Monday, June 28, 2010

An Orland Speedway Post

What's up at Orland Speedway?

Another race in the books last Saturday night with a pair of feature winners, a long time official steps down, and thoughts on spreading the word on Orland Speedway.

Ralph Jacobo Steps Down

Ralph Jacobo resigned from his official post at Orland Speedway after Saturday night. Not sure on the details, but the news first broke on the track's Facebook page with insinuations that there was more to the story. That was then pulled from the page. The track has made the official statement that he was not fired. I would hope that this isn't turned into a deal that hurts the track, which nobody should want to do.

As for Ralph, I believe he has been a part of things at the speedway for several years. He was part of the team for most if not all of the previous management's run, and he was the instigator of the Wingless Spec Sprint movement. Ralph had a couple of cars that he had drivers hot lap several weeks during the 2000 season. A year later, the track started racing the division for points, and Josh Jacobo won the first three championships. From everything I have heard, Ralph was a positive force at the track, so I hate to see him go.

Hopefully, everybody keeps on racing and supporting the cause, and I wish Ralph all the best.

Bits & Pieces From Previous Races

The 4 Cylinder Modifieds have been showing up to race, though the results haven't been posted. I don't believe it's been more than 4 cars on any one night, but I could be wrong. I don't have names, but the #42, #66, #5, #26 #77 and #78 cars have competed. According to photos on the track page, #77 has won a couple of races, while the #78 has won once. Those may have been Trophy Dashes.

When the Nor Cal Hardtops were at the track, Jack Low won the Trophy Dash, and Richard Papenhausen won the Dirt Modified dash when they were there.

The #22 Hobby Stock of Earl Adams won the Trophy Dash at the May 8th race, which hadn't been reported. The Hobby Stock portion of that race was not mentioned in the results, but at least six cars were there that night. In addition to Adams, The #8 of Steve Martin, the #3 of former Antioch racer Bob Bennett, the #12 of Rich Hood, the #08 car and the #18 car competed. It appeared as if Bennett and Adams had a good battle going at one point.

At the third race in May, the #23 Mini Stock of Olin Crain and the #0 Mini Truck of Jake Van Tol are pictured in the winner's circle after apparent Trophy Dash wins, which hadn't been reported at the time.

June 5th Trophy Dash winners weren't reported at that time either, but from looking at pictures on the web site, the #44 Jimmy O'Reily (Hobby Stock), the #0 Jake Van Tol (Mini Truck), the #46 Sean Perry (Mini Stock) and maybe the #69 of Josh Jacobo (Spec Sprint) were winners.

Now, the unnamed driver in the #7k Spec Sprint and the #69 car appear to both be Jacobo Racing Team cars and both are painted similarly. I also bel;eve #34j is Kenny Webber, who raced at the track in the past, including last season.

The #01, #10 and #3 cars were also at the most recent Hobby Stock race at Orland, but were apparently not part of the six car Main Event.

Jacobo, Davis Win Final June Race At Orland Speedway

Wingless Spec Sprints, Mini Truck and Mini Stocks were part of the show at Orland Speedway Saturday Night in addition to the 4 Cylinder Modifieds and a kids bike race (Information isn't available on the 4 Cylinder Modified class).

Former champion Josh Jacobo continues to be one of the track's stars, and he won the Spec Sprint heat race ahead of the #34j car, which may have been Kenny Webber. Jacobo continued to run strong, winning the Main Event ahead of Pat Bisio, in one of his best finishes at the track. A feature winner this season, Josh Tucker finished third with the Jacobo Racing #7k car finishing fourth.

The Mini Stocks and Mini Trucks ran together with about a dozen entries total. Trucks led the way in the first heat as Dan Webster won ahead of Richard Gale. "Rollin" Olin Crain put his Mini Stock in the winner's circle in the second heat ahead of the Mini Stock of Ken Johnson. The truck of Tyler Pebley won the Trophy Dash.

Jake Van Tol was looking to grab the winner's prize in the Main Event, but it was another Mini Truck, driven by Jim Davis, claiming the victory. Van Tol settled for second and Gale capped a pretty good night in third. Webster brought it home in fourth as Crain was the top Mini Stock finisher in fifth.

For July 3rd, Hobby Stocks are back in action, along with Wingless Spec Sprints, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks and 4 Cylinder Modifieds.

A Few Thoughts

Somebody needs to step forward and help with the race results on the web page. I do appreciate the effort that is there, but getting names, especially in a field like this that is being rebuilt, should be doable. If nothing else, have a list at the sign up booth that a driver can print car #, name and division, or many tracks when they post finishes have the names along with the finishes. Have a kid go out and get the names. I bet several of the cars without names on these finishes have drivers who have raced at Orland in the past few seasons.

Get a story up there. A fan or a driver's wife of kid could do this. Give them a hot dog and a coke or a free entry or whatever. It doesn't have to be a long story, just something describing a few of the high points. Then, get that story to local newspapers and any web page that will post it. Put it on message boards. The more you spread the word, the more new racers and fans will come out.

Get a new video on YouTube from a better vantage point of all the divisions and link it on the web page. Give people an idea of the racing going on there. Looking at some of the photos on the page, it looks like there has been some good racing going on there.

For 2011, get point racing back out there. Do it bare bones at first, or get some sponsors, whatever. Crown some champions again and add to the track's history of champions. I understand getting it all started again, but hopefully things can be taken up a notch in the future.

And finally, thank you Orland Speedway management for opening the gates and trying. The track could be done at this point, but you wouldn't let that happen. Your effort is appreciated. Hopefully, people will join in and help out and make this bigger and better, because it can be done. Also, thank you to the racers and the fans who are supporting the cause, and here's hoping the rest of the season just gets better and better.

More From The June 12th Race At Orland

The Modified 4 Cylinder class hasn't been getting much coverage, but they are racing. Wil Robertson visited the track on May 8th and won both the dash and feature. On the night of June 12th, the #77 of Robertson was part of the six car field in the heat race, but it was Jimmy Ford scoring the victory. Zach Webster beat Robertson back to the line for second. Robertson won the dash with Ford making a pass underneath Webster at the white flag for second.

The Main Event for the Modified 4 Cylinder class was one of the more exciting races of the night. Webster and Eric Hammond didn't start this race, but Olin Crain, a former champion in this division, raced his Mini Stock. Crain had swapped cars with Don Runkle in the Mini Stock class, but he jumped back into his car for this race after Runkle suffered a broken thumb in the Mini Stock feature. Greg Davey raced into the lead at the green flag ahead of Ford and Robertson. Racing side by side into Turn 1 a lap later, Ford drifted up, taking Davey over the top of the turn as Robertson raced past both for the lead. Ford recovered in second with Crain in third. About lap ten, the leaders lapped Miller as Davey tried to reel in third place Crain. Lapping a slower car in Turns 1 and 2 of the last lap, Ford moved underneath Robertson for the lead. Not wanting to be in the leader's way, Crain started moving high in the turns for the last couple laps, allowing Davey to make a pass for second in Turn 4 of the 19th lap. Ford collected the win in the non stop race, followed by Ford, Davey, Crain and Miller.

The Hobby Stocks produced a ten car field (originally reported as six) for an exciting night of racing. The wet track conditions produced some wild heat race action. Clay Ralls led much of one of the heat races, but the #01 car of Tony Hobbs excited Turn 2 of the final lap right on his bumper and pushed him down the back stretch, forcing Ralls to spin before entering Turn 3 Hobbs won the race ahead of Karl Brummit. I believe Mike O'Reilly won the other heat over the #18 of Brian Compton, but the roles may have been reversed. Compton won the Trophy Dash with Hobbs making a late pass on Brummit for second.

Jake Van Tol started back in the fourth row of the Main Event with front row starter Ralls charging out to an early lead. By lap two, Van Tol was already third behind the yellow 7k car (don't have a name on that driver). The drivers were driving through Turns 1 and 2 right on the edge of the track as the bottom of the track was still wet from the rains of earlier in the week. Working the fourth lap, Hobbs got sideways and nearly drove off the track, collecting O'Reilly. The red #10 car (still have no name on him) crashed into O'Reilly, ending the race for the #10 car. Ralls led the single file restart over the #7k car and Van Tol, but Van Tol moved underneath the #7k car exiting Turn 2 for second before a yellow flag flew. Brummit pitted on the resatrt as Van Tol pressured Ralls for the lead. Van Tol moved into the lead in Turns 3 and 4 of the 7th lap. Ralls was shuffled back to fourth on lap 9 by the #7k car and Compton. Just past the halfway point, Hobbs had a left front flat tire and joined the #3 car (driver name unknown) in the pits. Van Tol drove a good race and collected the victory ahead of the #7k car, Compton, O'Reilly, Ralls, the #73 car (Gary Harris), Hobbs, #3, Brummit and #10.

There were six starters in the Mini Stock Main Event, and Preston Irwin set the early pace ahead of Sean Perry and Jared Flower. Driving the Olin Crain car, Don Runkle raced past Flower for third on lap three. Battling for second in Turn 1 of the fifth lap, Runkle and Perry got together as Flower drove around both of them. Perry recovered in third. Perry tagged the front wall on lap eight, allowing Eric Hammond to race by for third as Perry dropped to fourth. A lap 10 caution flag for Runkle on the back stretch bunched the field. On the restart, Perry and Flower both raced past Irwin into Turn 1 on the restart lap, but it was Runkle moving into second as they raced out of Turn 2. Hammond had regained third at the completion of lap 12. Working the back stretch on lap 14, Runkle tried an outside pass on Perry, but contact saw him spin for a caution flag. On a lap 17 restart, Perry led Olin Crain in the Don Runkle car and Runkle as Hammond was now fifth behind Iriwn. A wild series of events would shuffle the lineup yet again. Crain tried an low pass on Perry exiting Turn 2, just as Runkle was attempting a low pass on Crain. Left with no room, Runkle spun to avoid contact with Crain. Irwin tried an outside pass on Crain entering Turn 3, but contact sent both cars spinning as Hammond emerged in second. Perry led Hammond and Irwin on the restart, but Hammond got a run on Perry on the inside as they entered the back stretch to take the lead. Hammond pulled away from there to collect the victory. Perry settled for second ahead of Irwin, Crain, Runkle and Flower.

Is Another Modified Division Really Needed?

Okay, I am seeing some talk about Sport Mods or Limited Mods being added at Antioch and even Petaluma. This isn't coming from management at either track as far as I know, just to be clear, but there are racers talking about it. So, I figured I'd put my 2 cents in on the subject.

