Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Random Thoughts

Okay, I'm going to try and limit my rambling here, because I know I can get going very easily on different subjects. At the top of the list, should the Spec Sprints have been booked for a special at Antioch, are open shows effecting the regular point season at tracks, what is next for Chowchilla and other stuff if I don't ramble too long.

Ten Dirt Modifieds showed for $1,000 to win at Antioch last week. I understand Tulare ran a big show that night, though that doesn't account for all of the absences. I'm not blaming the local racers. It was a long season, cars were wrecked and people needed a break. The fact is it's also open season and some drivers want to race at places they don't get to run now that point season is over. I hope for the best at Antioch, but I'm not expecting car count to hit the 20's in this class. It may not even get that close.

Fact is, this division was given two very big paying races at Antioch this season, and they produced strong car counts both times. Up until that fateful night in July, this class has been clutch, even on regular point nights. I understand John booking them now, but I believe the Spec Sprints would probably have produced at least into the high 20's or low 30's if booked right. Look at what Petaluma just did. This wasn't in Antioch's plans and that's fine, but I can't help thinking they missed an opportunity.

All things considered, I don't think John isn't too unhappy with the stretch run he just had at the track, and that's the main thing. For him to be running two tracks and basically getting Merced Speedway up again on such short notice is a good thing. As long as the tracks are running, things have a chance to get bigger and better at both places.

I do wonder if the open show is killing or at least hurting the point show at some of these tracks, particularly with Dirt Modifieds. More promoters are booking money races during the season, and there are some good racers who used to chase points who now chase the money. It makes it hard to have a show on a point night that even gets near a B Main car count at some places. IMCA has had some moments.

Which leads me to Chowchilla. I don't know what Hanford will be doing, but Tulare has went to an IMCA sanction for its Modifieds in 2010. Having read some of the things that have gone down at that track in recent years, I bet this is a proud moment for Paul and IMCA. However, this puts a damper on the cooperation Hanford, Tulare and Chowchilla had with the Modifieds that allowed each track to have shows not booked on top of the other ones.

As I see it, Kenny has some choices to make going forward at Chowchilla if he wants to run a regular season. UMP is one option. He can jump on the bandwagon with John and link up with Antioch and Merced. I know Antioch and Chowchilla are Saturday tracks, but Antioch does not run Modifieds every week. This would;d be doable with a minimum of double booking. That's one option, and it definitely solidifies UMP's presence in California. If, and I say IF, they do this, I'd love to see Hobbys and Super Stocks added to the sanctioning as UMP keeps Regional and National points there too.

I still have my doubts about UMP, but I want to be fair here since I have my doubts about the crazy thing I'm about to type next. Some "old schoolers" may love it though.

Kenny could bring NASCAR to Chowchilla. The money may not be there for such a move, but it's a thought. I don't even know what NASCAR offers the short track anymore, other than a state point race. This is a longshot, and the only reason I bring this up is Kenny's history racing with NASCAR. Plus, as I said, he needs to make a move.

The Valley's resident IMCA booster, Johnnie Baptista, has proposed IMCA sanctioning for Modifieds, Sport Mods and Four Bangers. Yeah, I know, stop the presses, Johnnie is talking IMCA again, but this may not be so crazy. First of all, this track has worked well with Watsonville in the past, and Watsonville has IMCA Modifieds. Suddenly, California is back at the table competing for IMCA Regional honors.

Chowchilla has a growing Sport Mod class. Ten cars this year, and eight last week. Kenny is even considering a big race for them at the end of October in hopes of enticing cars from Victorville. This class is slowly growing, and double digit counts in 2011 seems doable. It should be pointed out, in fairness, that the track has gotten to this point without sanctioning, but they definitely need to realize that they may have something here.

Four Bangers are coming either way, but sanctioning wouldn't hurt. What if Watsonville sanctioned their class too? I don't see that happening, but what if?

Here's the kicker. Merced was a big base for many years for IMCA Modifieds, and Chuck's Four Banger class at that time carried IMCA sanctioning as well. The question is, how many drivers in the area are looking for the IMCA option in Modifieds? Would it hurt for Chowchilla to hold a meeting for driver input? You can certainly make a case that IMCA saved the Modifieds at Merced and allowed the class to grow to the point of B Mains being needed.

Its an interesting thought. At this point, it seems to me Chowchilla needs to make some changes going forward. Things may be bleak there, but it's salvageable. What Kenny does next will be important, but may be that some driver input can help things along.

I think I will end this here. I was going to comment on Orland Speedway, but if you've been reading, you know my thoughts. Orland is doing good to open the gates these past two years and do some racing, but they do need to step things up in year three. I hope for the best.

For those wondering, I'm not planning to close this blog. It may not be a place that covers things weekly. I may not cover the 50th Anniversary Season at Antioch Speedway (1961-2011), but the blog will be here and posts will be made.

Damitz Collects Fourth Win of 2010 Season, Machado Champion

Wasn't planning to do a story, but since JonKPest had his videos up and I said I would cover the point season, I did one. I do hope the track makes a better effort to get the word out next year, but we shall see. Congratulations to all of the drivers who helped give this track it's 50th consecutive point season. Technically, next year is the 50th Anniversary of the track, so we'll see how that's handled too. Anyway, results are unofficial and if I misspelled a name, I'm sorry. There were some new cars this week.

Four divisions competed Saturday night as Antioch Speedway wrapped up it's 50th consecutive season of point racing. Ageless veteran Larry Damitz did all that he could do in scoring his fourth Super Stock feature win of the season, but Mitch Machado used his top five finish to grab a well earned championship. Having been disqualified from a win earlier in the season, Jim Freethy finally earned his first Hobby Stock feature win of the season in the Team #99 car that he has shared with Jack Jonker this season. Meanwhile, Brad Myers used his top three finish to give the Team #33 car he shares with Melissa Hansen the division championship. With no points, but $1,000 on the line, Mike Salazar dominated in winning the Dirt Modified Main Event. With their race being run in reverse, Justin Silveira continued his strong late season effort with his second Four Banger feature win, while Patty Ryland won her second straight division title.

With 12 cars on hand, the Super Stocks ran two heat races. Damitz got his night started off right with a heat win ahead of Mikey Slaney. Lori Brown held off Machado to win her heat race, but Machado came back to win the Trophy Dash ahead of Damitz.

While Machado started deep in the pack, Damitz had a front row start for the feature and raced into the lead at the drop of the green flag ahead of Slaney and Brown. Fred Ryland and Machado were battling for fifth when they tangled in Turn 2 for a yellow flag. Damitz chose the outside for the restart and continued to lead as Mike Gustafson rode the high side around Slaney for second. Eric Berendsen had his hands full with Machado battling him for fifth as Brown was fourth. On lap 18, Berendsen, Daniel Mendes and Ryland crashed in Turn 4 for a caution flag. Damitz didn't let that stop him as he led the restart and cruised to victory ahead of Gustafson, Slaney, Brown, Machado, Jon Haney, the #8 car (Alan Beasy?), Berendsen, Mendes and Ryland.

There were 11 Hobby Stocks, and Wes Bentley won the first heat race ahead of Phillip Gibber. Myers won the second heat race ahead of previous feature winner Dave Lincoln. The division also got a Trophy Dash with Gibber collecting the win ahead of Lincoln. Randy Mentzler scratched after the heat races.

The top point earning driver in the Hobby Stocks this season, Chris Sorensen shared the front row of the Main Event with Freethy, but it was Freethy charging into the lead at the start ahead of Megan Ponciano and Myers. An outside move on the back stretch gained Lincoln third on lap two. A yellow flag flew on lap six when Gibber's strong night came to an abrupt end. Freethy remained in the lead on the restart, but a yellow flag flew a lap later as Bentley and Lincoln crashed in Turn 2. Bentley and Lincoln retired, and Freethy led Ponciano and Myers on the restart. With Sorensen running fourth, the lead four cars ran closely the rest of the way, and Freethy collected a well earned victory ahead of Ponciano, Myers, Sorensen, Chuck Templeman, Pat Gooding, Aaron Biels, Lincoln, Bentley and Gibber.

With Tulare also running a money race for Dirt Modifieds, ten cars showed for the $1,000 to win at Antioch. Petaluma champ Michael Paul Jr. won the first heat ahead of Chester Kniss. After Dan Gonderman and Troy Foulger crashed running 1-2, Salazar won the second heat with Foulger bouncing back for second.

Salazar had a front row start for the Dirt Modified feature and was not to be denied as he charged into the lead at the green flag ahead of Paul and Foulger. By lap five, Salazar was a straightaway in front and lapping slower cars. Foulger slowed in Turn 4 for a lap eight caution flag. Salazar maintained the lead on the restart as Derek Colvin slipped past Paul for second. Colvin was doing a great job of holding down second, but problems in traffic on lap 16 dropped him out of the top three as Paul and Gonderman raced past. Salazar had a huge lead at that point and cruised to a popular victory ahead of Paul, Gonderman, Colvin and Gene Haney.

Eight cars competed in the Four Banger division, and Ryland's point lead was not insurmountable until she won the heat race by a straightaway ahead of Dayna Andreesen. Track officials elected to run the Main Event in reverse to shake things up a bit, and newcomer Humberto Orezzo set the early pace ahead of Silveira and Ken Radabaugh. A back stretch pass on lap four gained Silveira the lead. Radabaugh was second by lap ten, but Silveira was not to be denied the victory as possibly the hottest driver in this division in the last four or five races. Radabaugh settled for second and will be the runnerup in points for the second straight season. Orezzo held off Ryland to finish third. Lynn Wilkerson was fifth as Andreesen, Mike Felt and Laura Crabtree completed the finishing order.

