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We head into the third racing weekend of September with some exciting racing offerings. A few championship battles are coming to a close, but several tracks are also making plans for big October and November events. This weekend will feature IMCA championship night at Antioch Speedway. Petaluma Speedway will again try to have USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars, but Winged Sprint Car fans will have Placerville Speedway and Ocean Speedway to choose from on Saturday and Friday nights, respectively. Floracing.com will be broadcasting the latter three shows on internet pay-per-view, while Antioch Speedway will have their own in-house production going once again. This is just some of the excitement in store for the coming weekend.
It's hard to believe that Antioch Speedway has managed to hold 11 IMCA Modified and IMCA Sport Modified races this year under these dreadful covid-19 guidelines. The Jay's Mobile Welding Hobby Stocks have had 12 events. It's championship Night for the two Modified classes on Saturday. We haven't officially heard if it's championship night for the Hobby Stocks as they aren't obligated to wrap up points by the end of September, but it could be that their point race is over as well. We do know that the quarter-mile clay oval will be broadcast on internet pay-per-view at antiochspeedway.tv.
Troy Foulger is on his way to his fifth Antioch championship driving for Bowers Motorsports. He was the IMCA Modified champion at Merced Speedway last year as he won about half of the races he started. This year, Foulger has won twice and finished second twice. He's been so consistent that he's only missed the Top 5 once in 11 starts. With that working to his advantage, he carries a 28 point lead over one-time winner Jim Pettit II going into the night. Unless Foulger stumbles big time, the championship is his. However, there are still more State point races left to go, and Foulger only has a nine point lead over Pettit in that battle.
Kellen Chadwick has had an up and down season this year. He didn't finish the most recent race after working his way into the Top 5. When he's been on, he's picked up three Main Event victories, and that keeps him 13 points behind Pettit in a closer battle for second. Chadwick could gain the position, but he won't lose third as his lead is insurmountable for reigning champion Buddy Kniss to overcome. Kniss will hold on to fourth in the standings merely by making the start this week. Shane DeVolder is currently fifth in the standings, six ahead of Watsonville point leader JC Elrod. Most of these drivers could be there, and others to watch for include two-time winner and 2018 champion Nick DeCarlo, 2017 champion Bobby Motts Jr, 2004 champion Aaron Crowell, Kimo Oreta and Jeff Browne.
The battle is taking place in the IMCA Sport Modifieds. It's doubtful that 2018 Limited Late Model champion Mark Garner was making any grand predictions of a championship run, but he finds himself holding a slim three point advantage over two-time division champion Trevor Clymens. Garner isn't even having his best season with only a season best third as his lone Top 5 finish. Clymens has six Top 5 finishes and one victory, but some bad luck keeps him from leading going into this race. If Garner can stay in front of Clymens, that would be enough to clinch him the title, and he could do it without winning a Main Event all year.
2017 champion KC Keller is 18 points out the lead. Mathematically, he's got a shot. However, the odds aren't so much in his favor. He has a win this year and matches Clymens, Kenny Shrader and Fred Ryland with a season-high six Top 5 finishes. If not for his absence on one occasion, he'd probably be leading. As it is, Keller holds a 15 point advantage over one-time winner Shrader in the race for third. Two-time winner Fred Ryland, who won the most recent Super Stock race, is 10 points behind Shrader. Others to watch for include the consistent Kevin Brown, Tommy Clymens Jr, recent winner Tommy Fraser, Andrew Pearce and Todd Gomez.
The last two Hobby Stock races have produced a car count in the 30s. It was Domossie Scoggins winning the most recent race after the disqualification of longtime Late Model competitor Mitch Enos. The bigger story was the fact that three-time winner Travis Dutra was a no-show and fell to just four points ahead of the consistent James Thomson in the championship battle. Thomson has finished second in four-straight races as he looks for his first win of the season. After Brianna Troen had a bad night, instead of assuming the point lead from Dutra, she fell 16 points out of the lead. Like Thomson, she has six Top 5 finishes. The championship battle is between these three racers.
Larry McKinzie also has six Top 5 finishes and has finished a season-high third four times. That includes the most recent race. He has a 22 point lead over Jake Bentancourt in the race for fourth. Some of the drivers to watch for this week include Gavin Griffitts, Gene Haney, Josh Leach, one-time winner Jason Robles, Nicholas Zapatero, Aiden Ponciano and McKayla Taylor.
The combination of the two Modified divisions and Hobby Stocks has been a winner for Antioch Speedway this year and this show should be no different. Though fans are not allowed in attendance just yet, www.antiochspeedway.tv will be offering the internet pay per view. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com or check out the Antioch Speedway Facebook page.
For different reasons, Petaluma Speedway was forced to cancel their previous two shows. This week, we will see another visit by the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars. Also competing on the 3/8 mile adobe oval will be the General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Cars, Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks and the Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks.
About a month ago, the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars had their first race of the year at Petaluma. The field had more Northern California competitors than USAC regulars. 2018 USAC champion Austin Liggett picked up the victory on this occasion ahead of local stars Colby Johnson and Bradley Terrell. Past Antioch Winged 360 and Wingless Spec Sprint champion Billy Aton was a solid fourth ahead of series regular Danny Faria Jr.
Last season's championship runner-up Ryan Timmons was there, but the best he could manage was a seventh place finish. Several of last year's top West Coast Sprint Car regulars, including champion Tristan Gaurdino, third-ranked Koen Shaw, Hannah Mayhew and Jake Swanson, were not there. However, some of the Northern California competitors have been developing an appreciation for Wingless 360 racing. Some drivers from the area that could be here on Saturday night include past Wingless Spec Sprint champion Shayna Ensign, Matthew Haulot, Ricky Brophy, Kenny Drew, Norm Johns and past Petaluma and Antioch Winged the 360 Sprint champion Shawn Arriaga.
There is no stronger Dwarf Car effort on the West Coast than the General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Cars at Petaluma Speedway. They've been delivering numbers in the 30s this year. That could be affected this week with another show happening in Placerville. In fact, that could entice reigning NorCal Dwarf Car champion Michael "Spanky" Grenert out of the field. With one win out of six Top 5 finishes, Grenert has a 72 point lead over reigning champion Chad Matthias. Matthias is 27 tallies ahead of Ryan Winter, who also has a win this year. Winter could also be absent from this show. Matt Hagemann is only 22 points behind Winter in the race for third and has a closer battle in his effort to hold on to fourth. He leads Zach Albers by six points and the tied Carroll Mendenhall and Garrett Brady by 17. Most of those drivers are anticipated this week along with past champion John Peters, Michael Affonso, rookie Joey Lingron and Danny Marsh.
