Thursday, May 23, 2013

Numbers Encouraging At Antioch and Merced Heading Into Holiday Break

Sorry I ducked out for a few weeks, but I needed to.  I was putting in some crazy hours working on the blog post that became a book that I mention in another post.  I needed a break.  Generally speaking, even if there's not a lot of color sometimes the Oval Motorsports Website has all of the results and points from Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway.  Plus, Mike is getting good ink for Merced in the local paper there, so that's good news.

Overall, IMCA sanctioning seems to have helped the Modified and Sport Mods at Merced, which is exactly what I anticipated.  They didn't do too badly at the last race.  Merced was always a jewel in the crown of IMCA's California presence, and that track benefited from the sanctioning.  Drivers visited for those points, and that is still happening now.  Merced's Hobby Stocks seem to even be doing better this year, which is more good news.

There have been ten different Sportsman drivers so far this year, and I notice the action sometimes makes it onto YouTube.  In fact, the latest Main Event is up from a couple weeks ago.  Car count was down from the nine of the previous race, but it's still cool to see these cars.  I'm not sure why Four Bangers aren't getting the cars they should, but maybe that will pick up.  I think there's been a half dozen cars at each of the two Spec Sprint races, but this is because they have to build their own base of cars.  They can't rely on drivers towing from out of town to race there.

All in all, it's looking good at Merced this year compared to where it was last year.  Saturday nights and IMCA have helped them.  Moving back to Friday nights will be Chowchilla Speedway when they finally get started.  It will be interesting to see how they do when they hold that first race, but I wish them well.  Many good racing memories have been made at Chowchilla Speedway in it's now 14 year history.  Hopefully, there are many more to come.

Before I get to Antioch, Go Live Stream deserves another plug.  You can catch some racing action from Bakersfield Speedway and elsewhere there, not to mention racing talk shows.  They had the latest SRL Southwest Tour race video up there.  For those of you who are wondering how Jim Pettit II is doing these days, check out that video.  He's one of those guys I'd have on the list to put into the Antioch Speedway Hall Of Fame.

Speaking of Antioch Speedway, history was made last race.  I must admit I was out of the loop.  I had no idea the Late Models were there last week, and 14 cars showed up.  How cool is that?  So, Modifieds were on the same card, and I recall a night in the early 1990's when Keith Brown grabbed a moment that is worthy of recollection.  Keith was driving a Late Model for the late Rich Richards, one of those guys who did a lot for racing.

Well, Keith brought a Modified out too, and one night he won both Main Events in the same night.  I'd have to check my records.  Did Bobby Hogge IV do it one night in the last decade as well?  Sorry for being lazy and not looking, but it wouldn't surprise me if Bobby did.  He's just that good.  Well, Jeff Decker wrote his name into the record books and joined Brown as another driver to do that.  The Modifieds had a high teen car count themselves

I'm really not sure you can say the IMCA sanctioning  makes that much of a difference at Antioch, but car count is still doing okay with Modifieds.  However, Troy Foulger, who had podium finishes in both features last week, looks to be on his way to history (four straight championships).  Only Anthony Slaney is in striking distance at this point, but he'll need to start winning to be a real threat.  I'm not putting that kind of pressure on the kid, because he's doing well where he is.  His future could be very bright.

Anyway, while I'm sure track management has to be happy with Dirt Mods, the Spec Sprints are sticking within their average as well.  Even with the tough times at Chico (where the division is being beaten to death) and Watsonville, Antioch and Petaluma are doing okay.  Could be better, but it's not as if the division is being promoted that heavily at Antioch.  I'm betting John is getting what he wants from the class.

Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars look good this year in car count so far.  This is good as the Hobbys have that big 150 lap show coming up on August 17th.  Yeah, 150 laps!  This would be the longest race at Antioch for a regular division since like the late 1970's when they ran a 200 lap Sportsman race.  The Hobby's have been getting a push at the track, but if they are getting car count, why the hell not?  They should be promoted.

