Friday, April 1, 2016

Winged 360 Sprint Cars Back At Antioch Speedway, Corrder Racing Is About Family

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Winged 360 Sprint Cars Back In A Big Way 
At Antioch Speedway

Dan Gonderman #8 will be in pursuit of his first Winged 360 Sprint Car win this season.  Photo by Jim Thomson

Promoter John M. Soares has thrown in with the Winged 360 Sprint Cars in a big way at Antioch Speedway this season. Since expanding the track to a three-eighth mile clay oval in 2009, the goal has always been to establish a Winged Sprint Car class.  Last season was the busiest season yet for the division with eight events.  This year, Soares has doubled that with 16 race dates, and the season kicks off this Saturday night.

One of the things the track has going for it is a tacky, hooked up racing surface most nights, which is something Soares prides himself on.  The track last season was also generally very smooth.  Another strong suit was that Soares paid as advertised last season with a minimum $150 to start and $1200 to win, even when car count dipped to five cars one night.  The bottom line is that Soares and Oval  Motorsports wants Sprint Car racing at Antioch Speedway.

For those who doubt the track's commitment to open wheel racing, the Wingless Spec Sprint division that several tracks currently run started at Antioch Speedway in 1999.  Soares had a vision of Sprint Car racing for the low buck racer, and he put Don O'Keefe Jr. in charge of spear heading the establishing of the class in what was a successful launch back in 1999.  It turns out that Soares was right as that division will enter its 18th season with their opener set for April 9th.

One of the Winged 360 Sprint Car competitors anticipated this week will be third generation racer Shawn Arriaga.  Arriaga was able to win the championship last season on the strength of his second win of the season in the second to last race.  Shawn comes from a long line of competitive racers, starting with his grandfather, Gill Richardson, in Hardtops at Vallejo Speedway.  His mother, Cheri Hill, is a past 360 Sprint Car competitor and feature winner at Antioch.  Has father, Fred Arriaga, raced Super Modifieds at San Jose Speedway.  In fact, Fred will probably see some Sprint Car action this season.

The one driver who has been there for the Oval Motorsports Sprint Car races at Antioch going back to the first races in 1998, Art McCarthy, is anticipated as well.  McCarthy's impressive racing pedigree includes two Petaluma Speedway championships (Arriaga won one there as well) and an Antioch title.  Art opened and closed last season with feature wins, but a couple of tough breaks during the season forced him to settle for second.

Another driver with impressive credentials who is anticipated this week is Dan Gonderman.  The Gonderman family has raced at Antioch for decades.  Dan's father, Ken Gonderman, is the 1970 Sportsman champion, and he continues to pit for him.  Dan has won Main Events and ranked Top 5 in Dirt Modifieds and Hobby Stocks, and he won several features and two championships in Wingless Spec Sprints.  Last season's finale probably would have gone to Gonderman if not for misfortune in lapped traffic while leading half way through the event.  He is coming off of a solid fourth place ranking.

Chris Magoon was the champion in 2014, and he is also a past Spec Sprint champion at Marysville.  Last year was a season that saw the team struggle and fall out of the chase with mechanical issues.  However, the team has regrouped and is ready to come back strong this season.  While these four have been strong supporters of the division these past two years, who else is coming is subject to speculation.

The Haulot Racing Team is likely to see at least some action this year.  Last year, Jake Haulot ranked third in points with two feature wins.  This season, we hear rumblings that Jake's younger brother  might be making his division debut.  Speaking of  young up and comers, Robby McMahon was seen at playday making some laps.  The second generation racer finished last season strong with a second place finish in the season finale.  2015 Chico Winged Economy Sprint Car champion Brandon Powell was also seen at playday and could be on hand for the opener.

Two of the half dozen or so Winged 360 Sprint Cars that were at practice. 
Photo by Michael Briggs.
One thing is for sure, Antioch Speedway is committed to building this class, and drivers will see a smooth and hooked up racing surface more often than not when they come racing.  This division has produced some exciting and interesting results these past two seasons, and that should continue to be the case this year.

Also On Tap At Antioch Speedway This Week

The BCRA Midget Lites will make their first of two appearances this Saturday, while Hobby Stocks, Sport Mods and Dwarf Cars are also in action.  The Hobby Stock division promises to be a wide open affair this season, which is good news for the fans.