We're anxious to see an update on the Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks point list. They competed as part of the IMCA Speedweek event in August and also ran head to head with the Tri State Pro Stock Series. The former race was won by two-time champion Steve Studebaker and the latter race was won by Richard Brace Jr. The success of that Tri State Pro Stock Series race has seen the group invited back for the Bob McCoy Memorial race as part of the Adobe Cup on September 26th. Reportedly, that race will pay at least $1,000 to win.
As for this coming show, we know that both Studebaker and two-time champion Matt While have won a pair of races each. The point battle should be close, but the point sheet has not been updated recently. Justin Zwicker is probably ranked third in the standings, and other drivers to watch for this week include past champion Shawn McCoy, Roger Miller, Randy Miramontez and Gary Adams. Three-time reigning champion Mitch Machado is still at large, but we're not sure if he'll make an appearance or not.
The Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks haven't had a stellar year this year and seem to be holding on by a thread. After three races, 2018 champion Tom Brown leads rookie Jake Barretta by 24 points. Brown has won all three races, and these are the only two drivers who have made every event. Hopefully, they'll be joined by other competitors this week. Drivers to watch for include Roberta Broze, Cody Bolles, Casey Monahan and Austin Lodin.
The West Coast 360 Sprint Cars will probably have a mixture of touring drivers and locals removing their wings. The Dwarf Cars could have the biggest car count of the night, and it should be an enjoyable show on the 3/8 mile adobe oval. With spectators not allowed in the grandstands, you can tune in for all of the action on internet pay-per-view at floracing.com. For further information, go to www.petaluma-speedway.com or go to the Petaluma Speedway Facebook page.
August was not a kind month to Ocean Speedway. Due to fires in the area and the fairgrounds being used as a place to relocate displaced families and animals, the last two races of the month were canceled. However, the track recently announced the addition of four race dates. This Friday will be one of them. They will also have races on October 9th, 17th and November 6th. The October 17th race will be the Johnny Key Classic. All four nights will feature the Taco Bravo Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Four Bangers.
With four races left to go, there's still the possibility that Bud Kaeding could be presented a challenge in the Taco Bravo Sprint Car battle. However, they will have to step it up a little bit. Kaeding has six Top 10 finishes in his seven starts, including three Top 5s. He has yet to get a win this season at Watsonville, though he does have a victory in Hanford. Kaeding holds a 97 point lead over Koen Shaw, who is at least trying to hold on to his career best second place ranking. Shaw leads reigning champion James Ringo by 24 points. The rapidly improving Joey Ancona is just 30 points behind Ringo in the race for third, eight ahead of the tied Blake Carrick and Jason Chisum. Carrick is one of six different winners along with Mitchell Faccinto, DJ Netto, Sean Becker, Shane Golobic and two-time winner Justin Sanders. A strong turnout that could reach into the 30s is anticipated for Friday night, and it's anybody's guess who might win in this competitive field.
With just two point racing weekends left to go, the IMCA Modifieds have a wide open battle. With four races in the books, Jim Pettit II is the only two-time winner with State point leader Troy Foulger and multi-time Watsonville champion Bobby Hogge IV the other winners. However, Pettit is trailing the tied Robert Marsh and JC Elrod by three markers in this tight race. Only 14 points out of the lead is past champion Cody Burke, who is tied with Todd Hermosillo for fourth. Others anticipated this weekend include Kyle Bryan, reigning champion Austin Burke, Gary Marsh and past champion Brian Cass.
Despite missing one race this year, Adrianne Frost has managed to work her way into a tie for the IMCA Sport Modified point lead with Gavin Espino. Frost has six Top 5 finishes in her seven starts as she looks for her first win. The steady Espino has three Top 5 efforts, and this duo leads second year competitor Kelly Campanile by just seven tallies. In a close battle for third, Steven Allee leads Max Baggett by four points and Charlie Hunter by eight. They've been getting good numbers in this class this year, and other feature winners include Brent Curran and Fred Ryland twice and Randy Miller, Andrew Peckham, past champion Jim DiGiovanni and Tanner Thomas each once.
In Hobby Stock competition, Joe Gallaher is trying to take the title from his three-time reigning champion son Rob Gallaher. With five Main Events in the record book, Joe Gallaher has two victories and all Top 5 finishes, giving him a 45 point lead over Steve Remde, who is the only other driver with all Top 10 finishes in the group. Multi-time champion Terry Campion is only six points behind Remde as the winner of the 40 lap race earlier this year. Campion is 17 points ahead of Jerry Skelton and 22 tallies over Rob Gallaher. Rob Gallaher has had mechanical issues this year as he looks for his first win. Others on the win list this year are Bakersfield racers Nick Johnson and Johnny Wood.
Past champion Ryan McClelland is in the hunt for his second Four Banger title. In six starts he has three victories, but he's being stalked by two-time division champion Kate Beardsley. Kate is the only driver with all top five finishes and trails McClelland by 18 points. She's also 13 ahead of one-time winner Nicole Beardsley. Tony Gullo is just 17 points out of third and still in the hunt for second. He is six points ahead of past champion Bill Beardsley in the race for fourth, while Richard Mitchell is 11 markers out of the fourth position. John Grilli and 2018 CVMS champion Greg Baronian are other winners this year, and Mark Fields, Jesse Gullings and Roy Iler are others anticipated this week.
There should be a good turnout across all five divisions for this show, and that's the good news. The bad news is fans are still not allowed in attendance, and this race is just part of the big agenda planned for the remainder of the season. You can still check out all the action on internet pay per view at floracing.com. For further information, go to www.racepmg.com or check out the Ocean Speedway Facebook page.
This has been a less than ideal season, and there hasn't been nearly as much racing as Promoter Scott Russell would like to have at the Placerville Speedway quarter-mile oval. There are just two point races remaining on the schedule, and this Saturday night will be one of those shows. The Thompson's Auto Group Winged 360 Sprint Cars are competing along with the Jay's Mobile Welding Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks and the NorCal Dwarf Cars.
The Sprint Cars last competed at the Mark Forni Classic in July, and this was a big purse event. That's been challenging as the track has generally been running for 50% purses unless they can get sponsorship. It was Blake Carrick picking up the increased prize on that occasion with the win ahead of Andy Gregg and reigning champion Andy Forsberg. The division also had an increased purse at the end of June as part of the NorCal Posse Shootout. Reigning Chico champion Sean Becker beat Colby Copeland and Golobic on the opening night, but Golobic came back to win the bigger prize ahead of Copeland and Blake Carrick on the following evening
Placerville Speedway usually has one of the best supported Sprint Car programs in Northern California under regular circumstances. Other winners this year include Justyn Cox, Copeland and Kalib Henry. Looking at the standings as they are after the July event, three-time Marysville winner Ryan Robinson holds a 15.point advantage over Chase Majdic, who has been piloting a car for Demo Mittry this year. 22 points out a lead is the steady Shane Hopkins, 26 points back is Cox. Michael Sellers currently holds fifth in the standings, 19 points ahead of Greg "Bubba" DeCaries IV and 23 over Steven Ingraham.
