Thursday, October 6, 2016

John Soares Sr. Memorial Preview, Pat Pettit Memorial Saturday Recap

First of all...

On Sale At Reduced Price

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

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

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

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover


If You Like Reading Our Articles, Visit The Tip Jar at Go Fund Me to support our efforts

DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

Antioch Speedway To Honor Its Founder 
With Special Race Saturday Night

Antioch, CA... To a whole new generation of racers and fans, they may know Promoter John M. Soares Jr. of Oval Motorsports, but they may not know he isn't the first member of his family to handle the day to day operations at Antioch Speedway.  When the gates opened for business back in 1961, his father, John P. Soares Sr. promoted Antioch Speedway.  During most of those years, he was also promoting a second track, Petaluma Speedway.

Actually, John Sr. first started promoting races in Antioch back in 1952 and 1953 with another member of the Bob Barkhimer & Associates crew, Jerry Piper. People unfamiliar with their California Stock Car history may not realize that Barkhimer built up the the racing circuit back in the 1950's and 1960's with people like Soares, Piper and Bert Moreland as part of his team. At its height, the Barkhimer stable of race tracks reached into the twenties, and you could race at one of those tracks every night of the week. It was during the 1950's when Barkhimer had his famous meeting with NASCAR Legend Bill France  Sr., and suddenly the Barkhimer stable of tracks became NASCAR sanctioned.

Soares Sr. had long since built up a reputation as one of the top Stock Car drivers in the state, even winning races with NASCAR. The elder Soares won the first two BCRA Hardtop championships on the circuit that included race tracks in Pacheco, Vallejo and Sacramento. Soares even had a hand in building the legendary West Capital Speedway in Sacramento and is a member of the Hall of Fame there. As a race car driver, he won the very first Gold Cup Race of Champions, a race that continues to this day in Chico, California.

John chalked up so many accomplishments that they cannot be named in this article. He also inspired loyalty in his racers. To highlight that, when he retired from NASCAR at the end of the 1980 season at Antioch, about half of the Sportsman division followed him to his one remaining race track in Petaluma. There, he promoted one of the best Stock Car programs in the state. In 1987, he made one of his biggest contributions to the current state of California racing when he was the first promoter to start a Dirt Modified division. It wasn't until three years later that any of the other promoters in Northern California decided to follow his lead. John was a trendsetter.

When the popular Baylands race track in Fremont closed at the end of the 1988 season, Soares invited all of the drivers from that track to compete at Petaluma Speedway. At that time, over 150 race cars flocked to Petaluma on a regular basis, making it the biggest weekly racing program happening anywhere in the state of California. In the mid 1990's, he began promoting the Top Dog Nationals. This was a Dirt Modified race that attracted over 60 competitors to his race track. A Soares promoted race track was generally one of the best prepared race tracks anywhere, and his sons Jim and John Jr. also got the reputation of being track prep gurus.

At the end of the 2002 season, the elder Soares retired from Petaluma Speedway. He had promoted that track for nearly 40 years. Throughout his illustrious career, he's been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Bay Cities Racing Association, the Motoring Press Association and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. He is also a recipient of the DCRR Racing News Lifetime Achievement Award.

John would no doubt be very proud of his son John Jr., who will match him in promoting Antioch Speedway for his 20th season next year. The younger Soares has also built up a reputation as being a championship driver, a top notch car builder and the creator of the Lobak Performance Muffler. John also has a reputation of promoting big races, and he's been looking for a few years now for the right opportunity to promote a big race in honor of his father. On October 8th, it will happen with the John Soares Sr. Memorial Top Dog Shoot Out.

Because of two early season rain outs, John is also using this as a makeup date for the championship season, but all four divisions will compete for extra money. They are also open to any driver who is running an All Star Series legal car. The DIRTcar Late Models and A Modifieds will compete for $1,500 to win, and the B Modified and Hobby Stock divisions race for an $850 first prize. The bigger prize money is expected to attract some top competitors.

It's a celebration of the career of John Soares Sr. that he would likely approve of. Extra money on the line for the drivers and a big race at which many of the top competitors will want to be. Antioch Speedway has built up a reputation of having some very competitive racing in the A Modified division with over a dozen winners in the Main Event so far this year.

At this point, the A Modified winner's list reads like a who's who of the top drivers in the division. Only Scott Busby and Brian Cass have won more than one race this year. Cass has three wins. The other winners on the list include Carl Berendsen II, Troy Foulger, Duane Cleveland, Oreste Gonella, Bobby Hogge IV, Josh Combs, Aaron Crowell, Jeff Decker, Darrell Hughes II and Jerry Hetrick Memorial winner Randy McDaniel.

The other story going into the big $1,500 to win race is the point race. Despite not having a great night last time out, Carl Berendsen II still holds a commanding point lead. Unless Carl stumbles badly, he's still going to win his second championship in three years. At stake is who will get second. Scott Busby is in line to get his third runner up ranking to go along with his five championships.  Nobody has won more races in this division in Antioch history than Scott with 64 wins. The only concern Busby may have is that when the money is on the line at Antioch Speedway, he doesn't really have that much luck. Can he turn it around this week?