Everything else is sort of there.  Lots of new drivers in the Four Bangers, but I'd like to see consistent double digits from the entry level class.  What I do like is how drivers have moved on to other divisions.  Two of those drivers have moved up to the Sport Mods, which opened their second season with eight cars last race.  Super Stocks and Super Hobby Stocks could use a few more cars.  It does look like a few drivers have stepped forward to try an beat Larry Damitz in Super Stocks, so that championship race could be interesting.  I'd just like to see more cars.

The Super Hobbys have struggled big time, but at least cars are showing up.  The  Mini Tracks have abandoned ship.  Where are you guys and gals?  Jim Robbins is gunning for the Super Hobby title, but what caught my eye also is David Rosa racing against his daughter Victoria, while son David Michael has made his Dirt Modified debut.  When David stepped away from Antioch, it was to go racing with his kids at Dixon.  He wasn't the only Antioch racer that did that either.  I think it's pretty cool that the Rosa's have returned to Antioch as a family.

So, it may be a mixed bag at Antioch, but they had like 73 cars at the latest race.  The Dirt Modifieds, Hobbys, Spec Sprints and Dwarf Cars are delivering, and it looks like Four Bangers and Sport Mods are getting stronger.  Add in those special events, like Sprint Cars, and its not a bad show.  Maybe not like the old days, but not bad.  Antioch and Merced are dark for the holiday weekend, but then back in action for Fair Racing in June.

I noticed that Warren Estlin reported to the Vallejo Hardtop Page the results from the recent Hardtop visit to Stockton.  I also see that teammates Charles Mart and Mike Friesen got the wins.  Mart won the heat race over Kendra McKee and Mike McClure.  Mart, McKee and Friesen have been big supporters of pavement racing for the Hardtops.

Of course, Friesen is a name you should know in nostalgia racing.  The man was on board early with the Sportsman division at Merced Speedway in 1999 and was a champion in that as well as Merced Cal Mods.  Well, he's still no slouch in Hardtops either as Friesen won the Main Event ahead of Mike Judy, Jack Low, George Conner and Mart.  McKee and John Fuller completed the seven car field.

I also noticed that Conner is selling his car.  I watched George race at Antioch in Limited late Models and Hobby Stocks, and I think this Hardtop is a good car.  He's been pretty fast in it.  If you happen to be at a Hardtop show and see his #70 in action and want to get into this deal, go see George.  It might be the perfect opportunity to buy a car and go racing by the next race.

Does The Local Racing History Matter Anymore?

I was going to write something or post something I had written already, but I put it off.  Still wonder who is looking.  But, don't think for a minute I wasn't writing.  When I finished what I was working on, though, I did walk away.  I don't know what I'm going to do with it.  I don't know if anybody cares.  Maybe I just wrote it for myself.

My mind starts to wander when I write one of these posts, and this started out as a post about some times that influenced me in racing.  Going to Marion Heaton's garage or talking to the Brown brothers when I was a kid, going to the Nordstrom house and all I learned there.  Well, it turned into more than that.  In fact, I wrote a book chronicling my time in racing from beginning to end.  I pulled no punches and pointed the mirror at myself too.

It's all history, but does anybody care about that anymore?  I was talking to Don O'Keefe Jr.  We still lose all track of time talking about things, and I enjoy every minute of it.  I still keep track of things from afar and have opinions.  Back in 1998, I did my DCRR page.  I even did the first Antioch Speedway page before Dennis stepped in and showed me how it's done.  My only complaint is that Dennis should have handed the archived records over for use at the new page.   That page should at least have the points from the time John got the track in its archives.

But anyway, Don and I were talking back then, and I suggested he do a web page.  Well, that web page has been around for 15 years with a lot of that stuff archived.  He had a Spec Sprint page before anybody else, a Hardtop page was next and a Sportsman page as well.  Don has a passion for the sport, a good mind for it and he's done an excellent job.  His News & Rumors section is archived and is still a good read.