The Jay's Mobile Welding Pure Stock division has been a wide open battle this year. John Ewing won the first two races with Jason Palmer and Les Friend winning the most recent events. Friend and two-time champion Nick Baldwin have been the most consistent. Baldwin is the only driver with all four Top 5 finishes. Like Clarence Holbrook, Friend has three of them. Friend, who scored an impressive victory at Antioch Speedway not long ago, holds a two-point advantage over Baldwin and a 16 point lead over Holbrook. Ryan Murphy is 30 points out of the lead, and Jason Leonard is 32 points back. The Pure Stocks at Placerville are very competitive, and this should be an interesting show to watch.
All three of the Mini Truck Main Event wins have gone to Mike Miller, so his 19 point advantage over Kevin Tremblay is not much of a surprise. Tremblay and Howard Miller are the only other drivers with all Top 5 finishes, and Howard Miller trails Tremblay by eight markers. Other drivers to watch for this week include Michael Murphy, Jason Murphy and Brian Tremblay.
When the NorCal Dwarf Cars are in Placerville, they generally put on an exciting show. Their most recent race in Marysville was won by rising star Ben Wiesz. However, the NorCal stars have been burning up the circuit this year as hard chargers like Shawn Jones, Ryan Winter and reigning champion Michael "Spanky" Grenert have been winning at other venues. Jones has grabbed wins at Petaluma Antioch and Watsonville this year. The Dwarf Cars were part of the big June show on both nights. The Saturday night win went to Darren Brown, who wrestled the lead away from second place finisher Jones as Winter, Wiesz and Grenert rounded out the Top 5. The Friday night portion of the program also belonged to Brown as Wiesz finished second ahead of Jones, Shawn Whitney and Ventura star Tommy Velasquez III. The ranks of the NorCal Dwarf Car group continue to grow, and there are several rookies this year. They should put on another great show on this occasion.
It's the same old story when we talk about racing on the West Coast. Covid-19 guidelines mean fans can't be in the grandstands, but www.floracing.com will be offering internet pay-per-view for Saturday's action. It's definitely going to be an exciting program, just for the Sprint Car division alone For further information, go to www.placerervillespeedway.com or check out the Placerville Speedway Facebook page.
There's another MavTV taped event happening at Madera Speedway this Saturday night. The Nut Up Pro Late Models are running an 80 lap race with $1,000 on the line to the winner. Also competing will be the 51fifty Energy Drink Junior Late Models, the Bandoleros vs the Mini Cups and the Challenge Cup Series. Though fans are not allowed in the grandstands, nutupindustries.com has ensured that the track can broadcast this event for free on their YouTube page.
Fans watching the live stream of the $5,000 to win Race 2B Drug Free Big3 show two weeks ago saw a different winner than was ultimately declared. The wild last restart saw Trevor Huddleston get the jump on Buddy Shepherd. Contact from Shepherd sent Huddleston spinning on the back straightaway, and Carlos Vieira and Jeremy Doss crashed further down the backstretch. The track's initial ruling was that the start didn't count and those four drivers would still be in the Top 5. However, Ryan Philpott made a successful protest and ultimately was declared the $5,000 winner. Rookie Joey Iest was a $3,000 second and Seth Wise was a $2,000 third as Eric Nascimento and Sheldon Cooper completed the Top 5 for that show.
Point leader Buddy Shepard went from what could have been his fourth win to a season worst 16th place finish. However, his lead is 48 points over new second place driver Philpott. Philpott's previous best finish of the year was a third, and his first win couldn't have come at a better time. After Ross Strmiska fell out of the race early, Philpott moved 14 points ahead of him in the race for second. Blaine Rocha is running fourth, 13 points ahead of rookie Dylan Zampa and 26 behind points behind Philpott. Jeremy Doss is the only other winner in the field, and the Top 10 in the standings is rounded out by Cooper, Joey Iest, Austin Herzog, Glen Cook and Matt Erickson.
After scoring his third 51fifty Energy Drink Junior Late Model win of the season last time out, Bradley Erickson maintains a 57 point advantage over Cole Brown. Brown has a victory this year, and Seth Wise has two of them. Brown is just 18 points ahead of Jake Bollman after the most recent event. Bollman certainly helped his cause as he scored his second runner-up finish of the year. He's closing in quickly on his first win. Kercie Jung had a disastrous night that saw her get spun out of the Top 5 twice last time out, and that dropped her 21 points behind Brown in the race for second and three behind Bollman. Jung has finished as high as second once and has a pair of thirds. Brody Armtrout is currently holding fifth in the standings, followed by recent Madera Late Model winner Kabe McClenny, Cassidy Hinds, Wise, Kasey Kleyn and Kale McClenny.
The Bandoleros and the Mini Cups run in head to head competition with their own separate point battles. To date, Bandolero point leader Jeffrey Erickson has yet to be beat. He leads the charge with six victories, giving him an impressive 46 point lead over Caden Cordova and a 64 point advantage over Joey Kennealy. Cordova is coming off of three-straight runnerup finishes as he looks for his first win. Kennealy has finished as high as third four times to keep within 18 points of Cordova in a closer race for second. Nathaniel Edwards and Wyatt Sansum make up the balance of the Top 5 in the standings coming into the night.
It's been nice to see the support increasing for the Mini Cup class in recent weeks. The leader in the race continues to be Rebecca Dubie. She has five victories to her credit, with chief rival Harley Kennealy getting the other win. Kennealy has been logging more practice laps on Friday nights as she rapidly improves. She's only nine points out of the lead. Molly Laires and brother Evan Laires are tied in third, followed by fifth ranked Bella Thompson. The Mini Cups and Bandoleros have proven to be an excellent training ground for the young up-and-coming drivers.
The track has added a Challenge Cup Series as another avenue for up-and-coming drivers to get valuable laps. This division runs similar rules to the ARCA West Series, but the idea is to give drivers a track to run that is closer to home. It's still in the growing stages. The race about a month ago was won by Junior Late Model Star Kyle Keller ahead of Thomas Martin, Jesse Burks, Vince Little, Chuck Becker Jr and Thomas Suarez. We're not sure who will be there for this show, but it probably starts with these six competitors.
It's an action-packed show this Saturday night at Madera Speedway, and you won't have to miss any of the action. Promoter Kenny Shepherd has had some great sponsorship from companies like Nut Up Industries, Mission Foods and 51fifty Energy Drink, and they can give away the broadcast for free on YouTube thanks to them. For further information, go to www.racemadera.com or check out the Madera Speedway Facebook page.
