Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hogge Out-Duels Papenhausen, Jones Snaps Winless Streak At Antioch Speedway

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

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Hogge Out-Duels Papenhausen, 
Jones Snaps Winless Streak At Antioch Speedway

The gates opened for the 56th season of racing at Antioch Speedway, and five divisions competed on John Soares's fast three-eighth mile clay oval.  When the checkered flag flew on a thrilling Late Model 20 lap Main Event, it was Bobby Hogge IV snatching the victory from Richard Papenhausen.  Danny Jones went winless last year, but he opened the Hobby Stock season with an impressive 20 lap victory.  Larry Damitz opened the Limited  Late Model season the same way he closed the 2015 season as he scored another victory.  Likewise, defending B Modified champion Fred Ryland claimed the win in their 20 lapper, while Mike Corsaro sped to a Dwarf Car Main Event win.

Richard Papenhausen and Bobby Hogge IV gave a preview of things to come when Papenhausen got the jump on Hogge to win his Late Model heat race.  Chester Kniss grabbed his first heat race win, but his Main Event ended early with mechanical issues.  The Main Event featured a classic duel between a pair of champions, Papenhausen and Hogge.  Papenhausen never could quite shake Hogge, and when he got sideways exiting Turn 2 of the 18th lap, Hogge drove by on the outside for the lead.  Hogge went on to win with Papenhausen a disappointed second ahead of defending champion Jeff Decker, David Newquist, all on the lead lap.

Danny Jones had one recurring theme to his 2015 Hobby Stock season.  Every time he got anywhere close to a feature win, something bad happened.  He led the class in runner up finishes last year with a half-dozen, but no feature wins to his credit.  He started the night off by grabbing a heat race win from Jason Jennings on the last lap.  Steven Rogers drove his pretty green and yellow #25 car to a heat win of his own.  Unfortunately, the main was a bit rough for Rogers, who was caught up in a tangle.  In the Main Event, Jones was determined to finally get that monkey off of his back.  The crafty veteran had to contend with Michael Cooper, who was on the heels of his first feature win, but Jones would prevail at the checkered flag ahead of Cooper and 2015 "Rookie Of The Year" Jordan Swank.  Swank enjoyed a good battle with rookie Guy Ahlwardt, who held third for several laps before settling for a respectable fourth.  Chris Sorensen rounded out the Top five. Ahlwardt's night also included a second place heat race finish.  Rough nights for both Natalie Perry and Jennings saw them both sidelined early.

At age 86, Larry Damitz shows no signs of slowing down.  The Limited Late Model defending champion and winner of four of the five previous championships got the lead in the Main Event and would not let go as he sped to another checkered flag.  Damitz closes in on the Top 5 on the track's All Time feature winner's list with over 50 wins to his credit.  Past champion Lori Brown got her season started off well with a second place finish after starting in the back of the pack.  Three was not a lucky number for 2015 "Rookie Of The Year" John Keith.  While running third in his heat race, he threw three belts.  While running third in the feature, he tore a radiator hose to end that effort.  It was three time Hobby Stock champion Kimo Oreta starting off his rookie season with a solid third place finish after battling with Keith, Mark Garner and Jim Freethy.  Freethy ended up fourth, while Garnder joined Keith on the sidelines.

This year promises to see some new players in the B Modified championship battle, but the man they have to beat is still defending champion Fred Ryland.  Ryland collected the season opener and is climbing the All Time win list ladder in tenth with 41 victories.  Trevor Clymens is one of the title hopefuls this year, and he drove to a second place finish ahead of 2015 "Rookie Of The Year" Patti Ryland.  Making his return to racing after a few years away, Brian Pearce drove his beautiful #15 car to a fourth place finish.

Mike Corsaro served notice to the competition that he will be a player in the Dwarf Car championship battle this season.  Corsaro grabbed the lead in the Main Event and put a hurting on the rest of the field for the impressive victory.  Josh Miller chased down Kevin Miraglio for a third place finish.  For Miraglio, that was his best ever finish at Antioch.

The action continues next Saturday night as Winged 360 Sprint Cars headline the show along with BCRA Midget Lites. B Modifieds, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks.  It should be another good show.  More information can be found at the track's official website,

Merced Racers Tune Up One More Time 
Before April 2nd Opener

With beautiful weather again in the forecast, Merced Speedway opened its gates for the second and final playday to end the month of March.  Another strong turnout in the pits seems to indicate that there should be a solid car count for the April 2nd season opener.  Set to be a part of the first race of the season will be IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.

On Saturday, Sport Modified drivers again offered a solid turnout.  2015 Dwarf Car champion Mike Drake was out for some practice.  He is back in a Sport Mod after getting the ride in the George Medeiros owned #07 car.  He's hopeful for a good season this year, and he was joined in practice by others in his division, including past Pure Stock champion Andy Welch, Mark Squadrito, Dwayne Short, Josh Gish and rookies Matt Zelinsky and Tanner Thomas.  The #9d car of the late John Fore Jr. was also at the track.

It seems as if most of the IMCA Modified drivers are ready for the opener and decided to forgo practice.  One driver putting his new car through its paces was John MacDougall, who led the standings throughout the first half of last season before a Petaluma crash sidelined him for the remainder of the season.  Robert Dias didn't race much last season, but his #07 car was a welcome sight in the pits on Saturday.  Derek Colvin had the #3 Hondo Boats sponsored car out there for one more tuneup before the opener.  A solid turnout of IMCA Modifieds is anticipated this Saturday.

Some fans took advantage of the free grandstand admittance to watch the practice and get a look at some of the cars.  In the Hobby Stocks, this meant that Gary Hildebrand and Kodie Dean were back to make some more laps this week.  Both were feature winners in the class last years before suffering late season misfortune.  2015 "Rookie Of The Year" Jennifer Corder also returned.  It almost went unnoticed that Dexter Long was fifth in points in his rookie season last year behind second ranked Corder, and he was making laps in his white #911 car.  Young Kyle Singleton was making laps in the big #20 car that hearkens back to the days of the Merced Pure Stock class.  Kyle had a Top 10 finish in his lone start last year.   2015 Ted Stofle Classic winner Michael Shearer, past champion Ryan Hart and 2015 Mini Stock champion Darren Miguel were others with Hobby Stocks at practice.

Corder Racing had two Mini Stocks at playday as 2014 champion Chris Corder and rookie Destiny Carter were getting practice laps in.  It was a learning experience for Carter with a few eventful moments on the track, but she is determined to keep learning and improving.  James Stockton and Mike Germait were there along with a #13 Mini Stock.  Third ranked 2015 point runner Dennis Copus was making laps in his new car, and indications are that this division will have a stronger year.

Also in the pits were some winged and non winged Sprint Cars and the Bill McLaighlin Hardtop, driven by Rob Waldrop.  By all accounts, this was another successful playday for the track under the reign of new promoter Ed Parker and General Manager Doug Williams.  The season opener on April 2nd will feature IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  Mike Adaskaveg is providing some excellent coverage in the local papers this year, and you can read his articles and the latest official word on the track at the official web page,

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Noland Opens Rocky Hill Speedway Season With Win

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

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Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

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 DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

DCRR Racing Radio Show

A new edition of The DCRR Racing Radio Show looks at Southern Oregon Speedway, Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway, among other tracks.

Noland Opens Rocky Hill Speedway Season With Win

It may be a new era with new management at Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville this season, but there are a few things that haven't changed.  For starters, Karl Noland opened the season with the victory in the Hobby Stock Main Event.  Roy Atchison picked up right where he left off with a win of his own in the Super 4 Mini Stock feature.  Jason Cook impressed with a win in the Mini Stock Main Event, while the Mod Lite feature win went to Brian Puckett.

The Noland's have been a force at Rocky Hill Speedway for many years, and last season saw the family sweep the podium in the Hobby Stock point standings.  Actually, Karl Noland dominated with several feature wins, but he missed some races to drop to third in the final rundown.  If anybody thought he was slipping a little, the crafty veteran served notice by opening the season with a Main  Event triumph.  Not surprisingly, it was defending champion  Raymond Noland Jr. giving chase before settling for second.  Dave Schuyler gave it a good effort in finishing third.  Recent Bakersfield Speedway winner Michael Scruggs finished fourth as Monte Ince rounded out the Top 5.  Mini Stock gradate Clint Massey was sixth ahead of Karl Noland Jr., 2015 American Stock champion Jeff Lloyd, Jake Peters and Gene Glover.

