Monday, January 2, 2017

DeCarlo, Ryland, Long Kick Of New Year With Antioch Speedway Victories

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DeCarlo, Ryland, Long Kick Of New Year With Antioch Speedway Victories

Nick DeCarlo #17 give the thumbs up after his $1000 A Modified victory at Antioch Speedway on Sunday.  Photo By Paul Gould Photography

Antioch, CA...January 1...The celebration of the 20th season of Oval Motorsports promoting Antioch Speedway began with the special New Years Bash Sunday night.  It a special three division All Star Series program.  Two time Petaluma champion Nick DeCarlo earned a $1000 payday with his win in a rough A Modified Main Event.  In the $500 to win B Modified feature, it was 2015 champion Fred Ryland picking up the victory.  Hobby Stock veteran Chris Long had the biggest win of his career with a $400 payday.

The A Modifieds produced an 18 car field for the special show, and they ran  three eight lap heat races.  2016 Late Model champion Richard Papenhausen won the first heat ahead of 2016 A Modified champion Carl Berendsen II.   Driving the old Aaron Crowell car, 2016 Jerry Hetrick Memorial Race winner Randy McDaniel won the second heat ahead of four time champion Troy Foulger.  Nick DeCarlo won the third heat ahead of Al Johnson.  Johnson had bumped up one of his B Modifieds for his division debut.

Papenhausen crashed on the opening lap of the A Modified Main Event to end his race in early disappointment.  McDaniel raced into the early lead.  Many time Petaluma champion Michael Paul Jr. moved up to challenge McDaniel for the lead, but contact sent McDaniel spinning.  Paul joined McDaniel in the back for the restart.  Moments later, McDaniel spun exiting Turn 2, and contact with Jake Dewsbury and Paul sent him rolling.  Foulger now set the pace with DeCarlo in pursuit.  Starting back in 14th, five time champion Scott Busby was on the move to the front.  As Busby moved underneath Johnson for position, there was contact that sent Johnson rolling three times in Turn 2.  He was not injured.  Busby pitted but returned for the restart.  Foulger was black flagged for loose body parts during a caution flag, giving DeCarlo the lead.  DeCarlo led the rest of the way for the big win with Bobby Motts Jr. second ahead of back of the pack starter Anthony Slaney, Foulger and Shawn DeForest.

 2015 IMCA State Champ Fred Ryland #7j picked up here he let off with a $500 win in the B Modified race.  Photo By Paul Gould Photography

The B Modifieds had a 22 car field, and Watsonville visitor Adriane Frost won the first eight lap heat race ahead of Brian Pearce.  Two time Marysville Mini Stock champion Jimmy Ford held off Les Friend to win the second heat, while Stock Car veteran Joel Hannagan won the final heat ahead of two time Limited Late Model champion Ron Brown.  Patti Ryland earned her Main Event starting spot with a B Main victory ahead of Danny Jones and Chuck Golden.

Ford had the front row for the B Modified feature and led a lap before Danny Jones spun onto a tractor tire coming out of Turn 4.  Ford continued to lead with Pearce and Fred Ryland racing into second and third.  Brown spun in Turn 4 for a lap five caution flag, and Pearce led F. Ryland into the top 2 positions on the restart.  Pearce led until about the mid point of the race when F. Ryland raced by.  Moments later, Pearce hit the wall to end his race up front.  Ryland led the restart and went on to victory ahead of Friend, Ford, Watsonville champion Jim DiGiovanni and Hannagan.

Chris Long's #99 $400 Hobby Stock win was the biggest of his career. Photo By Paul Gould Photography.

Danny Jones was back in the Ryan Thomason owned Hobby Stock, but his lead in the first eight lap heat race ended with a black flag as Cameron Swank collected the win.  Chris Long won the second heat ahead of Anthony Vigna.  Long had a front row start for the Main Event and raced into the lead.  A flat tire midway through the race sent Long from the lead and into the pits, but he was able to get it changed before the restart.  Haney led briefly while Long came back through the pack.  By the checkered flag, it was Long in front for the win.  Joe Salvi had his best Antioch finish in second as Swank, Haney and Vigna completed the Top 5.