Siskiyou Golden Speedway
After taking the week off due to the fires in Southern Oregon, Siskiyou Golden Speedway is scheduled to resume action this Saturday night. The IMCA Sport Modifieds are back along with the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars, Mini Stocks and Jefferson State Jalopies. Fan attendance is still not approved at the track yet, and we're not sure what broadcast if any might be available. That information will likely be put up on the Siskiyou Golden Speedway Facebook page.
The track has yet to update their point standings following the Labor Day weekend. The IMCA website has not updated the points either, likely due to the fact that they just ran the big Nationals event in Boone, Iowa. Jorddon Braaten was leading the Yreka standings going into Labor Day weekend, but he headed to Boone to be a part of the Nationals. This opened the door for Mike Medel and Ethan Killingsworth to move by Braaten. Medel had a terrible Friday, but he recovered on Saturday for a better finish. However, reigning champion Ethan Killingsworth picked up his first and second wins of the year. When the standings are released, Medel will have a slim advantage over Killingsworth, but we're not sure how many points that will be.
Ryan Peery and past track champion Colt Boswell were locked in a close battle for fourth going into the big racing weekend. Peery led by just seven tallies. He had an apparent victory on Friday taken from him after post race tech. The rookie appeared to pass tech, but the tech man ended up going to his pits, checking his car and disqualifying him on the spot. Boswell will likely move past him for fourth in the standings, but it should still be close. These five competitors are anticipated, and others to watch for include two-time division point runner-up Ryder Boswell, Jace Wright, Randy Wright and Joby Shields.
The Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars are coming off of another good performance at Coos Bay Speedway. Camden Robustelli picked up his second win there following a battle with two-time series champion Brock Peters. Robustelli was poised to get the win last time out at Yreka, but he had problems and four-time reigning champion Josh King used his outside front row start to pick up his second win of the year. King and Peters are also Coos Bay Speedway winners. Kalvin Morton charged from the fifth row to finish second in the most recent Yreka race and might have something for the competition this week. Randy Slater is coming off of a season best third at Coos Bay last week. Other drivers to watch for include the always fast Ryan Smith, Chad Cardoza, Brett James, Jason Robustelli and ageless veteran Fred Hay.
The Mini Stocks have had six races so far, but their championship standings reflect five of those contests. Two-time reigning Medford champion David Steele has five victories to his credit as he seeks his second Yreka title. The standings reflect him leading one-time winner Ashtin Hedges by 31 markers, but that is probably slightly bigger following the most recent race. Marilyn Yawnick is shown third ahead of teammate Mike Whitaker and Hunter Magnan. The challenge is the same every week. Who can beat David Steele? He is always fast and smooth on the track. Hedges has done it once. Some of the others to watch for this week are Terry Alford Sr and his team car, rookie Paige Boswell and Kassidy Wilkinson.
The Jefferson State Jalopies look forward to their third trip to the speedway. Division co-founder JJ Smith has won both heat races and both Main Events for the class so far, giving him the lead over reigning champion Marilyn Yawnick, Ron Morris and Karl Bernstein. Yawnick and Morris each have a second place finish, but can either of them knock Smith out of the winner's circle this week? Smith and division co-founder Bernstein have a fifth car in the works, and we hope to see it debut sometime next year as this class gathers some momentum. The battle between Smith and Morris last time out was close and entertaining.
Management is trying to make the best of a difficult situation in reopening the track. Without fans, it's difficult to accomplish. The track has endeavored to offer fans a peak at the action through the Siskiyou Golden Speedway Facebook page, and that might be the case again this week.
Cottage Grove Speedway
There's still some concern over the smoky conditions in the Cottage Grove area as we head into Saturday night. Management still plans to run the race, though a decision could be made not to run by Friday. They're currently getting input from their drivers. Scheduled to appear this Saturday night will be the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Limited Sprints, Late Models, Street Stocks and IMCA Sport Compacts. Fan attendance is not permitted due to covid-19 guidelines, but Dirt Oval TV will be broadcasting all of the action on internet pay-per-view.
An announcement was made prior to the season starting that the track would not be keeping any point listings. However, three of the track's featured divisions are IMCA sanctioned. The sanctioning body does keep points and crowns champions once a minimum of four races are held. Currently, all three classes have held eight events, so the track will indeed have a few champions this year. Management also announced intentions to race throughout October if weather permits.
The IMCA point totals were not posted on their site, which is likely due to the fact that they just had the big IMCA Nationals in Boone, Iowa. There isn't likely to be too much of a battle at the top of the IMCA Modified list. Two-time winner John Campos carried an 18 point advantage over Steven Sturdevant into the double header Labor Day weekend. Campos did nothing to hurt his numbers with a runnerup finish, his third of the season. After picking up a pair of third place finishes, reigning champion and one-time winner Jake Mayden is likely to move into second when the next list is released. Other winners this year include Collen Winebarger, Curtis Towns, Eston Whistler and Jesse Williamson.
The IMCA Sport Modified division has had a close battle all season, but it took a terrible turn for Hunter Bloom after Labor Day weekend. Bloom led going into the double header on the strength of three feature wins, but he couldn't make it out of the B Main on Sunday night. Reigning champion David Schmidt earned one of his five Top 5 finishes on Saturday night. However, Doug Coffman should be leading by 19 points over Schmidt. Coffman is having an impressive season with a win and four additional Top 3 efforts at Cottage Grove, and he's also a feature winner at Coos Bay Speedway. Unofficially, Bloom would be four points behind Schmidt going into the final point race. Daniel Ray and Mike DeSilva were winners on Labor Day weekend, and other victories have gone to Art Hiatt and three-time reigning Medford champion Jorddon Braaten.
Management elected to bring the Hornets in under the IMCA Sport Compact banner this year, and they are also having a close battle. One-time winner Barry Cannon unofficially holds a six-point lead over Bradley Martin. After missing the most recent Sunday race, Colt Trissell has fallen out of contention. Remarkably, Martin has not earned a Top 5 finish in the eight races held so far. Ricky Ashley has picked picked up three wins this year, and Roseburg competitor Burnie Bryant has two victories. Trissell won the season opener, and Roseburg competitor Michael Kennerly is also a winner this year. Reigning champion Brad Moffett has a pair of second place finishes as he looks for his first win. Others top runners in the group include Jeremy DeGroot, Scarlett Drake and Kerry Cooper.
