Orland Speedway is a track that has always intrigued me since I first heard about it in 1989. I'm trying to recall who the promoter was and the name Doc Bogart, a star with the SORA Sprint 100's at the time, jumps out at me. Anyway, I was on board with the NCMA and had been elected secretary for the first time that year. I was handling publicity for them in 1988 and ended up being elected from 1989-1993, while also handling publicity.
Not trying to turn this into an NCMA article, but club founder Mike Johnson had been removed from his elected Business Manager post, where he was handling booking race dates. One of the issues was he had landed a date at Mike McCann's track in Cottage Grove, Oregon. It was a nice deal, but some of the racers didn't think so.
Anyway, Darryl Shirk and I had sort of planted the seed in conversations with Chuck Prather at Marysville in 1988 to get dates for the NCMA in 1989, and club president Paul Nelson landed dates there. The other thing Nelson did was get some races at Orland. So, I knew about the track, and I had heard through the years that it had been a struggle keeping that track going in the shadow of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico.
When Paul & Carol Turner came on the scene in the late 1990's, things changed. The track gained some stability, and I would guess entered it's most successful period. Put it this way, people outside of Orland started hearing about the racing up there on a regular basis.
Don O'Keefe Jr. and I met the Turner's at the RPM Workshop in Reno in 1999. I knew they had Street Stocks, Mini Stocks and Mini Trucks among the show there. Four cylinder classes have usually done well there, and the Turner's nurtured that. They were also looking at other things, including 4 Cylinder Modifieds and Wingless Spec Sprints.
Actually, they had a couple cars in 1999 that would come out and hot lap for the fans. I believe one or both were owned by the Jacobo family. I may not have that correct, but going from memory. One car was purchased from NCMA competitor Bill "Highwall" Hopkins, or "Hoppy" as some of his friends called him.
The Turner's were considering what to do, and I suggested they start this class. If cars are going to show, I told them, run a heat race and a Main Event and pay what you can. It doesn't have to be big money. My thinking was if you start running the class, more cars will come and it will grow. The Turner's were pretty friendly, but I can imagoine they were thinking, "who the hell is this person telling us what we should do?"
We had just come off of the successful first WSS season at Antioch, and I wanted to see this class grow and branch out. I wanted it for the racers, noit just for one group. It's interesting to point out that many time NCMA champion Scott Holloway was handling the Business Manager duties for the club at that time, and this is probably how I came across the Turnerls. Scott is somebody I've always liked, and despite whatever the club in general may have thought of me, there was mutual respect.
Well, Don and I are always willing to help people willing to,listen and make the effort, and we gave Scott our opinions on things and suggestions. It may have helped in getting a date or two, but I was hoping the NCMA would come in and work with Orland. In my opinion, the NCMA has never really been about helping other groups or racing, but rather themselves. This is not a knock against them as they are still going, aren't they?
The point that broke the deal was the matter of $5 or $10 per car more that they wanted from Orland. I recal thinking at the time, just get a sponsor Scott. What are we really talking about here, anyway? $200? $300.? Make it happen. It gets the word out about the club, grows a new group. It's win win. Reminds me of the CMA going to Yreka in 1994, allowing their carbureted Sprint Cars to get out of the injected race. That went on for a few years after too.
Anyway, the deal with the club never happened, but the Turner's jumped right in and had a championship season in 2000 for their Wingless Spec Sprint class, won by Josh Jacobo. In 2003, Jacobo ended up winning the DCRR Terrific 12 State Championship, and he was presented with a plaque at their banquet too. Somewhere around here I have the pictures.
The Turner's continued to do their thing until the end of 2007. Finances got a little too difficult, forcing them to step aside. Still, they made their mark on the track during that time. “It was a gut-wrenching decision for us to make,’’ Carol Turner said in a Nov. 15 interview with the Orland Press-Register. “But it needed to be done.’’
According to the Orland Press-Register, the track had been in operation 20 years and normally has a 23-race season starting in April and ending in October. The races are on Saturday nights and are canceled only by the occasional rain out.
After a dark 2008, the roar of the engines returned to Orland Speedway in 2009 when a new promoter emerged. Racing enthusiast Dan Ochs of Los Molinos made a presentation Jan. 20 to the Glenn County Fair Board about his plans for the race track in Orland that’s been empty since the fall of 2007.
“We are going to try and get at least 18 shows this year,” Ochs told the Orland Press Register before the 2009 season. “I don’t have a firm schedule ... There are still a lot of ifs, (but that is the plan).”
Interim Fairgrounds CEO Jake Walgenbach told the Press Register that the fairgrounds did an RFP in 2008 and received a bid from a five-person partnership made up of local car racing enthusiasts. They went through the process and were tentatively awarded a contract, he said, but delays in completing the paperwork derailed the program for 2008.
As a result, the fair board canceled the RFP and decided to open the competitive bidding again for the ’09 season, he said.
However, racing returned in 2009 and the plan calls for more in 2010. There has already been some buzz created by Antioch and Vallejo Speedway veteran Terry DeCarlo. I'm not sure what Terry's involvement is in the track, but I know he was on the Board Of Directors as President of CORA Speedway in Dixon and is a man respected by many in the racing community. If Terry is involved in any capacity, it's a good thing for the track, in my opinion.
The plan calls for more Mini Stock and Mini Truck racing. Wingless Spec Sprints will be back. There is a Pro Stock division, patterned after the Street Stocks that run in Chico on Friday nights, much like the Turners had before that. Hobby Stocks will be there, along with some Dirt Midifieds using IMCA rules and V-6 Sprint Cars.
