Saturday, February 13, 2016

Antioch And Merced Speedways Ready For 2016, Plus Banquet Report

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

If You Like Reading Our Articles, Visit The Tip Jar at Go Fund Me to support our efforts

 DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

2016 Antioch Speedway Schedule Has Been Released

Antioch, CA...February 13...The 2016 Antioch Speedway schedule was just released, and it details a season that begins with March 12 and 19 playdays, followed by the season opener on March 26.  Racing is booked nearly every week from then through September 24 with a race to be announced on October 8.  Generally, there will be five divisions on race night with the occasional six division show.

Notable on the schedule are the 25 races currently listed for the B "Sport" Mods and 20 races for the Hobby Stocks.  Those two divisions will be doing the "heavy lifting" for the speedway as the next most races are booked for the A Mods (15).  Dwarf Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints and Limited Late Models all remain on the schedule.  On alternate weeks, Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Late Models will headline the show, and California Hardtops have been scheduled five times.  The BCRA Midget Lites make two appearances.

Details of purse and point fund money for Winged 360 Sprints and Late Models are forthcoming.  Last year, and despite some low turnouts, the Sprint Cars still paid $1200 to win and $150 to start.  This year's schedule has 13 dates for the popular Winged Sprint Cars, five more than last year.

The real question is who will be supporting the class, and will car count increase?  Oval Motorsports has made a commitment to establishing this division at Antioch.  Defending champion Shawn Arriaga, past champion Art McCarthy, Dan Gonderman, Ricky Brophy and possibly two cars from the Haulot Racing Team are among those expected to return, and the potential is there to at least maintain 10-12 cars per race.

The Late Models, meanwhile, are coming off of a season in which they usually had no less than then ten cars throughout the 14 race schedule.  It's not anticipated that this will change for this 11 race season, but who will be coming back is the question.  Jeff Decker, Chester Kniss, David Newquist and Mike Hynes are anticipated, along with cars from the Guglielmoni racing stables, Rob Norris, Dennis Souza, Danny Malfatti and Troy Foulger.

B Mods are being put to the test with a heavy schedule.  Ryland Racing is expected to return with defending champion Fred Ryland and his wife Patti Ryland both racing.  Chuck Golden, Al Johnson, Ron Brown, Trevor Clymens, Keith Brown Jr., Megan Ponciano and K.C. Keller are others to watch for.  We should be seeing a few rookies in the class, including Jeremey Jennings and a car from the Swank Racing Team.

Some of the biggest buzz centers around the Hobby Stocks as 2015 champion Kimo Oreta moves up to Limited Late Models. This leaves the race wide open, and one question centers around how much racing past champions Brad and Melissa Myers will do this year.  Jordan Swank is anticipated to be one of the front runners along with Michael Cooper, Danny Jones, Natalie Perry, Robert Niven and Frank Furtado.

Two past champions, Dan McCown and Chris Sorensen, and hard charger Chris Long are both anticipated to be on the highly competitive roster as well Steven Rogers, Chase Templeton, Mitchell Loccicere, Jim Robbins and at least one car from the Jennings Racing Team.  Also joining the fray are rookies like Billy Garner, Brent Curran, Guy Ahlwardt, Lindsey Buirch and Natalie Waldrop.  The fact is, the Hobby Stocks are poised for a big season since it appears as if the rules situation has settled down.

Speaking of rules issues settling down, the Wingless Spec Sprints should have a better season this year as well.  While champion Kyle Bakkie may not be racing as much as he concentrates on his studies, Rick Panfili, Alan Miranda, James East, Peter Carlotto and Jeremy Newberry are anticipated this season.

It gets better as Jimmy Perry III will be joined by his father, Jim Perry Jr., this year.  Perry Jr. and Perry III are both past champions and are first and third, respectively, on the division's all time win list.  After a runner up season in Dwarf Cars, Adam Teves is moving up to Spec Sprints to make a run at top rookie honors.

Furthermore, last year's top rookie, Marcus Smith, was preparing a car for the new season when he landed the ride in Richard Basden's #20 car, numbered in honor of the retiring division original Keith Shipherd.  Meanwhile, Smith's car will be driven by two time champion Dan Gonderman.  Speaking of two time champions, Billy Macedo is anticipated for the coming season as well.

