Friday, March 17, 2017

Pre Season Pit Stops, Chowchilla Speedway News, More

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DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 101 by GenWhat

Pit Stops

Playday is just around the corner, and there will be cars on the race track this Saturday at Antioch Speedway.  There was already some news to report this week as a special monument was put commemorating Larry Damitz.  It's right where he used to park his car.  While word was that the Damitz Late Model and Limited Late Model will be there and Kimo Oreta is the leading candidate to drive them, nothing has been confirmed to this reporter.  It has been confirmed, however, that May 13th will be the Larry Damitz Memorial Race, and it is a Limited Late Model race.  It just so happens that Marysville's Winged Super Stock class and Petaluma's Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stock class are dark that night.  With the right purse in place and early word to drivers at those tracks, this could be the biggest race for the division at Antioch this year.

Last year, Mike Walko was hinting that he may bring the fast #13a car back to Antioch.  Walko has been a front runner in three different classes at Antioch through the years, and he would immediately become a contender at Antioch.  He bailed on a potential title run at Marysville last year, not to race at Antioch, but simply to lead the memorial lap for Jerry Hetrick.  In this reporter's opinion, having Mike back at Antioch would be a positive.  Could he make a run at his first championship?

The last driver to beat Larry Damitz for the Limited Late Model championship was Jim Freethy in 2013.  After struggling a bit in his new car, Freethy did win a Main Event last year.  He would be an instant contender, but what are his plans?  We have seen footage of last year's "Rookie Of The Year" Kimo Oreta starting up his car, confirming that he will be back.  Oreta was second in the points, and that was a good battle between he, Damitz and hard charger Mark Garner.  Though Garner has a B Modified, he also has a Limited Late Model.  Some are already saying Garner is the driver to beat this year.  If he can be just a bit more consistent in his finishes (He won five times last year), Mark will be tough to beat.  However, Oreta is the all time champion and feature winner in Hobby Stocks with three titles and over 20 victories in his impressive career there.

If his car is ready to go, Mike Gustafson will be a factor on race night.  Points have never been a priority for Mike, but he nonetheless has two championships and more feature wins than anybody in Limited Late Model history.  He also is a past Sportsman champion and was one of the stars of Super Stock racing at Petaluma during that exciting era in the 1980's.  "The Blue Knight" isn't the only past champion coming back this year.  Don't count out "Leadfoot" Lori Brown.  She's certainly going to be a driver to watch in the battle for victory.  We're waiting to see who else will be there, but we anticipate John "The Bear" Keith, John Evans, the fast pickup of Ryan Cherezian, Paul Hanley and rookie Buddy Kniss will be in the group.

The top Late Model effort in California could be the UMP Late Models at Antioch.  Promoter John M. Soares is bringing the UMP sanctioning back, meaning the $2000 top prize in the West Region is likely going to Antioch again.  The last two have gone to reigning champion Richard Papenhausen and Jeff Decker.  These two can usually be found at the front of the pack.  Decker is a two time Antioch champion with several Petaluma and Watsonville titles to his credit.  He has already said he's coming back.  While we haven't heard confirmation of Papenhausen's return, it is anticipated.  Both of these drivers also have A Modifieds.  In fact, Chester Kniss also has cars in both classes, and we anticipate Kniss will be ready to race Late Models after an offseason making preparations.

Past Modified champion Rob Norris is reportedly going to be ready on race day.  With more seat time, Norris will be battling at the front of the pack.  We're waiting on word of who all will be racing.  We know the Bay Area roster is into the 20's, and the show should at least remain in the 8-12 car range.  We also anticipate that Late Model veteran Shawn DeForest will be racing.

The two confirmations we have for the Winged 360 Sprint Car division this year are Jenna Frazier and Dan Gonderman.  Frazier, who was last year's "Rookie Of The Year" will be driving the Jimmy Paniagua owned #18 car.  Jenna has already displayed her toughness, crashing hard in Marysville, coming back and eventually winning her first race in Dwarf Cars last year.  As she gets used to the Sprint Car, she will be battling for wins there as well.  Dan Gonderman has won in every class in which he has competed (Street Stocks, Dirt Modifieds and Spec Sprints).  He is coming off of yet another Top 5 point season, and he is due for his first win in this class.  Don't count him out.

We're still waiting to see who else will be back.  Is Billy Aton planning a title defense?  We know that Art McCarthy raced at Chowchilla last week, and he'll be battling hard at the front of the pack.  If he's not winning the championship, the champion is beating him to get it.  Promoter John M. Soares is just as committed to the Sprint Cars as he is the Late Models, and he's excited to have landed two Winged 360 Sprint Car Challenge Series dates as well as two King Of The West/NARC 410 Sprint Car events.  Fans will get to see lots of Winged Sprint Car racing at Antioch Speedway this year.

Wingless Spec Sprint racing started at Antioch Speedway in 1999, and they are entering their 19th season with optimism of more good things to come.  A newcomer from the state of Hawaii, Boy Moniz, shocked the house last year with his win in the season finale.  After all this time, you still never know what will happen in this division.  Two newcomers to Spec Sprint racing will be Kelly Campanile and Abigail Gonderman.  Both come from racing families and both are up from Four Cylinder racing.  Kelly has been running her fast Ford Pinto on circuit up and down the state and is fast everywhere she goes, just like her parents, John and Lilly Campanile.  Abigail raced in the Four Banger class at Antioch, her father is two time Spec Sprint champion Dan Gonderman, and her grandfather is 1970 Sportsman champion Ken Gonderman.  Racing is in the blood of both of these ladies.

We know Rick Panfili is planing to compete again this season after another Top 5 season last year.  He has his first career win in his sights.  Rick was on the original roster and has been a regular competitor pretty much since then.  Jim Perry Jr. is in uncharted territory.  Nobody has more wins in this division's history at Antioch than him.  He is tied with Gonderman, Billy Macedo and the legendary Darrell "The Hammer" Hanestad as a two time champion.  Can he get #3, or might his son Jimmy Perry III, who is third on the win list, get his second title?  We anticipate seeing Marcus Smith and ageless veteran Roy Fisher on the roster of top notch contenders as well.  We've also heard the motor is ready for the Adam Teves car, and past track official Josh Floyd and his crew recently fired up the motor for his Spec Sprinter.  Josh is driving the former Jimmy Lavell car.

Nobody has racked up more A Modified feature wins at Antioch Speedway than Scott Busby.  In fact, the five time division champion is second only to J.D. Willis on the track's all time win list.  Busby finished second in the standings last season, while winning the prestigious John Soares Sr. Memorial Race, which takes place on September 16th this season.  With Carl Berendsen II hoping to avoid point racing after winning his second title in three seasons, it will be up to somebody else to challenge Busby.  2015 runnerup Bobby Motts Jr. may be that driver, but after the tragic death of family member and fellow racer Steven "The Hammer" Cunningham, he'll be racing with a heavy heart.

