Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Merced Speedway Takes Center Stage For Oval Motorsports This Week

First of all...

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

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

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

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

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

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Additional info on the Short Track History Project  HERE

The Weekend Preview Of The DCRR Racing Radio Show

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 34 by GenWhat
Reposting this about the late June big money races coming up at Antioch Speedway

The buzz probably hasn't been out there about the late June Summer Nationals races at Antioch Speedway, but here's what is on the schedule:

June 26 (Friday):

Antioch – Summer Nationals –  IMCA Modifieds,  Limited Late Models, IMCA Sport Mods (no    track points but there will be national, regional, and state points), Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars.

June 27 (Saturday):

Antioch – Summer Nationals – DIRTcar Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods.  

NASCAR racer Kenny Wallace will be driving a Modified and a Late Model that weekend and is willing to drive any other race car made available to him.  He'll compete in every class he can.  The track traditionally runs a big race on the weekend of the Sears Point NASCAR race, and this is no exception.

Questions were asked to this reporter about the purse, and this is the word we got from John Soares Jr. at Antioch Speedway.  The Friday night IMCA Modified race will pay $1500 to win and a minimum of $125 to start, which could end up being $150.  The Sport Mods will race for $500 to win.  Expectations are for good car counts in both classes, and we are already hearing rumors of cars coming down from Oregon for this event.

The Saturday night IMCA Modified feature will pay $2500 to win and will pay the same to start as mentioned aboveSport Mods get $750 to win.  The Late Models get a minimum of $1500 to win and $150 to start regardless of car count.  John would like to pay $2000 to win if he can get 20 cars, and I'm thinking that will include an increase in the start money, though I didn't get clarification on that part.  However, these two races should be big.

For more information, go to the official Oval Motorsports Website.

 Big $1000 To Win Hobby Stock Races At Hayfork Speedway

I had this note passed across my desk as we were going live with our previous audio show.  Hayfork Speedway, which features Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Enduro Cars this year, wants Hobby Stock drivers to come on up and race.  How badly do they want them?  They are offering $1000 to win on July 11th and August 8th.

Mike Rydman, who is a past Top 5 Hobby Stock racer at Antioch Speedway, recently spoke with Hayfork Speedway promoter Dwayne Brown.  They are hoping the extra money will attract racers from Orland, Chico, Placerville and maybe even further south.  Hayfork Speedway is in its fourth season, and they have already had a few big money Hobby Stock and Mini Stock races in their short history.

Hayfork Speedway has a Facebook Page for updates and in case you may have questions.  You can find it HERE

Alameda Fair Figure 8 And Some Figure 8 Speculation

The Figure 8 has returned to California.  This is a different sort of Figure 8 that will take place in a Destruction Derby arena.  Sunnyside Promotions made the announcement back in April, and they want cars for the July 3-5 event at the Alameda County fair.  In fact, they are offering money and other incentives for racers who will come compete in all three events.

This is more of an exhibition in that they aren't looking for heavy contact in the X.  They simply want to add this to an already action packed Destruction Derby show.  These days, some Derby promoters are finding that they have to add more excitement to these shows, so we've had RV Derbies, Compact Derbies and other things.

The Figure 8 in a Rodeo Arena is a big attraction for other Derby shows across the country.  In fact, Hoagland Park in Indiana regularly features Figure 8's as part of their Derby shows, and it's pretty entertaining.  They my not be as fast as the Figure 8 races we are used to at tracks like Watsonville, Antioch and Chowchilla. but they are still entertaining.  Also, this is a way to keep Figure 8 racing alive.

Earlier this year at Hoagland Park, the fans waited for a couple hours for it to stop raining and for track officials to get the track ready, and then the action began.  Full sized and compact cars had their own races.  You can find an example of the Hoagland Park Figure 8 and an idea of what the Alameda Fair Race will be like HERE.

This, of course, has sparked discussions about how a Figure 8 can be brought to Antioch Speedway again.  Not surprisingly, Figure 8 champion Jim Robbins would love to see this happen, and Robbins has been busy getting a car ready for the Alameda Fair.  But, can it happen again at Antioch, and how?

