Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Plumlee Wins At Porterville, Hardtops Coming To Antioch And Placerville

First of all...

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

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

On Sale At Reduced Price

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

DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

Petaluma Speedway Mini Stock Main Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Petaluma Speedway IMCA Modified Main Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Petaluma Speedway IMCA Street Stock Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Petaluma Speedway IMCA Winged 360 Sprint Car Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Alameda County Fair Demolition Derby 4th of July. Check out the Mini Stock Figure 8 race at the end HERE

Figure 8 racing at Alameda County Fair.  Mini Stock Figure 8 racing in a Rodeo Arena. Check it out HERE

The DCRR Racing Radio Show

Weekend Preview Edition

Plumlee Remains Hot, Okie Bowl Hardtops 
Invade Rocky Hill Speedway

A five division show entertained the fans Saturday night at Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville.  In addition to the regular Mini Stock and Hobby Stock divisions, the track welcomed the Okie Bowl Hardtops and Central Valley Tanks, which run IMCA Stock Car rules.  When the checkered flag flew, it was the red hot Jared Plumlee winning the Mini Stock feature.  Carl Noland continues to be the man to beat as he won another Hobby Stock feature.  Roy Atchison won the Super 4 Mini Stock Main Event  The always exciting Okie Bowl Hardtops visited with James Bradburn winning their Main Event.  The Central Valley Tanks ran two Main Events with Troy Patee and Allen Mendes scoring the victories.

The Mini Stocks have pretty much been the go to division at Rocky Hill Speedway this season, and they continue to have a very competitive field.  However, Jared Plumlee is the point leader.  Plumlee isn't making it easy on the competition as he won for the seventh time in nine races.  Clinton Massey scored a season best second place finish.  Fresh off of a long tow to the Alameda County Fair to compete in a Rodeo Arena Figure 8, the consistent Andy Boydstun grabbed his fourth third place finish of the season.  Clifton Massey finished fourth ahead of Jason Cook, Justin Moore, Jake Daniels and Kathleen Craddock.

Six different drivers have grabbed the Main Event honors in the nine races held for Super 4 Mini Stocks so far this season.  Only three drivers have won twice, and it was Roy Atchison becoming the third two time winner of the season Saturday night.  William Hughes was going for his second win, but he settled for a runner up finish with two time winner Darren Estermann settling for third.  Division veteran Dudley Reed returned to action and finished fourth ahead of Kit Murphy, Larry Ramirez, defending champion and two time winner Adell Shelton and Russell Silva.

The Noland family remains a fixture in Porterville's Hobby Stock division, and the family has long supported this track through the years.  On Saturday night, point leader Karl Noland won for the fourth time this season.  Alvin Ince once raced regularly at this track, and he made an impressive return along with teammate Travis Avilla.  It was Ince finishing second ahead of Avilla.  American Stock racer Cale Hosfeldt was fourth ahead of Bob Ellis and Jason Ridenour.  Two time winner Raymond Noland Jr. suffered motor problems very early on and retired.

Two of the Top 3 IMCA Stock Car State competitors were in Porterville for the Central Valley Tanks Main Events, and the division now has four winners in four races.  The first feature saw the #2 State competitor, Troy Patee, winning ahead of the #3 driver, Ron Hurt.  Mini Stock graduate Allen Mendes finished third ahead of IMCA Stock Car booster Pat Biggs and Cory McDonald.  Unfortunately for McDonald, he had mechanical issues and retired from the next race.  In that feature, it was Mendes stepping it up for the victory.  Patee settled for second ahead of Hurt and Biggs.

The Okie Bowl Hardtops are a throwback to the old days of racing, and generally 10-14 cars are in action when they race.  They run mainly at Bakersfield, Santa Maria and Rocky Hill, and this was their first visit of the year to Porterville.  Ten cars competed, but half the field made it to the finish line.  At the checkered flag, it was recent Bakersfield winner James Brandburn grabbing the victory.  Chester Chapman enjoyed his best finish of the year in second as Josh Yodun matched his best effort of the year in third.  Josh Dugan and Hunter Christ rounded out the Top 5 as the rest of the pack watched the finish from the sidelines.  Rich Sousa was scored sixth ahead of IMCA Stock Car racer Dave Bauer, Justin Yodin, Steve Sorensen and Ethan Snow.

The Okie Bowl Hardtops will return to Rocky Hill Speedway on September 19 and October 24.  On July 25, the track is having the Fallen Drivers Memorial Race, featuring Mini Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Super 4 Mini Stocks and American Stocks.  For more information, check out the official Rocky Hill Speedway Website.

Change Is Coming To Hardtops, 
Can Sportsman Class Be Saved?

The Nor Cal Vintage Hardtops pulled into Calistoga a few weeks ago, and the 14 competitors were met with a rude awakening.  They were not going to be allowed on the historic half-mile dirt oval.  Needless to say, there weren't very many happy people in the Hardtop camp, and fingers were being pointed in all different directions.

The bottom line is the vintage racing movement is still alive in California.  The Okie Bowl Hardtops just fielded ten cars in their first appearance in Porterville, won by James Bradburn. The Vintage Super Modifieds are fielding huge car counts when they come to Madera and then we have two other efforts in free fall.  The Valley Sportsman class at Merced seems the most in need, while the Nor Cal Hardtops just need somebody to give them direction.

