars. That's okay, we can get two heat races, a Trophy Dash and a Main Event with that. Pathetic.

I was just commenting on social media when somebody was reminiscing about Baylands Raceway Park. What a place that was. It wasn't that it was a special facility. The place was kind of run down actually. But the racing on that track was exciting, and they had lots of different types of divisions to choose from. The end of that track sparked the first case of what I call Divisionitis. That is to say, too many divisions at one race track in one night.

John Soares Sr., or Pops as many of us called him, was an opportunist. This wasn't the first time he benefited from a race track's closure. Actually, after the Vallejo Speedway Super Stock and Street Stock program ran their final season in 1979, Pops invited the racers to Petaluma in 1980. He even gained a new Director Of Competition.

Baylands was a different sort of animal. There were a lot of misplaced divisions. Sprint Cars were there for the taking. Mini Stocks had been a part of Fremont racing going back to the 1970s and still continue at Petaluma to this day along with the Sprint Cars. There were other classes for the taking. Two of the groups decided to form their own clubs and race elsewhere. Petaluma had about 150 cars packing the pits, and it was non stop racing. They usually got the entire program in without cutting laps too.

What it was was you had David Vodden looking hard to find a new venue to replace Baylands. At one time, he was looking at Vacaville, where the drag strip used to be. It's a shame the city fought against that idea. It would have been a perfect location. Vodden came to Soares with this crazy proposal to add so much more to what was already a good program.

However, there were some kinks in the armor at Petaluma. The Super Stock division that had been the mainstay at that track for a decade was suddenly the POSSE Super Stock Tour. Late Models had taken over, but they didn't have the car count of their predecessor. The American Stock division had just begun, but it to wasn't that big. The Dirt Modified division was the first of its kind in California, but they too were building. Cars were needed, and Vodden was offering the perfect solution. The rest, is history.

I seem to recall people criticizing the move, but if you're a racing fan, you got a lot of racing. The Sprint Cars, American Stocks and Street Stocks had huge car counts, and the Mini Stocks and Late Models weren't doing too bad either. I still feel the show the track had in the early 1980s was second to none, but this wasn't too bad either. Pops did a good thing for the racers who needed a track, but he also made a ton of money. Critics might have balked at what he was doing, but they wouldn't have passed up this opportunity either.

This signaled the end of two division racing at most of the tracks. Three divisions was the norm for a few years, and then it became four divisions. The problem with that is you're giving racers too many options. It seemed like a good idea at the time. You're getting more cars in the pits, but eventually car count takes a hit. When John Soares Jr. took over Antioch, he made a few moves that grew the car count bigger than it had ever been in the track's history. As the announcer and Publicity Director in 1999 and 2000, I can say that we were putting on one hell of a show.

But, the precedent had been set. Too many divisions. You don't need two entry level divisions, which we had with Mini Trucks being added along with the Hobby Stocks. We still had a real Street Stock division and Limited Late Models were added. The Dirt Modifieds were there and we added the successful Wingless Specs Sprints. Let's not forget the Dwarf Cars. There were nights when we had four divisions that had B Mains with 120-130 cars packing the pits. Eventually, car count falls. The divisions still had enough cars to justify their existence, but the show became a shadow of its former self.

I do not mean to signal out Antioch Speedway when I say this. It's just that I'm more acquainted with Antioch. However, this has happened at other places as well. As a promoter, you're still targeting that magic number of at least 60 cars in the pits. It used to be that you were getting that with two divisions, but that's not the time we live in now. So you take your divisions and rotate them around so that people get nights off. Racers aren't the racers they once were. You can't book them 26 times in a season and expect that they'll make every race. It doesn't happen anymore. At about 14 race dates, they start missing shows. Heck, they do that on a 10 race schedule.

This is an instance where having too many divisions can actually become a promoter's friend in 2018. You might still make that magic number with five or six divisions while the other divisions get weeks off and come back next week. It's still not the show it once was, and I have to think that even casual fans come out and don't see the magic. Jim Robbins used to remark how he always saw so many new faces up in the stands when I was out there at Antioch in 2015. On one level, that's great. However, it would be better if you saw them new fans while still keeping the old fans. We might be able to draw 1100 fans in the stands some 18 or 19 years ago, but 500 or 600 fans seems to be the norm these days. Some nights we do better than others.

Everybody has a solution on how to fix this. We all know. But it's not as easy as that. I'd like to think if we had a better show on the track, that would translate. Fans would be more willing to spend their hard earned dollars on a show that was more entertaining and competitive. I've seen the same kind of thing up here. We're mimicking the model I see at Antioch in some ways. I still believe that a better show equates to more fans coming out.

How do you get the fans to come out? We all have our answers. I know you have to hype it up. This is what I do. But, where do you put it out at? I still go for newspapers, because they still exist. I'm a relic. I will go down with that ship. However, I don't just focus on newspapers. Everybody is online these days, and people do check out the online news sites. If they're willing to run my article, they get it. But, even that's not enough.

Both John and Mike have spoken of the value of radio ads, but even they would say it's not doing what it once was. For starters, which radio stations do you listen to as a fan? If we're advertising on a country station and our fans are into rock and roll, what is it going to gain us? Do you put it on a sports news station? I've heard that those people only care about ball games. So, you could be a few hundred to $1,000 in the hole that week trying to advertise and not gain that money back in ticket sales.

I've heard people up here say that we don't advertise at all, but we do advertise. And I know this is the same everywhere. In some cases, you've got the magic formula. You put out the money to spread your word, and your word is getting where it needs to go. The fans hear it, and they show up. This is the struggle that we work on every week. We take it one week at a time, and we don't take it for granted. If you have a good week, you can't even brag about it too much. You've got to go back and do it again next week. And you may not be able to do it the same way and be successful.

What I'm saying is we need to be grateful as racing fans that promoters, whomever they are, are risking their own money to open the gates. They don't owe us anything. To those people who say, you need to do this, that and the other thing before I'll ever come out there, may you not lose your race track while you're waiting for Utopia Speedway. Chances are, you will. You're never going to find a track that is 100% to your liking. But, if you find one that is 80%, isn't that enough? Most of us won't find a job that is 100% to our liking, but if we can get 80%, and we can take home a paycheck, is that good enough?

It's not a fun time to try to maintain a race track. It's one of the reasons I'm looking for the door. It's very frustrating to see the sport as it is now and remember what it once was. The romantic in me sees it and sees what it could be, but I remind myself that I'm probably fooling myself. The same things that mean so much to me when it comes to sport mean something different to different people. I can go right on doing what I do, and it may never be enough. I know it's not enough for me personally in what I need in my life, but it saddens me to realize it may not be enough to help the sport either.

That leaves me being grateful for the times that I've had, grateful for the opportunity I have now, appreciative of the promoters who are out there making it happen and also respectful of each and every racer who does their best to show up every week and entertain the fans. It's not easy for a racer either. They have more demands, just as the average person does. That 20 race schedule may be impossible for them, but they'll give it their best to make a 14 race schedule as much as they can.

Funny all this started with me remembering the letters after the numbers. Those were the days. Really, it's what hooked me on this sport. The beginning days of my beloved Street Stock division and my all time favorite Sportsman division. Watching drivers come from the back of the pack in full fields to score victories. It hooked me. I can only say that had I seen the sport I see now when I first started back then, you wouldn't be reading these words right now. I just go out there and hope for the best. Here's to a good 2018 season, wherever you race!

