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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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The latest edition of the Bako Motorsports Power Hour for Bakersfield Speedway is viewable HERE
The Civil War Sprint Car Series race from Petaluma Speedway last week is viewable HERE
The Santa Rosa Auto Body 600 Mini Sprints Main Event from last week at Petaluma Speedway is viewable HERE
DCRR Racing Radio Show
Weekend Review Edition
DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 63 by GenWhat
Hogge Collects $2000 Victory In Impressive Fashion At Antioch Speedway
Weekend Review Edition
DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 63 by GenWhat
Hogge Collects $2000 Victory In Impressive Fashion At Antioch Speedway
Bobby Hogge IV backed up last week’s win with an impressive 30 lap IMCA Modified Main Event triumph Saturday night at Antioch Speedway in the opening round of the Delta Valley Classic. The win paid Hogge $2000 and was his 65th career victory at Antioch Speedway. Hogge just wrapped up a championship season at Watsonville and is a three time Antioch Speedway champion. Taking the lead from Jim Freethy on a late race restart, newly crowned Limited Late Model champion Larry Damitz won his eighth 20 lap Limited Late Model Main Event.
Shawn DeForest won a drag race to the line against Troy Foulger to win his eight lap IMCA Modified heat race. Mike Salazar out dueled Chico champion Ryan McDaniel to win their eight lapper, and Brian Cass held off Randy McDaniel to win his heat race. DeForest and Randy McDaniel shared the front row of the Main Event with DeForest racing into the early lead. McDaniel lost second to Brian Cass with an inside pass on lap three, and a low move in Turn 2 of the fourth lap gained Bobby Hogge IV third. DeForest had problems in Turn 3 on lap seven, allowing Hogge and Cass to race underneath for first and second. Cass beat Hogge back to the line to lead lap eight before a caution flag flew for newly crowned champion Scott Busby in Turn 4. Cass chose the outside and continued to lead Hogge on the restart. Troy Foulger moved in to duel Randy McDaniel for third as Hogge was pressuring Cass hard for the lead. Ryan McDaniel stalled in Turn 2 for a lap 12 caution flag. Cass surprised by choosing the inside on the restart, only to watch as Hogge raced by on the outside to take the lead. Foulger moved in to battle Cass for second as sixth row starter Paul Stone was up to fourth. Stone grabbed third from Foulger and then made a low pass in Turn 4 of the 20th lap to take second from Cass. Adam Elby spun in Turn 4 for a lap 20 caution flag. Hogge stayed with the outside and led one more lap before Bobby Motts Jr., Chester Kniss and Nick Viscusi III got together in Turn 4 for a caution flag. Hogge continued to lead Stone and ninth row starter Duane Cleveland on the restart. Hogge set a good pace and had a comfortable lead at the checkered flag. Stone was a solid second, and Cleveland beat Ryan McDaniel back to the line to finish third. Foulger was fifth ahead of Kellen Chadwick, Darrell Hughes II, Mitch Enos, Terry Kaiser and Kniss.
Larry Damitz gained the lead from Jim Freethy on the last lap to win his six lap Limited Late Model heat race over Mark Garner. Mike Gustafson won the other heat race, just ahead of Merced champion Roy Hart Jr. Front row starters Freethy and Hart raced into the 1-2 positions at the start of the Main Event as Garner settled into third, Mike Gustafson made an inside pass on the back stretch on lap four to take fourth from Ryan Cherezian. Paul Hanley spun in Turn 4 for a lap five caution flag. Freethy chose the outside and continued to lead Hart on the restart as Gustafson grabbed third. However, Gustafson slowed a lap later to put Garner back in third. A high move in Turn 4 of the 10th lap gained Hart the lead from Freethy, and a lap 12 caution flag flew for Mike Hynes. Hart chose the outside and continued to lead Freethy as tenth starter Damitz rode the outside into third. Hart had a good lead when Hanley spun in Turn 4 for a lap 16 caution flag. The restart saw Freethy and Hart get together on the front stretch with Hart hitting the wall to end his race. Freethty had the lead on the next restart, but Damitz raced by for the lead ahead of the surprising Cherezian in his best career run. Freethy pitted late as Damitz was a happy winner ahead of Cherezian, Jay Bryant, Garner, Cecil Henry, Freethy, Hart, Hanley, Hynes and Jeff Kendrick.