Do we really need another division? NO! Let me say it again. We have too many divisions as it is. How about we get more cars in the divisions we have now and maybe trim the fat while we're at it?

How many more ways do we need to divide our already shrinking car count? Is it better to have an 18 car class or divide it into a 12 and 6 car class? I guess if you want the one guy who never won a championship to win one, that six division class can work. I know it has at Antioch in the past.

The Dirt Modifieds did what the Sportsman division and Late Models did before that. They let the cost get carried away. The two times before at Antioch, managements answer was kill the class rather than make any adjustments to try and save it. At Antioch this year, John Soares Jr. raised the starting money to $100 for the Dirt Modifieds. People were asking for that in the Late Models back in 1993, but of course, management was too cheap to do it. And back then, they didn't have as many divisions competing for money.

Petaluma took the cue and Jim Soares raised the starting money to $100 for Dirt Modifieds there as well.

Antioch gets probably 18 cars per race. Not as great as I'd like to see it, but solid enough for a full Main Event and the best car count going there. I don't see the need for a Sport Mod division there at the moment. Just keep the drivers happy and they'll race.

Petaluma is averaging 8 cars per race there, so there is a crisis of sorts. Jim didn't raise the to start money until the season had started and racers had committed to other tracks.

But the road is littered with divisions killed by cost. Maybe some of them could have been saved. Some, maybe not. Top drivers wanted to spend more, and car builders were all to willing to go that way with them. Heck, some car builders were instigators through the years. Not naming names, but it's a fact. Get a car builder involved in writing the rules, and he might just add things designed to make him money that aren't in the best interest of the division. Do you think? Nah, they wouldn't do that, would they?

I was sad to see the Street Stock division die at Watsonville and then at Antioch. I don't really consider Super Stocks a continuation of Street Stocks as much as Limited Late Models. Just my opinion, and I know people will disagree with me, but the Street Stock division ended at Antioch in 2008. The merger never should have happened, in my opinion, but what the hell. It had a 30 year run. Track management did what they thought was best for car count, and 2009 wasn't too bad, all things considered.

But back to Dirt Modifieds. I read somebody evoked the name Spec Sprints in talking about the Sport Mods. Since I was there at the start, putting it together for John with my friend Don O'Keefe Jr., I know a few things about the Spec Sprints. Yes, we had the NCMA, but the class needed some adjusting to get it where it is now. Had it just been the NCMA,. do you really think Spec Sprints would be a regular class at all of these tracks now? Be honest.

What's different about this is the Sprint Car scene was just fine back then. 360's were very strong and the 410's were still hanging in there. But you did have all of those chassis sitting out there looking for a second chance. You had all of those racers wanting to go Sprint Car racing that couldn't afford to. With the motor rule and that all important 2 barrel carburetor, plus the weight rule and the fact that the cars self start, if fit in perfectly. The motor rule is the great equalizer, and the fact that it's not being messed with now is the reason the class is still going strong over a decade later.

I never liked the claim rule with the Modifieds. It's stupid. IMCA can preach on and on about affordability because of the rule, but if it's such a great rule, why did they start Sport Mods? Well, anyway...

So, a couple years after Spec Sprints, we get Limited Late Models. Personally, I never saw the need for this class and it contributed to the fall of Street Stocks, but John was there first pushing this class. It probably would have benefited from having a good set of rules that ALL TRACKS went by and a car builder turning out some new cars every year. Problem was, other tracks got in and decided they knew better than John. Yeah, there were times it seemed like it would work, but what happened? Lesson learned, all the area tracks need to agree on rules or it's doomed.

Now we come to Sport Mods. I just don't see the point. Merced tried it and it never got off the ground. Chowchilla has taken on the cause, and it's still struggling. Another 5-6 car show. Is that what the fans want to see? Look around at the declining attendance and ask yourself, is another small division going to get the fans back? Is it going to get the parked cars back? Should we maybe just work on getting the Modified class under control and getting those drivers back out there?

My problem at Antioch is, yes I can see 4-6 drivers being interested in this class and going racing. Then, you'll have 2-6 drivers dropping down for the better chance to win, but not being replaced. Then you have maybe 4-8 cars showing in Sport Mods and 12-14 in Dirt Mods. I'd much rather see the 18 Modifieds that are showing now. This whole new division nonsense has to stop, and we need to get back to a more traditional program with fewer divisions. Car count will hardly allow a 2 or 3 division show now, but back in 2000 it would have been very possible while rotating divisions so everybody had a break.

At that time, a Dirt Mod, Street Stock and Hobby Stock show would have been good for 70-80 cars, but in the ten years since switching Street Stocks for Super Stocks, that is about a 40 car show. If there is something really big on the horizon that will deliver the cars, I'd love to see it. In the meantime, the issues need to be addressed differently.

We need to look at car count and ways to increase it. Not only do we need to get the count up in the divisions, but keeping the racers active for a full season so there is some drama in the championship battle. Not every point race will be close, but we shouldn't just have racers bailing out on the points while in contention. So this is an area that can be handled in a multitude of ways, such as purse, scheduling, race procedure, the treatment of racers and that sort of thing. Unhappy racers don't come back.

We need to look at attendance numbers and how to increase it. Local media should be pursued. Newspapers still exist and should be pursued, internet and fliers and posters around town. Nightclubs use those little cards to get the word out, why not racing? Community involvement. Is there a fund raising cause that can help the community? Get the track involved. If there is a newspaper that spent years covering the track and doesn't any more, reestablish the ties. Use the internet to your advantage by posting on forums, timely updates, internet broadcasts, merchandise sales and that sort of thing.

But, the thing is that fans won't come watch if they don't know it's there. They won't come back if the program isn't entertaining or if conditions aren't that great. They'll go see a movie. Real problem with all of this. It takes effort, and the promoter can only do so much without help. Then, you starting hearing the word "can't" all the time.

This all ties in with the Sport Mod idea, because I understand the reason it gets mentioned is people want a division with cars in it, and they believe that could be Sport Mods. I just don't see this division as the way right now, but there are ways to get racers back.

When we started Spec Sprints, for instance, I organized heat races with only drivers who hadn't won. The idea was encouragement of racers for their first win, and this race was possible because we didn't have B Mains the first season. That came the second season. Even if you do have enough cars, you can still run special races for those drivers once in a while, and if you really want to be nice, pay a small purse or offer a plaque to the winner. Also, this idea can be used in all divisions, and it's one way to let the racers know they are appreciated.

So, this new division talk is nothing new. Before they killed Late Models, there was talk for a few years about starting a Limited Stock class that allowed Street Stocks a little more. The Dirt Modified came instead. Limited Stock talk resurfaced in the mid 1990's. The Sport Mod talk will be listened to a little more closely because there are places in other states where they get cars. I won't be surprised if they are added to Antioch or Petaluma eventually. I just doubt car count will ever be that significant.

Anybody up for a new 8-10 car division? You never know. It may be coming soon. Just don't be surprised if/when it really does nothing for the overall show. That's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gustafson, Sorensen Win, Press Snaps La Liberte Win Streak At Antioch

Decided to throw a little something together again for the heck of it. As I get more details, I may update things at the bottom of the story. As always, everything here is unofficial.

On the heels of last week's huge Dirt Modified event, regular point racing resumed Saturday night at Antioch Speedway with six divisions of drivers competing for victories on the one-third mile clay oval. Scoring feature wins in the show that totaled over 75 cars were David Press (Wingless Spec Sprints), Mike Gustafson (Super Stocks), Chris Sorensen (Hobby Stocks), Ricardo Rivera (Dwarf Cars) and Nick DeCarlo (Hardtops).

Tommy La Liberte has been the driver to beat in Wingless Spec Sprints this season, and his night started off impressively. The point leader after four consecutive feature wins, La Liberte won his heat race ahead of Gary Nelson and the picked up a Trophy Dash victory with Nick Larson bringing it home in second. Larsen finished second in his heat race, won by Sprint Car veteran Sparky Howard.

David Press had been the point leader early on this season. A former Watsonville and Petaluma Spec Sprint champion, Press had a victory in the season opener when the apparent winner was penalized for a jump start. This time, Press crossed the line first in victory with La Liberte in hot pursuit in a quest for what would have been a clean sweep. Following Press and La Liberte in third was Howard, who is currently second in the championship batle at Petaluma. Jeff Lee was a season best fourth as Larsen was fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Zach Lynsky, Dan Gonderman, Trevor Press, Jeff Banbury and Chuck Bradshaw.

In Super Stock competition, ten cars competed once again, giving the division two heats. Point leader Mitch Machado won the first heat with Bret Lawerence visiting for the first time since the opener and finishing second. Larry Damitz won the second heat as two time Street Stock champion Michael Newman made his season debut in second.

For the past three races, Mike Gustafson has won a preliminary event, only to have problems take him out of the feature. This time, the three time Antioch champion kept it all together and bested Machado to score his first Main Event victory of the season. Continuing his charge towards "Rookie Of The Year" honors, Fred Ryland finished third with Newman and Damitz also finishing in the top five. Completing the finishing order were Eric Berendsen, Jon Haney, Lloyd Cline, Lawrence and Natalie Perry.

The 12 Hobby Stocks competed in two heat races to set the grid for the feature. Jeff Bettencourt was back, but rookie Brad Myers forced him to settle for second in the first heat race. Dan McCoun and Chris Sorensen ran at the front of the second heat race for the 1-2 finish.

Since opening the season with a Main Event victory, Sorensen has definitely seen his ups and downs, including problems in traffic at the previous race knocking him from the lead and a likely victory. This time around, the championship hopeful stayed smooth and collected a much needed as McCown pursued him with a season best second place finish. The #99 car of Jim Freethy held off the point leading #33 car, driven by Myers on this night, for a third place finish as Nick DeLucca was fifth. Wes Bentley finished six as Joe Cancilla, Mike Rydman, Pat Gooding, and Bettencourt made up the remainder of the top ten.

There were 18 Dwarf Cars on hand, and five time champion Ricardo Rivera continued his climb to the top of the standings by winning the first heat in front of Tony Carmignani. Mini Stock graduate Tom Brown held off Jerry Doty in winning the second heat race. The third and final heat race was won by Petaluma regular Sonny Calkins with point leader Nick Squatritto finishing second.

Rivera's absence from one race this year may be all that is keeping him from the lead now, but leader Squatritto is determined not to give up any of that ground easily. As Rivera drove to yet another victory (he has over 40 of them in his career at Antioch), Squatritto kept the damage to a minimum with a second place finish. Visitor Bret Barstow finished third ahead of Carmignani and Doty. Doty may still hold a slim lead over Rivera for second in points after this race. Veteran Charlie Correia drove to a sixth place finish, followed by Nick Davis, Calkins, Clayton Dortzbach and John Davis.

