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Larson Wins $32,000 Prize In Hangtown 100
At Placerville Speedway
Placerville, CA...November 19-20...NASCAR star Kyle Larson scored the victory in the USAC Nos Energy Drink Hangtown 100 Wednesday night at Placerville Speedway. Larson led most of the 100 lap race, which was worth $20,000. He also came from 23rd starting to finish fourth in the Preliminary Feature a night earlier. After calculating total points, he also pocketed an additional $12,000 for being the event champion.
The 100 lap race had 28 starters, and Brady Bacon led a pair of laps before Aaron Reutzel took over. Tanner Carrick and Logan Seavey had a good battle going for the third position, and Carrick took second from Bacon on lap 12. On the 15th lap, Seavey slipped past Carrick for second, and he put the moves on Reutzel a lap later to take the lead. Larson settled into third on lap 26 and charged by Carrick for second on lap 29. Larson began pressuring Seavey until making what would prove to be the winning pass on lap 35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr had a brief run in third, but his race was over on lap 43. At that point, Larson held a straightaway advantage over Carrick with Shane Golobic in third. Seavey got past Golobic for third on lap 47 before a yellow flag waved. They ran three laps under caution before taking the mid-race break. At that point, Larson, Carrick, Seavey, Golobic and Christopher Bell ran in the Top 5.
The first attempt at a restart saw a red flag as Golobic's race came to an end. Seavey was able to restart at the back of the pack as Larson led Carrick and Bell. By the 65th lap, Larson held a straightaway advantage over Carrick, but a yellow flag on lap 70 wiped that out. However, Larson resumed command on the next restart and again held a straightaway advantage by the time Bell slipped past Carrick for second on lap 82. Carrick regained the second position three laps later, but Larson continued to pull away. Bell kept the pressure on Carrick and regained second on lap 93. However, Larson won by a half-lap ahead of Bell, Carrick, Ryan Bernal, Jerry Coons Jr, Dylan Welch, Gio Scelzi and final lead lap finisher Tyler Courtney. Spencer Bayston and Michael Pickens rounded out the Top 10.
The racers earned points in all of the events towards the overall championship, and Wednesday started with six 10 lap heat races. Chase Johnson, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Chris Windom, Larson, Colton Heath and Andrew Layser picked up the wins in those races. Buddy Kofoid outran Ben Worth to win the 15 lap B Main as Ethan Mitchell, USAC legend Dave Darland and Colby Johnson completed the Top 5. New World of Outlaw Sprint Car champion Brad Sweet won the 20 lap B Main ahead of Jake Swanson, Windom, Tyler Courtney and Zeb Wise.
On Tuesday night, the impressive 56 car field held qualifying in addition to a full slate of heat races, B Mains and Main Event. The drivers qualified in their heat race groups, which determined the starting order for their respective heat races. The times got progressively quicker with each group, and Larson set the overall fast time in the fifth group with a lap of 12.028, beating the 12.064 of Seavey, who was in the sixth group. Ten lap heat race wins were earned by Bacon, Kevin Thomas Jr, Swanson, Thomas Meseraull, Robert Dalby and Colby Copeland.
They ran three 12 lap B Mains to determine the remainder of the starters for the Preliminary Feature. Scelzi outran Larson in a close race to win the first one as Courtney finished third. Bell won the second race ahead of Sweet and Wise. It was Jerry Coons Jr winning the third B Main by a comfortable margin ahead of Bernal and Cory Elliott.
When points were all calculated, Scelzi found himself with a front-row start for the Preliminary Feature. He charged into the lead at the start ahead of Jessie Colwell and Pickens. A yellow flag waved on lap nine, and Seavey settled into third on the restart. Scelzi ran strong at the front of the pack, and he continued to hold off Colwell until Seavey gained the second position on lap 20. Though Seavey kept it close, he was no match for the impressive Scelzi, who grabbed the checkered flag in first. Colwell settled for third, followed by 23rd starter Larson, Golobic, Stenhouse, Bayston, Carrick, Jason McDougal and Reutzel.
Larson, Michnovicz Win November Classic
At Bakersfield Speedway
Bakersfield, CA...November 23...NASCAR star Kyle Larson won the Nos Energy Drink USAC National Midgets 30 lap Main Event Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway. This was the special November Classic and wrapped up the season for the track. Larson won the Hangtown 100 at Placerville Speedway the previous week.
With a front row starting position, Michael Pickens charged into the lead at the start, but Chris Windom flipped for a red flag after one lap. Windom was still able to restart the race. Pickens continued to set the pace, but a lap five red flag waved for a Zeb Wise flip. The race was over for Wise. Third row starter Larson managed to get around both Jesse Colwell and Jason McDougal by the lap six restart to take over the second position. Larson continued to hound Pickens until making the pass for the lead on lap 11. Larson led the rest of the way to win with Pickens holding off 12th starter Rico Abreu to finish second. National point leader Tyler Courtney finished fourth, followed by Colwell, McDougal, Giovanni Scelzi, 20th starter Thomas Meseraull, Jerry Coons Jr and Tanner Carrick.
There were 55 competitors for this event, and they were broken up into two different qualifying groups. Larson set the fastest time as part of the second group with a lap of 12.571, and Coons was second quick at 12.590 from the first group. They ran four 10 lap heat races, and Meseraull, Ethan Mitchell, Windom and Wise won their respective races. Mitchell had the closest battle with Tucker Klaasmeyer finishing right behind him in second.
Aaron Reutzel won a good battle with Logan Seavey to win the 12 lap B Main as Scelzi, Courtney and Kevin Thomas Jr completed the Top 5. Michael Faccinto won the 10 lap C Main. Kaidon Brown held off Ronnie Gardner in a close battle for second as Dustin Golobic and Kyle Beilman rounded out the Top 5.
Bobby Michnovicz won the 30 lap POWRi Lucas Oil California Lightning Sprint Main Event. Michnovicz is a longtime CRA Sprint Car competitor and a multi-time Lightning Sprint champion. From his front row starting position, Michnovicz would led all the way in a race that had just one slow down after the completion of the first lap. Brent Sexton was an early second, and he held the position until being passed by AJ Bender on the 13th lap. Michnovicz held a straightaway advantage over Bender by lap 18. Though Bender would cut the Michnovicz lead in half during the closing laps, Michnovicz still scored an impressive victory. Brent Sexton settled for third, followed by Aidan Lange, Grant Sexton, Jeff Dyer, Chris Crowder, James Turnbull, Rod Henning and Cody Nigh. There were 22 competitors, and eight lap heat race wins went to Brent Sexton, Henning and Eric Greco. Brent Sexton won the four lap Trophy Dash.
Margeson, Thomas Win Northwest Focus Midget Races
At Placerville Speedway
Placerville, CA...November 19-20...Evan Margeson won the 40 lap Wicked Energy Gum Northwest Focus Midget Main Event Wednesday night at Placerville Speedway. The race was led for several laps by front-row starter Garrett Thomas before he encountered problems. This opened the door for Margeson to gain the lead with Tuesday night winner Tristan Thomas in close pursuit in second. Despite the pressure of Tristan Thomas, Margeson still kept his poise and picked up the impressive win. Seth Hespe finished third ahead of Shane Smith, Chance Crum, Sawyer Lind, Michael Volbrecht, Matt Loving, Guy Tow and Colton Heath.
