Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Anybody Reading, Anybody care?

Here's the deal. At the bottom of this post on the right is a link that says Comments. Feel free to chime in with a post. All you need to do is register a blogger, but it's free. You can even start your own blog page after that. If you would like, we can make this the official comments thread and link it on the side. What would you like to see in the racing book that I intend to write? Maybe it's something I can make happen.

At this time, I am working on other writing projects. I am creating a game that is unrelated to racing and will be editing a book (again non racing) that I finished a year ago so that I might finally publish it. The racing book will probably not begin before 2008, so there is time for discussion now.

While I have been out of the racing scene for a while, I wouldn't mind getting into a discussion here or there about racing past, present or future. This book will go nowhere without you the reader. Today I have posted a few classic articles from DCRR past and a comment on the lack of coverage for the big show at Antioch.

I'll be interested to see if anybody is reading.

It Ends With A Whimper

Who's Hot

All American Speedway on Roseville. The track gets major improvements this year and ends up with TV News coverage on at least a couple local channels. They were covered as the season was ready to open and about two weeks ago when Jessica Helberg was driving a Stock Car there. I believe Jessica is from the same family that raced Sportsman and Stock Cars out at Petaluma. These were nice news pieces, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were others I missed.

Who's Not

Antioch Speedway. Don't get me wrong. The man in charge out there, John Soares Jr., gets high marks for putting on a big money race for Late Models and Dirt Modifieds, basically the sort of show you see at the end of the season. I give him an A for the purse part. Who won? Where's the newspaper coverage? I heard they had a great car count. Gotta give them an F for blowing it in the newspaper coverage department. I'm sure there's an interesting story about why they can't get The Times, Chronicle or Tribune to give them any coverage, but did anybody even try?

You can't just keep telling people to look at the web page all the time. Not everybody surfs the web, believe it or not. Though Antioch Speedway has a nice web page with all the results and info you need, it's not enough. You need some printed stories too.

Okay, I guess I ranted again. Sorry about that. I'll get off my high horse, er chair, er whatever. I've heard it was a great show. Would have been nice to read about it too.

One More From The Archives

I found this is the files and figured I'd share it here. Jimmy Lavell got a win out at Altamont this year with the NCMA and is an NCMA Asphalt Champion as well, if I'm not mistaken. Well, "Gentleman" Jimmy Lavell got his first taste of carbureted Sprint Car racing with the Wingless Spec Sprints. It's amazing how many drivers can say that, and I'm proud of what Don O'Keefe Jr. and I were able to do to kelp make that possible.

Anyway, Lavell had already earned a few accomplishments prior to the Spec Sprints, and here's an old DCRR article that talks about that as Jimmy was making his move up to the open wheel division.

Wingless Spec Sprints A Dream Come True For Lavell

Look for former Altamont Pure Stock champion Jimmy Lavell to be in action at Antioch. It is racers like Lavell who are joining the Wingless Spec Sprint division that make it the fastest growing class at Antioch Speedway. "This is a dream come true to own my own Sprint Car and go out, " Lavell admitted. "It's competitive. It looks nice. Like I said, this is something I have dreamed about ever since I was a little kid. These guys, they made it happen. Mikey put the motor together. Danny's been helping me get the chassis and everything squared away. I have them to thank a whole bunch for helping me make a dream come true. That and John and everybody else who has made this class happen. You look at pictures of these cars and they look so cool. They're out there sideways. It's a rush. I think it's one of the best things that has happened to Sprint Car racing anywhere in the United States."

Affordability is the key to Lavell, who lists "Lots Of Overtime" as one of his sponsors. In fact, lack of funds probably kept him in a Pure Stock longer than he needed to be. "Say I wanted to go down south and run, excluding the NCMA. You're looking at $20-25.000 a motor. I'm just a working stiff. I paid for this thing by myself. How many guys can afford to spend 25 grand on a motor and another 10 on a roller chassis deal? It's just tough to do. This is such a sweet, sweet deal for us to be able to come out and run with these cars. It's good racing. You don't have guys coming out and walking away from everybody. Everybody is in the thick of it. I'm looking forward to it.