The Four Banger division has been growing lately, and a season best field of 12 cars competed in this event. Antioch title hopeful Ken Radabaugh won the first heat ahead of Watsonville visitor Adrienne DeSousa. Coming off of a won Friday night at Watsonville, E. Drew Williams won the second heat in front of Patty Ryland.

Despite giving up ground in points by missing a race, 2009 champion Ryland is steadily making her way back to the front. Ryland won her third Main Event of the season, holding DeSousa to get the win. In DeSousa's only other appearance at the track this season, she was the feature winner. Justin Silveira finished a season best third with Williams and Dayna Andresen also in the top five. Radabaugh settled for sixth as Dan McCabe, Corky Galey, Joe Willoughby and Dominique Myers completed the top five.

The DeCarlo family enjoyed a battle in the Nor Cal Vintage Hardtop division as Dirt Modified title contender Nick DeCarlo got a ride in George Connor's #70 and Terry DeCarlo got behind the wheel of the #39 car again. When the checkered flag waved, it was Nick DeCarlo picking up the win ahead of his father, Terry DeCarlo. Dan Williams settled for third ahead of Carmen Cavallero, Sparky Howard in the Conrad Cavallero car and Kendra Smith. An unnamed driver in the #84 car finished last in the seven car field. Nick DeCarlo also won the heat race to sweep the finish.

The track goes dark for July 3rd, but July 10th sees action resume as UMP Dirt Modifieds, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Mini Trucks will all be a part of the action packed program.

NOTE: Originally, 360 Sprints and Wingless Spec Sprints were on the schedule for July 10th, but the track announced a change with both classes being dropped due to conflict with scheduling at other tracks. This may be an effort to work with Petaluma, which has both divisions scheduled that night, but that is just speculation on my behalf.

Some details have emerged from the Hobby Stock Main Event.

Joe Cancilla and Nick DeLucca shared the front row for the 12 car Pure Stock feature with Chris Sorensen second row outside and Dan McCown third row outside. DeLucca and Sorensen would grab the top two spots on the opening lap. An out of shape Cancilla in Turn 2 allowed McCown and Wes Bently to gain second and third a lap later. DeLucca went into Turn 3 too hard on lap four, allowing Sorensen to race underneath for the lead. With six laps in the books, DeLucca spun in Turn 2, handing second to McCown as the caution flag waved. Sorensen chose the outside for the restart, and he continued to lead McCown as Jeff Bettencourt raced by Bently on the outside for third. Brad Myers settled into fourth. From the back of the pack, Jim Freethy took fifth from Bentley on lap 11. A caution flag flew after 11 laps for debris in Turn 2. Myers rode the outside into third as Sorensen continued to lead McCown. A low pass in Turn 4 of the 16th lap gained Freethy fourth from Bettencourt. Pat Gooding spun in Turn 3 for the third and final caution flag on lap 18. The outside line was clearly the place to be on restarts, and Sorensen continued to set the pace ahead of McCown as Freethy rode the high line past Myers for third. Sorensen ran a smooth and flawless race for his second feature win of the season. McCown was a season best second ahead of Freethy, Myers, DeLucca, Bentley, Cancilla and Mike Rydman.

Some details have emerged from the Nor Cal Hardtop Main Event.

The seven car Nor Cal Hardtop feature was restarted after Kendra Smith spun on the front stretch racing to the green flag. Terry DeCarlo charged into the lead at the start ahead of his son Nick DeCarlo. Dan Williams quickly settled into third. The DeCarlo duo began a side by side battle for the lead on lap three, swapping the lead several times. The #84 car unleashed a huge cloud of smoke on lap five, taking the car off the track a lap later. Smith spun for a yellow flag on lap 8. The DeCarlo battle continued on the restart as Williams ran close behind in third. A low move in Turn 2 of the 11th lap gained N. DeCarlo the lead for good, and he began to pull away from there. T. DeCarlo fought off the challenges of Williams. At the checkered flag, it was N. DeCarlo, T. DeCarlo, Williams, Carmen Cavallero and Conrad Cavallero*.

* Note: The web page lists Sparky Howard as driving the #2 car, but the track announcer announced it as Conrad Cavallero, who is the regular driver of the car.

Some details are in from the Four Banger Main Event.

The addition of several Watsonville competitors gave the Four Bangers a 12 car field for their feature, and Joe Willoughby set the early pace from his front row start ahead of Corky Galey and Dominic Myers. Devon DeOsso lost a motor in a big cloud of smoke on the front stretch for a lap three caution flag. Willoughby continued to set the pace on the restart as Justin Silveira raced past Galey for second on the front stretch as they completed the fourth lap. A low move in Turn 4 of the sixth lap gained Dayna Andresen third from Galey as Patty Ryland raced by for fourth. An inside move on the front stretch of the ninth lap gained Ryland third from Andresen. Ryland had reeled in a half straightaway lead of the front two cars by lap 14. With 17 laps complete, you could throw a blanket over the lead three cars as they entered Turn 1. Willoughby had problems setting up for the turn and hit the Turn 1 wall in nearly the same spot Myers had hit it at the previous race, ending what had been a great run up to that point. Silveira chose the inside on the restart, but suffered through another sluggish start as Ryland and Andrien DeSousa raced past. Ryland went on to score the victory ahead of DeSousa, Silveira, E. Drew Williams, Andresen, Ken Radabaugh, Dan McCabe and Galey, all on the lead lap.

Some details are in from the Super Stock Main Event.

Fred Ryland and Eric Berendsen shared the front row of the Super Stock feature with Mike Gustafson starting inside second row and Mitch Machado outside fourth row. Ryland charged into the early lead ahead of Gustafson and Berendsen. Machado made an inside move on Michael Newman for fourth on lap four, and a spin in Turn 2 forced a lap five caution flag. Ryland chose the outside and continued to lead Gustafson on the restart as Machado moved into third to make it a three car battle up front. Newman was running fourth, and Larry Damitz took fifth from Berendsen on lap ten. A lap later, Ryland got out of shape in Turn 2, allowing Gustafson and Machado to race into first and second. Machado pressured Gustafson hard the rest of the way in the fast paced event. With two laps to go, the leaders caught slower traffic, but Gustafson made all the right moves for the impressive victory. Machado settled for second ahead of Ryland, Newman, Damitz, Berendsen, Jon Haney and Loyd Cline, all on the lead lap.

Some details are in from the Dwarf Car Main Event.

The Dwarf Car feature was plagued with numerous spins and tangles on the dry slick racing surface that forced caution flags. Ricardo Rivera had a front row start for this race, which needed four restarts before a lap was in the books. Tony Carmignani actually beat Rivera back to the line to lead the opening lap before Rivera grabbed the lead a lap later. Point leader Nick Squatritto settled into second. Squatritto managed an inside move around Carmignani for second working lap eight, only to have the pass negated by a caution flag. Squatritto made the same move two laps later to grab second as Brett Barstow quickly followed into third. Rivera stayed smooth the entire race and collected the victory ahead of Squatritto, Barstow, Carmignani, Jerry Doty, Charlie Correia, Nick Davis and Sonny Calkins.

Some details are in from the Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event.

Sparky Howard and Zack Lynsky brought the field down for the green flag in the Spec Sprint feature. Howard paced the opening lap before Lynsky went low through Turns 1 and 2 to grab the lead as Tommy LaLiberte settled into third over David Press. LaLiberte beat Howard back to the line on lap two to take second. A caution flag flew after eight laps, and Lynsky made a pit stop, barely rejoining for the restart as LaLiberte was the new leader. Press made a low move in Turn 4 of the ninth lap to grab second from Howard as Jim Perry Jr. ran a close fourth. Both Howard and Perry went low around Press in Turns 3 and 4 of the 13th tap for second and third, and Perry made a low pass in Turn 2 a lap later for second. Going down the back stretch a lap later, Perry brushed the back wall and brought out a caution flag. On the restart lap, Press made an inside back stretch pass on Howard for second. A low pass in Turn 2 of the 17th lap gained Press the lead from LaLiberte. Press went on to score an impressive victory ahead of LaLiberte, Howard, Jeff Lee, Nick Larsen, Lynsky, Dan Gonderman and Trevor Press.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Six Divisions In Action Saturday Night At Antioch Speedway

Antioch Speedway returns with a regular show Saturday night as point racing resumes. It's been an interesting season with good racing, some close battles and plenty of ups and downs, and the season is only half done. There is still plenty of racing left to go and eight championships to decide.

First, though, the Over/Under number is 62 for this race. Last time out we came in slightly under, but it may have been a victim of graduation week.

Racing this week in the six division program will be Wingless Spec Sprints (14), Hobby Stocks (12), Super Stocks (8), Dwarf Cars (12), Four Bangers (8) and Nor Cal Hardtops (8).

A Few things to think about heading into Saturday

Can anybody stop Tommy La Liberte? Four Wingless Spec Sprint wins in a row. It could be five, but he spun while leading that race all those weeks back and managed to ride the high groove up to second behind Jeff Kindt. Even more amazing is that former Watsonville, Petaluma and NCMA Select Series champion David Press only trails by ten points. In championship racing, it's not all about winning. Consistency matters too. Also, with former champions Jim Perry Jr. and Billy Macedo skipping races, this has become a two car batle for the title. So, who can beat Tommy to the checkers this week?

Is Machado taking over in Super Stocks? Mitch Machado won last time out in the season best ten car field. Too lazy to look at notes, but that has to be at least four. The lead is now 24 points over Larry Damitz and 32 over Fred Ryland. Now, if we start getting the cars, that can be made up quickly, but if we slip back down to six, it makes it that much bigger a lead. I have my eye on three time champion Mike Gustafson, who has mastered preliminaries lately with two heats and a dash win. If he can keep the tires inflated on that #2 car in the feature, watch out. Also, former Street Stock champ Todd Gomez looked good in his season debut, and hopefully we will see more of him. More cars will make this division a great show, and make it tougher on Machado to win.