New Champion Ryland Wins $500 Prize
At Antioch Speedway
Fred Ryland won the 25 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway in the opening round of the Delta Valley Classic. The win was Ryland’s eighth of the season as he moves into tenth on the track’s All Time feature winner’s list. Ryland also wrapped up the Antioch and State championships and is still in the hunt for a Top 3 point position in the National standings. A post race tech disqualification handed rookie Jordan Swank his first career 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event win and helped the rookie maintain second in the points. Chico visitor Brian Cooper withstood a late challenge from Danny Jones to cross the finish line first, but both were disqualified in post race tech.
Patti Ryland won the first IMCA Sport Modified heat race ahead of newly crowned Marysville Mini Stock champion Jimmy Ford. Matt Hagio made a last turn pass on Chuck Golden to win their eight lapper. Front row starter Anthony Giuliani raced into the early lead in the Main Event ahead of Golden. Fourth row starter Fred Ryland took third from Ford on lap three, and a lap four caution flag flew for Trevor Clynens. Giuliani chose the outside on the restart and continued to lead as F. Ryland took second from Golden. A low move in Turn 4 of the ninth lap gained Patti Ryland third with Hagio following into fourth. Hagio took third from P. Ryland two laps later as the lead duo of Giuliani and F. Ryland ran close. A lap 13 caution flag flew for debris on the race track. Giuliani stayed with the outside and continued to lead F. Ryland on the restart. A low move in Turn 4 of the 15th lap gained F. Ryland the lead. Giuliani came back strong in Turn 2 a lap later to regain the lead, but F. Ryland had the lead again with an inside pass in Turn 4. A caution flag flew on lap 17 when Hagio and Giuliani got together with Hagio spinning in Turn 2 and collecting P. Ryland and Brian Cooper. F. Ryland stayed with the outside and led Jim DiGiovanni and K.C. Keller on the restart. A low move in Turn 4 of the 19th lap gained Hagio third, and Shane DeVolder spun in Turn 4 for a lap 20 caution flag. The restart was interrupted by a red flag when Giuliani and DiGiovanni got together on the back stretch and caused a multi car pileup. Several cars were eliminated in the melee, including DiGiovanni, Giuliani and P. Ryland. F. Ryland led the restart and the rest of the way to win ahead of Hagio. Al Johnson won a late race duel with Ford to finish third as Mike Merritt finished fifth. DeVolder, P. Ryland, Keller, Cooper and DiGiovanni rounded out the Top 10.
In Hobby Stock action, Jay Bryant cruised to a straightaway lead at the checkered flag with Joey Ridgeway second in their heat race. Afterwards, officials moved Bryant up to the Limited Late Model ranks and gave the win to Ridgeway ahead of Jordan Swank. Past champion Brad Myers cruised to victory in his heat race ahead of Tony Jennings Sr. Robert Niven held off Chico star Brian Cooper to win the final eight lapper. Danny Jones had a front row start and led the opening lap of the Main Event before getting out of shape in Turn 4 and losing the lead to Cooper. Calvin Louis Jr. made a high pass in Turn 1 of the third lap to take second from Jones, but he spun in Turn 4 for a lap four caution flag. Myers retired during the caution period. Cooper chose the outside and continued to lead Jones and Mitch Locicere on the restart. J. Swank took third from Locicere on lap six with Niven running close behind in fourth. Louis spun in Turn 4 for a lap nine caution flag. The restart ended up in a red flag as contact between Cameron Swank and Locicere sent Locicere hard into the front wall. He was not injured, but he was out of the race. Cooper continued to lead from his outside spot on the restart ahead of Jones and J. Swank, Niven and 14th starter Natalie Perry dueled for fourth. Niven grabbed the spot on lap 13, and that became third a lap later when Swank took an infield excursion off of Turn 4 and lost a couple spots. A Turn 2 crash involving Jessica Jones, Lindsey Buirch and Frank Furtado forced a lap 13 caution flag. Cooper stayed with the outside and continued to lead D. Jones and Perry. Perry began overheating and lost third to Niven on lap 18. D. Jones gathered momentum for one more run at Cooper, but Cooper took the checkered flag in first. The post race tech disqualification shuffled the official finishing order. J. Swank made a low move in Turn 3 of the last lap to take third from Niven. However, Swank became the new winner with the disqualifications as Niven was second ahead of Tony Jennings Sr., Buirch, Perry, Furtado, J. Jones, Locicere, C. Swank and Russell Shearer.
