If there's a positive to the glut of divisions we have at these tracks, this is it. At the Merced Speedway point opener Shane Hausmann won the Valley Sportsman division main event. There were seven cars. Can you believe this will be the 15th championship season of the revival of this division. I loved it when Chuck Griffin and Luis Miranda and the boys got the ball rolling on this deal back in 1999. By the way, the next Sportsman race at Merced race is slated for April 27.
I think we can thank Mike McCann and Chuck Prather for this Hardtop revival. It was about 11 years ago when McCann brought the Cascade Hardtops to California and started this ball rolling with visits to Sacramento Raceway and Orland Speedway. Prather continued things a year later.
It was a few years later when the late Kenny Farris, Marc McCaslin, Matt McCaslin and the gang started the Okie Bowl Hardtops effort as a tribute to the good old days at Bakerfsield Speedway. Since 2006, these guys have had at least a few races every year, and many of them are chronicled on their website.
As a matter of fact, the Okie Bowl Hardtops helped usher in the 2013 season at Santa Maria Speedway as part of the nights featured attraction. The five division program included an 11 car Hardtop feature, won by Steve Sorensen ahead of David Courtney and James Bradford. Way to go guys. You know, a few years ago, NorCal Hardtop ace Tommy Thomson brought his car to an Okie Bowl Hardtop race in Santa Maria and scored the victory.
However, Tommy was in Petaluma that night as NorCal Hardtops competed in their second race of the season. This time out, it was Terry DeCarlo taking the checkered flag in the 15 lap event.
Terry DeCarlo wins at Hardtop race Petaluma Speedway.
George Conner paced the 17 car field for three laps before spinning in front of Terry DeCarlo. DeCarlo had charged from eighth to second and gained the lead with Conner's spin. DeCarlo built a commanding lead over Tommy Thomson when he caught four slower cars. DeCarlo was able to take his time and lap them all without losing significant ground to Thomson.
Founding NorCal Hardtop member Conrad Cavallero #2 finished fifth.
DeCarlo went on to victory ahead of Thomson. Recent Stockton winner Mike Friesen came home third ahead of Dan Williams, Conrad Cavallero and John Philbert, all on the lead lap in the non stop 15 lap event (Note: results are unofficial.)
Interestingly enough, this event was said to be a BCRA sanctioned race as well. I haven't heard any news on what drivers are official BCRA members, but their section of the page does have a place for point standings. From the late 1940's through the mid 1960's, the BCRA sanctioned Hardtops at several Northern California tracks, so I'd be interested to see who represented BCRA at this particular race and who might be racing soon.
On May 4th (I think it may really be the 3rd as that's what is listed on Chico Speedway's page), the BCRA lists a race at Chico. This would be the same date as Orland Speedbowl, which lists Hardtops as part of the May 4th opener. The California Hardtop Association Hardtops are booked for a race on May 11th. Whatever the case, I hope they continue to gain cars.