That's all for now...  The Editor

Marysville Raceway Race Results February 24
Sherm And Loree Toller Memorial

360 Sprints
A Main

Justin Sanders
Andy Forsberg
Billy Wallace
Sean Becker
Shane Golobic
Jeremy Hawes
Cody Hodgson
Lucas Ashe
Michael Ing
Mike Monahan
Justin Henry
Pat Harvey Jr.
Kyle Hirst
Korey Lovell
Dustin Freitas
Zane Blanchard
William Fielding
Michael Kofoid
Colby Copeland
Tanner Carrick
Steven Tiner
Kurt Nelson

B Main
Steven Tiner
Michael Ing
Lucas Ashe
Korey Lovell
Mike Monahan
Pat Harvey Jr.
Brent Bjork
Heath Hall

Hunt Wingless Spec Sprints
Kaleb Henry
Angelique Bell
Shawn Jones
Sparky Howard
Troy DeGaton
Scott Hall
Jake Morgan
Terry Schank Jr.
Max Adams
Adam Christian
Ryon Siverling
Kaimi Moniz-Costa
Jesse Love
Mike Ballantine
Robert Floyd
Marcus Smith
Greg DeCaires

305 Sprints
Monthy Ferriera
Tim Sherman Jr.
Jacob Pacheco 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Antioch Speedway And Merced Speedway Season Reviews, Orland, Hardtops, More

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Antioch Speedway Releases Schedule 
For Their 58th Racing Season

Antioch, CA...The 2018 All Star Series racing season at Antioch Speedway is just around the corner. This also marks the historic 21st season for John and Donna Soares as promoters of the 3/8 mile clay oval, making Soares the longest tenured promoter in the history of the track. The season, which gets underway with the first race scheduled on March 24th, will continue weekly from then until the October 13th Fall Brawl.

The All Star Series will continue to feature the popular Winged 360 Sprint Cars, the DIRTcar Late Models, A Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars. Once again, the busiest divisions at the track will be the Hobby Stocks and B Modifieds. The Hobby Stocks will race at 26 events, while the B Modifieds get 22 races. It will be interesting to see how the grueling schedule will affect the Hobby Stocks. The division had the closest championship battle in 2017. That was also the busiest schedule for any class last year, and it came down to just a few point between champion Cameron Swank and rookie Brent Curran.

The track will offer several big events for the fans to enjoy. The first marquee event of the season will be on April 7th. For many years, Frank Munroe and Soares have been trying to find a date for the Western States Dwarf Cars to have a show at Antioch. With the announcement of the big King Of California Dwarf Car Series, this is finally happening. Antioch should see a field of over 40 Dwarf Cars for the April 7th event.

Larry Damitz had a Hall Of Fame career at several venues, including Antioch Speedway. A five time Limited Late Model champion, Damitz passed away during the off season as he was planning a title defense last year. The first Larry Damitz Memorial was held last season, and it has been scheduled for April 14th this year. Absent from the initial announcement are the Late Models, but Limited Late Models will be there that night along with A Modifieds, Spec Sprints, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.

The Third Annual Jerry Hetrick Memorial race has been booked for June 9th. The featured division for the first two events was the A Modifieds, which are booked for this race along with B Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks. To end the month of June, the Firecracker 50 has been booked. This is a 50 lap event for $500 to win for B Modifieds. A Modifieds, Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks are also scheduled that night.

The track has several big events beginning in September, including the annual Chet Thomson Memorial for Hardtops on September 8th, which also includes A Modifieds, Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Limited Late Models. The man who opened Antioch Speedway back in 1961, John P. Soares Sr, is honored with the Top Dog Race on September 15th. Late Models, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks will run that night as well.

The season will end with a bang as the annual Fall Brawl race will feature the A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars on October 13th. That night will also include the ninth Sharp Shooter Race for the B Modifieds. Throughout the season, the special Trophy Dash races will be held for the B Modifieds.

The B Modifieds get two $500 to win races, including the aforementioned Firecracker 50 on June 30th and the race on July 7th. The Hobby Stocks also race for $500 to win on July 7th. Though purse money has not been announced, the Top Dog Race, the Jerry Hetrick Memorial and the Larry Damitz Memorial will likely be for extra money, and the Fall Brawl is traditionally a bigger money race as well. Soares has also issued a challenge to the B Modifieds that at 18 cars, their purse will jump to $500 to win on any given week in which this happens.

If you're looking for speed, the Winged 360 Sprint Cars and the DIRTcar Late Models will visit Antioch Speedway at least 10 times each as part of their championship seasons. The track enters its fourth season in a serious commitment to the popular Sprint Car class, while Antioch is the only Northern California track with a somewhat regular full Late Model program.

With 17 dates on their schedule, the A Modified division is entering its 29th consecutive season, which makes them the longest running division at the track. It was John Soares Sr. who brought this division to California at Petaluma back in 1987. It was John Soares Jr. who was the first promoter to book dates for the Wingless Spec Sprint division back in 1999 with the help of the behind the scenes efforts of Don O'Keefe Jr. This division enters its 20th season.

The Dwarf Car division enters its 21st consecutive championship season at Antioch with several dates. They were added by the current promoter when he began his first season at the track in 1998. In a bid to bring back the old style Late Model division featured at the track in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Soares introduced Limited Late Model racing to the track in 2000. They now enter their 19th season with 17 dates. The track will also include several visits by the Bay Area Hardtops.

During the course of the season, Antioch Speedway will offer a little something for everybody. Whether it's the close, slam-bang action of the Hobby Stocks or the fendered Stock Car competition of the Limited Late Models and Late Models, the popular A Modifieds and B Modifieds or the fast, open wheel action of the Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints and Dwarf Cars, Antioch Speedway offers something that every fan can enjoy. After playdays on March 10th and 17th, the season will kick off with an event featuring A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks on March 24th. For further information, go to

2018 Antioch Speedway Schedule 
Subject To Change

January 1 - (Winter Classic) - A Modifieds, B Modifieds*, Hobby Socks and Dwarf Cars
March 24 - Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars March 31 - 360 Winged Sprints, Late Models, A Modifieds, B Modifieds* and Hobby Stocks
April 7 - West Coast Dwarf Car Series plus B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks
April 14 - Larry Damitz Memorial Races - Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
April 21 - Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks
April 28 - Late Models, B Modifieds*, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Bay Area Hardtops
May 5 - Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and a Drone air race
May 12 - A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
May 19 - Contra Costa County Fair - No racing scheduled
May 26- 360 Winged Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds*, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
June 2 - Wingless Spec Sprints, Late Models, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks
June 9 - Jerry Hetrick Memorial Races - 360 Winged Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
June 16 - 360 Winged Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
June 23 - 360 Winged Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
June 30 - Firecracker 50 (50 lap race for B Modifieds $500 to win) - Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds* 50 lapper, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks
July 7 - ($500 to win B Modified And Hobby Stock races) - Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds $500 to win, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks $500 to win, Dwarf Cars and Drone air race
July 14 - Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks an Dwarf Cars
July 21 - Late Models, Limited Late Models, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Bay Area Hardtops
July 28 - 360 Winged Sprints, Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds* and Dwarf Cars
August 4 - 360 Winged Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Dwarf Cars
August 11 - Wingless Spec Sprints, Late Models, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks
August 18 - 360 Winged Sprints, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
August 25 - Wingless Spec Sprints, Late Models, B Modifieds*, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks
September 1 - 360 Winged Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
September 8 - (Chet Thomson Memorial Hardop Race) - Late Models, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Bay Area Hardtops
September 15 - (John Soares Sr. Memorial Top Dog Race) - Late Models, A Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
September 22 - Wingless Spec Sprints, Late Models, B Modifieds*, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks
September 29 - 360 Winged Sprints, Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars
October 6 - 360 Winged Sprints, Wingless Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models and Bay Area Hardtops
October 13 (Fall Brawl 2018 Finale PPV) - A Modifieds, B Modifieds*, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars

* Sharp Shooter B Modified Race

Antioch Speedway 2017 Season Review

Antioch, CA...2017 was a special season at Antioch Speedway. It marked the 20th season for John and Donna Soares of Oval Motorsports promoting the race track as well as the 57th season of continuous operation. As usual, the All Star Series lineup of divisions featured eight regular classes with some special events along the way.