Bobby Montalvo topped the rookie list last season in A Modifieds, and he's hungry for his first victory.  Given the unpredictable nature of this class last season with so many different winners, it could just happen.  In fact, we have our eyes on another Top 5 competitor, Trent Wentworth.  From his days in the Street Stocks right into A Modifieds, we know how good a driver Wentworth is.  We're still waiting to see who is racing this year, but we anticipate Josh Combs, Shawn DeForest and Sean O'Gara will be battling up front.  Even if they aren't regulars, guys like Berendsen, four time champion Troy Foulger and two time Petaluma champion Nick DeCarlo will be threats to win any time they are there.

The B Modified division is again heavily booked.  The Sport Mod Series that has been booked at other tracks and may take a few drivers out of the pack this season, but we'll have to see how that ends up.  Reigning champion Trevor Clymens enters the season as the driver to beat, while Al Johnson is coming off of his second straight runnerup season.  He also got much faster last season as things came to a close.  We've heard that Al's son, Alfred, will make his division debut.  Mark Garner has a beautiful new Sport Mod and will be another driver to contend with.  Speaking of drivers too contend with, after a championship winning rookie season in Hobby Stocks last year, Guy Ahlwardt has a Sport Mod this year.  We've also heard that Mike Mates is ready to begin his second season of racing at Antioch.  Top 5 point runner K.C. Keller was in Merced for practice and plans to be at Antioch this week.

Speaking of families in racing, Keith Brown Jr. is making his welcome return to the fold.  He had plenty of reason to celebrate last year as he got married and took some time off.  The Brown family, which includes grandpa Bill, father Keith Sr. and uncle Dale, is in the Top 5 of all time winning families at the speedway.  Ron Brown is expected to be back behind the wheel, hopefully battling with his brothers Randy and Kevin once again this year.  If he can get a handle on his car, the two time Limited Late Model champion could surprise the pack and grab a victory.  Past Hobby Stock champion Chris Sorensen will be making his division debut, and we could see him make a start or two in Hobby Stocks as well.  The division continues to bring new talent to the speedway.

That's the same for the Hobby Stocks, which is the other work horse class.  It looks like not only will we have a new champion in the division, but there could be several new winners.  Brad and Melissa Myers are still out there, but they may not do more than come out once in a while and grab a victory or two.  The status of Danny Jones is unclear, but we suspect the veteran will be back in the red, white and blue #66 car of Ryan Thomason.  If that's the case, Danny may be the driver to beat, though he will likely be running a B Modified as well.  One driver who could be a threat is Chris Long, who won the New Years Bash.  If Jones and Long have a threat at the top, it could Jordan Swank, Michael Cooper, Cameron Swank or Frank Furtado.  If Cooper could make it to every race, it's hard to believe he wouldn't win the championship.

Past Four Banger champion Brent Curran is back this year after only making a few starts in 2015.  He becomes an instant contender if he's here for the full season.  Christopher Bennett is living his dream in the Bob Hansen Tribute #6 Car.  This writer has been on the road with Chris, and we can say that if the car is running well, he'll get a win at some point this year.  Fourth generation racer Billy Garner is also competing in the Hobby Stock class.  It won't be long before he's up to speed and battling for wins.  The rumor we've heard is that young Philip Oreta may get to do some racing in the #03 car.  He's been learning from the best, his father Kimo, so he's ready when he gets the chance.  2016 runnerup Lindsey Buirch, Chase Templeton, Anthony Vigna and Sid Smith are also part of what is shaping up to be a very talented roster.  We also anticipate Natalie Perry will be back, and she is a driver with multiple Top 10 point seasons driving for past car owner champion and crew chief, Steve Perry.

Dwarf Cars enter their 20th season of championship racing at Antioch Speedway.  We're waiting on conformation of reigning champion Kevin Miraglio, who would be the driver to beat.  We know that 2016 runnerup Mike Corsaro will be there, having completely gone over his car.  We watched with interest as David Rosa appeared to dial in his Dwarf Car last year.  We can't help but think that he'll be a threat this season if he races for points.  And if he's racing for points, chances are he'll also have to contend with his son, David Michael Rosa.  One time 2016 winner Jenna Frazier has confirmed that she will be back, and she should not be counted out in the battle.  

We've heard that Wade Humphrey will be back this season after breaking his leg in a crash last year.  Quarter-Midget racer Devan Kammerman is embarking on his rookie season at Antioch.  He got an opportunity to drive the Carlie Correia car in an event last season and is excited about the move up.  Robert Monroy is yet another rookie to watch for in Dwarf Cars this year. We're waiting to hear who is racing, but we anticipate the roster will include Josh Miller, Tim Reeder, Robert Coe, Brian Gray and several other top notch competitors.

Bay Area Hardtops are going to be a part of the roster five times this season, and that includes the Chet Thomson Memorial Race on September 9th.  Dave Mackey leads the pack into the season, but the Bill McLaughlin team will field two cars as they try to sell the fast #36 car.  Past Street Stock champion Rob Waldrop will be diving the #37 car.  Tommy Thomson is making changes to his fast #39 car in the hopes of picking up the pace, and Dan Williams, Steve Cloyes, Ken Retzloff, Doug Braudrick and possible the Sun Drop Racing Team are others to watch for.  Braudrick and Retzloff are both set to make their division debuts.  We're also hearing rumors of the return of Pete Paulsen's trademark red, white and blue #66 car. 
We also anticipate some visits from the stars of the California Hardtop Association, including the father-son duo of Ken Clifford and Jason Clifford and the father-son duo of Dennis Armstrong and Jason Armstrong.

Meanwhile, Back At Merced Speedway

We didn't get a bunch of information on who was at Merced's playday, but word was that several drivers in multiple divisions took their turns on the fast, Tim Ragsdale prepared quarter-mile clay oval.  In addition to the track's core divisions, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks, we saw that there were also Dwarf Car and Sprint Car drivers making laps.

This is important because both divisions will be at Merced Speedway for visits.  The WSDCA Dwarf Cars, comprised of several different groups, will hold a big Nationals Event on June 16th and 17th.  NCDCA and SBDCA drivers will likely support this race the heaviest.  Racing at Merced might have sentimental meaning to long time NCDCA members.  When they formed the club over 20 years ago, Merced Speedway was their first home track.  A field of cars into the 60's is anticipated for the big event, so Saturday was a good opportunity for racers to get familiar with the track again.

Perhaps the fastest growing Sprint Car group on the West Coast right now is the IMCA RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars.  It started back east with the first track in California being Hanford.  Tulare and Bakersfield soon joined to make a nice circuit of tracks, and it's not uncommon now to see 20 or more of these Sprint Cars in competition.  However, IMCA is always eying expansion, and Merced has been pretty much an IMCA track when it comes to Modifieds since the 1990's in addition to being the first California track to run Sport Modifieds and an IMCA sanctioned Sport Compact division.  Whatever comes in the future, Merced has two RaceSaver Sprint Car dates set for April 1st and July 8th.

