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Don's California Racing Recollections: Best Of The Blog And Beyond
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Just A Kid From The Grandstands: My Time In Auto Racing
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Short Track History Project at Go Fund Me
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Video footage from the Larsen Racing Products Dwarf Cars last week at Petaluma Speedway is available HERE
Video footage from the Jake's Performance Mini Stocks last week at Petaluma Speedway is available HERE
Video footage from the last Winged 360 Sprint Car feature at Antioch Speedway from late August is available HERE
DCRR Racing Radio Show
Weekend Review Edition
DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 59 by GenWhat
Pittman Wraps Up WoO West Coast Swing With Antioch Win
Weekend Review Edition
DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 59 by GenWhat
Pittman Wraps Up WoO West Coast Swing With Antioch Win
The World of Outlaws Sprint Cars returned to Antioch Speedway for their final appearance of the season and last West Coast event of the year, and a familiar name was in the winner’s circle. Daryn Pittman wheeled the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb #9 Sprinter to his second win of the year at Antioch and fifth on the circuit. He won the race back in March, and he led the final 21 laps of this race after an eventful first nine laps. More excitement was provided behind Pittman as Joey Saldana outdueled Tyler Walker for a second place finish.
The excitement began early on as 26 Outlaws took their turns on the clock in time trials. Early on, Brad Sweet broke Sammy Swindell’s 2010 qualifying record with a lap of 11.559. Not to be outdone and on the heels of his big wins on Louie Vermeil Memorial Weekend at Calistoga, Rico Abreu shattered that record with a lap of 11.489 in the Abreu Vineyards #24 Sprinter. Heat races were next, and the ten lappers transferred the Top 6 finishers into the Main Event. Pittman gave a preview of what was to come with his win in the first heat race ahead of point leader Donny Schatz and Shane Stewart.
The third heat was an opportunity for D.J. Netto to shine as he led all the way to win ahead of Watsonville star Shane Golobic and Paul McMahan. The second heat proved to be the most exciting as Logan Schuchart jumped out into the lead at the start with Walker in close pursuit. To the delight of the crowd, Walker stuck it up on the outside, had the momentum exiting Turn 2 and made the pass on the back stretch on lap nine. Walker won ahead of Schuchart and Saldana.
Saldana had an opportunity to grab the pole for the Main Event if he could win the dash, but he had 29 time winner Schatz on the pole next to him. Saldana charged into the lead with Schatz in close pursuit. However Saldana grabbed the victory ahead of Schatz and Pittman.
The final order of business before the big show was the 12 lap Last Chance Qualifier. Eight cars lined up to compete for the six transfer positions. Jason Sides had the pole and figured to be the sure winner as he grabbed the lead from the start. Long time NARC and Golden State Challenge Series Sprint Car star Jason Statler and Jacob Allen took up early pursuit of the Top 10 ranked Outlaw. A lap eight caution flag flew when Mikey Kuemper, subbing for the injured Kraig Kinser, spun. Sides looked like he was on his way to victory until a lap 11 caution flag for debris. The restart lap saw Sides spin from the lead in Turn 4. He managed to make two passes in the last two laps to transfer, but Statler brought it home with a B Main victory ahead of Allen and Jarrett Soares.
After the Outlaw’s trademark four abreast salute to the fans, Saldana and Schatz led the 24 car field to the green flag. Saldana grabbed the early lead with Schatz in close pursuit. Schatz got the momentum coming out of Turn 2 of the fifth lap and slipped underneath Saldana for the lead. At that point, Pittman had settled into third. Battling for a Top 5 spot, Abreu flipped his car in Turn 2 for a lap nine red flag. He was not injured, but his race was over. As they pushed the cars back off to get ready for the restart, Schatz discovered he had a right rear tire going flat and pitted. This put Saldana into the lead over Pittman and Walker. However, Pittman made an inside pass down the back stretch and had the lead before the lap was done. Pittman maintained his lead as Walker ran closely behind Saldana. Sweet and David Gravel made up the rest of the Top 5 by the time a lap 21 caution flag waved for debris. As Pittman set the pace on the restart, Walker made a high pass in Turn 2 for second on lap 22. A yellow flag flew for Netto in Turn 2 on lap 24. Pittman remained in command, and Saldana was doing everything he could to get back around Walker for second. Gravel spun from his Top 5 spot for a lap 27 caution flag. A lap later, Jason Johnson hit a rut and nearly flipped in Turn 4 for the final caution flag. Pittman maintained the lead on the restart and brought it home to a $10,000 victory. Saldana made an inside pass on the back stretch on lap 29 to take second from Walker. Walker tried to come back strong on the inside a lap later, but Saldana had momentum in the final turn to take the $5,500 second place finish. Walker settled for a $3,200 third. Sweet was fourth as Paul McMahan, Stewart, Golobic, Kerry Madsen, Schuchart and Jonathan Allard rounded out the Top 10.