There are no points being kept for the Limited Sprints, who have competed seven times this year. The leaderboard finds Kinzer Cox as the only two-time winner in the group. Cox is the 2018 division champion. Reigning champion Shane Forte and 2017 champion Ricky Ashley are also winners this year along with reigning Interstate Sprint Car Series champion Tanner Holmes, Tyler Thompson and Kyle Alberding. 2016 Southern Oregon Speedway champion Jake Wheeler has a pair of seconds and a third this year. Southern Oregon rookie RJ McGahuey finished second to Ashley in the most recent race, followed by Tyrell Mead. Cottage Grove is the only game in town this weekend for Oregon racers looking to compete in Limited Sprints.
The Late Models have seen Jim Whistler rattle off three consecutive Main Event wins. It would be five in a row if not for the fact that Jim's son Eston Whistler also has a win. Chad Groves and 2018 Cottage Grove champion Preston Luckman are the other winners so far this year. Kyle Frick, Doug Elkins, McLain Beaudoin, Chuck Christian and Mark Wauge have finished as high as second once, and Wauge also has a pair of third place finishes. The Whistler car has been fast this year, so the question may be can anybody beat it this week.
It's a shame that the Street Stock division isn't keeping points this year. Creswell's Garrett Barth could very well be leading it. He's been a strong supporter of the Cottage Grove effort in recent years, and he picked up his first win in the class at Saturday's portion of the Labor Day weekend show. He also has a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds. Graig Osborne has been fast in his visits with two wins and a pair of seconds, but he's been racing at Coos Bay Speedway, where he has five triumphs. Rob McCombs, Dakota Goddard, Chris West and Colby Gray count themselves among the winners in the Street Stocks this year. Michael Hollingsworth, Justin Evans and Sean Cronk each have finished as high as second once, and Adam Applebee has a third.
The six division format has been exciting to watch at Cottage Grove this year. Dirt Oval TV has been bringing all the action to internet pay-per-view with Ben Deatherage on the microphone, making this worth viewing. For further information, go to www.cottagegrovespeedway.com or check out the Cottage Grove Speedway Facebook page.
Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series
The Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series is in high demand this year as tracks scramble to bring in divisions that can deliver car count. Covid-19 guidelines don't allow fans in the stands at several venues, meaning that having divisions that can deliver you car counts is important. Under the guidance of Series Director Roy Bain, the Tri State Pro Stock Challenge has had eight races so far this year, and they haven't had less than 16 competitors.
Roy is in continual negotiations with potential series sponsors that can add purse money or contingency prizes to the coming events and is even in negotiation with potential point fund sponsors for the 2021 season. The Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series Facebook page has become Roy's vehicle of choice when it comes to keeping everybody informed on what's happening next. Roy made an announcement on Wednesday night that the series was partnering with Cory Penfield of Moxie Media and Promotions to help promote the Al Miller Memorial on October 31st at Antioch Speedway.
The Miller Memorial, which pays tribute to the father of Late Model and IMCA Modified star Robert Miller and Randy Miller, will be the biggest paying Pro Stock event on the West Coast this year. Before the group gets there, they will run the Bob McCoy Memorial race at Petaluma, which is part of the Adobe Cup race on September 26th. They will also compete at the Donna Soares/Larry Damitz Memorial Hall of Fame Night show at Antioch Speedway on October 10th. This Saturday morning, the series goes to Rattlesnake Speedway in Fallon, Nevada. It's a morning race that will pay $1,000 to win, and drivers can head to Fernley Raceway that night on their way home if they want to run a second race. That race will be unsanctioned, but will pay a purse.
Saturday morning's race will be the Anthony C Martin Memorial and offers another $1,000 to win price. Nevada supporters, such as Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Pearson, Matt Micheli and Donny Richardson will probably be at the front of the line when it comes to this race. Gonzalez kicked off the 2020 season with victories at Stockton in January and February. He appeared to have the fastest car in the field at the most recent Antioch and Petaluma races, but both nights didn't end as well as they started for him. Gonzalez will be hoping to turn it around as they race closer to home. The Gonzalez, Pearson and Micheli families were all supporters of the Nevada Late Model series that ran at several venues in the 1990s
Because of the covid-19 situation, points aren't being kept this year. However, the Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series is doing internet pay-per-view streaming as a means to help generate some point fund revenue for the 2021 season. Given the new relationships they are establishing at several venues this year, next season will be a banner year for the group as we hope that racing proceeds in a more normal fashion. Though there may not be points, we do have a leaderboard to look at as several drivers have had moments to brag about during the course of the season.
Three-time reigning Petaluma and one-time Antioch champion Mitch Machado hit Antioch like a hurricane by winning the races there in June and July. In Susanville, Bakersfield area competitor Ryan Smith notched a victory in June, and Promoter Jeff Olschowka held off Jay Sears to get the win there in August. The most recent weekend saw Sprint Car racer Richard Brace Jr pick up over $2,000 thanks to victories at both Antioch and Petaluma. The competition level is very high with the Tri State Challenge Series as it brings the best drivers together from various groups throughout the West Coast.
There are many talented racers capable of winning, and a few of them are knocking on the door. Ryan Cherezian enjoyed his best series performance in January at Stockton, though he recently won his first career Main Event at Antioch. Justin Crockett is the only driver with two runner-up finishes as two-time reigning Antioch champion Kimo Oreta, Chris Smith, Wayne Coffman and Machado each have one. When the series isn't running, the regulars of this group make their presence known at other venues. In addition to winning some Hobby Stock races in Nevada, Gonzalez won a race in Coos Bay back in August. Ryan Smith won his first ever Pro Stock race at Antioch Speedway in one of their regular shows, and reigning series champion Mike Learn also has an Antioch win to his credit.
Some of the best efforts of the year for other drivers include third place finishes for multi-time Watsonville Hobby Stock champion Matt Kile, reigning Silver Dollar Speedway Super Stock champion Matt Micheli and Jay Bryant. Micheli has a pair of thirds. Hard chargers like two-time Chico champion Phil Marino, Bill Pearson, Brent Lawrence, Donny Richardson and Mike Walko have earned Top 5 finishes at least once this year as the group has brought an exciting show to four different venues this year.
Saturday night is their maiden 2020 trip to the Fallon, Nevada racing facility, and it promises to be in an exciting show. Another double digit car count is anticipated, and some of those drivers might even head to Fernley for the non-sanctioned race. Where Saturday's race is concerned, the internet pay-per-view streaming service will be offered once again. You can find that and other news at the Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series Facebook page.
The Editor's Viewpoint
Racing fans in Contra Costa County started getting excited at the announcement that the county was going to put themselves in line with the current state covid-19 guidelines. Evidently, they've been a little tighter wit uph the rules when it comes reopening because of their concern over case numbers. The word was that race tracks could reopen. This was specifically listed. I know there were people immediately saying, "No, that's horse racing tracks." Excuse me while I call BS on that one. A race track is a race track, whether it's for automobiles or horses, so that clarification doesn't work.
