Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Antioch Winged 360 Sprint Preview, Plus Some Dwarf Car History

First of all...

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

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

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

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

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

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Additional info on the Short Track History Project  HERE

By the way, if you haven't seen the videos from Petaluma Speedway, there are some videos up on YouTube that are quite good.  You can hear Ron Lingron announcing.  Have to say I enjoy his style.  Not gonna spoil the winners here in case you didn't know.  Click on the name of the division and check it out.

IMCA Modifieds

Dwarf Cars

Pit Stop USA Winged 360 Sprint Cars

Wingless Spec Sprints

Winged 360 Sprint Cars Return To Antioch Speedway

When Ricky Brophy sat behind the wheel of his #3 Sprint Car last week at Antioch Speedway, he was hoping to have more of the bugs worked out of his car.  A few weeks earlier, he was at Petaluma struggling to make laps.  Before that, he and friend and fellow competitor Shawn Arriaga were sorting through a myriad of problems.  To say the least, its been a struggle.

Ricky is the son of respected chiropractor and long time racer Rick "Doc" Brophy.  Not surprisingly, the older Brophy has a car of his own that he'll debut at some point this season.  Rick has raced dragsters and was a Sportsman competitor at Antioch Speedway in 1979-80.  When Wingless Spec Sprints started at Antioch in 1999, he built a car and shared the driving duties with his son.  Rick won two Main Events that season.

For all intents and purposes, this is the younger Brophy's rookie season in the faster Winged Sprint Cars, and he wants it to go just right.  It's been a struggle making sure everything is situated, but he hopes that when the division runs their second of eight scheduled races this Saturday night, everything will be ready.  He is eager show what he can do against the competition.

Meanwhile, Dan Gonderman was in the pits working with young Marcus Smith, the son of his longtime friend Mark Smith.  Marcus has a Spec Sprint with a Gonderman motor in it.  Gonderman is a two time champion in that division, but he wanted to bring his Winged 360 Sprinter for some hot laps last week.  Regardless, the orange #8 car will be on hand Saturday night as he resumes his quest to win a Main Event.

What's interesting is that in addition to Gonderman and the Brophy's, the division has three other Spec Sprint graduates in Chris Magoon, Zack Lynsky and Roy Fisher.  Fisher was Top 5 in 360 Sprint points last year and hopes to make his season debut soon, possibly this week.  Antioch has had the wingless class since 1999, but promoter John Soares Jr. also wants something a little faster.

Over the past decade, Soares has been working to establish his own Winged 360 Sprint Car division.  There have been locally based racers urging him to do this through the years, and the expansion of the track back in 2009 was made with Sprint Cars and more Late Model races in mind.  From that time, there have been 15 races, and the last ten have not had a repeat winner.

This year, Soares booked a more ambitious eight race schedule and saw nine cars make the opener. There are more cars on the way, such as Brophy and Fisher, but it's a nice start.  At the head of the pack so far are two champions.  It was 2007 champion Art McCarthy winning the season opener in March ahead of defending champion Chris Magoon.

McCarthy is no stranger to winning races.  He was a front runner at Petaluma Speedway back in the late 1980's and early 1990's and raced at Baylands before that.  He won the 1996 and 2002 Petaluma championships.  He figures to be a contender again this year.  Magoon, meanwhile, is a past Marysville Wingless Spec Sprint champion before leading the pack in 360 Sprint Cars at Antioch last season.

Anthony Espinoza, Shawn Arriaga and Brandon Powell were also in the mix last time out.  Arriaga is a third generation racer and one of the drivers who has won a feature at Antioch in the last ten races.  Shawn has also had much success at Petaluma, including a 2007 championship.  His father Fred raced Super Modifieds at San Jose, and his mother Sheri raced Supers and Sprint Cars, winning a Main Event at Antioch in the 1990's.  Grandfather Gil Richardson was a Hardtop star at Vallejo Speedway in the 1960's and 1970's.

For Saturday night, Soares is hoping to see a slight bump in car count as a few more cars debut.  In the long haul, he's hoping to establish Antioch Speedway as a track with it's own, very competitive Winged 360 Sprint Car program.  This weekend's race marks the next step in the process. For more information, check www.ovalmotorsports.com

Antioch Winged 360 Northern All Stars
Position   Driver            Car# Points     Behind
1        Art McCarthy        19     54     Leader
1        Chris Magoon        77     54     -0
3        Anthony Espinoza        51     48     -6
4        Shawn Arriaga        56     46     -8
5        Brandon Powell        15     44     -10
6        Darrell Taylor        34     40     -14
-        Zack Lynskey        24B     40     -14
8        Dan Gonderman        8     38     -16
-        Jake Haulot        7     38     -16

Last 15 Feature Winners
April 7, 2014: Art McCarthy
August 2, 2014: Zack Lynskey
June 21 2014:  Bradley Terrell
June 10, 2014:  Chris Magoon
April 5, 2014:  Kurt Nelson
May 4, 2013: Shawn Arriaga
April 13, 2014: Chris Martin
September 17, 2011:  Billy Aton
July 30, 2011:  Craig Smith
September 15, 2010: Jeremy Burt
August 25, 2010: Craig Smith
April 24, 2010: Craig Smith
March  27, 2010: Craig Smith
March 20, 2010: Ryan Risconi
September 26, 2009:  Jeremy Burt
August 29, 2009:  Jeremy Burt

Northern All Stars
Winged 360 Sprint Car Schedule
April 25
May 16
June 6
June 20
July 11
August 8
August 29

Antioch 360 Sprint Car Champions

1998-Gary Geving
2007-Art McCarthy
2010-Craig Smith
2013-Chris Magoon
2014-Chris Magoon

*No Points, Randy Lathrop won twice,
David Lindt Jr,, Adam McCarthy won once

Nearly 25 Years Later, Dwarf Cars Are Still Going Strong

It was back in 1991 when Dale Pyatt added a new division to his one eight-mile dirt oval in Stockton, known as Delta Speedway.  He already had a nice Mini Sprint division and a competitive and exciting Mini Stock class.  For good measure, he added what he called Outlaw Hardtops.  They called them Dwarf Cars in Arizona, where he got the idea to add the division.

