Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's The Point

There have been a few point races that never happened that maybe should have been. It's a funny thing, really. Don O'Keefe Jr. and I have had discussions about point racing and how stupid people can get over them. The way they drive, the money they will spend at the risk of things that are really more important than racing. It can get crazy.

But, points are that glue that holds it all together and gives it more meaning. It's competition. Champions are crowned. It's really the key ingredient to how we hype it all up and build the excitement that makes everybody come out. You've got to have points, and the closer the battle, the better.

Back in 1985 or so, I noticed car counts were doing so well at Antioch in the Street Stock division that B Mains were becoming a regular thing. I had noticed that San Jose Speedway had B and C Main points and thought I'd make a point race for the Street Stock B Main. It didn't seem right to me that the usual drivers were in that race and went home with nothing.

I didn't use the formula from San Jose where transferring cars didn't keep their B Main points. It seemed unfair to me. I mean, everybody really wants to race in the Main Event. You aren't there to run the B. If you are in it, you want to transfer out of it. It's funny, in the latter part of the NASCAR era at Antioch, I convinced Brynda to run B Main point races. Well, Mike Murphy was leading the deal going into the final race in 1997. He was in the B Main and earned a transfer. Well, what do you do? He did what most would do. He transferred and gave up those B Main points. Debbie Clymens ended up winning it, but she would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. Didn't really seem fair to me, but those were the rules.

In the early days, though, it was my race. Keith Collins was the 1986 B Main champion. A year later, I brought back my magazine on a weekly basis, called Antioch Speedway Magazine at that time. I put the B Main points in there for fun, and Tom Leopold won it. When they knew it was clinched, Tom's crew made up a B Main Championship plaque and presented it to him. I thought that was so cool.

The Leopold's brought me a sponsor, Devil's Mountain Trophies, and I would have an opportunity to crown B and C Main champions in 1988. Steve Wacht won the B Main title that year, and Randy Price was C Main champion. This could have been a good deal if not for the fact that I attempted to help the NCMA get a good deal on their banquet trophies that year. My sponsor thought he had a deal with them, but it didn't work out after he had put work into the trophies. There went my sponsor. Live and learn, I guess.

I kept the B Main and C Main races up through the time that Antioch finally started holding an official race. I would award free DCRR subscriptions to the champions so they got something out of it.

The DCRR Sweet 16/Terrific 12 State deal, you probably know about. It was my attempt to promote track unity and give the drivers a bigger title to pursue. It started at CRO as the CRA State point race, which is where we created the bylaws which were designed to promote track unity and increased car counts. All told, there were four seasons for this, three of which had awards at the end. It should have been bigger and better than it turned out, but for lack of the big sponsorship.

Thanks to Don & Linda O'Keefe and a few people who chipped in, it was still pretty darn cool, especially when we started seeing drivers travel to places they may not normally go for those points. Plus, Johnny Sass had the points listed in the official Merced Speedway program in 2003. It mattered, but it could have been bigger. I just finally burned out due to lots of things and decided it best if I stepped away from racing.

In 1988, Antioch and Watsonville added a Charger division based on the Enduro rules. Baylands had been running these cars as American Stocks for a few years. I was one who wondered why add a class when our Street Stock car count was through the roof. There was talk of splitting the Street Stocks into two and starting a Limited Stock class, which would have been pretty interesting had it happened. Anyway, they didn't keep points, but I ran them in The DCRR every week. I have a top ten that I will list here.

1988 Antioch Speedway Chargers Points

1 1 Bart Reid 253
2 2a Pete Peters 230
3 13 Coreen Hornbeek 207
4 20 David Bloomfield 190
5 9a Jay Evans 154
6 12a Doug Turpin 114
7 27a Rick Payne 102
8 11 Terry Westcamp 88
9 4a David Hill 91
10 7a Kirk Jensen 80

Don't have the winner's list handy, but I have all the winners from this season in my record books. Reid, Peters, Hornbeek, Tim Stratmeyer, Westcamp and Chuck Smith were among the winners that year if I recall correctly. The class was dropped after one season for some reason, though it looked like it would grow. Still, it gave us Reid, Stratmeyer, Turpin and Hill, so it wasn't a total loss.

We all know the story of the end of the Late Models, though I may post something on it in the future. None of us were happy that the division was dropped the way it was at the end of 1993, including the drivers who had ordered new cars prior to the late December announcement. At the banquets, all the drivers heard from management was "see you next year" and that sort of thing, but anyway.