The 35 car field ran five eight lap qualifying heat races with Tristan Thomas, Garrett Thomas, Nik Larson, Shane Smith and Mike Stryker picking up the wins. Taking advantage of his front row starting position, Heath won the 20 lap B Main ahead of Chris Greene, Adam Elbert, Brian Aune and Michael Hodel.
Tristan Thomas won the 25 lap Main Event on Tuesday night. He led most of the way with Garrett Thomas finishing a close second. Crum settled for third, followed by Heath, Summer Series champion Nick Evans, Hespe, Margeson, Smith, Volbrecht and Hodel. Crum, Smith, Hespe and Garrett Thomas won their eight lap heat races. Volbrecht won the 15 lap B Main by a comfortable margin ahead of Hodel, Elbert, Tow and Greene.
Faccinto, Rasmussen, Myrick, Hamilton
Win Turkey Night Main Events At Keller Speedway
Hanford, CA...Mitchell Faccinto won the 30 lap King of Thunder Winged 360 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Keller Auto Speedway. This was the season-ending Turkey Night event, and Faccinto bested a field of 24 competitors.
After outrunning Tucker Worth to win the six lap Trophy Dash, Mitchell Faccinto had the pole position for the feature race. Faccinto and Worth battled it out with second-row starter Michael Faccinto. Michael Faccinto would take the second position from Worth, but it would be brother Mitchell Faccinto prevailing at the checkered flag. Worth settled for a third place finish, followed by Jace Vanderweerd, Grant Duinkerken, Landon Hurst, Kaleb Montgomery, Mitchell Moles, Keith Day Jr and Craig Stidham.
King of Thunder and NARC/King of the West Sprint Car champion DJ Netto set the fast time of 13.686, beating the 13.780 of Mitchell Faccinto. Vanderweerd, Worth and Day picked up the eight lap heat race wins.
Kyle Rasmussen won the 25 lap IMCA RaceSaver 305 Sprint Car Main Event. New champion Grant Champlin and Andy Gregg battled early while Rasmussen charged from the third row. Rasmussen would grab the lead from Champlin, and seventh row starter Brooklyn Holland became a player in the battle at the front of the pack. Holland would take the second position from Champlin, but Rasmussen would go on to victory. Champlin settled for third, followed by Gregg, Doug Gandy, Gordon Rodgers, Tony Pombo, Chris Stevens, Phil Heynen and Jerome Warmerdam. Champlin set the fast time of 14.695, while Warmerdam, Rasmussen and Steven Tiner were the eight lap heat race winners.
Dan Myrick won the 20 lap House of JuJu Central Valley Mini Stock Main Event. This was his second win at Hanford this season, which helped him wrap up both the track and Central Valley Mini Stock championships. Myrick shared the front row of the Main Event with 2018 CVMS champion Greg Baronian, and the two ran closely at the front of the pack throughout the entire distance. Myrick would score the victory ahead of Baronian. Ryan Doglione enjoyed a season-best third place finish, followed by Randy Brown, Gene Glover, Matthew Herod, Clinton Massey, Jeff Durant, Darren Wilson and Scott Glenn. Baronian bested the 29 car field in qualifying with a lap of 20.559. Eight lap heat race wins were earned by Jason Cook, Baronian and Myrick.
Eric Hamilton won the 15 lap IMCA Stock Car Main Event. This was the first win of the season for Hamilton, and he had to battle past champion Lauren DeArmond and current champion Chad Johnson to do it. Hamilton started back in the third row, while Johnson started in the fifth row. DeArmond had the pole for the race and set the early pace. Hamilton and Johnson both made a mad dash to the front of the pack, and a close battle occurred down the stretch. Hamilton managed to get the lead and barely held off DeArmond for the victory with Johnson a very close third. Rod Bane finished fourth, followed by Steven Johnson, Troy Patee, Brock Hamilton, Nicholas Johnson, Larry Thompson and Renn Bane. Cody Johnson and Eric Hamilton won their respective eight lap heat races.
With the season now over, information on future events at the track can be found at www.racekingsspeedway.com. For the CVMS Mini Stock news, go to www.centralvalleyministocks.com.
Golobic, Spencer, Velasquez Win Features On Night #1
Of Gary Patterson Tribute At Stockton
Stockton, CA...November 1...Shane Golobic won the 30 lap Winged 360 Sprint Car Main Event Friday night at the Stockton Dirt Track. This was the opening night of the annual Gary Patterson Tribute. The win paid Golobic $2,000.
The Winged 360 Sprint Car Main Event had 24 starters, and Mitchell Faccinto set the early pace from the pole. Golobic ran second until making what proved to be his winning pass on the ninth lap. Faccinto had second until his race came to an end on lap 12. Justyn Cox took over second at that point ahead of Michael Faccinto. However, Cox was the only driver who could get close to the impressive Golobic before settling for a $1,400 second. Michael Faccinto was a solid $1,000 third, followed by Willie Croft, Jason Solwold, Kyle Offill, Ryan Robinson, Justin Sanders, Jesse Love IV and Blake Carrick.
Golobic was the quickest of 26 qualifiers with a lap of 13.438, beating the 13.528 of Mitchell Faccinto. The eight lap heat race wins were earned by Michael Faccinto, Solwold and Nathan Rolfe. Golobic outran Mitchell Faccinto to win the six lap Trophy Dash.
Cody Spencer won the 25 lap Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series Main Event. From the outside front row starting position, Petaluma Speedway Micro 600 star Nick Robfogel raced into the lead. Spencer quickly settled into second ahead of DJ Johnson, and the three leaders ran closely during the first 12 laps. Johnson surrendered third to series point leader Jake Morgan on the 13th lap. Morgan had started back in the sixth row. Following a lap 15 yellow flag, Spencer raced into the lead. Robfogel held second until problems struck and he fell back several positions on lap 20. Johnson took up pursuit of Spencer from there, but Spencer would prevail. Three-time series champion Terry Schank Jr finished third, followed by Jarrett Soares, Boy Moniz, Robfogel, Morgan, Petaluma champion Angelique Bell, two-time Antioch champion Dan Gonderman and Scott Chapeta.
There were 19 Spec Sprints in action, and Johnson set the fast time of 17.195. Matt Stewart was second quick at 17.499. Eight lap heat race wins were earned by Spencer, Bell and Robfogel.
Tommy Velasquez won the 20 lap NorCal Dwarf Car Main Event. Velazquez is one of the top competitors at Ventura and Santa Maria. He had a front-row start and proceeded to lead all 20 laps in victory. Past Antioch and NorCal champion Danny Wagner ran second until being passed by Mike Reeder on the sixth lap. Reeder held the position until Wagner got by on lap 14, but Wagner again got passed by Reeder moments later. Reeder had another challenge from South Bay champion Mark Biscardi, but he would regain second for good on the 19th lap. Following Tommy Velasquez and Reeder at the checkered flag were Wagner, Biscardi, Shawn Whitney, Antioch champion Scott Dahlgren, Ben Wiesz, Nick Velazquez, Buddy Olschowka and Coby Wiesz. Eight lap heat race wins were earned by Reeder, Wagner and Tommy Velasquez.