The track will be running from April to October and the Orland Speedway web site will have all the details on the coming 2010 season. I wish them luck. When tracks close, they don't always reopen, so it is nice to know this one is getting another chance to make new racing memories. The real winners will be the fans.
Below are some race results from Orland Speedway last season, just for the record.
Wingless Sprints – 1. Josh Jacobo; 2. Mitchell Miller; 3. Ken Webber Jr.; 4. Pat Bisio; 5. Joe Dalman.
Pure Stocks – 1. Kevin Pendergrass; 2. Paul Stephens; 3. Gary Newman; 4. Jake Van Tol; 5. Richard Workman; 6. Steve Martin; 7. Rich Shires. This marked Pendergrass’ fifth main win in a row.
Trucks – 1. Jim Davis; 2. Richard Gale; 3. Tyler Pebley; 4. Dan Webster; 5. Steve Barbo; 6. Bob Ralls; 7. Tracey Barbo.
Bombers – 1. Jake Van Tol; 2. Tony Hobbs; 3. Mark Culp; 4. Karl Brummet; 5. Kevin Kampschmidt.
Midgets – 1. Lonny Alton; 2. Rick Young; 3. Ken Buman; 4. Dillon Silverman.
Mini Stocks – 1. Bub Walberg; 2. Kevin Pendergrass; 3. Eric Hammond.
Trucks, Heat 1
1. Buddy Walberg; 2. Jim Davis; 3. Dan Webster; 4. Jared Flower ; 5. Andrew Grader ; 6. Zack Webster.
Trucks, Heat 2
1. Richard Gale; 2. Paul Stevens; 3. Maria Romano; 4. Brandon Miller; 5. Tracy Barbo; 6. Tony Billotti.
Trophy Dash Trucks
1. Paul Stevens; 2. Buddy Walberg; 3. Richard Gale; 4. Jim Davis.
1. Buddy Walberg; 2. Kevin Pendergrass; 3. Richard Gale; 4. Paul Stevens; 5. Mario Romano; 6. Jim Davis; 7. Isham Griffith; 8. Brandon Miller; 9. Tony Billotti; 10. Tracy Barbo; 11. Zack Webster; 12. Jared Flower; 13. Andrew Gryder; 14. Dan Webster.
Stock Cars, Heat 1
1. Kevin Pendergrass; 2. Willie Horn Jr.; 3. Gary Newman; 4. Rich Hood; 5. Jimmy O’Reilly; 6. Jose Ramirez.
1. Kevin Pendergrass; 2. Gary Newman; 3. Rich Hood; 4. Willie Horn Jr.
Main Stock Cars
1. Kevin Pendergrass; 2. Gary Newman; 3. Rich Hood; 4. Jimmy O’Reilly; 5. Willie Horn Jr.; 6. Jose Ramirez.
Wingless Sprints Heat 1
1. Josh Jacobo; 2. Josh Tucker; 3. Pat Bisio; 4. John Despees.
1. Josh Jacobo; 2. Josh Tucker; 3. Pat Bisio; 4. John Despees
1. Josh Jacobo; 2. Josh Tucker; 3. John Despees; 4. Pat Bisio.
Wingless Sprints – 1. Josh Jacobo; 2. Kenny Webber; 3. Rowdy McLoen; 4. Jeff Banbury; 5. Ken Webber Jr.
Mini-Stocks and Trucks (Mini-Stocks and Trucks raced together) – 1. Kevin Pendergrass (MS); 2. Josh Tucker; 3. Bob Ralls; 4. Dan Webster; 5. Steve Barbo; 6. Richard Gale; 7. Eric Hammond (MS); 8. Bud Walbergh (MS); 9. Fred Gonsalves; 10. Olin Crain; 11. Jared Flower.
Bombers – 1. Kevin Kampschmidt; 2. Fred Fermond; 3. Jimmy O’Reily; 4. Karl Brummet; 5. Mark Culp; 6. John Kirkpatrick; 7. Anthony Sharp.
Power Puff’s All Women:
Bombers – 1. Anne Ladtka; 2. Shelly Martin; 3. Susan Bailey; 4. Nina Friermood; 5. Kathy Kampschmidt; 6. Diana Barker; 7. Jennifer Deroy.
Mini Trucks and Stock Cars – 1. Tracy Barbo (MT); 2. Barbara Crain (SC); 3. Brenna Johnson (SC); 4. Jamie Gale (MT); 5. Jennifer Deroy; 6. Stacy Stephens (MT).
Wingless Sprints – 1. Josh Jacobo; 2. Josh Zander; 3. Ken Webber Jr.; 4. Kenny Webber.
Pure Stocks – 1. Kevin Pendergrass; 2. Gary Newman; Paul Stephens; 4. Terry Lawrence; 5. Steve Martin.
Trucks/Mini Stocks (Mini Stock class raced with Mini Truck class) – 1. Jim Davis; 2. Eric Hammond (Mini Stock); 3. Richard Gale; 4. Dan Webster; 5. Steve Barbo; 6. Brandon Miller; 7. Leonard Burrows; 8. Tyler Pebley; 9. Tracey Barbo; 10. Bob Ralls (Mini Stock); 11. Andrew Gryder (Mini Stock).
Bombers – 1. Tony Hobbs; 2. Kevin Kampschmidt; 3. Rich Hood; 4. Scott Yancy; 5. Jimmy O’Reily; 6. Mark Culp; 7. Steve Kincaid; 8. Joey Gilmore; 9. John Kirkpatrick; 10. Karl Brummet.