With point racing done, the season closes at Antioch Speedway with an open show for Dirt Modifieds, Super Stocks and Hobby Stocks this Saturday night.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Antioch Point Race Comes To A Close With Four Division Show

We enter the final point race of the season at Antioch with not much expected to change in the standings. The most potential appears to be in the Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Four Bangers, but I wouldn't count on it. However, if there is a chance, anything can happen. It has been a chore at times to get results from the races, and I feel good about having a place here where people can look back on the 2010 season at Antioch. As I get ready to step away from this, it is my hope that the track will hire somebody to do the job of handling the track's publicity.

The Over/Under number for this race is 42. Though they could have over 50 cars for this four division show, I wouldn't count on it.

Winged 360 Sprint Cars (10), Super Stocks (12), Hobby Stocks (12), Four Bangers (8).

First of all, the audit has been completed for the Wingless Spec Sprint point race, and your champion is Tommy LaLiberte by ten points over David Press, according to the track's web site. At the end of last week's race, it appeared as if Press has won by two points. I typed a blog that wasn't posted that cautioned that this could be the case. I also wanted to point out that this was a mistake in point calculating, and nothing devious, in my opinion. There have been mistakes from time to time in other classes that I have noticed just from a glance, and I've been told the track hasn't had a problem correcting things as they are pointed out. It might be a good idea to audit things at the top in the other classes, just in case. I'm not suggesting anything is wrong here, but as i said, honest mistakes happen. It also might be a good idea to examine how things are being done with the points, and make a change. There are plenty of options out there.

Even with three wins in five races, Craig Smith still holds just an 18 point lead over rookie Ryan Rusconi in the Winged 360 Sprint Car race. This may be because Rusconi is still winning heat races and made an impressive charge to finish second last time out. Risconi and Smith both started in the back of the ten car field last time, and with only a red flag at the start, they had to hustle their way trough the pack.

Past champion Art McCarthy was third in the previous race, leaving him just 24 points behind Rusconi for second. After Jeremy Burt's victory last time out, he is 20 points behind McCarthy for third. Though it isn't likely to happen, there could still be a change in the top five of the standings. The bigger picture is Antioch's attempt to establish it's own 360 Sprint Car division. The track has a desire to be a player on the Sprint Car scene, and with 8-10 cars showing up so far, it won't be a surprise to see the division on the schedule next season.

When a season high 13 cars showed up last time, it showed that drivers are still interested in supporting the Super Stock division. Throughout the first half of the season, just six or seven cars were showing up, leaving many to wonder what happened to this division. The more cars that show for this division, the better the racing will be. Despite the car count issues, Mitch Machado and Larry Damitz have had a nice battle for the championship.

Last time out, Machado scored the victory to maintain his status as the winner of the most features in this division this season. Damitz did make a charge into the top three, but the point damage has been done. Most likely, all Machado will need to do is start this feature to win this championship. Machado has not made it a big goal of his to win championships in his impressive racing career, though he has track titles at Petaluma and Sacramento, but he wanted this one.

The added bonus of competing against a legend like Damitz had to make it special. In fact, Machado's Street Stock title at Petaluma came the same year as one of Damitz's Late Model titles. At 81 years old, it's amazing to see Damitz racing, let alone doing it as well as he still does. I'm not sure how much fans realize how special this is. Damitz got his start racing in the 1950's at tracks like Contra Costa Speedway in Pacheco and Vallejo Speedway, tracks that no longer exist. Whether or not this is it for Larry, I certainly want to thank him for all the memories and for doing it with the class and style that he always has.

Fred Ryland won two features this season, but the rookie stumbled just slightly to fall out of the hunt. As of now, the likely "Rookie Of The Year" holds a 22 point lead over the steady Eric Berendsen for third. As a double digit car count is expected, something could happen here. The same can be said for fifth, where three time Antioch champion Mike Gustafson, a three time winner this year, now has a nine point lead over Lloyd Cline. Cline tried his best to hold him off as Gustafson gained a little every week, but he will need to bring something special to reclaim the position from a veteran like Gustafson.

With a second last time out, two time Street Stock champion Michael Newman would have to be considered a threat to win the finale if he shows. Other drivers to look for include two time track champion Melissa Hansen, Jon Haney, Lori Brown and Mike Calhoun. Last time out, 2009 champion Danny Mendes and Mikey Slaney made their season debuts, showing further proof that interest is growing in this division as the season comes to a close. Another season high car count is possible this week.

With Hansen anticipated in the Super Stocks this week, it could mean rookie Brad Myers will get to finish the season in the Hobby Stocks for the Team 33 car. Myers made a rare mistake last time out when he spun taking early in the race, but he did manage to recover for a top three finish. That put him 36 points ahead of Chris Sorensen going into this race. He will likely only need to start this feature to claim the championship. The idea of a car owner champion and a driving champion still sounds appealing to this writer.

In the case of a driver champion, or second in points, it would be a battle between Sorensen and past champion Dan McCown, who picked up a top three finish last time out. Sorensen is 15 points ahead of McCown in a close battle. This one could get interesting as both drivers are feature winners this season and capable of doing it again. At this stage in the game, the Team 99 car of Jack Jonker and Jim Freethy and the #98 of Joe Cancilla appear to have a good hold on fourth and fifth.

Wes Bentley's top five finish last time out allowed him to take a four point lead over Pat Gooding in the battle for sixth. Gooding finished in the top ten in the 14 car field as he continues a strong late season run. Speaking of strong runs, after his second place finish two races ago, Dave Lincoln kicked it up a notch with a win last time out, to push him into 14th in points after a late start. As with the Super Stocks, this should be a good show that could possibly field one of the best car counts for the division this season.

Ken Radabaugh did what he could last week in the Four Bangers, but luck simply was not on his side. 2009 champion Patty Ryland won the heat and the Main Event to continue her charge. Radabaugh, the 2009 point runner up, was second in the heat, had problems and came back to finish third. He was second early in the feature, but he ended up in the pits and finished the race laps down. The bottom line was the two were tied going into the night, and Ryland now leads by 16 points.

Though it's still close, Ryland is clearly the class of the field, and short of a DNF in the Main Event or some other problem, she will be champion again. Radabaugh can't worry about what Patty does. He needs to get out there and win his first feature of the season and let the points fall where they may. With another strong top three run, Justin Silveira is a solid fourth in points, but he won't catch third ranked Dayna Andreesen, who looked good out there last week. However, as mentioned last week, Justin is making a good case for himself as driver to beat in 2011.

Another driver looking good after a late start is Mike Felt. Mike had a top three run to move into sixth in the standings, but he won't catch Dominique Myers. Myers holds fifth in points despite a DNF last week. Another Myers in the field was Brad Myers, who enjoyed a top five finish in his first start, basically just making laps. There were eight cars last week, and if a few more drivers show up, it could increase the possibility of a change at the top of the point list.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Plenty Of Excitement And Drama At Antioch Speedway

The official results aren't up, so finishes here are unofficial. Just trying to put something out to spread the word a little. Once again, JonKPest has come through with some nice videos of the action from what looks like another good night of racing. Jon has done a great job with the videos and helping spread the word of the good racing going on out there.

Points are not posted as there is an audit being done on the Wingless Spec Sprints. This is standard procedure when you have a close race like that. It could change, or it may not. As long as the points are as accurate as possible, I don't care. It's a sign of a good point race when you have a battle go down to the final race, and they had two last week.

There was plenty of excitement and drama on tap at Antioch Speedway Saturday night as three point races concluded for the season with two of them going down to the last checkered flag. Tommy LaLiberte seemed to be on his way to the front again in wingless Spec Sprints, but when mechanical problems sent him pit side, the point lead appeared to shift in favor of David Press. Points are being audited as of this writing to confirm a champion. Meanwhile, Nick Squatritto was locked in a battle with Ricardo Rivera in the Dwarf Car feature before a flat tire sent him to the pits. The result of Squatritto's misfortune was Jerry Doty winning the championship. Feature wins for the night went to Chico competitor Braedon Enos (Wingless Spec Sprints), Ricardo Rivera (Dwarf Cars), Travis Dutra (Mini Trucks) and Patty Ryland (Four Bangers).

With 14 Spec Sprints in action, two heats were staged. Nick Larsen won the first heat ahead of Dan Gonderman as incoming point leader Tommy LaLiberte claimed third place points. David Press gained some ground on the lead by holding off Jim Perry Jr. to win the second heat, but no Trophy Dash was held to offer further point gain opportunity heading into to the feature.

Jeff Lee had a front row start for the Main Event and raced into the early lead ahead of Gary Nelson and Trevor Press. A lap two caution flag flew for Gonderman, and LaLiberte settled into fourth on the restart. LaLiberte made a move for third in Turn 2 of the sixth lap, resulting in slight contact as both continued. Working lap nine, LaLiberte and Nelson made contact in the battle for second. Both continued with LaLiberte in second and pressuring Lee. Moments later, the final caution flag fell for a two car tangle in Turn 4. LaLiberte headed to the pits for repairs and did not return. Lee led Nelson and Chuck Bradshaw on the restart. Very quickly, Braedon Enos, Perry and D. Press made this a close six car battle up front that went on for several laps until Enos made his move. Working lap 14, a high move in Turn 2 gained Enos third from Bradshaw. A lap later, Enos passed Nelson on the outside in Turn 2 and made a high pass in Turn 4 of the same late to take the lead from Lee. As Enos pulled away, Perry made his move. A low pass in Turn 4 of the 16th lap put Perry into third, and he made a high move in Turn 2 of the 17th lap to take second from Lee. The close battle continued for third, with Nelson taking over that spot on lap 20. Enos held a comfortable lead all the way to the checkered flag with Perry never threatened in picking up yet another runner up finish. Nelson was a season best third, and D. Press may have gained enough points in fourth to win the championship by a slim margin. Gonderman was fifth, followed by Lee, Bradshaw, T. Press, Roy Fisher and Larsen, all unofficial as official results were not available.