Hogge Unstoppable In $2000 Merced Victory
Leading the race from the start, Bobby Hogge IV impressed by scoring the victory in the 30 lap IMCA Modified Main Event Sunday night at Merced Speedway. This was the second leg of the Delta Valley Classic weekend, and Hogge collected $2000 for the win. Hogge won the $2000 first prize at Antioch a night earlier and collected the $500 bonus for winning both races. After spending all day repairing extensive damage to his car from a crash at Antioch, two time champion Roy Hart Jr. won the 20 lap Limited Late Model Main Event.
The IMCA Modifieds ran three eight lap heat races with Kellen Chadwick winning the first heat race over Randy Brown. Kyle Wilson held off his brother and new Merced champion Alex Wilson to win the second heat race. Ethan Dotson won the final heat race ahead of Hogge. Ricky Thatcher had the pole for the Main Event with Hogge outside. Paul Stone started back in 12th. Hogge raced into the lead at the start ahead of Chadwick and Dotson. Aaron Barnell spun in Turn 4 for lap two caution flag. Hogge led another lap before another caution flag for a Turn 2 tangle that involved Stone. Hogge chose the inside and continued to lead the restart as Dotson took second from Chadwick. Cody Laney was running fourth, but K. Wilson made a low move in Turn 1 to grab the spot on lap six. A lap eight caution flag flew for a Stone spin. Hogge stayed with the inside for the restart and continued to lead Dotson and Chadwick. Thatcher was having a good run in fifth until his steering broke and he spun on the back stretch for a lap 11 caution flag. At that point, Hogge led Dotson, Chadwick, K. Wilson and Stone. A low move in Turn 2 of the 17th lap gained Stone fourth from K. Wilson,, and he made a similar pass on Chadwick to grab third on lap 22. Danny Luukkonen spun for a lap 24 caution flag, and Chadwick pitted. A. Wilson took fourth from K. Wilson on the restart. Hogge was unstoppable in the lead and scored an impressive victory. Dotson was a $1000 second. Stone finished third in the unofficial finish ahead A. Wilson, K. Wilson, Bill Egleston, Mitch Enos, Chester Kniss, Ray Mayer and Derek Nance.
Hart started the night off by wining the eight lap Limited Late Model heat race ahead of Buddy Thatcher. Making his first start in the former Mike Hynes car, John Evans had the pole for the Main Event and set the early pace ahead of Paul Hanley. Hart was third on lap two and used a low move in Turn 2 of the fourth lap to gain second. Evans hit the front wall after crossing the line in first on lap five and spun off of Turn 1 for a caution flag. Hart led Hanley and new champion Mark Garner on the restart, but Evans spun in Turn 2 for a lap six yellow flag. Hart continued to lead Hanley on the restart, but a low move in Turn 2 of the ninth lap gained Garner second from Hanley. Hanley ended up spinning on the back stretch for the final yellow flag on lap nine. Hart went with the outside on the restart and continued to lead Garner and Thatcher. Donny Richardson made a front stretch pass on Thatcher to take third on lap 12. Hart ran strong with Garner not too far behind him. Contact racing between Richardson, Kendrick and Hanley in the battle for third saw Hanley move into third in Turn 2 Garner slowed and pitted in the infield on lap 19, and Hart cruised to victory from there. Hanley finished second ahead of Kendrick, Richardson, Thatcher, Garner and Evans.
Ryland DQ Hands Falkenberg Merced
IMCA Sport Mod Win
Chris Falkenberg collected the $500 first prize for his win in the 15 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event Sunday night at Merced Speedway. Falkenberg ran a race long second behind IMCA State point leader Fred Ryland in the event that was billed as the Delta Valley Classic, but Ryland was later disqualified in post race tech. Cody Parker won a duel with Watsonville visitor Wally Kennedy to win the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event.