Are you ready for a surprise winner in Hobby Stocks? I am. Melissa Hansen and Brad Myers have been awesome with three wins between them in the #33 car, giving them an 82 point lead over Chris Sorensen. That last race belonged to Sorensen, but it seems like something is jinxing him lately. Jack Jonker got that win, and the absent from the last race Eric Schantin has a win as well. Dan McCown sits third in points. A win for the former champ would not surprise me, but it may be coming soon. Two drivers I have my eye on are top five ranked Mike Rydman and "Smokin" Joe Cancilla. The right break and one of these drivers may get that win. He's not new to racing, but Kelly Dauksch could win if he races again. I, for one, am hoping his time in the #24 car is not a one shot deal. In fact, I'd love to see more where he came from, such as Ron Waldrop, recent Stockton Enduro winner Chris Lancaster or somebody like Larry Cates come out and race. I'm making myself nostalgic. I better stop.

Will or "when will" Ricardo Rivera catch Nick Squatritto? Squatritto has Rivera by 42 points in Dwarf Car competition, but I still can't help but think the five time champion is coming to get him. This is where being consistent will be Squatritto's biggest asset. Rivera is actually 12 points behind Jerry Doty for second at the moment, and all three are feature winners. John Meyers calls Rivera "Superman", and the way he drives, that name seems to fit him well. I have my eye on Tom Brown, who won two Mini Truck features before bailing out on the battle and debuting his Dwarf Car with a second place finish. Fourth ranked Clayton Doirtzbach may be another one to watch, and I'm actually anticipating a bigger field of the always exciting Dwarf Cars than I predicted above.

Will the Four Bangers produce a double digit car count? The only regular class at the track not to have at least one night with ten or more cars is the Four Bangers. The top two drivers in points are still looking for their first win. Dayna Andersen leads Ken Radabaugh by six. The track had reported Andersen as being DQ'ed last race, but I'm guessing that decision may have been overturned. Also, defending champion Patty Ryland will move closer to the lead duo once the points are adjusted to reflect the fact that she drove her #7 car to that second place finish last race. Jimmy Corwin, however, dominated the race that night in victory. As wild as this division can get, it could be that we get another new winner this week. The top two in points seem the most logical choice, but it could be anybody. Let's get over ten cars and let the checkered flag fall where it may.

Can we keep the Hardtops race to just Hardtops? I respect and admire Larry Damitz, but his Super Stock with the Hardtop body on it dominating the show last time was way out of place. Perhaps we can bring in Bobby Hogge IV next to race his Late Model against the Hobby Stocks. Anyway, Conrad Cavallero has done a wonderful job of putting this thing together, and it's nice to know there are at least 12 cars (or more) out there. Just getting the #39 of Tommy Thomson (or Terry DeCarlo) and the #6 of Dan Williams out there makes for a good battle. I'm hoping to see Pete Paulsen's beautiful red, while and blue #66 back out there and running this time. It would be nice to see Mike McCann back in action too. He had a good battle with Conrad for a while there last time.

I meant to be brief with this, but I just want to add that this class is pretty darn cool. I love the fact that Hardtops, Sportsman and vintage Supermodifieds are still racing in California in the year 2010. I'd also love to see the Okie Bowl Hardtops invited to a show at Antioch. It's a trip for those guys, but I'd bet a few could make it to mix it up with the Nor Cal boys. The Nor Cal effort does some dirt and some pavement, and they are usually pretty entertaining wherever they go. I bet this time will be no different.

Random Thoughts

Spreading The Word, Missing Gary Jacob, Chowchilla Car Count Concerns And Antioch's Big Show.

Not feeling all that great today, so we'll see how much I end up writing. It's been an interesting and exciting week for racing. We had a huge Dirt Modified race at Antioch that by all accounts seems to have been a big success. Chowchilla seems to have growing concerns about cost to go racing there for some racers, which is being addressed by management. Tony Karis continues to have an amazing racing radio show on KNRY 1240 AM every Wednesday night from 7-9 PM, but you don't hear a lot on the web about it.

Quite frankly, I'm amazed by the apparent apathy out there. Ten years ago, we'd have been all over that show, especially when you consider all the Watsonville racers interviewed and news items such as the San Jose Speedway petition and the revelation that USAC is working to bring back NARC. I don't know what I expect, but it's not complete silence. I would think somebody would say something, but this page seems to be the only place talking about Tony's show.

There's apathy out there. I don't know why, but there aren't too many people talking. The All Spec Racing forum is dead with very little Antioch talk out there. Dirt Stars has some Watsonville talk, but you'd think there would be more. You'd think people would be talking about the news coming from Tony's show. The crickets are chirping. Most of the talk out there is from the racers at Bakersfield, Santa Maria and the tracks down south.

It's just an observation, and I'm not trying to be critical.

It's been four years since Gary Jacob passed away. You'll notice what's not being covered or what's not being covered adequately. Not too many people have answered the call. Gary was all too willing to jump in anywhere he was needed and the news flowed more freely thanks to him. It's not so much me wondering where the next Gary Jacob is. Gary did a lot more than most people would want to. But people could still be the Gary of their track. I notice one track where people constantly complain about the coverage there, but nobody is stepping up to show how it's done.

This is why a guy like Tony Karis is so important. Right now, Tony Karis and Harlan Osbourne are my two favorite people covering racing. Harlan has been on the scene at Petaluma for at least three decades and knows that track's history. I hope they appreciate what they have there. If that track ever chose to start a Hall Of Fame, and they should, Harlan would be somebody I think could offer a lot of input.

As for Tony, what can I say? The man writes race reviews for two newspapers in the Watsonville area, announces and has his weekly radio show. This is a man trying to create more buzz and excitement for the great tradition of racing that Watsonville is. This is what is needed in the sport. Getting people to talk about racing and look forward to the next race is what it's all about. I hope Watsonville appreciates what they have.

Let's face it. Gary Jacob gave so much of his time to the sport. It was an important part of his life, and he was always looking for the next race. He was always looking to make sure stories went out about any track he could. Nobody wants to do that anymore. I understand. It's work. He did it for free, and people don't want to do that anymore. I'm still not even sure why I do what I do here. I'm just doing it. One thing is for sure, the sport still greatly misses Gary, and it hasn't been the same since he passed away.

So Chowchilla had some drivers sitting out in protest last week. It all centers around money, the cost to get in and the purse. You hate to see that happen, but if there's one place in California where the racers will put their words into action, it's the Chowchilla-Merced area. It's happened several times before. It's a tightrope. Management has to pay the bills, but if a racer can't afford to go racing, they won't. Without the racers, THERE IS NO SHOW.

Fortunately, management met with the racers during the week. I don't know all of the details and I'm not asking, but I am happy to see that this happened. This is a situation that can not go unresolved or there will be no show there. The racers there won't put up with it. Hopefully, things can get back to normal going forward.

What I will say is I know Merced Speedway management is sitting back and watching things and taking notes. When you are reopening the gates at a place with a 60 year tradition in racing, you are going to do what you can to get cars, so an unresolved situation at Chowchilla would be exploited by the track down the road. In that regards, it's no different than when Tom Sagmiller opened Chowchilla ten years ago and built up a show there rather quickly.

What I'd really like to see is both tracks coexist down there and do something like what Porterville and Bakersfield did back in the day. Work together and build a good show for both places. At least I'm not hearing anything negative regarding the track management's there and their feelings towards the other place. That's a good start.

John Soares Jr. has stepped up big this year as far as I'm concerned. The show goes on at Antioch, Merced will have a 14 week season starting July 18th and there's still that little matter of restarting Racing Wheels Magazine, which John bought during the off season. People wonder why I didn't come back this year, but it wasn't because I don't like John. I respect John and his family's legacy in the sport. John is committed to this thing.

I'm not sure what is going on with the Late Model Tour. I hope things are alright. John did not want to let go out the big date on Sears Point weekend, so when the Late Models were dropped, he put the money up for the Modifies. $20,000 plus for a purse, which I think makes this the biggest show for the division in the state this year, and 52 drivers competed. John and the crew had to be happy with this one.

It also serves to show the great potential Antioch Speedway still has when an effort is made. The track itself seems to be just fine, but some of the divisions could use some fine tuning. The Modifieds have demonstrated with this race and the $1,000 to win race before that that they are the clutch division for the track. Basically, if you want a big show with one of the track's regular divisions, do it with Modifieds. Perhaps with the right promoting, the Spec Sprints could do something too, but I'm not sure if that will happen.

But anyway, it was great to see the stands so full for a race at Antioch Speedway and that many cars for just ONE division. To put it into perspective, that car count outdrew the five division show from the previous week, so there's work to be done. But, a race like this shows just what Antioch is capable of and could be a great motivator for John and the crew going forward. As we start the second half of the season and prepare for Merced's reopening, we'll see what other things John has in store for the racers and fans.

I was stunned to see the Wingless Spec Sprints join with the CRA Sprint Cars this last weekend and run as competitively as they did. Ryan Bernal, a former champion in Spec Sprints, beat the CRA point leader in his heat race at Ocean and finished fifth at Petaluma. The only thing that kept Ryan from a top five in the feature at Watsonville was he ran out of fuel. Carter Train and Mark Chaves Jr. ran 1-2 in the B Main at Watsonville.

I believe there were eight Spec Sprints among the 26 car field at Watsonville. This division still amazes me, and I'd be lying if I said when Don O'Keefe Jr. and I put the rules together for John at Antioch that I saw this class racing with the wingless 410's and doing it so competitively. All I wanted was an affordable Sprint Car class that the average racer could get into. Well, last weekend was another moment where Spec Sprints really shined. It makes me very proud of these racers and proud to have done what I did to get things off the ground.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USAC To Bring NARC Back?

Again, the Motor Sports show with Tony Karis on KNRY 1240 AM is breaking news. Les Kynett of USAC was talking with Tony and Wingless Spec Sprint ace Ryan Bernal about the USAC/CRA races in Petaluma and Watsonville last week. Ryan won his heat at Watsonville and finished fifth at Petaluma in his Spec Sprint with the 2 barrel carb. Ryan is contending tor the Spec Sprint title at Watsonville, and he is looking at his options for 2011. After racing his Spec Sprint Friday at Ocean Speedway, he has a ride in a BCRA Midget on Saturday in Chowchilla,

Les and Tony both spoke highly of young Bernal, who really seems like a good kid with a bright future in racing.

But back to NARC.

The NARC Sprint Car Series ran from 1960 through 2000 before closing shop. There had been talk in immediate the years afterward the group shut down about bringing the 410 Spoint Car series back, but nothing came of it. It appears as if USAC is working on bringing the NARC name back as it is still popular with Sprint Car fans ten years later.

In the last decade, USAC revived CRA, which had been dormant for over a decade, and obviously USAC is looking at all things that can increase their presence in California and make it stronger.