Lavell's debut in the second race of the season saw him struggle in his heat race, before coming out of the B Main and into a top five feature finish. He is quick to give the credit for his night's success where it's due. "The guy that set the distributor evidently had done a Ford distributor before, " Jimmy explained. "They rotate in the opposite direction. He put the advance weights backwards. That's what was wrong. It was retarding the timing instead of advancing. Danny and Josh were sitting here trying to get this thing to run, because we were barely getting it to start. Danny says, 'Hey man, this is not right. The weights are on upsidedown. It's got to be that.' They were calling us up for the B Main. I said, 'Hey, change it.' They jumped on it and changed it. Last week, our accomplishments were because of Danny. He's the one that solved the problem. I got into it and it was so easy to drive. They're easy to drive when they run good and they're a handful when they don't."

Coming from the back of the pack, patience is the key. Many people weren't expecting him to have the top five success so quickly. "Neither was I, but if you stay out of the carnage, it makes a big difference, " said Lavell, who won three Pure Stock features last season before selling that car to Brian Davis to get the Sprint Car. "You can get in way over your head real quick with these cars. A lot of guys are going out there kamikaze, Hey, give it a couple laps and let everybody get spread out. Then start going for it. I'd like to see Don O'Keefe out here keeping things settled like he did last year. It was a good run last week. I was this high off the ground when I got out of the car."

The former top five Baylands Raceway Park Pure Stock competitor is now ranked top ten and the second rookie on the Antioch WSS point list, but he insists he's not concerned with that. "We come out here to run for fun, " claimed Lavell "We're not chasing points or anything like that. We want to go home every night with the car in one piece and a smile on our face. Last week, we were all smiling."

An Old Article About NCMA From 1988

I was there that first season when the NCMA was known as California Dirt Cars as far as anybody but the drivers in NCMA were concerned. Oh, the stories I can tell about that exciting time of getting that deal started. The club is in their 20th season now, if my math is correct. Back in those days, Mike Johnson was creating something out of nothing. I'll have to post more about that. There are several interesting stories to be told about that and my other experiences on the carbureted Sprint Car scene in Northern California.

Anyway, I started putting a web page together back around 1998 for NCMA, an unofficial deal. Of course I upset a couple people by doing it, which was not my intention. I could tell some stories there, but I'll leave it at this. Bill Ivins and his daughter Vicky did good things for the NCMA and genuinely cared about that group. I don't know if the NCMA is still doing a Hall Of Fame, but Bill would be a guy I would love to see inducted.

Anyway, on to the story of NCMA 1988. The year "The Conord Desperado" Mike Johnson won the championship.


If the above picture (not included here) could tell a story, it would be about Mike Johnson and the NCMA's search for respectability. It was from the Northern California Modified Association's (NCMA) First Annual Awards Banquet in 1989 at the Concord Holiday Inn. Mike Johnson got the championship trophy that year, but he was more concerned with the NCMA's image after that first year than any of his accomplishments. In fact, the costly banquet that saw several VIP's from race tracks and well know reporters as well saw the NCMA borrow money from NCMA member Mike Lokmor to put on the awards ceramony. It was the first of many proud moments for the NCMA, but Johnson's last as part of the club as he left the post of Race Director in early 1989.

With years of Sprint Car exerience (11 wins as a professional from 1983-1986) and numerous other accomplishments, there was no doubt Mike Johnson would be tough to beat. He started racing his Modified (Dirt Car) at Santa Maria in 1987, where he got the idea to form the NCMA closer to home. He had mostly bad luck that year, which he later said was a factor to his 1988 success as he got all of his mechanical woes out of the way at Santa Maria. Johnson spent the better part of 1987 trying to convince a promoter to give his Modified idea a shot before the new Antioch promoter gave him a home track to race at.

With a club record 11 main event victories (including seven in a row), Mike's title was never in doubt as he won the first ever NCMA crown by over 200 points ahead of rookie Keith Collins. Collins cut his teeth at Antioch Speedway in the Street Stock division, where he was a former top twenty driver and DCRR Racing News B Main Champion. Collins, in turn, beat Jim Berryhill by over 200 points for second in the standings.