The Hardtops may have found the answer in respected promoter Mike McCann.  Mike is a long time booster of this division and featured the class when he promoted Sunset Speedway in Banks, Oregon and Orland Speedbowl.  He owns more than one car and wants to see the Nor Cal effort restored to what it could be.  The reality is that there are over 20 cars now, but one thing or another has led to drivers parking.

The division was brought back to the Bay Area by long time Stock Car competitor Conrad Cavallero.  He established the Nor Cal movement after McCann and Chuck Prather brought the first cars back to California nearly 15 years ago with Sacramento and Orland visits.  Sometimes controversial to some, Cavallero nonetheless opened many doors for this class.  He and twin brother Carmen Cavallero were among the first drivers, along with Tommy Thomson, Dan Williams, Mike McClure and John Philbert.

Antioch Speedway became a home track for the class.  They got dates wherever they could, and Cavallero made many appearances to help build this class up by having a car on display and representing the division.  Dates on the asphalt were also held at tracks in Lakeport, Ukiah, Stockton and Roseville.  The Hardtops have been a part of the popular Vintage Classic at Roseville's All American Speedway.

As Cavallero was replaced by Philbert, things seemed to be taking off even bigger.  More cars were showing up, but mistakes were made along the way.  The gap between the haves and have nots grew and some were complaining about being run over.  Then, there was the snubbing of Antioch Speedway on two occasions as dates already scheduled were booked over.  The Calistoga situation only heightened the awareness that change was needed. 

McCann has been observing what has been happening with an interest in stabilizing this class before it gets too far out of hand.  Reliable race dates are needed, and the drivers must be rallied for support.  Several racers have already been spoken with about what the future may hold for this division.  Good race dates are needed now, and driver support is needed to make it fly.

Two key tracks in the effort to put things back on track are Antioch Speedway and Placerville Speedway.  The Hardtops return to the fast quarter-mile clay oval in Placerville this Saturday night.  Placerville happens to be the home track of two Hardtop racers, Dennis Armstrong and Jason Armstrong.  Last August, the division got their second race there, won by J. Armstrong.  In April of 2014, J. Armstrong won that battle against the always fast Tommy Thomson. George Conner was third..  The Armstrong's and Thomson are anticipated this Saturday night along with several others, including Philbert and McCann.

The call has been made to get the cars to Antioch for August 22.  This date is being seen as an audition of sorts for the future of this division at that track.  Antioch was pretty much the home dirt track for Hardtops when Cavallero started the Nor Cal group, but the last two races have seen less than six cars compete each time.  More cars are needed, and the call has been made to the drivers to come out and race.  A successful night will reportedly see about a race a month offered to the division on the three-eighth mile clay oval in 2016.

Tommy Thomson is always up for a little Hardtop fun in his green #39 car.  This is the same car in which he won the last Hardtop race at Vallejo Speedway.  Dave Mackey is a big booster of this class and is expected to field a car that will be driven by Antioch's all time Spec Sprint feature winner, Jim Perry Jr.  The always fast Dan Williams, who has Dwarf Car and Mini Stock experience, is anticipated.  The cars of Williams, Mackey and Thomson have won races at Antioch in the past.  Both Armstrong's should be there.  Drivers like Philbert, McClure, John Turner and Russ Craft should be there as well.

While the troops are being rallied in the Hardtop ranks, the same is true for the Valley Sportsman division at Merced Speedway.  This is the 17th year for the old school, open wheel Stock Car/Super Modified hybrid class at Merced, and it's fallen on hard times.  Part of that comes with motor rule changes that have allowed bigger motors in the cars.  Drivers have parked in frustration, and only six different cars have competed so far this season.  Only twice has there been five cars, and it's believed that 8-10 cars at least should be the norm.

Marcus Lung and Kenny Birdsong have been this year's two biggest supporters, while Jeff Bristow, Mike Palmberg, Eric Sealy and Mark Odgers have also raced this year.  Track management is calling for at least 5-6 cars to compete in order to keep this division alive.  When it was dropped back in 1979, that number was ten.  Given the cars available out there, six cars shouldn't even be an issue.  Unlike the Hardtops, this division doesn't have anybody coordinating things and rallying the drivers.  Perhaps it's time somebody stepped up and took on that role?

Legends Of Merced Speedway happens on August 23rd, a night after the big Hardtop race at Antioch.  Since bringing this class back, Mike Friesen, Kevin Freitas, Keith Van Houten. Dennis Barcellos, Neill Barcellos, Mark Odgers, Rich Altamirano, Mike Hausmann, Shane Hausmann and Mike Hanault are drivers who have written their names in the record books as Sportsman champions.  Marcus Lung is poised to win it all this year if the division can field enough cars to get racing going again. 

The good news is that both divisions are being given a shot at keeping things going.  The better news is that the Hardtops have a person working on establishing something that can continue for years to come.  It's up to the drivers to determine what happens next.  Will they show up at Merced?  How will the Hardtops do in their next races at Placerville and the big Antioch show?  All we can do is hope for the best.  Stay tuned...