One of the focuses of management in recent years has been the effort to establish a Winged 360 Sprint Car division. This was the fourth consecutive year of championship points for the class, and it included some of the biggest car counts yet for this effort. It was also a wide open championship battle that was rocked by a scratch at the season opener by early championship favorite Art McCarthy.

Up from the BCRA Midget Lites, Kyle Offill kicked off the season with a Main Event victory ahead of the first of four second place finishes for Burt Foland Jr. and a season high third place finish for Wingless Spec Sprint star Bryan Grier. As has been the case at Antioch since this effort started, the $1,200 to win first prize attracts bounty hunters to town to make a run at the victory. The second race went to visitor Tyler Seavey ahead of 2015 champion Shawn Arriaga and Foland.

The third event was an unlikely second win for Offill. When he tangled with Grants Pass, Oregon championship hopeful Aaron Miller early in the race, Offill had to come from the back once more. Rookie Jacob Tuttle led the race until a thrilling last lap pass by Offill forced Tuttle to settle for second ahead of a season best third place finish for Steve Jaquith. Offill seemed like the driver to beat at this point, but he decided to start racing other big events and dropped out of the championship battle.

At that stage, there were 5 drivers very much in contention for the championship, but Miller's hopes ended with a blown motor soon after. Dustin Golobic won the fourth event ahead of past Petaluma champion Herman Klein and Foland. Foland ran closely behind surprise point leader Marissa Polizzi at that stage of the season. Multi time Marysville champion Colby Weisz held off Foland to win the next race as Polizzi earned her first of two season high third place finishes.

After his terrible start, McCarthy found himself trailing in the championship battle by over 60 points, but the 2007 Antioch champion was about to go on a run that would put him in the lead by season's end. McCarthy won the 6th event ahead of Foland and Tuttle, and after second generation competitor David Lindt II won the next race ahead of McCarthy and Polizzi, McCarthy won back to back races.

Round #8 was a win for McCarthy over Foland and a season high third for Dan Gonderman. Polizzi was doing what she needed to do as she earned her fourth of five fourth place feature finishes. She held a slim lead over Foland and McCarthy, but McCarthy's win at the 9th event was combined with non finishes for both Foland and Polizzi. Peter Paulson and Lindt rounded out the top three in the Main Event.

McCarthy carried the point lead into the season finale. Though he settled for third behind Paulson and Jake Haulot, Polizzi's fourth place finish was not good enough to regain her the lead. McCarthy won the closest championship battle at the speedway with Polizzi settling for second ahead of Foland. Tuttle grabbed "Rookie Of The Year" honors.

Once again, the DIRTcar Late Models were included on the schedule, and as is usually the case with the class, the battle was expected to be between two time champions Jeff Decker and Richard Papenhausen, who was the reigning champion. However, Decker would leave little doubt who the champion was by season's end.

The season started with three consecutive different winners with Decker winning the first race ahead of a season high second for Shawn DeForest and a season high third for Chester Kniss.  Saddened by the passing of Larry Damitz during the off season, a race was put together in memory of him. Bobby Hogge IV came to town and won the first annual event ahead of Papenhausen and Decker. Papenhausen was still very much in the championship hunt as he held off Decker to win the third event with David Newquist finishing third.

Two things happened after the third event. Jeff Decker got on a roll, and Papenhausen blew a motor. Decker won the fourth event ahead of a season high second place finish for "Rookie Of The Year" Kimo Oreta and a third for Papenhausen. At the next event, Papenhausen blew a motor in his heat race and then missed the sixth race to end his championship hopes. Decker won the fifth event ahead of a season high second for Joey Olschowka and a third for DeForest. Decker continued his roll with a win in Round #6 over a season high second for Newquist and a third for Paul Guglielmani.

The only thing keeping Decker from winning seven in a row was the return of Papenhausen for his second victory ahead of DeForest and Clay Daly. There was controversy at the end as video seemed to show Daly finishing second ahead of the DeForest at the checkered flag. It was Decker and Papenhausen grabbing the 1-2 finish in the last three events. Terry Kunz finish third in the eighth event, DeForest was third a week later and Newquist grabbed an important third place finish to close the season.

Decker topped the division with seven wins as Papenhausen had a division leading four seconds. However, while Decker won the championship, Papenhausen settled for fourth in the standings. With his third place finish in the last race, Newquist won a close battle with DeForest for runner up honors.

The A Modified division entered their 28th season at the speedway with a special money race on New Year's Day. This was not a point event, and Nick DeCarlo grabbed the victory ahead of the first of four second place finishes for championship hopeful Bobby Motts Jr. and a season high third for Anthony Slaney. Motts was hoping to win the championship in honor of his cousin, Steven Cunningham, who had passed away during the off season.

The point season kicked off in controversial fashion in a race in which Mike Salazar had initially been declared the winner after he and Scott Busby got together in turns 3 and 4. However, Salazar was unable to continue to the yellow flag, and Busby was restored to the victory ahead of Motts and another championship hopeful, Sean O'Gara. Unfortunately for Busby, he encountered several problems during the next three races that dropped him from championship contention.

Kellen Chadwick jumped into the Brian Pearce car to win the second point event of the season ahead of Motts and reigning champion Carl Berendsen II's first of two season high third place finishes. Chester Kniss impressed with his Main Event victory ahead of a season high second for O'Gara and Motts in third, and Motts had the point lead that he would not relinquish from then on.

Back behind the wheel of his own car, Chadwick scored an impressive victory ahead of Bobby Hogge IV and DeCarlo. In Round #5 of the championship season, Busby recorded his second win of the season and 72nd of his racing career at Antioch Speedway, tying him at the top of the all time winner's list with legend J.D. Willis. DeCarlo returned to deny Busby a second straight win as Busby settled for second ahead of a season high third for Salazar, who was in the midst of a hard luck season.

In Round #7, Hogge was back and holding off DeCarlo for victory as Michael Paul was third, and this was Hogge's 70th career Antioch feature win, putting him third on the all time win list. Motts finally broke through to get his first win of the season in the eighth event, followed by Terry Kaiser and Mitch Enos. DeCarlo won his third Main Event in Round #9, followed by Late Model star Jeff Decker and Busby.

The final two events where Chadwick's nights to shine. Chadwick won the 10th race ahead of Motts and Busby. Next up was the big John Soares Sr. Memorial Top Dog Race, and Chadwick won the prize after a good race with Brian Pierce and Carl Berendsen II, who settled for second and third. DeCarlo was in the running, but he fell out of contention.

The championship belonged to Motts, and it was his second Antioch title, having won the Street Stock championship 13 years earlier. O'Gara settled for a career best second, and "Rookie Of The Year" Eric Berendsen grabbed the final podium spot in third. Eric had to struggle with a blown motor and also flipped his car one night, but he earned five fourth place finishes and always battled back from adversity.