Well, Don did a page called Tracks Long Ago.  It's just a glimpse of the old days at Vallejo, San Jose and Antioch.  This is before the Vallejo Hardtop page or the nicely done West Capital Alumni page went up.  Something remarkable happened after that.  Don started getting e-mails from people along with photos.  So, Don encouraged people to send photos with their memories, and that page filled up.

Then another thing happened.  The nit pickers started popping up and telling him he had this wrong and that wrong.  I know about people like this.  They made it easier for me to walk away, so they could help make things better.  Folks, it's real simple.  That page is about people's memories.  If something is wrong with a memory or not completely factual, it's how the person who sent the stuff in remembers it.

Now, Don was never out to put up a history page, but just wanted to remember an era in racing that many people loved.  There was nothing out there at the time.  I probably could have helped make it more historically factual, because in my time in the sport, I uncovered lots of cool stuff.  Some is out there, some isn't.  I did send Don the pictures Chuck Smith let me scan from Antioch Speedway in the early 1970's.  I'm a little disappointed only a few people added their pictures to that page.

I thought there would be a big Sportsman page, but maybe that history doesn't mean anything.  Late Model Racer had an amazing thread on their forum about the Sportsman division at Merced.  Merced fans seem to care more about their track's history.  They even have a good Hall Of Fame discussion going there too.  My own post about Merced Stock Car drivers that came to Antioch is one of my top viewed posts on this page.

I begin to wonder if the history matters, or is it just destined to fade away?  There were lots of good times at tracks like Antioch Speedway.  Every track that's been around a while has its legends, its heroes and villains.  My goodness, Antioch has had that race track for over 50 consecutive racing seasons.  Petaluma has been around at least that long, Merced and Bakersfield and Watsonville have had tracks longer. 

We've gone from a time when it was THE thing to do to where it's not even in the top five for people anymore.  We've gone from a time where you had to earn a chance to even run a Main Event to if you run every race you could win the championship.  Times have changed that much.  I'd like to say if we had the technology today back then, the information and conversation on the web would be so much better, but would it really?

We had more big races back in the day.  At least one 100 lap event a year, sometimes even a 200 lapper.  More races that honored past greats.  In this era of technology, many tracks don't even know their own history very well.  I mentioned how the Antioch page doesn't even list the points from 1998 on, when John got the track.  I wonder if they even have those points lying around.  Maybe it doesn't matter anymore.  Maybe it's just live for the moment.

When it comes to a Hall Of Fame, maybe the fans have to take it out of the track's hands.  Do a little research and organize an event themselves.  A thread like the one on Late Model Racer's forum about Merced is a good place to start.  Then, just make it happen.  Start making inductions.  Set something up with the track and start honoring some of these legends. 

Hall of Fame night at the races has a nice ring to it.  Watsonville did that for a few years before they stopped.  It's one of the things I like about BCRA, because they have such a night every year.  It adds to the legacy of the organization, which may not be what it once was, but it's still here after all these years.

Maybe it's just a sign of the times.  Maybe all that matters is now.  Back then, you had guys like Gary Pacheco, Tom Abreau, Lonnie Williams, Ken Gonderman and Bill Brown inspiring guys like J.D. Willis, Dennis Furia, John Roy and Marv Wilson at Antioch.  Even in the 1980's, Steve Hendren, Bobby Scott and Jeff Silva followed in the foot steps of guys like Jim Pettit II, Dave Byrd and Bobby Hogge.  All were great champions, but I bet most fans don't remember most or any of them.

I don't have the answer.  I had a real passion for the sport for years and documented Antioch Speedway's history for years.  It mattered to me.  It seemed to matter to a lot of people back then.  It seems those days have faded away.  While the sport lives on, it's not the same.  Maybe it never will be.  Maybe it doesn't need to be.  Maybe the fact that it's still here is all that matters.

That's just a question for the fans to ask themselves.  With all that's going on in the world today, maybe just a night at the races is all that matters.  Who wins and loses isn't as important as just being there and having fun.  Maybe some of those great seasons past couldn't have happened had the world been as it is today.  I don't know.  It's something to think about.