With 19 cars, the Dwarf Cars ran three heat races. Incoming point leader Nick Squatritto started his night off right with a heat win ahead of Michael Crommie. The second heat win went to rookie Tom Brown ahead of Tony Carmignani. Five time champion Ricardo Rivera was back in prime form with a heat win ahead of the persistent Jerry Doty. Though not as flashy as Rivera and Squatritto, Doty has been consistent all season long, and that would pay off in the end.

The feature started off well for Squatritto, who set the early pace ahead of Brown and Rivera. As Squatritto had nearly a straightaway advantage, Rivera made a low pass in Turn 4 of the seventh lap to take second from Brown. Squatritto caught traffic by lap ten, allowing Rivera to close the gap quickly. A back stretch pass on lap 12 gained Rivera the lead, and moments later, Squatritto slowed with a flat tire. A caution flag flew for a crash, and Squatritto retired to the pits. Rivera led Brown and Johnny Tevis on the restart. Tony Carmignani made his move into third place on lap 18, and at the checkered flag, it was Rivera with an impressive win, followed by Brown, Carmignani, Russ Sieber and Curt Jordan. Doty took the checkered flag in sixth to clinch the championship as the top ten was unofficially rounded out by Nick Davis, Chuck Connover, Sam Westhorpe and John Davis.

For the first time since early in the season, there were ten Mini Trucks, and they had two heat races. Having already clinched the championship two races ago, Travis Dutra won his heat race ahead of Dean Cline. Second ranked Dan Wagner won the other heat ahead of last week's feature winner Mike Harmon.

While Pete Paulsen and 2009 champion Gene Haney shared the front row for the feature, Dutra and Harmon were in the last row. Paulsen led the early goings ahead of Greg Williams and Wagner. A high move in Turn 2 of the third lap gained Williams the lead, and Wagner and hard charging Dutra both got past a sideways Paulsen on lap 4. A low move in Turn 4 of the seventh lap moved Dutra into second, and he made a back stretch pass on Williams for the lead on lap nine. However, a surprising mistake by Dutra saw him get out of shape exiting Turn 4 to complete the 11th lap. Both Williams and Wagner raced past him in Turn 1 for first and second in a good battle up front. A yellow flag flew moments later, and Dutra raced back into the lead on the restart. Williams pitted to move Wagner into second, but Dutra would hold a straightaway lead by lap 16. Paulsen gained second on lap 17 as a yellow flag flew for Wagner. The restart saw Harmon take over second, but there was no stopping the hard charging Dutra from claiming the victory. Paulsen settled for third ahead of Haney and Ron Mayberry.

The eight Four Bangers ran one heat race, and the night started with 2009 champ Patty Ryland and 2009 point runner up Ken Radabaugh in a tie for the point lead. Ryland emerged with the lead going into the feature after her heat win ahead of Justin Silveira and Radabaugh.

As luck would have it, Ryland started on the front row of the Main Event and led every lap. Hoping to keep the point damage to a minimum, Radabaugh raced into second ahead of Dayna Andreesen, but Andreesen made a back stretch pass on lap five to take over second. A low move in Turn 4 of the ninth lap moved Silveira into third, and moments later, Radabaugh received a j mechanical black flag. As Andreesen faded late, Silveira and Mike Felt found themselves in second and third, and Ryland would cruise to the victory. Brad Myers finished fourth ahead of Andreesen.

The final point race of the season this Saturday night will feature Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Four Bangers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

Still waiting for information on Antioch Speedway's results, but I noticed a few interesting things out there I thought I'd comment on.

Over at the Dirt Stars forum, Mike Meazell reported in the Late Model section that Jim Soares announced that he has Petaluma Speedway for another five years. I've made no secret of the fact that I think Jim should continue to be the promoter over there and have mentioned that here a few times this year. I had heard that others were looking, and I think recent developments may have changed that. Since that's not important now, I won't get into it any further.

What is important is that Jim can continue to promote a track that has been in his family for decades, and he can continue to offer the variety of fan favorite divisions that he does. I know that the purses on some of these classes are not cheap, and he continues to do it. That you can go to a track that on some nights has Late Models, 360 Sprints, Wingless Spec Sprints and Dirt Modifieds is very rare these days, but Petaluma does it on occasion.

When Jim took over, only two of the classes were performing anywhere close to where you want them to, and he came in and turned it around. While the last couple of years have been trying at times, his Sprint Car program and Late Models are in double digits, as are the Dwarf Cars and Street Stocks. Everything isn't perfect, but what track is? There are things that need work, but Jim will turn it around. In the case of the Dirt Modifieds, he can only offer the races and the $100 to start purse. The racers have to get on board.

I would anticipate more Civil War 360 Sprint Car races at Petaluma in 2011, hopefully the Hunt Series for the Spec Sprints, some sort of 410 Sprint Car race, more Late Model racing and the usual divisions fans have come to expect from the All Pro Series at Petaluma. Congratulations Jim and best of luck to you for the next five years.

With that said, we now know who is running Petaluma, Antioch, Watsonville and Merced for the next few years. I'm just putting that out there. It's up to the powers that be what happens next, but a little cooperation would make things so much better for all.

Also at the Dirt Stars forum, Sam Kennedy asks an interesting question in the general section about 1st Amendment rights at the race track. Well, in this country, we still have them, at least for now, but a race track is a different animal. I know Sam isn't a fan of current management at Watsonville and has attended fair board meetings in opposition of that management. That is totally within his rights. Basically, the track is a dictatorship, and some places will go so far as to post a sign at the front stating they have a right to refuse admittance to anybody. Antioch Speedway, for instance, does that.

You can cheer and boo, but you don't have a right to get profane and disrupt people's enjoyment of the races. You don't have the right to distribute literature at the track or circulate petitions or that sort of thing without consent of the management. In fact, if they want to, they can bar cameras and video recorders. You don't have the right to organize anything at the track that the track deems negative or against its interest. Now, you can attend fair board meetings, you can use the internet to organize against management, you can stand on public property outside the track to protest if you have the necessary permissions, if you are so inclined.

You don't have a right to use track resources against them. They are within their rights to remove you from the premises if they feel you are being disruptive.

When I started my magazine years ago, I was selling them at the track. Bert Moreland even confiscated them one night on the grounds that a "might" have something negative against the track. This was the Jim Pettit II issue I was so proud of at the time. Bert later apologized for doing that, but he was within his rights. For the next couple of seasons, I went head to head with track management at times and had my press privileges revoked on more than one occasion. I felt I was in the right, but again, it's their ball park. If you are gonna fight the fight, you'd better be ready to pay the price.

Finally, I made the magazine a subscription and mail deal, so I would be free to handle my business on my own time. I still sold a copy or two at the track from that ti,me until about 1995, but the base of the business was mail. What was interesting to me is that I had people come to my face and talk about how they loved the magazine and getting it during the week, and a couple of those hypocrites went straight to track management and complained to them, AFTER telling me how good I was doing. I'd get in trouble again, but these magazines were sold off property during the week. I finally dropped those subscribers. I don't mind if you don't like it, but be honest with me.

Jackie did come on board for a few years and sold the magazine at the track, and though at times I was controversial, there was never a problem.

The last time I was kicked out in 2001, I didn't even sell a copy at the track. It was all mailed out. I was a ticket buying customer and a simple spectator, and I still got tossed out because my editorial pissed off track management. I wasn't doing anything on the premises and I could have fought it and won. but, at that point I didn't care. As I was walking away, past the pits, some of the racers thought it was funny, but I bet they aren't laughing now.

So, anyway, you don't have a right speak out against the track on their property. If you want to get creative and fight the good fight, there are ways to make it happen, but you aren't going to do it on the track's time. Whenever I was critical, I tried to make a point of offering solutions and would jump in if I got the chance. Simply being a jerk and being negative for the sake of being negative is not a good thing to do. If you love the sport, be a part of the solution. Otherwise, just shut up and go away. Why waste you're time if you hate it so much? No use spreading the misery.

Marshall Weaver brought up an interesting post on the Late Model Racer forum. He posted an some old photos from the Sportsman division at Merced from several years ago, and this is some pretty cool stuff. This prompted some cool responses about the history of our sport, and as usual, Ken Bonnema gets it. He knows the history of this sport matters, and how it can be a part of promoting the current sport. I've been saying this for years. Ken points out John Soares Jr. has a chance to start a Hall Of Fame at Merced and Antioch and what an opportunity it would be. He's right.

Going into the season, John had mentioned this time me, and I think it would be a good thing to do at both tracks. I still like the BCRA idea of a picnic before the races, and then everybody can come watch the races, maybe even a special extra distance race that night. If booked right, it would be a winner.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Four Divisions In Action This Saturday At Antioch

If I didn't know any better, I'd say John was doing a rain dance this week in the hopes of canceling this one due to weather. A big part of this show was to be the West Coast Enduro, but that race has been dropped due to lack of interest. I believe John put this one in the hands of the WCE people to drum up support, and I'm not sure how much effort was made on either front to get cars. Reportedly, seven drivers signed up for this race, and that just won't due.

Two divisions, the Wingless Spec Sprints and Dwarf Cars, will be under pressure to have big nights, because the other two classes, Four Bangers and Mini Trucks, aren't likely to break into double digits based on what they've done so far this year. I guess it's too late to add a class, but perhaps a division will get time trials or maybe all four classes get Trophy Dashes to help round out the show a little better. We'll see.

The Over/Under Number for this is 46.

It's worth noting the past couple point races have been above our projected number, which is always good to see. The track appears to be ending the 2010 season on a high note.