Last season. Roy Atchison dominated the Super 4 Mini Stocks with the lion's share of the feature wins to roll to the championship.  With big trophies on the line for the season opening winners, Atchison had to work for it.  William Hughes could be Atchison's biggest threat as the third ranked driver from last year gave it a good run before settling for second behind the flying Atchison.  Steve Golden was a late season addition to the class last year and would finish a solid third on Saturday ahead of division mainstay Kit Murphy and Darren Eastermann.  Larry Ramirez was sixth as Barbara Hughes and Jared Tinker rounded out the finishing order.  Past champion Dudley Reed was a Main Event scratch

With 2015 champion Jared Plumlee out of the picture in Mini Stocks, "The Dirt Dog" Andy Boydstun is hoping he can move up one position and claim the championship.  He had a win in his sights on Saturday, but Jason Cook put an end to those plans with an impressive charge to flagman Keith Coburn's checkered flag for the victory.  Boydstun settled for second as Josh Nichols grabbed the final podium position ahead of Matt Heard.  Coming off of a sold fourth place point ranking last year, Justin Moore started off the season with a steady effort that earned him fifth at the checkered flag.  Larry Ramirez settled for sixth ahead of Candy Soares, Shawn Schwartzenberger, Steve Scott and D.J. Hughes.  Lance Gonzales was a feature scratch

The Mod Lites were part of the season opener and proved popular enough to be invited back for the next race.  These motorcycle engined, scaled down versions of DIRT Modifieds drew seven cars with Brian Puckett grabbing the win ahead of Roy Maynard and Kaden Cochrun.  Longtime Mini Dwarf competitor and champion  J.D. Brown has moved up in classes and finished fourth in his division debut ahead of Anthony Balcazar.  Jerry Flippo was a Main Event scratch.

Racing takes a few weeks off before returning for the Memorial Cup race on April 16.  Hobby Stocks, Mini Socks, Mini 4's and American Stocks will be joined by another visit from the Mod Lites.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Antioch, Merced Playday Reports, Antioch Opens Next Week

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

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Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

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Antioch Speedway Opener Set For Saturday, 
Drivers Flock To Practice Day

Antioch, CA...March 19...The racers had a need for speed Saturday afternoon.  Over 50 drivers flocked to Antioch Speedway to get one final practice in before race day comes.  Next Saturday, the gates will open on the 56th season of racing at Antioch Speedway.  Promoter John M. Soares will be at the helm for his 19th season in charge, just one year shy of his father, John P. Soares, who opened the track for weekly racing back in 1961.

Patti Ryland #7 is set to compete in her second season in Sport Modifieds.  Photo by Michael Briggs.

Next Saturday night is sure to be an action packed night of racing as Stock Cars will take center stage.  On the card for the March 26th event will be Late Models, Limited Late Models, B Mods, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  The season will run all the way through September 24th with a possible race to be announced for October 8th.

With Late Models on the card this week, David Newquist was at the track making some good laps in practice.  Newquist has been Top 5 ranked over the last two seasons at Antioch.  Lettering had just been completed on the Chester Kniss Late Model, but the team was saving that debut for this week's season opener.

The A Modifieds were well represented on Saturday.  Though they don't make their season debut until the $1000 to win race on April 9th, several Modified drivers were making good laps, including potential title contender Aaron Crowell.  Crowell was the track champion in 2004 and a two time feature winner last year as he debuted his new car. 

Four time champion Troy Foulger was there as well.  Racing for points this season may not be in his plans, but if that changes, Foulger is the driver to beat.  After blowing a motor last year while running second, past Top 3 Modified driver Sean O'Gara missed the remainder of the season, but the second generation racer was back to test his new motor.

Also back making laps in his new Modified was Mikey Slaney.  Slaney is a past Top 5 driver in multiple divisions at the speedway, and son Anthony Slaney will also be racing this year.  Trent Wentworth, Norm Boeck and Josh Combs also put their cars through the paces.

Brian Pearce has been gone for a while, but he has returned and made some practice laps in his #15 B Modified.  Photo By Ryan Brown.

B Mods get to race for $400 to win when the A Mods make their season debut on April 9th, but they are also part of next week's opener.  Brian Pearce debuted his new B Mod at practice.  A top 10 driver in the A Mods during the early part of the previous decade, the cost factor took him out of the running, but he's back and made some good laps on Saturday.

Two talented ladies, Megan Ponciano and Patti Ryland, were practicing for next week's B Mod opener.  Ryland is last year's "Rookie Of The Year" and third ranked driver, while Ponciano is a past runner up in points in this division.  Both of them have won championships in other divisions at the speedway.

Tim Hammett #33 got a little too close to the wall exiting Turn 2 make laps on practice day.  He's looking forward to this week's opening race.  Photo by Ryan Brown.

Two second year racers, K.C. Keller and Tim Hammett, were making laps on Saturday.  Keller is coming off a Top 10 season last year, while Hammett is hoping to bounce back from a difficult rookie year with a new car.  Though he was still dealing with handling issues, he says this car is better than his old car.

After three straight Hobby Stock titles, Kimo Oreta #03 made his first laps in a Limited Late Model before this week's opener.  Photo by Michael Briggs.

Limited Late Models were well represented in their final tuneup before next week's opener.  Kimo Oreta was making his first laps in his new car as he sets his sights on "Rookie Of The Year" honors this season.  Larry Damitz is back and could be in line for his third straight championship.  The 86 year old has been racing since the mid 1950's at the old Contra Costa Speedway in Pacheco.

Set to give Damitz a run for the money is Jim Freethy is the beautiful #99 car.  Freethy was making some good laps on Saturday.  He bears the distinction of being the only driver to beat Damitz for a championship since 2010.  He won the 2013 championship.  Paul Hanley and Jon Haney were other Limited Late Model racers making laps at the speedway.

Guy Ahlwardt  #10 is making his racing debut in this beautiful #10 Hobby Stock.  He's ready for Saturday's opener.  Photo by Michael Briggs.

Rookie Guy Alhwardt made his debut in a new car as the Hobby Stocks were well represented.  They will open their season this Saturday.  Danny Jones could be a serious contender.  He and daughter Jessica Jones were both making laps in their team cars.  Nick Baldwin was back for some laps after an impressive Top 10 season at Placerville after a late start last year.  Should he be back full time, he's a definite contender.  Baldwin has ranked third twice at Antioch.  Chris Long was back in the old Bob Ackerman car.  He's hoping to make a move up the point ladder this season.

Teammates Charlie "The Hammer" Correia #0 and Mike Corsaro #00 are sporting identical paint jobs on their Dwarf Cars this season.

Dwarf Cars are at next week's opener, and over ten cars were at the practice this week.  This included the team cars of 77 year old Charlie Correia and Mike Corsaro.  Correia, who has been racing in this division regularly for over 20 years, has recovered from a shoulder injury suffered in a hard crash at Merced Speedway last year.  Corsaro, meanwhile, could very will be the driver to beat in the championship chase after his impressive top 5 season last year.  Kevin Miraglio will also be a driver to watch as he got some good practice laps in as well.

Jack Haverty is just hoping to rinse the foul taste of the bad luck he had last year out of his mouth.  Haverty did get a win, but he had two of the harder crashes of anybody at the speedway last year.  Open wheel veteran Brian Gray, Tim Reeder, Josh Miller and Jenna Frazier were among the others taking their turns around the John M. Soares prepared three-eighths mile clay oval.

Sprint Cars aren't on the card until April 2nd, but several winged cars made laps in tune up for the 13 race schedule they have this year at Antioch.  Veteran Dan Gonderman is hoping to improve on his fourth place ranking, and more importantly, get his first win.  Gonderman has raced in several divisions and has wins in Street Stocks, Dirt Modifieds and Wingless Spec Sprints, where he is a two time champion.  He was also making laps in the Marcus Smith #28 Spec Sprinter, which he will be racing this season.  Robby McMahan, Chico Econo Sprint champion Brandon Powell and the team cars of Shawn Conde were among the others in the winged class making laps.

Young Adam Teves is driving the #42 Lloyd Beard tribute car this season in the Wingless Spec Sprint division.  Photo by Dana Craig.

Not to be forgotten are the Wingless Spec Sprints, who are set for an April 9th season kickoff.  Having ranked second in Dwarf Cars before getting his license during the winter, Adam Teves turned his first laps in the Dana Craig/Cameron Beard owned car.  Of significance is that this car is a tribute car to the legendary open wheel super star, Lloyd Beard.

It all kicks off at Antioch Speedway with a five division show this Saturday night, which will include Late Models, Limited Late Models, B  Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  It's going to the start of an exciting season of racing.

Rob Waldrop #36 is ready for the five Hardtop races that Antioch Speedway will have this season.  Photo by Michael Briggs.