Sargent Impresses With Dwarf Car Victory
At Antioch Speedway
Matt Sargent made his first Antioch Speedway appearance of the year Sunday night and came home with the victory in the 20 lap Dwarf Car feature. The Sargent family is one of the biggest names ever in California Super Modified racing, and Matt has had an impressive career of his own in Dwarf Cars, including a 2006 championship at Watsoville. Sargent won a battle with division point runner up Adam Teves to win the race as two time champion Danny Wagner settled for third.
Celebrating his birthday, David Teves was looking to grab a heat race win, but after leading the first heat race for a lap, he suffered a mechanical failure to end his night. Chris Kenner won his first heat race of the year ahead of Sargent. Mike Corsaro won his six lap heat race ahead of Kurtis Craig. Wagner won the third and final heat ahead of Kevin Miraglio.
Kenner and Cosraro shared the front row for the Main Event. As they were exiting Turn 4 to complete the lap, Corasro started to spin and hit the front end of Craig’s car. This triggered a crash that involved several cars. Sargent raced into the lead on the restart ahead of Kenner. A lap four caution flag flew for a three car crash in Turn 4. Sargent chose the inside on the restart as A. Teves raced into second. Wagner and Josh Miller were dueling for third before a red flag flew after Jenna Frazier and Glenn Sciarani tangled with Sciarani flipping in Turn 4. He was okay, but out of the race. Sargent stayed with the inside on the restart, only to be surprised as A, Teves raced by him for the lead. Teves went back to the inside groove as Sargent ran a higher line. Teves would drift up a bit coming out of Turn 2, but he'd quickly close the door before Sargent could make a move. Wagner was the third car in this close battle. Sargent finally grabbed the low line from A. Teves down the back stretch and took the lead on lap 14. A lap 16 caution flag for Miranda Chappa provided some excitement. Sargent chose the outside at first, and A. Teves got a jump on him to take the lead. The restart was rejected, and Sargent went back to the inside this time. Sargent led this restart and went on to pick up the impressive win. A. Teves and Wagner were strong in second and third, respectively. Kevin Miraglio won a late race duel with Kenner to finish fourth as Miller, Chappa, Craig, David Rosa and Tim Reeder rounded out the Top 10.
Racing resumes at Antioch Speedway next Saturday night with DIRTcar Late Models, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, Hobby Stocks and Limited Late Models. For further information, check out the official Oval Motorsports Website.
Oval Motorsports To Reopen Chowchilla Speedway in October
There have been many rumors regarding the future of the 15 year tradition known as Chowchilla Speedway. Back in late June, Oval Motorsports and promoter John M. Soares made the decision to switch Merced Speedway to Sundays to oversee things and postponed the last two scheduled events at Chowchilla. This set up all kinds of rumors regarding the future of the track, but there are two things to consider through all of this.
Oval Motorsports only committed to ten races this year. There were several factors that contributed to the decision to postpone the last two races. Though it was believed that Merced Speedway had more pressing needs and more potential, the intent was always to bring back racing to Chowchilla Speedway. The question was when and what divisions? The window of opportunity to schedule these last two races would open in October, but it was a tricky situation.
Soares had to go over the schedules of several tracks to find the right dates and figure out what divisions would race. Back in June, he revealed that he was looking at doing something for the Hobby Stocks, and there’s a good reason for that. Some of the biggest races for that division in the last 15 years have happened at Chowchilla Speedway. He also had to make sure there were no conflicts with the traditional races people usually go to.
Finally, the decision was made to come back on Sunday, October 25th and Sunday, November 15th. The Hobby Stocks will headline these events, though details are still pending. Dwarf Cars and Mini Stocks are also on the schedule for both nights, and the desire is to get support from Antioch's regulars, South Bay Dwarf Cars and Nor Cal Dwarf Cars. Soares remains committed to building a Dwarf Car division in The Valley.
Over the years, Chowchilla has had some big Hobby Stock races, not the least of which is the Buddy Cox Memorial Hobby Stock $500, the three Freedom Series races they held every year for several seasons and the Steitz Dirt Track Shoot Out. The goal is to have support from top Hobby Stock racers up and down the state and a strong presence of local support.