Wingless Spec Sprints (16), Dwarf Cars (16), Four Bangers (7), Mini Trucks (7).

The Wingless Spec Sprints, Dwarf Car and Four Bangers still have championships to decide, while the other one appears to be over. Actually, the Mini Trucks were over a long time ago.

In 12 seasons of Wingless Spec Sprint racing at Antioch Speedway, only one driver has won the championship more than once. That would be open wheel racing veteran Darrel Hanestad, who won back to back championships in 2002-03. Two drivers, Tommy LaLiberte and David Press, have just 20 points separating them in favor of LaLiberte. It is likely that a Trophy Dash will also be part of the preliminaries, which means there could be as big as a 12 point swing in either direction entering the final Main Event.

This is amazing when you consider how much winning LaLiberte has been doing this season. It's a good bet that both drivers would like to have the previous race back. In that race, won by Petaluma racer Geoff Ensign, Press was eliminated early, while LaLiberte took a hard hit into the Turn 4 wall late in the race going for the lead. Actually, the past month or so of racing for LaLiberte has made him thankful that the rest of the season went as well as it did for him. For Press, consistency has kept him in the game, which is no surprise considering the championships he's won at other tracks.

Actually, the last race saw Petaluma racers Ensign, Zach Lynsky and Scott Dupont grab first, second and fourth, respectively. It was a particularly nice comeback for Lynsky, who had spun out earlier in the race. With his third place finish, Nick Larsen moved to within six points of Rick Sharp for tenth. Though not a Petaluma regular, Chuck Bradshaw ranks top ten there as well as at Ocean Speedway. The rookie Bradshaw finished fifth in the most recent race to stay 14 points ahead of Trevor Press, who has been coming on strong of late. Trevor was eight in the most recent feature.

After back to back disappointing nights, it looks as if third is the best that five time champion Ricardo Rivera can do in the Dwarf Car championship chase. It's likely he wasn't too worried about it after missing a race this year, but he still came oh so close. With that being the case, Nick Squatrito holds an eight point lead over Jerry Doty. It was just a few races ago when Rivera had taken over the point lead, putting the pressure on the other two drivers to step up. A week later, Doty responded with a feature win of his own to claim the point lead, but he was trumped by a feature win for Squatritto a week later that regained him the lead.

Seeing these two drivers come up big has made this perhaps the most exciting battle at the track. Most fans would have provably expected Rivera to take over as he has so many times before, but it's moments like these when stars are born. Last week, both Squatritto and Doty were second in their respective heat races before Squatritto finished second in front of Doty in the Main Event. All Squatritto was able to gain on the persistent Doty was a mere two points. It will be interesting to see what happens in the finale.

Tony Carmignani has been there before, only to lose to Rivera by a slim margin. With the pressure off, Tony continues to run impressively in recent races. Coming into the previous race with two seconds and a third in his last three starts, Tony may be the hottest driver in the division at the moment in his green #11 car. In last week's race, he took it up a notch to collect the victory. Tony is 11 points behind Charlie Correia for seventh. The other battle to watch is for fifth in points. With a 32 point advantage over Mike Corsaro for fourth, the steady Clayton Dortzback may be safe, but Corsaro is just two points ahead of Dan Liston for fifth.

The Four Banger battle will probably not end after this race, but momentum seems to be in Patty Ryland's favor at the moment. Despite missing a race for vacation, the 2009 champion Ryland leads the class in feature wins and has moved into a tie with Ken Radabaugh after her second place finish last time out. The Ryland's recently won the Four Banger portion of the Tri Holiday Series at Chowchilla with Fred Ryland behind the wheel, and the 2010 Antioch championship trophy is starting to look very appealing to Patty.

All indicators are that she will win this championship again. Sure, it's a tie for the lead, but Radabaugh has not given any indication that he can step up and beat her for it. Ken is still searching for his first feature win of the season, though he has finished as high as second, and his last outing had to be a miserable experience for him. Still, anything is possible, and this is the time of the season when champions step up to claim their prize. With this race and next week left, it's anybody's title to win.

Dayna Andreesen's July slump dropped her from first to third in the race, but it looks like she should be able to hold on to third as long as she starts the last two races. She will need to do that, because 52 points behind her and closing in is the most recent winner, Justin Silveira. The way Justin has been running lately, he may be the early favorite to win the 2011 championship if he returns. As is, he will be a threat to win these last two races and he has a good hold on fourth in the standings.

Travis Dutra has simply dominated the Mini Truck division this season, so it is no surprise to see that he will take it up from second in points last season to the 2010 championship. He has earned it. What was a bit of a surprise was that he didn't win a race last week, getting beat by Dean Cline in the heat race and first time winner Mike Harmon in the Main Event. As it appears he may be headed for Dwarf Cars next season, Travis will likely be out to make a big statement with one more win before he leaves.

This could open the door for the steady Dan Wagner to be the early favorite in 2011, but the season isn't over. After his disappointing DNF last week, Wagner will be out to try and get one more win himself. First and second are not up for grabs at this point, but this week's winner's plaque would still look nice on the wall for Wagner.

With Ray Bunn out of the picture, a fourth place finish moved Ron Mayberry into third in points, six ahead of Bunn. Unless Bunn returns, Mayberry will end up with a top three season. Not bad for somebody who wasn't even top five ranked a few races ago. Meanwhile, Dean Cline will end up fifth in the standings thanks to winning his first heat race of the season and stating the most recent feature. It's nice to see the ageless veteran still ranked among the track's top drivers after all these years.

Five New Winners Highlight Racing Action At Antioch

Honestly, when weeks like this come up, I have a hard time being motivated to put a story out. The track has apparently again decided that people don't need to know the results of the races or the points. JonKPest once again put some videos out there, though the Dwarf Car feature was unfortunately missing. It's a shame, because this class has been enjoyable lately with a good point battle.

I notice John wasn't announcing, and his absence only highlights how much he's missed when he's not there. Say what you want about him, but at least he knows the names and can call a race. I think I know who replaced him, and I don't want to be a jerk. I'll just say that I hope he enjoyed the nap he took while the racing was going on. I'm sure John didn't have a lot of choices for the last minute.

Anyway, I hate to be negative. Looked like a good night for the track and a strong season ending continues. Momentum leading towards the next season is always a good thing, especially if the powers that be can capitalize on it, which I hope they do. Two point races left, and I'm done. I may have something to say after that, and maybe not. At this point, I don't know if I even care. I again had to talk myself into typing this. Statistics are unofficial. Just an attempt to put the word out.

Roughly 75 cars appeared for the six division show Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. The night's action produced five new winners for 2010 and one familiar face in the Winner's Circle as Mitch Machado seems to have the Super Stock championship in hand after his most recent victory. Other winners included Jeff Thomas (Dirt Modified), Jeremy Burt (360 Sprint Cars), Dave Lincoln (Hobby Stocks), Tony Carmignani (Dwarf Cars) and Mike Harmon (Mini Trucks).

For the first time this season, the Super Stocks had more than ten cars, and the 13 car field ran two heat races with Michael Newman holding off Larry Damitz to win the first heat. Mitch Machado held off Mike Gustafson to win the second heat. In the Main Event, Fred Ryland set the early pace from the front row with Machado quickly settling into second. Machado grabbed the lead from Ryland on a lap seven restart, and Newman slipped into second a lap later. Machado would bring it home to victory with Newman a season best second. Damitz made a late charge for third ahead of Gustafson.

The 16 Dirt Modifieds ran three heat races with wins going to Scott Busby, Rick Karnes and Dan Gonderman. They also ran a Trophy Dash with Mike Salazar collecting the win. Salazar seemed poised to win in Main Event as well as he raced into the lead at the start. Busby steadily worked his way into second. As the lead duo came up on a slow car in Turn 3 of the 12 lap, things got dicey. Salazar passed the car just before that car spun in front of Busby and collected him for a yellow flag. Salazar's run up front ended moments later with problems in Turn 2 of the 13th lap. This moved Gonderman into the lead over second ranked Jeff Thomas. A spin in Turn 3 forced a lap 16 caution flag, and Thomas raced past Gonderman to collect the lead he would take to his first victory of the season. Gonderman settled for second as Busby managed to get back up to third. Sean O'Gara and Gene Haney rounded out the top five.

The Winged 360 Sprint Cars produced a ten car field, and rookie Ryan Rusconi scored his third straight heat race win. Second generation racer and past Sprint Car champion at other tracks Brent Dothage won his heat race. The feature started with about ten minutes on the clock before curfew and didn't look good after Burt Foland Jr. ran over the wheel of another car at the end of the front stretch and flipped. However, no yellow flag flew after that. Jeremy Burt, a past Marysville champion and two time feature winner at Antioch last season, charged into the lead and would go all the way for an impressive victory. Past champion Art McCarthy and Petaluma racer Roberto Kirby ran 2-3 early in the race, while Rusconi was mounting a charge from deep in the pack. Rusconi took over third on lap eight and made a low pass in Turn 3 on the 19th lap to take second from McCarthy. At the finish, it was Burt with the impressive win ahead of an equally impressive Rusconi, McCarthy, incoming point leader Craig Smith and Kirby.

The 14 Hobby Stocks ran two heat races, and despite trouble with a slower car in Turn 4 of the final lap that nearly saw him spin, Dan McCown won his heat race ahead of Jim Ftreethy. Chris Sorensen won the other heat race ahead of Brad Myers. The Main Event start was an ugly affair that requred four starts to get it right. Despite not having a front row start originally, various spins by others allowed Dave Lincoln to lead the pack to the single file restart that finally put a lap into the books. Collected in one of the early incidents, McCown gained second from Pat Gooding on lap two. Lincoln ran a smooth race and was rewarded with victory as McCown again settled for second. Myers came back from a first lap spin to finish third ahead of Wes Bentley, Gooding and Mike Rydman.