The 2017 schedule should be released soon and will be available along with other important information at

Unofficial Race Results January 1
A Modifieds
Heat Winners (8 Laps)-Randy McDaniel, Richard Papenhausen, Nick DeCarlo.  Main Event (30 Laps)-DeCarlo, Bobby Motts Jr., Anthony Slaney, Troy Foulger, Shawn DeForest, Norm Beck, Michelle Paul, Trent Wentworth, Scott Busby, Jake Dewsbury, Al Johnson, McDaniel, Michael Paul Jr., Carl Berendsen II.

B Modifieds
Heat Winners (8 Laps)-Adriane Frost, Jimmy Ford, Joel Hannagan.  B Main (12 Laps)-Patti Ryland, Danny Jones, Chuck Golden, Mike Smith, Kevin Brown, Bryant, Al Johnson, Todd Gomez.  Main Event (25 Laps)-Fred Ryland, Les Friend, Jimmy Ford, Jim DiGiovanni, Hannagan, Patti Ryland, Dylan Schriner, Trevor Clymens, Danny Jones, Mike Smith, Megan Ponciano, Golden, K. Brown, Ryan Svensson, Brian Pearce, Mark Garner, R. Brown, Bryant.

Hobby Stocks
Heat Winners (8 Laps)-Cameron Swank, Chris Long.  Main Event-Long, Joe Salvi, Cameron Swank, Gene Haney, Anthony Vigna, Danny Jones, Russell Shearer, Chris Bennett, Mark Weigel, Billy Garner.

Merced Speedway Schedule Released

Merced, CA...We had literally hit send with this post when Merced Speedway just released their 2017 season schedule.  We're just going to touch on it here, in lieu of a full detailed report.  In his second year as promoter of the 67 year old racing facility at the Merced County Fairgrounds, Ed Parker has put together an excellent schedule that runs from March through the first week of October.

After back to back playdays to get the cars tuned up on March 11 and 18, the green flag flies over the season on March 25 with the core four divisions on the schedule, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  The Valley Sportsman division will again make several appearances as it begins it 19th season, and the track has also added the 600cc engine Mini Late Models.  But Sportsmans and Mini Late Models aren't the only classes giving the fans more variety and all of the divisions a chance to get a break here and there.

For starters, Merced Speedway has landed a pair of dates for the IMCA 305 RaceSaver Sprint Cars on April 1 and July 8.  The class is quickly growing into a power house in Hanford and Tulare with 18-20 cars showing up when they are competing there.  Open wheel fans can also take delight in the fact that the over 70 year old BCRA will be in town on multiple occasions.  The BCRA Midgets will race on April 22, while the BCRA Midget Lites make appearances on May 13 and August 12.  There is also an AMA Flat Track Motorcycle event on June 24.

The week before, on June 16-17, there will be a WCDCA Dwarf Car National Event.  Mini Late Models join them on Friday, while Hobby Stocks, Sportsmans and the lone Super 4 appearance will be a part of the Saturday night show.  You want big dates that are part of Merced Speedway tradition?  Parker has again booked some big races.  This starts on April 15 with the core four classes, headlined by a big All Star Modified Series race.

The Ted Stofle Classic is back in May 6 to honor future Hall Of Famer Ted Stofle.  This race will feature IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and a double point Hobby Stock race.  The Timmy Post Memorial Race opens July in a big way on the 1st with IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks.  Legend's Night is back on August 12th with the Sportsman division running for double points.  Legends Of Kearney Bowl Super Modifieds, BCRA Midget Lites and Hobby Stocks are also part of the big event.  This follows a dark night on August 5th to allow Merced racers to support the Mike Cecil Memorial Race at Watsonville that night.

