Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prentice May Hold The Key To A Better Spec Sprint Series

The other book has been uploaded on Lulu.  I haven't made the official release announcement yet, but you may be able to find it at Lulu before I make the big post here.  I'm doing paperback and hard cover books for that too.  It's about my time in the sport of auto racing.  More details to come.  

In the meantime, I did a new DCRR Racing Radio Show on the latest Spec Sprint news.  Also, a reminder of the Best Of The Blog And Beyond Book before continuing on with the post.  The audio show is linked at the bottom of this post.

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback


Seems like every time I talk to my friend, Don O'Keefe Jr., my mind starts racing with ideas and thinking about things I can write about.  I love the Wingless Spec Sprints.  I still love the NCMA.  I suppose I should. I was on The Board with the NCMA for five seasons and wrote about them for over a decade.  The book will have a lot of that stuff in it.  I also kind of helped start Spec Sprints with Don.  We named them "Spec" Sprints for a reason.  It's nice to see a few people still remember that.

For the people pushing for wings and other things, get a life.  This division has lasted all of these years because the rules have went relatively unchanged in all of that time.  Parts dealers didn't manage to screw them up like they did Late Models and have tried to do with other classes in the name of making a buck.  Wanna know what is needed for Spec Sprints right now? Promotion.  Promote the damn class.  It still has lots of potential.

I managed to see almost all of my goals for this class achieved.  I wanted to see it field no less than 12 cars at Antioch that first season.  We did it, or rather the Spec Sprint Class of 1999 did it.  You guys rock.  Without you, it fails.  I wanted B Mains.  That happened the first race a year later and continued for a few years after that on a regular basis.

I wanted a blowout race to show how awesome this class really is.  Tom Sagmiller liked my idea enough to start The Open Wheel Round Up in 2001 at Chowchilla Speedway.  We set a record of 32 cars, and other promoters noticed.  I was told John Padjen noticed.  A Street Stock racer named Sam Fries noticed and would start the CSRA at Sacramento.  Marysville, Watsonville, Petaluma, all got involved.  Orland Raceway was the first to follow Antioch.  God Bless Paul & Carol Turner.  That track hasn't been the same since they left.  Still think they are bad guys?   Bet you wish you had them there now.

When we had 32 cars, I had two other goals in mind.  I wanted a series and I wanted a Spec Sprint Class at Chowchilla.  Well, Chowchilla went a different route.  Tom used the NCMA and CSRA, rather than starting his own class.  I still feel that was a mistake and that having his own class would have helped what he was doing.  It was nice to see that he returned to that idea of having his own class that last season. If only he had done it sooner...

When I returned to Antioch, I had another goal in mind.  I wanted a Series.  We had the Golden State Challenge Series for 410 Sprint Cars and an amazing Civil War Series for 360 Sprints.  We needed a Spec Sprint Revolution Series, because this was a class that was gonna revolutionize the division.  I believed that then and still believe it could be bigger than it is today with the right leadership.  I believed that leader to be John Soares Jr. at the time.

Something happened though.  Orland was doing their thing, Antioch's class was solid, the CSRA was about to start and the NCMA was running dirt and pavement at the time.  Marysville and Chico were looking.  John attempted to reach out to the NCMA, and they would support the Del Quinn and Darryl Shirk Memorial races in 2003.  It worked great for Del's race.  We set a new record at the time of 35 cars.  Then, a lot of NCMA guys didn't show up for Darryl's race or the $2000 to win race after that.  They didn't support Orland's Harvest Classic that year either.  Orland still had 27 cars, which was awesome for them.

It was obvious to me John wasn't pleased by this.  On one hand, I don't blame him.  On the other, this thing wasn't handled properly.  I would have avoided making the big race after Darryl's race because we waited too long to put a word out and other groups were running that night.  No attempt was made to work together.  It failed.  So, John focused on Dirt Modifieds after that.  The Spec Sprints were still there, but no more attempts were made to go big with them.  That always disappointed me, but I understand.  The Dirt Modifieds were a safe bet.