The Dwarf Cars fielded 16 cars, and Ricardo Rivera won his heat race ahead of point leader Nick Squatrito. Meanwhile, Chuck Golden held off title hopeful Jerry Doty to win his first heat race. With some impressive Main Event efforts in recent races, Tony Carmignani has been coming closer and closer to victory, and he finally picked one up with two of the track's top drivers in hot pursuit. Not much will change heading into the season finale as point leader Squatritto was second ahead of third ranked Doty.

The seven Mini Trucks ran one heat race, and Dean Cline cruised to victory ahead of new champion Travis Dutra. Jerry Carpanello scratched from the feature, and Cline spun without a yellow early in the race. Mike Harmon raced into the lead at the start ahead of Dan Wagner. Dutra made a low pass in Turn 1 of the tenth lap to take second from Wagner. However, Harmon was not to be denied as he sped to victory ahead of Dutra, Gene Haney and Ron Mayberry.

Just two point races remain, and this Saturday night's event is headlined by the season finale for Wingless Spec Sprints, Dwarf Cars and Mini Trucks with the Four Bangers running their second to last race as part of a four duivision program./

Friday, September 10, 2010

Antioch Point Race Enters Final Month

Wasn't planning on doing anything. Walking away sounds pretty good at this point. Not sure I'll be in a rush to try and do a story for Saturday if results are hard to come by. Also, there are no plans for me to do this full time again next season, but rather a more relaxed pace as I had done previously. I have no plans to end the blog. Anyway, I'm going to try to be brief here.

There's not much fanfare at this point, but the championship battles are coming down to the end at Antioch Speedway. This six division show is the first of three races in September that will help decide who the eight track champions will be. Some championships appear to be decided, leaving the battles for second on back, but there are still some interesting things to note heading into the off season.

The Over/Under for this race is 67, but I'm hoping to see this go well into the 70's. It should be there, but you know how it goes.

UMP Dirt Modifieds (14), 360 Sprints (8), Super Stocks (10), Dwarf Cars (16), Pure Stocks (12) and Mini Trucks (7).

The Winged 360 Sprint Cars continue their audition for bigger status in the future, and nights like this are important. With not much else happening for this class in the area, car count should really be in the mid to high teens. It's known that promoter John Soares Jr. wants to be a part of the Civil War Series and that he would like to have a bigger presence in Sprint Car racing. Having a strong showing on his regular point races goes a long way towards that goal.

Also, it has been reported that the new USAC Western Classic series of Wingless 410 Sprint Cars and Midgets has been tentatively booked at Antioch next year. I'm assuming there's also still at least one GSC Sprint Car race in the 2011 plans. The USAC thing might seem like a risk, but I can see it being worth it. If it fails, it fails, but if it is a success, the tracks that get on board with it from the start will figure more prominently in the future.

Initially, this series was being proposed as a return of NARC, but that appears to have changed. I'm glad. What is being proposed is not what NARC was, and using it's name would be wrong, in my opinion. I've seen it billed as a "Salute To NARC" which I have no problem with. Paying homage to the once great 410 Sprint Car Series is fine with me.

My concern with this USAC thing is I have heard some things that I can't and won't get into here that make me concerned about what could be in the future for the Wingless Spec Sprints. Let me just say, NO MAJOR CHANGES are needed for the WSS class here in California. It's just fine as it is. Virtually every time a division gets going, some idiot thinks they need to come in and change the rules to "make it better" for everybody. The road is littered with divisions that have been ruined by this thought process, and it only hurts racing.

The only thing that needs to be dome when you have a good division is PROMOTE THE DIVISION and get fans and racers excited about it.

Back to the 360 Sprints at Antioch, I'm not sure the points are listed right at this point, and I believe "Cowbody" Craig Smith is leading the charge on the strength of three wins. With one win and a couple heat race victories, 2008 Delta Sprint Mini Sprint champion Ryan Rusconi is second and the leading rookie.

I would anticipate past champion and third ranked driver Art McCarthy, past Marysville champion Jeremy Burt and 2009 Antioch WSS champion Billy Aton will be among the field, and it will be interesting to see who has anything for Smith. Actually, Adam McCarthy seemed to have the field covered before mechanical problems ended his run last time out.

In the Super Stock division, I notice we have had 15 cars compete this season, which means we should be able to finally get over the ten car mark for the first time this year. Mitch Machado, Larry Damitz, Fred Ryland and Mike Gustafson are the only feature winners this season. It seems no matter what Damitz does lately, he's not gaining on Machado, who leads by 28 points after Damitz won his third feature last time out ahead of Machado.

What was interesting about that race was who led those two for seven laps before a flat tire sent him pitside. It was Eric Berendsen, who is running his third motor after some bad motor luck this season. Eric and the two veterans had a half lap lead on fourth place, and he had more incentive for wanting to get what could have been his first ever win in the class. After wnning his heat that night, Fred Ryland scratched from the feature. Had Eric won the race, he would have gained even more ground in the standings. As is, he trails the likely "Rookie Of The Year" by 18 points.

The reason the UMP Dirt Modifieds are getting the big shows this year is the 48 car turnout last time, won by Bobby Hogge IV ahead of Scott Busby and Kenny Neu. All three are past Antioch champions. Antioch point leader Troy Foulger managed a top five finish at Merced the next night. Though his luck in recent weeks is less than stellar, Troy leads Jeff Thomas by 48 points in the Antioch championship race.

Thomas would seem to be on his way to second in the final rundown, while Norm Boeck is in close pursuit of third. For both former Petaluma regulars, these would be career highs in this division. Boeck is 28 points behind Thomas and 16 ahead of Rick Karnes. Rapidly improving Sean O'Gara is 24 points behind Boeck, so positions can still change.

A pat on the back should go out to the rapidly improving O'Gara. After a season best second place finish in the most recent point race, Sean started 18th in the big money race and finished tenth. Though absences of other drivers have helped Sean make it into the top five, he's not there merely by showing up.

With recent top three success, top ten ranked Dan Gonderman could be another driver to watch this week, as could the most recent point race winner, Bill Wallace. Car count for regular point races has been down in recent weeks from where it started this season, so it will be interesting to see who shows this week.

Points on the track's page are a bit messy in the Dwarf Car division, but they should show Nick Squatrito with a slim advantage over Jerry Doty as Ricardo Rivera fell back a bit, though still in the hunt. The last show attracted 23 cars, and Squatritto's performance served notice that he's not just fading away after leading the points for much of the season. Just a race prior, it was Doty winning to take the point lead, so Squatritto's win put him back in front. However, it's still too close for comfort.

Rivera's DNF dropped him back a bit, but if the other two slip up, he could move by both for the lead. It's worth noting that the reason the five time champion isn't leading now is that he missed a race. Meanwhile, Clayton Dortzbach sits comfortably in fourth, while Dan Liston holds a slim two point lead over Mike Corsaro for fifth. In recent races, the Dwarf Car count his been strong, including appearances by Tony Carmignani, who is coming off of back to back top three finishes, and Sam Westhorpe, who finished a season best fourth last time out.

As far as this writer is concerned, the Hobby Stock division is on it's way to crowing two champions. The hard work and excellent driving of both Melissa Hansen and rookie Brad Myers has the Team #33 car leading the standings as the track went to a points for the car system this season. Team #33 leads Chris Sorensen by 30 points going into this race. Sorensen, meanwhile, has racked up all of the points for the #00 car himself. What would be nice to see if it remains this way after the final race is a crowning of car owner and driver champions, though I wouldn't place bets on that happening.

Regardless, it's been a good season for Sorensen, who like Myers and Hansen, is a multi time winner this season. Just 25 points behind Sorensen is another of this season's feature winners, past Pure Stock champion Dan McCown. If not for a DNS at the season opener, Dan would probably be in second now. The top five is filled out by the Team #99 of feature winner Jack Jonker and Jim Freethy and the #98 of Joe Cancilla, who has finished as high as third this season.

With a career best second not that long ago and third a week later, Wes Bentley has moved into sixth in the standings, two ahead of rookie Pat Gooding. It's been a learning experience, but after all of those challenges, Gooding was rewarded with a fourth place finish last time out. A couple of pats on the back go out to Dave Lincoln and Mike Rydman. Lincoln enjoyed a career best second last time out. Rydman, who had been top five ranked before missing some races, made his first appearance at Orland last week and won his first Trophy Dash before finishing third in the feature. Mike reports that he had fun and is looking forward to going back.

Perhaps Orland can send some Mini Truck's Antioch's way. While ORland is getting double digits in this class, Antioch is around 6-8 per race. Travis Dutra continues to dominate in what is looking like it could be his final season before a move up to Dwarf Cars. Travis has been very patient and smooth out there and it's not a surprise to see him winning as much as he does. Also doing well this season is another feature winner, Dan Wagner. Dan looked good in holding off Dutra for a heat win last time out. Wagner may not be able to catch Dutra, but second seems to be a lock at this point. This has been aided by the recent departure of Ray Bunn, who had been in second before leaving.

Finishing as high as second this season, Ron Mayberry is now ranked fourth with his sights set on third place Bunn. Ron is 38 points behind Bunn, and he'd be more than happy to claim the final podium position after his up and down season. Meanwhile, veteran Dean "The Blinker" Cline is 21 points ahead of Wagner's teammate Greg Williams in the battle for fifth. Seeing as how Dutra has been so fast this season, 2009 champion Gene Haney returned last time out and finished second in a good battle. Haney does have a win this season in the championship truck he is trying to sell.