Two drivers nipping at Busby's heels would love to get their first win. Back in third in the standings are the tied Sean O'Gara and rookie Bobby Montalvo, while Trent Wentworth is 20 points behind them. While O'Gara has had a rough go of it in the past couple of races, he still stands a good chance of ranking Top 3 for the second time in his career. All three drivers have had their moments, but the win has eluded them so far this season. With points and money on the line this week, it should be an entertaining race.

In the past 30 races, nobody has done more winning in the DIRTcar Late Model division than Richard Papenhausen with 11 victories. Papenhausen has been the dominant force of Late Model racing at Antioch Speedway, but he could still lose the championship without a good performance this week. Last time, Richard watched from the sidelines as his closest rival, reigning champion Jeff Decker, won his second race of the season.

Decker is also the reigning DIRTcar West Region champion, which was worth $2000 last season.  Decker leads Papenhausen by five points in this race.  It was thought that this race was over, but management's announcement of two more point races blew it wide open. Both Papenhausen and Decker have two Main Event wins this year, and they will need to make their best effort out there not just for the money but the points that are on the line.

It's not known what other teams might come to Antioch. It is hoped that Troy Foulger will come back to try for his first win of the season. Last year, Troy won two Late Model Main Events, and he's been running up at the front in his visits so far. If Papenhausen and Decker have a challenger this week it could be the #49 car of Foulger. As far as points are concerned, the battle for third pits Dennis Souza against Mike Hynes. Neither driver has been a threat to win a feature this year, but they have been two competitors who have supported most of the Antioch races this year. It's anybody's guess who will win the battle between these two.

What drivers will be in the field this week is as yet unknown. We are likely to see the House Car, which has been driven by Andy Obertello and Ed Daviess and more recently by Shawn DeForest. The cars of Rob Norris, Paul Guglielmoni, Travis Meyerhoff, David Newquist and Terry Kuntz are other drivers to watch for this week.

Last time out, Al Johnson served notice to Trevor Clymens that the B Modified championship race isn't over just yet. Johnson finally showed what he is capable of when he won his first Main Event ahead of two time winner K.C. Keller. Though he has seven Main Event wins, more than anybody else this year, Clymens hasn't been winning lately. He struggled to a sixth place finish last time, and he knows he needs to step it up a little bit to protect his lead. An added incentive for Clymens will be the $850 paycheck if he can win this week.

With that kind of money being offered, hard chargers such as Anthony Giuliani, Brian Pearce and Shane DeVolder are other drivers who could be there. All three have won this season. Drivers like Kevin Brown, Randy Brown, Ron Brown, Chuck Golden, Mike Mates, Tim Hammett and Lloyd Cline could be among the competitors this week, as well as potential visitation from Marysville stars like Brian Cooper, Todd Cooper and Phillip Shelby. During the course of the season, A Modified champions Nick DeCarlo and Aaron Crowell have even brought home victories in this class. Who will win the bigger prize this week?

Guy Ahlwardt has already clinched the Hobby Stock championship and may be considered the driver to beat this week with $850 on the line. Even with five wins to his credit, Guy has been tested from time to time. Last time out, Melissa Myers reminded everybody that she is one of the all time greats of the Hobby Stock division. A two time division champion, Myers won her second Main Event of the year and 13th of her career. She is third on the all time win list in the division, and she and her husband Brad Meyers have combined for 26 wins in this class. This makes them one of the most potent husband-wife combinations in Antioch Speedway history.

If Ahlwardt and Myers might be the two drivers to beat this week, there are some hard chargers out there capable of making a run at the $850 first prize. Frank Furtato, 2010 champion Chris Sorensen, Chris Long and Michael Cooper count themselves among the Main Event winners this year. There is also a battle for second in the standings, led by rookie Lindsey Buirch by 28 points over Jordan Swank. These two drivers are looking for their first win of the season. Might this be the week for them to do it?

With extra money on the line in the event that honors the founder of Antioch Speedway, racing should be intense and exciting. Once again, DIRTcar Late Models, A Modifieds, B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks are on the schedule. For further information, go to

 Hogge Wraps Up Big Weekend With 
Pat Pettit Memorial Shoot Out Victory

Watsonville, CA...October 1...Bobby Hogge IV crept his way through the pack and won the 33 lap Pat Pettit Memorial Shoot Out Race for the IMCA Modifieds Saturday night at Ocean Speedway.  Hogge collected $3003 for the win and added that to his $1003 victory in the Preliminary Main Event on Fiday night.  Nick DeCarlo set the early pace ahead of Alex Stanford, and Hogge made his first appearance in the Top 5 on lap ten.  Hogge took fourth from Cody Burke on lap 12, and a yellow flag slowed the pace on lap 19.  On the restart, Hogge lept past Stanford and Robby Sawyer for second and began pressuring DeCarlo for the lead.  Hogge made his winning pass around DeCarlo on lap 21.  As Hogge pulled away just a bit, Stanford and DeCarlo battled fiercely for second for several laps.  Hogge went on to score an impressive victory as Stanford beat DeCarlo back to the line for second.  C. Burke and Sawyer rounded out the Top 5.