When you look at the fine print, you'll find out that they say there are no live audiences allowed. Big stadiums are empty in California because of these guidelines, and you want to talk about a place that could actually do social distancing of some sort? If you've got a 60,000 seat arena, you can't tell me you couldn't have 5,000 people there. It isn't much, but you're telling me you couldn't open the door a crack and let somebody in? Like I said, these guidelines are about controlling the masses, not keeping us safe.
The other thing that jumps out at me is the announcement itself. You mean that up until the 16th of September, Contra Costa County couldn't technically open a race track? I seem to recall Antioch Speedway opening back in May, so that rule didn't get enforced. I'm glad it didn't, don't get me wrong. I just find it interesting that it's now officially acknowledged that they can hold races under these guidelines, but I still ask the question everybody else asks. What about the fans? This question was asked on the Antioch Speedway Days Of Old Facebook page, and management responded that they still can't have fans just yet.
I'm going to say this again, and I wish promoters would actually listen to this. If you're at the point where the phase system allows you to open a race track, you're included in this. If not, you should still agree because eventually you should be to that point. If they're going to allow so many people to be in the pits for a race to actually occur, there is an average base number assigned to that. If it's 250, 300 or whatever. Take that base and put them in the grandstands. If you can have 300 people in the pits, you can have 300 people in the grandstands.
It's high time management at tracks like Antioch, Petaluma, Watsonville, Madera or wherever they plan to race through October get together and make a proposal to the state. Tracks are able to open? Fine, tracks should be able to have a limited amount of people in the stands. Determine whatever the phase system needs to be. Make a pitch for 50% capacity as your big hope, or whatever you agree on. Bring it down to 300 or whatever your minimum is. There are fans willing to come out there, and there's some that still want to live in fear and not go anywhere. That's fine, but you'd sell out 300 tickets. If you can get approval, that's just more revenue in addition to your pay per view.
To clarify, race tracks can open, but they can't have fans yet. That's all that was said. I understand people getting excited about it, because they should. People should do more than get excited about it, they should start standing up for their rights. Sitting on your butt and hoping somebody else will do it for you won't change anything. People can protest for other reasons and that's their First Amendment right. I see no reason why fans couldn't protest outside the race track. On the other hand, I have a hunch that things may be happening behind the scenes. There could be good news when it comes to fans, but I won't say anymore. It would just be speculation at this point.
It was the middle of the week as I began working on this column, and there was still heavy smoke in the area. I know the people in Cottage Grove are hoping that they get a little bit of rain to help clear the air. The track announced that as of Monday Saturday's race was still on, and this would serve as the final point race for the IMCA sanctioned Modifieds, Sport Modifieds and Sport Compacts as there is no racing planned on the 26th. The Limited Sprints, Late Models and Street Stocks round out that program. The track actually plans to have racing in October, if the weather will allow it. I know Dirt Oval TV broadcasts their stuff through internet pay-per-view, and the Cottage Grove Speedway Facebook page is the place you want to go to get more details.
Air quality is one of the problems these tracks are dealing with right now. I feel for the promoters because the fire season seems to be worse this year than I can recall and more places are being impacted. Of course, there's bigger issues at play than whether a track can have a race or not. People are losing their homes and their businesses. Then again, people's homes and businesses have been threatened due to this covid-19 lockdown situation we've been struggling through. I hate to say it, but as a promoter, I don't think I would have opened my gates this year. If I did, I might have tried to plan one big show, but I'm not even sure about that. I'll give the promoters credit for trying.
Petaluma Speedway had to cancel last weekend because the smoke and air quality was just that bad. I heard the word toxic being used by the media to describe the air quality, and Rick Faeth didn't want the racers being out there and exposed to that. Other tracks, such as Antioch Speedway and Madera Speedway, went ahead and rolled the dice. I'm not sure what the air was like at the track in Antioch that night, although people in the area were showing pictures of smoky and gloomy skies. At Madera, Kenny Shepherd pointed out how smokey it was and mentioned how it was even darker than usual. That could have been problematic as they would not have been able to go into the night due to electrical problems. They were counting on the daylight. It still worked out for them.
Petaluma Speedway has the West Coast 360 Sprint Cars this Saturday. That group has been used to seeing their races canceled this year, so losing last week wasn't a surprise to them. I'm not so sure there will be that many drivers who would normally follow the tour coming to Petaluma. What I do think is there are Winged 360 Sprint Car drivers who will remove their wings and race. Petaluma has a few drivers who enjoy that. I'll get into that here in just a second, but I would point out that the Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks, General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Cars and Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks will also be a part of this Saturday's show, which will be on internet pay-per-view at floracing.com. The Petaluma Speedway Facebook page will surely have more updates as they have some big races planned before the year is up.
As I know people are intent on taking the Wingless Spec Sprint division and turning it into Wingless 360s, I shake my head. These are the kind of things we had to deal with from the moment we started this class. The idea was simple, although it's lost on some people. It was Sprint Car racing for the Stock Car minded people. Sprint Car racing for the guy on a budget. Sprint Car elitists referred to this as a "bastard class", but we kept moving ahead. Other promoters realized that this "bastard class" produced car counts and good racing, so it grew and thrived. It's been 20 years down the line, and I'm prepared for the people who want to destroy the class to have their way.
I think what disappointed me the most was that Northern California clearly had Wingless 360 drivers interested in creating their own series. I'm saying, leave the Spec Sprint division alone and start your injected 360 division. I know that Shawn Arriaga and Ricky Brophy were working on doing that a few years ago. They nearly landed a date at Merced Speedway. It got postponed that year, and then Ed Parker passed away. After that, Shawn and Ricky didn't talk too much about doing anything, but they clearly support the idea. I still believe it would have worked. There was enough interest from tracks like Placerville, Watsonville and Petaluma that you easily could have had 6 to 10 races to start with, which would have been plenty. If you tell me you would do it that way rather than destroying the Spec Sprints, you'd have my 100% support on that idea. As it is, I'm less than thrilled with what's going on with the Spec Sprints.
USAC has their presence in Northern California, so what works best for them is just booking whatever dates in the area as USAC West Coast 360 Sprint races. I wouldn't question the formula, but I would say that if they were able to book six or seven races, having a USAC Northern California Series champion would be a good idea. In this way, you could actually build up the support more and turn it into something. There are more drivers than you realize who like the wingless racing. Give them enough dates, and they'll show you. Petaluma Speedway is certainly one of those tracks that loves Wingless Sprint Car racing.