Davis, Skidmore Prevail At Orland Speedway

Didn't get working on this until the last minute as I was hoping to find out who the driver was in the #8 Wingless Spec Sprints. I'm not a fan of writing stories where you don't know the name of the drive who won, but I wrote one anyway. I have to admit it was pretty nice to see Mike Rydman go up there and win a Trophy Dash and hear that his decision to race there was influenced by reading this blog. Good job Mike. By the way, check out YouTube for video clips of this and other races there.

Racing resumed at Orland Speedway with a five division program on the one-fifth mile dirt oval track Saturday night. Among the winners of the five division program were Jim Davis (Mini Trucks), Jesse Skidmore (Hobby Stocks), Sean Perry (Mini Stocks) and Dan Williams (Nor Cal Hardtops). The Wingless Spec Sprints also competed with an unidentified driver in the #8 car collecting the win.

As the track's website only posts the names given to them by the track and just numbers if that is all they get, the driver of the #8 car was unidentified. It could be that a racer from Antioch came, though Dan Gonderman has been driving the #99 car of Sam Davies in recent weeks. The other #8 from Antioch is Jeff Lee. Bob Newberry has also driven that car at Antioch and Petaluma. Another possibility is a past top 3 driver in this class at Orland, Rob Worthington. Rob is one of the originals in this class from 2001. If I get a clarification, I will post it here.

The five Spec Sprints ran one heat race with J.D. Hopkins getting the win ahead of the #8 car. The Trophy Dash win went to one of this season's top competitors and four time champion Josh Jacobo, but that was the high point of the night for Jacobo, who finished last in the feature. As pointed out on the Spec Sprint Web Page Forum, a minimum five car field gets $250 to win, and it was the #8 car collecting that money in his first appearance of the season. Hopkins would finished second ahead of Pat Bisio and Brian Kirby.

The truck count slipped a bit this week, but there were still 11 Mini Trucks in action for this event. On a bit of a roll lately, Richard Gale won the first heat race ahead of Jeremy Langenderfer. Clint Croman collected what may have been his first heat race win of the season with Jim Davis settling for his only second of the evening. Davis came back to win the Trophy Dash and added what was at least his second feature win of the season to wrap up an impressive effort. Coming off of a third the last time out, Pebley finished second this time. After a disappointing last place finish in the 15 truck field last time, Ross Vige rebounded in third, while Langenderfer earned his second straight fourth place finish. Tony Billotti finished fifth as the finishing order was completed by Gale, John Blevins, #48, Zach Webster, Clint Cromman and Steven Woods.

By far, the hottest driver in the Hobby Stock field lately is Jesse Skidmore. With six cars in action, Skidmore won the heat race ahead of Raul Castaneda. Encouraged to come to Orland from reading this blog, top ten Antioch Hobby Stock driver Mike Rydman made his first visit and brought home the trophy with his Trophy Dash victory. Rydman tried to make a run of it early in the feature, but Skidmore proved too tough to beat as he collected at least his third straight victory. It may be four straight as he was running up front late in the race before that, but that finish was not made available on the track's website. Following the hard charging Skidmore at the finish line was Brian Compton with a solid second place finish. Rydman held off the challenges of Marysville racer Castaneda to finish third as Richard Jones and John Dragoo completed the finishing order.

There were five Mini Stocks in action this week, but heat winner Derick Grezier scratched before the feature. Eric Hammond chased Grezier across the line in second, but it was Sean Perry winning the Trophy Dash. Perry followed it up with another feature win. Don Runkle returned with another car and finished second ahead of another one of this season's top racer's, Hammond. Jacob Leniham completed the finishing order.

The Nor Cal Hardtops returned for their final appearance of the season and brought four cars. Having hot lapped his car a week earlier at Orland, Chuck Sanford used that extra track time to get a heat race win ahead of Linda Pease, who was driving the Jack Low #92 car. Dan Williams took over from there. Coming off of a victory at Antioch at the last race there, Williams would win the Trophy Dash on this night and follow it up by charging to a Main Event victory, making him the only double feature winner with the Nor Cal Hardtops on dirt this season. Pease was second ahead of Sanford and John Fineren, who was driving the #2 car of Conrad Cavallero.

After a week off, racing resumes with all of the regular divisions in action on September 18th. A week later, all divisions return along with the popular Powder Puff Races.

These are NOT official points for Orland Speedway. To my knowledge, they are not keeping points this season. Using Antioch Speedway's Main Event point system (50, 48 46...), I took the Main Event finishes I had (a few are missing), just to get an idea how drivers might rank this season. Here's a look at the top five, but remember, they are not official.

Wingless Spec Sprints (10 Races) *

69-Josh Jacobo 460
7x-Brian Kirby 314
74-Josh Tucker 278
4xl-Pat Bisio 264
5-John Hopkins 224

* At least 1 race missing

Mini Trucks (13 Races)*

23-Richard Gale 552
62-Dan Webster 540
97-Ross Vige 536
00t-Tyler Pebley 422
5-Jim Davis 416

*1 race missing

Mini Stocks (13 Races)*

86-Eric Hammond 426
23-Don Runkle 398
46-Sean Perry 334
93-Ken Johnson 316
82x-Olin Crain 214

* 1 race missing

Hobby Stocks (10 Races)*

12-Rich Hood 366
18-Brian Compton 234
4-Richard Jones 220
07-Jesse Skidmore 196
22-Earl Adams 192

* At least 1 race missing

Sunday, September 5, 2010

After Further Review, It Was A Draw

In The Valley, everybody had an opinion on the Tom Sagmiller-Chuck Griffin feud and who was right and who was wrong. Why am I going there? Joe's picture got me thinking about it. "Hey look, it's Tom at Merced."

No need to rehash things. What happened that fateful night in 1997 changed the course of racing in the area. Actually, it was a series of things that year that built up to that moment. Was Tom right? Maybe, maybe not. Can you blame him for being upset? Not me. I understand. I also understand the other side. Not picking a side here. What's the point?

A year earlier, Tom might be considered the "Golden Boy" at the track. He was champion in the Street Stocks that year. He did things to help promote the track. The Street Stock division had a claim rule. A track sponsor who raced there attempted to claim Tom's motor. Track officials stepped in and overruled the claim. For the record, Tom told me he didn't care. The driver who made the claim left the track and raced at Antioch for a couple seasons.

In 1997, Tom was on his way once again, but things started happening. I can only say I understand the feelings. When it gets to be too much, bad things can happen. I was tossed out on my butt more than once for taking a stand and supporting the racers, so I know. Maybe I had it coming too, but I stand by what I did. In that, I felt a sort of kinship with Tom.

I had a crazy thought. Had 1997 gone differently, could Tom have been appointed by Chuck as his successor? It's an interesting thought, and one that I had to think about as I looked at that picture of Tom on the tractor. It's all water under the bridge, but I wonder. Up to that point, Tom had done things to help the cause for Merced Speedway and he had a desire to do what he could. Who knows?

But 1997 was the fork in the road. A whole new course. Tom would be tested in his resolve and how much he wanted to be involved in the sport. Chuck's dedication to run Merced the way he always had remained intact, and the feelings were never resolved. I believe it was Tom's desire to get Merced Speedway at that time and run it the way he felt a race track should be run. That didn't happen. He wanted to promote a race and raise funds for a community group when the season was done. Chuck blocked that. Considering how many racers were ready to come, it may have been preventative action.

Whatever the case, it was in 1999 when Charlie Ruth and Tom discussed the crazy idea of Chowchilla Speedway. In 2000, with investors on board, it because a reality. What the promoters up in Reno must have thought of the upstart promoter in 1999 would be interesting to hear, but Tom was determined to make this happen. He was determined to be a part of things and to make it better for the racers. He understood what it was like to be on the reviving end of questionable calls.

Chuck, meanwhile, stayed the course. To him, this Chowchilla thing had to be a fluke and an attempt to hurt Merced. At first, there was some truth to that, but at that point, Tom became a promoter. Running a race track became more important than any rivalry or feud. That had to take a back seat. Fact was, I witnessed Tom encouraging drivers to support Merced too, he allowed Merced to be mentioned on the PA to the fans and he even changed his schedule at a cost to him in order to help a race at Merced. So much for the feud, at least as far as Tom was concerned.

Tom would tell people he was ready to work with Merced for the good of both tracks and he was interested in getting IMCA sanctioning at Chowchilla for the good of the racers. Chuck stated the only way to get anywhere close to that point was to pay a fine for what went down in 1997 and offer an apology. Nothing Tom did to work with Meced since opening Chowchilla in 2000, including being a Friday night track, mattered. Now, I'm not here to judge. I understand both sides. I see where Chuck was coming from, and he's not as bad as some would make him out to be. I see Tom's point of view at that time too.

I walked the fence in 2001, and there were three of us doing that. Joe Martinez, Doug Laidlaw and myself worked at BOTH tracks, and Joe and I spent many, many hours talking about this unity thing and how we could make it happen. Could we? Obviously not, but we wanted to. Doug stayed out of the politics, which made him smarter than me. I always liked that man, and he was a good flagman.

I was getting frustrated though. There was pressure coming in to pick a side, and I just didn't want that. Screw sides. I want what's best for racing, and a unified Chowchilla and Merced would have been, in my opinion. But Chuck had taken his stance and wouldn't budge. Tom did everything but what Chuck wanted to make it happen, and that didn't matter either. IMCA refused to get involved for the racers and chose a side, which is one reason I'm not a fan of that particular association.

I'll tell you where I was with it. I heard what Paul said in Reno in 2001 about what needed to be done to bring Chowchilla into IMCA. Pay the fine. Tom was not ready to do that. As I heard from one of Tom's closest advisers, not Tom, "That would mean Chuck won."