The A Mod roster should remain competitive.  Aaron Crowell should be ready out of the gate this year, which could put him in line for his second championship.  Five time champion Scott Busby may have something to say about that.  Other drivers to watch for include Bobby Motts Jr., 2014 titlist Carl Berendsen II, Trent Wentworth, Nick Viscusi III, Troy Foulger, Shawn DeForest, Josh Combs, Mike Salazar, Clay Twigg and Ed Daviess.

David Teves will return to attempt to defend his Dwarf Car championship, but he can expect a challenge from two time champion Danny Wagner and hard charger Mike Corsaro.  Ageless veteran Charlie Correia should also be back, while Kevin Miraglio is poised for a breakout season.  Other hard chargers like Kurtis Craig, Miranda Chappa, Thomas Leiby, Tim Reeder, Brian Gray, 2010 champion Jerry Doty and Josh Nelson will make this another strong season for Dwarf Car racing in Antioch.

Not to be forgotten in the equation is Limited Late Models, where Larry Damitz has won four of the last five championships and just may be the driver to beat.  As he has dialed in the car he debuted last season, 2013 champion Jim Freethy may have something to say about that, and Mark Garner will be out to improve on last season's third place ranking.  John Evans will field the former Mike Hynes car, while Lori Brown, Eric Berendsen, Calvin Louis, Kimo Oreta, Jim Robbins, Gene Haney, John Keith, Ryan Cherezian and all time Limited Late Model feature win leader Mike Gustafson should also be on the roster.

The California Hardtops will get five races, making Antioch the track giving the Northern California vintage racing division the most races on dirt.  Mike McCann certainly assisted in the process of making this happen as he began discussions with John M. Soares.  CHA leader John Philbert was able to finalize the deal.  Rob Waldrop was the top dirt track racer last season in this group, driving for Bill McLaughlin, and he will be back this year.  Other drivers we'll be anticipating this season include Tommy Thomson in the car he raced at Vallejo Speedway in the late 1970's, Dan Williams, Ken Clifford, Jason Clifford, Dennis Armstrong, Jason Armstrong, Rick Ruiz, Dave Mackey, Larry Damitz and Doug Braudrick.

More details on the schedule should emerge, such as what is and isn't sanctioned and any special races.  March 26 is the opener and will feature Late Models, Limited Late Models, B Mods, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks.  As always, the schedule is subject to change.  What is not subject to change is the fact that the 19th season of Oval Motorsports promoting Antioch Speedway should offer lots of excitement for the racing fans out there.  The official website will be updated soon for Antioch Speedway information.

2016 Antioch Speedway Schedule

March 12 Practice
March 19 Practice
March 26 Opening Day Late Models, Limited Late Models, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
April 2 Winged 360 Sprints, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks, BCRA Midget Lites
April 9 A Mods ($1000 to win), B Mods ($400 to win), Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks
April 16 Late Models, Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models, A Mods, B Mods
April 23 Winged 360 Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
April 30 Late Models, A Mods, B Mods, Spec Sprints, Hobby Stocks, Hardtops
May 7 Winged 360 Sprints, Limited Late Models, Spec Sprints, B Mods, Hobby Stocks
May 14 Late Models, A Mods, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
May 21 Winged 360 Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Dwarf Cars, Hardtops
June 4 Late Models, B Mods, Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks
June 11 Winged 360 Sprints, Spec Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Hobby Stocks
June 18 Late Models, Winged 360 Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Dwarf Cars
June 25 Winged 360 Sprints, Spec Sprints, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Hardtops
July 9 Late Models, A Mods, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks
July 16 Winged 360 Sprints, Spec Sprints, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks
July 23 Late Models, Spec Sprints, Dwarf Cars, B Mods, Hobby Stocks
July 30 Winged 360 Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
August 6 Winged 360 Sprint Cars, A Mods, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
August 13 Late Models, Spec Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Dwarf Cars
August 20 Winged 360 Sprints, BCRA Midget Lites, Limited Late Models, B Mods, Hobby Stocks, Hardtops
August 27 Winged 360 Sprints, Spec Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Hobby Stocks
September 3 Late Models, Spec Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Dwarf Cars
September 10 Winged 360 Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Hardtops
September 17 Late Models, Winged 360 Sprints, A Mods, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
September 24 Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models, B Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks
October 8 To Be Announced

