Friday, April 8, 2016

$1000 On The Line As A Modifieds Kick Off Season At Antioch Speedway

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$1000 On The Line As A Modifieds Kick Off Season 
At Antioch Speedway

Hobby Stock feature winner Guy Ahlwardt (left) and Sprint Car winner Art McCarthy (Right) pose for a picture.  Alwardt Racing Photo
Antioch, CA...The popular A Modifieds begin their 27th season of racing at Antioch Speedway this Saturday night, and the winner of the feature will get a $1000 payday.  Also making their first appearance of the season will be the Wingless Spec Sprints as Limited Late Models, B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks round out an exciting five division program on John M. Soares's fast three-eighth mile clay oval.

Buzz has generally been pretty positive in the A Modified community as we head into the season.  In fact, last week saw three drivers test their cars for the season opener, including Late Model racer Chester Kniss, John MacDougall and Clay Twigg.  Kniss spent much of last season getting his Delta Transmission #28 car back together and had an impressive Top 3 performance in last season's finale.  MacDougall ran half a season as the point leader last year and was a feature winner at Merced before a crash at Petaluma ended his season early.  He was Top 5 in two point  races at Antioch in 2014 and intends to run a full season.

The list of names anticipated for the first race is impressive.  Scott Busby is the defending champion, and the lettering on his car was just being completed last week.  As a 68 time winner in his impressive Antioch career, Busby could be the man to beat.  However he can expect stiff competition from Aaron Crowell.  The 2004 champion and a two time winner last year, Crowell looked good in practice back in March.  Practice didn't go so well for veteran Mikey Slaney, but the feature winner in three different divisions at Antioch did find issues with the car that could have hurt him in the opener.

Another day at the office as feature winner David Teves displays of Main Event winning plaque.  Three Nutz Racing Photo

Sean O'Gara had his motor together for practice, and the Top 3 racer from a few seasons ago is anticipated along with 2015 runner up Bobby Motts Jr.  The increased first prize could lure four time champion Troy Foulger or one time champion Kellen Chadwick to the speedway as well.  Plus, other regulars like Mike Salazar, Trent Wentworth and Josh Combs could be there.  With Petaluma dark this week, Nick DeCarlo and Michael Paul Jr., both multi time champions there, could also be in action.  A good turnout is anticipated for this race.

Shifting gears to the Wingless Spec Sprints, much buzz has surrounded this division coming into the season, and two of the big names are past champions Jim Perry Jr. and Jimmy Perry III.  Both drivers have won many times in this class as Perry Jr. ranks first and Perry III is third on the All Time Win List in this division.  Perry III won multiple times last season in his Top 5 point effort.  Two time champion Dan Gonderman is anticipated in the Marcus Smith car.  The 2015 "Rookie Of The Year" Smith got a ride in Richard Basden's #20 car this season, but he took a tumble a few weeks ago in Marysille.  He should be in action this week.

Car count should be solid for this race. There's been no word on the plans of two time champion  Billy Macedo, who won twice last season in his three starts, but he would be a big factor in the battle if he showed.  Others to watch for include two time Top 3 ranked racer Rick Panfili, Alan Miranda, James East, Peter Carlotto and Jeremy Newberry.  There is also the much anticipated division debut of Adam Teves in the #42 Lloyd Beard tribute car.  Adam moved up after his impressive runner up season in Dwarf Cars last year.

Dwarf Car racer Tim Reeder reminds up that safety counts, even when cleaning the trailer.  Reeder Racing Photo.

Limited Late Models still have that familiar face at the front of the pack in Larry Damitz.  The 86 year old veteran of six decades of racing won the season opener two weeks ago as he attempts to win another championship.  "The Sundrop Kid" has won four of the last five championships and is closing in fast on the Top 5 on the track's All Time Win List.  The driver to deny him a championship during this run, 2013 champion Jim Freethy, sort of struggled a bit in the opener as he finished fourth.  He's hoping to have the #99 car dialed in this week.