The NARC name will evoke memories of full fields of winged Sprint Cars with A, B and even C Main Events, the highly successful Speedweek series, high flying, side by side battles through traffic. Kaeding, Van Connett, Kent, Green and so many other great racers.

It appears as if USAC has something in the works, and it's shaping up to be a 16 race series, eight on pavement and eight on dirt. 410 sprints will race, possibly with restrictors on 410's to make 360's competitive, though nothing is set. Tommy Hunt is said to be working out all of the details. Plans call for a champion on dirt, a champion on pavement and a combined champion.

Pavement tracks that could included are Shasta, All American Speedway, Stockton, Madera, San Bernadino and Irwindale. What dirt tracks would be involved were not mentioned.

What will come of this series? Keep an eye on USAC for official announcements.

And listen to The Motor Sports Show on KNRY 1240 AM on Wednesday nights from 7-9 PM for all the latest at Ocean Speedway and other racing in the area as well as news from the auto industry.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scott Storms To $5,000 Victory At Antioch Speedway

Figured I'd throw something together to help get the word out on what sounded like a great show at Antioch Speedway. Kudos to John Soares Jr. for putting this one together and also Dennis Daniel for his work spreading the word so they could get the best car count possible. As always, everything here is unofficial.

With a good crowd on hand to watch all of the action and a pit area filled with 52 UMP Dirt Modifieds, Antioch Speedway held a huge event for the popular division. Promoter John Soares Jr. put up a purse of over $20,000, and when the checkered flag flew, it was New Mexico long tow Stormy Scott pocketing the $5,000 first prize for his victory in the 50 lap feature.

The drivers were split into six heat race groups, and the format called for two heat races each with a passing point formula devised to take six drivers from the heat races directly into the big money race. The rest would compete in one of three B Mains that would transfer four cars each into the feature.

Heat race 1a and 1 b produced the only double winner as Chico area racer Duane Cleveland held off former Antioch champion Aaron Crowell to win the first heat and then beat Ryan McDaniel to win the second one.

Heat 2a went to Cottage Grove, Oregon champion Jon DeBenedetti ahead of four time Antioch champion Scott Busby. However, DeBeneditti chased winner Jeremy Newberry across the line for a runner up finish in the second heat.

Danny Dozier impressed by winning Heat 3a ahead of Bakersfield champion Brad Pounds. The second heat for this group went to two time Antioch champion Kenny Neu ahead of Yreka area racer Brian Poppa.

Heat 4a saw Stormy Scott give a preview of things to come by winning ahead of second ranked Antioch racer Nick DeCarlo. DeCarlo took it up a notch by winning the second heat ahead of Chester Kniss.

Making his first start of the season, former Antioch champion Rob Norris held off incoming Antioch point leader Troy Foulger for the win in Heat 5a, and the duo swapped places in the next heat with Foulger collecting the victory.

Heat 6a saw two time Antioch champion Bobby Hogge IV collect the victory ahead of former Bakersfield Street Stock champion Robby Sawyer. 2009 Chowchilla champion Alex Stanford won the second heat ahead of Hogge.

When passing points and heat points were calculated, Cleveland led the pack by five and a half over DeBeneditti, while DeCarlo, Hogge, Foulger and Norris tied for third. Neu and Stanford came up just short and had to run one of the B Mains.

The remaining 46 cars were divided into three B Mains that would transfer four cars each into the big money feature. Pounds was the winner for the first B Main ahead of Neu, Ryan Porter and former Merced champion Jim DiGiovanni. Porter had the point lead at Chowchilla entering the night, but he elected to skip the race to run for the money at Antioch.

The second B Main saw Scott charge to victory in front of Stanford, Poppa and former Merced and Hanford champion Paul Stone. It was former Antioch champion Kellen Chadwick earning his feature starting spot with a win in the third B Main, followed by former Chico champion Ryan McDaniel, Newberry and former Petaluma champion Don Camilli.

The race took it's toll on some of the racers, who ended up watching the finish from the sidelines. Battling with Scott and Pounds for the big money late in the race, Stanford ended up crashing in a moment that had some race fans talking. When the checkered flag flew, it was Stormy Scott taking the win and $5,000 first prize. Scott currently sits fourth in the UMP National point standings. Pounds settled for second, which was still worth $3,000. The $1,750 third prize went to Cleveland. Former NFL star Jeremy Newberry collected $1,250 for fourth as Nick DeCarlo was a $1,000 fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Rob Norris, Don Camilli, Jim DiGiovanni, Ryan McDaniel and Alex Stanford.

With a good turnout of cars and fans, the race would have to be considered a success and the track hopes to continue that momentum next Saturday with a six division show featuring Wingless Spec Sprints, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars, Four Bangers and Nor Cal Hardtops.

Van Tol A Double Winner At Orland

Some information was posted at the Orland Speedway site, so I decided to throw something together to help the cause. However, not all of the names were available. Not sure I'll continue to do this. I would hope a fan would take up the cause much like people like Gary Jacob and Ron Rodda have done in the past and start writing.

Orland is the prefect opportunity for a new writer to step in and do something without getting too overwhelmed. It's that sort of effort that can only grow car count and help the overall cause as they continue to build things up there.

Jake Van Tol was the star of the night at Orland Speedway as he collected two feature victories on the evining in Mini Truck and Pure Stock competition as part of a four division program that also included Mini Stocks and Wingless Spec Sprints. Running two divisions is nothing new to Van Tol, who won championships in Mini Trucks and Modified 4 Cylinders at the track in 2007.

The Mini Trucks produced a seven truck field, and Van Tol swept through the event by winning the Trophy Dash after holding off Dan Webster to win the heat race. In a repeat of the previous week's feature, it was Van Tol and Webster picking up another 1-2 finish. Ross Vige scored a third place finish in front of an unidentified driver in #11 (Brandon Miller was the last driver to run that number in this class at the track) , an unidentified driver in the #00t truck and Steven Woods. Kevin Pendergrass failed to start the feature after a last place heat race finish.

There were three unidentified drivers in the Pure Stocks, and it was the driver in the #18 car winning the Trophy Dash. Van Tol bested the six car field in the Main Event, followed by the #7k car, #18, Jimmy O'Reilly, previous feature winner Clay Ralls and the #73 car.

The seven Mini Stocks ran two heat races with Don Runkle winning his heat ahead of Jarod Flower and Eric Hammond winning the second heat in front of Ken Johnson. Runkle also won the dash, but his hopes of a clean sweep ended in a disappointing fifth in the feature. It was opening day winner Hammond picking up a Main Event win ahead of Sean Perry and Preston Irvin. Former Modified 4 Cylinder champion "Rollin" Olin Crane finished fourh ahead of Runkle and Flower. After a second in his heat race, Johnson failed to start the feature.

The Wingless Spec Sprints had two unidentified drivers running up front in the Main Event. Former champion Josh Jacobo claimed the heat race win ahead of the #34j car (possibly Kenny Webber or John Rector, both of whom have raced that number recently at Marysville). It was the #7k car improving on the previous week's third place with a win over #34j, Jacobo and Pat Bisio.

After a week off, Orland Speedway returns to action on June 26th with Wingless Spec Sprints, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 4 Cylinder Modified, BCRA Vintage Midgets and a kids bike race.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Bucks On The Line For Dirt Modifieds At Antioch Saturday

Antioch Speedway is the place to be for the Dirt Modified division this Saturday night, and already some of the best drivers in the state are signed up for this event. Why? Promoter John Soares Jr. has put $5,000 on the line for the winner from a $20,000 purse. Just making the Main Event guarantees you $400. It's the middle of racing season, but the timing seemed perfect for this blowout event.

A look at the list finds over a dozen Dirt Modified champions among the entry list released last Friday from a total of 41, and that list is likely to grow. Past Dirt Modified champions include Randy McDaniel, Ryan McDaniel, Duane Cleveland, Richad Papenhausen, Joe Carr, Alex Stanford, Bobby Hogge IV, Scott Busby, Jon DeBenedetti, Kellen Chadwick, Jim DiGiovanni, Aaron Crowell and Keith Brown Sr. Current Antioch point leader Troy Foulger is also signed up, and making this even more interesting is the fact that Ryan Porter and Stanford, currently 1-2 at Chowchilla, are skipping the point race at their home track to come to the big money race.

Over 20 of these drivers have won a Main Event at Antioch at one time or another in their career. Will it be one of them who wins this time, or is there a driver in the field ready to make the first Antioch win of their career the biggest of their career?

Busby, Hogge, Crowell, Chadwick and Neu all have won Dirt Modified championships at Antioch, and Brown's title came from a seroies of races between Antioch and Chowchilla. Nobody has won more Dirt Modified races at Antioch than Scott Busby, who has been in a bit of a slump lately. Will this be the time for Busby to snap out of that slump and grab what could be the biggest win of his storied career?

Busby isn't the only driver topping an Antioch win list who is entered in this race. Word came from Antioch publicist Jack Menges that the track's all time Late Model feature winner, Jim Pettit II, is entered. Between Busby and Pettit, there are some 100 feature wins at Antioch alone. Pettit won three Stock car championships at Antioch, the sight of some of his biggest triumphs in a Stock Car on the dirt. I'm not sure how much racing Pettit has done at Antioch in the last 20 seasons, but it's a good bet he will be ready to battle for the big bucks come Saturday.

At this point, it doesn't appear as if one of Pettit's toughest rivals from the Stock Car days, Bobby Hogge II (a two time champion) is planning to race, but Bobby Hogge IV is. The third generation racing Hogge won two Dirt Modified championships at Antioch and shows up from time to time to grab the big bucks when they are on the line. Most recently, Bobby earned a $3,000 payday with a win at Santa Maria.

From the Chico area, Papenhausen, the McDaniel duo and Cleveland are genereally a threat to win whenever they show up to Antioch. In fact, these four have a habit of showing up and winning the xtra money when it's on the line. These four dominate the scene at Chico and other tracks in the area, and Randy McDaniel and Papenhausen are also Stock car champions. Randy has won at least 150 features all over the state in his storied career.

If it's a big money race for Dirt Modifueds, chances are you'll find Joe Carr among the pack. Joe was one of the first to field a car when the division came to California in the 80's, and he's a two time Petaluma champion. The thing about Joe is those numbers could be much bigger if that's what he wanted, but he's stepped behind the scenes at various times to help others make their mark. However, the respected car builder should not be counted out.

Alex Stanford is being called one of the greatest Dirt Modified drivers currently racing by some fans, and he has earned some good results this year. A win in this race would plant the second generation champion firmly into the conversation.

