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Hobby Stocks Headline Chowchilla Speedway
Season Finale November 15
Oval Motorsports will conclude the ten race season at Chowchilla Speedway on Sunday afternoon with an event including Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars. With little buzz surrounding the previous race in October, a field of 16 Hobby Stock drivers were on hand, and management is hoping to increase that car count in November.
To that end, a field of 20 Hobby Stocks will run for an increased purse, which will include $500 to win the Main Event. In the event that car count gets even bigger, indications are that the purse could increase even more. This will be the last Hobby Stock race from Chowchilla all the way through Northern California.
Management is hoping to see an increase in Dwarf Car and Mini Stock car count as well, and drivers could see the rewards if that happens. The Mini Stocks ended 2015 on a strong note at Merced this season, and it's hoped that this can carry over to Chowchilla, where the division has been a part of all ten scheduled races.
Dwarf Cars were added to the 2015 roster at Merced Speedway as Oval Motorsports has been trying to establish the division in The Valley. Rookie Mike Drake won that championship over Chuck Weir. Northern All Stars competitor Mike Corsaro won the recent Chowchilla race ahead of teammate Charlie Correia. Corsaro has won features at all three Oval Motorsports tracks this season. Management is hoping to see Dwarf Cars come in from different areas for the finale.
The Hobby Stocks have a driver who has won at all three tracks, which includes Merced and Antioch. That would be Chowchilla and Merced champion Kevin Joaquin. Kevin ran strong in the October race as he battled from the fourth row to finish second ahead of 2014 Ted Stofle Classic winner Syd Finn. However, Bruce "Bubba" Nelson was the class of the field.
A two time Merced champion, Nelson got behind the wheel of the Michael Shearer car and won his third Main event of 2015 at Chowchilla. Earlier in the afternoon, he won the Trophy Dash. Only a second in his heat race prevented him from mimicking 2015 Mini Stock champion Chris Corder's sweep of the afternoon.
The Hobby Stock division has been the work horse division at Oval Mororsports, having raced over 20 times each at Merced and Antioch and nine times at Chowchilla. Therefore, management wanted to give them a little more as a reward. Starting money was increased in the October race, and the dash win included a nice trophy.
For the drivers coming in from Bay Area tracks like Antioch and Watsonville or further north at tracks like Orland and Chico, this is the last chance to get a start this year without having to tow much further south. The race in October was a good one, and this one is shaping up to be even better as we tie a nice bow on the 15th Anniversary season at Chowchilla Speedway.
Like the Hobby Stocks, the Mini Stocks have been a part of Chowchilla Speedway since it opened. Chris Corder's season included a Chowchilla championship. He won four of the last five Merced races and just missed the championship there by two points behind the flying Darren Miguel. It is hoped that these two will be part of the next show along with teammates James Stockton and Mike Germait, who finished second and third, respectively, in the October race.
Weather permitting, the November 15th race at Chowchilla Speedway should be a good show. Grandstands open at noon with the first race scheduled to start at 2. Hopefully, more official information will be available on the Oval Motorsports Website.
News & Rumors
With respect to my good friend Don O'Keefe Jr., I'm going to play "guest writer" for a very special column. However, you can see Don's News & Rumors columns on his website right HERE. They offer a lot of insight, and I do hope Don will continue them when he can. Since I'm in the mode to write some racing material today, I decided I would take a shot at this column. Hey, Don's welcome to do an Editor's Viewpoint if we wants.
We in the racing community are living a charmed life when it comes to all the race tracks we have in California. In the last decade, we saw several tracks close before reopening. We gained a couple new and returning tracks as well. So, it's easy to think we will just have these tracks. However, some promoters are barely keeping tracks going as attendance and car count drops. They are the ones covering the losses, and you have to wonder how long they can do that.
We should not take it for granted that we will always have these tracks. Two tracks that remain in constant danger now are Watsonville and Petaluma. Watsonville is under threat of being closed for noise and Petaluma has people there who think stores or condos would be a better use of the property. Management keeps fighting for those tracks, but it's a year to year battle. Both tracks have raced weekly since the early 1960's. Can you Imagine the sport without them?