Lori Brown had her #65 car hooked up last time as she finished a strong second.  Though not really counting points, Lori would very much like to get another win.  It's been a few years for the past division champion.  Meanwhile, three time Hobby Stock champion Kimo Oreta had a strong start to his rookie campaign with his third place finish.  Two who didn't do so well last time were Mark Garner and John Keith, who both had DNF's while competing for a Top 3 finish.  The Calvin Louis Jr. Hobby Stock sighting last week might suggest that the team will finally debut their new Limited Late Model.  A few more cars are anticipated for this race.

Car count dipped last week as Fred Fryland and his wife Patti skipped the B Modified race.  F. Ryland has been winning a lot this year on the circuit, but the defending champion appears to be declining a bid to repeat as champion.  He'll still be fast when he's there.  Speaking of fast, Anthony Giuliani turned things around after a disappointing DNF in the opener.  He picked up a victory ahead of last season's point runner up, Al Johnson.  Johnson is hot on the trail of his first win.  With $400 on the line to the winner this week, this would be the time to do it.

Trevor Clymens had a heat win last week, but his Main Event wasn't what was desired as he settled for fourth behind Brian Pearce.  Trevor could be the driver to beat in the championship race, but it's still too early to talk about things like that.  Other drivers anticipated this week include Danny Jones, Megan Ponciano, K.C. Keller and Tim Hammett.

The Hobby Stocks are wide open this year, and that means we could be looking at a feature winner's list with many names on it.  Last week, rookie Guy Ahlwardt impressed with a feature victory ahead of Michael Cooper.  This comes a week after third place finisher Danny Jones held off Cooper for a win of his own.  With back to back seconds, could Cooper's turn at the top of podium be next?

The competition is close, and the void left by Hobby Stock All Time win leader Oreta's move up has many racers hungry for victory.  Calvin Louis Jr. didn't look too bad last week as he finished fourth ahead of Cameron Swank.  Louis had a string of Top 5 finishes last year, but he sort of fell out of the action after the passing of his sister.  It was great to see him back out there again.  Likewise, C. Swank could be due for a win.  He held off cousin Jordan Swank for a heat win last week.  There are plenty of talented racers in this division, including Natalie Perry, Frank Furtado and Russell Shearer, and you never know who may win this week.

Antioch Speedway will be the place to be this Saturday night for the big money A Modified race, Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models, B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks.  For further information, check out the official track website at

Clifford Collects First Hardtop Win At Placerville Speedway

It was a proud night for feature winner Jason Clifford #4, who battled Dennis Armstrong for his first feature win at Placerville.  Clifford Racing Photo

Placerville, CA...The California Hardtop Association made their first appearance of the Season at Placerville Speedway on Saturday night. It was the first race of an ambitious 2016 schedule filled with many races on the dirt and pavement.  When the checkered flag flew, it was Jason Clifford collecting his first ever Hardtop victory.

With a few of the teams not quite ready to go yet, a field of eight Hardtops towed to the fast quarter mile clay oval located at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. However, the heat race took a heavy toll on the car count and divided it in half.  Driving the John Philbert #57 car, Jason Armstrong was involved in a tangle with Ron Ruiz, who was finally back behind the wheel of his own #12 car. The tangle eliminated both cars for the night. #1 Dave Mackey and "The Iceman" Ken Clifford #27 were also involved in a crash. Driving the #36 for Bill McLaughlin, Ron Waldrop was also involved in an incident, but the team was able to make repairs to get him out for the Main Event.

An interesting fact, "The Ice Man" Ken Clifford runs a motor that came from the pickup truck of country music legend Merle Haggard. Clifford Racing Photo

A miscommunication left Dave Mackey in the pits when the Main Event came out. Ken Clifford attempted to get his car started, but mechanical problems kept him from taking the green flag. This left a four car field for the feature.  The race was a battle between Jason Clifford and the #77 of Dennis Armstrong, who has been racing out at Placerville Speedway for many years in Stock Cars. Clifford had made several appearances last year in his number #4 car, and he was rapidly improving. On Saturday night, he achieved his ultimate goal as he held off D. Armstrong for his first ever victory. John Turner stayed out of trouble all night long and wheeled the #61 car to a well earned third place finish as Waldrop limped to a fourth place finish.