The 19th season of Wingless Spec Sprint racing at Antioch Speedway, where the division started, kicked off with four consecutive different feature winners. 2014 Watsonville champion Bryan Grier won the opener ahead of a season best second for Jeremy Newberry and third for Roy Fisher. The night was also notable in that Alan Miranda led this race before having to make a pit stop later in the race. Bob Newberry made his season debut with a win at the next race ahead of Brandon Burd and the first of four third place finishes for Shannon Newton. Burd followed up his strong performance with a win in the third race ahead of the first of two second place finishes for Miranda and a third for Newton.

At this point, there were five drivers in championship contention, and surprising rookie Robert Floyd won the fourth race ahead of Miranda and Grier. Newberry began his climb up the point ladder with his second feature win in the next race, followed by a season best second for James East and third for Grier. Grier was very much in the hunt as he scored his second win in the sixth event, holding off Newberry and Miranda for the honors. Miranda's championship hopes took a blow when he failed to start the seventh event, won by Newberry ahead of new point leader Grier and Roy Fisher.

The other story line at play after seven events was division mainstay Rick Panfili working his way into position to contend for his first championship. Grier won the eighth race ahead of Floyd and Newberry. If not for Newberry's late start, the championship might have been his. Newberry won round number nine ahead of Grier and a season best third for Panfili. He followed that up with another win ahead of Fisher and Newton.

Grier had been leading the 10th race when he suddenly pulled to the infield with motor issues, while Panfili finished fourth. Just two points separated Grier from Panfili going into the finale, but contact with Newberry heading into the first turn in the Main Event sent Panfili into the wall along with Fisher as both were out of the race. Grier wrapped up his championship season by winning that race ahead of Newberry and Newton. Panfili was still a career best second as Newberry was a strong third. The steady Abigail Gonderman won the "Rookie Of The Year" award.

With the bad news about the passing of five time champion Larry Damitz, the Sundrop Racing Team elected to put three time Hobby Stock champion Kimo Oreta behind the wheel of the trademark #15 Limited Late Model. The season started off with the Mike Gustafson adding to his division leading career victory totals by winning the Main Event ahead of 2013 champion Jim Freethy and Mark Garner. Garner would be doing double division duties throughout the season, and he won a big trophy with his victory in the Larry Damitz Memorial Race, followed by Oreta and Freethy.

It was a four car championship battle early on, and though Oreta won the next two races, Garner and Freethy finished second and third, respectively, in both races. Round #5 saw Petaluma champion Matt While evict Oreta from the Winner's Circle as he won ahead of Oreta and Freethy. However, Oreta was getting consistent seconds as he finished second to Mike Gustafson in the next race and second to Freethy in the seventh event. Third in those two races were Garner and Gustafson as Garner was holding on to second in the standings.

Oreta returned to the Winner's Circle at the next race ahead of Garner and Gustafson. Freethy won Round #9 and kept the pressure on Garner for second in the standings, but Oreta maintained his point lead by finishing second ahead of Paul Hanley. Garner didn't finish that night, hurting his championship hopes. The night was also memorable as rookie Buddy Kniss led before a red flag for Garner's blown motor. Due to overheating, Kniss pitted.

Oreta won the 10th event as past champion Lori Brown outdueled Garner in a good battle for her season best second place finish. Garner bounced back by holding off Freethy to win the next race with Terry DeCarlo finishing third. However, Oreta was all but assured the championship just by starting the finale. The battle was for second between Feethy and Garner, but Freethy claimed that position with his third feature win of the season ahead of Garner and Oreta. Garner settled for third in the standings, while Chad Hammer won "Rookie Of The Year" honors.

The B Modifieds had a marathon season that started on New Year's Day with 2015 champion Fred Ryland winning the money in the non point event ahead of Les Friend and Jimmy Ford. Reigning champion Trevor Clymens started off as if he was running for the championship, and he won the point season opener ahead of fellow championship contender K.C. Keller and the first of two season best thirds for Guy Alwardt. Past Street Stock champion and division rookie Todd Gomez won the next race ahead of a season best second for Megan Ponciano and third for the consistent Keller.

Clymens was still keeping the pressure on Keller and won the third event ahead of Keller and Mark Garner, who had struggled early in the season. Keller finally emerged with a victory in the fourth event ahead of a season best second for Chuck Golden and third for Clymens. Clymens was already hinting at going to other places, but his first opportunity to do so was rained out as he won the next race ahead of Keller and Ryland. Gomez won the sixth race ahead of a season best second for Doff Cooksey and third for Keller.

After some bad breaks early on, Garner outdueled Clymens to win the seventh event as Cooksey finished third. Garner was climbing his way up the point ladder. Clymens won the next race ahead of Keller and Jimmy Ford, who was piloting the Marty Bourdie car. At this stage of the season, Clymens made good on his plans to race other places, and Keller padded his point lead with a win in the ninth event ahead of Garner and Gomez.

Garner was moving in on Golden for second in the standings, and he won the 10th event ahead of the impressive Nick Caughman Jr. and Keller. Garner was going for two in a row, but Keller forced him to settle for second, while Kevin Brown finished third. After Garner once again battled Caughman for what would be his third victory, while Keller finished third in the 12th event, Garner moved past Golden for second in the standings. However, even though he ran strong, there was just too much ground to make up on the very consistent Keller in the championship battle.

Round #13 saw Clymens return to the Winner's Circle after out running Garner and Keller. Keller won the next race ahead of Garner and Ahlwardt, and the championship seemed assured for Keller at this stage of the season. Clymens notched his division leading sixth feature win at the 15th event as Al Johnson returned for a second place finish with Garner settling for third. Merced champion Ryland put book ends on the season by pocketing the $1,000 first prize in the Fall Brawl, followed by Andrew Peckham and Clymens.

Keller emerged with the championship on the strength of his division leading 12 Top 3 Main Event finishes. Garner was a strong second as Golden settled for third.  Gomez was the "Rookie Of The Year" for the season.

Nobody had a busier schedule at Antioch Speedway than the Hobby Stocks. They ran a total of 20 times, including the non point New Year's Bash, which was won by championship hopeful Chris Long ahead of Joe Salvi and Cameron Swank. Several drivers were hoping to make a run at the championship, but with so many races on the schedule, budgets began to fall apart as the season wore on. The question was, who would survive to the end?

Perennial championship contender Michael Cooper opened the season with a victory ahead of 2010 champion Chris Sorensen and Long. Rookie Brent Curran won his first of two straight races ahead of Long and Cooper and then ahead of Swank and Long. Consistency had put Long at the top of the list, and Sorensen won the fourth event ahead of Long and Cameron Swank. Things were looking pretty good for Long at this point, and that trend continued as he won the fifth event ahead of Swank and two time Super Hobby Stock champion Gene Haney.

Round #6 was a battle of the Chris's as Sorensen outran Long for the victory with Curran in third. The seventh race was the high water mark of the season for Long as he won for the third time ahead of a season best second for Robert Niven and a third for Curran. Unfortunately, motor problems reared their ugly head, and finances would also come into play for Long, who fell out of the battle. Two time division champion Melissa Myers returned with a vengeance by outrunning the steady Curran and Niven for the victory.

Sorensen won Round #9 as a frustrated Cameron Swank settled up for second and ahead of Curran. Swank had led most of that race, but a flat tire on the last lap forced him to settle for second. Haney won the next race ahead of Myers and a season best third for Jordan Swank. With his win in the 11th race, Sorensen was the point leader. Swank and Curran we're still hanging tough in the battle. Finishing second and third in the eleventh event were Meyers and Long.

Michael Cooper returned to the Winner's Circle at the next event, with a disappointed Cameron Swank selling for his fourth second place finish ahead of Meyers. With his second win of the year, this time ahead of Sorensen and Brian Zachary, Haney was putting the pressure on Chris Bennett in his bid to take fifth in the standings.