Chowchilla has crowned it’s 2015 Hobby Stock champion in three time feature winner Kevin Joaquin. Austin Van Hoff has given the locals a Chowchilla based racer to cheer for and enjoyed a strong second place season. Teammate Kodie Dean and Robbie Loquaci are two others who have been fast at Chowchilla. Josh Hensley, Dexter Long, Bobby Williams, Adam Reed and George Silva are among the others we’ll be watching for.
But, there are some “heavy hitters” in Hobby Stocks from the area that will make things more interesting with their presence. Not the least of which is the Shearer Racing Team. Whether it’s Kristie Shearer, Michael Shearer, Shannon Nelson or Bruce “Bubba” Nelson behind the wheel, they all have wins this year on the circuit. Bubba won two races at Chowchilla with M. Shearer following closely. Hard chargers like up and coming star Cody Parker, Gary Hildebrand, Marc Key and past champion Chris Falkenberg are others we could see.
The Merced-Chowchilla area has well over 50 cars that have competed this year, and it is hoped that we will see strong support from these drivers as the division has an opportunity to take a step up into the spotlight. This is also an opportunity for fans of the track to make a statement in support of racing there. In recent seasons, it has been a struggle to keep racing going there, but a good turnout will show why it’s still very much worth the effort.
We’re sure to see more details about these two shows, but as of now, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Mini Stocks are on the schedule on October 25th and November 15th at Chowchilla Speedway. They are both Sunday events. For further information, check out the official Oval Motorsports Website.
Late Models, IMCA Modifieds Headline Six Division Show At Antioch Speedway
September will go out with a bang at Antioch Speedway as we wrap up what has been an exciting season. Six divisions are on the card this Saturday night, headlined by the DIRTcar Late Models and IMCA Modifieds. Also in action will be the Wingless Spec Sprints, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks as more champions will be crowned.
The 14th appearance of the Late Models wraps up what has been a good season for the popular division. Not since 1993 has this division had so many races at the track, and the average has generally been in the 12 car range. The two “prime time” players this season have been defending champion Richard Papenhausen and past champion Jeff Decker, and there’s the added incentive of the $2500 Regional championship prize money awarded by DIRTcar.
Papenhausen would seem to be the class of the field with seven wins in 12 starts. However, there are two things working against him. The consistent Decker has two wins and seven second place finishes, and Papenhausen was unable to finish the most recent race, won by Decker. Decker’s lead is now 28 in the Antioch championship battle and 62 points in the region. He went into the season unconcerned with points and could be a champion in two races simply by having a decent finish on Saturday night.
Chasing Decker last time in a season best second place finish was Danny Malfatti. That finish propelled him past David Newquist for third in the standings, but he leads by just four points. Malfatti has been a little faster and more consistent in recent starts, but can Newquist turn it around? Chester Kniss seems headed for fifth in points as he holds a good lead over two time winner Troy Foulger. We’re anticipating that one time winner Paul Guglielmoni, Terry Kuntz, Dennis Souza and Rob Norris will be among the field this week, and there was a rumor that a past champion may make his first visit of the season.
Scott Busby just needs to stay smooth and get to the finish line and that fifth championship is within his grasp. The IMCA Modifieds have been very competitive with nine different winners in 15 races and only three multiple winners. Busby leads with four wins and a 23 point lead over one time winner Bobby Motts Jr. Motts made the points a little closer last time out with a fifth place finish as Busby crashed in the final turn with a broken ball joint.
2014 champion Carl Berendsen II has a solid hold on third in points, but Shawn DeForst moved into fourth on the strength of his second place finish aboard Jim Reid’s Modified last time out. Aaron Crowell might have won that race, but he had suspension damage late and retired. The two time winner and 2004 champion is anticipated this week along with Merced point leader Alex Wilson, Kyle Wilson, Chris Elby and others.
Kyle Bakkie’s fourth win of the season last time out ensured that he will be the 2015 Wingless Spec Sprint champion. The question is will Rick Panfili have a career best second place season, or will that honor fall to impressive rookie Marcus Smith? Both drivers have second place feature finishes this season, but neither has won a Main Event. With Panfilli falling out last time, Smith used his Top 5 finish to move to within six points of Panfili in this close battle.
Alan Miranda has a good hold on fourth, but he’s another driver trying to improve on his season best second place feature finish. With drivers like four time winner Jimmy Perry III in the field, that will be a challenge. Perry is running fifth in points after a late start, and he could be the driver to beat this week. Others we’ll be watching for this week include two time winners Roy Fisher and Jeff Lee, one time winner and 2014 champion Billy Macedo, one time winner James East and division veteran Keith Shipherd.