The next event on the California Hardtop Association calendar is the payment of Lakeport Speedway on April 16th. Their next dirt track race is their first of five scheduled appearances at Antioch Speedway on April 30th. It is anticipated that there should be a few more cars on hand for that event.

Racing A Hardtop A Childhood Dream For Mackey

Driving a Hardtop is something Dave Mackey has wanted to do since watching the cars at Vallejo Speedway.  Mackey Racing Photo

One of the CHA Hardtops anticipated for Antioch Speedway on April 30th will be driven by Dave Mackey.  Mackey has worked with the Perry Racing Team in recent years.  It was just a few years ago when he built his car with the help of Antioch Speedway's All Time Wingless Spec Sprint feature winner, Jim Perry Jr.  "I have said it before, I'm the luckiest guy I know, " Dave admitted.  "I along with Jim Perry Jr. and Andrew Howat and a few others, built the coolest Hardtop ever, and I get to drive it."

This is a car he is very proud of, and he enjoyed building it as much as driving it.  The camaraderie in the garage made it special.  "I know he (Perry) helped me build this car because I asked him too, not so much because he wanted to, " Mackey explained.  "We had a great time doing it.  It is a crowd favorite wherever it goes, but it would have never been what it is without Jim's ability."

Perry took his turn behind the wheel and was a feature winner on multiple occasions, including a late season race at Chico in 2013.  But, Perry opted to step out from behind the wheel.  Mackey wanted to live out his long time dream of driving a Hardtop.  He had been a fan at Vallejo Speedway, but he remarked prior to a hot lap session at Antioch last season that it took him 40 years to finally get to drive one of these cars.

What also made it special to Dave was the paint job.  It is a tribute to one of the great families of Vallejo Speedway racing.  Many people will recall the names of Lee Dudley, "The Napa Flyer" Gene Dudley and Darrell Dudley.  Gene was dominant in a Hardtop in the late 1960's and early 1970's before retiring.  Darrell ran Hardtops a bit and would become a champion in Super Modifieds behind the wheel of Jim Berryhill's car.

The colors ran by open wheel leadfooot "Jammin" Jim Perry Jr. when he won some races driving for Dave Mackey.  Mackey Racing Photo
So, Dave painted it red, white and blue and gave it the #1.  Bailey Brothers is painted on the side.  It's not an exact replica of the Dudley car, but more of a tribute.  He made a couple starts last season, but he's still getting used to it.  Placervillle last Saturday was an eye opener for him.  "After watching the video, I guess I'm not quite the race car driver I thought I was, " he joked.  "I looked like a little old lady out for a Sunday drive."

He hopes that more seat time will fix that.  "I will take it to Antioch on the 30th and give it a run, " Dave announced.  "In the meantime, I will take it to Antioch and do some laps to see if I can get more comfortable going into the turns. Coming out is easy, and the car has plenty of power."

The heat race on Saturday was a learning experience.  There was some contact racing between some of the cars, but Dave missed the feature due to a communication issue.  Perhaps it could have gone differently had he started.  "This #1 car has incredible power, " Mackey explained, "unbelievable to race a car like this, and it handles great on this track."

However, Dave isn't worried about setting any track records or winning every race.  It's about fun to him, and he's on a budget.  "I want everyone to know that as much as I want to drive the car to it's potential, it is more important to keep it in one piece, " he explained.  "The Hardtop division is for fun.  No points, money or championship is at stake.  We do not have time or funds to spend to repair it.  If winning every race was so important to me, I would get Jim to drive it."

The #1 car is scheduled to be at Antioch on April 30th.  Win lose or draw, one thing is for sure, Dave Mackey has built one of the nicest Hardtops running with the CHA.  That's saying something, because the group has some gorgeous race cars.


McCarthy Leads Winged 360 Sprint Cars Back For Round #2 
At Antioch Speedway On April 23rd

Antioch, CA...The exciting Winged 360 Sprint Cars make their second of 15 scheduled appearances at Antioch Speedway on Saturday night (April 23rd) on the heels of an exciting show last week.  It was veteran Art McCarthy leading the pack for his big season opening victory.