The class caught on rather quickly as he crowned Scotty Hoff the first champion.  The division caught the eye of a past NASCAR Regional champion, Doug Williams, who was racing Mini Sprints at Delta at the time.  Doug Philpott of the famous Philpott family also took note, and both ended up with cars.

In fact, it was Philpott who joined a bunch of Arizona drivers along with John Soares Jr., Jim Soares and Ray Ehterton to race Dwarf Cars at Petaluma as part of the Maseli & Son's Late Model program at the end of 1992.  The race was a thriller, and promoter John Soares Sr. immediately added Dwarf Cars to the 1993 schedule, making it the first big track in California to run Dwarf Cars.  Jim Soares was the first champion.

At Delta, Philpott was the next champion, and Williams won the next two.  However, the "club mentality" had sort of taken over.  Delta's Mini Sprint guys formed a group called the Northern Stars and ran a highly successful tour for several years before giving way to BCRA's Midget Lites.  The Kyle family (Quinn, Dub and Jeff) along with Dale "Hogey" Hogan, formed the Nor Cal Dwarf Car Association in 1993.  One of the first big tracks to run them was Merced Speedway, which actually kept a point race for them.

Another longtime racer and front runner at tracks like Altamont, "The Flyng Roofer" Frank Monroe, built a car and joined Nor Cal, competing at Delta as well.  Frank dreamed big.  He had a knack for building cars and set up the successful M & M Chassis business.  He was also elected president of Nor Cal and would guide that club to heights even the bigger traveling groups had never seen.  Along the way, he was a champion in the club, and others have won championships and many races in his cars.

Meanwhile, Jim Soares, Ray Etherton, Jim Barton and the guys elected to strike out on their own after two seasons at Petaluma.  They formed the Pacific Coast Dwarf Car Association with drivers like Billy Wright, Rick Rogers and Jim Saitone among the leaders.  The group actually caught the eye of a Sprint Car lead foot named Mark Chaves and another fast competitor, Howard Fergerson.  Suddenly, the Northern California area had two Dwarf Car clubs.

The PCDCA preferred to stay in the Bay Area at tracks like Watsonville, San Jose, Antioch and Petaluma.  Monroe and NCDCA attempted to get in the door at Antioch, and the result was some of the best Dwarf Car races ever seen at the track in the mid 1990's.  Among the Nor Cal crowd was a future Sprint Car champion and Chili Bowl winner, Damion Gardner.   Whereas the PCDCA group was content to have their little circuit, the NCDCA drivers wanted to race against the best of the best that Dwarf Car racing had to offer.

The WSDCA was formed, and Monroe became president.  This group was created to unite all of the various groups on the West Coast to promote big blowout Dwarf Car races.  The result was some fields in excess of 100 cars for certain events, and a fun atmosphere in the pits, almost like a big family reunion-barbecue.  WSDCA was about promoting big events and showing off the talented drivers of this division.

As the 1990's neared an end, Eltheron, Barton and Soares stepped away from PCDCA and joined the All Pro Series for dates at Antioch and Petaluma.  Antioch has featured Dwarf Cars every year since, and Petaluma added the class permanently during Jim Soares' run as promoter.  Dwarf Car racing has become common in California with sometimes a half dozen or more tracks running the class on any given weekend.

When Pacific Coast was disbanded, the Bay Area Dwarf Cars became the new group with Watsonville as a home track.  It still exists as the South Bay Dwarf Cars today.  The Nor Cal group is the longest running group in California at over 20 years old, and they call tracks in Marysville, Chico and Placerville their home tracks.  There's no sign of that ending any time soon either.

As Dwarf Car racing has been going on in California for so many years now, you can actually have an entertaining discussion over who is the greatest Dwarf Car driver ever.  Even the Southern California group can make a case with drivers such as the talented Angel Figeroa.  You're not gonna have the debate for too long before Frank Monroe's name comes up, or even Howie Ross.  PCDCA's Billy Wright and Rick Rogers are in the argument, Jim Saitone as well.

Then, there's Mark Chaves, Howard Fergerson, Ricardo Rivera and Mark Squatritto.  Charlie Correia has been racing the class for over 20 years and fields other cars for his friends to drive.  Shawn Jones, Terre Rothweiler and Matt Sargent are others from the Watsonville Area who made a mark.  John Peters, John Barker and Dave Mosier are three stars of Petaluma.  Danny Wagner is in the midst of an attempted threepeat at Antioch.  What's great is that there are so many talented drivers who have raced Dwarf Cars through the years that I'm sure the omission of names in this article will get Dwarf Car fans talking.

The Dwarf Car craze is over 20 years old now, and recently people hit on a new idea to bring in younger drivers.  The Jr. Dwarf Car classes were started for kids in two different age brackets.  These races are run at several Southern California tracks, including Santa Maria, Ventura, Bakersfield and Porterville.  It's a great way to bring new racers into the sport.

What's interesting is that other variations of this class have been brought in to take them out.  There have been Legend Cars, Slingshots and more recently Mod Lites.  Dwarf Cars are still standing, and that doesn't figure to change any time soon.  There's a reason for that.  Many good people are committed to this class, the racing is still good and the fans still enjoy them.  In the end, that's what really matters.