It took 14 events, but Cameron Swank finally got his first win of the year when it was much needed, followed by a season best second for Ken Rhoades and third for Curran. Sorensen was feeling the pinch of his racing budget, but he finished fourth as he, Swank and Curran battled fiercely for the point lead. Myers won the next race ahead of Curran and Haney. Curran was doing everything he could to get the point lead, and this was the first of four straight second place finishes for him.

The 16th event saw Swank win again ahead of Curran, Myers and Sorensen, and there were only a few points separating the top three drivers in the standings. Kimo Oreta dug his championship winning car out of mothballs for the next race and held off Curran and Swank for the victory. Chris Bennett was suddenly in contention for a top three point position following what was his second fourth place finish of the season.

When the Fall Brawl was rescheduled to work with Watsonville and the Pat Pettit Memorial Shootout, Sorensen had already booked a romantic vacation with his wife for that weekend. Therefore, Sorensen decided to go to Watsonville and skipped the 18th race, won by Myers ahead of Curran and Cameron Swank. This also meant the championship was between Swank and Curran going into the $850 to win Fall Brawl season finale. Also noteworthy was the fact that Bennett was poised to move into third in points just by starting the last race.

As was the case with the B Modified portion of the big money show, there were enough Hobby Stocks for a B Main to be needed. Meyers tied Sorensen with her division leading fourth feature win in that race ahead of the hard charging Long and Swank. Curran settled for fourth, and he just barely lost the championship to Cameron Swank. Meanwhile, Bennett wrapped up his rookie season with his seventh fifth place finish, putting him third in the final rundown. However, second place Curran won "Rookie Of The Year" honors.

The Dwarf Car division returned for their 20th season and brought plenty of excitement throughout the year. Several champions competed during the course of the season, and a new champion emerged at the end of 13 events. It all started when reigning champion Kevin Miraglio won the season opener ahead of championship hopeful Mike Corsaro and longtime competitor Chuck Conover.

The famed unicorn was back with Adam Teves driving it to victory in the second race ahead of Conover and Toby Brown's season best third place finish. Not to be outdone, Adam's father David Teves won the third race ahead of Corsaro and Mario Marquez. Round #4 saw Adam Teves return to the Winner's Circle ahead of the second season best second place finish for Conover and third for Corsaro. By this point, Conover appeared to be Corsaro's closest contender, but he began missing races and fell out of the Top 5.

Two time division champion Danny Wagner, who ended up winning the NorCal Dwarf Car championship this season, won the fifth race ahead of Corsaro and Adam Teves. Corsaro continued his consistent effort by winning the sixth race ahead of the first of three season best second place finishes for David Michael Rosa and a third for Brandon Anderson. Wagner was back at the next race and beat Rosa and Anderson for his second win of the season at Antioch.

There was little doubt that Corsaro was on a pace to win the championship, though he took a nasty tumble at the seventh event. If anybody wondered how he would rebound, Corsaro came back and held off Nor Cal veteran Buddy Olschowka and Jenna Frazier, who settled for a season best third place finish. After David Teves matched his son as a two time winner at the ninth event ahead of Petaluma racer Matt Hagerman and Corsaro, Corsaro took a big step towards his championship by scoring his third win of the season ahead of a season best second for Travis Hensley and the first of two season best thirds for Rookie Devin Kammermann.

Though he didn't run the full season, Miraglio was a force when he raced. He illustrated that well as he won the 11th event ahead of open wheel veteran Brian Gray's season best second and a third for Mario Marquez. Miraglio won the next race ahead of a title clinching second place finish for Corsaro and a second place point clinching third place finish for Kammemann. It had been a while since Miranda Chappa had competed at Antioch, but she won the season finale ahead of David Michael Rosa and Hensley. Rosa would settle for third in the final point standings, while Kammermann was the "Rookie Of The Year" honoree.

The Bay Area Hardtop effort was launched to try and build the division's presence at Antioch Speedway, but several issues arose that kept a majority of the roster out of the action. Kimo Oreta wheeled the #100 car for the Sundrop Racing Team to a win in the first race ahead of division booster Dave Mackey.

Mackey's high water mark came at the next event as he held off Oreta and Ron Ruiz for the victory. Oreta scored back to back victories in the next two races, beating Rob Waldrop and Ruiz in the third event and Mickey and division newcomer Ken Retzloff in the next race. The Chet Thomson Memorial wrapped up the season, and California Hardtop Association ace Jason Armstrong repeated as the race winner ahead of Retzloff and Tommy Thomson, who was subbing for Mackey.

Antioch was awarded the inaugural race on the newly created Sprint Car Challenge Tour, resulting in a track record of over 60 competitors in the pits. Cory Eliason won that first race in front of Shane Golobic and Sean Becker. They came back for one more appearance, and though the car count fell a little bit, an exciting race was won by Jonathan Allard ahead of Kyle Hirst and Mitchell Faccinto. The King Of The West/NARC Winged 410 Sprint Cars made one Antioch visit with Giovanni Scelzi claiming the victory ahead of Bud Kaeding and Mitchell Faccinto. The BCRA Midget Lites made two appearances with the first win going to young Hunter Kinney ahead of Dakota Albright and Danica Joe Parker. When they returned later in the season, it was Bradley Dillard collecting the victory ahead of Hunter Kinney and father Scott Kinney.

2017 Antioch Speedway Points
All Star Series
Winged 360 Sprints

Art McCarthy 437
Marissa Polizzi 428
Bert Foland Jr. 406
Jacob Tuttle 258
Jason Paniagua 236
David Dias 208
Jenna Frazier 205
Aaron Miller 203
Jake Haulot 192
Kyle Offill 150

Wingless Spec Sprints
Bryan Grier 498
Rick Panfili 480
Bob Newberry 472
Shannon Newton 460
Alan Miranda 399
Roy Fisher 380
Abigail Gonderman 350
Robert Floyd 338
Brandon Burd 302
James East 246

A Modifieds
Bobby Motts Jr. 484
Sean O'Gara 418
Eric Berendsen 375
Mike Salazar 348
Scott Busby 348
Nick DeCarlo 278
Kellen Chadwick 244
Gary Hetrick 218
Anthony Slaney 200
Greg MacElhaney 199

B Modifieds
K.C. Keller 802
Mark Garner 736
Chuck Golden 692
Trevor Clymens 640
Kevin Brown 500
Randy Brown 356
Todd Gomez 345
Doff Cooksey 264
Nick Caughman Jr. 252
Guy Alwardt 248

Limited Late Models
Kimo Oreta 576
Jim Freethy 550
Mark Garner 544
Mike Gustafson 528
John Evans 456
Chad Hammer 388
Buddy Kniss 305
Jeff Kendrick 209
Lori Brown 164
Jon Haney 157

DIRTcar Late Models
Jeff Decker 526
David Newquist 438
Shawn DeForest 436
Richard Papenhausen 423
Kimo Oreta 393
Dennis Souza 370
Joey Olschowka 309
Paul Guglielmoni 271
Chester Kniss 238
Mike Hynes 224

Hobby Stocks
Cameron Swank 837
Brent Curran 822
Chris Bennett 754
Chris Sorensen 723
Jon Haney 718
Chris Long 660
Billy Garner 597
Michael Cooper 586
Jordan Swank 515
Frank Furtado 488

Dwarf Cars
Mike Corsaro 585
Devin Kammermann 518
David Michael Rosa 512
David Rosa 502
Chris Becker 437
Charlie Correia 375
Brian Gray 335
Kevin Miraglio 328
David Corsaro 326
Chuck Conover 300

Merced Speedway 2017 Season Review

Merced, CA...Ed Parker was back for his second year as promoter of Merced Speedway. Much thought went into carefully planning out the 2017 season so as to have as few conflicts with other track's big races as possible. Furthermore, Parker again chose to stay dark twice so that Watsonville could get more support from Merced area racers.