Antioch Speedway is located within the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St. in Antioch, Calif. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 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.  For further information, check out

Merced Speedway Begins New Era With Successful Playday

Merced, CA...March 19...It is all coming together nicely for Promoter Ed Parker and General Manager Doug Williams at Merced Speedway this season.  Though they have gotten off to a later start than they might have liked after Parker purchased Merced Speedway from Oval Motorsports earlier this year, they really hit the ground running in making preparations for the season.  Parker had already been working on putting the pieces in place late last year, so he had a good idea of what he was going for.

The staff was still a bit nervous heading into Saturday's playday, but it turns out they need not have been worried at all.  There were 42 cars in the pits for the first of two scheduled practice events, and driver enthusiasm is high as several racers not seen for a year or two are making their way back to the 67 year old racing facility.

Jeff Bristow #14 was back to make some laps in his #14 Sportsman .  Toni Miranda Photo

A mixture of drivers from the track's core five divisions, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Valley Sportsmans, brought their cars to the track to take their turns on the fast quarter-mile clay oval.  In fact, seven Dwarf Car drivers were there as well.  Parker expressed his gratitude for all of the support.  He further added that while he was unable to book a Dwarf Car race due to a full Dwarf Car schedule elsewhere, he intends to bring the cars to the track next year.

There has been buzz on social media surrounding the racing debut of Destiny Carter in the Corder Racing #82c Mini Stock.  Carter has grown up at this race track and has been doing whatever she can to help support the sport in recent years.  Chris Corder has given her the opportunity to drive a race car for the first time, and she was excited to make some practice laps.  Though the car had some mechanical issues, they were squared away, and she will return to try again.

Tanner Thomas made his Sport Mod debut in the #8 Matt & Glass car.  Darren Thomas Photo

There are some young guns doing some racing for the first time at Merced, including second generation racer Tanner Thomas, who was driving the yellow #8 Matt & Glass Sport Modified for the first time.  The young teen has logged seat time in Go karts prior to moving up to this class, and he is ready.  Another young gun, Gavin Espino, who is the son of Paul Espino, logged his first Sport Mod laps as well.

The Sport Mod division was well represented as Donny Roe had a beautiful car in the pits.  Danny's last car took a beating in a crash at Merced Speedway last season, but he's excited about getting back out to the track.  Last year's third ranked competitor, Dwayne Short, and Nick Tucker were there as well.  Top 5 2015 racer Gary Tucker, Nick's father, had his car in the pits.  Past Mini Stock champion Alex Odishoo spent last season announcing and racing Mini Stocks again, but he is happy to be back in a Spot Mod once more.  Alex was making laps in his beautiful #48 car.

Tim Ptothro #23 brought two cars to playday, his new Sport Mod (note Tim Porter #14 in the background) and his 2014 point runner up Sportsman.  Vicki Prothro Photo

Tim Prothro was equally happy to be back behind the wheel of a Sport Mod after a crash ended his season prematurely last year.  To celebrate, he dug his 2014 point runner up Sportsman out of mothballs to put some laps on it.  Prothro's two car effort was joined by one of last season's Sportsman competitors, Jeff Bristow.  Word is the car count will be going up in the popular vintage division.

There were Modifieds in the pits, including Tim Porter and past Chowchilla Speedway champion Tim Balding.  Both drivers are coming off of interesting seasons.  Brown would rather forget his season after the night he rolled at Chowchilla.  Porter's three wins last year and top ten season was highlighted by his win over Bobby Hogge IV.  His season ended with a hard crash, but Porter's car was back together and making more fast laps around the speedway.

Bill Egleston was seen putting his car through its paces.  He already ran his Late Model earlier this year, but the past Merced Modified champion and Top 5 racer last year is aiming for a better season this year.  Bruce "Bubba" Nelson has won in every division he's been in.  Coming off of a top 5 Sport Mod season, the two time Hobby Stock champion made some laps in the beautiful Michael Shearer owned #4 entry.  Bubba may just be the driver to beat in the rookie race.

Destiny Carter #82c and Joy Alger were both on hand to make some Mini Stock practice laps.  Corder Racing Photo

Past Top 5 Mini Stock racer Joy Alger was excited about making her first laps in a new car.  She'll be one of the strong contenders for wins this season.  Teammates Mike Germait and James Stockton were there for practice as well.  These two could make their presence known in the championship battle.  Another strong contender will be past Mini Stock point runner up and 2015 Hobby Stock runner up Jennifer Corder.  Jennifer will be gunning for her first feature win in Hobby Stocks, and she shouldn't be counted out.

Over a half dozen Dwarf  Car drivers showed up to make some laps.  At this time, Merced Speedway has no dates for them, but management has indicated an interest in booking them when dates become available.  NorCal leadfoot Ryan "Ice Chip" Winter was there along with fellow NCDCA competitors Jeff Fitch and Chuck Connover.  Allen Heeny and last season's Merced runner up Chuck Weir were among the others out there.

Merced Speedway returns this Saturday night for another playday, but this time the grandstands are open for free admission to the fans.  After that, it's an exciting season ahead as the track opens on April 2nd and the Annual Ted Stofle Classic is set for April 30th, featuring 50 lap Main Events for IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks.  For further information, check the official Merced Speedway website at

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Remembering Phil Pedlar, Antioch and Merced Playday Musings

First of all...

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

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Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

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 DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

Remembering Phil Pedlar, 
Antioch and  Merced Playday Musings

Well, it's early Wednesday morning as I begin this column, and I can't sleep.  Got a lot going on in my mind, and I suppose that's why I can't sleep.  It is what it is.  I started thinking about Phil Pedlar.  We just lost another legend yesterday.  My quest has been to honor the greats of the past.  I devoted my life to studying the history of our sport.  In the end...  Okay, I'm not going there.  Trying to stay positive.  I know people appreciate it.  I'm trying to get back to appreciating it myself, and it's hard sometimes.

They called him Phil "Bang Bang" Pedlar.  I heard about him through my dad.  My dad went to Vallejo Speedway back in the day and Contra Costa Speedway before that.  Phil was one of the racers there.  The way dad tells it, Phil was an aggressive racer.  He was coming from the back of the pack one way or the other.  If you didn't get out of his way, you might pay the price.  He was a big man, and let's just say people didn't mess with him.  I'm told my mom was a big fan, which dad didn't particularly like.  Dad was a Larry Damitz fan, Chet Thomson and Leroy Geving, if I recall.

I sort of pictured him as a Dennis Furia "type" racer.  Dennis was aggressive, won a lot and didn't always make friends with the way he drove.  I wasn't a fan as a kid, but when I met the man, that changed.  I grew to respect him.  Another great who is no longer with us.  Well, Phil won a lot of races in Hardtops and Open Comp races.  He was a champion at Vallejo, and my chance to watch him race was at Petaluma Speedway in Super Stocks.  That division was a site to see.  So many greats, and Phil was one of them.  Not surprisingly, Phil won a title there as well.

I just learned from Southern Oregon Speedway Promoter Mike McCann that after Phil won his Petaluma championship, he made a bid to buy Cottage Grove Speedway.  It was going to be Phil and his son Robbie, who also raced Super Stocks.  Heck, by then, Phil had done it all, so what was left to prove as a racer?  He had the knowledge, and I don't think too many racers would get in his face about a bad call.  Call it a hunch.  Mike ended up promoting the track, and he was honored at the RPM Promoter's Workshop as Promoter Of The Year for turning that track around.  Anyway...

I sort of lost track of Phil for about a decade when he returned in a Modified.  Not surprisingly, he was winning again.  I heard rumors around 1997 or so that he was building an NCMA Modified.  I saw him at Petaluma one night, went into his trailer and asked him if this was true.  He just smiled and asked me where I'd heard that.  I have my sources, Phil.  He was vague, but I think he was looking.  The NCMA just wasn't the right time and place for him.

When Don O'Keefe Jr. and I started Wingless Spec Sprints with John at Antioch, Phil decided it was time.  Not surprisingly, he was a winner again.  I was in awe.  Phil Pedlar was in a division that I helped start.  He's one of the reasons it made it.  He was in a hard flip after contact with O'Keefe.  Don related a story where he could hear Phil was hurt, and it messed with Don's mind for a while.  I mean, you're in a wreck with a legend, and maybe it's the last time that legend races?  I can see that messing with you.  Phil had a bad back, but he wanted to race.  And, he raced again after that.  It was finally the time and place as he won the NCMA dirt series championship a year later.

Phil raced a bit more in Modifieds and then he left the state.  Man, it makes me sad to have lost him.  It's been a rough off season .  Jerry Hetrick, Dave Gonderman, Joe Fore Jr., Larry Rodriguez, Jimmy Lavell, Bob Hansen...  I'm growing numb with the news.  It hurts too much, and I'm already sad enough as it is.