The track will welcome the BCRA Midget on April 22nd and the BCRA Midget Lites on May 6th and August 12th, meaning fans will get a nice dose of open wheel excitement.  August 12th is Legend's Night and is headlined by a double point Valley Sportsman race.  We didn't hear if anybody was making practice laps on Saturday, but Jeff West was getting some help from past Sportsman champion Mike Friesen on his car.  We've also heard that past champion Mike Henault will make his return this season.  Last year saw the class rebound from a difficult season, and it looks like that trend will continue.

Two of the Hobby Stocks making laps were those of 2015 champion Kevin Joaquin and reigning champion Michael Shearer.  The Shearer stable of Hobby Stocks last year included Michael's wife Kristie, a car piloted by team crew chief Bubba Nelson, who just celebrated his birthday, and his wife Shannon Nelson, and a fourth car.  But it doesn't stop here with the Shearers.  A new generation of the family is going racing.  Ian Shearer will pilot one of their two 600 Mini Late Models.  Timmy Vaught will be the other driver.  These two drivers have done some Kart racing at Atwater and Chowchilla in recent years.  Vaught and I. Shearer were making laps in their Mini Late Models on Saturday.

We didn't have a name on the Hobby Stock parked next to the Corder Racing Mini Stocks, but Chris Corder built the car and sold it to its new owner.  Kodie Dean was another Hobby Stock racer making laps.  We noticed several Sport Mods in attendance.  This included Dwarf Car graduate Chuck Weir, who made his division debut during last season.  The George Medeiros owned #07 was there, looking nice in its blue paint job that is reminiscent of Ken Gregg's Street Stock championship cars with the same number out at Watsonville some 15 years ago.  Ryland Racing was there as Patti Ryland made some laps.  Rookie Guy Ahlwardt, the 2016 Antioch Hobby Stock champion, was also there putting his car through its paces.

We also noticed 2015 Sport Modified champion Josh Hensley was there.  Josh was still one of the Top 5 drivers last season.  Speaking of top 5 drivers, third ranked 2015 competitor Dwayne Short was making laps.  Dwayne came close to victory last season, and he'll be in the hunt again this year.  Whether he's in a Hobby Stock or a Sport Mod, Chris Falkenberg is gonna get it to the front.  Chris was also getting some seat time in his Sport Mod, as was Paul Espino and Watsonville competitor Igor Grandzuk.

Mini Stocks were in the house, which of course meant Corder Racing was represented.  We saw video footage of about a half dozen cars, including Cody Keldsen making his first laps in the D.J. Keldsen Watsonville championship car.  Destiny Carter plans to be ready for opening day, but new teammate "Zoomin" Zoe Sandoval got to make her first laps in the #3z car.  Past division runnerup Jennifer Corder was there in her new car, and she seeks to get back into the winner's circle.  That's always a challenge with her brother, reigning champion Chris Corder, out there.  He was in the #48 car this time.  Another driver to watch out for is Lucy Falkenberg.  Lucy ended the season strong last year, and she was making some laps in her car.

That's only a snap shot of what was happening when Ed Parker opened the gates for Merced's first playday.  There is another one scheduled for the 18th if the weather continues to hold up.  On March 25th, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks open the season, which features exciting nights such as the Ted Stofle Classic, The Timmy Post Memorial, an All Star Modified Series race, visits by the Sport Mod Tour, the Matt & Glass Race Against Cancer point season finale and the big John Fore Jr. Memorial Sport Mod race that ends the season.

Having attended Mini Stock races at Delta Speedway in Stockton back in the 1990's, this reporter has always been fascinated with Mini Stock racing on the smaller tracks.  They've done it at Cycleland in Chico and Dixon Speedway, and a movement was started to make it happen at Lemoore Raceway this season.  In fact, a few drivers went there late last season.  They wanted more, and the Central Valley Mini Stock Association was born.  This division is about having fun, and not about breaking the bank.  It's more of a bone stock four cylinder class in the spirit of what the Four Bangers were at tracks like Antioch and Watsonville when they started.

Saturday was playday, and the group was exited by the fact that eight cars showed up to make laps on the track that has hosted some big Micro Sprint events through the years.  Benji Davis and Dave Albertson were among the competitors making laps, and the group has video footage of the cars on their Facebook page.  The commitment this group has made to start this class is impressive.  They've been actively seeking cars for new drivers and building this up car by car.  This reporter will be looking for results and keeping you posted on how things go.  April 23rd is the opener with more races on May 14th, June 11th, July 17th, August 13th, September 24th and October 29th.  The relaxed schedule should help the group grow and maintain a car count.  For more information, go to

Chowchilla Speedway Returns Under New Management

When the news of Joe Diaz Jr. and Kris Koontz taking over Chowchilla Speedway hit social media earlier this year, we were a little slow on getting the word out.  For one thing, the release of the 2017 schedule was a bit confusing.  Two schedules were released, one for the Sprint Car side and the other for the Stock Car side.  Most of us are used to a big schedule where all of the divisions are listed.  What it really means is Joe is doing two different types of shows on alternating weeks, and the separate schedules are something drivers of those particular divisions can get behind.

Because of what we've witnessed through the years at Chowchilla, we couldn't help but be a bit skeptical about the schedule.  A weekly program?  Plus, Sprint Cars every other week?  When Prentice Motorsports took over for what ended up being half a season, Sprint Cars and Spec Sprints, as well as Late Models, were all scheduled.  The track wasn't ready for it.  Tom Sagmilller cultivated a Sprint Car program by booking joint races between the NCMA and CSRA Spec Sprints, and he had success with that, along with some USAC races.  That shows that it can work, but Chowchilla is perceived as a Stock Car track.

Let's not forget that NARC played a hand in opening the track in 2000, but before the season was even over, the Sprint Cars were shown the gate.  It's what ultimately ended NARC as a racing sanction for Sprint Cars until bring revived this year as part of the King Of The West Series.  This season is the most ambitious Sprint Car schedule Chowchilla Speedway has ever had.

The opener delivered 11 winged cars, four of which come from the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car ranks.  What we hadn't considered was the possibility that some of those racers might come play when they have nothing else booked.  It also raises the possibility of a RaceSaver date being booked down the road.  That class is now in the 20's at Hanford, Tulare and Bakersfield.  There are local 360's, led by Sunday's runnerup Eric Humphries and Steve Jaquith.  We were wondering who would come with the money being offered in the Civil War and Sprint Car Challenge Series, but the Sunday option is an intriguing one.  $1200 to win brought out 11 cars, which isn't bad. 
Ryan Robinson won the race. 