Fred Ryland is hoping to wrap up his IMCA Sport Modified championship season by winning at least one of the September races. It just seems like every time he’s in position to do so lately, something happens to derail his effort. Last time out, he was leading when he was black flagged after losing his hood piece. Ryland has six wins, but he has been shut out in his last six Antioch starts. His bad luck has put a damper on his Top 3 IMCA National point hopes, but he is well in command in the State and at Antioch.
Back in second, Al Johnson leads one time winner Paul Mulder by ten points. Johnson is still looking for his first win, but he’s been running very strong lately and could win at any time. Patti Ryland does have a win and grabbed her second runner up finish in the most recent race. Patti is on her way to a “Rookie Of The Year” season while the struggling Chuck Golden is still holding onto fifth. Anthony Giuliani could be in town to go for his fifth win. Others to watch for include one time winner Trevor Clymens, hard charger K.C. Keller, Al Sotomayor and Tim Hammett.
The latest race for Limited Late Models was an example of why the point race is not over until it’s over. Three time champion and point leader Larry Damitz had a mechanical issue and started the feature just to get points. The star of that race was Mike Gustafson, who held off Mike Hynes to win his third feature of the season. Hynes had won his first Main Event a couple weeks earlier, and the two Mike’s are now tied for second, 38 points behind Damitz. The two are also 28 points ahead of the struggling Mark Garner. Garner is a two time winner at Antioch and the 2015 Merced champion, but his family is dealing with the heartbreak of the passing of his father, legendary Antioch Speedway racer Jerry “The Maverick” Garner.
Car count has increased in recent races, and Jim Freethy seems to be the next driver most likely to get a win. He finished second the night Hynes won and fifth last time as he holds down fifth in the standings. Lori Brown finished third last time as her car seems to be dialed in lately. The steady John Evans had a fourth place finish last time. Others we’ll be watching for this week include Eric Berendsen, Ryan Cherezian and John Keith.
Kimo Oreta is prepared to join the Limited Late Model division as he wraps up his third straight Hobby Stock championship season. His win in the most recent race makes it eight on the season, and he has 21 wins as the all time Hobby Stock feature winner. Behind him is an entertaining battle between brother in laws Jordan Swank and Michael Cooper. Both have finished as high as second and seem poised to get that first win. For second generation racer Swank, this has been a good rookie season that has seen him improve noticeably since the start of the season. Swank leads Cooper by just 13 points in the battle for second.
In fourth is another surprise as the steady Frank Furtado moved up a spot after the last race. Danny Jones has taken some time to regroup after his latest motor problems. The Stock Car veteran has five second place finishes this year, but is thus far winless. We’ve been seeing some fast competitors visiting from other tracks in recent weeks, including two time winner Kevin Joaquin. Other drivers we’ll be watching for this week include hard charger Natalie Perry, Cameron Swank, Tony McCown, Steven Rogers, Robert Niven and Lindsey Biurch.
The racing this week should be exciting from flag to flag. Antioch Speedway is located within the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St. in Antioch, Calif. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens, and $10 for children 6-12. Children under six years old are admitted free. A family four pack of tickets is $40. Secured parking is offered by the Fairgrounds for $5. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m.
Antioch Speedway Top 5 At A Glance
DIRTCar Late Models
Jeff Decker 652
Richard Papenhausen 624
Danny Malfatti 522
Dave Newquist 518
Chester Kniss 428
IMCA Dirt Modifieds
Scott Busby 495
Bobby Motts 472
Carl Berendsen 380
Shawn DeForest 302
Alexander Wilson 289
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Fred Ryland 560
Al Johnson 499
Paul Mulder 489
Patti Ryland 456
Chuck Golden 435
Wingless Spec Sprints
Kyle Bakkie 692
Rick Panfili 604
Marcus Smith 598
Alan Miranda 556
Jim Perry III 476
Limited Late Model
Larry Damitz 616
Mike Hynes 578
Mike Gustafson 578
Mark Garner 550
Jim Freethy 508
Kimo Oreta 1098
Jordan Swank 795
Michael Cooper 782
Frank Furtado 730
Danny Jones 692
Five Division Racing Program
At Merced Speedway Sunday Night
After two weeks off, Merced Speedway will roar back to life this Sunday night with five divisions of racing. The resurgent Hobby Stock division will be in action along with the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars. There will also be a memorial lap in honor of long time Merced Speedway supporter Dawn Carter, who passed away during the two week break.
The Hobby Stocks have held 21 races, and 15 different drivers have scored victories this season. The latest winner was two time champion Bruce “Bubba” Nelson, who was subbing for Michael Shearer. Nelson recently purchased an IMCA Modified from Paul Stone and made his division debut last week in the Boone, Iowa IMCA Nationals. It’s likely that at least one of the Shearer cars will be in action, and one driver will probably be three time winner Kristie Shearer, who is currently fourth in the standings.