The theme for this writer, for however long I continue, is track unity and keeping every track alive as long as we can. I favor a unified coalition of promoters who work to keep rules compatible with each other, stay off of each other's big dates whenever possible and come to each other's aid if a track is threatened. These and other subjects should be discussed every year at the RPM Promoters Meeting. There should be a special meeting of California promoters to establish an agenda of unity. This reporter is considering applying for credentials for a potential fifth visit to cover the big December event.
From what I have seen, the $4000 to win Rod Restad Memorial Race for IMCA Modfieds in Yreka was the biggest paying event for the division in California this season. Yreka also has a banquet to honor their drivers, and the track is run by a board elected by the drivers. As for banquets, I've heard talk about an Oval Motorsports banquet. Indications are that it is possible, but the hold up is concern that there won't be enough participation from the drivers. Management lost a significant amount of money on the previous one and still has a room full of unclaimed trophies.
Just a quick note on the winners of the Clyde Cordell Memorial Race at Hayfork Speedway. Jack Turner won the Hobby Stock feature, Ross Vige won the Mini Stock feature and J.D. Hudman won the Enduro race. They did have a Hobby Stock champion this season, but I can't seem to find the information now. Hayfork was another miracle track that popped up in the last five years, and I salute the people in Trinity County for making that track happen.
Adam Zachary was the latest promoter to take over at Orland, renaming the track Sacramento Valley Speedway. Adam didn't make radical changes there. It's still at its heart a Hobby Stock, Mini Stock, Mini Truck track that also has Wingless Sprints and two classes of Mini Sprints. It really takes a community to make small town tracks like these happen, and I was intrigued by the offer of Greg Rayl to start a Hobby Stock rental program there in the future. Greg raced Late Models at Stockton in the past before starting a successful Mini Truck rental program at Altamont. I have no doubt that he can make this fly if he chooses to pursue it.
Good promoters can make good things happen. They inspire others to contribute to the cause and get good sponsorships behind them. I see two promoters in particular who impressed me this year. There was Allan Handy of Placerville and Scott Schweitzer at Bakersfield. Both tracks had big car counts and strong fan support this year, showing what can still happen in California racing if the right effort is made.
The lower end program idea has been used to keep tracks going. Hayfork, Porterville and Orland feature Hobby Stock and Mini Stock classes right now, partly due to economic issues. In this way, you can establish a program without going broke as a promoter. If faced with that choice or no racing, I know I would choose racing. On the heels of the Hobby Stock and Mini Stock show at Chowchilla, I wonder if this is something that should be pursued there in the future? Something needs to happen to give that track stability.
On the other hand, you have high end travelling groups like the BCRA Midgets and KOW Sprint Cars. BCRA is already voicing some concerns about their future, though I have no doubt that they will be back. KOW is an even more expensive class to bring to the track, Those Winged 410 Sprint Cars cost money to race, but they aren't even bringing enough cars for B Mains some nights. Promoters will begin asking if it's worth it. One of the tracks they visit is one that depends on touring classes, Stockton 99 Dirt. I have to wonder why Tony Noceiti hasn't tried harder to start some local classes, such as Hobby Stocks, Sport Mods or even Mini Stocks.
Now for the fun part. It's time to talk about some News & Rumors. As Don would say, it's up to you to decide what is news and what is rumor.
Sacramento Raceway's Stadium Oval next to the drag strip will begin running some Friday and Saturday shows featuring Spec Sprints, Hardtops, Mini Sprints and Mini Stocks next year.
Allan Handy will be stepping down as promoter at Placerville after this successful season. The new promoter is a well known Sprint Car owner.
One promoter is considering a new E Modified class that truly will be an economic, low dollar class using older equipment, which will be specified in the rules.
Northern California Hardtops will have new leadership, providing a new option for racers who enjoy driving these old cars on the dirt.
A New Dirt Modified series in the Bay Area will run races on at least three different tracks in 2016.
BCRA Midgets will take a cue from the Midget Lites and eliminate pavement dates to increase car counts on the dirt.
Street Stock racing at Marysville will be eliminated in 2016.
There will be a new promoter at Petaluma Speedway within the next year.
One long time pavement track will become a dirt track in the next year and will become a player in Sprint Car racing.