There was a bit of controversy when the club's first Antioch race had only 2 cars, and they fielded only four cars for the next few races as well. Jim Berryhill was a late starter, but with some trophy dash victory success and a few good main event efforts down the stretch, Jim ranked third. Meanwhile, Berryhill's teammate, Chuck Murch, ranked fourth in the final rundown. The Murch-Johnson rivalry was the NCMA's first, and it sometimes got a little heated. NCMA General Meetings could get very heated when Chuck showed up. Chuck held the distinction of being one of only two NCMA Member to beat Johnson in a main event that year, though Johnson did lose to Santa Maria Speedway racers Bill Floyd (twice in the club's two joint efforts with the SMS Dirt Cars at Baylands) and once to Gary Knight (The original California Dirt Car driver, who had the first car in a 1986 Demo at Santa Maria, attended by Johnson). The whooping taken by the NCMA California Dirt Cars by their Santa Maria counter parts was enough to convince the club to break off from the Souther California group. Part of the reason was the fact that Santa Maria drivers were leaning towards the bigger wheel based chassis run by the DIRT Modifieds in Pennsylvania, while the NCMA was leaning towards the smaller wheel based cars and going after the older Super Modified chassis. In fact, the NCMA voted to outlaw the bigger wheel based cars.

One of the smaller wheel based SMS cars, that of Tim Elias, made the trip up from the Santa Maria area several times to rank fifth in points as Paul Nelson, Dave Johnson, Darrell McCarl, Darryl Shirk and Scott Holloway completed the top ten drivers in points in that sometimes difficult first season. Elias didn't win a feature, but his three seconds, one dash win and one fast time were impressive. His car ended up getting sold to Jeff Pike, who brough Vallejo Speedway legend Ken Gandy out of retirement to race.

The extremely low car count that year saw Johnson take a lot of heat from people in the pits. The IMCA type Modified division had reached a verbal agreement with the former promoter in 1987, but that deal went with the new promoter and Johnson took the heat from people for making it happen. In fact, Mike would have to race an IMCA type Modified, driven by Keith Brown, on one night, but he just managed to beat him in a close race. The car count went from 2 at the first Antioch race to 12 at the final race at the track. On that disasterous opener with two cars, the class caught the eye of veteran Darryl Shirk, who was quoted in the newspaper saying he might put a car together. Darryl quit the Street Stock divion at Antioch Speedway later that year as the point leader to join the NCMA, but he had a rough first few races, including a hard crash that knocked him out. Meanwhile, Darryl McCarl suffered a broken leg in a crash at Baylands. In an early season feature at Antioch and probably in an effort to get the crowd into their low car count race--though he flatly denies it--Mike Johnson lost a photo finish for a main event win to his father Dave.

The 1988 season for the NCMA was undeniably Mike Johnson's in more ways than one. Not only was he the club's first chapion, but if not for his initial efforts, there would have been no NCMA. In fact, Mike began campaigning for the NCMA to get a home track as early as the end of 1987, when he raced in Santa Maria, advertising the formation of the NCDC in at least one prominant racing publication, a move that met with negative press from well respected writer Ron Albright. After over a year, Mike finally met with success by convincing new Antioch Speedway track manager George Stiles to give it a shot in 1988. At the end of the '88 season, Mike stepped down as club President with Paul Nelson being voted in, but he remained the club's Race Director ntil his unfortunate departure in February of 1989. At that time, there were roughly two dozen drivers ready to race with the NCMA, but the turmoil surrounding Mike's departure saw many of them either sell their cars or race with the 360 Sprint Car division.
Pl. No. Driver Pts.

1 2x Mike Johnson (11) 1,092
2 10 Keith Collins 854
3 11 Jim Berryhill 655
4 23 Chuck Murch (1) 495
5 5 Tim Elias 482
6 28 Paul Nelson 477
7 66 Dave Johnson (1) 452
8 37 Darrell McCarl 451
9 86 Darryl Shirk 334
10 4 Scott Holloway 234
11 17 Steve Clevenger 190
12 84 Gary Lee Kanawyer 168
13 69 Bill Floyd (2) 136
14 51 Mike Lokmor 135
15 24 Gary Knight (1) 128

Wins in ( )
"Rookie Of The Year" Keith Collins
"Hard Luck Racer" Darrell McCarl

An Old Article From DCRR 2000 (I Think)

It's been a while since I updated, so I figured I'd put this up. It's an old DCRR article I wrote from 2000 or so that I did about the need for more dirt tracks in the Bay Area as we lose the ones we had. I had pictures with it, but I haven't figured out how to go about pictures with this blog (too lazy). I will be posting other older stories.