Replacing Something With Nothing

I wrote a post that I haven't posted yet, but I want to mention this part of it.  I think it's relevant.  It was 1996, and Joe A. (you know who) had the racing TV show.  By then, the show centered mainly on Dirt Modified Main Events at Antioch and Watsonville.  If we were lucky, we got a moment of Street Stocks.  Pure Stock fans were out of luck.  The show was better when Bruce came back from Bakersfield and covered more tracks and divisions, but anyway.

I talked to Joe before a race and made a humble suggestion.  I knew he always filmed a brief 30 second or one minute segment before a race, telling people what was on the show.  Sometimes in the form of an interview.  I suggested he do this in front of Tom Flanary's car.  Tom was the Pure Stock point leader.  Just say, "This is Joe and I'm standing in front of Antioch Pure Stock point leader Tom Flanary's car.  Tonight, we're at Antioch and we'll be bringing you whatever..."

Well, he said no, the car was too ugly.  There are a lot of things I can say about Joe.  I was never a fan.  I don't believe he was in it for the sport.  It's just my opinion.  I didn't like his style and the way he carried himself, but I guess I can say I respected him for being able to get things done.  He was a go getter.  If it was something he wanted, he could make it happen.

I bring this up, because this was a case of replacing something with nothing.  Pure Stocks could have been acknowledged at least, but nothing was better.  I've seen it before.  People tear other people down.  Bash then for their efforts, but when that person leaves, what replaces them?  Nothing.  So, the critics won.  The effort that tried to make a difference that was hated so much is gone.  Now there's nothing to complain about.  Way to go.

People can say the same about me.  I was a critic.  At least when given a chance I tried to make a difference.  My sister was told how bad my announcing was by a certain back stabber back in 2000 at Antioch.  Fine, I spent time getting sponsors so they could be announced twice a night, mentioned when a driver needed sponsors (and it helped them sometimes), told fans a little something about that driver, nicknames, career highlights or recent success, where the car came from, what the point standings were and on and on.  You're right.  I really sucked.  Worst announcer ever.  Thank goodness I'm gone and fans don't have to hear that crap anymore.

It was nice to hear a few years later that John actually did miss me being out there.  You're welcome John.  Thank you for giving me the chance.  You put a lot on my plate, gave me a lot of opportunities there, and I did my best.  Eventually, the people who really work hard, and I wasn't the only one there, move on and are replaced.  Going above and beyond isn't in some people's vocabulary.  People can hate John all they want, but who can do better?  Who will do better?  Who will want to when they start hearing some of the crap he's heard?

I recall the guy who had the guts to form a Sprint 100's club.  This was one of the divisions that ran at Baylands in 1988 and was to be a part of Petaluma in 1989.  A guy named Stephen Veltman wouldn't hear of it.  They were gonna get dates at several tracks.  Seemed like a crazy idea, but he did it.  The man brought sponsorship to the group.  I remember the Cornnuts sponsorship.  One of the biggest surprises in my time covering the sport was the SORA Sprint 100's group.  Much better than I thought it would be.

Veltman's leadership made a difference.  It mattered.  Of course, he heard all the things he was doing wrong.  He never made it about himself though.  How many races did he win with them anyway?  But that club was at its best when he was in charge.  Then, he moved on.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.  I don't want to put down the people who ran it after him, but just make a point.  And, what is my point?

I'm a little disappointed in the NorCal Hardtop effort right now.  I love the division, and the car count.  I'm just a little confused where the leadership is right now.  Now would have been the time to step up and take this thing to the next phase, but it's just sort of out there.  Sometimes we don't even hear who is winning.  Who showed up or any of that. 

You had BCRA trying to take a piece of it.  Well, the new leadership certainly didn't say much, and BCRA got real quiet as well.  It's just sort of out there.  With probably a couple dozen cars in this group now, this isn't the time to be silent.  This is the time to establish things a little more.  We don't even have news on who won the latest race at Petaluma.  Nothing.