All of the big events the fans have come to expect in recent seasons were back, including the prestigious Ted Stofle Classic, the Timmy Post Memorial, the Matt And Glass Cancer Fundraiser, The John Fore Jr. Memorial and Legend's night. In fact, several other special races were booked, including the June Western States Dwarf Car Nationals event.

The IMCA Modifieds remained the headline class and saw car count continue to be strong. Reigning champion Randy Brown was back to make a run at a repeat performance, and he was so consistent that it became obvious very quickly that he would succeed in that goal. In 11 races, Brown only failed to get a Top 3 finish twice.

The IMCA Modified season kicked off in conjunction with an All Star Modified Series race. Eventual All Star Series champion Ryan McDaniel won this event ahead of Ethan Dotsun and Brown. Dotsun returned for the next race and won ahead of Brown and a season high third place finish for Darrell Hughes II. The Ted Stofle Classic was such a big event that over 100 cars filled pits, forcing them to use the parking lot for additional parking. It was past champion Paul Stone getting it done with a victory ahead of Brown and another past champion, Bill Egleston. Stone held off Brown to win the fourth event of the season as Ryan Porter finished third.

Though he was shut out of the winner's column to this point, Brown stepped it up at the Timmy Post Memorial by turning the tables on Stone and holding him off for the victory. Mike Villanueva enjoyed his season best third place finish. At the sixth event, Josh Combs made a surprise visit and won impressively ahead of Porter and a season high third for multi-time champion at Ramie Stone.

Legends Night had no IMCA Modifieds included on the schedule, but the division was hastily added to give the drivers a rain make up, but not for track points. Porter scored that win with rookie Justin Villanueva a season best second ahead of a season best third place effort for Jeff Streeter. Alex Stanford won the next race as Porter continued his series of strong efforts in second ahead of Brown.

Brown hit the afterburners to close the season as he held off Troy Foulger and Paul Stone to win the ninth event and followed that up with a win ahead of D.J. Shannon's season best second place finish and a season high third place run for Derek Nance. Foulger impressed by winning the season finale, the Matt And Glass Cancer Fundraiser. Shannon was second once again as Brown wrapped up his championship season in 3rd.

For Brown, it was his second straight track track championship. Past Hobby Stock champion Bruce "Bubba" Nelson managed to rank second. Nelson had won his first Main Event in Chowchilla, but his two fourth place finishes were his best efforts at Merced. Past Hanford champion Mike Villanueva wrapped up a solid season in third. It was Justin Villanueva collecting "Rookie Of The Year" honors.

The IMCA Sport Modified battle should have been between two heavy weights, Fred Ryland and two-time champion Rick Diaz. Though Diaz was rather dominant when he raced, he elected to step away from the championship battle early on. He reminded everybody who the reigning champion was by winning the season opener ahead of Fred Ryland and Tim Elias.

The West Coast Sport Mod Tour was created by a group of competitors committed to helping make bigger shows for various tracks. After their first Merced race was rained out, they decided to give Merced a free taste in a non point race for their group. This event was won impressively by rookie Chuck Weir ahead of Jeremy Hoff and Fred Ryland. It was T.J. Etchison winning the next race ahead of a season best second for Chris Falkenburg and another third for Ryland.

Consistency was putting 2015 state champion Ryland in the lead, though Diaz was right there with him. Diaz won the next two events, the first ahead of Ryland and Falkenburg. At the next event, the West Coast Sport Mod Tour race, Diaz won the extra money on the line by holding off Michael Johnson and West Coast Sport Mod champion Nick Spainhoward for the victory. It wasn't until the 6th event that Fred Ryland finally got his win, and he had to beat Diaz to do it. Tanner Thomas impressed with a third place finish.

Diaz took himself out of the championship race by missing the seventh event as IMCA State champion Shane DeVolver won ahead of Fred Ryland and a season best third place finish for Fred's wife, Patti Ryland. Diaz returned for the Timmy Post Memorial Race and denied DeVolder a second straight win. It was Lee Jensen finishing third. Diaz followed this win with another at the ninth event as Fred Ryland was second and Danny Roe was a season best third.

The IMCA Sport Modifieds were added to Legends Night at the last minute, and it was DeVolder winning the non track but State point race ahead of a season best second for Tanner Thomas and a season best third for Tim Ragsdale. Cody Parker looked impressive in that event, though it ended badly for him. He rebounded a week later by finishing second behind the hard charging Diaz. Ryland finished third. Diaz won his division leading seventh Main Event at the 12th race with Ryland nipping at his heels in second and Jeremy Hoff finishing third.

The John Fore Jr. Memorial Race was moved from October to September to accommodate a big race that was booked at Tulare in October. Ryland used this as an opportunity to score his biggest win of the year ahead of Bakersfield and Santa Maria star Clint Riechenbach and Diaz. It was not a point race, but Ryland had pretty much clinched the championship by then anyway. Hoff ended the season on a very strong note by winning the 14th event ahead of a season high second for Jack Aguiar and third for Ryland. Hoff cinched his second place point status by winning the finale ahead of Ryland and Aguiar. With his fourth place finish, Chase Thomas managed to take third from Diaz in this final standings.

The closest championship battles at the speedway we're to be had in the Hobby Stock and Mini Stock classes. In Hobby Stock action, unlikely championship contender Kodie Dean and third generation racer Garrett Corn were preparing to do battle. Dean fired the first volley by winning the season opener ahead of a pair of Watsonville visitors, multi time champion Billy Nelson and Nick Triolo. Not to be outdone, Corn won the next race ahead of reigning champion Michael Shearer and Shannon Nelson.

Dean returned to the Winner's Circle at the third event by holding off Donnie Shearer's season best second place finish as Robbie Loquaci finished third. The Ted Stofle Classic offered extra money on the line to the winner, and Corn held off Dean to grab the prize with Mike Stockton settling for a season best third. 2015 champion Kevin Joaquin took his turn in the Winner's Circle by holding off the season best second place finish for James Stockton and a third for Corn.

Corn grabbed his third victory of the season at the 6th event with Loquaci a season best second and Dean settling for third. Not to be outdone, Dean won his third event at the next race ahead of Michael Shearer and Corn. The Timmy Post Memorial Race saw two time champion Bruce "Bubba" Nelson get behind the wheel of the Michael Shearer car and collect the victory ahead of Corn and Billy Nelson. Not to be outdone, Shearer drove his own car to victory at the next race, again ahead of Corn and Watsonville champion Rob Gallaher. Dean had a pretty good lead going into that race, but a disqualification erased his advantage over Corn. It also put Loquaci within striking distance.

Bubba Nelson jumped into one of the other FND Motorsports cars and won the 10th event ahead of Joaquin and Dean. Dean was able to regain the point lead he had lost, but Corn won the next race ahead of Dean and Loquaci. Billy Nelson returned and won the 12th event ahead of multi time Merced champion Raul Rodriguez and Gallaher. The championship was still close at that time, and there was no margin for error. However, Dean held off Modified ace Troy Foulger to win the season finale and wrap up the championship. Corn finished third and settled for a very close second in the final rundown. After breaking on the opening lap, Loquaci fell to fifth in the final standings as Kristy Shearer finished third. Tony Peffer walked away with "Rookie Of The Year" honors.