It's an alarming trend in the Bay Area. They want to shut down our little Saturday night dirt tracks. At the end of the 1988 season, they got the popular Baylands Raceway Park. At the end of the 1999 season, San Jose Speedway was next. Prior to the 1998 season at Antioch, the local neighborhood whiners showed up to a Fair Board Meeting to voice opposition to the race track and were met head to head not by track regulars or even management but several members of the popular traveling NCMA Modified Sprint division. Prior to 1999, Watsonville Speedway faced threat of closure because of it's expanded schedule plans. All this points to the obvious conclusion that a few people out there want to shut down our race tracks.

However, in the Bay Area, there has been an increase in car count. In fact, Watsonville and Antioch have had increases in car count, and though not as big as it could be, Petaluma is holding its own. In the midst of this, there is a quiet movement towards opening up more race tracks to capitalize on the growing popularity of the sport. Our two flagship Bay Area dirt tracks, Watsonville and Antioch, are filled to capacity with divisions at the moment. In the South Bay, the rumor mill turned quite rapidly about a potential race track in city of Hollister, where the Hells Angels gather for a Motorcycle run once a year. The actual plans for how the new dirt oval would be built were reportedly approved, but the effort to start building got caught in red tape. Hollister Speedway appears dead at this moment.

The second effort may still be in the pursuit stages right now. Somewhere between Morgan Hill and San Jose, they would love to build a new dirt track for Saturday night racing. The "they" reportedly includes Watsonville Promoter Rick Farren. However, much like David Vodden's efforts to replace Baylands with a track in Vacaville, there is no news to report on this effort. Whether anything is in fact still being pursued is a matter of speculation as the people involved in this very real search have kept hush hush.

The East Bay, meanwhile, has had its share of rumors to go with. For a brief period in the late 80's there was talk of a new track on the other side of Antioch. Of course, houses went on that very valuable piece of real estate instead. That also demonstrates one of the big problems in getting a new track built. Most of the prime pieces of land fit for building end up with houses or stores on them. Then came a hot rumor in 1999 that on the site of the old Martinez dump an area businessman was considering building a Raceway Park complex. In the face of all the effort it would take to make it happen, this person balked.

However, two tracks within 30 minutes of Antioch got this reporter's attention. What made them even more interesting was the fact that the property exists and is being used for motorsports competition. In August of last year, The DCRR caught up with a man, who for the purposes of this article we'll call Joe. He has asked to keep his anonymity for various reasons. This person had an interest in putting Stock Car races on at a track on the edge of Brentwood and Byron called Sand Hill Raceway, a property owned by Tom Anderson.

Joe had a group of a half dozen investors behind him for this proposed Stock Car track. "We had a pretty good idea of how we were gonna do it, " claimed Joe. "We would have been able to start racing within four to six months of an agreement."

He acknowledged that there was much work to be done there. "They have cut a quarter-mile dirt track out there, but that's all that's there, " Joe explained. "They have plenty of property, and the track could even be moved if needed. They have some seating, but we'd need to bring in more. We would start with day races, but we'd need to invest in lighting if we were to move to night. We'd have to build virtually everything, but we had a few ideas on what minimum we could do to get started. Like I said, there's a lot of work to do, bit it's doable."

As for what a person might have seen had Sand Hill Raceway become a reality, "We probably wouldn't have run all the classes Antioch has and some would have been occasional classes, " said Joe. "Money is the biggest issue, and you need to be able to afford what you have. Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, maybe an Enduro or two would have been scheduled. Depending on sponsorships, we might have booked the Grand American Modifieds or the NCMA Modifieds for some dates too. We'd probably start with Sunday afternoon races, but eventually would have gone Friday night."

The ideas that Joe put out in our more than two hour conversation that August afternoon were intriguing, to say the least. So, why wasn't it going to happen? "Basically, they didn't want to risk what they already have by going to the county to ask for more, " claimed Joe. "It would have meant going through a lot of red tape, and there's issues that have hurt them in the past. I think something could happen out there if they really wanted it, but it's up to them I guess."

Needless to say, this interested The DCRR. Sand Hill Raceway has been in existence for many years. It's claim to fame is the annual New Years Hill Climb for Motorcycles. In the 90's, Anderson was interested in getting into Kart racing and Mini Sprint racing. With the help of some racers, a nice one-sixth mile dirt oval was built back in 1993. The San Jose Kart Club raced at Sand Hill during that time. There was also Mini Sprint racing, and even a few Dwarf Cars and Legend Cars showed up to practice. Two drivers trying to climb the ladder in racing, Brandi Ford and Chris Wadsworth, started racing in Sand Hill.