You take a driver who has a good Friday or Saturday and wants to race on Sunday.  That option is now there at Chowchilla.  In the Wingless Spec Sprints, Austin Liggett caught word of the $1000 to win money on Sunday.  After winning the Chico point opener on Friday and the $1200 to win Hunt Series race the next night at Chico, he wanted to race some more.  He headed to Chowchilla and held off 2014 Watsonville champion Bryan Grier for the win.  There were a couple names we thought we might see but didn't, but two newcomers, Eric Pilson and Benjamin Catron, did come out.  Will the drivers get on board, when they've been hesitant to support wingless efforts in Chowchilla and Merced in the recent past?  We hope so.

The UCAC Speed2 Midgets delivered seven cars, and that's not bad.  The effort is based largely on the pavement of Madera and the dirt of Ventura.  Two different groups seem to be supporting those efforts, but would the Madera stars come to Chowchilla?  Six of last year's regulars and one newcomer supported this show, and they will be back here on March 26th and September 3rd and Merced on May 13th and August 26th.  Last year, they were hesitant to support Merced.  The racing was good on Sunday, and it could go a long way towards persuading these young guns to support the dirt.  Reigning champion Jesse Love IV won ahead of Annie Breidinger. 

The 600 Micros were the unknown.  Chowchilla is actually the biggest track these drivers have supported in California.  They are running wingless, and they delivered five cars on Sunday.  For the driver looking to go faster on a bigger track, you have Chowchilla and Petaluma to choose from.  There are several of these cars out there, so Diaz's decision to add the class makes perfect sense.  This has potential to grow if the drivers get on board.  Danny Carroll won the first race ahead of Koen Shaw.

No Vintage Modified or Sprint support came on Sunday and the USAC group is not penciled in for regular visits.  Can the three classes make the open wheel segment of the schedule pop?  This was a serious rolling of the dice on Diaz's behalf.  The easiest division to add would be Dwarf Cars.  Even without club support, there's usually 6-10 drivers willing to come race, especially since it's Sunday and nothing else is happening.  Beyond that, we'll just watch and see how this develops.

It's been reported that this was the first race in two years, but the reality is there has been at least one race in front of the main grandstands since Tom Sagmiller opened the track in 2000.  2013 ended with some special Modified races and last year saw a couple of Kart Races promoted by Sanders Motorsports.  2015 seems to have been forgotten, but John M. Soares promoted nine events there and crowned champions in four divisions at his awards banquet.  That was primarily a Stock Car show.

When Kenny Shepherd had the place, B Modifieds were the only Modified class he promoted for most of 2011.  In fact, this was the second track, behind Victorville, to reach a ten car field after the class had been started in Merced.  You can credit Chowchilla and Victorville for jump starting the Sport Modified movement in California.  The B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks seem to be the core classes.  Soares himself said the best way to establish a show would be with Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars, but there are some B Modified drivers in the area as well as a few A Modifieds.

Diaz is banking on the fact that some of the Merced and Hanford drivers, and possibly drivers from further north and south, will come race at Chowchilla in it's bi weekly effort.  If the pay is consistent and the track can hold up, he could see lots of support.  He's already offering purses (based on 15 cars) that pay $500 to win in A Modifieds, $400 to win in B Modifieds, $300 to win in Hobby Stocks and $200 to win Mini Stocks.  The Sportsman class is also included on this schedule, and Sunday is the first race.

There are critics nitpicking the Sunday afternoon race, but this track can't make it on Saturdays without really thinking outside the box.  If you are sharing classes with Merced on the Stock Car side, which they are, you can't go head to head with them.  It really never worked out that well in the long run for Sagmiller.  He had barely any Modified support and saw a huge Hobby Stock car count dwindle down after switching from Friday nights to Saturdays.  Sagmiller's willingness to try things like Sprint Cars and a Figure 8 is what gave Saturdays a fighting chance, but Friday or Sunday is probably for the best.  The Friday problem has to do with Watsonville and Hanford running that night.

It's going to be a challenge building this program up because of the revolving door of promoters that has seen six of them take a shot at the track since Sagmiller.  Diaz's name has always come up as somebody who should run the track since Sagmiller left.  He's from Chowchilla, he's raced for many years and he is the one who built the successful Chowchilla Barn Burner Series.  Because of all of that, you have to be optimistic. 

Our concern over certain divisions being booked is because of the economics of it.  The higher end classes require bigger purses.  The attendance plays a key role in what can be paid before money comes out of the promoter's pocket.  So, if attendance doesn't pop, it could pose a problem down the line.  What Soares said holds merit because the lower classes don't require a big purse.  You can build a show from the bottom up, build a fan base and add classes as it grows.  The strategy here is to give fans the popular, faster classes.

We saw about 30 cars come race last Sunday, and the Stock Car program steps up to the plate this Sunday.  The A and B Modified classes are not sanctioned, although there is really no reason why it couldn't be an IMCA track.  Add Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and the Sportsman division, and it should be a good show.  We're hearing some rumblings of drivers planning to race, but we'll let that play out.  We'd say it's worth the trip for the opener as opening day races tend to do okay.  Chowchilla Speedway has a website, and you can find more information at

Prentice Motorsports has to be smiling after their three traveling series.  The NARC/King Of The West Series opener on March 4th at Chico was rained out, but it looked like the count was going to be in the 20's following Chico's 410 Sprint Car point opener the night before, won by Kyle Hirst ahead of D.J. Netto, Sean Becker, Willie Croft and Michael Kofoid.  Becker is the defending Chico champion in the Dan Menne car, while Hurst is the defending King Of The West Series champion.  They will try to get the opener in at Kern County Speedway on April 8th.

What is interesting is that Prentice has aligned with NARC.  NARC was the premier 410 Sprint Car effort for 40 years from 1960 to 2000.  The organization stopped sanctioning races, but it never really broke up after that.  They continued on, and it nearly returned to sanctioning races when USAC entered the picture with their Northern California Sprint Car series as we entered the current decade.  It wasn't the right fit, but this seems to be.  NARC and KWS have a history together, and the NARC name has brand recognition, even 17 years after their last race.  It also shows the commitment Prentice still has to the 410 Sprint Car series.  Things are still being attempted to grow the division's presence in Northern California.

When the Sprint Car Challenge Series was formed during the offseason, people were prematurely calling it the end of the over two decade old Civil War Sprint Car Series.  Prentice regrouped, announced a strong purse and point fund, and they kicked off their Civil War Series as part of the Silver Cup on Saturday.  B Mains were needed for both nights.  Shane Golobic won ahead of Friday night winner Sean Becker, reigning series champion Andy Forsburg, Mitchell Faccinto and Mason Moore.  Next up for the Civil War will be Chico again on May 31th, while Antioch Speedway gets the very first Sprint Car Challenge Series race on April 8th.