Well, I was disappointed to hear that, but I had an answer. I was ready to pay the fine for Tom, and at that time, I could have. I'm not a rich person, but this needed to happen. I could give Tom the money and all he'd have to do is give it to Chuck. It wouldn't cost him a penny, and at this point, why not? Let's move on from 1997, for crying out loud, and do what's best for racing. I was serious. Thing was, there was rain coming, and Don wanted to get a jump on the storm, so we were leaving early. Probably for the best. Had I seen Tom before I left, I was prepared to do this.

You know the rest, because nothing changed. Eventually, Chowchilla moved to Saturday nights, and I absolutely hated that move. I felt Tom was getting the wrong advice, and the move was a hit and miss proposition. I understand why he did it, but to Chuck, it was another slap in the face. I chose to work with Chuck, because through all of that, I still respected the man and wanted to see Merced Speedway and it's great tradition come out okay.

Chuck did what he's always done though any crisis at the track. Open the gates, run the show and let everybody know that the track will pull through and deliver as promised. Merced started having a bit of a comeback in 2001 when I was announcing full time, and this continued and peaked around 2005. Times were good when Chuck made his next move. He would go after Chowchilla. The time was right.

To be honest, I had heard mention a time or two in 2003 that people wanted Chuck to make a move then, but he also talked about finally retiring and grooming his replacement at Merced. After the final straw for me, missing the Merced Speedway Awards Banquet that I had looked forward to attending in 2003, I was ready to retire, but the feud continued. Some people never learn to let go. I understand the why, but there are times to rise above the hate for the greater good too.

Chowchilla had always had it's rough patches. Honestly, we are lucky Tom and Cindy made it last as long as they did. Tom had figured out a system, and there were always certain nights when it was so good that it offset the losses from the bad nights. 2007 would be no different had it been allowed to play out as it had in the past. But, the deal was done, and Tom was pushed out through what seemed like a back door deal. But hey, it's business.

I'm sure the fact that 2005 and 2006 were pretty good years at Merced factored into Chuck's decision to come in and take over. And, who knows, had a few other things been in place, it might have had a chance. Chuck brought IMCA to Chowchilla, but by then, nobody cared. Fact is, these two tracks were entirely different animals. The promoters had different styles, and those worked well for them at their respective places. Chuck didn't make it through the 2008 season at Chowchilla. That could have been the end of that track.

Meanwhile, if anybody wondered if Tom cared about the sport, wasn't it obvious? He did everything he could to keep the big races he'd had at Chowchilla going at other tracks. He eventually landed a nice track prep deal at Watsonville and has earned rave reviews for it. But, he no longer runs Chowchilla Speedway. Victory was Chuck's, or so it would seem.

Unfortunately, 2009 was a terrible year for Merced. The track had endured it's weak moments from time to time, and I'm sure they thought they'd pull through again. They always had before. But, this time was different. Several key sponsors had left Merced Speedway. By the end of July, it got very ugly. At the last race, Chuck announced that he was retiring after over 20 years as promoter. He tried to find a successor during the off season, but it was not to be.

Did the move to take over Chowchilla help bring about the end of Chuck's run? Maybe. Who knows and who really cares at this point? That would add a certain degree of irony to it. The fact is that these two tracks could have been huge together, and both had something to offer to a two track series. At 16 miles apart, it would have been perfect. Had somebody else opened Chowchilla, maybe Chuck would have been receptive, but then, would it have ever opened without Tom? No. Not a chance.

And, that's the kicker. There was no winner in this feud. We got a new track, which was nice. The track continues, but without the man who started it all leading the way, it's just not the same. Chuck didn't get to continue CCMR with a hand picked successor. His run at Merced ended the way critics said it would, but over a decade later. So to say he didn't know what he was doing would be wrong. There were some good races and seasons at Merced during Chuck's run, but a disappointing ending.

Technically, it was a draw. Neither man is the promoter at either track, though I know Tom is important to both Merced and Watsonville. He should be running Chowchilla now, and had that deal been struck between Merced and Chowchilla ten years ago, who might be running these tracks now and what would the shows be like? Perhaps it was meant to end this way, and maybe part of Tom's legacy, the existence of Chowchilla Speedway itself, will be next. That would be a shame.

I loved seeing the picture of Tom on the tractor at Merced, and I know how proud he is of that track now and being a part of it. The fact that he's there is a victory in itself. His racing career could have ended that night in 1997, but it didn't. He has learned and grown from there, and he's definitely done his part to make things a little better for the racers.

I like Tom and Chuck. They both have done good things for the sport. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and none of us are perfect. At times, we get pushed to our limits, but it's what we learn and how we deal with those moments that makes us who we are. Maybe that day was just too much to overcome, and it just had to end the way it did. So be it. I've thought about it a lot through the years. It doesn't matter now. It is what it is. But, if you are keeping score, it was ultimately a draw.

The good news is that both tracks are still up and running, and Tom is still involved in a lesser, but still important role. Where the two tracks go from here will be up to John Soares Jr. and Kenny Shepherd to decide. I wish nothing but the best for all involved.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gale Gets Third Win In Four Weeks, Skidmore Wins Again At Orland

Some information was made available on what was probably the best night of the season at Orland Speedway with over 40 cars in action among four divisions. All statistics are unofficial.

The best car count of the season competed in the four division show Saturday night at Orland Speedway as the track continues to gain momentum down the stretch run of the season. Winning features in the track's regular classes were Richard Gale (Mini Trucks), Jason Clayton (Mini Stocks) and Jesse Skidmore (Hobby Stocks). The Pro 4 Sprints paid their first visit to the speedway this season, and Brandon Ternora won the their Main Event. The track also ran Powder Puff Races for the regular divisions.

The Mini Truck division has always had one of the strongest car counts at the track through the years, and it grew to a season high 15 trucks for this event. Double division racer Jake Van Tol, a feature winner earlier in the season, returned to action and won the first heat race ahead of Jeremy Langendater and Ross Vige. Unfortunately for Vige, he ended up last in the feature. The second heat race went to another of this season's feature winners, Tyler Pebley, ahead of Dan Webster and Tony Billotti.

Trophy Dashes weren't run on this night, but one of the nice things about Orland Speedway is they actually hand out trophies, rather than plaques, to those winners. With all the cars and races on this night, it was decided to skip the dashes. All 15 trucks started the Mini Truck feature, which was marred by a late race crash that saw one of the top competitors of this season, Webster, flip his truck and get hit. Fortunately, he was not injured, but his truck took severe damage and may be destroyed at this point.

The hottest driver in the Mini Truck division lately has been Richard Gale, and he continued to impress by winning the Main Event. If not for the second place finish he took behind Webster three races ago, this would be Gale's fourth straight win. Van Tol's bid for another win came up just short as he finished second. Pebley grabbed the third podium position as Langendater and Clinton Earl rounded out the top five. Webster was still scored sixth after the race ending crash as Blevins, Jim Davis, Don McClain and Wendy Miller made up the remainder of the top ten.

The Mini Stocks again had a season high turnout with 11 cars in action. Marysville regulars again ran at the front as fifth ranked Marysville driver Will Robertson won the first heat in front of past Orland Modified Mini Stock champion "Rollin" Olin Crane and Don Runkle. Third ranked Marysville competitor Jason Clayton started a great night off right with a heat race win of his own in front of Eric Hammond and Chris Van Dyke. It was a Marysville 1-2 finish again this week in the Main Event as Clayton scored the win in his first Orland appearance of the season ahead of Robertson and one of Orland's top competitors and a 2010 feature winner, Hammond. Van Dyle and Barbara Brunner were top five finishers as the #33 car of Joe Kniep, the #95 car, Crane, Cheree Smith and Runkle completed the top ten.

There were ten Hobby Stocks, and they ran one heat race with Tony Hobbs picking up the win ahead of Richard Jones and top five ranked Marysville competitor Paul Castaneda. Picking up where he left off last week, Jesse Skidmore collected another feature victory with Kevin Kampschmidt a season best second. A feature winner earlier this season, Jake Van Tol returned with his Hobby Stock and finished third ahead Jones and Karl Brummit. One of this season's top competitors, Rich Hood ended up a disappointing sixth ahead of Hobbs, Castaneda, Steven Joseph and the #66b car.

Partial information appeared from the August 7th Hobby Stock race. Newcomer Anthony Ramirez debuted a new car with a heat win ahead of Brian Compton, but Ramirez missed the dash putting in a new radiator that fellow competitors provided for him to keep him racing. Skidmore may have won the other heat, but that is unofficial. In the Main Event, Earl Adams was leading Skidmore in a good battle through traffic on lap 14. Kampschmidt, Clay Rawls and Compton were top five at that moment as Ramirez pitted his overheating car from fifth on lap 13. Steve Ema was lapped at that point and running sixth, while Jones fell out during the first ten laps. This is all unofficial, but no results were posted for the eight car Hobby Stock field that night.

Eight Pro 4 Sprint Cars made their first Orland appearance of the season. This division has it's origins tracing back to Baylands in 1982 and SORA from 1989 through most of the last decade. Some rules have been changed to allow racers to be able to swap out motors and compete in the 360 Sprint Car class. Two heat races were held with point leader and two time winner P.J. Petersen winning the first heat ahead of John Cardoni. Chad Thompson won the second heat ahead of Mat Beardslee. In the Main Event, it was Brandon Ternora picking up a first win of 2010 ahead of Thompson and Petersen. Cardoni finished fourth ahead of Beardslee, second ranked Pro 4 and Marysville Mini Stock racer Misty Castleberry and veteran Jim Phifer. Third ranked point competitor Gary Eckman was a feature scratch.