With 23 cars on hand for the IMCA Sport Mod race, they ran four heat races. Jarred Tickel won the first heat ahead of Tim Cecil. Ryland held off Falkenberg to win his heat race. Jimmy Ford outran fellow Marysville regular Mike Merritt to win their heat race with Gary Tucker winning the final heat ahead of Rick Diaz. Track officials elected not to run a B Main, and Ryland shared the front row with Falkenberg for the Main Event. Ryland raced into the lead from the start ahead of Falkenberg and Tickel The first yellow flag flew on lap two. A lap three caution flag flew for a Turn 3 tangle between Mark Odgers and Andy Welch. The restart attempt saw a multi car crash force a red flag to untangle the mess of cars. Ryland picked the outside on the restart, and Falkenberg surprised him by taking the lead. After another yellow flag, Falkenberg chose the inside and continued to lead Ryland and Tickel on the restart. Marysville champion Howard Law settled into fourth. Falkenberg lost his lead on lap nine to an infield excursion off of Turn 2 as Ryland regained the lead. A lap ten caution flag flew as Tickel spun in Turn 4, and Law was put to the back of the pack by track officials. Several restart attempts were botched by spins before they did get another lap in with Ryland leading Falkenberg and Diaz. By then, track officials cut the scheduled distance of the race down from 25 to 15 laps due to time constraints. A lap 11 caution flag flew for Shawn Bryant on the back stretch. Ryland led the single file restart ahead of Falkenberg and Diaz. A low move in Turn 4 of the 13th lap gained Tim Cecil third from Diaz. Ryland went on to an apparent victory before being disqualified in post race tech along with third place finisher Cecil and fifth place finisher Steve Stone. The unofficial rundown saw Falkenberg getting his first win in the division ahead of Diaz and Bakersfield champion and Nick Spainhoward. The unofficial Top 10 was completed by Kelly Wilkinson, Welch, Mark Odgers, Ford, Tucker, Tickel and Shane DeVolder.
The Hobby Stocks ran three heat races with Robbie Loquaci cruising to victory in his heat race ahead of Jessie Ruckman. Ty Shelton won his heat ahead of Phil Vaughn, while Kennedy won his heat race ahead of Jennifer Corder. Ruckman and Kennedy shared the front row of the Main Event, and Ruckman surprised by charging into the early lead ahead of Kennedy and Shelton. Ruckman hit the front wall on lap three as Kennedy led Shelton and Vaughn. Corder spun for a yellow flag. Kennedy had the inside for the restart and continued to lead Shelton. A low move in Turn 4 of the fourth lap gained eighth starter Parker third. A Turn 4 tangle involving Adam Reed and Dexter Long brought out a lap five caution flag. Kennedy stayed with the inside and continued to lead Shelton and Parker in a close three car battle. Parker slipped past Shelton for second on lap eight with Vaughn following into third. Samantha Williams spun in Turn 2 for a caution flag. Kennedy continued to lead with Parker giving him all the pressure he could handle. Loquaci regained third on lap ten in a close three car battle with Shelton and Austin Van Hoff. On lap 12, Shelton and Loquaci hooked bumpers and spun in Turn 3 for a caution flag. That led to a lengthy red flag as officials tried to get the two cars unhooked. Kennedy led one more lap before an inside move on the back stretch of the 14th lap gained Parker the lead. Kennedy slowed with a flat as Van Hoff and Vaughn were now second and third. Parker brought it home to his second win of the season ahead of Van Hoff and a season best third for Vaughn. Rounding out the unofficial Top 10 were Long, Donnie Shearer, Loquaci, Jerry Tubbs, Kennedy, Kyle Singleton and Corder.
Ellis, Tamaraz, Scruggs Win Point Series Finales At Rocky Hill Speedway
Bob Ellis won the 20 lap point season finale Mini Stock Main Event Saturday night at Rocky Hill Speedway. James Tamarez made his first appearance since May and brought home his second 20 lap Super 4 Mini Stock feature win of the season. Michael Sruggs won an entertaining 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event for his first win of the season. Bobby Courtney won his first Okie Bowl Hardtop feature of the season, while the Central Valley Tanks Main Event went to Cory McDonald. Kercie Jung won the Sr. Mini Dwarf Car Main Event, while Nathaniel Edwards was the winner of the Jr. Mini Dwarf Car feature.
For Bob Ellis, the Mini Stock feature win was his first since April and second of the year. It was a battle of the Massey Racing Team for second, and Clinton Massey scored the runnerup finish ahead of the second place finisher of the previous week's Main Event, Clifton Massey. Jason Cook collected his fourth season best fourth place finish as Matt Noland rounded out the Top 5 finishers. Jared Plumlee's sixth place finish wrapped up his championship season as Brandon Trice, Justin Moore, Matt Brumley and Drew Bachtelle made up the remainder of the Top 10. Plumlee won the championship by 142 points over Andrew Boydstun. Clinton Massey moved to within 38 points of Boydstun for second as Boydstun missed the point season finale.
Newly crowned champion Roy Atchison has been the driver occupying the Super 4 Mini Stock winner's circle in recent races, but James Tamarez won his second Main Event of the season. Tamarez hadn't raced since May and was a winner back in April. Atchison settled for second ahead of 2014 champion Adell Shelton and fourth ranked Larry Ramarez. Kit Mutphy finished fifth ahead of Gary Meeks Jr. and Steve Golden. Archison beat Shelton by 70 points for the championship. William Hughes was a distant third.
