Sunday, March 20, 2016

Antioch, Merced Playday Reports, Antioch Opens Next Week

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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