At least two tracks will drop IMCA sanctioning on their Dirt Modified program in 2016.
At least one new track will sanction IMCA Stock Cars in 2016, joining Bakersfield and Hanford,
Late Model racing will continue to have home tracks in the Bay Area and Southern California, and both efforts will grow in 2016.
A prominent promoter will sell out to a new promoter, giving that track it's third different promoter in the last 25 years.
Taking a cue from Southern California, the figure 8 will get another chance with at least one race in the northern half of California next year.
The Valley Sportsman division will be back in 2016 and will begin the rebuilding process.
I will no longer be involved on a regular basis in racing in 2016.
Raymond Noland, Kylie Conway Win
Dearl Noland Memorial At Porterville
With point racing done for the season, Saturday night signalled the start of the special race portion of the season at Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville. It started with a special race honoring Dearl Noland. The Noland family has been a part of the racing tradition in Porterville for decades, and it was 2015 Hobby Stock champion Raymond Noland winning that division’s 20 lap Main Event. The 20 lap Mini Stock feature saw a new winner in Top 5 Bakersfield point competitor Kylie Conway. 2015 champion Roy Atchison continued his domination in the Super 4 Mini Stock class with his tenth 20 lap win. The American Stocks had enough cars to run their own 20 lap Main Event, and it was Trevor Baker picking up a win. The popular Okie Bowl Hardtops were back to entertain the fans once again with James Bradburn getting the feature victory.
The Hobby Stocks had a few big names in the field to challenge Raymond Noland. That included returning Modified veteran Charles Paul. Paul gave it a good run, but he settled for second behind the flying R. Noland. It was Noland’s fifth win of the season. Steve Noland made his first start of the year and brought it home third ahead of Alvin Ince and Bakersfield competitor Brian Childress. Hailing from Porterville, Kevin Collier spent the season winning the Bakersfield championship in dominating fashion, but he finished sixth in the Main Event ahead of the division debut of Clinton Massey, Cody Heinsohn and IMCA Stock Car competitor Rick Childress.
The Mini Stocks had a strong turnout with 14 cars starting the Main Event. Bakersfield competitors swept the Top 3 at the checkered flag as Kylie Conway grabbed the win ahead of Shannon Triede and Misty Warren. Shawn Schwartzenberger finished fourth and Robert Jackson returned to round out the Top 5. Super 4 Mini Stock competitor Kit Murphy made his first Mini Stock start and finished sixth ahead of the division debut of Candy Noland-Soares. Ken Shinarts, Bakersfield competitor Loni Spiller and Branson Trice rounded out the Top 10. Third ranked Clinton Massey severely damaged his car in a hard crash in the Main Event.
Roy Atchsion’s amazing Super 4 Mini Stock season continued with another impressive feature victory. Third ranked William Hughes’s quest for his first win of the season was thwarted once again as he settled for a division leading sixth second place finish. Russell Silvas grabbed the final podium position. Kit Murphy’s double division effort netted him a fourth place finish in the Super 4 feature as Steve Golden and Gary Meeks Jr. completed the finishing order.
Rocky Hill Speedway has remained committed to having an American Stock division, and low turnout has seen these drivers race with the Hobby Stocks most of the season. However, five cars enabled them to have their own race this time. Bakersfield point runnerup Trevor Baker held off fellow Bakersfield racer Nicholas Johnson to win the feature. Ricky Lloyd finished third ahead of Mike Warren and Jake Daniels.
The Okie Bowl Hardtops have held most of their races at Rocky Hill Speedway this year and were thrilled to be a part of the Dearl Noland Memorial Race. Having won earlier at both Rocky Hill and Bakersfield this season, James Bradburn won another Main Event ahead of previous winner Bobby Courtney and Rich Souza. Josh Yadon finished fourth ahead of Tom Dugan, David Courtney and Jerry Hughes.
On November 7th, racing returns to Rocky Hill Speedway with Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Super 4 Mini Stocks, American Stocks and a Mechanics Race. On November 11th, it’s the Fourth Annual Veterans Day race with the same four divisions along with a Battle Of The Badges & Dignitaries Race. For further information, check out the official Rocky Hill Speedway Website.