In his three previous appearances in the Hobby Stock division this year. Michael Scruggs finished no worse than fourth. Scruggs battled new champion Raymond Noland Jr. early in the race, but Noland had to pit with a flat tire. Scruggs went from there to victory with Karl Noland Sr. not too far behind in second. Enduro ace Rich Denman grabbed the final podium position as Karl Noland Jr. and R. Noland rounded out the Top 5. Jeff Loyd was sixth ahead of Glen Glover. R. Noland won the championship by 130 points ahead of K. Noland Jr. Despite missing three races when he abandoned the point lead, K. Noland Sr. made it an all Noland Top 3 in points.
A half dozen Okie Bowl Hardtops appeared for their third visit of the season, and Bobby Courtney collected his first win ahead of Chester Chapman and early season winner James Branburn. Brad Watkins, Tom Duggan and Josh Yadon completed the finishing order. Cory McDonald held off IMCA Stock Car State point runnerup Troy Patee for the Central Valley Tanks feature win. Patee lost a close State point race this season by just one point behind Ron Hurt. Dave Bauer and multi time Bakersfield Speedway IMCA Stock Car feature winner Rick Childress rounded out the Main Event finishing order.
Kercie Jung impressed with her Sr. Mini Dwarf Car feature win ahead of new track champion Riley Millard. Austin Martin, Seth Wise and Madison Meyers rounded out the Top 5. Millard won the championship by 76 points ahead of Meyers as Jung rounded out the Top 3 in the standings.
In the Jr. Mini Dwarf Car feature, Nathaniel Edwards held off division point runnerup Mallory Meyers for the victory. Trenton Eurto, Jaiden Butler and Johnathan Butler rounded out the Top 5 finishers. Allie Jung won the championship by 52 points over Meyers. Eurto would end up third in the final rankings.
Though point racing is over for this season, several races are still on the schedule. This Saturday night, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Super 4 Mini Stocks and American Stocks are all on the card along with a Ladies Race. For further information, check out the official Rocky Hill Speedway Website.
Last week, I was very surprised by the gesture of the Swank Racing Team. Kenny Swank has already been so supportive of my efforts this year. It's in part because of him that I made it to the end of the season. He donated to my efforts twice, and then I show up last Saturday and see what he and his son Jordan did for me. On the race car, it said Thanks Don Martin II. It brought a tear to my eyes to see that. No, I should be thanking you. I couldn't have made it without you. With any writing about racing I do in the future, I'll do my best to remember it's Jordan Swank in the #73 car and not Kenny. This isn't the 1980's any more. Where does the time go?
Well, I'm running late with this as it is, so I figured I'd add one more column. The season came and went in a flash, and I can't believe it's over. Well, the money shows are happening, but I won't be going. I'm not sure if I will be back in 2016 as I have other more serious matters to deal with. Writing has been a part of my life, and I enjoy it. However, it is also very time consuming. I don't see how I will have time to devote to it next year. Oh, I will write, but I'm not sure racing will be part of it. After whatever job I will be doing to pay the bills, I kind of like the idea of having a personal life too.
The way the writing process goes for me is I get an idea to start with. I will start writing and then another idea pops into my mind and another. When I get into that flow, the outside world doesn't exist. I sometimes feel like I am channelling the information from somewhere and it flows onto the keyboard. I lose all track of time. Suddenly, I spent several hours writing when I was just doing a simple article that was supposed to take an hour. I enjoy writing far more than the menial job I will have to get, but that menial job will pay the bills. The writing will pay in good feelings and positivity.
So, the scenario I see is me writing something after work. Before I know it, I'm up until two in the morning and only a few hours of sleep. That's just not for me. When racing season kicks in, that would be the way it would be for several months. Work, write, go to the races, no social life, no possible relationship or hanging out with friends during the week and still unhappy. I don't know how Gary Jacob managed to do what he did with that kind of schedule, but I'm relatively certain that led to his early death. I also believe he was okay with that. He always seemed happy to be doing what he did.
That's the problem with having all of these stats and driver's names in my head. At times, I can get something crossed up. In the past, I had a printer and would print things out that I needed. I have no printer and no budget to get one. So, I just do the best I can. It's comical to see me in the booth at Merced shuffling unorganized papers to get the sponsors announced on the cars. That would not be the way I would do it in the future. I always make do with what I have and try to make it work.