Further news on the happenings at the Speedway can be found at www.stocktondirttrack.com.
Golobic, Abreu Win Gary Patterson Tribute Races
At The Stockton Dirt Track
Stockton, CA...November 2...Shane Golobic won the 30 lap NARC/King Of The West Fujitsu Winged 410 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at the Stockton Dirt Track. This was the annual Gary Patterson Tribute race, and Golobic was the 10th different winner of the season. DJ Netto and Bud Kaeding entered the event in a tie for the lead. By virtue of his third place feature finish, Netto wrapped up his first series championship.
Golobic had the pole for the feature race and proceeded to lead every lap in victory. Netto ran second for nine laps before being overtaken by Willie Croft. Croft took up pursuit of Golobic. However, Golobic drove a great race and forced Croft to settle for second. Netto held on to finish a solid third, followed by Mitchell Faccinto, Dominic Scelzi, Carson Macedo, Chase Johnson, Rico Abreu, Bud Kaeding and this year's top rookie, Geoff Ensign.
There were 18 competitors, and Golobic set the fast time of 12.885, beating the 12.990 of Mitchell Faccinto. The three eight lap heat race wins were earned by Johnson, Macedo and Craig Stidham. Golobic grabbed the pole for the Main Event with his six lap Trophy Dash triumph ahead of Mitchell Faccinto.
Rico Abreu won the 30 lap Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour, presented by Abreu Vineyards, Main Event. This was the second win of the season for Abreu, who won at Tulare Thunderbowl earlier this season, and he won this race in flag-to-flag fashion. By virtue of an eighth-place finish, Kyle Hirst wrapped up the $7,000 series championship.
From his pole position start, Abreu charged into the early lead ahead of Ryan Robinson. For a good portion of the race, Robinson looked like he might be headed for a second place finish. Fourth row starter Shane Golobic briefly took the second position from Robinson on the 10th lap, but Robinson regained the spot a lap later. Golobic fell back to fourth, but he regained third on lap 17. On the 21st lap, Golobic slipped past Robinson to take over second. Robinson held the third position until being passed by Carson Macedo on lap 28. Abreu ran a flawless race and held off Golobic for the victory. Macedo was third, followed by Robinson, Willie Croft, Tim Kaeding, Colby Copeland, Hirst, Kalib Henry and Jessie Love IV.
Croft was the quickest of 29 qualifiers with a lap of 13.287, beating a 13.292 of Justin Sanders. They ran four eight lap heat races, and Robinson, Michael Faccinto, Copeland and Abreu picked up the wins. Abreu would grab the pole for the feature race with his six lap Trophy Dash victory. The final starting spots in the Main Event were determined by the 15 lap B Main. Tim Kaeding found himself in that race, but he led all the way in victory, followed by Luca Romanazzi and Sanders.
For further information on what's happening at the speedway, go to www.stocktondirttrack.com. If you are looking for information on the King Of The West Series, go to www.narc410.com. Information on the Sprint Car Challenge Tour can be found at www.sprintcarchallengetour.com.
Montgomery, Love, Duinkerken Win George Snider Classic
At Kern Raceway
Bakersfield, CA...November 9...Kaleb Montgomery won the 30 lap Wingless 360 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at the Kern Raceway Dirt Track. This was the annual Dignity Health George Snider Classic, and Montgomery won in dominant fashion. With a front row start, Montgomery charged into the lead ahead of Ricky Kirkbride at the waving of the green flag. Montgomery rapidly pulled away from Kirkbride, who began to get pressure from TJ Smith. Smith made a move past Kirkbride for second on lap 14. Montgomery put a lap on sixth place Gage Rucker or lap 18. Top 5 runner Ryan Timmons brought out a yellow flag a lap later. Montgomery continued to lead Smith and Kirkbride on the restart. One last yellow flag waved on the 27th lap. However, that would not stop Montgomery as he brought it home to an impressive victory ahead of Smith and Kirkbride. Brandon Wylie was the final lead lap finisher, followed by the 305 Sprint Car of Michael Pombo, Tanner Boul, Grant Duinkerken, Austin Ervine, Rucker and Matt Day. Kirkbride and Montgomery were the eight lap heat race winners, and Kirkbride set the fastest time of 14.194.
Jesse Love IV won the 25 lap BCRA Midget Main Event. With a front-row start, USAC Midget point leader Robert Dalby led early ahead of Shannon McQueen and Love. Love slipped into second on a lap three restart and kept the pressure on Dalby with a yellow flag waving on lap six. Dalby continued to lead the restart, but Love moved in for a challenge. Love briefly gained the lead on lap nine, only to surrender it back to Dalby on the 10th lap. On a lap 12 restart, Love began to pressure Dalby once again. The two drivers ran side by side on lap 18. They came up on slower traffic, and Love used this to his advantage as he gained the lead on the 19th lap. McQueen also got around Dalby before he recovered in third. Love began to stretch his advantage in the closing laps to win by a straightaway ahead of McQueen. Terry Nichols finished third, and Rucker made a last-lap pass on Dalby to finish fourth. Ron Hazelton finished sixth, followed by BCRA Overall champion Robert Carson, Bryan Drollinger, CJ Sarna and Marvin Mitchell. Dalby and McQueen won their respective eight lap heat races, and Love set the quickest time of 13 qualifiers with a lap of 14.420
Grant Duinkerken won the 20 lap 305 Winged Sprint Car Main Event. Duinkerken has been one of the top drivers in the group in recent years, but he moved up to the Winged 360 Sprint Cars at Hanford this season. He started on the front row and charged into lead at the green flag ahead of Grant Champlin and Mauro Samone. The race ran 16 laps before a yellow flag waved, but that flag wiped out a big Duinkerken lead. Undaunted, Duinkerken maintained command on the restart and led the rest of the way in victory, followed by Champlin. Monty Ferreira made a late movie into third as Simone settled for fourth, followed by Ryan Delisle, Michael Pombo, Jimmy Christian, Connor Danell, Kyle Rasmussen and Ben Catron. Simone and Delisle won their respective eight lap heat races, and Ferreira set the fastest time of 13.328.
For further information on the happenings at the pavement track or the dirt track, go to www.kernraceway.com.
Forsberg, Terrell Win Mel Hall Memorial Race
At Marysville Raceway
Marysville, CA...November 9...Andy Forsberg picked up the victory in the Civil War Series Winged 360 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Marysville Raceway. This was the 20th Annual Mel Hall Memorial race, which pays tribute to the past Marysville and Grass Valley racing promoter. Forsberg is a 10-time Civil War Series champion who won the season-opening Sherm and Loree Toller Memorial race back in March.
Justyn Cox raced into the early lead ahead of Marysville champion Michael Ing. Chico champion Sean Becker slipped past Ing for the second position on lap nine, and Forsberg gained third a lap later. Forsberg put the moves on Becker for second on lap 12 and gained the lead from Cox a lap later. Despite three yellow flag slowdowns during the final 15 laps, Forsberg continued to hold off the efforts of Cox for the big victory. Ing settled for third, followed by Tanner Carrick, Blake Carrick, new Civil War Series champion Koen Shaw, Rowdy McLenon, Michael Faccinto, Zane Blanchard and Becker.