Unfortunately, a few bad decisions caused unwanted attention to Sand Hill. A rave party drew about 4,000 teens and twenty-somethings July 4th weekend of 1997. Four people were suspected of overdosing on drugs and loud music played all night, riling the rural neighbors. Not long after that incident, more than 100 police officers descended on the Sand Hill Ranch Motocross track for an illegal race that drew numerous complaints from neighbors.

In light of these things, Sand Hill Ranch seems to be content these days to open six days a week for anybody who wants to pay to play around with their Motorcycle, Kart or Mini Sprint. It allows them to make a few bucks on the property. This reporter went out to visit Sand Hill and possibly talk with Anderson soon after the conversation with Joe. Unfortunately, a death in the Anderson family had Tom at a funeral. However, Kenny, the track maintenance man, was there and able to provide some insight to the situation.

As for the dirt oval track, "It is a true quarter, " said Kenny, "right down the center. We'll drop a load of water for you on Saturdays and Sundays if you come out. We'll really soup it down though, because it dries off fast. He cuts it about once a week. Right now, it's in pretty good shape. It's got a pretty good hard pack on it, so we don't want to cut it."

Will they try to run any races on it? "It would be up to whatever association, " said Kenny. "We'd lease the track out to somebody. We tried to Go Karts and tried to run a racing program. It's hard to keep so many people happy. Half the people want it this way and half the people want it that way. We don't have lights on it either, so that makes it rough."

What about a racing program for cars? "We can't run anything with a car motor out here, " claimed Kenny. "That has been pursued. Our land use is permitted for Motorcycles, and Motorcycle related activity. We had to fight hard just for that. You can't even run a Mini Stock or Hobby Stock. We've got these Mini Sprint Cars doing 95 to 100 miles per hour out there, and you get an old Pinto out there not even coming close to that, but they're a car motor. That's what they're looking at."

So, it's hopeless? "We'd never get that through, " claims Kenny. "I mean, if somebody wants to try and work the county, good luck."

Do Dwarf Cars and Legend Cars classify under the Motorcycle use permit? "As long as they have Motorcycle motors in them, up to 1300 cc. There's a program there to be had. There's another guy trying to pursue getting Flat Track Motorcycles out here. I don?t know if they could run a program with the cars, because they'd rut up the track too bad. There's also the Quads."

Following along with the theme that there are people who want to shut down race tracks, Sand Hill also has their problems. "We have one person out here, " said Kenny. "You'd be surprised what one person who has no factor in anything can do. We have to go to a meeting for review everything five years or so in front of the planning commission. All it takes is one kook there. They can put down $250 and they can really mess up your world. We had to make a lot of changes, and we were here seven years before she even bought the land and built her house."

"We moved the oval, " Kenny added. "It used to be over there. We had bleachers and grandstands and lights and everything. We moved it the farthest away we could get it from her. We've got all that stuff. It's still here. It's easily assembled. These grandstands came from a high school."

After the conversation, this reporter snapped several shots further showing the potential this land has to host a weekly Stock Car racing event. Whether that ever happens remains to be seen, but the odds seem to be against that. However, in light of the recent Delta Speedway decision to go Saturday night, a Friday night Mini Sprint program could potentially be successful and put together in a short amount of time.

In the process of learning about Sand Hill, rumors came about a new one-fifth mile track in Dixon at Argyle Park (See add in back). Coming home from the Reno Promoter's Workshop, this reporter got to make an unexpected visit to the Dixon property. Unfortunately, a camera wasn't available. What was discovered was a nice asphalt Go-Kart road course, that has been the stomping grounds of such racers as NCMA champion Scott Holloway. On the other side of the property, across a little lake, is an area for Motorcycle racers, a snack bar and further back is a nicely groomed, banked one-fifth mile dirt track.

Property owner Bill Campbell was on hand on this day, along with at least ten Motorcycle riders. Unlike Brentwood, the former West Capital and Vallejo Speedway racer revealed that he would be interested in holding Stock Car events at his facility in the future. In fact, Mini Trucks, Mini Sprints and even a Street Stock have already practiced on the track, open seven days a week. "If you call us in advance, we can groom the track for you, " said Bill. ?There's still more that we plan to do with it as the weather permits."