The All Star Series Modifieds produced a quality field of over 30 cars.  To show you how tough the competition was for this race, four time Antioch champion Troy Foulger had to win the B Main to earn his feature start.  He was able to charge up to fourth with a late race pass on defending series champion Ryan McDaniel.  Meanwhile, Cody Burke grabbed the victory with a flag to flag romp ahead of Dwarf Car star Danny Wagner, in his division debut.  Third went to Kellen Chadwick.  The Series rolls into Merced Speedway for the next race on April 15th.  More information on the Prentice Motorsports brand can be found at

Prentice's commitment to the two Sprint Car Series and the Modifieds saw him make a deal with Rick Faeth to sell the Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series.  Car count was 28 cars for the Marysvile opener, which Cody Spencer won after leaders D.J. Johnson and Klint Simpson crashed on the last lap.  On Saturday at Chico, Spencer had to win the B Main to get into the feature as 26 cars were on hand.  The track held a regular Spec Sprint show on Friday, won by Austin Liggett ahead of Terry Schank Jr.  Liggett was on a roll, and he also won the Hunt Series Main Event ahead of reigning series champion Klint Simpson, Kaleb Henry, Michael Kofoid and reigning Chico champion Angelique Bell.  The next Hunt Series race is at Petaluma on April 1st.

Before we close and since we end at Petaluma Speedway, we can point out that Rick Faeth reported as of Thursday night that the track is looking good for Saturday night's playday.  All classes are welcome.  The family of divisions will continue to include the Winged Sprints and Wingless Spec Sprints, McLea's Tires IMCA Modifieds, Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks, General Hydroponics Dwarf Cars, Santa Rosa Auto Body Micro 600 Sprints and Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks.  There really is a nice schedule planned this year.

If you are coming out with both guns blazing, perhaps it's only fitting that the track opens on March 25th with the first race in the four race Shootout for both Sprint Car classes. is not just adding money to these classes, they seek out contingency awards for the drivers as well.  It's not surprising that the racers would do business with them whenever possible.  The Shoot Out Series is a special point race within a point race with lots of incentive for the racers to support.

The winners of the four Winged races will receive $2000 and a ticket to the Dash For Cash at the October 7th Adobe Cup.  Heat winners that night also make the special extra money dash that night, and the finish lines up the first four rows of the $5,000 to win Main Event.  The same applies for the Wingless class, where the four feature winners get $1000 to win and make the Dash For Cash on October 7th, joined by four heat winners.  The Main Event that night will pay $1500 to win.  The Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks make it a great three division show.  In fact, Super Stocks are also part of the March 25th opener along with the 600 Micros.

The first season for the Winged Sprint Car Shootout in 2015 saw track champion Herman Klein also win the four race series, while young gun Riley Matson held off veteran Andy Forsburg by one point for second.  Forsburg grabbed the four race series title last year by 21 points over track champion Bradley Terrell and Matson.  Petaluma Speedway continues to lead the way in promoting Spec Sprint racing, and including the class in the four race Series is just another example of this.  While also winning his second IMCA Modified title in 2015, Nick DeCarlo won the four race Spec Sprint series title by 21 points ahead of track champion Klint Simpson and past track champion Sparky Howard.  Many time Spec Sprint champion Terry Schank Jr. beat Simpson by just 12 points to win last year's four race series crown with Shayna Sylvia third.

The March 25th opener is shaping up to be a great show at Petaluma Speedway, and there is so much happening at the speedway this year that it's worthy of coming for a visit.  USAC Midgets, Sprint Car Challenge 360 Sprints, King Of The West/NARC 410 Sprints, an All Star Modified Series visit, a visit by the new Sport Modified Series, Hunt Series Spec Sprint races, a WSDCA Dwarf Car Regional race, BCRA Hall Of Fame Night and The Johnny Soares Classic are also part of a packed schedule.  For further information, go to

Robinson Opens Chowchilla Speedway Season With Win

Chowchilla, CA...March 12...Chowchilla Speedway opened under the management of Joe Diaz Jr. and Kris Koontz on Sunday afternoon.  Main Event winners were Ryan Robinson (Winged 360 Sprint Cars), Jesse Love IV (USAC Speed2 Midgets), Austin Liggett (Wingless Spec Sprints) and Danny Carroll (600 Micro Sprints).

Rising young star Ryan Robinson made the trip to Chowchilla and was glad that he did after winning both his heat race and the 30 lap Main Event.  The talented second generation racer battled local area star Eric Humphries in both his heat race and $1200 Main Event victories.  Humphries settled for second in both races.  Another rising star from the 600 Micros and Watsonville Sprint Car competitor Sean Conde finished third in the feature. 

The IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car class is the fastest growing Sprint Car division on the West Coast.  With their season opener approaching, several of their racers came to Chowchilla to test their 305 engines against the bigger 360's.  Matthew Moles led that group ahead of Cole Dannell, Zane Blanchard and Steve Wenzel.  Both Moles and Blanchard were Top 5 on the RaceSaver Sprint circuit last season.  Collin Markle was eighth ahead of Caleb Montgomery and Antioch Speedway star Art McCarthy.  Dannell won the other heat and Steve Jaquith was a Main Event scratch.

The USAC Speed2 Midgets kicked off their season at Chowchilla Speedway with a 30 lap Main Event.  Following his win in the first heat race, Tom Patterson had the pole for the feature with reigning series champion Jesse Love IV on the outside.  Love was the winner of the second heat race.  Patterson led for several laps before Love made his winning move and sped home to victory.  2016 Madera point runnerup Annie Breidinger also made a move around Patterson for second as Patterson settled for third.  Antonia Boscacci finished fourth ahead of Adam "The Shoe" Lemke, 2016 Madera Midget2 Restricted champion Blake Brannon and newcomer Jeremy Speck.

After scoring two impressive Spec Sprint feature wins in Chico, Austin Liggett decided to pay a visit to Chowchilla and won his third Wingless Spec Sprint Main event of the weekend.  Liggett scored his victory from the pole, but he was chased across the line in the race by 2014 Ocean Speedway Spec Sprint champion Bryan Grier.  Newcomers Eric Pilson and Benjamin Catron finished third and fourth, respectively.  Liggett was also the heat race winner.

Danny Carroll opened the Wingless 600 Micro Sprint season with a Main Event victory.  The Kart and Micro Sprint star won his heat race as well.  Both victories came ahead of Top 10 Ocean Speedway Winged 360 Sprint Car racer Koen Shaw.  Brandon Shaw chased the lead duo in third as Jared Woolfe and Danny Valdez completed the Top 5.