There were 28 Winged 360 Sprint Cars for this show, and Forsberg set the fast time of 11.938, beating the 12.120 of Cox. They ran four eight lap heat races with wins going to Billy Butler, Ing, Tanner Carrick and Caden Sarale. Ing earned the pole position for the feature by holding off Cox to win the six lap Trophy Dash. McLenon won the 12 lap B Main ahead of Blake Carrick and Travis Labat.
Bradley Terrell won the 25 lap Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event. Terrell is a past Winged 360 Sprint Car champion out at Petaluma Speedway who has won several Wingless Spec Sprint features at his home track in the past couple of seasons. He was driving the Troy Matteri owned entry and becomes the sixth different winner in the series this season.
Shane Hopkins set the early pace ahead of Terrell, but Terrell made a move past Hopkins for first on the eighth lap. Boy Moniz stalled from his Top 5 position for a lap nine yellow flag. Terrell continued to lead Hopkins and new champion Jake Morgan on the restart. Morgan gained second two laps later and kept it close in the race for the lead. Though Terrell set a rapid pace, Morgan attempted one last move on the final lap to take over. However, Terrell stayed cool and scored the impressive win. Morgan settled for second, followed by two-time Antioch Speedway champion Dan Gonderman, DJ Johnson, Hopkins, Josh Young, Petaluma 600 Micro star Nick Robfogel, Braidon Moniz, Scott Chapeta and Bob Davis.
There were 25 Wingless Spec Sprints for the final race of their 10th championship season. Eight lap heat race wins were earned by three-time champion Terry Schank Jr, Morgan, Braidon Moniz and Boy Moniz. DJ Johnson won the 10 lap B Main ahead of Chapeta and Kevin Box. Terrell was the quickest qualifier at 13.535, beating the 13.672 of Hopkins.
Find out more about the happenings at the speedway by going to www.marysvilleraceway.com. Future updates on the Civil War Series can be found at www.racepmg.com. You can also find updates on the Hunt Series by going to www.huntwingless.com.
January 1st Race At The Stockton Dirt Track Announced
Stockton, CA...Not even a week after another successful Gary Patterson Tribute event, Stockton Dirt Track Promoter Tony Noceti made a big announcement regarding a New Year's race. Once again, the Dirt Modifieds will be competing along with the Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and the addition of the Pro Stocks. All the details regarding this race, including purse money, are being worked out and will be released soon.
Noceti was able to grab the January 1st date last season after neighboring Antioch Speedway was unable to commit to that date. As things went very well for that race, he didn't hesitate to again put a New Year's race on the schedule. It also furthers his commitment to establish some big Stock Car type of events on the track that has been known in recent years for having big Sprint Car shows.
Purse money hasn't been announced as of press time, but last year saw the Dirt Modified drivers competing for $1,500 to win and a minimum of $200 to start. With such a big paying event and the fact that it was also the only show in town, 22 Modifieds took the green flag for that show. Ryan McDaniel scored a flag-to-flag victory ahead of division heavyweights, Bobby Hogge IV and Troy Foulger. The Modifieds were at three races held during the first two months, and Foulger won the late January race ahead of Hogge and Nick DeCarlo. McDaniel rebounded with a win in the third show in February ahead a Foulger and DeCarlo. Foulger was the only driver with Top 3 finishes in all three events. Already, some of the top drivers in the state are making plans to be at the New Year's show.
The Sport Modified division had several races in Stockton this year, and the New Year's bash generated a huge 28 car field. They competed for $500 to win with $150 guaranteed to take the green flag. Bakersfield Speedway star Jason Nation made a thrilling last-lap pass on Brent Curran to steal victory. Doff Cooksey enjoyed one of his best efforts in third. The Sport Modifieds were also at three races during the first two months. Santa Maria champion Kevin Johnson won the second race ahead of Merced champion Fred Ryland and IMCA State champion Guy Ahlwardt. Ryland claimed the glory in the third race ahead of Danny Roe and Antioch champion Tommy Fraser.
The track's decision to run the Hobby Stock and Mini Stock classes is hoped to get the drivers at Stockton 99 Speedway to give dirt a try, but drivers come in from several other tracks for an opportunity to run on the big dirt track. Last season, Jason Palmer of Placerville turned in a rather dominant performance in winning the Hobby Stock race ahead of Ryan Peter and Jim Brookshire. Stockton 99 star Josh Cross won the Mini Stock race ahead of Merced Speedway star has Shawn DePriest and Jennifer Corder. Both divisions produced a dozen cars each for the New Year's Day opportunity and should do well again for the next race.
One of the things Noceti is trying to do is give the fans of Late Model style racing something to enjoy. As that division has nearly priced itself out of existence in California, Tony has aligned with the Tri State Challenge Series. They ran a pair of events last season with Dave King scoring the win in the final race. Mike Learn is the champion. The Tri State Challenge Series is attempting to unite as many of the different Super Stock/Limited Late Model/Pro Stock divisions under one set of rules as possible, and Tony is working with series organizers Roy Bain and Learn to help grow this effort.
As Noceti is a busy man putting together schedules for both the big dirt track and pavement track as well as the Micro Sprint Delta Speedway facility that's also located at the fairgrounds, a full 2020 schedule hasn't been released yet. The January 1st event has been scheduled so that teams can make plans and be ready for the show. You can expect that the dirt track will have some new surprises and all of the big events you would expect in 2020. For further information, go to www.stocktondirttrack.com.
The Editor's Viewpoint
I admit I nearly lost the motivation to do this post. Racing season is over, or at least it should be. However, some tracks knock themselves out trying to get that last race in. As I'm writing this column, Placerville Speedway has won the sweepstakes as the final Northern California track to hold an outdoor race in 2019. It's November 19th as I write this. I believe in the off-season, which is a time for racers to regroup and get ready for the next year, but at the same time take care of things around the house that may have been neglected. Is it time for promoters to fix some things around the track to make it better for the next season.
Here's the reality of the situation. It's not as easy for a promoter to make money in the sport these days as it was a couple of decades ago. What am I saying? Promoters need to make money? Well, if they don't make money, how long do you think the tracks are going to stay open under their guidance? Therefore, if a promoter thinks a race in November is going to make them money, they'll take the risk. It actually works out better than some people might expect. So be it, we'll race all the way up to Thanksgiving in California as Bakersfield and Ventura both have dates remaining on their schedules.
The question about who was going to take the New Year's date has been answered. Tony Noceti at the Stockton Dirt Track will be doing the honors again this year. It's interesting to note that this was a date that John M Soares was running before. When the controversy took place behind the scenes regarding who would be promoting Antioch Speedway this past season, John had to vacate that date. I understand that John and Tony actually talked before Tony took the date and had his successful show this year. There was a rumor that Antioch would be interested in reclaiming the New Year's date as there is no controversy going on behind the scenes. Where John is concerned, however, there was never any plans to book the date. This is what he told me before I left.
Tony has pulled off the miracle of making dirt track racing happen in Stockton. The dirt track hasn't been perfect, but he's been working to make it better in the years that followed since he opened it. The Sprint Car shows, such as the Asparagus Cup and the Gary Patterson Tribute, are successful, and now Tony is trying to establish some Stock Car oriented stuff. That's about what I know on the subject, but the divisions he's been looking at are all scheduled for that New Year's date. This will include Dirt Modifieds, Sport Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks. There is a rumor that he might seek IMCA sanctioning for his Modified classes, but I haven't been able to confirm that.