Antioch Speedway has IMCA Modified and Sport Modified championship night this Saturday. It's been a nip and tuck battle in the IMCA Sport Modifieds, and it looks like it's between Mark Garner and Trevor Clymens with KC Keller still mathematically in the hunt. Troy Foulger basically needs to show up with the Bowers Motorsports Modified to claim that division's championship. The Hobby Stocks have been hitting it out of the ballpark lately, so this Saturday's show should be entertaining. It should also be featured on the track's own internet pay-per-view streaming service at antiochspeedway.tv.
The Bill Bowers Memorial race on October 1-3 appears to be headed for floracing.com, which is music to my ears. The paid subscription we were sponsored will assure that I'll be able to cover the show. It's $5,000 to win the IMCA Modifieds that Saturday and $2,000 to win the IMCA Sport Modifieds. Friday's show will be a regular purse for both classes and they even have the Thursday night cornhole tournament, barbecue and pit party. I have to admit, I like the philosophy behind what Chad Chadwick did in creating this race. He was definitely going for a George Steitz vibe, and I felt that in the pits last year. It's a damn shame I won't be down there for this one, but I'll be there in spirit.
I think it was a brilliant move by track management to add the IMCA Stock Cars to that weekend. It's not even just about giving the IMCA Stock Cars a show and knowing you're going to get cars. Obviously, that's important. It's also about previewing a division that will be on the Antioch Speedway roster in 2021. What better way to do that than with a good turnout? It's possible that we could see a car count in the 20s for this division, and it helps when you've got a company like 1 Hour Drain coming on board to sponsor them. These people have been sponsoring the Mike Cecil Memorial at Watsonville for several years now. Both the Friday and Saturday night IMCA Stock Car shows will pay $1,000 to win. How cool is that?
I also give the track kudos for making good use of the Facebook page by showing the entire Wednesday night practice for free. Anybody hearing the cars in the neighborhood could go to Facebook and see that live, not to mention the racing community that was aware that they were doing anything. It's more advertisement for the track. I like what they do with the new Facebook page, and they've shown what they're capable of there. My disappointment in them was only that they didn't deal with me respectfully so that we could have handed over the established Facebook page and they could have started with a bigger audience. But, they're growing their page pretty well. This kind of stuff will do it. Facebook is an important marketing tool that can make a business money if used properly.
Tuesday turned out to be an eventful day for promoters making deals. There had been some question about the Western swing for the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midgets. The rumor was the whole thing would get canceled, but that didn't turn out to be the case after all. The only event lost in the deal was the annual Turkey Classic at Ventura Raceway. Seeing that this was going to be the case, Merced Speedway General Manager Doug Lockwood once again sprang into action. He first asked the races publicly whether he could get Midgets and Sprint Cars for any kind of a show, but it evolved quickly from there. By mid-afternoon, a deal was struck.
Merced Speedway will host a $3,000 to win USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets program on Wednesday, November 25th. The track had already announced a show for Friday November 27th for the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modified, IMCA Stock Cars, IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Cars and California Sharp Mini Late Models. This is an added bonus. The 24th will see a practice session. Supporting the Midgets for the race will be Winged 360 Sprint Cars, which is a bit of a surprise. One might have anticipated a Wingless Sprint Car race, but there's no shortage of Winged Sprint Car competitors. The Wednesday practice will also include the Micro Sprints for a race of their own. Considering the abundance of Micro Sprints, this was an easy move to make.
It's another instance of Doug Lockwood stepping in and being a leader during a difficult time. It's not that he's been booking an abundance of races, but he has been making the dates that he books count. November, if the weather allows it, will be a big month for Merced with National Midgets and the IMCA Modifieds getting their own events. Businesses interested in sponsoring these shows can contact Doug through the Merced Speedway Facebook page.. The other question was could Placerville Speedway Promoter Scott Russell salvage something out of this mess. He already lost a USAC West Coast 360 and Western Midget program in July, and he wasn't keen on giving up on his big event in November.
The good news is that Placerville Speedway won't be giving up on the race. After the National Midgets hit Bakersfield Speedway on November 17th, Placerville hosts a big money event on November 19th, 20th and 21st. A support division has yet to be announced for the show. Placerville established this race as the biggest paying Midget race on the West Coast. It's the Hangtown 100. The purse money hasn't been announced for the Saturday night finale, but it should be good. We also aren't sure what the announcement will be in regards to support divisions this year. It was the Northwest Focus Midgets who got the honors last year.
In the meantime, Russell is trying to wrap up the remainder of the season. So far, it's all systems go for Saturday night and the Winged 360 Sprint Cars, who will be supported by the Jay's Mobile Welding Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks and NorCal Dwarf Cars. Big Trophy Night was moved to October 3rd, which is the point finale. The Sprint Cars and Pure Stocks will be joined by the Limited Late Models and the BCRA Midget Lites. The action will all be broadcast at floracing.com, and you are sure to get more updates as announcements are made via the Placerville Speedway Facebook page.
Jimmy Screeten of the BCRA Midget organization made a post regarding the October 3rd Race at Shasta Speedway. This is a race that will allow 200 spectators and will feature the North State Modified Series, Legends of the Pacific, Hornets and a race that will include the BCRA, WMRA and Focus Midgets. What he basically said is that it's time for the racers to put up or shut up. The people in the BCRA that want pavement races need to get their cars out to Shasta. No excuses. There's no reason why the BCRA couldn't at least produce eight cars, while the WMRA could do the same. I can't speak for the WMRA as I don't know their numbers, but he's right about the BCRA.
What Jimmy is basically saying is that the BCRA's numbers are going down, and if they're not careful, they will lose pavement race date opportunities. A good turnout here could bode well for them possibly doing some more shootout races with other groups on the pavement. Maybe they could even fly solo if the numbers go up really well. Personally, I'm not in favor of the BCRA running on the pavement. I think it's diluting the product and lowering the numbers overall across the board. However, he does have the right idea in what he's saying.
I point to the date on September 26th at Antioch Speedway, which is a good dirt track opportunity for the BCRA. They need a dirt track to hang their hat on. They need something that they can call their own, and they've got the numbers on the dirt to be producing 15 or 16 car fields. Antioch used to be a place that they could do that, and there are still other tracks as well. Placerville comes to mind. I'm not talking BCRA versus USAC. I'm talking BCRA alone, and yes, they can do it. The question is, do they have it within them to pull it off? The only reason the gate opened for them at Antioch is because of the management change, and they laid an egg when they had their first opportunity last month.
They need to keep a good eye on what's going on with the Western Midgets, because the Ecotec Midgets will take over Northern California if these guys aren't careful. It's simple. Get those damn race cars ready. If the motor runs and the car can make a decent lap, get it out there. Deliver the numbers and show the potential of this group. Get Antioch management to want you to come back in 2021 and make it a BCRA race. I think it's sad that they have to run joint races with USAC in order to get dates in their own territory these days, but that's how much this group has deteriorated.