I'm just gonna come out and say it...  I don't care.  All of the racers I've met through the years, even  the ones who weren't so  nice to me, I love you guys.  I see Larry Damitz out there racing at 86 years old.  Appreciate that, folks.  Go up and say hi and have a conversation with him,  Don't take it for granted.  Charlie "The Hammer" Correia, Mike "The Blue Knight" Gustafson...  I love that these guys are still able to race.  Ken Gonderman is still pits with his son Dan.  The man is a legend, and I'm damn proud to know him.  Ron Brown is still doing it out there...  I saw J.D. Willis last year...  Saw Keith Brown, Debbie Clymens, Tommy Clymens, Terry DeCarlo.  So many, even at Merced.   I love you guys.

I'm not okay with the way things were left at Antioch Speedway between John and I.  It's something I'm living with, because I sort of had a belief that, since I was back, I'd be there working with him until he walked away or tossed me out on my ass.  But, I waited and waited and waited as my life went to hell.  Lo and behold, things are what they are, and it bleeping hurts.  I'm a Soares fan.  Always have been.  I don't carry any negative feelings towards John, just hurt.  I wish John and Donna nothing but the best, and I love them for the good they have done.  I'm a little worried about them and hope they are doing well.

I'm telling you folks, since I lost my dad, I don't take it for granted that anybody is gonna be here.  Mark Garner knows the pain now, and it hurt watching what he was going through last year.  Jerry Garner was a good man,  Never let an opportunity pass to let people know how you feel.  They may not be there tomorrow.  As for Phil Pedlar, he was a good racer and a good man  I'm proud to have known him.  He will forever be "Class of 1999 Wingless Spec Sprints" to me.  Without racers like him, it never would have made it.  Thank you Phil.

Merced And Antioch Racers, Get Ready To Play...

It looks as if the weather will cooperate, and that means playdays should be happening at both Merced Speedway and Antioch Speedway on Saturday night.  It's the perfect opportunity for the drivers to dust the cobwebs off of their race cars and make sure things are working right.  Antioch Speedway will be opening on the 26th, and Merced will have one more playday before their opener on April 2nd.

If what I'm reading right, the Antioch opener on March 26th is Late Models, Limited Late Models, B-Mods, Dwarf Cars and Hobby Stocks.

Merced on April 2nd is IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.

The Antioch chatter has been interesting.  Aaron Crowell has a nice looking Modified ready to go.  Could this be another championship season for him?  He looked real good at times last year.  The Slaney cars have been seen on Facebook as Mikey and his son Anthony are racing Modifieds this year as well.

B Mod season has already started for Fred Ryland, and not surprisingly, he's won a few races already, most recently at Marysville and Kern County.  Patti Ryland even had a Top 5 run at Marysville.

Hobby Stock photos have circulated from Steven Rogers and Dan McCown as their cars are being prepared for the coming season.  It looks like Chris Long is ready to go too with Joey Ridgeway coming on board as part of the team.  Guy Ahlwardt has lots of pictures.  With a car that beautiful, who can blame him for sharing them?  Chris Soresenen is ready to go too from what we're hearing.  It's gonna be a good year for Hobby Stocks, I think.

Speaking of which, Robbie Waldrop has been showing off his daughter's Hobby Stock.  I know Natalie Waldrop will do just fine out there.  Robbie is looking forward to wheeling Bill McLaughlin's Hardtop on the dirt.  I noticed pictures of Bill's pavement car as well.  Almost forgot that Bill has two cars.  The beautiful #1 Dudley tribute car of Dave Mackey is ready to go as well.  Doug Braudrick, Jason Armstrong and Ken Retzloff's cars have been shared on Facebook.  Retzloff is getting help from Nick DeCarlo, who owned the car before.  Not sure if Nick will be driving.  I've also noticed Ken and Jason Clifford have said they are ready, and Tommy Thomson as well.  CHA President John Philbert has a busy schedule for Hardtops, and Antioch has them five times.  Dirt races for this class also include races at Placerville, Chico, Marysville and the night of the Johnny Soares Classic at Petaluma.

I was surprised by the announcement from Danny Chappa that his daughter Miranda has a Spec Sprint.  He shared pics.  And, yes, I think she is ready for the move.  I know Adam Teves is, and that young man has quite the honor.  He's driving what is basically a tribute car to a true legend, Lloyd Beard.  Beautiful race car.  I thought I saw Alan Miranda mention he's ready to go, and teammates Marcus Smith in the Richard Basden #20 car and Dan Gonderman have already made starts at Marysville.  Also, word out of the Perry Racing garage is their two cars, to be driven by Jim Perry Jr. and Jimmy Perry III, will be ready to go.

Teammates Charlie Correia and Mike Corsaro have shown off their Dwarf Cars on Facebook as they prepare for the coming season.  Great guys, and I know they will do well.  David Teves's car is ready to go, and "Captain Chaos" Danny Wagner has already been racing this year.  I know Kevin Miraglio will be ready to go.  Dwarf Cars will be reliable and entertaining as always.

Not much chatter on Sprint Cars or Late Models, but I'm hopeful.  On the Limited Late Model front, four time division champion Larry Damitz already went out to play at Maryville last month.  Also, Kimo Oreta has his #03 car painted and lettered.  He's ready for his rookie season.  Of course, Mark Garner has shared some pictures.  He'll run the Delta Transmissions sponsored car again.  Not sure what number he's going with.  Mark had announced last year that he was retiring his dad's number.  He's also been sharing pictures of Billy Garner's Hobby Stock.  Did I mention Natalie Perry's Hobby Stock should be ready?
Doug Williams has been getting drivers to share pictures on Merced Speedway's Facebook page.  They are doing so much right now, and I am amazed at Williams and Ed Parker.  There are 9 lap heat races this year in honor of John Fore Jr. and Ed just announced open grandstands for the fans to watch the March 26th playday.  Is that awesome or what?  I have a feeling Merced is gonna be just fine this year.  Can you say B Mains needed?  I have a feeling a couple divisions will need them on occasion.  I hope so, because that would be awesome.

As I said, Doug and Ed have been posting pictures, and there are lots of Sport Mod drivers taking advantage of it.  Past Street Stock star Danny Roe will be back with his car, and its looking good.  Speaking of which, the returning Alex Odishoo's car looks great as the past Mini Stock champion comes back to this division. I think the blue #07 Sport Mod of George Medeiros looks great.  Blue #07, just like Ken Gregg.  George has 2015 Dwarf Car champion Mike Drake driving, and Mike already got some seat time to shake out the bugs at the Maryville's opener.

Isn't Tim Prothro part of the Mariposa Mafia?  I know Ricky Thatcher is, and his A Mod is ready for a run at a win.  Being a three time champion in Street Stocks, I know what Ricky can do.  Prothro was Sportsman runner up two years ago, but his Sport Mod effort was cut short last year when he "said hello" to the Turn 4 wall.  Car looks good.  I'd love to see the Sportsman if he still has it.  Charter Mariposa Mafia member Mark "The Missle" Odgers has that Vern Wilhoite tribute Sportsman, and I hope we get to see it some.  He also has a new Sport Mod in the works, a newer chassis.  Plus, Marisa Odgers returns to the track of her Mini Stock Championship.  Love that beautiful race car, and she's a good driver too.

Matt Pedroni will be joined by his wife Ashley this year in Sport Mods.  Ashley will be in Chris Falkenberg's old car for her rookie effort.  Falkenberg, meanwhile, is set to debut his new car, which is the former Fred Ryland car.  Dale Falkenberg has been helping get these cars together, and there is  the Hobby Stock and Mini Stock.  Lucy Falkenberg will run the Mini when she gets the chance.  As for the Hobby Stock, might the "Rock & Roller" himself, Dale Falkenberg, take the wheel again?  We can hope.

The only Mini Stock I saw pictured for a while there is the car of Joy Alger, but there has been a lot of buzz.  I think car count will be back up in double digits.  Chris Corder posted pictures of the car he has prepared for Destiny Carter this year.  I'm anxious to see Destiny live out her dream in one of the Corder Racing cars.  Dennis Coups is ready to roll, and Kevin Lockerby had been waiting on a motor, but he has it now.  Things are coming together.

Andrew Krumm is hoping to bring it all together for his Hobby Stock.  He's looking for sponsorship, and I say this guy is worthy.  He's a two time division champion already, and he's a winner.  I'm not sure what the status is on his daughter's Mini Stock, but I think it was a question of getting the teen used to driving a stick.  I do hope Andrew gets the backing, because it would be good to have him back out there regularly again.