Being in the close proximity of Antioch as they are, this means that Stockton could become even more of a nuisance that affects Antioch's car count negatively. As it is, when Stockton books a Sport Modified race on top of Antioch, there are drivers that go there instead. There has been some talk about bringing IMCA sanctioning back to Antioch. What I see as a potential problem is if Stockton gets that sanctioning and decides they're going to run shows more often against Antioch. As Stockton really has no car count of their own in this class, they rely on the drivers who travel. Antioch being their closest neighbor, the drivers that come from there are part of what is making these shows successful as it is.
Personally, I don't blame a promoter for doing what it is he thinks he needs to do for the good of his own track. I was in a similar situation down in the valley when Chowchilla opened up so close to Merced. Both tracks were able to coexist. Stockton really isn't the problem here. I think that what needs to happen at Antioch is an effort to make racers want to be a part of the show once again. I think that it's possible to achieve that, but people are going to want to see signs that make it worth their while. I have a few ideas on the subject, but I'll leave those for another time.
I am still waiting for the answer to the big question. It's so big that I can't even talk about it here. In the midst of that, there's something else going on right now that I can't talk about. Shoot, here I am writing a column and even mentioning things I can't talk about. Is it any wonder I wasn't motivated to do the blog post this week? Both items are kind of important, but we don't have the answers to them. When will we find out? I don't even know the answer to that question. And so, I wait patiently. I can't begin to figure out my plans until I get these answers.
I say that I intend to keep this blog active next season and be involved in the sport, but I have to be honest when I say I'm not 100% sure that it's going to happen. This depends on how certain things go. I am reminded at times like this that I'm not really so much in control of my life. I pretty much go along with what's presented to me and try to make the best of it. It's not a great way to live, and at times I'm not a very happy person. I can fake it at least. I can do whatever I want, but the reality is I don't know the answer to these questions just yet.
Reno is coming up very soon, and it's my guess that at least one of those questions will have to be answered by then. That's a telltale sign that it's either going to happen or it isn't. When the Reno date comes, this is when the promoters wheel and deal. I've heard some promoters say they can't get anything done up at the workshop, but it depends on what your outlook is going in. There are many deals that get made in Reno every year. Promoters work out arrangements where each track gets a special race. Rules get lined up. Sanctioning bodies get signed up at certain race tracks. Traveling associations line up race dates at certain race tracks. If you're a promoter at a race track on the West Coast, you have gone to Reno.
It was my intent to line up press credentials at the workshop this year. I applied for them about a month ago. After all the work that I've done, my hope was that they would give me the okay. I have covered four workshops in the past. I don't simply show up, flash my pass and get in there. I cover things. I've never shown up at a race track and used press credentials and not written something. That's not my style. My hope was that since I had two active blogs during racing season and was printed in over a dozen different newspapers multiple times this year, sometimes regularly, that would count for something. Evidently, it did not.
I'm disappointed in that, but I'm not really surprised either. I don't know that I would have been able to get to Reno to cover things anyway. I do know that I wanted the option of being able to. Actually, a friend in Oregon was planning to attend, and he even offered me a way to go. This was certainly appreciated. I'm not sure I would have gone, but it's all a moot point now. There is no Reno trip for me this year. My hope Is that I'll get the answer to the biggest question on my mind by then and can start making plans.
If not for the fact that Keller Auto Speedway had a race scheduled for last Saturday, I don't think you'd be reading this blog post. My commitment was to certain groups and race tracks from the first race to the last. I didn't start covering Hanford until about mid season or so, but I got them in at least two different papers. I did start covering the Central Valley Mini Stocks from the start, and that meant I needed to cover their final race of the season. Though I started on that a bit late, I have managed to put something together to mention here.
By now it's pretty obvious that Dan Myrick has figured something out with the Mini Stock effort. Not only has he and his group built a nice little show at their original home track in Lemoore whenever they are there, this effort has helped revive a struggling Mini Stock class in Hanford. When I would look at the numbers there, if they got a dozen cars it was a good night. Sometimes they weren't even reaching double digits. This year, I don't think they had less than 24 cars in a Hanford visit. The final night had 29. I would say the relationship between the CVMS and Hanford is on pretty solid ground.
Dan has messaged me about several different ideas he's been brainstorming, and though I'm not going to reveal much of what has been said, I'm impressed with his forward-thinking. Trying to get race tracks on the same set of rules as his group and looking at other places to potentially have a race are two things that I know he's been thinking about. I'm sure that when he releases the next schedule, it's going to look good. I do know that Dan would thank House of JuJu of Clovis and Morro Bay for coming on board as the title sponsor. They are absolutely amazing to do what they did for the point fund, where $5,000 is being divided among the Top 10 drivers in the standings. If you're looking for a good place to eat and you're down in the area, go check this place out. The food is good and you're supporting people who support racing.
Hanford made a nice little statement to end the season. It was what they called Turkey Night. Championship point racing was over in the other three classes. Myrick won both the CVMS and Hanford Mini Stock titles, by the way. We already knew that DJ Netto was the King of Thunder Winged 360 Sprint Car champion. It's been an absolutely amazing year for him as he is also the NARC/King of the West Fujitsu Winged 410 Sprint Car champion. If you don't know who he is, now you do. He's one of the top Sprint Car drivers in the state. It was also a good night for the Faccinto brothers to shine. Mitchell Faccinto picked up the win with brother Michael not far behind in second. There were 24 Sprint Cars, which made it a great showing for them.
It seems like when IMCA wants to expand the classes they sanction in California, Hanford is a natural place to go to. Over a decade ago, they launched IMCA Stock Cars. This group now runs at Hanford, Bakersfield and Tulare, and there's rumors of other tracks in California looking at the metric Stock Car. It was Chad Johnson winning this year's title over Cody Johnson. However, an old champion by the name of Loren DeArmond showed up to try to grab a win and looked like he was going to get it, but it was Eric Hamilton claiming the honors. There were 14 IMCA Stock Cars for a November race, which was a good showing.
The IMCA RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars were also there. Yes, IMCA thinks they've got the answer to how to help make Sprint Car racing more affordable. When things are really booming, they can pull in 20 race cars. On this occasion, there were 16. It's done well in Hanford, and this group now goes to places like Bakersfield, Santa Maria and Tulare. Kyle Rasmussen got the victory on Saturday, but Brooklyn Holland finished second. She started back in the seventh row. This young lady has done an amazing job this year and could be a future champion in this class if she doesn't make a move up. Grant Champlin, who finished third, is the champion at Hanford this year.
I found it very interesting that Kern Raceway recently did the George Snider Memorial race. The Bakersfield area track ran on the pavement and the dirt that night, which meant fans went back and forth between tracks. The dirt track focused on open wheel racing, and they decided to run an injected Wingless 360 Sprint Car and 305 Winged Sprint Car show. Neither of these divisions were actually sanctioned, and yet they pulled in double digits in both cases. Looks to me like the drivers in these two divisions would be interested in having a sanctioned race in these classes next year. In the case of the Wingless Sprint Cars, however, this race was booked on top of the big USAC Sprint Car show that was at Perris Auto Speedway that night. I'm not sure how USAC would look at this, although I bet they wouldn't be thrilled.