Point leader Kevin Joaquin has already clinched the championship to go with his Chowchilla title. Kevin has been fast all season long with three wins, and he finished a close second last time out. Kevin has two wins in the last couple months at Antioch, but he’s eager to get his fourth win at his home tack. The steady Jennifer Corder is well on her way to “Rookie Of The Year” honors as well as a second place point season. She has a good lead over two time winner Austin Van Hoff and should finish second in points.
The big question is will we see a 16th different winner this week? If we do, it could be rookie Dexter Long or George Silva stepping up. Long holds a 33 point lead over Silva in the battle for fifth in points. Silva is definitely capable of winning and has a win this year at Chowchilla. Other drivers we’ll be watching for include Ryan Hart, Adam Reed, Kodie Dean, Jeff Lacy, Phil Vaughn and Cody Parker. Car count has been up lately, and there were 18 Hobby Stocks at the last race.
Alex Wilson has clinched the track's IMCA Modified championship and is headed for the State championship as well. Since switching cars, Alex has been a force in this division with four Main Event wins. He now leads in that department as brother Kyle Wilson and Ryan Porter each have three. Kyle Wilson has been steadily chipping away at Ricky Thatcher’s lead in the battle for second in the standings. Thatcher leads K. Wilson by just nine points.
In addition to the possibility of seeing the Merced debut of Nelson in a Modified, four time champion Ramie Stone is planning to be there this week. Ramie finished a strong third in his shakedown run two weeks ago. He enjoyed a good battle with veteran Derek Nance and Chester Kniss for that finish. Alan Pace made his debut in this division last time as he switched his Sport Mod over to this class. Ray Mayer is another driver we’ll be watching for, and it’s likely that we’ll see 2014 champion Paul Stone before the season ends.
Josh Hensley notched his second win of the season last time out, which had to be gratifying. Hensley will win the IMCA Sport Modified championship, but he’s out there to try to win some races. Mark Odgers and Dwayne Short have been battling hard, but Odgers had some bad luck last time. Short still leads Odgers by five points in a close battle for second in points. Odgers does have a win this season, but Short is still looking for that first win.
State point leader Fred Ryland has six wins at Merced, and it could just be that he will make a run at a seventh win this week. Two time winner and past Chowchilla Street Stock champion Gary Tucker trails Ryland by 11 points in the battle for fourth in the standings. Other drivers we’ll be watching for this week include Marisa Odgers, Darren Thomas, Nick Tucker and Tim Cecil.
The Mini Stock point battle tilted back in Darren Miguel’s favor last time out as he won for the 12th time this season. He now leads defending champion Chris Corder by eight points in the race for the championship. With no races on Merced’s calender, Miguel paid another visit to Porterville two weeks ago and grabbed his second victory there. Miguel and Corder are the odds on favorites to win this week's Main Event, but there are others in the field hoping to make a statement.
Teammates Mike Germait and James Stockton have been racing recently, and both seem to be getting faster. Alica Caldwell is happy to be back in another car. We’re also hearing that Natalie Waldrop will be back this week to maintain her Top 5 point status. Last race had one of the best car counts of the year for this division, and it’s hoped that we’ll get more of the same this week.
Meanwhile, Mike Drake holds command in the Dwarf Car championship battle. Drake is a two time winner this year and could be the driver to beat this week. Chuck Weir has a good hold on second in points while Tim Reeder is third. We anticipate these three drivers will be there, and young Chester Kniss Jr. will be there as well. Merced has caught the attention of the two Northern California Dwarf Car clubs, and it’s likely that we’ll see some of them this week. Last time out, NCDCA racers Ryan Winter and Buddy Olschowka ran 1-2 in the Main Event.
It should be an exciting night of racing in Merced. Merced Speedway is located inside the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced, Calif. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for children 6-12. A family four-pack of tickets admits two children and two adults for $32. Racing begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The grandstand opens at 4:30 p.m.
Merced Speedway Top Five At A Glance
Alex Wilson 619
Ricky Thatcher 502
Kyle Wilson 493
Bill Egleston 477
Bob Williamson 366
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Josh Hensley 745
Dwayne Short 579
Mark Odgers 574
Fred Ryland 468
Gary Tucker 457
Kevin Joaquin 924
Jennifer Corder 726
Austin Van Hoff 586
Kristie Shearer 535
Dexter Long 478
Darren Miguel 882
Chris Corder 874
Kelly Campanile 384
Dennis Copus 359
Natalie Waldrop 346
Mike Drake 296
Chuck Weir 212
Tim Reeder 116
Danny Wagner 108
Mike Corsaro 104