McCarthy brings impressive credentials with him as a two time champion at Petaluma Speedway and a one time champion at Antioch as well.  He was a two time winner last season, but mid season bad luck forced him to settle for a close second in the standings.  The goal this year is to take it up one more notch.  To that end, McCarthy kicked of the 2016 season with a win ahead of Jarrett Soares.

The lead duo had a good battle up front with McCarthy making the right moves in traffic to claim the victory.  Soares, who has raced his beautiful #12 Sprinter at several venues in recent years, was making his first 360 Sprint Car start at Antioch in a while.  It wasn't a bad night for him.  Like McCarthy, he was a heat race winner on the night, and he still ran strong with his second place feature finish.

Billy Aton's #26 Sprinter was a welcome sight back in the pits.  It wasn't too many years ago when he was the Wingless Spec Sprint champion at the track (2009).  Though he ran some of the Winged Sprint Car races during Craig Smith's championship season (2010) and was a feature winner a year later, he stared racing at other venues while Oval Motorsports figured out the next move for the division.  In the latest race, he showed that he still knows the fast way around the race track with his third place feature finish.

Chris Magoon was the 2014 champion and was in the hunt last season when motor issues ultimately sidelined him for the last couple races.  His #77m was back up and running again, and he managed a respectable fourth place finish.  While that's not where he'd like to be, it's something to build on as he tries to get back into championship winning form.  Like Aton, Magoon is also a past Wingless Spec Sprint champion, winning his title in Marysville.

At the last race, Dan Gonderman's night started a bit rough in his heat race, forcing him to start at the back of the pack in the Main Event.  Gonderman made quick moves around Ricky Brophy, Scott Jaquith and Robby McMahan, but he wasn't quite able to move up further than his lead lap fifth place finish.  After his near victory in last season's finale, the two time Spec Sprint champion hopes to get his first win this year.

Speaking of champions, Chico's Economy Sprint Car champion, Brandon Powell, was in the field last race, but it wasn't the best of nights for him,  Hopefully, he'll get it back together and give it another go on Saturday night (April 23rd).  Who might show up is always in question as drivers tend to show up from everywhere on any given week.  Some we might see include 2015 champion Shawn Arriaga, Jake Haulot and Chase Wood Sr.  For more information on the Sprint Cars and other happenings at the track, check the website at

April 2  Main Event Top 5

1-Art McCarthy
2-Jarfrett Soares
3-Nilly Aton
4-0Chrfis Magoon
5-Dan Gonderman

Past Champions

1998-Gary Geving
2007-Art McCarthy
2010-Craig Smith
2013-Chris Magoon
2014-Chris Magoon
2015-Shawn Arriaga

Last 25 Feature Winners

April 2, 2016:  Art McCarthy
August 29, 2015:  Art McCaarthy
August 8, 2015:  Shawn Arriaga
July 11, 2015:  Jake Haulot
June 20, 2915:  Austin Liggett
June 6, 2015:  Shawn Arriaga
May 16, 2015:  Jake Haulot
April 25, 2015:  Alissa Geving
March 7, 2015: Art McCarthy
August 2, 2014: Zack Lynskey
June 21 2014:  Bradley Terrell
June 10, 2014:  Chris Magoon
April 5, 2014:  Kurt Nelson
May 4, 2013: Shawn Arriaga
April 13, 2014: Chris Martin
September 17, 2011:  Billy Aton
July 30, 2011:  Craig Smith
September 15, 2010: Jeremy Burt
August 25, 2010: Craig Smith
April 24, 2010: Craig Smith
March  27, 2010: Craig Smith
March 20, 2010:  Ryan Risconi
September 26, 2009:  Jeremy Burt
August 29, 2009:  Jeremy Burt

2016 Northern All Stars
Winged 360 Sprint Car Schedule

April 23
May 7 
May 21
June 11
June 18
June 25
July 16
July 30
August 6
August 20
August 27
September 10
September 17
September 24