The Winged Sprints, Wingless Spec Sprints, 600 Micros and Vintage Sprints and Modifieds are back on March 26th.  This Sunday afternoon will be a Stock Car program of A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Sportsmans.  Grandstands open at 10:00 AM with the first race starting at 1:00 PM.  General Admission is $10.00 Seniors and Military Veterans are $7.00.  Children 6-12 are $5.00.  For further information, go to

Race Results
Winged 360 Sprint Cars

Main Event
Ryan Robinson
Eric Humphries
Shawn Conde
Matthew Moles
Cole Dannell
Zane Blanchard
Steve Wenzel
Collin Markle
Caleb Montgomery
Art McCarthy

Heat 1
Ryan Robinson
Eric Humphries
Zane Blanchard
Collin Markle

Heat 2
Cole Dannell
Shawn Conde
Matthew Moles
Caleb Montgomery
Steve Jaquith
Steve Wenzel
Art McCarthy

USAC Speed2 Midgets
Main Event
Jesse Love IV
Annie Breidinger
Tom Patterson
Antonia Boscacci
Adam Lemke
Blake Brannon
Jeremy Speck

Heat 1
Tom Patterson
Annie  Breidinger
Antonia Boscacci
Blake Brannon

Heat 2
Jesse Love IV
Adam Lemke
Jeremy Speck

Wingless Spec Sprint
Main Event.
Austin Liggett
Bryan Grier
Eric Pilson
Benjamin Catron

Austin Liggett
Bryan Grier
Benjamin Catron
Eric Pilson

600 Micro Sprint
Main Event
Danny Carroll
Koen Shaw
Brandon Shaw
Jared Woolfe
Danny Valdez

Danny Carroll
Koen Shaw
Danny Valdez
Jared Woolfe
Brandon Shaw

Contemplating The Future Of Bay Area Racing

The state of Bay Area dirt track racing in 2017 is good for this year, but we should be wary of the future.  The three tracks in our domain are Antioch Speedway, Petaluma Speedway and Ocean (Watsonville) Speedway.  Two of these tracks are still threatened with possible closure due to outside non racing interests, and we should not take it for granted that the third one will be safe.

Let's start with Watsonville.  John Prentice Motorsports has the track through 2019, but he recently attended a meeting at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds that discussed the future beyond 2019.  His contract expires after that.  Will they renew him for five more years if he wants that?  Does he want to come back?  We've also heard unconfirmed rumors about the return of San Jose Speedway, though that would seem to be an uphill battle to bring racing back there again.  With Sprint Car money behind it, anything is possible.

Sprint Car racing has become the bread and butter of Watsonville, which had a history for decades of being a Stock Car track.  Prentice had an offer too good to pass up.  Any smart promoter would have taken it, because the track was ready to add a Sprint Car program the moment San Jose closed.  With it has come the complaints of noise.  It's not fair to say Sprint Cars are the only "loud" division, but they are louder than even the IMCA Modifieds.

Prentice's detractors have gone so far as to say he's inviting these noise complaints with his insistence on running Sprint Cars.  Then again, it is his biggest class, so what should he do?  You need cars for a show.  The agreement now is to make sure racing goes no later than 10:00 PM.  This is an effort to appease the neighbors who have complained about noise.  You also have horse enthusiasts chomping at the bit for the chance to use more of the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds property.

Appeasing the neighbors by ending at least an hour before the state mandated curfew is a good and bad move.  Noise complaints are nothing new.  Prentice met them half way with his effort to get done earlier.  The problem is much like the non smoking movement.  People, rightfully so, wanted non smoking sections that were properly ventilated.  They got them, but they weren't happy.  Even when smoking sections were ventilated properly, they were kicked outside, and now the non smokers are lobbying to ban smoking outside, in your car or in your own home.  Give them an inch, and you know what happens.

What's the point?  Who is to say that the next complaint is to get done at 9:00 PM?  You agree.  The next complaint begins by them saying the track already admits it's a noise nuisance by agreeing to get done earlier.  Now, they want the track to go away. It can happen.  It has happened many times.  In Eugene, Oregon, one noise complainer ended up forcing the track to get done by 10.  Promoter Mike McCann saw the writing on the wall and closed the track, bulldozing the dirt track in the process.  Racing is dead in Eugene now, and that was a tradition that went back decades.

John Prentice has done a great job of maintaining the program in Watsonville.  Some people aren't happy because certain divisions aren't there.  Car count dictates what is there.  When you have less that ten Street Stocks or Late Models, promoters will pull the plug.  If you have 20 Sprint Cars showing up, it's the headliner.  Stock Cars are something this writer is a fan of, and it's disappointing that there isn't more of a presence there in 2017.  Don't blame Prentice for doing what he has to do to keep the show going.  Be thankful it's still there.

That presents an opportunity in 2019 for the Stock Car minded promoter, but they would have to have a plan to get Stock Cars back out there and do it quickly.  You can use the argument of focusing on quieter divisions and seek out the support of the racers who aren't there now.  In a bid, it's not merely about what divisions you have or what sanctioning body you bring, but what can you do for the fairgrounds that isn't being done.  The possibilities are there, but who wants to invest in racing in California in this day and age?  The important thing is that this track continues on despite the threats, and we salute Prentice for making it happen.  He has a strong 2017 schedule.

When Jim Soares took the helm of Petaluma Speedway, he was already feeling the pressure.  They wanted to use the property for a minor league ball park.  Then, it was condos.  Jim did was Rick Faeth does now.  He simply kept booking races.  There's a track there now, and until the money comes and the fairgrounds itself is removed, racing lives on.  There is a strip mall across the street.  You get the occasional complaints, but management maintains a pretty good relationship with them.  Faeth really has done a great job.

Every year, they have discussions of what to do with the property if they can get their hands on it.  The fair board does not want to give up, not just for racing but for the fairgrounds itself and what it means to the community.  The fight continues.  All that can be done now is to stay vigilant.  Support racing at Petaluma if you are a racer in the area and help keep it going strong.  If money continues to come in, it helps justify the existence of the track.  There have also been rumors of moving the track or maybe putting a dirt track in at Sonoma, but these are rumors.

Then, you have Antioch Speedway.  Surprisingly, in the midst of the redevelopment of down town Antioch, the movement hasn't begun to relocate the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds or remove it entirely.  We hear rumors of proposals to relocate it and the track, but those are rumors.  We have seen where discussions have taken place at the City Council meetings regarding town blight and the race track.  The local politicians know Antioch has an image problem, a homeless problem and a gang problem.  Redevelopment is one of their ways to make it better.

Antioch Speedway management is making an effort to clean up the facility.  It's gotten a bit, let's just say, unattractive to some political eyes.  If there have been any letters sent to management regarding an effort to clean it up, we haven't heard, but we can confirm that cleaning the place up was discussed at meetings.  As for the fairgrounds and the track, the one thing racing has going for it is that it still makes good money for the fairgrounds.  They make money off of many things, but racing is still an important piece of the puzzle.

The real question is, where does the track go from here?  John M. Soares is in his 20th year as promoter, and there are more years left in the deal with an option for even more.  We can write about the good and bad he's done, but then bills get paid.  That's what the fairgrounds wants.  The races continue.  That's what the fans and racers want.  There's an uncomfortable question that isn't being asked.  How much longer will John keep doing this?  Walking away isn't easy to do when you've done this all of your life.  John's dad didn't quit until he was 82 years old, and John's still a few years away from that date.