Danny Jones definitely brings the experience over the rest of pack, having raced on and off since the late 1970's.  Danny finally got the monkey off his back last week with an impressive feature win. His 2015 season featured several second place finishes, but that win eluded him. Last week, Michael Cooper shadowed him for most of that race.  Cooper is still searching for his first win, and if he keeps driving like that, he'll get it soon.  Likewise, brother in law Jordan Swank looked good in his third place battle with rookie Guy Ahlwardt,  Guy is hoping to succeed Swank as the division's top rookie this year.

These lead four cars aren't the only ones to watch in the quest for victory this season.  Certainly, 2010 division champion Chris Sorensen has to be considered.  Chris had two wins last season, and he finished fifth last week.  Jason Jennings looked good in preliminaries but his night ended too early.  Steven Rogers also started off well, but his night sort of went down hill.  Both of these drivers should not be counted out in the quest for victory.  It wouldn't be a big surprise to see several drivers win this season.

There are drivers in the Sport Mod division hoping for the same, but they have a problem.  Defending champion Fred Ryland is still in the pack and has notched over 40 feature wins in his Antioch career.  In fact, "Fast Freddy" is tenth on the track's all time win list, having just passed legend Bobby Hogge III.  One driver hoping to thwart Ryland's repeat plans is Trevor Clymens.  When you can't win, finishing second doesn't hurt, and Trevor did just that after his heat race win earlier in the evening.

K.C. Keller #38 before his Top 5 finish in the Sport Mods. Keller got a "Rookie Of The Year" award last year.  Photo by Michael  Briggs

Patti Ryland normally does pretty well when things are running right, and her season opening effort produced a solid third place finish ahead of Brian Pearce.  Pearce hasn't been seen at the speedway in recent seasons, but he is a past Top 10 driver in Dirt Modifieds.  The Sport Mods fit better with his  budget, and he looked good in his first time back.  K.C. Keller also got it to the line in the Top 5.  Anthony Giuliani had four wins last season, but his opener ended with him on the sidelines.  It will be interesting to see if  F. Ryland's luck continues to hold and if somebody will emerge to challenge him this season.

David Teves entered the first Dwarf Car race as the defending champion and presumptive "Man To Beat" this year.  However, his first race ended too early.  One of the drivers looking to make his mark on the championship battle this year is Mike Corsaro.  Coming off of his Top 5 effort last season, Mike beat the competition handily in the opener.  However, second place finisher Kevin Miraglio had to be heartened by the fact that he just had his best Antioch finish ever.  That win is lurking right around the corner.

Josh Miler was on a mission last week, but the laps wound down before he could make a move on Miraglio.  His late charge still netted him a strong third place finish.  It was Miranda Chappa notching a career best fourth place finish ahead of Brian Gray.  Fifth was one of Gray's best efforts in a Dwarf Car, but Brian has won features in his career in Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints and Late Models.  He's just out there having fun, but he could still surprise the competition and make a bid for a win on any given night.

Through several racers headed to Marsyville to compete with the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars last week, the Dwarf Cars still had 13 cars.  Charlie Correia was a welcome sight after being sidelined last season  with a separated shoulder from his crash in the Merced Speedway Fairtime race.  Car count is likely to have a slight bounce this week in Dwarf Cars, and if Correia and Teves have their cars running late in the race, it just might be that the #0 and #08 cars are running at the front of the pack.  Whatever the case, the Dwarf Cars put on an exciting show every week.

Racing at Antioch Speedway always has something to offer the fans.  For more information on the coming show and other happenings, check the web site at

2015 Antioch Winged 360 Northern All Star Points

Shawn Arriaga    390
Art McCarthy     374
Jake Haulot     332
Dan Gonderman    280
Chris Magoon     264
Ricky Brophy     172
Jeremy Burt      132
Chase Wood     130
Brandon Powell     112
Dustin Golobic      86

Past Champions

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

2015-Shawn Arriaga

Last 24 Feature Winners

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 2
April 23
May 7 
May 21
June 4
June 11
June 18
June 25
July 16
July 30
August 6
August 20
August 27
September 10
September 17
September 24

Corder Racing Is About more Than Winning, 
It's About Family

Chris Corder gets a trophy in bis season ending clean sweep last year at Chowchilla.