Oval Motorsports has revealed that insurance does go up significantly for one of these races, so any attempt to run a race would have to be big and well supported.  Think special race for the glory, not a series.  However, if it got that far, it could become an annual event.  This, of course, is all just speculation.

You need at least 12 cars to start this race, and 16 is probably a more comfortable number.  It could be a full program of heats and a dash, which would be different than what we've seen in the past.   One idea suggested honors the man who did more to promote Figure 8 racing than anybody in Northern California, Bert Moreland.

But, many questions remain.  Who would want to run their car in a Figure 8, even if there's a little more money up for grabs?  If promoted well in the media, would this bring the fans like it used to?  Well, you already know Jim Robbins would sign up.  A few other names have been speculated on, based on their past support.  Not surprisingly, you hear names like Keldsen, Brown and Rosa, though again, that's all speculation.

The other idea is to have the Derby Arena set up on the front stretch, wet the track and do it that way.  The challenge is getting cars even for that.  It's been a struggle even getting people to run Derbies when they have been scheduled at Antioch in recent years.  It might be a safer atmosphere for a Figure 8, but would anybody run and would it be a fan attraction?

Of course, Hoagland Park, Sunnyside Promotions and other groups already do it this way, and it seems to be working pretty well for them,.  Maybe it comes back to Antioch one day, and maybe not.  It would certainly take a lot of work to do it.  However, we do know The Alameda County Fair will have a Figure 8 from July 3-5.  For more information, you can check out the Sunnyside Promotions Page

Merced Speedway Takes Center Stage For Oval Motorsports This Week

Merced Speedway takes center stage as the only Oval Motorsports race track holding races on the final weekend of May.  Hopes are high for a good turnout for this race, which will also be the last Saturday night show at the track for a few weeks.  Saturday night racing will move from Merced to Chowchilla for a couple weeks, starting on June 6th.

This Saturday night, IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modifieds will be racing, along with the Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  One of the things track management will be looking at is how car count in the Limited Late Models will be.  Last time out, there were six cars, which was a season high for the division.  This included the season debut of both Donny Richardson and Jeff Kendrick.

The one thing you've been able to count on this year is that Mark Garner has been fast at Merced Speedway.  In five races, Garner has won five heat races and only failed to win one Main Event.  He settled for second that night behind Mike Hynes.  At this point, Garner leads Buddy Thatcher by 126 points.  Thatcher, who is a past Top 3 driver in this division, seems to be the most likely of the bunch to deny Garner a feature win.  He led early last time out, but problems took him out of contention.

The honor of being the closest driver to Garner last time was second place finisher Jeff Kendrick, who was also making his first start of the season.  The two new cars were a welcome sight in the pits, and more cars is the hope for this week.  The season was sort of billed as a "shoot out" between Merced and Antioch drivers, but the division is really in a rebuilding phase as drivers make the switch from Street Stocks to Limited Late Models.  Many cars are still out there, but there's probably lots of work to be done to get them ready.

When Scott Van Gelder finished third last time, that kept him within 14 points of Thatcher for second in the standings.  Like Thatcher, Van Gelder is also a past Top 3 driver in the standings, and he should not be counted out in the battle for victory.  Van Gelder has won in the Hobby Stock division in the past.  Two time champion Roy Hart Jr. is also anticipated for this race, though he's not really chasing points this season.  He would certainly like a win to defend the home town honor.

Fourth ranked Peggy Sue Jarred finally got her motor together in time to compete at the most recent Antioch race, where she grabbed a checkered flag.  No word on what her plans are, but she had her best finish yet at Merced, taking second in a five car feature earlier this year.  She actually beat John Evans for that finish, and Evans is fifth in the standings at the moment.  However John hasn't raced for a few weeks, and we're not sure he'll be a part of this show.

With no Late Model race at Antioch, Mike Hynes could always make an appearance.  He does have the only other feature win this season.  It would be nice to see 2014 point runner up Jim Freethy make his first Merced start of the year.  However, Jim recently debuted a new car at Antioch and finished second there last time.  He may be saving it for Antioch next week.  You never know who might show, but optimism is high that the six car count of last time can at least be matched.  Who knows, Garner may even meet his match this week.