Brandon Speck is coming back, and his Hobby Stock is gorgeous.  I can't wait to what he can do.  Last year's runner up, Jennifer Corder, has new paint and better numbering on her #13 car.  I see a podium finish in her future, and could a win be far behind?  Kodie Dean won once last year, and his #7 car looks nice and new.  Oh, the punishment that car took late last season.  He just couldn't catch a break, but he'll be back at it this year and tough to beat.  Donnie Shearer will be back this year as well and has put a picture up there.  There was also a Jeff Lacy sighting at Hanford in February as he was putting his Dan Marino/Miami Dolphins #13 car through its paces.

Chris Shannon has a gorgeous Modified, and the Late Model veteran will be racing along with his Go Kart champion son, D.J Shannon.  Robert Dias also has plans to race, and his car is looking good.  Two time Hobby Stock champion and Top 5 Sport Mod racer last season, Bruce "Bubba" Nelson has shown his new car on social media.  It's a Michael Shearer owned entry, and I'm betting that means we get to see Michael and his wife Kristie racing Hobby Stocks again this year.  Nelson's car looks good, and I bet he'll still be a hard charger this year.

Last I heard, the plan was for Ramie Stone to race, and I sure hope so.  I always enjoyed watching him race his way to the front.  Ramie is one of the best, and there are gonna be some good racers in IMCA Modifieds at Merced Speedway this season.  These are just some I know of based on social media chatter and the pictures I've seen posted so far.

Then, it gets better.  Paul Stone's picture was just posted on the Merced Speedway Facebook page.  Paul is a multi time Merced and Hanford champion, and it sounds like he may be making a return for another point run.  If that happens, watch out!  You already know how good he is.  Paul and cousin Ramie in Modifieds at Merced Speedway?  It doesn't get much better than that, but yet it does.  Just go see for yourself.

They play this Saturday, and the man dropping the green flag on the field will be none other than Doug Laidlaw.  What a great choice for flagman.  Doug is one of the best, and he is respected by the racers.  I've been hearing some rumblings by the Sportsman drivers, well Kenny Birdsong anyway.  He has accounted for 13 different cars in the group, and I hope we start seeing all of them during the year.  The goal should be making those eight races pop, and then we can go from there.  Merced brought the class back, so go out there and make Merced proud.

And finally, While Bakersfield has a show Saturday that will headlined by USAC West Coast Sprint Cars and IMCA Sport Mods, Rocky Hill Speedway is coming back at you with new management.  They've already made improvements and cleaned up the facility a bit.  I have a good feeling from all that I am hearing that this will be a better season.  Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Pro 4s and American Stocks are back, and Mini Dwarfs and Mod Lites are running this week as well.  American Stocks struggled last year, and I'm hoping this class gets better this year.  I have a feeling it will be a little better, but we never know until it happens. We'll find out on Saturday.

I'll probably ghost write stuff this year for all three of these tracks as I do my best Gary Jacob impression.  Can you believe that we lost that man ten years ago in June?  Where the hell does the time go?  I miss him, and so does the sport.  He was an asset to racing, and I suggested him for the West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame last year.  I'm sure Ken filed it some place.  I'm not holding my breath on that one, but there is no question Gary was all about the Stock Cars and could help make a race with his efforts.  If it was Late Models, he was there. Gary should be in the Hall Of Fame.  I nominated John M. Soares too, and after Ken saw that name, he probably didn't look anymore.  Call it a hunch.  But, both are worthy inductees in my opinion.

Anyway, with Gary gone, there is a major void in motorsports coverage in California.  Nobody is dedicated and crazy enough to do this like Gary did.  The hours he put in to do that AND work a regular job probably contributed to his early demise.  And, to my original point, folks, don't take any of this for granted.  Don't let anything go unsaid.  If you care about somebody out there, say it.  No day is guaranteed.  Enjoy watching these veteran racers, and when one of them stops by the track, say hi.  Let them know.  Cherish watching a guy like Larry Damitz.  That man is inspiring to me.  He was one of my dad's favorite drivers too.

Guys like Phil Pedlar made this sport special.  I'm saddened that we lost him, but at least I got to see him race and talk to him.  I guess God needed another hard charger up there at the speedway in the sky.  This column is dedicated to Phil Pedlar with some good news.  I just got word that for his racing accomplishments, Phil is being induced into the Calistoga Speedway Hall Of Fame this year.  A fitting way to remember a legend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Two Champions To Race Sprint Cars At Southern Oregon Speedway And More, Plus Yreka News

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Two Champions Join The Sprint Car Revival 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

When Mike McCann announced that he was starting a Sprint Car class shortly after taking over the reigns of Southern Oregon Speedway, people began to talk.  There are several Sprint Car drivers in the area who would like to have a home track to race at, and the fast three-tenth mile dirt oval was home to a Sprint Car division for over a decade.  In recent years, Sprint Car racing was mostly booked for the traveling groups that would stop by.

The ten race schedule booked for the coming season will change all of that, and we have roughly ten drivers who have expressed interest in being a part of it.  Two of the latest names come with championship credentials.  Patrick Dills won the Extreme Sprint Car Championship last year at Cottage Grove Speedway on the strength of three feature wins.  He also finished a strong third in the 360 Sprint Car class.

The Sprint Cars haven't had a championship season at Southern Oregon Speedway since 2010.  In an effort to get the cars out there, McCann has made it an open class that will allow the winged and injected 410 and 360 Sprint Cars to race with the carbureted Sprint Cars.  The idea is to get cars back out to the track, though its not likely that the 410 Sprint Cars will appear regularly.

When last the division did have a point season, Chadd Noland won the championship.  Noland has thrown his hat into the ring to be a part of the coming season.  Noland and Dills will be fast, and they join others, including Dwarf Car ace Camden Robustelli, Orland Sprint Car champion Bill Hopper, Jeffery Hudson and Todd Whipple, on the growing roster.  Robustelli and Hudson are two of the rising young stars on the scene, and Hudson is coming off of an impressive Pro Stock championship effort.

There have been some amazing racers who have competed in this division at Southern Oregon Speedway through the years, including multi time champions Dan Menne, Bill Nutter and Randy Rodgers.  The new era means new stars will have their chance to shine, but it could also mean that Noland or Dills could add more championship hardware to their mantles.

The gates will open for the 21st season of racing at Southern Oregon Speedway on April 30th.  When they do, the Sprint Cars will be a part of the show.  It's a night that begins a new era for the track and the popular division.  For more information, check out the official Southern Oregon Speedway web page at

Southern Oregon Speedway Retains 
IMCA Sanctioning For Modifieds

When Mike McCann took over as promoter at Southern Oregon Speedway, he looked over all of the divisions to make plans for this season.  In looking at the Modified and Sport Modifieds, he learned one thing early on from the competitors.  They wanted to keep the IMCA sanctioning.  The oldest sanctioning body for auto racing in the United States, IMCA provides these classes with a good set of rules. The drivers know what they are getting when they show up to compete at an IMCA sanctioned race track.

The Modifieds will run a nine race schedule, which also allows the drivers to visit neighboring tracks and vise versa.  It is hoped that car count will continued to grow.  The Sport Mod drivers get 13 races, which also makes the minimum dates required to be a part of Steve Kerstulovich's NW Sport Modified Challenge Series.  The Series was added after two successful years of the NW Modified Cup, which  Southern Oregon Speedway drivers also get the opportunity to be a part of.

There have been some very talented Modified drivers who have passed through the gates of this race track throughout its 20 year history, and it could be that Albert Gill is the lesser known champion of those drivers.  Gill has sort of flown in under the radar, but he's done so as the two time defending champion.  Gill climbed up through the ranks of the track's Pro Stock division, where he was also a Top 5 driver on multiple occasions.

One of the drivers voicing his desire for IMCA sanctioning was the talented Mark Wauge.  Really, it doesn't matter if the class is sanctioned, unsanctioned or even running wings.  Over one-quarter of the times (6 of the 20 seasons), Mark has left the track as the champion.  He's also won the prestigious Lon Skinner Memorial race once among his numerous feature victories, and he's certainly among the favorites to do it again this year.

The Bailey Team, Jesse Bailey and Tim Bailey, should not be counted out this season.  Tim finished a strong third in the standings last year ahead of Jesse, who has had a string of Top 5 point seasons.  In fact, Jesse was second to Gill in the 2014 point battle.  Not to be forgotten in the mix, as if he could be, was last season's fourth place point runner, Brian Poppa.  Like Gill, Poppa came up through the Pro Stocks, but Poppa actually won a championship there before doing it again in Modifieds.  Brian's impressive credentials includes three wins in the Lon Skinner Memorial race.