Well, the NCMA had hit upon an idea that kept them afloat after they lost Antioch.  They began putting up big money to win select races.  That first year, Antioch regulars won every race they attended, and the NCMA got bigger car counts on those nights  It helped save the club.  I believe Del Quinn and Ed Amador spear headed that movement and deserve credit.  I miss Del.  He was a good man.  I never suspected that when I was watching him race in Hanford that night that it would be his final race.

Well, in 2004, the NCMA created the Select Series.  Certain dirt races on their schedule would be for extra money and a special point race.  They ran at Chowchilla, Watsonville, Marysville, Reno-Fernley, Hanford, Merced and wherever they could.  Guys from other groups supported them, and sometimes they had pretty big races, especially at Chowchilla.

It still never became what it could be or what I envisioned.  They ran their last series event in 2009 and began focusing only on pavement..  I want to point out that the division had long been on the radar of a man who did promote Sprint Car racing properly, John Padjen.  In fact, about 2005 or so, John promoted a mega race to end all mega races and had over 70 cars in the pits for that Spec Sprint race.  That remains a record for this class to this day.  Personally, I feel it should have been challenged in the years that followed, but nobody really tried other than John.

So, it was not a surprise to me when Chico was involved in the creation of the Joe Hunt Magneto Spec Sprint Series.  Finally, this class was gonna get that big series and a little more respect.  Chico, Marysville and Placerville were a part of it early.  Petaluma came on bard eventually, Orland even had a race or two.  Antioch sat on the sidelines and watched it happen.  The track that started the Spec Sprint movement had no dates.  Disappointing to me, but it is what it is.

Now, the Hunt Series had big races and B Mains at times too, but they had a problem similar to the NCMA's Select Series.  There was no real hype behind it.  In fact, at times it was even difficult to find a point list or results for this class.  Really?  Come on guys.  Build this up.  This is the "Sprint Car for the working man" and it should be in the 30's and headlining.  Terry Schank Jr. has won three of these deals.  Taylor Simas is a champ as well.  Past Antioch and Watsonville Champion Tommy Laliberte won last year.

I love the concept of this thing.  Well, I should.  It was always my goal to have this series at some point.  It just needed the right tracks to work together.  It turns out that there is new leadership as John Prentice has taken the helm of all three of the major dirt series in Northern California.  This includes the Civil War and King Of The West.  Who knew that Prentice would be the kingpin of the Sprint Car movement in this area in 2015?

I have no idea who he will have handling things for the Hunt Series, but he is working on a new and better web page.  He evidently sees great things for Spec Sprints.  I mean, Calistoga is actually on the 2015 schedule as well as Watsonville, Stockton, Chico, Petaluma and Placerville.  This means that the cars from Petaluma, Watsonville and Chico will make up most of the roster.

I have a hunch that John will try to promote this thing better than it ever has been and grow it to new heights.  This is just what is needed.  The main thing to me is that there are people still out there trying to do great things with this class, 17 years later.  When all of the schedules are available, they will show Antioch (Econo Sprints), Petaluma, Marysville, Chico, Orland (a bit more open) and the Hunt Series will be options for the racers to get their weekly fix.

The thing people don't understand is that this is still a headline caliber class.  Its rules are such that the most experienced Sprint Car people and racers with other backgrounds can race together in a fair and competitive field.  The cars are fast and race so well together that fans aren't worried if they aren't watching injected Sprint Cars.  All they are seeing is great Sprint Car action.  That's what matters.

So, I look forward to seeing who wins the Hunt Series this season.  The racers will have their skills tested as these tracks are greatly different from each other.  I do believe that whomever comes out of it as the winner will be a true Champion.  It will be interesting to see who that will be.  Regardless, I look for great things from Prentice and the Hunt Magneto Spec Sprint Series in the future.

By the way, you can track The Hunt Series happenings as well as the other two Sprint Car Tours and Ocean Speedway through Prentice's New Web Site.