Chadwick and Crowell aren't regulars at the track this year, but both have championship pedigrees. Chadwick has followed nicely in his father's footsteps and counts a few big money west coast race victoroiss among his career highlights. Crowell managed to do something in winning his Antioch championship that didn't happen very often. He beat a serious effort by J.D. Willis to do it.

With their championship battle in full swing, a win for Troy Foulger or Nick DeCarlo could serve a dual purpose. The prestige of the win would not only vault their names into the conversation of who is the best, but the money won would go nicely towards their stretch run to a possible track championship.

The field is chalked full of top drivers, and whomever gets the win will have to earn in. Even a top five fisish with the money on the line will be like a victory. So, who will win the big bucks? You'll have to go to Antioch Speedway Saturday night to find out. It's sure to be a great show.

The entries confirmed and received, as of June 9th

0D Jon DeBenedetti
1 Randy McDaniel
1 Aaron Crowell
1JR Jerry Roy Jr.
2 Bobby Hogge IV
2A Andy Angelo
2C Duane Cleveland
4P Richard Papenhausen
7 Sean Wilson
7 Brian Popac

10 Ryan McDaniel
12 Joe Carr
14 John Esskew
14P Ryan Porter
17 Nick DeCarlo
17T Terry DeCarlo Sr.
19 Michael Dalton
25DD Danny Dozier
25D Rick Karnes
28 Chester Kniss

28B Keith Brown Sr.
29 Michael Salazar
49 Troy Foulger
66 Kevin Fitzgerald
68 Norman Boeck
69 Michael Mendenhall
73 Scott Busby
74S Chris Sieweke
75x Jim DiGiovanni
80 John Pierce

81 Bob Motts Jr.
82 John O'Gara
83 Kellen Chadwick
91P Jason Papich
91T Tony Toste
98 Alex Stanford
98 Robby Sawyer
99 Kenny Neu
07 Jeff Thomas
09 Mitch Enos

?? Shawn DeForest

03 Jim Pettit II was reported to have entered in the latest news release for Antioch Speedway
6 Dan Gonderman was practicing at Antioch last week

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Laliberte Wins Fourth Straight, Machado, Jonker Prevail At Antioch

This one was a bit of a challenge to do at times, but I did what I could. Note that information here is unofficial.

Five divisions competed at Antioch Speedway Saturday night as warm weather welcomed racing back to the three-eighth mile clay oval after a two week break. Grabbing the lead within ten laps after starting in the back, point leader Tommy Laliberte captured his fourth straight Wingless Spec Sprint feature victory. Point leader Mitch Machado patiently worked his way from the fourth row to win the Super Stock Main Event. Losing and then regaining the lead in traffic, Jack Jonker won his first Hobby Stock Main Event of the season. 2009 champion Gene Haney went flag to flag in capturing the Mini Truck feature victory, and Jim Coriwn won his first Four Banger feature of the season.

Tyler Henriquez charged into the lead at the start of the first Wingless Spec Sprint heat race with Dan Gonderman settling into second. With Gonderman pressuring hard the whole way, Henriquez kept his cool and picked up his first heat race victory. Gary Nelson finished third ahead of David Press. The second heat race saw Chuck Bradshaw race into the lead ahead of Rick Sharp and Tommy Laliberte. Sharp spun on the back stretch for a lap two caution flag. Laliberte took the lead from Bradshaw with an outside pass in Turn 2 on the restart lap as Jeff Kindt moved in to challenge Bradshaw for second. Kindt made the pass for second a lap later, but it was Laliberte collecting the victory in front of Kindt, Bradshaw and Sharp.

After the polesitter spun on the first start attempt and the next start wasn't satisfactory, Jeff Kindt and Dan Gonderman led the Wingless Spec Sprints to the green flag for their Main Event. Gonderman raced into the early lead ahead of Kindt and Gary Nelson. Kindt and Nelson got together in Turn 2 with Kindt spinning for a caution flag after one lap. The restart lap saw Nelson race underneath Gonderman exiting Turn 4 to gain the lead as they completed the lap. David Press had settled into third ahead of the hard charging Tommy Laliberte. A high move in Turn 4 of the third lap gained Laliberte third from Press. Laliberte again used his ability to work the high side to make the pass in Turn 4 of the seventh lap, dropping Gonderman to third. Gonderman pitted on lap nine to hand third to Press, and a low pass in Turn 4 of the ninth lap gained Laliberte the lead from Nelson. A pair of spins forced a caution flag after nine laps, and Nelson pitted from second. Laliberte led Press and Tyler Henrique on the restart. Chuck Bradshaw made contact with the Turn 4 fence, knocking part of it down as he continued. Laliberte continued to hold command on the restart with his closest point rival Press running second. Jeff Lee crashed coming out of Turn 4 for a lap 17 caution flag. Nick Larsen grabbed third from Henriquez on lap 20. There was no stopping Laliberte as he cruised to victory ahead of D. Press, Larsen, Bradshaw, Trevor Press, Henriquez and Lee.

Mitch Machado charged into the lead at the start of the Super Stock first heat race with Mike Gustafson in close pursuit. Making his season debut, former Street Stock champion Todd Gomez settled into third. Gustafson shadowed Machado's every move, but it was Machado scoring the well earned victory. Gomez was a solid third as Lloyd Cline and Jon Haney completed the top five at the checkered flag. The second heat race saw Eric Berendsen charge into the lead at the start, leaving the battle for second between Lori Brown and Larry Damitz. Damitz made an inside pass to take second on lap four, but Berendsen held a commanding lead that he would take to the checkered flag. The results were shuffled after the post race disqualifications of Berendsen and Damitz handed the win to Brown ahead of Fred Ryland and Natalie Perry.

Mike Gustafson rode the outside into the lead at the start of the Super Stock Trophy Dash ahead of Fred Ryland and Mitch Machado. The lead trio ran in close formation until Ryland had a problem coming out of Turn 2 and stalled on the back stretch as Gustafson won ahead of Machado and Lori Brown.

Jon Haney and Lloyd Cline shared the front row of the ten car Super Stock feature with Fred Ryland starting third, Mitch Machado eighth and Larry Damitz and Eric Berendsen in the last row after their heat race disqualifications. Cline led the opening lap ahead of Todd Gomez. Ryland settled into third on lap two as Gomez pressured Cline for the lead. A low move in Turn 4 of the third lap gained Gomez the lead with Ryland making an inside pass on Cline for second a lap later. Mike Gustafson and Machado quickly gained third and fourth with Cline pitting soon after. A low move in Turns 3 and 4 of the fifth lap put Gustafson into second. A caution flag flew on lap six as Berendsen had mechanical problems on the back stretch. Gomez surprisingly chose the inside on the restart, and Gustafson raced by on the outside in Turn 1. Moments later, Gomez slowed with a flat tire on the back stretch, and another caution flag waved. Gustafson chose the outside on the restart, but Machado powered by on the inside to grab the lead as Damitz was now third. Damitz made an inside move in Turn 4 to take second before the lap was completed. An inside move in Turn 4 of the 11th lap moved Ryland into third. Gomez raced past Gustafson for fourth on lap 15 as Machado had a straightaway lead over Damitz. Gsstafson pitted as Machado was putting a lap on Natalie Perry. Machado cruised to victory ahead of Damitz, Ryland, Gomez, Haney and Lori Brown, all on the lead lap. Perry took the checkered flag in seventh.

Mike Rydman and Melissa Hansen brought the first Hobby Stock heat race to the green flag, and Hansen raced into the lead. Hansen would lead the whole race to collect the victory ahead of Rydman, Richard Metzler, Kelly Dauksch and Jack Jonker. The second heat race saw Dan McCown lead the way through one caution flag interruption. McCown maintained his lead on the restart and collected the victory ahead of Wes Bentley, Joe Cancilla and Chris Sorensen.

The ten car Hobby Stock feature was a well run affair the required just one yellow flag. Jack Jonker charged out to an early lead over Chris Sorensen and Kelly Dauksch. Last starter Melissa Hansen enjoyed a good battle with Richard Metzler and Dan McCown for fourth. On lap five, Dauksch retired from third, puting Metzler into third ahead of Hansen, McCown and Wes Bentley in that hotly contested battle. Jonker still had his hands full trying to hold off Sorensen. Hansen made an inside pass on the back stretch to gain third on lap nine, but McCown gained the position a lap later. Jonker caught the back of the pack by lap 11 as he and Sorensen had build a half lap lead on third place. Trouble lapping a slower car on the back stretch on lap 13 cost Jonker the lead to Sorensen. However, Sorensen had his troubles with slower traffic in Turn 4 a lap later, resulting in him spinning from the lead. That caution flag negated a Hansen pass on McCown. Jonker chose the high side on the restart, and Hansen rode the high line into second ahead of McCown. Hansen stayed with Jonker the rest of the way, but Jonker brought it home to a well earned victory. McCown finished third ahead of Sorensen, Joe Cancilla, Metzler and Mike Rydman.

Dean Cline led the eight Mini Trucks to the green flag for their heat race, but previous feature winner Dan Wagner had the lead by the end of the lap ahead of Cline and Travis Dutra. Dutra gained second a lap later. An outside move through Turns 1 and 2 of the third lap gained Dutra the lead from Wagner. Dutra went on to victory ahead of Wagner, Cline, Ron Mayberry and Ray Bunn.

Gene Haney had the pole for the eight truck Mini Truck feature and raced into the lead at the start. Ray Bunn and Dean Cline setled into second and third. A low move in Turn 4 of the second lap gained Dan Wagner third, and Jerry Carpanello pitted his smoking truck. An inside pass on the back stretch of the sixth lap gained Travis Dutra third from Wagner. With Haney holding a good lead, Bunn and Dutra batled fiercely for second down the stretch. At the checkered flag, it was Haney collecting the win ahead of Bunn, Dutra, Wagner, Cline and Ron Mayberry.

Eight Four Bangers started their heat race, and Ken Radabaugh charged into the lead as Justin Silveira faded very quickly from his front row start. Dayna Andersen and Dominiqe Myers battled side by side at the line as they completed the first lap. That side by side battle entering Turn 1 saw Myers run out of room and slam the Turn 1 wall at speed. The raced was called at that point as the safety crew tended to Myers.