Chris Corder set out to win his third Merced Speedway Mini Stock championship, but sister Jennifer was hoping to derail those plans. After winning his championship at Watsonville, young D.J. Keldsen also came to town with his sights set on the track title. To further drive home his point, Keldsen won the season opener ahead of Porterville visitor Shawn Schwartzenberger and Chris Corder. Keldsen followed that up with another win ahead of Paul Laoretti and Jennifer Corder. However, after tangling with Corder racing in the third event and flipping his car, Keldsen was disqualified and never came back.

Chris Corder broke out of his slump in a big way with three straight wins, the first ahead of Lucy Falkenberg and Shawn DePriest. Chris followed that up with another win ahead of DePriest and the season best third for Tyler Jackson. At the fifth event, Chris Corder again beat Lucy Falkenburg and Jennifer Corder. It looked like Chris Corder was going to pull away, but it was his sister Jennifer snapping his win streak with her first win at the sixth event. DePriest had his second season high second place finish ahead of Jason Womack.

The battle of the Corders was in full swing when Chris won the seventh race ahead of Jason Womack's season best second place finish as Jennifer Corder ran third. Chris out dueled Jennifer to win the eighth race as Destiny Carter had her season best third place finish. Jennifer Corder was within striking distance going into the ninth and final race. She did everything she could do as she won ahead of Lucy Falkenberg's third second place finish. However, Chris Corder finished third to clinch the championship by a mere two points. Falkenberg was a solid third in the final standings as DePriest wrapped up "Rookie Of The Year" honors.

The Valley Sportsman division was racing without a point list, and the standings weren't released until after the season concluded. With two victories, Jeff Bristow won the championship rather easily. Chris Birdsong was mourning the passing of his father, reigning champion Kenny Birdsong. He did Kenny proud when he won the Legends Night Main Event ahead of Mark Odgers and J.J. Burks. A season high seven cars were in action for that race. Birdsong won three races to finish second in the standings. Watsonville legend Jerry Cecil was the other feature winner, and he finished fourth in the standings. Shannon Fry had two second place finishes, but the division was further rocked by the news of his passing. Fry ended up third in the final standings.

FND Motorsports was able to get Parker to add the new California Sharp Mini Late Model class to the roster. Most of the cars were fielded by the Shearer team, which is the official dealer of the cars in California. Timmy Vaught scored five victories out of nine races. Riley Jeppesen also had a victory. Season long supporter Tim Crews was winless, but he had three second place finishes. Troy Foulger, Tommy Bostic and Rick Diaz each had a win. Ian Shearer supported most of the season and had a season high third place finish. Parker has announced that this division will race for points in 2018.

A huge turnout of Dwarf Cars were in town for the two day Western State Dwarf Car Nationals event. Las Vegas competitor Matt Sargent held off Danny Wagner and Jake Van Ortwick to win the Pro feature, while Kevin Bender won the Veteran Dwarf Car feature ahead of Mike Reeder and Kevin Miraglo. Jake Tupper won the Sportsman feature ahead of Ben Weisz and Devin Kammermann.

The Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets and Midget Lites got to make appearances. The Midget Lites were in town twice, with Charlie Carracilo winning both events. Champion Craig Dillard finished second in the first event, followed by Dakota Albright. The second event was billed as the Wayne Albright Memorial Race, and Dakota Albright finished second to Carrcailo in that race as Doug Nunez was third. The Midgets had a strong showing with roughly 20 cars in action, and Corey Elliott won a thriller ahead of Frankie Guerini III and Robert Dalby.

The RaceSaver 305 IMCA Sprint Cars had two events. The first show produced nearly 20 cars with Jesse Mack winning ahead of 2015 champion Blake Robertson and Tanner Boul. Boul returned and won the next race ahead of Monte Ferreira and Grant Duinkerken. Thee USAC Speed2 Midgets also made two appearances. Tom Patterson won the first race ahead of Adam Lemke and Jesse Love IV. The second race was also won by Patterson ahead of Lemke and Antonia Boscacci.

2017  Merced Speedway Points
IMCA Modifieds

Randy Brown    387
Bruce Nelson    330
Mike Villanueva    319
Bill Egleston    319
Ryan Porter    290
Jarod Fast    280
Troy Stone    257
Darrell Hughes II 249
Ricky Thatcher    246
D.J. Shannon    236

Hobby Stocks
Kodie Dean    503
Garrett Corn    493
Kristie Shearer 454
Austin VanHoff    448
Robbie Loquaci    443
Shannon Nelson    435
Michael Shearer 320
Kevin Joaquin    289
James Stockton    289
Tony Peffer    267

IMCA Sport Mods   
Fred Ryland    492
Jeremy Hoff    428
Chase Thomas    391
Rick Diaz    384
Tanner Thomas    372
Tim Elias    314
Patti Ryland    313
Chuck Weir    301
Cody Parker    283
Jack Aguiar    281

Mini Stocks
Chris Corder    381
Jennifer Corder 379
Lucy Falkenberg 338
Shawn DePriest    299
Jason Womack    282
Destiny Carter    281
Jeremy Perry    174
Karina Peffer    131
DJ Keldsen    115
Helena Guzman    103

Valley Sportsman
Jeff Bristow    234
Chris Birdsong    158
Shannon Fry    78
Jerry Cecil    77
Mike Friesen    75
Mark Odgers    39
Jesse James Burks 38
Rick Elliot    35
Jeff West    34

 2018 Schedule Released For Orland Raceway

Orland, CA...The 2018 schedule has just been released for Orland Raceway. Rich Hood enters his third season as promoter of the 1/5 mile dirt oval at the Glenn County Fairgrounds in Orland, and he is bringing more of the same and a little bit extra this year. The track appeared to be dead when Hood took over as promoter just two months prior to the beginning of the 2016 season, and the progress since then has been remarkable.

Orland will continue to offer the Pure Stock, Mini Truck and Mini Stock divisions as three of the staple classes. Also scheduled several times this season will be the Micro Sprint divisions and the Wingless Gas Sprints. There will be 250 and 600 Micro Sprint divisions this year as was the case last season, and it is hoped that the 600 Sprints will rebound from a disappointing season last year.

The only division featured for all 13 events will be the Pure Stocks as all of the other divisions will get nights off during the course of the season, which kicks off on April 28th with Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 250 Micro Sprints and Wingless Gas Sprints. Among the special events for the season will be the Glenn County Fair Race on May 19th, featuring Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks and Wingless Gas Sprints. The next night will be the Glenn County Fair Destruction Derby. In addition to the Stock Destruction Derby and RV Derby, there will also be a Boat Race.

A new addition for two visits this year will be the popular Sport Modified division. They have been booked for June 2nd along with Pure Stocks, 250 and 600 Micro Sprints and Wingless Gas Sprints. They return on July 28th along with Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks and 250 Micro Sprints. Another special addition to the schedule will be the return of the California Hardtops on June 30th. Joining them will be Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks and 250 and 600 Micro Sprints.

The Hardtops return for one of the track's signature events, September 15th Fan Appreciation Night. On this occasion, the track has a racer and fan meet and greet behind the main grandstands before the races that afternoon. The scheduled divisions for the evening will be Hardtops, Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks and Mini Stocks. The Thomas Schmitke Race For A Cure will be held on August 4th. Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 250 Micro Sprints and Wingless Gas Sprints are all scheduled for that program.