In 1994, negotiations between John Soares Sr. and Rick Farrin produced a schedule for a Late Model Tour between Petaluma, San Jose, Watsonville and Antioch. Unfortunately, Soares didn't like the things he was hearing coming from the NASCAR side concerning rules. Fact was, he had a good Late Model show going at that time and did not want to risk hurting it. So, he pulled out. Of course, the Soares bashing began, but who was it who still had a weekly Late Model show going into the 2000's?

Somebody convinced Farrin to stick with the Late Model dates he had at the other tracks. Who that was, I didn't know, but that was great advice. The show went on, and when they did have shows booked against Petaluma, both tracks had solid numbers. There were 40 cars one night between San Jose and Petaluma. Doesn't sound like a dead division to me. Anyway, I decided to keep points in the DCRR in a push for this to become a regular tour. Gary Jacob even wrote about this point series in a column in Racing Wheels. I didn't have any awards for the champion for this, and I'm not even sure if the champion got a free subscription. For those wondering, I'll post the point list here.

1995 San Jose-Antioch-Watsonville Late Model Points

1 69 Joel Hannagan 106
2 7 Dave Byrd 88
3 4p Richard Papenhausen 84
4 43 David Glass 84
5 (2) Bobby Hogge III 82
6 61 Bobby Large 82
7 59 Jeff Silva 62
8 32 Vance Beltran 60
9 10 Larry Damitz 56
10 19 Larry Burton 56

As I recall, Glass led the points for a while before Hannagan took over. There were eight races with Papenhausen and Hogge each winning twice and Large, Damitz and B.J. Pearson each once. Orval Burke won a crowd pleasing finale at Watsonville, which signaled the end of the NASCAR Late Model era. There were 36 different cars in those eight races and enough evidence to the fact that there was interest in this. Unfortunately, it never got a chance.

This last point list comes after I had left the sport and The DCRR was folded. Had this point race existed, there is a very good possibility the Four Banger class at Antioch would be in the 20's right now. Back in 2003, when I was in my last year with The DCRR, Lance Cline began building these front wheel drive, 4 cylinder cars at a nice and affordable price. Keith Brown Jr. and 2004 champion Jason Jennings brought their cars and we started having four car exhibition races. I've probably mentioned this somewhere, but the magazine covered these exhibition races and made sure there was some hype around it. It's all about building car count.

In 2004, it took off, and car count was quickly in the high teens, but there were problems. I recall some of this, because things were being written on the internet and there was a web page for this class. Drivers were saying they had one of the best car counts at the track, which they did, and they felt they deserved purse money. Had people just come to John and talked with him, something would have been worked out. John is a business man and he is reasonable.

However, some of the things said drew a reaction from Soares that ultimately effected this division. One driver was dis invited from this class, citing the fact that he had some Sprint 100's experiences (2 or 3 races before he crashed that car). It was announced that 2005 would not be a point season. Car count dropped, though it still wasn't too low. I have calculated what a point race would have looked like in 2005 had it existed.

2005 Antioch Speedway Four Banger Points

1 Phil McClelland 452
2 Nicole Quadrelli 443
3 Clayton Ganzell 403
4 Doug Taylor 377
5 Jerry Campanello 352
6 Dan Grand 340
7 Steve Walde 313
8 John Tinay 294
9 Tom Dragonetti 277
10 Bruno Korbmacher 258

Of course, with five wins that year, it's likely that Walde would have kept at it and won the title, rather than dropping out down the stretch, but it's also likely that the division would have seen its first B Mains that year as well. Taylor won two times, while Trevor Press, Tinay, Dragonetti and Korbmacher each won once. Korbmacher won the title the next season when points were brought back, before the division was dropped completely for two years.

The significance of a 2005 Four Banger point race at Antioch is that it continues continuity and the momentum being built. Things are getting bigger and better. Other tracks got into Four Bangers after Antioch, and the class is thriving at those places. John realized that he had something with this entry level class and has given it a spot on the card again. Hopefully it regains that momentum and can become the strong entry level class that he and Cline envisioned it to be.

So, what is the point? I guess it's that points do matter to some people. They help us build the legends of the race track, a measure of how much a driver has accomplished on the race track. When promoted right, these points will make it all bloom and grow into something big.