Ken Radabaugh and Jim Corwin brought the Four Banger feature to the green flag. As he had in the heat race, Justin Silveira slowed exiting Turn 2 on the opening lap as Patty Ryland settled into third. Silveira retired on lap two as Radabaugh and Ryland battled fiercely for second. By lap six, Corwin held command by a straightaway, and Dayna Andersen ran close behind the second place battle. A low move in Turn 4 of the 13th lap gained Ryland second from Radabaugh. As Corwin took the checkered flag a half lap ahead of Ryland, slower traffic played a part in Andersen taking the third position from Radabaugh, who was the final lead lap finisher in fourth. Jeff Browne and Devon DeOdosso completed the top six.

Next up for Antioch Speedway is the big Dirt Modified even, which is boasting a $5,000 first prize from a purse of $20,000. Over 40 drivers had pre entered this event as of Friday.

Racing Continues At Diamond Mountain Speedway

I managed to track down a few details on the races from Diamond Mountain Speedway in Susanville. Not as much as I'd like, but it's something. I have put in a request for website updates there. In this day an age, updates of results and points and schedules should be a part of any race track website, but it's still nice to know the people in Susanville can still enjoy the great tradition of racing they have there.

Anyway, going from the point list, it appears that there were 10 Strictly Stocks at the June 5th race. Point leader Jason Batis and Paul Fletcher each earned 42 points for the night for the best effort of the evening. Donald Holt (39), Brandon Hargis (38), and Joe Marlow and JR Toon (37 each) completed the top five point earners for the night. Completing the top ten in points earned for the night were Mike Bailey (35), Robert Izinsky (33), Richard Longacre (32) and Jason Marlow (32), who was making his season debut.

To this stage of the season, 20 Strictly Stock drivers have competed, and Batis holds a 13 point lead over Hargis in the championship battle, 169-156. Third and within striking distance is Bailey (147) as Victor Richey (120) and Holt (114) round out the top five.

Nine Mini Stocks competed, and Devin Vaughan and Larry Miller matached the night's best effort with 42 points each. Vaughan actually gained the point lead from Larry Whitebird with his performance. Tommy Glenn IV (39) had the third best total of the night as Shawn Butterbaugh (37) and Whitebird (36) rounded out the top five. Completing the point earner's order for the event were Chris Dahlen (35), Ronnie Holt (34), Kaster Carson (33) and Matt Canada (32).

There have been 12 different racers to this point in the season, and Vaughan moved past Whitebird by five points, 161-156. Glenn is tied with Whitebird for second as Dahlen (144) and Butterbaugh (113) round out the top five.

In the Modified division, Jeff Chew earned the most points for the night at 41. Steve Boucher and Larry McCracken each had 40 as Wade Kennemore (39) and Tyler Sykes (36) made up the rest of the top five point earners for the evening.

15 drivers have earned points to this stage of the season, and a close championship battle finds McCracken leading Kennemore by four points, 163-159. Mark Ward sits in third with 120, just four points in front of Boucher (114). Chew is in fifth with 83 points.

The same three divisions will compete on June 19th and are back in action for a Fourth of July race as well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Merced Speedway Opener Set & Orland Race Results

Merced Speedway To Open On Sunday, July 18th

This one broke over at the Late Model Racer forum with a special thanks to Dennis Daniel for keeping us posted.

Let the speculation rest, Merced Speedway will open on Sunday, July 18th and will be a Sunday track. John Soares Jr. has been working on picking the right time to reopen the gates and it has been decided that for now the track will run Sundays. When you think about it, it was the best logical choice to open the track, given that we are at mid season now and Chowchilla runs Saturday. A Friday opening would hurt potential Watsonville visitation or possibly keep certain people from being involved in things.

Sunday allows not just Watsonville and Chowchilla regulars a second night of racing, but drivers from Antioch and other venues as well. The track's temporary website (they are working on transferring over to the old website) lists Dirt Modifieds, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Four Bangers, Valley Sportsman and Mini Truks as competing at the opener.

Once the track gets started on July 18th, they are scheduled for every week through August, two weeks off in September and every week through October 24th. Highlights listed on the schedule include the Timmy Post Memorial race at the end of July and the return of the Buddy Cox Memorial Hobby Stock $500 on August 15. Also there is the Underdog Nationals $2000 to win Dirt Modified race August 29th. Other extra money races on that night are scheduled for Hobby Stocks and 4 Bangers.

The track will also host special visits from the Dwarf Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints and IMCA Stock Cars. Looks like about 14 races are scheduled. As to who is running for championship points and other details, I'll leave that up to the track to announce.

Check The Temporary Merced Speedway Website for further information.

That's it for the speculation on my end. I am happy to see the gates opening and hope this is the beginning of a bright new future for the track. Hopefully, the web page keeps us posted on any other new details. I'm happy to see the Timmy Post Memorial race on the schedule and hope that perhaps we see a return of the Ted Stofle Classic in the future too.

Five Divisions In Action At Orland Speedway

Five divisions competed at Orland Speedway Saturday night with five names added to the winner's list. The track was visited by the Northern California Vintage Hardtops, and Dan Williams out dueled "The Green Hornet" Tommy Thomson in picking up the feature win. Coming off of his recent win at Stockton after a good battle with Jack Low, Conrad Cavallero held off Low for the third place finish as Leland Smith and Carmen Cavallero rounded out the finish.

The track has a good tradition of Mini Truck racing, and nine trucks appeared for this event. Tyler Pebley won back to back features to open the season in trucks, but it was Jake Van Tol winning this race with Dan Webster and Jim Davis in the place and show positions. Richard Gale grabbed the fourth place finish as Ross Vige completed the top five. The finishing order was completed by Steven Woods, Andrew Geyer-Gryder, the #11 truck (driver name not available) and Zack Webster.

Jake Van Tol was doing double duty in a Pure Stock, but his bid for a two win night was thwarted as Clay Ralls impressed with the victory. Van Tol settled for second ahead of Jimmy O'Reilly, an unidentified driver in the #47 car and Rich Hood.

Ken Johnson and Erc Hammond won the first two Mini Stock features this season, and it was Sean Perry joining the winner's ranks by holding off an unidentified driver in the #86 car (I guess it wasn't Hammond), "Rollin" Olin Crane in his specially painted car saluting the four branches of the US Military and Don Runkle.

Steve Fletcher and Josh Tucker won the first two Wingless Spec Sprint races of the season and both driver's wins came ahead of Josh Jacobo. Jacobo rattled off three straight championships in this division from 2001-2003 and also won the DCRR Terrific 12 State championship in 2003. Jacobo turned the tables on Tucker this time around by winning the Main Event as an unidentified driver in the #7k car and former Antioch Pure Stock and Spec Sprint racer Pat Bisio completed the finishing order. Bisio was in the 4xl car that former NFL Football player Jeremy Newberry drove to a Trophy Dash win in the second event of the season.

This race marked the 20th event promoted by the current track management as they work on maintaining the fine tradition of racing at the Glenn County Fairgrounds racing facility. If I can get results from the third event of this season, I will post them here. The Track hosts Wingless Spec Sprints, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, Pure Stocks and 4 Cylinder Modifieds this Saturday night.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Antioch Speedway Back On Track This Saturday Night

Racing returns to Antioch Speedway Saturday night with a five division program. The track has been dark for two weeks, but one of the biggest races of the year in the state, the $5,000 to win Dirt Modified race, is on tap for June 19.

The over/under number for this week's race is 54

Wingless Spec Sprints (16), Hobby Stocks (12), Super Stocks (7), Mini Trucks (10) and Four Bangers (9).

Coming off of a two week break, drivers should be ready to go. The one division that seemed to be suffering the most from racing so often was the Mini Trucks. Last time out, the Four Bangers matched a season high of nine cars and produced perhaps their best race of the year. Super Stocks could use more cars, but the racing up front hasn't been too bad. The two divisions that seem to be the most reliable on this card are the Spec Sprints and the Hobby Stocks.

The Spec Sprints are currently one of the closest championship battles at the track. Tommy Laliberte moved into a two point lead after his victory in the previous race. Tommy is in the hunt for the championship at Watsonville, meaning he could become a two track champion in one season.

Press still came home with a top three finish last time, but he will need to take it up a notch the way Laliberte has been running lately. Jim Perry Jr. is 14 points out at the moment, and it would be a mistake to count out the former champion. Feature winners this season include Laliberte, Press, Billy Macedo and Jeff Kindt. Will somebody new join the ranks of the winners in this competitive division this week?

The team concept finds Melissa Hansen and Brad Myers sharing the point lead as their combined points in car #33 give them a 12 point lead over Eric Schantin. A one time feature winner this season, Schantin has been fast, but former champion Hansen's two wins and the one win for Myers definitely makes them the team to beat.

Since winning the opener, Chris Sorensen's results have been a mixed bag of good and bad, but he is still just 16 points out in another good battle. Paul DeLuca, Mike Rydman and former champion Dan McCoun complete the top six, and any one of these three hope to lead a pack of eager racers looking to add their name to this year's feature winner's list.

What the Super Stocks may lack in car count this year they have made up for in a competitive battle for feature victories. Former Petaluma champion Mitch Machado leads Larry Damitz (a man with many championships in his long and storied career) by 16 points and "Rookie Of The Year" hopeful Fred Ryland by 26 points, and this trio accounts for all the feature wins at the moment.

Late starter and three time track champion Mike Gustafson has two heat race wins and seems like the most likely to be the fourth winner this season. Eric Berendsen sits 12 points behind Ryland for third and is fast enough to win if he can keep things together. Lloyd Cline is four points behind Natalie Perry in the battle for fifth after a season best third place run last time. Hopefully, new racers will show this week, and rumor has it that a Merced Speedway champion is planning a trip soon.

The battle for Mini Truck championship was shaken up when two time winner Tom Brown did not race his truck last time out and debuted a Dwarf Car in second. Point leader and two time winner Travis Dutra ran a Dwarf Car at Petaluma last week, which may cause speculation as to whether he may be next.

Sitting second now, 38 points out of the lead, is 4 cylinder racing veteran Ray Bunn. Bunn is 18 points ahead of previous race winner Dan Wagner and Brown. Late starter and frequent top three finisher Jon Haney is 14 points out of third and may be a driver to keep an eye on as the next driver to join the 2010 feature winner's ranks.

Since restarting the Four Bangers at Antioch last season after an absence of a couple seasons, the division has had it's growing pains. However, last time out, the good racing they had in that nine car field was an example of how good racing can be in the division. 2009 champion Patty Ryland outran JC Elrod for her second feature win of the season.

Concord High School student Clayton Groves and Watsonville title contender Adriane DeSousa also have feature wins this season, but it's the consistent Dayna Anderson holding a ten point lead over 2009 point runner up Ken Radabaugh. Radabaugh is coming off of a third place finish last time out and is one of the drivers hoping to get his first feature win of the season.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

San Jose Speedway: Can It Be Rebuilt Once More?