What does he have left to prove at this point, and is the desire still there to continue?  He's held some of the biggest races ever at the track in his 20 year run, but the place has the kind of needs that you really only address if you are in it for the long haul.  Will John want to continue after his lease is up, even with an option for more?  The one thing the passing of Larry Damitz has to have reminded him of is the fact that he's not getting any younger.  None of us are.  On the other hand, there's two things to ask.  What do you do next?  His dad had a hard time answering that.

The other thing is that he'll probably want a return on his investment.  This means that if he can walk away by selling the lease and Oval Motorsports to somebody else, that's probably the top option for John.  You let somebody buy you out, help them a bit as you head out the door and the show goes on.  There's also something to the idea that you picked out a successor rather than letting it go out to bid and maybe not selling any of your equipment.  What are you going to do with any of that stuff once you walk away?

The question then becomes, who would want to buy John out?  At one time, the name Dan Simpson came up, but that's a ship that sailed when Simpson went in another direction.  The three local names that probably get the most attention are Chad Chadwick, Scott Busby and Fred Ryland.  Otherwise, you have John Prentice's name getting mentioned.  At one time, Prentice was interested.  Would he want it now, and would John sell it to him?  That seems unlikely.  There's also Rick Faeth.  Imagine Rick with Antioch and Petaluma.  He seems very enthusiastic about promoting these days.  But, does he have the backing and would John entertain an offer from him?  Somehow, we don't think so.

We've often thought that Busby's only racing accomplishment left to achieve was being a track promoter.  He looked hard at the place in 1998, but he ultimately never submitted a bid.  This might have been a political decision as Scott was still racing pretty heavily back then.  He definitely has the knowledge.  He also has the equipment, and we don't think he lacks the funds to do it.  Plus, Soares would probably deal with him.  However, does Scott want this at this point in his life?  We're somewhat skeptical of that.

Ryland Racing is another possibility.  Fred brings so much enthusiasm to the table, and most of his fellow racers like him.  He's still in his prime as a race car driver, which makes his desire to become a promoter less likely.  However, we should point out that he was looking not too many years ago.  Fred and Patti Ryland would make a great team and might breathe the kind of life the track needs back into it.  It's also likely that Ryland would play well with other promoters, which could cause the rebirth of the WAM (Watsonville, Antioch, Merced) Series.  Does he want it and would John deal with him if he did?  It would be a popular deal, but it doesn't seem likely.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the three is Chadwick.  Why?  He has looked before, and he was reportedly interested in making a deal not that long ago.  What the status is of that, we don't know.  Chad is a respected racer who has built up a good reputation amongst his peers.  Why would he even want it?  He's already accomplished a lot as a racer, and he's been there to see his son win multiple championships.  Promoter would be the next challenge for him.  Of the three potential locals, Chadwick seems the most likely.  Is he interested?  If the deal was right, we think so.  Would John deal with him?  If the money was right, we think so.

There's always the chance that somebody else could step up and do business with John.  It's important to note that John has not said he's selling anything, but we believe he would make a deal with the right buyer.  If he could step away on his own terms, with a little bit of money after matching his father's 20 year run at the track, we could definitely see John signing off on that.  This would also help ensure that there is a smooth transition and the show goes on.  It will be up to the next promoter to make the changes needed to revitalize the program.

A new face at the helm is probably needed at this point, and that is not meant as a shot at John.  John's entry into the world of race track promoting in 1998 was just the shot in the arm Antioch Speedway needed.  The first few years produced numbers that the track hasn't seen since.  This includes car count records that were never there before or since.  He has nothing left to prove.  He made a difference and kept things going.  It may just be time for new ideas.

Antioch Speedway has eight divisions, and car count isn't huge in any of them.  There are still lots of cars in the area that could be drawn back to the speedway when the change is made.  A new promoter might have to assess what is working and what isn't and make some popular and unpopular decisions in the name of building a program.  They will also have work to do on the facility, just as John did when he took over.  20 years of wear and tear will do that.  However, the change could spark new life into the racing community at a time when that is needed.

Could sanctioning be brought in?  IMCA seems to be the popular choice, but the recent decision at Coos Bay raises another possibility.  What if NASCAR was brought back and the NASCAR banner was once again raised up the flag pole?   What if Antioch came back with a dancing partner or two?  Suppose Merced came along or Watsonville and the circuit was rebuilt?  A NASCAR premiere division track championship is already worth $3000 versus what now?  A State point race would offer more money on top of it.  This is just a question based on speculation.

The state of Bay Area racing is that we still have three good dirt tracks offering exciting racing action.  We face challenges to keep it all going in the future, but that's also due to the times we live in.  We're lucky we have people willing to take the financial risk to keep these tracks going.  This is a good thing.  As long as the gates continue to open at these three venues there's a chance for good things to happen.

Lots Of Excitement As Orland Raceway Gears Up For 2017 Season

Orland, CA...Orland Raceway is returning for a new season of racing under the promotion of Rich Hood. A long time Pure Stock competitor at the track, Hood stepped forward in 2016 to save the track after the previous management walked away days after announcing a schedule. Hood went local with his schedule, meaning the staple classes, Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks and Micros were all scheduled for their 10 race season in an effort to get the ball rolling once again. Because they had such a late start, they stuck with the basics in an effort to get racing back on the one-fifth mile dirt oval.

For the 2017 season, Orland has bumped the schedule up to 14 dates, including two special events in October.  There is a playday set for April 15th, and the season kicks off on April 29th with Pure Socks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 250 Micros, 600 Micros and the return of the Wingless Gas Sprints.  Champions of the Wingless Gas Sprints through the years include Bill Hopper, Tony Richards and Josh Jacobo.  It's unclear who will be running, but the Jacobo Team and The Weber Team probably still has multiple cars.  This is a chance for the division to show its stuff once again.

They run pretty much every other week, but they do follow up the opener with a May 6th West Coast Enduro event.  One of the things the track is trying is running the 250 Micro Sprint division wingless for the first six races before running winged from July 29th on.  The return of the popular Kids Bike Race is set for June 3rd.  There are double points races set for July 1st and September 16th to shake things up.  The 16th is also billed as O'Reilly Auto Parts Fan Appreciation Night, which included a meet and greet with the racers before the races last season.

The Glenn County Fair Race will be an action packed event with all of the regular classes except Wingless Gas Sprints included and a Powder Puff RV Derby.  Management is considering a Figure 8 during the season but hasn't set the date yet.  The Schmitke Memorial Race For A Cure is back this year.  It's an event to raise money and honor a beloved member of the Orland community.  All of the track's regular classes, plus the California Hardtop Association, will be in action that night. 

Leading the charge will be the Pure Stocks. The strongest support at the track continues to come from the popular division as they frequently have fielded car counts above ten during the past few seasons. One of the names found frequently at or near the top of the point list in recent years is Steve Martin. Martin won last season's championship by just 26 points ahead of Jeremy Langenderfer. Despite missing the first three races, the steady Shannon Collins beat Cody Bundy by just seven points in a close battle for third.