Down in Modesto, there's a racing team that has quietly emerged as one of the top Mini Stock teams in California.  That would be Corder Racing.  Driving the red #68c car, Chis Corder is already a two time Mini Stock champion.  And, his sister Jennifer has already racked up back to back runner up seasons racing at Merced Speedway.

Rewinding back to 2011 on the pavement of Stockton 99 Speedway, the brother and sister duo ran the Basically 4 Cylinder division, where Jennifer ranked fifth that season.  Chris finished just outside the Top 10 in 12th, but he moved up to 7th a year later while Jennifer repeated her fifth place status.  While Jennifer slipped back just a bit to seventh in 2013, Chris stepped it up and had a strong season in third.  He also ran a Pure Stock that year and was ninth.

Jennifer Corder #13 has a new body and paint on her Hobby Stock as she aims for her first feature win in the division.  Photo by Destiny Carter.

But, the two decided it was time to head down Highway 99 to the dirt of Merced Speedway.  The team's shop, C&C Wholesale of Modesto, was adding cars, and these days they have about a half dozen Mini Socks.  In fact, Chris added a yellow Mini Truck earlier this year, which would have been perfect in the division Merced had back in the 1990's.  "Another addition to Corder Racing, " he remarked at the time.  "Should be fun.  I'm thinking I need a 2 story parking garage."

In 2014, Chris and Jennifer hit Merced Speedway like a tidal wave as they ranked first and second in  the Mini Stock class.  In fact, teammate Brian Widdowson made it a Corder Racing sweep of the podium that year.  Things were looking up for the team.  Jennifer went through with her plans to move up to Hobby Stocks for a run at "Rookie Of The Year" honors, while Chris set his sights on a repeat.

Chris Corder ended his season with some big wins in this car.

On January 4th of 2015, Chris grabbed one of the biggest wins of his career in the West Coast Nationals at Chowchilla.  The victory firmly established him as the driver to beat in that track's championship battle.  It was in March of that year when tragedy struck the Corder family with the passing of Chris and Jennifer's father, Chris Corder Sr.

Rather than slow down, the two decided to pay tribute to him by racing hard and going about succeeding in their goals.  Chris got off to a strong start, despite no wins at Merced, and he was the early point leader.  He led at Chowchilla as well.  Jennifer was in command in the Hobby Stock rookie battle, and she soon found herself ranked second in points.  Though the win was eluding her, she managed to pick up some Top 5 finishes and was learning more every week.

But for Chris, he couldn't seem to get that Merced win no matter what he did.  As a staunch supporter of Mini Stocks, he often provided two cars to the cause, and it was Robert Alger picking up a win for the team during the first half of the season.  Chris soon lost the lead to the red hot Darren Miguel, who was winning everything in sight.  He was joined in the pits by another teammate, past champion Alex Odishoo.

 Alex Odishoo and Chris Corder both won features in this car last season.

It wasn't all stress over points, however.  Corder supplied a couple of Mini Stocks to a special July 4th weekend, three day Rodeo Arena Figure 8 event at the Alameda County Fair.  He shared driving duties with Widdowson and Mat Schlessinger.  It was a fun experience for the team, and the crowd enjoyed the show.  Even better, Corder Racing took home an $1100 paycheck for their time.

Though Chowchilla seemed to be well in hand for Chris, he wanted a win at Merced.  Odishoo was looking for a win as well in his red, white and blue #48 car, but he was fighting a problem that saw his car run strong, only to misfire with about five laps to go in the Main Event.  Alex did finally get a win at Chowchilla before selling his car and those problems to Corder.  This was a risky move for Chris, who could ill afford to lose points to Miguel if he wanted to win that championship.

Chris was determined to get that car to run right, and he did.  He solved the motor problem and grabbed a win with six races to go in the season.  Then, he grabbed another win, and another.  Suddenly, we had a show down brewing between Corder and Miguel, and he was heading into the last race with a shot.  The car change might have hurt him in the second to last race, but Chris knew he had a winning car.

