Sunday, July 29, 2007

The 20 Most Influential Moments In Bay Area Racing During My Time In Racing

There have been a lot of interesting things that I have seen in racing during my time covering the sport. For nearly 30 years, racing was a regular part of my life. I went from being a fan in the stands to an announcer, co founder of a division and magazine publisher. This particular topic could very well be a part of the book I'm working on.

The 20 Most Influential Moments In Bay Area Racing During My Time In Racing

In no particular order of importance...

1-The Sportsman division ends, Stock Cars take over
I loved the Sportsman division. It hooked me on the sport

2-Rick Farren gets Cars Inc./West Coast Speedways
This had a huge impact on things

3-John Soares Jr. gets Antioch
It didn't fall apart. In the beginning, things were great

4-Spec Sprints
Don and I worked hard on this class, and it made Sprint Cars more affordable and attractive to those who otherwise never would have driven one.

5-Bert Moreland adds Figure 8 to Antioch
Attendance went up and what a wild time it was.

6-Baylands Closes
There goes the track that would run anything. Petaluma gained for a while.

7-San Jose Closes
Not another track. This one hurt.

8-NARC folds
410 Sprint Car racing in Califiornia hasn't been the same since.

9-Chowchilla opens
Tom who? Is he crazy? Oh man, this place is awesome!!!

10-Busby books West Coast Nationals at Antioch
83 Modifieds, still a track record. Directly responsible for #11.

11-Late Models dropped, Grand American Modifieds get Regional points.
At Antioch, the quality of the racing went down. But, man, the car count.

12-Street Stocks added to Antioch
From Busby, Shipherd and Rodrigues to Bellando, Feree and Hodges to Shirk and Rosa. Great division

13-Petaluma All Pro Series
The craze of adding divisions to boost pit count begins and spreads to other tracks.

14-California Dirt Cars come to Santa Maria
The modern Spec Sprint movement in California can be traced to this.

15-Rosa and Torres go over the fence at Antioch on a full moon night
You had to be there. Crazy night.

16-Darryl Shirk asked to leave Street Stocks at Antioch
Won 5 in a row and 7 out of 8. Son Troy took the point lead when Darryl began his reign of domination in the NCMA.

17-Madness at Baylands, Pettit wins Regional title
Jim Pettit II didn't let this one slip away.

18-Pettit-Wills-Byrd battle at Antioch for two seasons
Byrd wins two titles by 10 points total, nifty speedo buttons have a button for sale that reads, "Today is Thanksgiving, stuff a Byrd."

19-Tom Sagmiller kicked out of Merced
A year earlier, he was champion. If this hadn't happened, would there be a Chowchilla Speedway?

20-Mike Chisholm dies in a car crash returning from the races.
Perhaps the best Super Stock racer ever at Petaluma and Vallejo. Wasn't long after that when Petaluma went from Super Stocks to Late Models.

21-Altamont reopens under new management.
About 1997 or so, and the track has remained open.

22-Stockton 99 Speedway Closes
End of an era.

23-John Soares Sr. Retires
It was the end of an era, but son Jim is carrying on the family tradition and rebuilding the program.

24-The Steitz Race Begins
This big show at San Jose drew the biggest car count in the state. Nobody seemed to care about the yellow-checkerd finishes. More than a race, it was a gathering.

25-Bruce Paulson debuts FasTrack on Public Access TV
A show covering Bay Area racing.

26-Racing Wheels Folds
The end of an era. Did the internet kill the weekly publication?

27-CRO Is Born
L&J teams with DCRR and rocks the racing world.

28-Brian Holden-John Keldsen Fued At Antioch
The track's inability to control this sutuation had much to do with the end of the class, which had big car counts until the end.

29-Brian Davis dies at Chowchilla
Brian loved this race and supported every Figure 8 he could.

30-Rick Petruzzi Biggest Villain In Antioch History
The guy would get booed walking in front of the grandstand

31-Butch Althar Replaced By John Meyers At Antioch
Butch was one of the best and a true professional. Thus began the announcing career of Meyers.

32-Larry Folkner refuses claim by Merced Promoter, forfeits point lead.
What is going on down there?

33-The Civil War Series is born
Huge car counts occur when promoters work together.

34-Mike Johnson founds NCMA
Bumps the Dirt Modifieds off Antioch agenda for two years.

35-Official Deciscions Decide Championships
Three that come to mind were Don Shelton at Antioch, Scott Busby at Watsonville and a point audit in 1990 moves NCMA title from Jim Berryhill to Scott Holloway.

36-President Jim Booth turns the NCMA around
Berryhill, Murch and Moore leave NCMA in the point controversy. Booth would do much to get things under control and build the NCMA.

37-Tryon, Olibas & Others Form POSSE
After Petaluma dropped Super Stocks, POSSE was formed and was big for a few years. Mark Keys scored a huge upset win in his Stock Car at Merced.

38-John Soares Sr. Wins Antioch Bid, Throws It Back
This led to a brief period when we didn't know if the track would open in 1987.

39-Club Mentality Gains A Foothold
NCMA, SORA, Northern Stars, PCDCRA, NCDCRA and others form clubs and get dates at tracks looking to add divisions without having to promote traveling classes.

40-CarQuest Late Model Tour Formed
The Bay Area racers gained a place to run their race cars when Sandy Bainton formed a new tour for them. Only Petaluma included a regular spot for the class in the Bay Area.

Okay, that's a lot more than 20. Needs a little bit of work too, but I had this idea in my mind for a couple days and wanted to put it out there. There are a lot of other things that could be on this list that aren't coming to mind as I stare at the screen. It's a work in progress.