Another signature event for Orland Raceway is the Kids Bike Night on August 18th. There will be bike giveaways and bike races, and Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Wingless Gas Sprints and 250 and 600 Micro Sprints will all be competing that evening. After the end of the point season, which will be a race on September 29th for Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 600 Micro Sprints and Wingless Gas Sprints, there will still be two big October events.

After the success of the Battle Of The Axles events last October, the two big shows have been booked for October again this year. On October 6th, Battle Of The Axles event number one will feature Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 250 Micro Sprints and Wingless Gas Sprints. The curtain closes on the season on October 13th with the big Battle Of The Axles Pure Stock race. There will also be 600 Micro Sprints and a Destruction Derby to end the night. Last season, 28 Pure Stocks competed in the big $1,000 to win event, which was the biggest turnout for a single division at Orland in several seasons.

Hood is booking a smart and solid racing schedule for the fans to enjoy that also makes it easier for the racers to come out for each and every race. There will be racing about every other week starting with the April 28th opener and concluding with the final event on October 13th. The schedule is subject to adjustments or potential additions. For further information on the happenings at Orland Raceway, check out the website at or visit their Facebook page.

Central Valley Mini Stocks 2018 Schedule Released, 
Top Drivers Of 2017 Honored

Lemoore, CA...By the time the 2017 awards banquet rolled around, the Central Valley Mini Stock drivers had even more reason to celebrate. The group's leadership had secured an eight race schedule this season that will ensure at least one race per month from April through October. Again, most of the races will take place at Lemoore Raceway. Furthermore, the Sportsman 600 Micro Sprints will run in support at Lemoore.

The season will start on April 22nd and continue on May 6th. On June 9th, the group makes its lone appearance at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford. A day later, they return to Lemoore. Again, most of the races will take place on Sunday afternoons at Lemoore, and the Mini Stock division will be the headliner as they were last year. July 21st, August 12th, September 9th and October 14th make up the remainder of a comfortable schedule for the valley's leading Mini Stock group.

One of the important sponsors who helped keep things going for the Central Valley Mini Stocks last year was the House Of JuJu, and the January 20th banquet was held there. A room full of roughly 50 racers, family and crew members gathered as the top stars were honored. The TV screen showed photos highlighting all of the excitement that was the 2017 season.

In addition to awards going to the top competitors, several special award certificates were also handed out. A look at the Top 10 in the standings finds some good battles taking place. A hard fought championship battle was won by Danny Myrick ahead of Rod Baronian. The point battle was much closer than the 47 point Advantage Myrick had. Unfortunately, Dan Myrick failed to make it out of the B Main in the final race and slipped five points behind Baronian back to third.

Finishing fourth was Chris Goldsmith, and he beat Jeff Durant by a mere six points. Durant held fifth in the final standings by 21 points ahead of Ryan Doglione. Logan Doglione ended up seventh in the final standings, beating Wayne Ross by just 11 points. Ben Davis finished ninth, while Randy Brown completed the Top 10.

Just being able to pull off a Mini Stock program on a track better known for its Micro Sprint racing was an accomplishment in itself, and this was a team effort. After running some tests on the 1/5 mile dirt oval in late 2016, it was decided that this track would be perfect for the exciting brand of racing that the Mini Stocks provide. There may have been some skepticism as to whether this would be a success, but the show never had less than 12 cars and the point standings reveal that 25 different competitors earned points during the course of the season.

With a comfortable eight race schedule planned, optimism is high that this Sunday afternoon program will continue to grow at Lemoore Raceway. Everybody is working hard behind the scenes to ensure that this season will be bigger and better. The January 20th banquet was an opportunity for everybody to celebrate their accomplishments as a group. Now, it's time to get those race cars ready. The season begins on April 22nd at Lemoore Raceway. In fact, a play day has been scheduled for Lemoore on March 10th for drivers to work out any bugs in their race cars. For further information, you can find the Central Valley Mini Stocks page on Facebook or go to their website at

 2018 California Hardtop Association Schedule Released

Placerville, CA...The popular California Hardtop Association with their vintage Coupe and Sedan race cars are back with a full schedule this year. This season's schedule boasts a total of 21 events at eight different race tracks. Leading the way in tracks with the most events booked are Stockton 99 Speedway and Antioch Speedway, with five and four respectively. The California Hardtops will also make their maiden appearance at Merced Speedway.

The Hardtops return to the pavement of Stockton for the first time in a few years as they open their season on March 24th. They return to Stockton for dates on April 28th, June 16th, July 14th and August 11th. Following the March opener, they go to Chico Silver Dollar Speedway on April 6th. They return to Chico on August 17th. What's interesting about those dates is they are part of two race weekends. They race at Marysville Raceway on April 7th and return to Marysville on August 18th.

Many of the Hardtop competitors are looking forward to April 21st, which is the first of three dates booked at Placerville Speedway. They return to Placerville on May 19th and July 28th. Antioch Speedway has the Bay Area Hardtop movement, which gladly welcomes the California Hardtops. The April 28th event at Antioch may be a challenge as Stockton is also booked that week, but July 21st and October 6th are fair game for the California Hardtops. The September 8th event at Antioch will be the Annual Chet Thompson Memorial Race, which has been won these past two seasons by Jason Armstrong.

Merced Speedway promoter Ed Parker actively sought out the California Hardtops for a visit, and May 5th was booked. Orland Raceway proved to be a popular venue when the Hardtops made two appearances last season. They are booked for events on June 30th and September 15th this year. The Hardtops will be at Petaluma Speedway on July 1st and August 25th. The August Petaluma date also marks the return of the Hardtops to the Johnny Soares Classic. Soares won the first two BCRA Hardtop championships back in the 1940's.

Over 20 Hardtop competitors in the Northern California area competed throughout the 2017 season at various venues. There are still several other cars in various states of repair that could see the race track this year. The group races for fun and not championship points, but it still remains very competitive whenever they are in town.

One of the big stars of the Hardtop circuit last season was Jason Armstrong. Jason won at several venues, including Antioch, Petaluma, Chico, Orland and Placerville. He is not only a factor in helping the club secure dates, he also has helped several competitors get their race cars ready for race day. In addition to Jason, his father Dennis Armstrong should see some action this year, and there are rumors that Club President John Philbert could be back behind the wheel again this year.

The "Rocket Man" Ken Clifford continues to be a big California Hardtop booster with a two car team. Ken had the best attendance record of any competitor in the group last year, but son Jason Clifford missed several races as he built the team's shop to work on the race cars. However, Jason did his father proud by winning a race at Orland last season.  Ken won the opening night Main Event for the Hardtops at the Vintage Classic at Roseville.  He was subbing in the car normally driven by his son, who was on vacation.

Rob Waldrop drove the Bill McLaughlin car to a pair of victories early last season, but that car has since been sold to Roger MacShain, who made his debut with the group late last season. The competitive nature of this group means you never know who will win on any given week, and Dave Reed, Joe "Hood Pins" Hopp and Ron Ruiz were among the winners last season. In Antioch, Dave Mackey was a winner as was Limited Late Model champion Kimo Oreta. Jason Armstrong won the Chet Thomson Memorial.  Mike Friesen won the Hardtop Main Event at the second night of the Vintage Classic at Roseville.

It was Ken Retzloff picking up another second place finish in the Chet Thomson Memorial as he continues to dial in his car. There is an impressive roster of drivers in the Hardtop division, including Tommy Thomson, Steve Cloyes, Russ Kraft, Joe Shenefield, Dan Williams, John Turner, Rhett Lange, Gene Haney, Charles Mart, Mario Romano, Dan Whitney and newcomer Larry Wells. The Hardtop competitors field some of the nicest looking race cars at the track, and they put on a good show wherever they go.