Also on the card was the BCRA Midgets. This was their final point race of the year, and Robert Carson is the champion after his seventh place finish. Carson has been driving an old car, and I'm talking over a decade old. It belonged to his grandfather, the late Howard Segur. His father is past BCRA champion Glenn Carson, meaning we now have a father and son duo who can call themselves BCRA champions. The younger Carson was given a good opportunity when my good friend Don O'Keefe Jr offered him a ride in his second Midget for the Chili Bowl Midget event in Tulsa, Oklahoma next January.
For the BCRA, this was yet another great example of how the Midgets seem to be getting better car counts on the dirt than the pavement. In many cases, they were a few cars short of double digits this year. There were 13 Midgets who came to race for the final race, and a few of them were USAC competitors. I'll stand by my original statement that joining up with POWRi didn't do a thing for BCRA this year, they are running too many races and they need to drop the pavement and focus on rebuilding their car count on the dirt. If they were to do this, my opinion is that this thing could become a viable group that isn't just on the schedule at a race track but a featured attraction. BCRA deserves that, given the great history that they have.
Most of the racing that remains now is bench racing. Banquet season is upon us. Marysville and Chico just had their joint banquet. Sprint Car Challenge Tour drivers celebrated their season along with the Placerville Speedway stars. The Watsonville banquet is upcoming this weekend. A few tracks won't be doing their banquets until early next year. I know there's some grumbling among racers that they'd like to do it in November, but there are positives to be had from an early banquet the next year. For one thing, it helps set the mood for the coming season. I find it interesting that banquets for Antioch and Southern Oregon Speedway appear to be on the final Saturday of January. Therefore, it looks like it's pretty obvious that I will be at a banquet that night.
The week before, Siskiyou Golden Speedway has their banquet. As I predicted in the Pit Stops column you might have read in a recent Jefferson Racing News blog post, Promoter Kevin Barba has had his contract renewed for two more years. He signed a one-year deal coming in with the option for two more. There weren't going to be a lot of options for the Siskiyou County Fair Board. Given the numbers up there in recent years, this is not a track that established promoters are beating down the gates to take over. You did have the association waiting in the wings in case they were needed, but I was pretty sure that Barba was going to get it after the final race in October.
I will be honest with you in saying that he had me questioning his ability during the year. There were some lean times at that race track, but they also managed to pull off a few big moments. The last race of the year was certainly one of them. If there were any board members with doubts in their minds, they looked at what was done that final night in October and said it was worthy of two more years. Kevin didn't have a lot to work with when it came to the actual racing program he inherited. Basically, he's having to rebuild everything back up to get it to the level it was at in the past. I know he knows it's not going to be easy and is taking it one race at a time.
I can sympathize with him as I entered a similar situation at Southern Oregon Speedway with Promoter Mike McCann. We certainly did not inherit a strong racing program. It was on life support, and we've worked very hard during these past four years to make it what it's become. Fans now have Late Models and Sprint Cars to enjoy, which weren't on the schedule when we came in. Barba will actually take a look at both classes, which is going to make things a bit interesting. There is a frosty relationship at best between the two race tracks, and I'm going to leave it at that.
The bottom line is I have spent years running my DCRR Media effort with the belief that tracks should work together. Track unity and all of that stuff. My crusade is part of what burned me out at the end of the 2003 season, though there was more to my departure than just that. What I've learned since then is that while it's nice to see race tracks work together, you've got to work on your program first. That doesn't mean you need to be a jerk to any other race track, but rather it means that you need to build your program up to a level where you have enough cars to give your fans a good weekly show. Generally speaking, the tracks that work together the best are the ones that have something to offer each other.
Yreka has Mini Stocks and IMCA Sport Modifieds. These two divisions get booked the most. The Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks bring a good car count whenever they are on the schedule and will likely continue that relationship with several dates in 2020. The Mini Stocks and Sport Mods are the only regular championship divisions at the speedway with a car count of any sort. Technically, the track will crown champions in both the IMCA Modifieds and Jefferson State Jalopies. The Jalopies are only going to be as big as whatever is offered in the area. Karl Bernstein and JJ Smith are building all of the cars, and there are only four of them. The IMCA Modifieds, on the other hand, could have a resurgence at the speedway if Kevin decides to do some outreach with the drivers who are parked and the ones who travel to other places. They ran four events to give them the minimum dates IMCA requires to crown a champion, but I have a feeling there will be more dates next year.
I know everything will be on the table, and Kevin is one of the promoters heading to WARPA for the Promoters Meeting this weekend. I know that Mike will be there from Southern Oregon Speedway as will many of the Oregon and Washington promoters. Kevin will be looking at traveling groups coming, and I know the Iron Giant Street Stocks will be offered a date. The Interstate Sprint Cars will likely be offered a date. You'll likely see the Winged 360 Sprint Cars have a Speedweek date there. There's likely to be most of the big attractions you saw this year, and other additions. What all of that means, I'll let Kevin sort out. Though I've been critical of him at times, I believe the Yreka track has its best chance right now with Kevin at the helm. He's making a good effort given what he came into.
Otherwise, the indoor racing has begun. Red Bluff seems to be getting the big car counts. There are a bunch of Outlaw Karts showing up there on Saturday afternoon, and these programs stretch into the night. The future stars can be seen at what is the biggest indoor Karting series on the West Coast during the winter months in Red Bluff. Salem indoors is a pretty cool deal because these guys do it all there. Not only are they running Karts, but they have Micros, and even some Four Cylinder Mini Stock and Dwarf Car classes. They also do Motorcycles. I've never gotten to check out one of these shows, but I'd certainly love to see the Mini Stocks on that little indoor track.
Roseburg, Oregon has begun their indoor season. Admittedly, they're not getting the sort of count that they got when Mike McCann established the program, but they're keeping the gates open. I find it very interesting that the Vern Wheeler Sr Memorial race has happened there again. I felt honored that we were able to host the first one at Little Southern Oregon Speedway back in 2016. Vern's sons, Vern Jr and Mike, have been a part of the little and big tracks in Medford. Vern's grandson, Jake Wheeler, has been a part of this as well. I'm disappointed that it only happened the one time on the Medford Kart track, and quite honestly, the future of the little track looks bleak.
JFK once said ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. All too often, it's all about me, me, me with racers. Not all of them, but enough of them that they can make things very difficult at the race track. In this case, I'm disappointed at what we ended up with at the little track at Southern Oregon Speedway for these past four years. I've put everything I can think of into helping promote this thing, and there's been resistance. There have been a few good families who have supported, but there have been enough people behind the scenes putting it down, not supporting it and choosing to go somewhere else when a race is happening that they may have threatened its very existence. At a certain level, you put your hands up in the air and say, I give up. And, though I really appreciate the families who made this fun for the last four years and did what they could, it may not have been enough.