The bottom line is I came into the 2015 season broke and desperate. I needed help, and I knew I had a skill set that could help. Of course, there were already people in those positions, and I was delusional. I should have just left it at that, but I didn't. I took a bus and went to the races and stood out in the parking lot that first night. I was going to do it again, but Jason Willis insisted I go into the stands and bought my ticket. A week after that, it was Jim Thompson. I didn't even have bus fare at that point, but then Jim Robbins stepped up.
Jim was coming over and getting me every week after that. He felt certain that I was needed at the track and could make a difference. Then, it became Chowchilla and Merced. I have no money to eat on the road, and Jim kept me fed. He didn't have to do any of that, but that's just who he is. He's a great friend. He also cares about that race track and knows I do too. So, he wouldn't let me go away, even when I felt like I probably needed to. I never wanted to leave for lack of fun or feeling accepted by the racers. It was more a concern that I needed to figure out another way to save my home. I failed in that, by the way. This little endeavour did not save me. I crashed in the end.
But, I will say Jim is a positive for Antioch Speedway. If everybody had his attitude of doing what needed to be done to make these tracks pop, things would be dramatically different. But, we had people in key positions drawing nice paychecks who were in it more for the money than to make a difference. It's not gonna succeed based on that. Things do need to change in the future or it's not going to be good. It all starts at the top and inspiring people to want to make a difference.
One example is the tow truck situation. We had cars hooked up on the track at Merced on Sunday. The same thing happened at Chowchilla earlier this year. Well, there was a tow truck on hand with one of the racers both nights. However, that racer wasn't offering it. I will say that the racer didn't owe the track that either. Had they been inspired to want to help or offered something to do it, they might have helped that night. That comes from the top, and if you don't feel that appreciation, you won't go the extra mile. That racer owed nothing more than to race, follow the rules and have fun.
The really successful race tracks are the ones that make people feel like a part of things. They make people feel invested in the success of the place. If you have racers and fans who feel that way, then you will have people volunteer, chip in and help where they can. You'll have people bring in sponsorships and do things that help the track. In most of those cases, the people genuinely like the promoter and want him to be successful, They also don't feel like they aren't appreciated for supporting the track.
One thing that troubles me at some tracks is racers who get messed with by promoters who don't like them. I've seen this through the years at tracks, and it makes me not want to be there. If a driver gets into trouble, they pay their fine and serve their suspension. That should settle the matter as long as that racer stays in line. If the promoter doesn't like them, then refuse admittance and leave it at that. I am against letting that person back just to mess with them on technicalities. And, then to act like the matter isn't settled after that too? How much payback is enough? Personally, I wouldn't race there anymore if I knew I would be messed with.
There are things that I've seen that I am not pleased with. I hesitate to comment on them as I feel like people will think I'm being negative and trying to hurt things. Maybe I shouldn't care. There are real things happening in the world that we should be concerned with, and here I am talking about racing. After Sunday, people were talking about the disqualifications and just the "who, what and where" about how it went down. Rules are rules, and they should be followed. However, I have concerns about how things were handled. I'll reserve judgement at this time.
Now, I've been watching Fred and Patti Ryland with interest. They generally field competitive races cars, and I ghost wrote one of Patti's Mini Stock championship seasons. When I came back, I certainly heard things good and bad about them. Here's what I see. I see a racing team that loves the sport. They do what they can to make a difference, and they have helped several racers get back to the track. You need people like that to keep the sport going. That's my overall impression of Ryland Racing. An old friend of mine mentioned off the cuff that they hope Fred and Patti get a race track some day. I ask, would that be a bad thing?
It is my belief that there is a fairgrounds track that will be available for the 2016 season, and it's Chowchilla Speedway. I don't believe Oval Motorsports will be back there. It's too much of a challenge to run that track. You need to be hands on with it, so it needs to be a promoter's primary track. The problem with Oval Motorsports and Kenny Shepherd was it wasn't their primary track when they had it. The problem with CCMR was the same, plus getting that track was a way to get back at Tom Sagmiller. In fact, only Tom Sagmiller and Jack Stanford had it as a primary track, and Sagmiller was the most successful of them all.
I've said recently that the only way a promoter can make that place work is to stand outside the gates and kiss each driver's ass as they enter the place. Well, maybe that's not fair. I think it can work, but you need a five year plan and a budget to account for the fact that years one and two may be losers. You need to get out on the streets of Chowchilla and build up a relationship with the community. If local residents aren't willing to come to a race, it's not going to happen. There's more to it than that, but you have to be hands on and have your heart in it.