Merced Speedway icon Matt Von Hoecke is remembered again with the Matt & Glass Cancer Fund Raiser season finale on September 23rd, featuring IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and a double point race Hobby Stocks.  The track goes dark September 30th to support Watsonville's Pat Pettit Memorial Shoot Out, but it comes back one more time on October 7th with the John Fore Jr. Memorial Race for Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks.  It is an exciting season that offers something for everybody.  For more information, go to or go directly to the schedule

The Editor's Viewpoint

Even from here, yesterday was a stressful day for me.  Understand that what happens at Antioch Speedway is not my problem.  I've already been told I was not wanted back because I made a move to Oregon to keep a roof over my head.  Moving so far away was never what I wanted, and I don't like being away from my home town area.  I don't much care for the idea of being homeless either, so I am grateful Mike made the offer.  Despite the move, I did what I could to help management out and take care of things there, while doing my thing to help the cause up here too.  No regrets in that, just a little hurt to hear that all the work I put in for free was met with such negativity from management.  I felt it was undeserved.

It's not an easy thing to sit here and watch them hold a race I felt was not a good idea to have in the first place.  I get why it happened.  It was meant to be a big deal.  I had a hunch it was gonna go bad.  Jim Thomson was gracious enough to keep me informed as it happened.  Once that was done and I saw the overwhelming negativity thrown at that race, the officials and management, it bummed me out.  I knew it was coning.  I ended up taking a nap after that and came back later to write an article.  What I heard later was not much better.

I've heard a subject brought up among the bashing that I will address at another time.  For now, its congratulations to Nick DeCarlo, Fred Ryland and Chris Long on their respective wins.  Thank you to all who made the race happen.  I look forward to seeing what scheduling reveals at Antioch, Petaluma, Watsonville, Merced and Chowchilla in the days ahead.

This marks the 20th season at Antioch for John and Donna.  I'm still sentimental about the early years and what we accomplished.  Being sentimental has it's good and bad traits.  One of the good ones is watching Danny Jones in a #66 car with colors reminiscent to the Stock Cars he drove in the 1970's.  I love stuff like that.  There's a reason Chris Long drives a black #99 car.  It's a salute to perhaps Antioch's best ever local Figure 8 racer, "Flyin" Brian Holden.  Plus, Chris picked up another win riding with Uncle Bob.  This is the last Hobby Stock of the late Bob Ackerman.

 Chris Bennett #6 made the first laps of his career in his Bob Hansen Tribute Car.  Photo By Paul Gould Photography.

Then, there's my traveling buddy back in the day, not to mention assistant announcer.  I was thrilled to find out last week that Chris Bennett would be making his racing debut.  I knew he wanted to race, but he's been kicking so much butt in life these days that now he's able to do it.  And, Chris had a sentimental reason for his number and paint job.  It's the same number and colors of past Street Stock State champion Bob "Hurricane" Hansen.  Bob was one of the nicest racers I ever met.  I know Bob was looking down and smiling at Chris.  Now that Chris has raced, he will have to sign his famous Bob Hansen shirt along with all of the other racers.  He is one of them now.  If he ever does the passenger thing, perhaps one day I will get into a race car with him.  Then afterwards, it's In N Out Burgers.

Merced Speedway made news today when Ed Parker announced that he has secured sponsorship for championship rings this season.  More information will come.  Ed has poured his heart into Merced Speedway, he cares and it shows.  He again extended an invitation for me to come to Legend's Night, which I think will be in August again when the schedule is announced.  Yes, if at all possible, I will go.  Antioch and Merced are my two home tracks.

Ed is looking at adding transponders this year.  Not too many tracks have avoided it to this point.  Hayfork, Orland, Antioch and Rocky Hill come to mind.  Perris?  I don't know.  It will be a cold day in hell before John adds it at Antioch, and I support him in this.  It saves the track and racers money.  Racing lived just fine for many years without this stuff.  It was better back then.  But, progress, as they call it, has won out.  Merced will dive in.  I support them in doing this.  It's just that it's not all rosy and perfect as some would have you believe.  Nonetheless, my Race Monitor will be focused on Merced Speedway when I'm in the booth at Southern Oregon Speedway.  I don't need it for here, because I'm perfectly capable of focusing on the track.