* Schedule Subject To Change

Honoring Tradition A Part Of 
2016 Merced Speedway Schedule

Merced, CA...February 13...There were a lot of questions regarding the future of Merced Speedway this off season.  The track has operated continuously since 1950, and the racers wanted to know what the plans were for this season.  Ed Parker spent a few months negotiating the purchase of the track from previous contract holder, Oval Motorsports.  After that was handled, Merced County Fair Broad approval was needed, and that happened on Monday.

Just a few days later, the new schedule was released on the track's new website,  It's a schedule that gives the Merced Speedway fans more of what they have enjoyed in recent seasons.  After March 19 and 26 playdays, the gates will open for a 20 race schedule on April 2.  The IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Mods headline that night, along with Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.

The season ends on September 24 with a special event, the Matt Van Hoecke Memorial, Fight Against Cancer event, featuring the same four classes from opening day and double points for Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  Matt operated the parts truck at the speedway for many years and ran Matt & Glass race Car Bodies in Merced.  He sponsored many races and racers through the years and was a beloved figure in the racing community for several years.

On April 30, another traditional race, The Ted Stofle Classic, takes place.  This event was brought back to Merced Speedway three years ago thanks to the negotiations of returning General Manager, Doug Williams.  This season's format will call for 50 lap Main Events for each of the night's divisions, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods and Hobby Stocks.  Double points will be on the line for Hobby Stocks.

On August 13, another important event returns, The Legends Of Merced Speedway Night.  IMCA Sport Mods headline the show along with Mini Stocks, Valley Sportsman and the second appearance of the season for USAC HPD Midgets (First night is May 21).  Last season, such legends as many time Sportsman champion Dennis Moomjean, open wheel ace Gordon Rodgers, Longtime promoter and racer Chuck Griffin and the voice of Merced Speedway for 60 years, Johnny Sass, were on hand.

The Sportsman division was brought back to Merced by Griffin back in 1999 and has been a part of the speedway ever since.  They have eight races this season.  Eric Seely won on Legends Night last year and is expected to be a part of things this year, along with Kenny Birdsong, Jeff Bristow, Mike Palmberg and 2015 champion Marcus Lung.  Other racers said to be competing at least a little bit this season include Jeanne Canepa, past champion Mike Friesen, Mark Odgers and Mike Hausmann.

The buzz in Merced this year is about the potential for a field of IMCA Modifieds loaded with talent.  If 2015 champion Alex Wilson and brother Kyle Wilson hope to continue their winning ways, they can expect some tough competition from many time champion Ramie Stone, who returned late last season.  Late Model veteran Derek Nance, many time champion Paul Stone, two time champion Bob Williamson and Sport Mod graduate Bruce "Bubba" Nelson should see at least some action this season.  Plus, three time 2015 feature winner Ryan Porter, 2015 point runner up Ricky Thatcher, Karl Rose, Dereck Colvin and past Hanford champion Aaron Barnell are some of the other big names to watch for during this division's 14 race season.

Last year saw some of the big names only racing occasionally in the IMCA Sport Mod division, but it is hoped that we may see them more often this season.  Defending champion Josh Hensley should be there along with the father-daughter team of Mark and Marisa Odgers and hard charger Dwayne Short, but then there are the big guns like Rick Diaz, Shawn Bryant, Jeremy Hoff and Neill Barcellos, all of them champions in this division.  Plus, veterans like Gary Tucker and Darren Thomas.  Gary's son Nick Tucker should be in action, as should Darren's sons, Chase and Tanner.

D.C. Brown, Tim Cecil, Street Stock champions Steve Stone and Tim Ragsdale, Danny Roe, Chris Falkenberg and Mark Squadrito are among others to watch for.  Dwarf Car champion Mike Drake will be driving for Geoerge Medeiros, while Mini Stock graduates and champions at that, Alex Odishoo and Chris Corder, will also be in what is looking like another field stacked with talent.  Sport Mods will have a 17 race schedule this year.