In the 20's and 30's, they raced at a track called San Jose Speedway. Fires claimed the grandstands there, but racing came back to the city in another, better known paved track called San Jose Speedway. Many heroes were born on those hallowed grounds, until the gates were closed in the late 70's. Racing wasn't gone for long, because San Jose Speedway was born at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. More heroes were born on that racing facility. You know the story. It's been told.

This is a story that looks at the mistakes, looks at a budding movement to bring racing back and asks, isn't it about time racing was brought back to San Jose? Just rebuild it, and they will most assuredly come.

You know the names, Pombo, Sargent, Kaeding, Scott. San Jose Speedway was the place to be. Fact is, San Jose has a great racing tradition, and it can be reborn again if given a chance. One thing the powers that be need to ask themselves is, is no income better than the money that can be brought it by auto racing?

How did we get here?

I think it began not long after we lost Baylands. In fact, not even a year later. NASCAR wanted to pave the mile. They wanted to bring big time racing to San Jose. I believe a smaller track would have been built as well for more regular events, but the possibility of the big boys of NASCAR coming was very real. The offer was declined, and NASCAR went road racing in Sonoma instead. I believe the clock began ticking on San Jose then. Anything short of strong leadership at that track who could stand up for racing the way it was needed was not going to be successful.

The track lasted ten more years under the "open the gates and they will come" philosophy. Better than nothing, right? To be honest, it's not fair to blame any one person. There's plenty of blame to go around. Some will say not many people would have done better than the management that was in place at the time, and maybe they are right.

In the 90's, when Supermodifieds had given way to the Sprint Cars, we still had WoO, NARC, GSC, 360 Sprints, Late Models, Dirt Modifieds, Enduros, huge D-Derbys and the George Steitz Race. Right to the end, the big shows could still pack the grandstands, despite the $5 parking fees they had to pay in 1999.

When they took San Jose Speedway from us, they ripped the heart right out of Bay Area Sprint Car racing. We still hadn't completely recovered from Baylands, but then again, people still hadn't recovered from Vallejo and West Capital. I really hurts to lose a race track.

When San Jose fell, NARC was next, after the power play over the GSC deal, there was nothing NARC could do and no place they could run. Merced seemed to be out of the question, and Chowchilla didn't quite work out for them the way they hoped. I heard stories that there were prominent members of NARC trying to work a deal to run San Jose Speedway in 2000, but it didn't happen. Had it happened, who knows? The amphitheater was a bust. Racing might still be there today.

I've been critical of the management at San Jose, but Lord knows it isn't easy running a track. The man had just lost Antioch, and the problems of San Jose became that much more exposed without the Antioch income offsetting things. I wondered why Rick didn't put up a bigger fight for the track. It seemed like he was resolved to walk away, but then again, I couldn't really blame him except for one thing. He could have made it easier for anybody trying to come in and pick up the pieces.

Then again, what outgoing promoter at a race track makes it easier for the guy coming in? It usually doesn't happen. In many cases, it's a leave with fingers in the air taking anything not bolted into the ground with you. Salvage what you can.

There were voices in the crowd wanting to fight for the track, but they weren't organized. I can't blame them. People don't really know what to do in a situation like that. Al had his web page, which many times just spewed anger at the Board of Supervisors. Again, I can't blame him. They were taking his track away, and he was pretty upset about it. Joe followed Rick to Watsonville and seemed reluctant to use his show to help the cause even a little bit. It wouldn't be that big a deal, but he had no problem using that show to trash Marco at every turn. A few minutes giving people information on how to help the fight couldn't have hurt.

A young boy, whose name escapes me, had a petition to save the track and spoke in front of the board at a meeting. I admire the kid for taking a stand, but this is what it came to in the end? Where was everybody? I guess people decided it was over, but it really wasn't if they'd have gotten organized. Does anybody think Ventura Raceway would be here now if people had that attitude there? No, it wouldn't.

The fact is, Blanca and the Board Members were not all that organized themselves. They wanted an amphitheater, but they had no idea what they were doing. There was other competition out there already, and this idea NEVER stood a chance. The only power they had was the power to shut the track down, and that was made all the more easier when nobody presented a serious argument for the track and why it should be there in terns the board could understand. So, they pushed for the concert venue that was doomed to fail from the start.

Quietly, there were those looking for a way to put racing back on the track again, but it was too late. Things were not left in good enough shape. Jim Soares looked at things and declined. That's how bad it was, because a guy like Jim could have whipped it into shape had there been enough to work with.

So a year or two after the last race, the grandstands were demolished. I heard mention of the fact that it was not done legally, but who knows? Did anybody care at that point? In my opinion, if anybody is left on the board from that time period, they should be fired on the spot, but I digress.

The amphitheater fell through, as expected. But, there were no grandstands. Racing was dead. I'm not even going to dignify the road racing they attempted there with a comment. Somewhere along the line, though, San Jose Speedway was born again. It's not what you think. They have a little 1/8th mile dirt track, and they race motorcycles, go karts and mini sprints there. Better than nothing, I guess, but far from what should be there. Make no mistake, though, if they put a track back there again, I'd like to find room for the cycles and karts too, somewhere on the facility.

Mike Hennessy stirred it up on the Motorsports Show on KNRY 1240 AM, hosted by Tony Karis. He plans to circulate a petition at his Hot San Jose Nights event at the Fairgrounds in July to get a track built there again.

Can it really happen again? Can another track exist in San Jose where a new generation of Pombos, Sargents and Kaedings can compete? Lord willing, yes it can, but it won't be cheap or easy.

I have no idea how hard Mike has thought this thing through beyond the petition and speaking with some local politicians. Does he have construction people in mind to build? It's a build from the ground up proposition, after all. You might catch a break on some pricing, but make no mistake, it won't be cheap. I'm not sure how deep the spirit of donating to this cause is in this day and age, even for those who love the sport.

How big will the grandstands be? Are we going for WoO races again? Listen to me, I'm talking about a track that may never exist. And that's the thing. If Mike really intends to move ahead with this, he will need all the support of the people that he can get. If he needs people at public meetings, they should be there. If he needs signatures on a petition, people should sign it. People should be willing to jump in for whatever they are needed and fight for this cause as long as it takes, or it will never happen, despite Mike's intentions. He can't do it alone.

I understand the odds of this happening are not great. One might even suggest that a person wanting to run a race track should head to Sacramento or Porterville or any place where a track is setting dormant and try there. But, the fact is, the space is still there in San Jose. There is still a fairgrounds there, and many fairgrounds facilities still generate income through the great sport of auto racing. Those places still find value in the sport, and San Jose should too.

One aspect I think needs to be addressed in any future endeavor for this San Jose Speedway is community involvement. On one web page I noticed an effort to keep Santa Clara Fairgrounds alive. There has been talk of selling the land for redevelopment, and these people are touting the value the fairgrounds has to the community. They're right, it does.

But, what does the community really get out of a race track? I have looked, and sure, there are some places that have good relationships with their community. One of the things I noticed about Merced Speedway under the previous management was that they did things to keep the community involved, such as kids bike races, fund raisers, free admission nights, high school motorsports and other stuff.

Some tracks are doing things like that, and others seem to think they don't need to. I'm not pointing any fingers, but it wouldn't take me long to get to some places that don't do much. To be sure, a promoter is very busy doing the things that need to happen just to open the gates, and they need help doing things. In many cases, they can't pay much or at all for that help, but if a promoter is good or respected enough, that won't stop people who care about the place from helping. But, I digress.

I'm still a believer in track heritage as a selling point. Hall Of Fame night, special races honoring past greats and that sort of thing. San Jose has that. But, again, what does it do for the community? I'll give you an example. I noticed recently a race track had a high school nearby that is in need of funds to replace their outdated track. The kids are practicing across town at another newer high school facility, and the school is hoping to get a grant from Pepsi. Do you suppose the nearby speedway could hold a fund raiser or offer to donate something to the school that has been its neighbor for decades?

So fund raisers for worthy local causes is one thing that can help. Another would be if San Jose Speedway established a real high school racing program with a half dozen or more schools involved, even building it to a point where schools could field two cars each. Bone stock 4 Bangers would be the class. Cheap, but safety conscious. Get the schools involved. Bring experienced racers who aren't currently racing into the effort as instructors. Kids would work on the cars. Bring sponsorship to help fund things, but have the kids involved in raising some money though car washes and that sort of thing.

I don't need to tell you how the kids today are racing on the streets. Getting them into racing in a structured environment has much value to the community in the lessons they learn about sportsmanship, dedication, team work and so on. The students at the schools have cars they can cheer on as part of the high school team. You get a school champion in auto racing, just as you would other sports. Plus, some of these racers may go on to join the sport in other divisions and you gain new racers and fans. I don't need to explain to you how the sport is in need of new fans and competitors.

Now, if the track keeps a smaller track for Karts and Motorcycles, a similar school program could be attempted for junior high or even elementary school. Just a thought.

Keeping along with the 4 Banger idea, I have another though. Don't get mad Sprint Car fans, the track will race Sprint Cars as well as stock cars in one form or another. At Altamont, Greg Rayl started a Mini Super Truck rental program that became very popular, very quick. Drivers paid to rent the trucks and repair any damage they may have caused. This would present the perfect opportunity for a fan to go racing and connect the fans more closely to the sport. Most fans will never get that chance due to cost and other factors, but if something like this existed, they could try it.

Four Bangers would also afford the track the opportunity to have local politicians, media, business men and women and other public figures a chance to step in for a night and go racing. These are just ideas on how you can make the race track part of the community. If you get media involved this way, it will likely lead to more ink in newspapers and even a spot on TV. A win/win situation.

I know the odds of San Jose Speedway coming back are low, but there is always a chance if it's done right. It can happen if the effort is made the right way, if the people get involved, if the backing is there and the proposal has a broad appeal that involves the community. Picture Sprint Cars, Dirt Mofieds, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks, 4 Bangers and other classes racing right in the heart of San Jose once more. It can happen if people believe in it and get behind it, or it can just be another dream that never comes true.

On July 9-11 at Hot San Jose Nights at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, the hot rods will be on display, probably a race car or two, Dennis Mattish will have his History Of San Jose Speedway book on sale and Mike will have his petition for a rebuilding of San Jose Speedway. Where it goes next, who knows? It depends on the will of the people, but at least somebody stepped up and tried to start something.