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.