When I was hanging around at Antioch Speedway during my month-long stay, I started looking over at the Paintball/Rodeo Arena. It hasn't been a Rodeo Arena for quite some time. They've got a good section of bleachers that line up all the way along the length of the arena, and an idea hit me. This would be the perfect place to bring a Kart program to Antioch. I know that right now the spot is being occupied by the Paintball Park. But, if that were to change, I think this is where a Kart track could shine. I also believe in some of my Rodeo Arena racing ideas that I've spoken of in the past, though some will say that you don't need to do that with the big track where it's at. In any event, I could totally see racing of some sort happening there, and it could be a winner. Ultimately, the greed of the fairgrounds would dictate what could or couldn't happen, because a little track isn't a gold mine. They'd have to understand that.
I have watched in fascination as Cory Penfold built a Kart race track in his yard. Cory is the man running Moxie Media and Promotions and announcing at Southern Oregon Speedway. He's a good guy with a passion for what he does. I do like that he has the internet radio show that he does during the week, but I can see that he's looking towards becoming a promoter one day. I think that's something I can relate to, because there used to be a time when I dreamed of doing the same thing. I think what's killed the dream for me is I have no money to make something like that happen, and it's very unlikely that somebody's going to walk up to me and ask me to do it. The best I can hope for is being an influencer behind the scenes, and I think I've done that through the years.
Cory took a look at Willamette Speedway prior to the year, and negotiations looked like they were going to go his way. I know how much that track means to him. Cory is a disciple of the late, great Clair Arnold. He's the one who put together Hall of Fame Night in Willamette, and I've been told it was a rather emotional occasion for him as he put the first legends into that track's Hall of Fame. As the announcer there, he saw a lot of potential, so when Jerry Schram wanted to sell the place, he was all for it.
I think at this point I need to criticize Jerry Schram a little bit, because the man is being totally unrealistic about the prices he wants to put on the tracks he is selling, Willamette Speedway and Cottage Grove Speedway. Cottage Grove Speedway, though beautiful in its surroundings, is not worth over $1,000,000. Willamette Speedway, though it's got a great heritage, is not worth nearly $2,000,000. Therefore, any legitimate investor with money to spend wouldn't get behind these tracks, and that's because they wouldn't make their money back. The tracks will never sell at Jerry's asking prices.
In the case of Cottage Grove, Jerry has found the right woman in Heather Boyce to run that track. Most of the racers I hear from love this woman for what she does, and Jerry probably loves her because she is a source of revenue. She doesn't balk at the fee he puts on her to run that race track. I think the hope is that she and her family might buy the place, but the money is a little bit steep. The only thing Heather is in danger of is Jerry's whims. Jerry could wake up one day and decide that he wants to kick her out and sell the place to somebody else. It might seem unlikely, but it could happen.
It turned out to be a competitive bid for Willamette Speedway, and Cory came up on the losing end. I have no doubt that he was breathing a sigh of relief within the last couple of months, based on the news that's been coming out of there. At the time, I know he was a little bit frustrated. We had conversations on the topic, and I know how much the track means to him. To see it going the way it was going was not something Cory enjoyed. The track nearly closed before the Iron Giant race could happen this year. Then came the news of IMCA sanctioning.
it was announced on the Willamette Speedway Facebook page a few days ago that the IMCA fee was not paid in time for most of the season. I'm not exactly sure what that all means, but the people who were buying the track from Jerry were delinquent in their payment. Furthermore, IMCA deducted money from Jerry's account, thinking he was the one responsible. An ugly mess, to be sure. It looks like Jerry and his team will be running the banquet for the track this year, and he will be back in charge of the speedway next year. In the back of my mind, however, I feel like he set up the other team to fail. He knew they wouldn't be able to honor what they agreed to, and he'd be coming back in to save the place. Furthermore, he may come after them on some things. I'd comment further on that, but maybe I should leave it where it is. We'll just see what comes next.
For Cory, he's been running Kart races at his place. Nothing official, but rather a gathering of friends. I think there were a dozen Karts this last Saturday which is pretty interesting. Somebody in Oregon actually had a an outdoor race on November 16th. That's a rarity. I'm sure they're going to keep playing around at the Kart track, but I also know that Cory will be keeping his eyes on another goal. He still wants to be a promoter at a race track. Will this be something that happens for him? Let's just say you shouldn't count him out. Cory and his wife Sandra are a team in life, and she is also a very big believer in his racing dream. That makes a difference.
Anyway, I'm going to be keeping an eye on Placerville and will hold off on posting this until that race is done. I might even wait for Bakersfield, though we'll just have to see. I'm still waiting on other news that can break at anytime. I don't know what to expect, but at this point I would just like some answers. As I'm trying to figure out where things are going for me in 2020, the quicker I get answers, the better. Otherwise, I'm just going to lay low.
The content for the follow-up to Just A Kid From The Grandstands is almost 100% written, but it's a mess. I have to edit quite a bit. Sadly, I haven't touched any of it so far. I'm not sure where things are going to go with that book. As for the blog, I definitely want to do season review articles, but I've been waiting until January to start writing these for the past couple of years. I don't see a reason to change that plan. Therefore, unless something major breaks, the blog may go silent for the rest of the year. We'll just have to see what happens next.
There's a lot of work that goes into writing, and honestly it is work. I love to do it, but it's work that stresses me out sometimes. There are times I don't want to write, but I have to. There are times when I'd like to write about other things, but racing has to be it. I'm trying to figure out if there is a way that I could at least make something from my efforts, and I'm looking at funding sites and that sort of thing to help me out. I'm just in the thought process of that. Would a site like Patreon be useful? A site where my backers get the first look at what I write before the general public sees it?
Anybody who knows me knows that I detest talking about money. It might interest you to know that I've never initiated discussions about money with Mike McCann, John Soares, Chuck Griffin or any of the promoters I've worked for. I only talked money once with Tom Sagmiller at Chowchilla. Otherwise, they were telling me what they would pay me, and I'd take it. I didn't even like putting a price tag on my magazine all those years, and I hated walking over to people and asking for money. I hate money, to be honest with you. But, without it, we are nowhere in this society. Without it, I could still end up homeless if I continue on my present path.
What made my writing efforts successful in racing is that it came from the heart. It's a passion that I've had, and I only wrote because I was trying to help the sport. I haven't sat down to write anything thinking about the money that I would be making. The bottom line is that to continue to put the sort of effort into this that I've been putting forth, there's going to come a time when I need to know that I've got money coming in. Not just occasionally, but something steady. Otherwise, writing will only happen when I've got time for it.
In any event, I am mulling over the possibility of a funding site of some sort, perhaps Patreon. This would be a site that I could also put brief audio updates on, listen to people's thoughts on different subjects and anything else that I could deliver to backers first. The only other concern I have over going this route is that there are other things in life that I'd like to write about. Not that I don't want to write about racing, but I have other interests. I've intentionally kept them separate from racing, because when things start to go down the opinion route on social and political topics, you run the risk of offending people who don't agree with you. Anyway, this is all just in the thought process right now, and nothing is changing that I know of. The Tip Jar is still there for anybody who wants to support me as it is.
I can add a few more notes to this column as I sit here on Saturday before the Bakersfield USAC National Midget race. It's always nice when a race track can have their final event of the season also turn out to be their biggest show. Placerville Speedway held the inaugural Hangtown 100 and witnessed some 90 total race cars between the two division show. 56 of them were part of the USAC National Midget race. The success of this event was due to a great promotional effort.