Speaking of Medford, a few surprises are in the works.  Race dates will include some different things along with the usual stuff.  The track is brining Rogue Valley Pro Stocks under the local banner.  This means more dates, and it's an attempt to correct a problem caused by old management about 6 years ago at a time when the track went IMCA.  By the way, IMCA will remain for Modifieds and Sport Modifieds.  The three 4 cylinder classes return, along with Late Models, Pennzoil Sprints Cars, SODCA Dwarf Cars and OTRO Hardtops.

The Open Stock experiment of 2016 revealed an interest in Late Models, so this is where the track is headed.  I'm bummed out about Street Stocks, but it turns out there may be some good news ahead.  Four Cylinder classes did well with Super 4's being restarted and Mini Stocks growing.  Hornets need a little help, but they'll all be back.  The Sprint Cars are going in the Limited Sprint direction, but with an eye towards making sure the local 360 guys can support in a fair environment.  Rules aren't out yet.

Here's the thing, we've been fighting a battle to establish this class, and there's a guy out there that has not made it easy on us.  Medford is a beautiful facility, but the program has suffered badly in recent years.  The 360's could have worked with us in establishing the program, but many chose not to because they didn't get everything they wanted.  So, we'd advertise Sprint Cars, 3 or 4 cars show up and fans want to know what the hell happened.  Frankly, they aren't interested in why.  They paid to watch and the cars need to be there.  The few who were there, along with the Limited Sprints, will have an affordable option to keep racing here.  Nobody is being kicked to the curb.

There are some 8-10 cars under the limited package now, many of them young up and coming drivers, and they want to go racing.  We want a Sprint Car program, and we want the fans to see cars when we do it.  Yes, we've already met opposition from the same person who has single handedly taken a giant dump on Oregon Sprint Car racing, but this new effort will succeed in Medford and grow to heights the track never saw for it's regular Sprint Car show of the past 20 years.  It will take time, but we're in this thing to make it better.

The schedule will come out soon, and I will be doing what I can to help make things pop.  Once my computer issues are resolved, I'm jumping in full board.  Every division, every driver matters.  Big track and small track.  My hope is that everybody who can race comes out and races, because the show depends on everybody.  Mike has been hard at work lining everything up, and year #2 of our effort is gonna be a good one.  Next up will be the Awards Banquet on January 14th.

I'm anxious to see what Yreka and Orland have planned for the new season.  I've heard Orland may try Figure 8 racing.  This would be cool.  The sooner dates are announced, the better.  I know there are Bay Area racers who want to run Figure 8's.  Yreka could use a new class or two, but as far as I've heard, it's both IMCA Modified classes, including the annual special races, and McDonald's Mini Stocks.  We'll see.  Orland is, or was, the last California track with its own Mini Truck class, along with Mini Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Micros.  Well, they aren't alone now.

I saw Placeville last season came down with a case of Divisionitis as they added IMCA Sport Mods.  They have a successful 360 Sprint Car show along with Pure Stocks and a growing Limited Late Model division.  Let's not forget the traveling classes.  Well, they are adding Mini Trucks.  Yeah, you heard right, Mini Trucks.  Fun class, if you can get the count.  But, Scott Russell had a major ace up his sleeve this off season.

Russell, got leaders from Stockton, Calistoga, Antioch and Reno-Fernley, along with great sponsorship from Abreu Vineyards and Elk Grove Ford, and the 12 race Winged 360 Sprint Car Challenge Series was born.  This was a direct shot at the established Civil War Series, currently promoted by Prentice Motorsports.  Prentice has announced two of his four series schedules so far, but the surprise was the Civil War.  Chico, Marysville, Tulare and Watsonville are on this 11 race schedule, but Petaluma reportedly pulled out on the day it was announced.  This has prompted more speculation, but the bottom line is the war is on over the Winged 360 class.  It gets more interesting from here.

Prentice announced a name change for his All Star Modified Series as an olive branch to work with John M. Soares at Antioch Speedway.   This could have led to a Modified date and was reportedly setting up Antioch to have a King Of The West and Civil War race.  However, Soares received an offer for two dates for the new Sprint Car Challenge.  Soares had been pushing for a series between Placerville, Stockton and Antioch just prior to Allan Handy's decision to retire from Placerville Speedway and sell to Russell.  So, the offer to join the new kid on the block was too good to pass up.