Is there such a promoter waiting in the wings to save the place? I thought they would have had a fighting chance with jack Stanford, but he couldn't keep it going. I have a feeling there may be one other out there if the track goes out to bid soon enough, but who that is remains to be seen. They will need a fair manager who isn't a jerk. I've heard nothing good about the guy there now, and that effects things. The Chowchilla Fairgrounds has to realize the racing thing is still relatively new there and struggling. You have a potential field of dreams there, but you need to give the next promoter a fighting chance to build it up or it will never work.
Well, I guess Alan Handy will be going out on a high note at Placerville Speedway. The 50th Anniversary season there was by all accounts a huge success, and Handy wants to retire now. At the last race, he and his wife and John Padjen were there to receive an award from the city for all they have done for the community. Word was that Prentice Motorsports Group might buy Handy out, but our latest report was Sprint Car owner Scott Russell will be the one promoting starting in 2016. I think he will do well as long as he continues to remember that it is Sprint Cars and Stock Cars together that have made that track work through the years.
I keep hearing conflicting reports on Prentice, but if he really was looking at Placerville, don't be surprised to see him go after another track. That probably won't be Sacramento Raceway, but the oval track may roar back to life in 2016. We've been hearing about an unnamed promoter working on negotiating a deal for a while now, and it could happen. This track had a weekly Friday night program back in the 1990's that was somewhat successful, and a decade later, the track launched the California Hardtop movement and a new Spec Sprint group.
Hardtops and Spec Sprints may figure into those plans as well as 600 Mini Sprints and Mini Stocks. It's just possible that any group that can produce 8-10 cars could get a race date opportunity to race on a newly opened Sacramento Raceway stadium oval. Racing would take place mainly on Friday nights, but there could be a Saturday or two in the mix as well. Fridays could give the track the opportunity to draw from several Saturday night tracks, as was the case in the past.
Other than that, it's just speculation. I'm hearing everything from the retirement of a promoter to a scenario in which Petaluma Speedway could have a new promoter. But, these are things we'll just have to wait and see. We are in a time where everything is in flux. We have a lot of tracks, but we can start saying goodbye to some of them in the near future. That's why being at the races is something a race fan shouldn't take for granted. You just never know when your home track might be one of the tracks that closes.
I've heard a lot from people wanting to know when the banquets are coming up for Antioch and Merced/Chowcihlla. There are no banquets planned at this moment. I'm not happy to tell you that, but that was the decision after things didn't go so well with the last banquets. I heard it suggested that trophies and jackets may be presented at the season openers next year, but I know nothing of that for sure.
The reality of point racing in 2015 is that there aren't that many racers who are committed to going for it. Go back 20 years ago at some tracks and you had to race every week and at least have a few good finishes to make it into the Top 20. If you run a full season these days, you might just win the championship or at least be Top 3. It's kind of sad when you think about it, but that's how it is. Some tracks do better than others, but chances are the ones doing well are the ones who make point racing worth it to the drivers. That means point funds and special races during the season.
That being said, there were drivers who were racing for points that tried not to miss too many races. I've heard from a few who were hoping for that little reward at the end of the season. A banquet is a celebration of the good things that happened during the season. It's also a community building opportunity for that race track. I feel it is an important part of the schedule, but I'm not saying I don't understand why they haven't been scheduled this year. I just wish that wasn't the case, and it's a shame that something can't be done to make it happen.
I talk about tracks doing things to make point racing attractive, and I believe Petaluma Speedway is one of them. Rick Faeth has made a solid effort to promote that race track. No he is not perfect, and none of them are. But, when I think of great efforts made by promoters in 2015, Rick is on my list along with guys like Alan Handy at Placerville and Scott Schweitzer at Bakersfield. Rick took over for Jim Soares a few years ago and inherited all of the threats that exist that want to close that beloved race track.
Rick's answer to the threats is the same as Jim's. He's basically saying that the track is here now, and until any money comes up to take over the race track property, he's going to make the best of it. It is a team effort as I'm sure Rick will admit. And, great sponsors like PitStopUSA.com, Lumberjack's Restaurant, Larsen Racing Products and Jake's Performance Hobbies are helping him promote these divisions. He has also tried to make special races for most of his classes during the season.