We move over to Mini Stocks and the question of where did everybody go.  Car count has been hurting after the division went as high as 12 cars this year.  In the midst of all of that is the battle between hard charging rookie Darren Miguel and 2014 champion Chris Corder.  Miguel's sixth win last time out gave him a two point lead going into this race.  Corder is just a bit frustrated with the way things have been going with his #68c car and is contemplating a change of cars.  He knows he needs wins now, and he has yet to win at Merced this season.

The battle for third finds Kevin Lockerby still listed as three points ahead of Dennis Copus.  Lockerby has already made the switch over to pavement as is ready to compete in Madera's Toyota division.  Copus has had one bad break after another in his #88 car.  Just getting to the track has been a struggle for Copus, who is still looking for sponsorship.  If he's there, he will pass Lockerby for third.  The bigger question is, will Joy Alger be there?  She seemed poised to take over third after her fifth place season last year.  She is only 15 points out of third, and she will definitely make it a battle with Copus if she races.

Beyond that, it's a guessing game.  Natalie Waldrop was there last time and moved into sixth in points, but she doesn't race every week.  There is a good possibility that she could make a challenge for third or at least the Top 5 if she does keep coming back, but Natalie also likes to race on the asphalt.  We've heard that Kelly Campanile is looking to make an appearance at the June 11th Fair Race.  We're not sure if she will be there this week, but we do know that Kelly has a heat win and a second place feature finish this season.

It's a guessing game as to who might show, but it could be good or not so good.  Alisa Caldwell's car took a beating in her last Chowchilla start, but she has a new car in the works.  Mike Germat has made a few appearances, Dan McCabe has a win this season, and Steve Johnson, Brian Woddowson and Mat Schlesenger have also made a few appearances this season.  We'll see who shows, but we're hoping for at least a half-dozen cars this time.

We move over to the IMCA Sport Mods.  This has been a difficult division to get a handle on.  Just when you think a car count may not happen, they hit double digits.  That was the case last time as ten cars showed up.  None of the "name" drivers were among that group, but the point leader was making a name for himself last time.  That would be runaway point leader Josh Hensley.

Josh had a good battle early on with the steadily improving Tim Cecil before grabbing the lead and pulling away for a much needed first career victory in the former Shawn Bryant car.  Josh has a perfect attendance, but it bothered him that he hadn't won or had much luck this season.  He did something about it last time and got that monkey off his back with his impressive win over two time champion Shawn Bryant.

Hensley's championship or "Rookie Of The Year" status is not in doubt.  He leads State and National point leader Fred Ryland by over 100 points.  Ryland is expected to race some place this week after a week off, but whether it will be Merced or Marysville, where he won last time, remains to be seen.  He's looking for ten car minimum wins to help his National effort, so maintaining second in points at Merced isn't as important unless he knows the car count will be there.

If Ryland isn't there, Dwayne Short is poised to take over second in the points after returning from a two race break last time.  Short is only nine points behind Ryland and 18 ahead of Keith Brown Jr.  Brown is trying to support every Oval Motorsports promoted race that he can and came from last to finish third last time out.  Should Ryland not race at Merced, Brown stands a good chance of following Short around Ryland and into third in the standings.  On the other hand, if Ryland shows, he could be the driver to beat.

Mark Odgers could also make another appearance in the Top 5 in points in what may be the oldest car in the field.  However, Mark is not counting points.  He's just been supporting every Merced race that he can.  He also finished fourth last time to continue what has been a good string of finishes in recent races.  Odgers is 17 points behind two time winner Jeremy Hoff.  Will Hoff return to go for win #3?  That remains to be seen.

We suspect one time winner Gary Tucker, Josh Gish, Tim Cecil and Alan Pace may be among the field, and word was that rookie Tim Hammett was going to try to make another appearance.  Shawn Bryant should also be there, and he has been knocking on the door to victory lately.  As we often say, if Hoff, 2014 champion Rick Diaz, Bruce "Bubba" Nelson or past champion Neill Barcellos show up, things are gonna get even more competitive up front.  We're hoping to see car count hit double digits again, but we'll see what happens on Saturday.