In the meantime, the track is open for people who wish to practice or test new motors prior to race day at their home track. The seven day a week schedule makes it convenient for any wishing to test their cars. The fact that a track at Dixon or even Brentwood exist should be enough encouragement for a person or persons interested in trying to establish a new dirt track in the area. With the right effort, as we have learned from the people at Chowchilla Speedway, you can make it happen.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Good Old Days: Bobby Hogge III is Antioch Champ

Another series I'd like to do is The Good Old Days. This will be where I talk about moments that I recall of excitement and drama from racing's past. Let's go back to the Late Model division in 1985 at Antioch Speedway. To be honest, I am more fond of the late 70's and early 80's and the Sportsman division, but I have realized over the last few years how special the Late Model era of the 80's and early 90's was. I will probably talk more about those days in the future, and I'm sure there will be fond memories and a little controversial opinion thrown in. If you read The DCRR during the 18 year run, I'm sure that won't surprise you.

To be honest, I wasn't a fan of most of the (circle) cars in those days, because I felt there was favortism shown to some of them. I still believe that to be the case to an extent, but I also grew to realize as I started to talk to these racers that they were very talented and earned much of what they got on the race track. The one racer from the (circle) group I was a fan of was Jim Pettit II, who since married a cousin of mine. I sat near his dad in the stands and we talked often. He bought some of my first magazines from me and encouraged me as a writer.

I won't get into the night Jimmy supposedly lost his brakes and the result was Alan Nordstrom crashing into the wall in Turn 2 after leading much of that race. Al was a good friend of mine and I got to learn much about the sport through him. I'm sure this will come up more in the future. As I recall, I burned a hat I had of Pettit's at Baylands not long after that, but that's another story. Pettit has won many championship's in his career, and I'm glad I still have one of his hats from that era. Oh, the memories...

You know, I believe Hogge drove Nordstrom's car one night as he needed the points. And Hogge is the point of this post. If you think Bobby Hogge IV can drive, you should have seen Hogge III. That man could drive, and when he used his patented "thread the needle" between two cars move, wow! I am surprised he didn't crash more than he did. Did you know Bobby raced a Sportsman at Watsonville before he got into Late Models. I think he even raced Sprint Cars. He won a Sportsman feature once and was quoted as saying he had more money in the trailer for that car than the race car itself.

Yep. Bobby could drive. There was a time when Bobby was either winning or blowing motors, and if not for that, he would probably have a few more championship trophies on the mantle. As it is, he is a Bay Area Racing Hall Of Famer as far as I'm concerned. You know, I recall the last season Len Mello, an all time favorite of mine, raced. Len was kicking butt in a 1986 Late Model race. He led by a half lap before a yellow flew about halfway through the race. Len finished second to Bobby Hogge III. Yep, Bobby could drive man.

Anyway, back in 1985, we were coming off of the Pettit-Byrd-Willis championship battles of 1982-84. That's for another time as it is a post in itself, but the Championship line reads Byrd 1982-83 by a combined 10 points over local hero Willis, but Willis rebounds and wins it all in 1984. Those were the days.

With San Jose not getting Regional points for Late Models, Ed Sans Jr. had won three championships in a row 1982-84, but no Regional points. Hogge had raced a full season in 1984 at Watsonville, at least I think, but he was just getting into the groove. Pettit switched to Merced in 1985, Byrd was primed for a Southwest Tour move and Willis teamed with Bruce Curl Sr. Rule changes drastically effected car count, again another story.

So, the battle was on between Hogge and Sans, but Sans missed a race or two at the start. Wasn't long before The Sanman had climbed his way into the top five and second, but Hogge was the leader. At the finale, Sans won the feature. May have been a sweep, but I'd have to look at my notes to be sure. That's when disaster very nearly struck Hogge. Hogge looped it in Turn 4 and was facing the wrong direction. Plus it was the last lap.

Now, Sans was fast that night, but enough drivers were on the lead lap, that this spinout could have cost Hogge everything. I believe there were 11 drivers on the lead lap, so Hogge could have lost the title by a few points. However, this was not to be. Bobby put it into reverse, drove it backwards down the straightaway and the rest is history. Your Antioch Speedway 1985 Late Model Champion: Bobby Hogge III.

They even had a stripper in the Hogge pits after the races, or so the legend goes, but that's another story.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Updates & A LInk

Found a link over at the Wayback Machine I wanted to share with you. This is from the DCRR Web Page in 1998. Can't believe what's still there. What an exciting time that was:


I have redone the logo for this page. Nothing fancy, but that's better than what we had.