The fact is, there are several good racers at Southern Oregon Speedway, making this the place to be for IMCA Modified racing on any night this class is on the schedule.  Two other past champions, Travis Peery and Jon DeBeneditti, were among the competitors last season and are factors when they show up.  Add in other names, such as Zach Fettinger, Brett Provost, Eric Mobbs, Jeremy Ohlde and Monte Bischoff, and you have a competitive Modified division.

The IMCA Sport Modifieds are heading into their fifth season, and perhaps the biggest star in the division at any of the tracks in the area is Jorddon Braaten.  Jorddon backed up his 2014 title with another championship romp last year.  He is also a past Street Stock champion, but last year was an amazing season that saw him win many times at both Southern Oregon Speedway and neighboring Yreka.  Braaten may be hard to beat this year in the track championship battle as well as the NW Sport Modified Challenge.

Two names to keep an eye on are Mike Medel and Dwayne Melvin.  Medel finished second in points last year while also winning the Oregon State IMCA championship.  Melvin had a Top 5 season as well, but he also won the first two Sport Mod titles at the track.  Bob Nelson is another driver to watch.  He was sixth last season following his third place effort a year earlier.  Coming off of a strong third place season of his own last year, ahead of Randy Fernandes, Glen Severson could also be a factor in the championship chase.

The Sport Mod division continues to grow and is poised for its best season yet.  The Modified division has the talent to put on a show to rival any of the tracks in the area.  Put them both together, and under the IMCA banner, and you have a recipe for good things to happen on the fast three-tenths mile clay oval.  Who will come out a winner this year?  The best way to find out is to come see a show.  For more information on these divisions and Southern Oregon Speedway in general, check out the official track web page at
Modified Champions

1996  Tom Glover
1997  Dennis Silva
1998  Tom Glover
1999  Don Estermado
2000  Mark Wauge
2001  Jay Hinton Jr.
2002  Jon DeBeneditti
2003  Jeremy Richey
2004  Brad Alfrey
2005  Mark Wauge
2006  Brian Poppa
2007  Mark Wauge
2008  Justin Holt
2009  Mark Wauge
2010  Travis Peery
2011  Mark Wauge
2012  Mark Wauge
2013  Dustin Knight
2014  Albert Gill
2015  Albert Gill

Sport Mod Champions

2012  Dwayne Melvin
2013  Dwayne Melvin
2014  Jorddon Braaten
2015  Jorddon Braaten

Three Styles Of Mini Stocks to compete 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

When Southern Oregon Speedway opened up back in 1996, one of the regular divisions of the time was the Mini Stock class. Fast forward to the 21st season, and you'll see that the Mini Stocks are still a part of the program. However, you'll see something else.

The entry level Hornet division will be back for its third season, but that's not all. The Super 4's will also be a part of the coming season. This souped up Mini Stock division had been a part of the program for over a decade, but they have been missing for the past few seasons.

Last season, a few of the Super 4 drivers approached track management about returning and were given a date. It was Lee Doty who picked up the win ahead of past champion John Barger and Charlie Eaton that night.  The event sparked the interest of other drivers to return to the track. A field of 8-12 of these cars is expected when this division gets its first race on May 14th.

If you've been following the Mini Stock division closely over the last couple of years, the three names that will jump out at you are David Marble, Gary Anderson and Bob Burkett. These three drivers have been ranked in the top 3 in the standings these last two seasons and have carved up a majority of the main event victories amongst themselves.

Marble picked up the championship last season, but that honor fell to Gary Anderson the year before. Still yet to win the championship, Burkett has been among the front runners in this division for the past several seasons.

Not to be forgotten in the mix are Eric Hanson and Mike Cloud, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, last season. Cloud had ranked 6th the year before, and both of these drivers could be factors this season.

The Mini Stock car count had started to rise as the season headed down the stretch last year. Optimism is high that this momentum will continue this season. Word is that several cars are being prepared.

Two years ago, the speedway launched the Hornet division as a way to get new drivers out there. About 10 cars are known to be built at this time, and the record shows that Robert Jones and Drew Fielder are the past two champions. Neil Coaty was another front runner last year, and other competitors included Mikey Johnson and Garrett Frederickson.

Mini Stocks begin their busy season when the track opens its gates for the first time on April 30th. The Super 4 and Hornet divisions have their first race on May 14th. For further information on the happenings at Southern Oregon Speedway, check out the official website at

Mini Stock Champions

1996  Brian Barns
1997  Scott Holt
1998  Rich McCoy
1999  Tracy Bradley
2000  Tracy Bradley
2001  Tom Lanigan
2002  Mike Johnson
2003  David Bishop
2004  David Bishop
2005  Tony Christopher
2006  Milton Carter
2007  Jim Pope
2008  John Derby
2009  John Derby
2010  John Derby
2011  John Derby
2012  Toby Judd
2013  Steve Goetz
2014  Gary Anderson
2015  David Marble

 Hornet Champions

2014  Robert Jones
2015  Drew Fielder

Super 4 Mini Stock Champions

2003  Brian Barns
2004  Brian Barns
2005  Reggie DeVore
2006  Joe Guider
2007  Jacob Cole
2008  Brian Johnsen
2009  Parker "Hollywood" Jones
2010  Brian Johnsen
2011  Joe Guider
2012  Jamie Guider Newberg
2013  John Barger

Siskiyou Motor Speedway Well Represented 
At Sportsman's Expo

The Sportsman's Expo took place in Yreka this past weekend.  It was a chance for the racers of Siskiyou Motor Speedway to display their cars, interact with the fans and distribute the 2016 schedule and information.  Despite the rainy weather, about a dozen competitors came out to support the event.

This included 2015 Yreka Sport Mod champion Doug Franklin, who defended his 2014 championship, but only after a close battle with past Mini Stock champion Colter Boswell.  One of the drivers gunning for Franklin this year is Trevor Tiffee.  Tiffee's beautiful black and teal #19 Rayburn Race Car/Coco's Sushi sponsored entry already got him his first victory of the year.  He won the "Best Of Show" trophy. 

Not only is Trevor going for track championship honors this season, he's also signed up to make a run at the new Northwest Sport Mod Challenge title.  As a past Yreka Sport Mod point runner up, he should not be counted out.

Garrett Hamilton had his pretty yellow and purple #83 Cheffey Machine sponsored Sport Mod on display.  Garrett was a feature winner last season on his way to a fourth place ranking.  Young up and comer D.J. Bottoms had his black #1 Dave Smith Insurance/Round Table Pizza sponsored Sport Mod on display.  D.J. made a good effort last season, and he'll be back to try to step it up a notch this season.

There were also McDonald's Mini Stocks on display, owned by Heather Ryan and Ryder Boswell.  Boswell's truck served him well last year as he won multiple features.  The 2013 point runner up just barely lost a close battle with Mike Whitaker as he settled for a still respectable third place ranking last season.

There's excitement in the air at the Siskiyou Fairgrounds as they are adding a one-eighth mile Go-Kart dirt track to the facility.  The scheduling and rules information was available at the Expo.  The track is seen as a way to bring younger competitors into the sport, and Go Karts on display at this event included the entries of Jim Berry, Kyle Morris and Drew Berry.  The first race at the smaller track is scheduled for April 16.

The season opener for Siskiyou Motor Speedway is slated for April 9th.  The track's regular IMCA  Modified, IMCA Sport Mod and McDonald's Mini Stock divisions will be joined by the Outlaw Pro Stock Association.  Lots of great things are planned for this year.  For more information, check out the track's official website at

Saturday, March 12, 2016

NW Sport Mod And Modified Series News, Sprint Cars At Medford And A Column

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This post probably should be three posts, but I'm grouping it all together into one.  This is also the day that I launch the new Jefferson Racing News Blog to cover a specific area as explained on that blog.  For the time being, I will probably cross post at both blogs as I get things started.  Still figuring it all out, but the new blog is HERE.

Anyway, article one is talking about a cool Modified and Sport Mod Series that Steve Kerstulovich put together for the tracks in the North West.  Reminds me of what I was trying to do with the The DCRR State point race, and I want to see this thing grow.

Second article is a piece on the Sprint Cars returning to Southern Oregon Speedway.  I have a lot more in store as we have two Sprint Car champions coming that aren't mentioned in the article.  Guess I'll have to write more so stay tuned.

Third article is sort of an editorial of my thoughts on moving up here and some of what I'm hoping to accomplish.  I have a lot to do, and I'm gonna keep working on it after I post this.  We will make a formal announcement on the launching of the Jefferson Racing News blog later today with articles being posted there.  I have more planned for my old home tracks on this blog, but there are things that need to be done here now.  I'm sure I'll tell you more about that later.