Update:  Bruce Nelson has confirmed his car is ready to go thanks to help from Mike, Raul Rodriguez Jr., Brad Stowell and Robert Vierra.  Bruce will be in Merced trying to improve on his season best second place finish from earlier this year. The two time Hobby Stock Champion has won races this year.  He drove Kristie Shearer's car to back to back wins in the most recent two Hobby Stock features at Chowchilla.  He won the first Sport Mod feature of the year back on January 1st at Antioch before grabbing a third in the big money race there a night later.

There are some interesting story lines at play in the Northern All Stars Hobby Stock division at Merced Speedway.  For one thing, we've had nine different winners in 11 races.  Point leader Kevin Joaquin had been the only repeat winner until 2014 runner up Kristie Shearer grabbed her second win last time out.  Joaquin has five second place finishes, and the beating his car took last time had him feeling lucky that he could finish second to Shearer.  With a 100 plus point lead over rookie Jennifer Corder, Kevin's lead is currently not in doubt.

Corder has an equally impressive lead over third place, and that dropped a bit because she missed the last race making repairs to her blue #13 car.  The battle is for third, where one time winner Shannon Nelson used her third place finish last time to maintain a 13 point lead over Shearer.  Third had belonged to the always exciting George Silva, but his miserable luck as of late has put him 42 points behind Nelson and just two ahead of rookie Dexter Long in the battle to hold onto fifth.

The Hobby Stocks have been coming on strong as of late, and this division has been so competitive this season that you really don't know who will win on any given week  What's even nicer is the new drivers who have been showing up this season, including tenth ranked Bobby Williams, Adam Reed who already has a couple of fourth place finishes, and Mini Stock ace Chris Corder.

There are plenty of top notch competitors in this field, including past Chowchilla Sport Mod champion Gary Hildebrand, Austin Van Hoff, Kodie Dean and two past division champions, Andrew Krumm and Raul Rodriguez.  A count in the double digits shouldn't be a problem here, and we had 16 cars two races ago.  Will there be a tenth different winner or could Joaquin take it up a notch from his recent run of second place finishes?  We'll see on Saturday.

We save the closest point battle for last, the IMCA Modifieds.  Alex Wilson leads two point battles at last check.  He leads the IMCA State and Merced point races, but his Merced lead is still only two points over John MacDougall and nine over 2012 champion Bill Egleston.  McDougall is the only one of the three with a Merced win so far this year, and his presence in the championship battle may come as a surprise to some.  However, MacDougall has some good finishes this season.

The championship battle could be one that goes down to the wire, and Bob Williamson leads Ricky Thatcher by four points in another good battle for fourth.  If Alex Wilson isn't winning, the victories lately have been kept in the family.  Kyle Wilson is coming off of back to back Merced wins and may be the man to beat on Saturday.  Kyle could be poised to move up to sixth in the standings, but he'll need to get past a couple other 2015 Merced feature winners, Les Friend and Ryan Porter.

The IMCA Modifieds have managed to keep their car count in double digit territory this season and had 17 cars last time.  One of the drivers in the pack last time was Randy Brown, who was back after his Chowchilla rollover.  Randy finished second to K. Wilson that night, just ahead of Alex Wilson.  Alex was only able to add a point to his lead over MacDougall, who finished right behind him in fourth.  Karl Rose also had a solid showing last time out in fifth.

Car count is anticipated to be at least ten, though it's difficult to speculate on who might be in the field.  Troy Foulger and 2014 champion Paul Stone were there last time, but we'll have to see if they show this time.  Harley Turner, John Osgood III, Michael Shearer and Robert Dias are other possible competitors to watch for.  Whomever does show, it should still be a good race.

Update:  Bowers Racing has confirmed that Troy Foulger will be in Bakersfield trying to improve on the Top 10 finish they had there last time as they work on their dry slick setup in their new car.