Meanwhile, Jennifer's goal turned out even better than she had hoped.  She easily won "Rookie Of The Year" honors, but she also finished second in the standings.  Chris dabbled in the Hobby Stock class, but his lone appearance resulted in a blown motor.  Rather than worry about that, he focused his efforts on the Mini Stocks.  This included the beautiful blue #24 car, which was the last car built by his dad.  Jennifer got behind the wheel and took it to a fourth place finish.

Jennifer Corder got to wheel the car her father built a couple times late in the season.

Entering the finale, Chris did all he could.  He collected his fourth win in the last six events.  Miguel was not far behind him, meaning Miguel won the championship, but only by two points.  Chris was the Chowchilla champion, however, and he ended the season at that track by sweeping the heat, main and dash in the final race that year.  Not a bad way to end a season, but he wasn't done.

Chris headed to Porterville in November for the special Turkey Shootout race, and he won the big money race there.  At this point, there truly was no hotter driver on the Mini Stock circuit in California than Chris Corder.  With all of the racing done, Chris got a party bus to make sure he and his friends could go to the awards banquet in Antioch and celebrate in style.

Though he has found his niche, he's not just sticking with Mini Stocks.  He does have a Sport Mod in the works.  Teammate Alex Odishoo also has a rather nice looking Sport Mod, which means that eventually the two friends will be battling for position in another division.

But, Corder Racing has added a new teammate to their ranks.  It's young Destiny Carter.  For years, Destiny and her mother Dawn Carter went to Merced Speedway.  When Dawn lived back east, she had a local track that she grew up at, and she wanted that for her daughter.  From the time before she could even crawl, Destiny has been going to Merced Speedway.  As she grew up, she caught that racing bug.

Destiny Carter gets to live out her dream of racing thanks to Corder Racing.

Destiny has done what she can to help the track through promoting it on social media.  When she could help a team during the week and learn about race cars, she would do it.  On race day, she would help too, and that led her to the Corder Racing pit area.  Knowing Destiny's passion for the sport, and given the strength she has shown in difficult times, which includes maintaining good grades in school, Chris put a car together for her.

Destiny is excited about racing this season.  "I don't know how much more I can ask for, " she admitted.  "This year will be my rookie year of racing.  As much as I'm excited, I am so nervous, but I will be doing it for my mom. I couldn't ever thank these guys enough for welcoming me into the family and giving me this opportunity."

Destiny put a lot of thought into the car number and the colors on the car.  She will run the #82c.  This is not a reference to former Merced and Chowchilla competitor Dennis Clay, who had the same number.  The #8 is her favorite number and #2 is the age in which she became an aunt for the first time.  The c, of course, is for Corder Racing.  The purple on the car is her mother's favorite color, and the blue is Corder Racing blue.

Another shot of Destiny Carter's Mini Stock ride. Fred Baker of BRC Race Cars stepped up big last year to help cover Dawn Carter's funeral cost and with the assist of the guys at pitched in to get Destiny a helmet this season.  Photo by Destiny Carter

Destiny's first practice had some mechanical issues, but she still got to take the car out on the racing surface for the first time.  Last week, she experienced a bit of excitement with some contact on the track, but she still learned quite a bit.  "I'm feeling it today, " she admitted the next day.  "I'm officially a racer. First door slam of my career, but I felt like I did good and my family is proud, so I'm happy."

Destiny eagerly awaits the season opener on Saturday (April 2) which features Mini Stocks along with IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks,  She knows her mother will be looking down from above and still very proud of her, not just because she is living her dream of being a race car driver.  Destiny continues to move forward in life despite the setbacks, and she's giving it 100% effort every day.

As for Chris Corder, there's no bragging coming from him.  He's done some good things in a race car and put other racers behind the wheel, but he's not looking for the accolades.  It's just the kind of guy he is.  "Chris continues to amaze me with his kindness and generosity, " said long time friend Frank Lopez. "I have always told people he is the guy who would give the shirt off his back to someone in need, and he continues to do things like this. I'm sure Destiny is a great young lady, and I'm glad she has this racing community behind her."

So, Corder Racing will be well represented at Merced Speedway this year.  You'll have Jennifer Corder in her blue #13 Hobby Stock as she pursues her first feature victory.  Chris will be back, as will the #48 Sport Mod of Alex Odishoo.  And, there will be Destiny Carter as well.  It really is  people like Chris and Jennifer Corder and the whole team who hep make Merced Speedway such a special place to race.