I've been away for a bit. Sorry about that. It's late or early. You don't want to know what time it is here, but I felt I needed to make a post. My mind hasn't been on racing lately, and I'll admit that I've been so unfocussed that I didn't even feel like posting one of the things I have archived. There's a lot there too.
But I feel I needed to make a
point. If you're an Orland Speedbowl competitor, I'd like you to pay
close attention. It's been tough times for racing over the last
decade. You guys know this. Actually, one of the posts I've been
saving talks about that very fact. Many tracks have closed during the
last decade and most reopened, including Orland.
We've even gained a couple tracks, like Stockton 99 Dirt, Hayfork Speedway and Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville.
the thing, Orland Speedbowl is a little gem that people tend to
forget. Racing in Orland goes back at least to the 70's, and this
particular track started in the late 80's from what I've been told. It
has endured several promoter changes as well as closings and reopenings
during that time.
The track's rep has been built on Mini Stocks
and Street & Hobby Stocks during the last 25 years, and it was the
first track in California as far as I know to feature the Mini Trucks.
In the late 1990's and on into the 2000's, the Turner family took the
track to new heights, including adding the Spec Sprints and holding some
big end of the year events.
In the end, the economy got the
Turners, and some people conveniently forgot all the good they had
done. After a dark year, the track reopened and has endured a few
promoter changes in the last five yeas. The show has managed to go on,
though the previous three seasons have seen maybe some things get less
attention than needed.
Lest you think I'm attacking anybody, I'm
not. I appreciate all who tried to promote this little race track and
keep it alive. It's just that the enthusiasm of the racers and the
desire to support the track has faded. Enter a man who had been
watching this place for several years, Mike McCann.
Let me tell
you something about Mike. I'm probably forgetting a lot, because he's
done so much in the sport through the years. He raced Super Modifieds
for years, among other divisions. And this Hardtop revival in
California was sparked by he and Chuck Prather.
that division at Sunset Speedway in Oregon and was so proud of it that
he brought the cars to California a little over a decade ago. I was at
Sacramento Raceway that weekend. The next stop for the guys was, you
guessed it, Orland. Prather started a class the next year and groups in
Northern and Central California started after that.
Mike was a
Promoter Of The Year award winner at Cottage Grove Speedway in Oregon in
the late 1980's. He's had a hand in building up programs in Eugene and
Banks, Oregon as well as Marysville. He came back because he wanted to
make a difference. He could have walked away, but he loves building
racing programs. It's what he's all about.
And, he wanted
Orland. It was his choice to go after this track. He looked at other
opportunities. He had a pretty good one with a rich tradition offered
to him last year. Where isn't important. What is important is he came
to Orland for one reason. He wanted to restore the glory to where it
was a decade ago and beyond.
But, this can't happen without the
racers. Mike has shied away from working series deals with other
tracks, mainly because he's trying to build up Orland's base first.
When that happens, BIG things will happen at this race track. He has a
Hunt Series Spec Sprint race this weekend, and the plan is to get more
in the future.
The problem I've noticed from afar is the drivers
were given no real incentive to come back in recent seasons. After the
Turners moved on, the closest track, Chico, gradually added more of what
Orland had that was unique to them. First it was Spec Sprints, then
Mini Stocks and then the Hobby Stocks. The tracks ran on opposite
nights, but drivers started choosing tracks.
This is not a knock
against Chico. In fact, who could blame any racer for wanting to
compete at that track? Adding to this problem was the fact that Orland
wasn't keeping points until last season. So for three years there were
no champions crowned. On this very blog, I did my own point race in
2010 to help hype this track.
I've been a fan of Orland
Speedbowl since the NCMA was booked to race there in 1989, and that
enthusiasm was heightened when they were the first track to follow
Antioch by adding Spec Sprints in 2001. The track is almost forgotten,
but it shouldn't be. There have been some good races and racers there
through the years.
Guys like Jimmy "The Jet" Pettit, Mario
Romano, Ken Lewis, Brad Ray, Zach Hackett, "Gentleman" Jerry Bartlett,
Josh Jacobo and Jake Van Tol come to mind, but there are many others.
Lots of history. Lots of great racing. Excitement and drama. It
happened on that little one-fifth mile dirt oval.
wants to make it happen again. He's followed through on the things he
told the drivers he would do going into the season. He resurfaced the
race track and it's better than it's been in a long time. He's open to
suggestions on how to improve things further, and all options are on the
But, he needs the drivers support. This is a new era in
Orland racing history, and it could become the best one yet if the
drivers come on board. There are several good racers already on board,
and the track will again crown champions at season's end. But, more
racers are needed and more support from the community in general.
doesn't mean everybody has to suddenly do all the work for the track.
It simply means spreading the word about the races. If you know of a
car that needs work, help if you can. Got a parked car? Consider
getting it out there. Going to watch? Bring a friend. A race track is
a community. This means it needs EVERYBODY to make it work.
think in many ways the track is going great. It had fallen on tough
times, so it's almost like it's at Square 1 at this point. I'm hoping
more momentum can be built as the season heads towards the stretch. I
think Mike has done some good things so far, but it can only get
better. More improvements can and will come if people rally behind the
So come on everybody. This is your beloved Orland
Speedbowl we're talking about. Many great days are ahead if you give it
a chance. It's up to you!