Once again, Antioch Speedway and Chowchilla Speedway are dark this week, but both will run Saturday night programs on June 6th.  This Saturday night, Merced Speedway will feature IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  It should be a good show.  For more information, check the official Oval Motorsports Website.

Breaking News, the according tho official Oval Motorsports Website, IMCA Modifieds have now been added to the June 6th race at Antioch.

And Furthermore...

Two choices are on the schedule for Friday night racing action.  Kings Speedway in Hanford is running a King Of Kings 360 Sprint Car race on Friday night along with IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Mods.  Feature winners last time out were Ryan Bernal (360 Sprints), Bryan Burnes (IMCA Modifieds) and Ricky Childress Jr. (IMCA Sport Mods).  So far, the move to Fridays seems to be working out pretty well for this track.

Ocean Speedway in Watonville runs their traditional Friday night racing program with Winged 360 Sprint Cars headlining along with IMCA Sport Mods, American Stocks and Mini Stocks.  The last time at Watsonville, Justin Sanders won the Sprint Car Main Event, while other wins went to Bobby Hogge IV (IMCA Modifieds), Fred Ryland (Sport Mods), Robert Gallaher (American Stocks) and Luke Babcock (Mini Stocks).

A plethora of Saturday night races will offer several choices for the fans.  Placerville Speedway hosts the Civil War Series Sprint Cars and Hunt Series Wingless Spec SprintsMarysville Raceway has 410 Sprint Cars, Limited Late Models, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks and IMCA Sport Mods.  Feature winners at the last regular show at Marysville included Cody Lamar (360 Sprints), Fred Ryland (IMCA Sport Mods), Chris Warner (Super Stocks), Kyle Allen (Hobby Stocks) and Mark Hill (Mini Stocks).

Petaluma Speedway is offering a big race for Wingless 360 Sprint Cars, which includes injected cars for this race.  Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks, IMCA Modifieds, Mini Stocks and 600 Mini Sprints are also on the card.  The last regular program found Colby Copeland winning the 360 Sprints as Terry Schank Jr. (Wingless Spec Sprints), Brent Blackwood (Super Stocks) and Ryan Winter (Dwarf Cars) also won Main Events.

Bakersfield Speedway has IMCA Modifieds as the headliners this weekend along with Hobby Stocks, American Stocks and a visit by the Okie Bowl Hardtops.  Kevin Johnson beat a talented field of racers to win last week's IMCA Sport Mod Main Event, while Loren DeArmond (IMCA Stock Cars), Tina Bell (Mini Stocks), Zach Forester (Mod Lites), Troy Morris III (Sr. Mini Dwarf Cars) and Mason Ratcliff (Jr. Mini Dwarf Cars) were the other winners.

Santa Maria Speedway, Siskiyou Motor Speedway in Yreka, Hayfork Speedway and Rocky Hill Speedway are dark this week, and Sacramento Valley Raceway in Orland is back this Saturday night with Wingless Sprint Cars, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stock and Mini Trucks on the card.  We're still waiting for information on who who has been winning in Orland, but the track does have point standings up on their web page after two races.

Ventura Raceway has an action packed program this Saturday night with VRA Sprint Cars, Senior Sprints, Dwarf Cars, IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Focus Midgets and Go Karts all on the card.  Winners on Jim Naylor's fast and very competitive one-fifth mile clay oval last time out were Guy Woodward (VRA Sprint Cars), Cliff Warren (Senior Sprints), Matt Sargent (Dwarf Cars), Andrew Phipps (IMCA Modifieds), David Heurung (Hobby Stocks) and Gary Howard (Focus Midgets).

On pavement, Ukiah Speedway has a five division program of Bombers, Mini Stocks, Jammers, Outlaws and BandolerosMadera Speedway has Loan Mart Late Models headlining along with Twisted Team Modifieds and Hobby Stocks, and more money is on the line as this event is billed as Military Tribute Night.  All active and retired Military personal will be admitted free.  Other divisions on the action packed card are Legends Of The Pacific, MST's, Toyota Sedans and Mini Cups.