Don't want to bury the two other posts I put up today, so I'll end it here. Hope you enjoy the page.

Who's Hot - Who's Not

I'm gonna have to rant at little here.

Gee, that didn't take long. Only three posts.

In my local paper, I used to get plenty of coverage of Antioch Speedway. In the 70's and 80's, the Contra Costa Times covered it.

In the 90's, we had the Ledger for the Antioch side of the hill, and there was great coverage in there. That is, until it was merged with The Times.

Now, we get, who's hot and who's not. Just a little mention of who won last week and who crashed along with a mention of what is racing and how much it will cost to see.

Frankly, that sucks, and I mean, it really sucks.

Last I checked, Petaluma got good newspaper coverage. So did Merced, Watsonville, Chico, Marysville, Madera. Not Antioch. Coverage sucks for Antioch.

The motorsports column covers NASCAR. Antioch gets the occasional mention. It just so happens that it was mentioned. Just two or three sentences to mention a big money Late Model show on the 23rd and the fact that one of the Wallace brothers will be racing. Well, La Di Freaking Da!!! Thanks for nothing.

So, who's to blame for this? Newspaper or Track? I'm gonna have to blame the track on this one. During my time at Antioch as announcer, the promoter did advertise in the paper. Jackie and I handled this. I designed the ad and she phoned it in and talked with the people there. It was mentioned to her that some room could be made for the track stories.

Well, I was carrying a pretty big load at the time and didn't really want the story thing. Besides, the track had an old veteran writer named Jack who was doing it. Is he still? Anyway, when I told him in front of John, he talked of how he can't and John agreed. Way to earn the money there Jack!!!

Anyway, since that time, I headed to Chowchilla to announce and write. I had a list of some 8-10 newspaper fax numbers that I sent to every week. 2 stories every week. Did every paper print everything? No, but they printed some. Chowchilla got coverage amongst the more established tracks there, and I'm rather proud of that fact. Sure, it disappointed me when nothing was printed, but I was also proud when presistence paid off with a printed story.

Back at Antioch, unless you get the Antioch, Oakley or Brentwood Press, you ain't reading about the track. The old "we can't" bill of goods has been sold to track management, and it has been bought. Don't despair though. For a few weeks, anyway, fans had the opportunity to print a flier from a pdf on the track's web sight to put in store windows.

Thing is, the relationship between the track and newspapers has been nonexistent for years now. Anybody who were brought in to handle PR now would have their work cut out for them. But, it could be done. Several things would have to be done to convince the wine and dine me sports media to give the track the time of day, but it could be done.

The track desrves better. It has a history of nearly 50 years of continuous racing. That's worth a few paragraphs twice a week.

Now, I'm not trying to point a finger at anybody or tell them how to do their job here. I'd just like to see some coverage again.

I'll end my rant here. Just something I wanted to say.

Gone But Not Forgotten

One of the features I'd like to do in this blog would be called Gone But Not Forgotten. This would be a series of posts about some of the people in racing who contributed to the sport in one way or another who have passed on.

Earlier this year, John Soares Sr. passed away, and that got me thinking about it. In my opinion, both of his sons ought to be holding races (Antioch and Petaluma) in his memory. John contributed so much to the sport, and so many people don't realize just what he did.

Bob Barkhimer is another great who passed away last year, and there should be an entire racing series in that man's honor. If you don't know who he is, all I can say is that California racing would look a lot different without him.

George Steitz. He was a champion and the promoter of one Northern California's biggest open show events ever. I was proud to know the man and announce a couple of his Chowchilla shows.

Mel Maupin. He was one of the low buck guys who made my time at Antioch Speedway something to look forward to. He was my friend and I was a fan of his.

Darryl Shirk. Simply one of the greatest drivers to ever strap into a race car in Northen California. Won many NCMA championships and was a key addition to the Spec Sprint roster at Antioch when Don O'Keefe Jr. and I started working on making the class happen.

Andy Archer. A talented young racer taken from us all too early. Raced with NCMA and won Rookie Of The Year honors with them. Another Spec Sprint original.

Actually, there are a few class act racers from the NCMA who passed away, including Roland Lokmor, Del Quinn, Dave Johnson and Ernie Smith. These men shaped the future of NCMA. Lokmor was a guy who was always quick to lend a hand to those in need. Quinn was a champion on more than one occasion and generally one of the nicest guys in NCMA. Johnson was a founder of NCMA, and I wonder how far his son would have gotten without him.