I'm not even out at the track, and I've heard things about the "evil" Conrad Cavallero.  Yeah, he's a real bastard alright, taking the car to car shows, promoting the NorCal effort from the start.  He and Mike McClure and their replica cars of Leroy Geving and Johnny Franklin set the stage early on for what this was all about.  Honoring the past and building a new generation of fans.  The only thing missing was a Hall Of Fame deal like what the West Capital Alumni has done.

But, they had to get rid of Conrad.  From very early on, his family was in the stands making videos so we could at least know something.  There were occasional write ups on the site too.  I don't know what his background is as far as organizing something like this, but he's been racing forever.  He and his brother Carmen were two of the first with cars.  He's still out there racing, but understandably, he's not going above and beyond.  Isn't that the new leadership's job?

How hard is it to post a top three at least, a couple photos, a video, how many cars?  Something.  If they rest on their laurels, this thing will fall apart fast.  You wanted Conrad out of the picture.  Fine.  Now, be the leader and do it right.  I don't say this to bash these guys.  I love the Hardtops.  I never saw them growing up.  My division was the Sportsman class like they have at Merced.  In fact, I'd love a combined show between the two.  Yeah, how dare I!  Anyway...

It's interesting to see the dynamic in this class.  A few guys are real fast.  Guys like Terry DeCarlo, Tommy Thomson, Mike Friesen, Dan Williams and Conrad Cavallero.  What do you expect given their experience?  Others are not so fast.  I would hope people aren't going overboard to win this deal.  Safety and appearance are important, but you don't have to be the king of the hardtops.  Alternatively, there are a few guys that might want to put just a tick more into it when they are getting lapped four laps into a race.

I have a thought that managed to upset guys in the NCMA when I was there, and Don O'Keefe Jr. and I did this with Spec Sprints.  If you are getting heat races, why not make some heat races for just those slower guys.  Let them battle it out amongst themselves and get a win once in a while.  Sort of an encouragement and a thank you for being part of this revival.  I must admit I'm surprised it's taken off as well as it has, but it's doing pretty well.  I'd just like to see the leadership promote things a little better.

It's all about what you want to do.  If it can grow to 17 cars showing up to race, how many cars can they get?  Makes me wonder.  With some of the beautiful cars they put on the track, this thing can quickly become an attraction and a reason people want to come to the races.  Something the older generation can point to when they are watching with younger members of the family and say, "See, these are the cars I used to watch when I was younger."

So come on Hardtop leadership.  Promote yourselves a little better, spread the word and get the buzz going.  The Hardtops are a neat division, and I'm curious just how big you guys can make this thing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Racing Continues At Antioch and Merced

Critics At Watsonville, Low Key Playday At Chowchilla And Other Stuff

I just wanted to quote from the recent Antioch Speedway Story on the previous event.  I found it interesting, so here goes:

All kidding aside, let me comment on the a remark somebody made on the Late Model Racer forum about car count at Ocean Speedway Friday night.  Let me put it this way, 12 car divisions are better than no car divisions, don't you think?

I'm gonna go back to a comment made at the 1999 Antioch Speedway banquet, and no, it wasn't John who said it.  Close, but not quite.  The guy made the comment, "All we need is 15 cars per division."

Yeah, he really said that.  I mean, Antioch in 1999 and 2000 had its highest car counts EVER.  This is what John Soares Jr. brought with the All Pro Series.  We really only had five in house divisions at the time, just before we got the real bad case of Divisionits.

This was one thing I loved about the racing.  So, many cars we had to use the rodeo area to park them.  Lots of fans coming to watch and lots of people in the pits.  Dirt Mods, Hobbys, and Dwarf Cars had many B Mains during that time, and the Street Stocks had some as well.  C Mains for Pure Stocks sometimes.

You had to compete just to make the Main Event, just the way it should be.  People want to watch competition.  Spec Sprints were in their first season in 1999, never less than 12 cars in 1999 and B Mains the next season and for a few years after that.