Not surprisingly, Collins, Martin and Langenderfer topped the feature winner's list in 2016. Collins won three times to a pair of victories each for Langenderfer and Martin. Chico champion Brian Compton came to town and won the finale, and past Orland star Brad Ray and Jason Armstrong also had wins. Armstrong is anticipated for the Hardtop show and may make a visit or two for some Pure Stock racing. Other stars of Orland Raceway Pure Stock racing to watch for in 2017 include Earl Adams, Amanda Koop, Jared Flower, Mel Byers and Chris Barnett.

California's last remaining Mini Tuck division is in Orland. The class has been featured here since the 1990's. One of the stars in recent years has been the always exciting to watch Dan Webster. Unfortunately, bad luck, like the time he demolished his truck in a rollover, has kept him from taking the throne as champion. However, Webster won the championship by 59 points ahead of William Fogle last season despite missing the opener. The next three names on the list are Orland mainstays Keith Ross, Ross Vige and Olin Crain.

Ross was actually the reigning champion, and Vige was also a champion in recent seasons. Crain remains a staunch supporter with multiple vehicles in Mini Trucks and Mini Stocks. Crain actually won two of the first three races before taking himself out of the championship battle. Ross led the winner's list 4-3 over Webster, while Vige won the season finale. Nate Skaggs, Brent Allinger and Jeremy Callen are other drivers to watch for this season.

Unlike the other two champions, Orland Raceway mainstay John Kirkpatrick won his Mini Stock championship without winning a Main Event. His margin of victory over past champion Robert Hunt was just 32 points. Past champion Tom Davis ran a hit and miss schedule, but when he raced, he dominated. Davis held off Donovan Chilton by 16 points in the battle for third, while newcomer Jeff Bennett was fifth despite missing the second half of the season when Barbara Crain took over the driving duties.

Davis opened the season with two wins, closed it with three in row and had a total of six victories in his seven starts. Chilton grabbed a pair of wins, while Hunter Merritt and Hunt each grabbed a victory. Other drivers to watch for this season include, Steve Spears, Eric Hammond and Seth Libbe. As with the other classes, word is that there will be some new drivers on the roster this season.

Not to be forgotten in the mix are the 600cc and 250cc engined Micro Sprint classes, which were first introduced to the regular roster by promoter Mike McCann in 2013. Building car count has been a work in progress, though the 250's ended the 2016 season with their second seven car field and the 600's had a 10 car field once during the year. Management remains committed to building up these classes, but at times the two might run together if car count is light.

When you're talking 600 Micros at Orland, you have to mention the two biggest stars, Jeromie Chrismon and Skyler Richter. Both drivers, along with third ranked Tony Alosi, were feature winners last year, and Chrismon's championship margin over Richter was big due to Richter missing races. Fourth ranked Kyra Michelet was also a feature winner last year, and other drivers to watch for in 600's this season include Rick Gutzke, Dean Slinkard and Rick Alonso.

The 250 racers tried something different one night as they had a wingless race, won by Robert Baker. One of the big names on the roster is Jackie Whitson Jr., who won multiple Main Events but missed several races to finish fifth in the standings. Andrew Love was also a feature winner during the 2016 season and won his championship comfortably ahead of Dave McKinnon. McKinnon just barely held off Ronnie Heyer by 3 points for second, while Jess Garland was 12 points back in fourth.

As we mentioned, we're not sure who will be on board with the return of the Wingless Gas Sprints.  The last time this class ran a championship season in 2015, Bill Hopper won a close battle with past champion Tony Richards.  Ryan Owens, Mark Michelet, Jeremy Wilson, Josh Tucker, Greg Higgenbotham, Gerald Webber, Kenny Webber and Jeffrey Crossman made up the Top 10.  The Jacobo team sat out that season.  No champion was crowned, though Hood honored the other champions during the 2016 season.  The area does have cars, plus there is a class in Chico that runs on Friday nights.  Orland has a long history with this division as they added this class a couple of seasons after it started at Antioch Speedway. 

Through the years, Orland Raceway has sort of flown in under the radar and has almost been like the best kept secret in Northern California racing. However, there have been some big races and some top notch racers who have all helped make this such a special place to race. Thanks to Rich Hood and his crew, there is a nice schedule that will kick off on April 29th with the core five classes and wrap up a 12 race championship season for those classes on September 30th. Let's not forget the May 6th Enduro and the two potential special events in October. It all adds up to lots of excitement for Orland racing fans. For further information, go to

2017 Orland Raceway Schedule

April 15 - Playday

April 29 - Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Wingless 250 Micros, 600 Micros

May 6 - West Coast Enduros

May 19 - "Glenn County Fair Race" Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless 250 Micros, 600 Micros, Powder Puff RV Derby

June 3 - "Kids Bike Race Night" Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless 250 Micros, 600 Micros

June 17 - Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Wingless 250 Micros, 600 Micros

July 1 - "Double Points Night" Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Wingless 250 Micros, 600 Micros

July 15 - Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Winged 250 Micros, 600 Micros

July 29 - Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Winged 250 Micros, 600 Micros

August 12 - "Schmitke Memorial Race For the Cure" Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Winged 250 Micros, 600 Micros, California Hardtops

August 19 - Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Winged 250 Micros, 600 Micros

September 16 - "O'Reilly Fan Appreciation Night (Double Points)" Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Winged 250 Micros, 600 Micros

September 30 - Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Gas Sprints, Winged 250 Micros, 600 Micros

October 7 - "Open Show" 250 Micros, 600 Micros, Wingless Gas Sprints,

October 14 - "Open Show" Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks

Schedule Subject To Change

2016 Orland Raceway Point Standings
Pure Stock
Steve Martin 489
Jeremy Langenderfer 363
Shannon Collins 345
Cody Bundy 338
Earl Adams 272
Amanda Koop 172
Jared Flower 139
Mel Byers 137
Chris Barnett 133
Brian Compton 108

Mini Trucks
Dan Webster 464
William Fogle 405
Keith Ross 374
Ross Vige 301
Olin Crain 264
Nate Skaggs 234
Brent Allinger 216
Jeremy Callen 170
Jake Van Tol 52

Mini Stock
John Kirkpatrick 475
Robert Hunt 442
Tom Davis 379
Donovan Chilton 263
Jeff Bennett 250
Steve Spears 229
Eric Hammond 225
Barbara Crain 144
Seth Libbee 123
Hunter Merritt 107

600 Micros
Jeromie Crismon 417
Skyler Richter 294
Toni Alosi 156
Kyra Michelet 153
Rick Gutzke 106
Dean Slinkard 103
Rick Alonso 57
Kenny Wanderstad 55
Christine Root 46
Robert Bernard 44

250 Micros
Andrew Love 336
Dave McKinnon 194
Ronnie Heyer 191
Jess Garland 182
Jackie Whitson Jr. 165
Robert Baker 101
Rusty Hensley 91
Troy Weiss 53
Jackie Whitson Sr. 51
Monica Aldrich 46