Hobby Stocks were a wide open race last year with 16 different winners in 23 races and a car count that continued to grow as the season came to an end.  Kevin Joaquin was said to be considering a move up to BCRA Midget Lites this year, but he still has his car.  However, a talented field of Hobby Stock drivers should include hard chargers like Austin Van Hoff, Cody Parker, Kodie Dean, George Silva, Dexter Long, Ty Shelton, Kristie Shearer, Michael Shearer, Shane Hausmann, Marc Key and several more.  This season will see the Hobby Stocks at Merced 17 times

The Mini Stocks could be a wide open race for a different reason.  While the Hobbys may have many of last year's feature winners, the two dominant Mini Stock drivers from last year, Chris Corder and champion Darren Miguel, are moving up, though both still have cars and will drop in occasionally.  Miguel will be running a Hobby Stock.  Who might step up to run for the championship is anybody's guess.  Teammates James Stockton and Mike Germait may be the favorites.  The always entertaining Steve Johnson, Dennis Copus, Alisa Caldwell, Joy Alger, Jeff Amos, Jason Womack and the debuting Destiny Carter are among others to watch for. Carter is realizing her lifelong dream of racing thanks to Corder Racing.  The division has 14 races this season.

This season will feature non stop action from April through September.  As Johnny Sass would say, "Action will be the attraction, each and every Saturday night."  If that's not enough, track management is considering a big Fall Nationals event, tentatively scheduled for October 21-22, and a few other surprises.  Stay tuned for more news on the website, and be there for the season opener on April 2!

Merced Speedway Schedule

* Races start 7pm - over by 10pm * Pits open at 2pm * Drivers Meeting 5:30pm *

    19    Test and Tune    Pits opens at 12 noon, track opens at 3 pm until dark
    26    Test and Tune    $20.00 car and driver. Crew, fans welcome in pits - $20 entry

    2    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks       
    9    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman 
    16    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks       
    23    Mods    Sport Mods    Mini Stocks    Vintage    Valley Sportsman   
    30    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks  
    TED STOFLE CLASSIC 50 laps Features - 2X Points for Hobby Stocks
    (IMCA classes draw - redraw for main event line up)

    7     Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks
    14    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman
    21    Mods    USAC HPD Midgets    Hobby Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman

    4    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks       
    11     DARK
    15    SPECIAL EVENT - MERCED FAIR    Mods    Hobby Stocks
    25    DARK (or rainout make up race date if needed)

    2    SPECIAL EVENT  
        Mods     Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks
        (IMCA classes draw - redraw for main event line up)
    9    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks           
    16    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman
    23    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks               
    30    DARK

    6    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman
        (2x points for Sportsman & Mini Stocks)
        Sport Mods    USAC HPD Midgets    Mini Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman
    20    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks        
    27    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks           

    3    DARK IN OBSERVANCE of Labor Day
    10    DARK IMCA – Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa
    17    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Vintage Valley Sportsman
        Last point race for Vintage Valley Sportsman 2X points
    24    MATT & GLASS Fight against Cancer (MATT VANHOECKE MEMORIAL)
        Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks
        Last point race of the season 2X points for Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks
        IMCA Championship night

    21    TENTATIVE    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks
    22    TENTATIVE    Mods    Sport Mods    Hobby Stocks    Mini Stocks

 Oval Motorsports Celebrates 18th Season 
At Antioch With An Eye Towards the 19th

Antioch, CA...February 13...The 19th season of the Oval Motorsports era at Antioch Speedway kicked off in late January with the awards banquet that celebrated the 18th season.  Promoter John M. Soares is now just two seasons behind his father, John P. Soares, as the longest tenured promoter in Antioch Speedway history, and indications are that he intends to surpass his legendary father on that list.

The Oval Motorsports banquet also celebrated the sixth year for Oval Motorsports at Merced Speedway and the lone season at Chowchilla Speedway.  Oval Motorsports has sold their interest in Merced Speedway to local businessman Ed Parker, who received official approval from the Merced County Fair Board to run the track as of Monday.

All of the champions were on hand for the banquet to receive their trophies and championship jackets.  The banquet effort was spearheaded by local husband and wife racers Ron Brown and Lori Waggoner-Brown, who did an excellent job of putting things together with the help of some amazing sponsors and the help of some people in the racing community.