North West Modified Cup Grows Bigger in 2016,
New Sport Mod Challenge Announced

What do you do when you have a successful launch of an independent series awarding the top drivers in the Modified division in two states?  Well, if you're Steve Kerstulovich, you take it up a notch and make it bigger.  Kerstulovich grew up in the sport and had an idea to help the cause a little more.  He would take the statistics from the Modified divisions throughout Washington, Oregon and Yreka, California and make a championship series.

The point counting concept is similar to IMCA, the organization that sanctions the division at most of the tracks involved.  Main Events pay 20 points to win with a one point per position drop on back.  This makes it easy to keep track and helps keep the point battle close.  How close?  The Modifieds actually had a tie for the championship between Mark Carrell and Colin Winebarger last season.

This series is billed as the North West Modified Cup.  Last year saw the Top 5 drivers earn trophies that were sponsored by Jeff Hanson, and the drivers split $2400 in prize money.  In addition to Carrell and Winebarger, the other front runners were Jesse Williamson (third), Lawrence O'Connor (fourth) and Mark Wauge (fifth)  This year, the Kerstulovich promoted effort has nearly doubled the prize money at $4100, and it will be awarded to the Top 10 drivers in points, thanks to some amazing sponsors.

Hanson of Hanson Automotive Machine has returned to sponsor the Top 5 driver's trophies.  Some of the many great sponsors making this possible include Hoppes Motorsports, Mark's Auto Body, Driving Force Graphics, JetStream Aqua Massage, Wizard Motorsports, Colville Printing and more.

Prize money includes $1500 to the champion, $750 to second and $500 to third, and there are contingency prizes for several positions as well.  For instance, the champion will receive a championship jacket sponsored by Wizard Motorsports, a 100 minute massage by JetStream Massage and a Modified wrap by Driving Force Graphics.

The schedule is pretty simple.  Run your race track's schedule, and race elsewhere when you can.  The Northwest Modified Cup will gather the finishes and keep track of points.  Drivers wishing to complete for the awards need only do one thing, pay a $25 membership, $20 of which goes back into the series and $5 to administrative expenses.  Though all drivers will receive points, only members will earn the awards and prize money.

Already, over 30 drivers from the nine competing tracks have signed up for a shot at the increased prize money offered in this season's Northwest Modified Cup.  Drivers signed up include last year's co-champions Winebarger and Carrell, Wauge, O'Connor and other hard chargers such as Yreka champion Nick Trenchard, Monte Bischoff, Jeremy Shank, Shaun Mayea, Shane Mills and B.J. Wild.  More drivers are expected to sign on to the growing new promotional effort in the days ahead.

Tracks included in the Northwest Modified Cup this year include Willamette Speedway, River City Speedway, Sunset Speedway, Cottage Grove Speedway, Southern Oregon Speedway, Madras Speedway, Skagit Speedway, Grays Harbor Speedway and Siskiyou Motor Speedway.

Kerstulovich could easily just focus on the Modified effort, which has several sponsors helping make it bigger, but he wanted to add more.  Hence, the Northwest Sport Mod Challenge was created.  A $1000 point fund has already been secured for a payout of $500, $350 and $150 to the Top 3 drivers at four tracks, including Siskiyou Motor Speedway, Southern Oregon Speedway, Cottage Grove Speedway and Sunset Speedway.  The new Sport Mod series was made possible thanks to the initial sponsorship of Frisbie Motorsports and Quality Auto Repair.

Late word is that Siskiyou Motor Speedway has chipped in another $100 to the point fund, and negotiations are ongoing for contingency prizes for the Sport Mods.  Word was that there could be an announcement on this front soon.

A two time winner and point runner up at Sunset Speedway in Banks last season, Michael Melton has gotten on board this effort and is joined by Chris Frisbie, Trevor Tiffee and Jayson Nelson.  IMCA Oregon State champion Mike Medel has also just joined. We also just got word that Kurt Lorenzini is joining the Sport Mod ranks for this series.  The Lorenzini family has been a part of the sport for a number of years, and Kurt is the latest generation to get the bug to go racing. As with the Modifieds, the Sport Mods have a $25 season membership fee.  It's also an opportunity to be a part of a new promotional effort that can help grow the sport and is a chance for the racers to win more money.

Kerstulovich is giving the racers an opportunity to compete against the best drivers in the Northwest to crown an overall champion in the region.  This will only get bigger as the racers get on board and help make it happen.  For further information, check the official NW Modified Cup and NW Sport Mod Challenge web page at

Sprint Car Racing Returns To Southern Oregon Speedway

When Mike McCann began his tenure as promoter of Southern Oregon Speedway, he had studied every aspect of the track to plan what needed to be done.  One of the glaring absences at the track has been a Sprint Car program.  For several seasons, the track had a winged Sprint Car division as part of the program, and many champions have been crowned through the years.

In recent seasons, however, the division has been relegated to visiting status despite the fact that there are some drivers in the area who would love to run their Sprint Cars there.  They will get that chance this season as one of McCann's first announcements as the new promoter was to create a ten race schedule for the division.

The rules are open to allow drivers from the Sportsman Sprints, 360 Sprints and the 410 Sprints to come out and race.  The goal is to build and establish a strong Sprint Car presence at the 21 year old racing facility.  Where it goes from here will depend on the drivers, but McCann is anticipating good things for the division.

The ten race schedule includes dates on the April 30 season opener, May 7 and 21, June 4 and 25, July 30, August 20 and 27 and the September 24 season finale.  The tenth date is actually part of the prestigious Sprint Car Speed Week on July 9.  This means plenty of Sprint Car racing excitement for the fans throughout the season.

As the drivers take a look at the schedule and make plans, there are already four drivers who have made a commitment to race at Southern Oregon Speedway this year.  They are rising young star Camden Robustelli, Pro Stock star Jeffrey Hudson, Sprint Car veteran Bill Hopper and Todd Whipple.

Robustelli made his mark as a Go Kart champion on the smaller tracks before moving up the the Dwarf Car ranks.  Not surprisingly, he became one of the front runners there and notched a few big wins along the way before making his Sprint Car debut last season at Southern  Oregon Speedway.  He is looking forward to making more Sprint Car starts this season.

Hopper has an extensive background in open wheel racing, but his recent accomplishments are back to back championships in the wingless class at Orland Raceway.  Hopper managed to win a nail biter with Tony Richards last season by having a better finish in the season finale.

Speaking of battles to the end, young Jeffrey Hudson also won a battle that went to the season finale in winning last year's Outlaw Pro Stock championship.  Hudson will be making his first starts in a Sprint Car this season, but this kid has shown that he has the talent to wheel a race car to the front of the pack.

Whipple has made a handful of Sprint Car starts at Yreka and Southern Oregon Speedway in recent years, and he's looking forward to more seat time this year.  These are just the drivers who have made plans to do some Sprint Car racing, but more drivers are coming as Southern Oregon Speedway sets out to reestablish a division this season.  For further information, check out the official website at

Past Southern Oregon Speedway
Sprint Car Champions

2001  Chad Bauer
2002  Todd Zeitler
2003  Dan Menne
2004  T.J. Winningham
2005  Dan Menne
2006  Bill Nutter
2007  Randy Rodgers
2008  Randy Rodgers
2009  Charlie Thompson
2010  Chadd Noland

Things I'm Looking Forward To 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

Once I arrive in Oregon, it's going to be time to focus on my new gig. It's going to be a completely new experience for me, and I'm going to be meeting new people. I really don't know anybody out there. I don't know much of the history, and I have to learn a lot. I leave behind familiar and comfortable surroundings and many people that I consider my friends.

I think the first thing I want to do when I get up there is walk on that race track. I want to get a lay of the land, walk the grandstands, just walk all the way around the facilities. This is going to be my home track for at least 10 years if all goes well. It is my goal to help Mike McCann make this place successful.

When I say this, I think it's important for me to acknowledge John Skinner. John kept this thing going for 20 years. Without him, none of this may have been possible. For all that he's done to keep the sport going in the Medford area, he has nothing but my respect.

Mike tells me that I'll be announcing the Quarter Midget track. I'll be honest with you, I've never really even watched a race on a track like this. I had the opportunity to go to Delta Speedway in Stockton a few times, but they were running Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars and Mini Sprints there at the time. I'm not even sure how well I'll do my job there, but I'll give it my best.

We are charged with trying to reestablish the program there, and it's important to get a program going on the small track. There are a lot of kids that run cars on tracks like this across the country. They are the racers of the future on the bigger tracks. Basically, we are building new stars of racing, some of which who will end up going to the bigger track next door.

