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.