The IMCA Modifieds ran six eight lap heat races with Robert Marsh winning the first one ahead of Stephen Hopf.  Hogge won his heat race ahead of Paul Stone, and Riley Simmons won the third heat in front of Mike Vukelich.  Clay Daly won his heat race and skiped tech to hand the win to Sawyer ahead of Troy Foulger.  Ryan McDaniel held off DeCarlo to win their heat, and C. Burke won the last heat in front of Stanford.  Many time Watsonville champion Kenny Nott led all the way to win the 12 lap B Main ahead of Jeremy Richey and Jeff Streeter.  Ryan McDaniel led all but the opening lap to win the other 12 lap B Main in front of Tim Balding and Bill Egleston.

Brian Cooper made it a perfect weekend by following Friday's win with a $1003 20 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event victory Saturday night.  Cooper grabbed the lead on the opening lap and led all the way with Santa Maria Raceway champion Matt Hagio shadowing his every move in second.  The IMCA State champion, B. Cooper made no mistakes to score the big victory as Hagio settled for second.  Nick Spainhoward won a good battle with Merced champion Rick Diaz for third as Brian Pearce rounded out the Top 5.  Phillip Shelby won the first of four eight lap heat races with a last lap pass on Brian Pearce.  Chris Falkenberg won his heat ahead of Watsonville champion Jim DiGiovanni.  Darren Thomas held off Spainhoward to win his heat, and B. Cooper won the final heat after a lap six pass on Dave Gibson.  Jordan Hagar finished second.  Shane DeVolder won the 12 lap B Main ahead of Adriane DeSousa-Frost and Mark Odgers. 

Three time champion Billy Nelson used a late race restart to steal the 20 lap American Stock Main Event win from Rich Denman.  Enduro and Street Stock veteran Denman set a fast pace up front, and B Main winner Nelson worked his way into second by lap nine.  Two yellow flags in the last three laps gave Nelson a shot at Denman.  On the lap 19 restart, Denman had problems and Nelson took the lead.  Nelson led the final two laps to win ahead of Merced Speedway star Garrett Corn, Nick Triolo, John Farrell and Robert Gallaher.  Denman won an evntful first eight lap heat race ahead of Kristie Shearer.  John Farrell made a last lap pass on Ed Cain to win the second heat race ahead of Gallaher, and Corn won the final heat ahead of Jeff Elrod.   Billy Nelson led all the way to win the 12 lap B Main ahead of Joe Willoughby and Nick Triolo.

Race Results
IMCA Modifieds
Heat 1-Robert Marsh, Stephen Hopf, Kenny Nott.  Heat 2-Bobby Hogge IV, Paul Stone, Ryan McDaniel.  Heat 3-Riley Simmons, Mike Vukelich, Alex Wilson.  Heat 4-Clay Daly, Troy Foulger, Robby Sawyer.  Heat 5-Randy McDaniel, Nick DeCarlo, Mike Meazell.  Heat 6-Cody Burke, Alex Stanford, Fred Plourde III.  B Main 1-Kenny Nott, Jeremy Richey, Jeff Streeter, Jim Pettit II, Eithan Dotson.  B Main 2-Ryan McDaniel, Tim Balding, Bill Egleston, Ryan Porter, Austin Burke.  Main Event-Bobby Hogge IV, Alex Stanford, Nick DeCarlo, Austin Burke, Robby Sawyer, Troy Foulger, Ryan McDaniel, Eithan Dotson, Bill Egleston, Jim Pettit II.

IMCA Sport Modifieds
Heat 1-Phillip Shelby, Brian Pearce, Jerry Bartlett.  Heat 2-Chris Falkenberg, Jim DiGiovanni, Todd Cooper.  Heat 3-Darren Thomas, Nick Spainhoward, Rick Diaz.  Heat 4-Brian Cooper, Jordan Hagar, Matt Hagio.  B Main-Shane DeVolder, Adriane DeSousa-Frost, Mark Odgers, Dave Gibson, Josh Hensley.  Main Event-Brian Cooper, Matt Hagio, Nick Spainhoward, Rick Diaz, Brian Pearce, Jordan Hagar, Todd Cooper, Fred Ryland, Jim DiGiovanni, Gary Tucker.

Hobby Stocks
Heat 1-Rich Denman, Kristie Shearer, Jake Silva.  Heat 2-John Farrell, Robert Gallaher, Mike Stockton.  Heat 3-Garrett Corn, William Kennedy, Sam Hennedy.  B Main-Billy Nelson, Joe Willoughby, Nick Triolo, Tony Olivera, Ed Cain.  Main Event-Billy Nelson, Garrett Corn, Nick Triolo, John Farrell, Robert Gallaher, Robert Huckaby, Chris Sorensen, John Keldsen, Tony Oliveira, Rich Denman.