Hunt Series Points At A Glance

2010 Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprints

1 Terry Schank Jr.     512
2 Taylor Simas     500   
3  Billy Wallace     439  
4 Johnny Reeves     433   
5 Jerry Cisco     410
6 Cody Myers     407
7 Scott Hall     377
8  Arvo Backholm     375
9 Josh Vieira     372
10  Timmy Sherman Jr.     370
11  Janna Spear     312
12  Rowdy McClenon     302   
13 Brett Youngman     266
14 Jay Youngman     264
15  Justin Funkhouser     240
16  Jimmy Pettit     208   
17  Ryan Bernal     193
18 Joe Stornetta     191   
19 Zack Lynskey     178
20  Nick Davis     178   

Joe Hunt Wingless Sprint Series Shootout Points.

1)      359     7T - Taylor Simas
2)      356       1 - Terry Schank Jr.
3)      350  7/71 - Jimmy Sills
4)      334     56 - Scott Hall
5)      323    9M - Mason Myers
6)      295      9 - Cody Myers
7)      216     00 - Braedon Enos
8)      210     21 - Janna Spears
9)      198     13 - Rowdy McClenon
10)    168   25X - Johnny Reeves
11)    164    7EJ - Jeremy Hawes
12)    160    32S - Alex Schutte
13)    137     XX - Brett Youngman
14)    129     3V - Josh Viarra
15)    127    23K - Rick Sharp
16)    121    33J - DJ Johnson
17)    121     12 - David Sprigg
18)    103     17 - Nathan Johnson
19)     97      8S - Klint Simpson
20)     97      24 - Nick Larson

2012 Final Points Standings

1     #1 Terry Schank Jr     396
2     #2vs Cody Smith     340
3     #56v Scott Hall     328
4     #5B Angelique Bell     289
5     #13 Rowdy McClenon     283
6     #6 Joe Stornetta     246
7     #12 David Sprigg     208
8     #11t Travis Moore      200
9     #6sp Sparky Howard     200
10     #5V Geoff Ensign     196
11     #7 Jeremy Hawes     184
12     #XX Brett Youngman     156
13     #2 Trevor Schmid     143
14     #7JA Billy Aton     132
15     #6w Billy Wallace     129
16     #24N Nick Larson     126
17     #14jr Matt Streeter     109
18      #07n Zah Lynskey     93
19     #1jr Tim Sherman Jr     91
20      #4X Tony Richards     87

2013 Hunt Spec Sprints Final Points Standings

1     414     1 / 3X     Terry Schank Jr
2     401     13     Rowdy McClenon
3     398     56 / 7J / 77J     Scott Hall
4     342     17     Colton Sack
5     292     5B     Angelique Bell
6     288     6     Joe Stornetta
7     275     32E     Geoff Ensign
8     269     4B     Jerry Cisco
9     218     24     Shawn Jones
10     210     07N     Zack Lynskey
11     203     83     Austin Leggett
12     201     24B     Bradley Clark
13     199     5D     Sparky Howard
14     173     4X     Tony Richards
15     159     81     Brett Barney
16     159     3X     Scorry Dupont
17     140     74     Taylor Nelson
18     129     98 / 77     Bob Newberry
19     121     24N     Nick Larson
20     95     33M     jason MacIntosh

 Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Series 2014 Points

1         395   10C/56   Tommy Laliberte
2         373   1/3X       Terry Schank Jr.
3         336   O1         Shane Myhre
4         314   2           Trevor Schmid
5         284   32         Rowdy McClenon
6         265   6           Joe Stornetta Jr.
7         249   77J/56K Scott Hall
8         224   5B         Angelique Bell
9         212   12J        John Clark
10       205   6N         Gary Nelson Jr.
11       191   17          Colton Slack
12       171   33M       Jason McIntosh
13       154   24B        Bradley Clark
14       144   3X/3F    Geoff Ensign
15       142   9           Shayna Sylvia
16       133   11D       Klint Simpson
17       108   6SP       Sparky Howard
18       103   73C       Cody Fendley
19       90     56/3X    Chase Johnson
20       87     77N       Bob Newberry