So, to hear an insane comment like that bothered me.  Would you like us to start running drivers off to get to your magic number?  I just casually said, "I disagree (name withheld).  If you promote for 15 cars, you'll end up with 12."

These days, some tracks would love to have a 12 car division.  I won't say all is well at Ocean Speedway, but it could be worse too.  I seem to recall John Prentice getting that track and sparking a renaissance in car count for a few seasons.  Plus, he added 360 Sprints.

Love them or hate them.  I know Watsonville is a Stock Car town.  Always has been.  However, that Sprint Car show was there for the taking since San Jose closed, and it took Prentice and key people that I don't know all the names for (Kaeding?) to make this smart move.

It's real easy to make comments.  We all have opinions.  Just realize that though we have many tracks open in California right now, this can change very quickly. It's that simple.  It wasn't that many years ago when we started seeing tracks close, and we are damn lucky most of them reopened.

I do favor trying to merge divisions and getting back to making better car counts in fewer classes at various cost levels, but that's not easy to do.  It would take time if a plan were ever initiated.  It can be done, but it's easier to just maintain what you have.

Chowchilla Speedway has already had it's first Motorcycle race as of this writing and a playday for cars last Sunday.  Few details have emerged so far, which is disappointing.  Guys, it's not that hard to start a web page or even post a few photos over at forums like Late Model Racer.

What little is out there makes it sound like it went well, and plans are for Dirt Mods and Sport Mods to race there and whatever other divisions can get cars.  Dirt Mods sort of bailed on Kenny Shepherd when he had the place, though I think some guys would still race there.

Sport Mods at Chowchilla sparked the Sport Mod movement, which hadn't been growing much at Merced and was starting to take off at Victorville.  When it happened at Chowchilla, people took notice, and now Watsonville, Hanford, Bakersfield and Antioch are on the bandwagon.  Chowchilla should get cars for it.

The problem is they aren't off to a good start in the hype department. You can't just open the track in secret and expect people to make plans.  Hype is the name of the game, and then deliver on race night.  It can happen.  I see they have a Facebook page, but not much on it so far.

I have been writing quite a bit.  Why, I don't know.  Feels like time has past and maybe I should just go away again.  Last week I put a couple more articles together for future postings.  One looking at some of the times of change in racing, and another sort of looks at some things from my fist ten years of going to the races.

Then, there was more note gathering and trying to get a few point lists together that were missing from my files from other tracks.  Some of that was a pain in the butt, but it's done.  My notes from not just Antioch, but Merced, Watsonville and Petaluma are coming together.

Speaking of Merced Speedway, I just looked at this interesting video from the nine car Sportsman feature last Saturday.  The racing is looking pretty good there, and I like seeing more of the drivers showing up there at the same time.  Much better show that way.

Car count wasn't as great as hoped, but still okay.  It should serve to remind everybody that the season goes one week at a time.  There will be high marks and low marks.  I worry about Merced, because they flocked back to the track when John brought it back, but steadily bailed on him.

With Doug as GM, car count popped again, but it could fall on him too.  I don't want to see that.  It's not easy running a race track.  Lots of things can go wrong.  Doug is hearing a lot of the positives, which is good.  Lots of times you either get the negative when it goes wrong or ignored when it goes right.

I'm sure Mike will have this covered, but Mike Villanueva (IMCA Modifieds), Shane Hausmann (Valley Sportsman and Hobby Stock) and Josh Strickland (Mini Stocks) were the winners.  Not sure where all the Mini Stocks were, but there should be more.  Otherwise, the show sounded good.  Hausmann is a force in the Sportsman division.

My expectations of what would be at Antioch Speedway were met.  No break out car counts, but nothing too bad.  Well, the Mini Trucks didn't have anybody.  This happened at Merced too.  One day, Chuck Griffin is starting this class and some future big names are racing.  Then one season, everybody stopped racing.  They wouldn't even go to Chowchilla.