Prentice was understandably disappointed and went back to the All Star Series name.  The Modified series is not hurting for dates as there are 12 races between nine tracks.  Joining the two event tracks of Chico, Watsonville and Petaluma are Tulare, Merced, Hanford, Bakersfield, Marysville and Calistoga.  Actually, this schedule looks strong, and several top teams are already prepared to support it.

Getting back to the Sprint Cars, the answer to the question of whether there are enough drivers to support both series is yes.  Average car count just between Placerville, Petaluma, Watsonville and Marysville is about 80 cars.  The real moment of truth comes when race dates happen and we see where the cars are.

There's been some question about Petaluma.  I'm a bit surprised by the lack of a Civil War race.  I thought the track would be a part of all four Prentice promoted series and this alliance was strong.  I don't think this hurts Petaluma, because they have a great sponsor in  They will be fine.  But, it does surprise me that the Civil War won't be paying the three-eighth mile adobe oval a visit or two.  This would be the perfect time for something to develop between Petaluma and Antioch, though I'm not holding my breath.  My guess is Rick Faeth made this move because he's happy with what he has in house.  All will be revealed soon with the schedule.

Not to be forgotten in the mix is the new West Coast Sport Mod Tour.  Initially, there was word that the Pacific Sport Mod Series might expand to include a South Division in California.  But, Jerry Bartlett and the Cooper Racing Team rallied the troops to start a nine race series.  Last year, there were hints that this division could eventually be included along with the All Star Series as a suport class, but Cooper and Bartlett took the initiative.  The result was two races each at Chico, Marysville and Merced and a date each at Stockton, Petaluma and Calistoga.  It's not a heavy schedule, and they don't book on top of any of the supporting tracks.  This should be a very competitive series.

California Pro Stock fans will note the Nevada Pro Stocks are booked for two dates at Quincy's American Valley Speedway this season.  The bigger news is the Nevada group has scheduled the Gordon Russell Sr. Memorial Race for Pro Stocks at Cedarville Speedway on June 24th in a show that should be supported by the Oregon Outlaw Pro Stock group.  The Oregon club has dates booked in Yreka this year, including the Billy Geyer Memorial Race.  Pro Stocks will also continue at Hayfork Speedway, along with Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Enduros.  Pro Stock star Josh Smith was making practice laps at Marysville Sunday in a Hobby Stock car he purchase from the Kasper Racing Team.

The NCMA has been racing on pavement for the last decade as the Spec Sprint group has dates confirmed at Madera and Stockton for their 30th season.  Word is that Roseville is up for bid with Tony Noceti of Stockton's race tracks the leading bidder.  There are NCMA alumni pushing for a return to dirt, though leadership will only consider that as part of a discussion for next year.  However, Alan Clark has hinted that he is close to releasing a schedule for a new dirt track effort.  Roy Greer has indicated that there are at least a half dozen guys in the group looking for dirt dates.

The time is now for such a movement, and though it would make sense for the NCMA to restablish a dirt presence given the state of the division, they are more concerned with attracting dirt drivers to the pavement.  There were rumblings not too long ago about Sacramento Raceway and a Spec Sprint group, Orland has several parked racers waiting for races and now Chowchilla Speedway is back in the game.  In fact, Spec Sprints have already been mentioned as part of the track's revival under promoters Joe Diaz Jr. and Kris Koontz.  There should be more news on this front in the days ahead.
On a final note, Lemoore Speedway caught my eye with the announcement that they were working on a six race Mini Stock series.  They even have video footage of a couple of cars practicing there.  It will be the Central Valley Mini Stocks, and I love the idea.  Back in the day, Stockton Delta and Chico Cycleland Speedway had Mini Stocks.  Ryan McDaniel got his start at the little track near Chico in a Mini Stock.  Dixon Speedway has dabbled with this class as well.  I still haven't given up on the dream of a Hornet race at the Outlaw Kart track in Medford.  It will be interesting to see what happens at Lemoore.

There's more, but that's all for now...  The Editor