Monday, March 2, 2015

Antioch Celebrates, While Marysville And Chowchilla Hold Races

 First of all, the latest edition of The DCRR Racing Radio Show is below this post.


Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

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

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Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

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The weather allowed Marysville and Chowchilla to open their gates this weekend, while Antioch Speedway held its awards banquet.  This banquet was billed as the 17th annual gathering under the Oval Motorsports banner.  I haven't heard all of the details, but I'm sure the official PR team for the track will be on the scene shortly.  Speaking of which, Mike Adaskaveg did a nice little report on the Merced Banquet from last week, which you can find on the Oval Motorsports Page.

I'm guessing the Top 10 drivers were honored in each of Antioch's regular divisions, and a few pictures have circulated through the various racing teams on Facebook.  Late Model and Dirt Mod racer Chester Kniss picked up a couple trophies and was named Late Model "Rookie Of The Year" as well.  Speaking of top rookies, Carl Berendsen II was Dirt Mod "Rookie Of The Year" and IMCA Modified champion.  His family was there to see him honored.  From what I've seen, they had some nice trophies and championship jackets.

One driver not on hand for the gathering was Sport Mod racer "Fast" Freddie Ryland.  He had good reason.  Ryland was among the 17 Sport Mod drivers on hand at Marysville as that track's new management has added the class.  At one time, the track did feature Modifieds with racers like Randy McDaniel, Richard Brace Jr. and "Wild" Bill Cordery among the competitors.  Ryland initiated the new division by claiming the 20 lap feature.  He was joined by fellow Antioch competitor Lloyd Cline, who was a lead lap sixth in the feature.

Jimmy Ford came up through the ranks at Antioch Speedway in the 1980's as a Street Stock driver before moving up to Late Models.  He has raced at other tracks in the years that followed, including Yreka, and was the 2014 Mini Stock champion at Marysville.  He has also raced a Sport Mod at Antioch in recent seasons and could be a title contender at Marysville this year.  Unfortunately, he had a DNF in the opener after winning his heat race.  Fellow Mini Stock competitors Howard Law and Kyle Cheney were second and third, respectively, and could also figure into the track's title chase this season.  A shout out goes to Alan Furuta, who finished fourth, and Merced racer Danny Roe, who made the long trek, only to DNF in 11th.

Marysville will continue to feature Wingless Spec Sprints this season had had 11 cars.  Petaluma racer Geoff Ensign led the pack for the 20 lap feature victory ahead of Scott Hall and Johnny Burns.  Hall and Burns each won eight lap heat races.  Mini Stock ace Misty Castleberry was on hand with her Spec Sprinter but had a DNF in the feature.

This being the Sherm Toller Memorial, the 360 Sprints were the headliners, and they had an impressive 25 cars.  The story during the off season was California native Rico Abreu's impressive win at the Chili Bowl and the resulting NASCAR East Series ride he scored.  Rico was on hand to try to win the big Marysville race, but those plans were thwarted by Justin Sanders, who laid claim to the 25 lap feature victory.  Abreu was hot on his heels in second as Dominic Scelizi, Sprint Car veteran Andy Forsburg and Willie Croft made up the Top 5 at the finish.  Justyn Cox held off Cody Hodgson and Jim Richardson to win the 12 lap B Main before finishing 10th in the Main Event.

I'm sure there will be a full report on Chowchilla, so I'm just touching on it in places in addition to covering it in the latest audio show (linked below).  This is the 15th anniversary of the year Tom  Sagmiller brought racing to Chowchilla.  It's hard to believe 2000 is already that long ago.  They said it couldn't be done, and Tom proved them wrong.

Fast forward to Sunday, and you have the latest attempt to keep racing alive in Chowchilla.  Oval Motorsports already has one race in the books there from January 4th, and this event featured most of the regular classes that compete at neighboring Merced Speedway.  Oval Motorsports is uniting Chowchilla with Antioch and Merced under a universal set of rules, which I believe is a good thing.  Universal rules make it easier for racers to tow to other tracks knowing that they are legal to compete there.

The Sport Mods were the car count of the night, but this is a trend I believe we are facing in racing.  This was why I was reluctant to endorse the class.  I was concerned about it splitting a good car count that still had B Mains at some places.  It was deemed as the cheaper alternative, but there are places at which you can see people doing a little more with their cars.  However, for now, the Sport Mods are growing and the Modifieds will feel the effect.  Will Sport Mods take over, and which track will be the first to make that call?

Technically, three promoters ago, Chowchilla made that call when Modifieds were dropped in favor of Sport Mods.  It signaled the beginning of the Sport Mod era.  The 17 competitors Sunday afternoon had a familiar name up front, the same man who won there last time.  Heat winner Fred Ryland won the feature ahead of Merced champion Rick Diaz.  Diaz was also third ranked in points at Chowchilla last season and figures to be the man to beat at Merced as Ramie Stone moves up to Modifieds.

While Diaz finished second, Antioch competitor Keith Brown Jr. had third until a late spin. He managed to climb back to sixth, while heat winner Chris Falkenberg finished third.  Falkenberg has made the move up from Hobby Stocks, where he is a past Chowchilla champion.  John Fore Jr. and Mark Squadrito completed the Top 5 at the finish. A shout out goes to Antioch rookie Tim Hammett, who took a checkered back in 15th in his first start.

Having won titles at Chowchilla and Ventura last season, Josh Vogt returned and made his claim on the IMCA Modified Main Event.  He won his heat race earlier.  Bakersfield area racer Billy Wilker finished second as local area racers Jeff Streeter, Ray Mayer and Michael Shearer rounded out the Top 5.

While I'm still waiting on results from the Limited Late Models, I had heard through social media that Mark Garner and John Bellando Jr. were coming.  Meanwhile, Darren Miguel won the Mini Stock feature ahead of heat winner Brian Widdowson and Joy Alger.  Hobby Stock honors went to Kevin Joaquin ahead of local ace Austin Van Hoff.

Next up for the Oval Motorsports family of tracks are Saturday night races at Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway on March 7th, and the official Oval Motorsports Website should have more information on that as well as more details on the Chowchilla opener and the Antioch banquet.

The DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 15

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 15 by GenWhat