Melissa Myers-Hansen led the Hobby Stock podium finish of Kimo Oreta and Chris Brown at Antioch.  She is the class of the field in that division.  Her experience pays off.  Her team has been producing videos for years now, but they've really taken it up a notch with their latest one.

There is an in car camera facing front and back, and in car look at the driver and somebody filming from the grandstands.  I would suggest other drivers in the division watch this video and observe and learn.  It's only going to help them improve on their driving style.  As for Melissa, I have no doubt she can win this deal again, but I'd love to see her drive the Super Stock again if she still has it.

I also noticed John Meyers announcing again.  I'm happy he's doing better.  I had heard reports that he wasn't too well off.  I know he loves announcing and has always had fun with it.  I don't believe anybody has announced at the track longer than him.  Maybe someday I'll show up out there and say hi. 

Back in 1999, we started this crazy deal called Wingless Spec Sprints, and Dan Gonderman and "Rockin" Richard Panfili were in that field.  A year later, "Rallying" Roy Fisher joined the class.  Well, all three of them were there for the opening of this division's 15th season.  How cool is that?

So, Gary Nelson Jr. picked up a feature win ahead of Ocean Speedway ace Jimmy Christian.  I read over at Antioch Speedway's Facebook page about this kid named Shane Myhare, who was planning to make his debut.  Like so many others in this division's past, he raced at Delta Speedway.  He was the wingless champion last season.

Well, as it turned out, Shane grabbed a podium finish in third.  Not too shabby for his Spec Sprint debut.  The word is this kid could be a contender, so maybe that first win in this division isn't too far off in his future? 

Who do you send in to stop "The Sundrop Kid" in the Super Stocks at Antioch Speedway?  Well, "The Blue Knight" would be a good place to start.  I don't think they call Mike Gustafson that anymore, but they were calling the 1980 Sportsman champion that back in the day.  Well, Mike won the opener ahead of fellow former champion "Leadfoot" Lori Brown and Mike Hynes.

I'd like to see a few more cars.  I know there are more out there.  There were six for the opener, which is pretty much what I expected.  I noticed former top ten Dirt Modified driver Mark Garner was in the field.  This is a fun class to watch, so I hope more cars start showing up and making it more interesting.

I'm not too familiar with the names in the Four Banger class, but that's not too surprising.  It's a a starter class, and it's been ten years since I was at the track.  When I see names like Coe, Gonderman and Curran, I'm guessing these are next generation drivers.  All three names have won championships in the past at the speedway.

In fact, Abigail Gonderman is driving #87, which was driven by (I presume her grandfather) Ken Gonderman in Late Models in the 1980's.  She's driven Four Bangers before and won a heat race on this night before a third in the feature.  Jason Coe (related to Robert Coe?) won a heat race as well. 

Brent Curran (related to Brian?) was sixth in the feature.  Maybe better luck next time, but this night belonged to Coe, who also won the Main Event ahead of Fred Radabaugh.  Also noticed Ken Radabaugh was last in the nine car field.  Ken chased Patti Ryland for two years in this division (2009-10) before settling for second.  He was third in Mini Trucks in 2011, but I'm guessing he's back in Four Bangers again?

Anyway, I've rambled enough for one post.  Antioch has a stacked show this week with 360 Winged Sprints, IMCA Modifieds, Super Stocks, Super Hobby Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Mini Truck and Four Bangers.  This one should be good just for IMCA Mods, 360 Sprints and Hobbys alone, but a few questions will be answered about the other divisions.  More cars would be a good thing.

Merced has been really hyping up IMCA Sport Mods and had a strong car count there last time.  They return along with IMCA Modifieds, Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  I've noticed Tom Sagmiller trying to spread the word on various forums to get more Dwarf Cars to come.  If they do support the show, it should make for an even better race.

Also, Mike McCann will usher in a new era at Orland Speedbowl with this week's season opener on Saturday.  Here's hoping for good things for this track.  I have nothing but confidence in Mike's ability get things going up there.

In any event, here's to a good racing weekend all around, wherever you go.