Champions on hand for the ceremonies included Antioch champions Scott Busby, (IMCA Modifieds), Shawn Arriaga (Winged 360 Sprints), Jeff Decker (Late Models), Larry Damitz (Limited Late Models), Fred Ryland (IMCA Sport Modifieds), Kyle Bakkie (Wingless Spec Sprints), Kimo Oreta (Hobby Stocks) and David Teves (Dwarf Cars).  Merced Speedway champions included Alex Wilson (IMCA Modifieds), Josh Hensley (IMCA Sport Modifieds), Kevin Joaquin (Hobby Stocks), Darren Miguel (Mini Stocks), Mark Garner (Limited Late Models) and Mike Drake (Dwarf Cars).  Chowchilla Speedway champions included Danny Luukkonen (IMCA Modifieds), Fred Ryland (IMCA Sport Modifieds), Kevin Joaquin (Hobby Stocks) and Chris Corder (Mini Stocks).

Ron Brown started the ceremony off as one of the three hosts, along with track Chief Steward Brad Coelho and announcer "Wylie" Wade Wilcox.  It was revealed that promoter John M. Soares was still in the hospital recovering from surgery, but he has recently gone home and begun the process of getting things ready for the coming season.

Brown presented numerous special awards to various track officials for their work behind the scenes making things happen.  Notables included Jim Thomson, who received the Kimberly Myers "Real Hero" award for all he had done throughout the season in making good things happen.  Flagman Bob Kempf also received an award.  In addition to flagging, Bob coordinated the candy and Hot Wheel givaways to the kids every week.  Among the other "Team Players" honored for their behind the scenes efforts included Ron Floyd, Mike Gray, Rich Quadrelli, Andrea Coelho, James Thomson, Chrystal Wilcox, long time official Steve Sutherland, announcer Wade Wilcox and Chief Steward Brad Coelho.

A special award of appreciation was also presented to John & Donna Soares for making racing possible at three tracks in 2015 and for all of their hard work in promoting the sport through the years.  Donna Soares was there to accept as her husband was still in the hospital.

Brown received an award for his efforts from Coelho, who also presented him with his favorite picture of one of his old race cars, which had been painted by his brother, past Antioch racer Butch Coelho Jr.  A few other early special awards also went out to Aaron Crowell for "Hard Luck Racer", Troy Foulger for "Most Popular Driver", Sport Mod racer K.C. Keller for "Rookie Of The Year", Chester Kniss for "Most Improved Driver" and the humorous "Take Out Of The Year" award to Nick DeCarlo, which Coelho presented.  Brown also thanked several of the sponsors for their support and presented them with awards.  This included Pro Motorsports, Unique Breedz, Xtreme Racing Products & Graphics, Delta Transmission and Ryland Racing.

The traditional Antioch Speedway "Rookie Of The Year" awards went to Nick Viscusi III (IMCA Modifieds), Marcus Smith (Wingless Spec Sprints), Patti Ryland (IMCA Sport Modifieds), Ricky Brophy (Winged 360 Sprints), John Keith (Limited Late Models), Jordan Swank (Hobby Stocks), Miranda Chappa (Dwarf Cars) and Chester Kniss (Late Models).  Kniss quipped as he received his award that he had received it last season too.  Danny Malfatti, who was not in attendance, was the top rookie in that division.  Marisa Odgers received "Rookie Of The Year" honors for IMCA Sport Mods at Chowchilla.  Other rookie awards didn't go out, though top Merced IMCA Sport Mod rookie Josh Hensley, top Merced Hobby Stock rookie Jennifer Corder and top Merced Mini Stock rookie Natalie Waldrop were also on hand.

Several other trophies were presented for the top drivers in points in all of the divisions as attendance was well over 200 people for the banquet.  Brown had brought in many door prizes from various sponsors that were raffled off during the course of the evening.  All in all, it was a successful occasion that included a good meal, a D.J. and plenty of good conversation.  Many racers were heard talking about being ready for the coming season.  The official website will be updated soon for Antioch Speedway information, while is the new official web page for Merced Speedway.