I never really worked with kids. Now, Gary Jacob used to go to tracks like this whenever he could, and the families really respected him. Gary saw what tracks like this meant to the racing community. I will continue to employ my strategy of every driver being important on that race track. I will try to do my best to encourage these youngsters to do their best, but also to stay focused on the things that matter in life, such as staying in school and getting that education. I am the cautionary example when it comes to that.

I do enjoy announcing, and one day I want to be on the microphone on the bigger track. Mike has his reasons for going the way he is, and I wish Bryce luck in announcing. If I can do anything to help him do his job better, I will. We have to work together as a team to help make Southern Oregon Speedway fly. There is a lot of work to do to make this thing as big as I believe it can be.

I know Mike has a lot of faith in the staff that he is putting together, and he believes just as I do that this track has some great years ahead of it. Mike has a history of doing good things for the sport of auto racing, especially in the state of Oregon. I believe that this is going to be his best effort yet. I'm sure Mike is going to throw a bunch of little things at me, and I need to be ready to do the best I can with all of them.

We are establishing some stuff up at Southern and Speedway. On the top of that list is the Sprint Car division. This is a big challenge, and Mike believes as I do that we can have a good program out there. My concern is that there have been people trying to undermine what we are doing. Basically, there are certain people who believe they are bigger than the sport in this division.

Obviously, you need stars that the fans can come out there and identify with. But, if there are certain stars that don't want to participate for whatever reason, then we will make new stars of the racers that we do have. I have watched drivers who weren't really that fast when they started, but with seat time and a lot of laps, they got much better. I have no doubt that we are going to have some great stars in the Sprint Car division in short time.

Southern Oregon Speedway could be the home of Late Model racing. Mike has been in negotiations with some of the drivers, and if I have any say about it, we're going to make this thing fly. I absolutely love Late Model racing. I know this isn't a slam dunk, but I know we can do it here. We're going to do it.

I've always felt that with divisions like Late Models and Sprint Cars you have to give a little more TLC to them. This means a little bit of extra hype going to the division to let everybody know what's going on. The more the fans know about the racers who are there, the more they're going to be coming out to watch the races. The more the racers know about what's going on there, the more likely they are to bring their cars out there. If we make it special, everybody's going to want to be a part of it.

Probably on the top three of my all time favorite divisions is Street Stock racing. The Street Stocks seem to be kind of dying out at Southern Oregon Speedway in the last few years, but there are remnants of this division looking for a place to race. I feel like this type of racing is important, because this track barely has the Street Stock division and doesn't have a Hobby Stock class. I think we need to build something here, so I'm going to assess the situation and do what I can to help.

The redheaded stepchild of racing seems to be Mini Stock racing. Some people don't understand it, and some people don't think that these cars are really race cars. In my time watching this division through the years, going back to Baylands and Petaluma, I have seen many great racers come through the Mini Stock ranks and go on the other divisions. Mini Stock racing is very important to the continuation of this race track.

There are already some big names in the Mini Stock division up there, not the least of which are defending champion David Marble and previous champion Gary Anderson. They brought one of the more solid car counts out there as last season came to a close, and I believe we can get this class bigger. As with the two Modified classes, this is a class that shares drivers with neighboring Yreka in Northern California. This is one of the reasons I will probably be ghost writing stories for Yreka, because it will be relevant to the people as drivers come from Southern Oregon to race there and vice versa.

In recent years, the track has been trying to get a new Hornet division started. This division is similar to the Four Banger class that ran in Antioch for several years. It is the entry level division for the average fan to get into the sport at a reasonable cost. Though this division raced last year, I don't have a lot of information on who raced. It seems this division wasn't important enough for people to write about, but that is going to change when I get there. These drivers matter. This division matters.

The Super 4 Mini Stock division bolted from Medford to go race the pavement at Roseburg, but there are several drivers looking to come back this year. These are the souped up Mini Stock cars, and it reminds me of the souped up class at Baylands and more recently the class that was out at Chowchilla Speedway. I've heard 6-10 cars will be showing up there, and it will be interesting to see what this division can do.

Of course, Medford has the IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modified divisions. I believe both of these divisions can do better than what the car count has been in recent years. We also have one of the crown jewels in Modified racing, the prestigious Lon Skinner Memorial Race, which attracts some of the top drivers from the West Coast of the United States. For instance, Bobby Hogge IV won that race and the $5,000 prize last season.

I'm familiar with some of the names in this division, including Mark Wauge, John DeBenediti, Nick Trenchard and Albert Gill, the two-time defending champion. We have some good racers in that Modified division, but we need to get some more cars out there. They're out there, and I want to help make them know that they are important and they are wanted at this race track.

Two of the stars of the Sport Mod division came out and raced at Southern Oregon Speedway. There is defending Oregon State IMCA champion Mike Medal and defending track champion Jorddon Braaten. Jorddon was an absolute beast last year and won many races both at Southern Oregon Speedway and Siskiyou Motor Speedway in Yreka. I guess he is our equivalent to Fred Ryland. But there are other drivers in this division, and I look forward to meeting them all and helping keep the show hyped.

Another thing that has caught my eye is the Northwest Modified Cup and the new Northwest Sport Mod Challenge. A man by the name of Steve Kerstulovich is promoting these deals, and he's doing a lot to get money and contingency prizes in both of these point races. He awarded the top 5 drivers last year in the Modified Cup with money and contingency prizes and nice trophies.

Steve added the Sport Mods this year, and he already has $1,000 in prize money for these guys. What he doesn't have is any good hype and his web page needs work. So, with the experience that I have with the old DCRR State point race, I'm going to see if there's anything I can do to help him make this thing bigger and better. I like what he's trying to do with this stuff, and he's done some good things so far.

We also play host to touring groups, the Outlaw Pro Stocks and the Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association. The Pro Stocks are sort of like the Limited Late Models out in Antioch, and we get anywhere from 12 to 20 cars showing up on any given night. Pro Stocks are a popular form of racing, and they are vital to the continuation of this race track.

Dwarf Cars are maybe the brother of the redheaded stepchild. They don't get a lot of respect, and yet week in and week out they provide some of the best races at the tracks on which they compete. There are some talented racers in this division, which generally gets from 16 to 20 cars for any given race.

Southern Oregon Speedway is fortunate because we get a Dwarf Car National event. The West Coast Dwarf Car Association deal, originally put together by Frank Munroe and the leaders of various groups, brings some of the best drivers throughout the West Coast of the United States to Medford one weekend every year. This is a fun event with lots of great racing and some good times after the races are over. As with the Skinner race, this is an event at which I will be looking forward to seeing my old friends from California who will be visiting.

Because this is Mike McCann promoting the race track, you've got to know that there's going to be Hardtops there. Mike has spoken with some of the drivers from the Old Time Racing Association that races on the pavement of Roseburg. About a half dozen or so guys want to do the some dirt track racing, and I'm looking forward to seeing this happen.

One of the things that we want to try to establish here is some stability to this place. For various reasons, races got cancelled and things happened in the last few years that kind of hurt the show overall. Some driver confidence was lost in this race track, and it's our goal to reestablish that. The message will be that we intend to race as scheduled and every race car out there matters.

I've heard a few things could be thrown at me, including doing the souvenir programs, the webpage, calculating points, putting out the press releases, announcing at the smaller track, possibly announcing a couple of shows on the bigger track and whatever else Mike thinks that I can handle. It is my intention to go up there with renewed focus and get the job done.

We have goals in mind, and I believe that we can get it done, but belief and talk won't get the job done. We have to get in there on the ground floor and get to work. So, when I arrive in Oregon and set up my workstation, I will begin working on my articles and whatever else I need to do with the computer.

I'm definitely being taken out of my comfort zone, as this has been my home area here in Northern California. I have lived here my whole life and have never had a desire to move. I know everybody here, and I can walk in to the race track that I've gone to for years and people know who I am. So the challenge for me in going to Southern Oregon Speedway is to reestablish myself and let them know that I'm a person who cares about the sport, and I want to get in there and make a difference.

I've asked myself a few times why it is that Mike McCann actually wants me to be up there when there are other people qualified to do this thing. Just as I've had respect for all the good things that Mike has done through the years, Mike has been reading my writing through the years and has respect for what I've done. It is his belief that I can do it. So, I need to get in there and show him that his faith in me is justified.

So at this point in time, I sort of feel like I need to figure out where my head is and renew my focus, but I don't really have the time for me and my personal issues. However, I know that when I get in the moment and get focused, my instincts take over and I will do what I've done for all these years. I won't have time to play around. I need to get in there and be focused on what I've got to do, and that's going take a total investment of myself. I think I'm up to the challenge. I look forward to getting up to Southern Oregon Speedway and getting started.