They ran two Powder Puff Races, one for Hobby Stocks and one that combined the Mini Trucks and Mini Stocks. Dee Jones won the Hobby Stock Powder Puff Race ahead of Tammy Thurber, Kelly Kampschimdt, Diana Baker and Kim Cook. The Mini Truck/Mini Stock event had ten starters with Joleen Van Tol winning ahead of Megan Tanner, Jennifer Drewry, Kristina Runkle and Lielian Gray.

Pat Bisio and J.D. Hopkins had Wingless Spec Sprints at the track, and there was also a #3 Hardtop making hot laps. Hardtops are scheduled for next Saturday night along with the track's regular divisions in what is shaping up to be another good show on the one fifth mile dirt oval.

These are NOT official points for Orland Speedway. To my knowledge, they are not keeping points this season. Using Antioch Speedway's Main Event point system (50, 48 46...), I took the Main Event finishes I had (a few are missing), just to get an idea how drivers might rank this season. Here's a look at the top five, but remember, they are not official.

Wingless Spec Sprints (9 Races) *

69-Josh Jacobo 418
74-Josh Tucker 278
7x-Brian Kirby 270
4xl-Pat Bisio 218
5-John Hopkins 176

* At least 1 race missing

Mini Trucks (12 Races)*

62-Dan Webster 540
23-Richard Gale 512
97-Ross Vige 490
00t-Tyler Pebley 374
5-Jim Davis 346

*1 race missing

Mini Stocks (12 Races)*

86-Eric Hammond 380
23-Don Runkle 350
93-Ken Johnson 316
46-Sean Perry 284
82x-Olin Crain 214

* 1 race missing

Hobby Stocks (9 Races)*

12-Rich Hood 366
22-Earl Adams 192
2-Jake Van Tol 188
18-Brian Compton 186
4-Richard Jones 178

* At least 1 race missing

A Few Thoughts On Merced's Big Show Last Sunday

Packed grandstands at Merced Speedway for a Sunday night race. The occasion was the $3,5000 to win race that attracted 35 racers to the quarter-mile clay oval. All in all, it was a good night for racing in Merced and it only served to illustrate how big this track can get. The best is yet to come, and kudos should go to John Soares Jr. and his crew for making it happen.
Photo By L&J Photography - please check out the site and support the cause.

Tom Sagmiller is winning rave reviews for his track prep work at Watsonville and now Merced. This is Tom at Merced. I'll let others discuss the significance of this and all the water under the bridge. Fact is, it's a good thing that Tom is involved. He's not well respected by the racers for nothing.

Photo By L&J Photography - please check out the site and support the cause.

Success at Merced Speedway

The show went on as scheduled Sunday night at Merced. I'd been reading updates on the forums and the got a call from my friend Joe Martinez, which was nice. He was thrilled by the turnout of fans for that race. By all accounts a success. I understand they advertised heavily, PLUS, they have Mike Adaskaveg writing and getting published in the Merced Sun-Star every week, and THAT helps tremendously. I'm not going to attempt a story, because Mike already wrote one. The Merced Speedway site already has one written by Mike. Just for the record as this stuff seems to disappear from the web, there were 35 cars. The Top 10 was:

Bobby Hogge IV ($3,500 winner - $8,000 for both nights), Robbie Sawyer, Paul Stone (in brother Steve's car), Troy Foulger, Jimmy Ray (from the back), Alex Stanford (From the back after a wreck), Scott Busby, Chris Shannon, Aaron Barnell, Mitch Enos.


Bobby Hogge IV won both nights, collecting $3,500 each and then the $1,000 bonus for an $8,000 weekend. It's only going to go back into their racing program, and Bobby plans an active open comp season in the weeks ahead. I doubt this is his last big win of the year, but what was nice for him on this occasion was his grandfather Joe Bailey was celebrating his birthday by doing what he usually does on race night, crewing for Bobby. This is truly a family racing effort with three generations represented most nights.

I know they missed 2002's high of 39 cars for the 9/11 Memorial race, but 35 was not bad at all. With the crowd that was there and the racing that took place, it was a good night. I just hope the locals racers realize that when they support shows like this, they are supporting racing and helping make the track bigger. They complained for years about the place, but now things are changing.

The buzz has been huge at this track all season long, and with exception of the second race, car count has been good. Attendance is doing okay, and the track is off to a good start. There is potential for so many good things to happen and a promoter willing to make things happen, so hopefully people get on board with him. I also hope the promoter stays focused and doesn't let a few bad apples ruin it for everybody. I remember when that happened before at the other track.

Merced Speedway is worth the effort. If I didn't believe that, I never would have gone there as much as I did, and now more things are being done. I'm just hoping this vibe continues. I know how good things felt at the other track back in 1998 and how good things got the next couple of years. It can happen again. People want to race and have fun and fans want to see a good show.

I salute the racers who came. Robby Sawyer with a strong second. Looks like Paul Stone is getting his car ready for Iowa, but Steve's car is pretty fast too as that third place finish would indicate. Nice to see Antioch point leader Troy Foulger come out and represent Contra Costa County with a fourth. Jimmy Ray showed why he is a champion in Texas and New Mexico with a drive from the back to fifth. That allowed him to salvage something out of the weekend and probably made the trip back home a little better.

I'm happy Mike is writing so much down there and spreading it around to the other classes. He's doing a great job for just jumping in there, and he will learn about the track's heritage and the names as he goes along. Unfortunately, nobody really keeps records of these tracks anymore, so even things that happened a few seasons ago get forgotten rather quickly, but Merced Speedway now has somebody writing good stories and getting them out there for people to read.

I understand the Merced Modifieds got to "ride into the danger zone" as John Meyers is announcing out there. Doesn't surprise me as many of the people from Antioch are working at Merced to get this thing going. I know John doesn't get recognized along with some of the greats in the game, but he truly loves what he does, and a can respect him for putting so many years into trying to help make it fun for the fans. Plus, I still remember most of his sayings, and let me just say, "I feel the need, the need for speed."

Tom Sagmiller has done a lot for racing, and it still pisses me off the way Chowchilla ended for him. It didn't surprise me that he ended up doing the track prep at Watsonville, because the man loves what he does and cares about the sport. It also didn't surprise me that John brought him into Merced, because having Tom involved only helps this thing get going faster. As I said, people respect Tom. He has built a much deserved reputation for his good track prep work.

Merced Speedway is lucky to have a guy like Tom involved with it, and I know he's happy to be doing his part to make things better there. I know that's all he really ever wanted for that track to begin with.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hogge Beats Old Rival Busby For $3,500 Antioch Victory

Got enough information to put something together now. I may update as I get more information. Looks like a good show and a pretty good crowd for this one.

Forty-eight drivers competed in the opening night of the two night, two track UMP West Coast Nationals Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. Though drivers came from all over the state and even out of the state, it was three drivers who know the track well who would collect the top three finishing positions as two time champion Bobby Hogge IV (1995-96) beat four time champion Scott Busby (1991-92-93 & 1997) and two time champion Kenny Neu (2007-09) for a $3,500 payday. Hogge is now eligible for a $1,000 bonus Sunday at Merced if he wins that $3,500 Main Event, which would give him an $8,000 payoff for two nights of racing if he can pull it off.

The Hogge-Busby battle the fans witnessed Saturday night will bring to mind the many great races the two had against each other at Antioch in the 1990's when both were competing for track and NASCAR Regional honors, and Hogge would follow in his legendary father's footsteps by winning a Regional championship, which he actually did twice (1996-97).

Promoter John Soares Jr. was hoping to make a few statements with the big money weekend at both tracks. He is hoping to make Antioch and Merced big players on the UMP Modified scene both Regionally and Nationally, and it is his desire to make both tracks a destination point for the fans and drivers. In the Main Event alone, Soares will pay $12,000 for each race, and this is the second huge purse paid for the Modifieds at Antioch this season. Soares paid a $20,000 purse back in June for a big race, and New Mexico long tow Stormy Scott won the $5,000 first prize on that occasion.

The 48 drivers each ran two heat races and a system of heat race and passing points was used to determine who would fill the first ten starting spots for the 19 car feature. The first set of heat races was won by Hogge, Busby, Chester Kniss, past Antioch champion Kellen Chadwick, Andy Angelo and three time Petaluma Speedway champion Michael Paul Sr. Neu, past Chico champion Duane Cleveland, Merced point leader Alex Stanford, Chris Sieweke, Chris Shannon and past Chico champion Richard Papenhausen were the winners of the second round of heat races as there were no repeat winners.

After points were tallied, Neu and Busby had earned the front row for the big money race, Chadwick and Hogge were in the second row, Randy McDaniel and Shannon were in the next row, 1993 Antioch Street Stock champion Mickey Hill and Austin Burke were in the fourth row and the fifth row start was earned by Nick Collins and Papenhausen. McDaniel, Hill, Burke and Collins made it without winning a heat race as six heat winners still had to work their way through one of the three B Mains.

There was plenty of talent spread through all of the B Mains, and the first B Main was won by Paul ahead of El Paso and New Mexico star Jimmy Ray and past Hanford champion Brian Cass. In an exciting race, Bakerfield star Robby Sawyer held off top five ranked UMP National racer Stormy Scott and Antioch regular Sean O'Gara to win the second B Main. Sawyer was said to have run a lap faster than the track record. Stanford came back to win the final B Main ahead of past Chowchilla-Antioch series champion Keith Brown Sr. and Cleveland.

With the 19 positions filled, it was time to race for the big bucks, and much of the race was a battle between Hogge and Busby that went back and forth. Hogge would eventually get the lead and go on to score the big victory. Busby settled for second ahead of Neu. Shannon picked up a fourth place finish, while Paul came from 12th starting to finish fifth. Chadwick was sixth ahead of 17th starter Cass, Scott, McDaniel and 18th starter O'Gara.