He's even worked with others to make big races for his Dwarf Cars and Sprint Car classes. PitStopUSA.com has been huge in their support for Sprint Car racing. there will be more money on the line on October 10 when The Adobe Cup race happens for the Winged 360 and Wingless Spec Sprints. But, that night is about the Lumberjack's Restaurant Super Stocks. They are racing for more money than usual and this is a race the drivers want to win. What's also nice is to see so many last names in the field that have been a part of racing there since the 1980's.
If I had the resources to go to another race this year, that's right up there on my list along with the Pat Pettit Memorial Shoot Out Race at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville this Friday and Saturday. I haven't been to that track in at least 13 years. The Pettit family has been a part of what's good about our sport for many years. While Jim Pettit II was winning races and championships, his father and mother, Jim and Pat Pettit, were sponsoring races and racers and just doing what they could to help make things better.
What I most remember about Pat is what a nice person she was. She knew the sport, and she would let me know if she agreed or disagreed with what I might say or write. But, she wasn't mean about it. She knew what she was talking about. I think having the biggest Modified race in the state every year is a great way to pay respects to her. She certainly enjoyed being out there cheering her son on. The Pettit family did a lot to make these last four races huge and were constantly working to make them bigger.
Now, Jim Pettit Sr. also encouraged me in my early years to keep writing, bought magazines from me in the beginning and introduced me to Gary Jacob. He's had a bit of a difficult year (understatement) and I'm disgusted by what the county did to him and his business. The family was hoping the promoter at Watsonville might take the ball this year and keep the purse numbers up there. I'm happy the race continues. It's still a big purse, though not what it was, and I hope car count stays up there. If it happens, it will be because of the love and respect people have for Pat. This would be the other event I would like to attend if I had the resources.
I had a mind to put together two books, the first of which I would start very soon. That would be the 2015 Oval Motorsports Yearbook for Antioch, Merced and Chowchilla. It would include week by week racing articles, some driver profiles and stats, photos and more. The second would be something released early next year called the California Race Track Almanac. Given my personal situation right now, I probably won't be doing either book. Were I in a better position, something could change on that front. It may be that only the occasional post on this blog will happen in the future. I'll just have to see how things go.
But, again, this is where I thank everybody at the track for their support. There are several names that come to mind, but I don't want to miss any other names in the process. I also had people ask that I don't mention their names. But, the ones who contributed to me should know that I would not have made a full season without them. I would have lost my internet connection and had no way to post my articles and audios. You made a difference in my life.
And, just the people at the tracks who were welcoming to me and allowed me back out there. I had a fear that I wouldn't be accepted back at the track again, and you showed me how wrong I was to think that way. I've changed in a lot of ways, but the love I have for the racers and these race tracks has always been with me, even while I've been away. When I returned to the tracks, it was in many ways like coming home again. I was able to do the things I used to do as if I had never left in the first place. I believe I've helped make some sort of positive difference this year. That was one of my hopes.
I've mentioned Jim Robbins, but I also need to mention Don O'Keefe Jr. and Joe Martinez. Don doesn't even live in the state any more, but those conversations on the phone have been important to me. He and Linda have come through on multiple occasions to help me personally. I can honestly say I've never had a better friend in my life than Don. He has a way of seeing stuff coming before I do, and his advice is usually spot on. And, of course, Joe has been the other person I confided in as I've tried to figure out where I'm going in life. I love these guys like brothers. Without Jim, Joe and Don, my 2015 involvement in racing wouldn't have happened.
John and Donna Soares. First of all, they are both in my prayers. This has not been an easy year for them on a personal level, and yet they continue to promote the sport. Way back in 1998, they gave my my first break and kept giving me things to do. I know I made a difference in what I did, but they gave me that chance. I can't say I always agree with John. I get frustrated with him at times, and I'm sure I annoy him as well. I consider his father a hero of mine, but I also love John and Donna like family. That's why there have been times this year when I was ready to go away, but I kept coming back. I care not just about those race tracks and drivers, but John and Donna too.
People are gonna see the bad in John, because he doesn't always show the good side that some of us see. I think there are things John could do to change that, but he is set in his ways. He's not that Tom Sagmiller or Rick Faeth type of person who is out there embracing the public. So, people don't know the financial risks he's taken to open these tracks. People don't hear the passion when he talks about the sport and what's he's seen and what he'd like to do. So, my concern for him is that when he leaves, whenever that may be, people won't remember the guy who loves the sport and did good things to help make it better. But, I will. Wherever I go from here, I will remember the good and think of John and Donna as friends.
I don't know if this is goodbye or what this is, but I wanted to write it anyway. We'll see what comes next. Thank you for reading It's been fun.