Matt Wood came on board to promote this thing with track Promoter Scott Russell. There were numerous sponsors helping make this thing happen, not the least of which were Elk Grove Ford and Brad Sweet. However, this race didn't get thrown together overnight. When you have a big race, I've always been an advocate of promoting it as soon as possible. Even before the racing season is the perfect time. True, you might be talking about a race for November all the way back in March, but it's never too early to get people committed. It helps make it more successful.
What I find amazing about this was that there were 56 Midgets in Placerville. When you look at the state of Midget racing in California, you can tell it's not as good as it once was or probably even should be. When you put an event like this together and get people to come from across the country, it is a way to showcase the good racing that Midgets can give you. To my knowledge, this was the biggest car count for a single division at Placerville Speedway this year and among the biggest anywhere in the state.
I know one of the criticisms being levied against this race was that there was no need for a second division. The Northwest Focus Midgets traveled from Washington and Northern Oregon and delivered a 35 car field. Carla and Galen Stewart promote the hell out of this series, and they too were hyping this thing up from the moment they knew they were going to be there. I don't think you'll find a more organized traveling association than the Northwest Focus Midgets anywhere on the West Coast, and the Stewart's are two big reasons why that's the case.
Were the Focus Midgets needed on this program? If I take a look at things from an old-school perspective, my answer would be no. Back in the days when NARC was king of the Winged 410 Sprint Cars, before their hiatus, they would bring 35 or so cars to a show, and even then they only needed the Sprint Cars. Why? The fans paid good money to watch the Sprint Cars, and they weren't worried if there was a little bit of down time on the track as long as it didn't drag on and on. It enabled the announcer to sell those drivers more to the fans via interviews, do Frisbee tosses and that sort of thing. Somewhere along the way, track promoters themselves decided that a second division was needed.
When you bring 56 cars to the show, you don't need a support class. That's the bottom line. I'm speaking as somebody who is a fan. When you sit down to watch the show, you're already seeing such a competitive field of cars that drivers have to earn the right just to be in the B Main. That's called good competition. If I'm a fan paying top dollar for a ticket, I'm not sitting there with that many cars and thinking, gee, this show sure needs a second class. Then again, I'm not the promoter and the one dealing with economics. Second divisions bring extra money that helps pay the bills.
In this case, I don't believe that the promoter was simply trying to pad their pockets with the addition of this division. The Northwest Focus Midgets can and have been the headliner of shows in the past. Though these cars don't get around as fast as the Midgets, they are still going pretty damn quick. They put on a show of their own. Therefore, I believe the promoter was just trying to make the show that much bigger to give the fans non-stop action. Part of the frustration from the critics was that there were numerous flips and the show went later than they might have liked.
When you're dealing with racing in November, you're also dealing with colder temperatures. It might be okay when the sun is up, but the moment it goes down, the temperatures drop. Therefore, fans who bought their tickets to watch the USAC Midgets might get just a little bit antsy when the other division is out there. I understand the criticisms, but I also believe the fans got one hell of a show. You already know you're going to the track and it's going to be cold, so you shouldn't be surprised by that. The biggest concern a promoter might have to worry about is if fans think about the cold weather this time next year and decide on not showing up if they feel there's too much on the card.
I also realize this is a ridiculous argument to make. Do you realize the silliness of it all? Fans paid and saw too many race cars? You saw two divisions with competitive fields where the drivers had to earn their way into the show. In the end, this isn't my problem to deal with. Matt and Scott and everybody will look at what went down, but I can't imagine they're not happy. If there are adjustments that need to be made, they are already working on that. The only thing I can add to this is that from my perspective it looks like the Hangtown 100 was a huge success.
Not far from Placerville comes news in Grass Valley that Patrick Weger will again get an opportunity to promote one of his Arena Dwarf Car events. The fairgrounds has agreed to let him and his Vintage Duels promotion have an event sometime in the summer next year. Obviously, Patrick is going to be paying attention to what the NorCal Dwarf Car Association and other groups do before settling on a date, because he needs as much support as possible to make this thing happen.
I recognize the critics are already griping just a little bit about the Grass Valley track. These are people who remember Ernie Purcell Memorial Speedway and want that track back again. What you have to understand is it's quite remarkable that a track that was shut down by the fairgrounds 25 years ago was able to make any sort of comeback this year. Would you rather have nothing or something when it comes to racing? Who really knows where Patrick may take this thing in the long run? Maybe there will ultimately be a bigger track back in there again, and maybe not.
After the successful running of the first event in October, he's already taking notes on ways to improve things. Given that he was putting a track together in the confines of the Rodeo Arena for the first time, he had to demonstrate he could put it up and take it down in the allotted time. He also did what he could at the time, but he didn't have the benefit of running a previous event. It was a learning experience for him. Weger will be looking to make the track a little bit bigger with an eye on having more than just two cars on the track at a time for this next event.
I am reluctant to speculate too much about what any of this means. I have my own Arena Racing idea that I've talked about, and with the good grandstands they have there in Grass Valley, I think they could interest fans by doing some sort of Mini Stock Figure 8 race like they do in Pleasanton during the Alameda County Fair. In fact, if Patrick were to make such an announcement now, I would bet he'd find some of the old Stock Car families getting old Hornet race cars just to run that one race. Will this happen? I have seen no indication of it.
First and foremost, Patrick put together Vintage Duels and this event in Grass Valley as a way to showcase Dwarf Car racing in a different environment. Therefore, the first priority is how to make Dwarf Cars shine even brighter on whatever sort of track he will be able to create for the summer race. Just what date that will be, what the track will look like, what the format will be or any of that remains to be announced from Patrick. However, I am happy he had success this year and is able to give them another race. As I always say, as long as the gates open at a race track, there's a chance for good things to happen.
Will the gates open at Calistoga Speedway for a race to happen in 2020? Evidently, there's still details to be worked out for the county to sell the fairgrounds property to the city, and one of the holdups is a disgruntled investor who claims he has a right to take everything he put in there to improve that track out if the track is going to be sold. The removal of this stuff could ultimately kill the deal. I haven't followed this thing in detail to really know what all is involved, but I know there are some hurt feelings. I know there is the threat that racing at this historic facility will ultimately cease.
The Calistoga Speedway has hosted multiple events each year in the past, though I believe there were only a pair of them this year. Word was that there would be more next year, but I don't know where that stands. One of the promoters this could affect the most is John Prentice of Prentice Motorsports Group. There was some speculation that 2020 would include at least one Civil War Sprint Car Series race in addition to the Prentice promoted All Star Series IMCA Modified race, which did happen this year. As John is trying to get every track he can for his series, the loss of any facility puts what he does in jeopardy.
You don't have a plethora of half-mile dirt tracks to choose from on the West Coast, and Calistoga has lots of meaning to longtime race fans. It's been known for showcasing the biggest Sprint Car and Midget series with big events through the years. In recent years, you've even seen Stock Car type divisions take to the big track, and you've got IMCA Modified drivers who mark this opportunity on their calendars. Who really knows what the future is? I certainly don't. This is why I say enjoy these tracks while you can. You might complain about them, but one day you will regret those complaints when the gates close for good.
On that note, I will end this column. Thank you all for reading and thank you for your support. Until next time...