The NCMA will come up on many occasions here as I was a board member of the club from 1989 to 1993 and their first PR guy.

Jim Booth. He was NCMA President and kept that thing going during a time when it looked like it was over. Stock Car and 360 Sprint Car champion at Baylands and a man I was honored to call a friend. When others didn't make me feel welcome at times in NCMA, he was one who always let me know my efforts were appreciated.

Willie Myatt, Brian Solomon, Mike Cecil, Jim Deitrick, Buddy Cox and, oh Lord, it seems there are so many no longer with us. They must be up at that speedway in the sky.

Gary Jacob. Racing misses this man terribly. He covered races at so many tracks and just loved the sport. Won numerous awards, including one from The DCRR. He encouraged me and my writing efforts and gave me my first typewriter.

Jackie Martin. My sister. I miss her terribly. She wasn't just my sister, but my best friend. She had faith in me when I had none in myself. She was Head Of Sales for DCRR during it's best time. She had two amazing years as Antioch Speedway's Advertising Rep. I add that these were two of the best years ever under the John Soares Jr. era of the point fund.

Bill France Jr. Bill presided over NASCAR during it's period of unprecidented growth. The 80's are probably my favorite time to watch the Cup, before it got too corporate. The Weekly Racing Series was going strong and NASCAR seemed to care about it. I may have some rants on that subject in the future, but not now. I read in a Barkhimer story in Racing Wheels how Bill flew to California to learn about short track racing. When Bill ran NASCAR, the sport of racing was still going strong, and the future looked bright.

There are so many people who did so much for the sport that are gone now. People like Mel Hall, Doug Fort and Bert Moreland, three great promoters. It makes me sad to think of what we lost, happy to know that they were there but concerned for where we are going in the future.

Friday, June 1, 2007

What's This All About

I covered racing in California for 18 years and was a fan for much longer. My home track was Antioch Speedway, but I've probably been to 20 or more tracks. The magazine I published was Don's California Racing Review. The name changed a few times during the run, and I'm sure I'll tell the story about why that happened in a blog in the future. I also wrote for such magazines as Racing Wheels, MotoRacing, Veach Racing News and others. I announced for Antioch Speedway, Merced Speedway and Chowchilla Speedway.

I walked away from racing at the end of the 2003 season having burnt out on the whole experience. Since then, it seems that too many good people who helped build the sport have passed away, and some of them are already being forgotten. I had a passion for the sport and ideas on how to help. Sometimes that led to way too much stress, but I was always willing to jump right in there and try to help when given the opportunity.

So, why the blog? Basically, I have loads of prograps, notes, interviews, records of points and finishes, pictures and other stuff covering short track racing on the dirt in California. To my knowledge, only Gary Jacob had a bigger collection of records, and he is one of those who have passed away. Perhaps my next post will talk about some of the greats we have lost in recent years. But anyway, the point is that I am in the early stages of writing a book that will be available for purchase.

The book hasn't started yet as I am working on other projects, so a release date is a year away at least. What will it be about? I don't know. This blog will be a place where I discuss many things and think out loud about what will be in it. I will comment on racing past. Though it's not my intention to get into current racing, I'm sure I will. It's my intent to be honest, but not mean spirited. I don't want to offend, but unfortunately, it may happen. Just know that I come at this as a fan of dirt track racing and only want to see it get bigger and better. The best can still be yet to come if those involved work towards it.

Anyway, this is just supposed to be a short intro. Some of the things I want to to talk about here include:

Racing history, past champions, past winners, great moments of the past.

Carbureted Sprint Cars. As a co creator of Wingless Spect Sprints with Don O'Keefe Jr. and John Soares Jr., I have some things to say on the subject, but I also want to go deeper into the past, when NCMA, California Dirt Cars and Cal Mods were the three choices.

My quest to get established and my dealings with some of the promoters, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Getting to announce races. What a rush that was.

The promoter fued down in the valley and my honest opinion on that situation as a guy who was there for a few years of it.

Starting a State point race (DCRR Sweet 16/Terriffic 12).

The web racing project that rocked the net, CRO.

And much, much more.

The aim is to have a hard cover book, probably 150-200 pages, that will make for good reading. What will be in that book? Well, we've got time to figure that out, so welcome to my blog. Don't mind the mess. Just getting moved in and cleaning it all up.