If I'm sounding negative towards the BCRA, this is not the intent. I am a tradition-minded person, and this organization has a history to it that they should be proud of. They sanctioned Hardtops back in the day and had one hell of a circuit there as well as with the Midgets. They have a Hall of Fame, which is almost fading away now because of the lack of club leadership focusing on priorities with this group. There's only one priority now. Get those cars to Antioch as if your club depends on it. It does. They aren't done after Antioch, but this is the next race. You can find out more by going to the bcraracing.com website.
There's good news to report on the NARC/King of the West Fujitsu Winged 410 Sprint Car Series front. We had hoped to hear a peep out of the group regarding the Gary Patterson Tribute race at Stockton in November, but we also speculated that we could hear something from Hanford before then. It turns out that we were right. Hanford originally wanted to run a race saluting the late Morrie Williams. Williams was a long time car owner for the group, most recently for Bud Kaeding. He passed away last year. This will be a special occasion on October 10th, paying $5,000 to win. That's a nice accomplishment, considering there are no fans allowed in the stands yet.
A look at the Keller Auto Speedway website shows a race on September 26th, featuring the King of Thunder Winged 360 Sprint Cars, IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Cars and IMCA Stock Cars. On the big October weekend, they have a salute to Kenny Takeuchi, the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame announcer. The Legends of Kearney Bowl will be supporting the Sprint Cars that night. The next night, it's the NARC/King of the West Sprint Cars for the big money, joined by the RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars and House of JuJu Central Valley Mini Stocks. They should have the October action broadcast on floracing.com, and you can go to the Keller Auto Speedway Facebook page for any updates as they come.
I can't say I'm surprised to hear that the Mark Howard Memorial USAC/CRA Sprint Car event at Perris Auto Speedway was canceled. They made the announcement at the beginning of this month that they were hoping the September 26th race would happen, but it's been a bigger struggle in Southern California to get a track open. I pretty much knew when they said that they'd make an announcement within about 10 days of the show that the announcement would be another cancellation. It is what it is, but I can't imagine the staff down at Paris Auto Speedway is too thrilled. In the meantime, they continue to hold closed practices.
I'm excited about the Chet Thomson Memorial Hardtop race. I love the Hardtops. I am into the nostalgia thing of the Sportsman, Hardtop and Super Modified divisions. I will admit that I'm disappointed that the coverage is lacking for all three of these groups. You can't even find information when you need it a lot of the time. If it wasn't for Ken Clifford cluing me in on what was going on with the California Hardtops, I wouldn't know the little bit I know. I greatly appreciate him and the enthusiasm he brings to the Hardtop movement, but I do wish the CHA president would make better use of the Facebook page and post updates more often.
I feel like the Merced Sportsman division could be an endangered species if somebody doesn't step up and grab the reins. I don't think that management necessarily hates the class, but there's so much other stuff jockeying for a place on that roster that the Sportsman division will get lost in the shuffle. What it needs is somebody coordinating the group and keeping people in the loop. I can't state it enough how important it is to have somebody letting the racers know when the race is happening and helping get each other to the track. I still believe there is somewhere between 16 and 20 Sportsman cars in the Merced area, and I believe we had 10 of them run last year. It still has lots of potential to do better.
With the Legends of Kearney Bowl Super Modifieds, they have things pretty much the way they want them. They have some of the most beautiful race cars you'll see on the track, but they have next to nothing when it comes to publicity. They have Julie showing Facebook videos and getting pictures out there, which is at least something. What needs to happen is information on those cars. Who's driving them, which ones are originals that are restored and which ones are replicas. Then again, they seem to be happy where they are. Although I'd be tempted to do something for them, I hesitate for lack of the information that I need. This needs to be done right, and I fear I would miss the mark.
I have my eyes on the Sportsman division and the Hardtops. As I disengage from the current media effort, I want to do something. I just haven't put the pieces to the puzzle on this yet. The Hardtop division has an even greater potential right now than we are seeing, and they could have a better presence on the race track with proper guidance. Everybody who sees these cars loves them, but leadership has to step up and take more of a role in presentation and selling these cars to the people. The cars practically sell themselves, but you still need people beating the drums.
There's been next to nothing when it comes to talking about the 18th running of the Chet Thomson Memorial race. That comes to Antioch Speedway on September 26th, which is next week. There has been no post asking who is coming out to race. There have been no pictures of drivers planning to be there. There's been nothing. Tommy Thomson has been working on his car and making it nice and pretty for this event, and he was planning to be in Antioch making practice laps on Wednesday. The race is named after his father, who was a Vallejo Speedway champion. When Tommy first started running with this group, he was running the original car that he ran at Vallejo Speedway. It's been updated and changed, but the body began from a Vallejo car.
I have my ideas on presentation and things that can be done for this group. I just have to decide whether I want to jump in and to what degree. Going back to the time when this blog was created in 2007, you can find posts that I've made at various times on Hardtop races that happened. I am a supporter of this class, but there's something lacking that maybe I can help with. I don't want the Hardtops to get shoved to the side at certain race tracks, and my fear is that it will happen without better organization. What exactly can I do to help? That's what I'm thinking about.
In the meantime, September 26th will also be a special occasion at Ocean Speedway. It's the 10th running of the Pat And Jim Pettit Memorial Shootout race. I can't believe it's been a decade since we lost Pat Pettit. I liked that she was never shy when it came to speaking her mind and would debate me on certain topics. She would flat out tell me if she thought I was wrong on something. Jim, who we lost a couple years ago, had a different way of telling me when he thought I was doing the wrong thing. Both were supportive of me as I was getting started in racing media and I miss them.
We don't have a lot of moments here in racing to really be excited about. It's time for the big races to happen. These are the nights where the tracks are promoting bigger purses, and this event fell on the shoulders of Jim Pettit II and family to help organize and get sponsorship. It is the biggest IMCA Modified show at Ocean Speedway every year, and Pettit didn't want to drop the purse below what people saw last year. He won't be doing that. To win on Saturday, the IMCA Modifieds will get $3,006, the Sport Modifieds get $1,006 to win and the Hobby Stocks get $506 to win.
What has helped is that there have been sponsors that have come in and made various contributions. That could even continue leading up to the race. The Friday portion of the show will pay $1,003 for the Modifieds and $503 to win the Sport Modifieds. These are also point events, and Watsonville's got quite the championship battle going on right now in Modifieds between Robert Marsh, JC Elrod and Pettit. Others could still make a move with this weekend also having a show that will include the IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds. For that matter, Adrianne Frost and Gavin Espino have a good battle going in the IMCA Sport Modifieds.
I wish I could be down there for this program. I consider Jimmy to be family. I've never been to one of these races, and I know that drivers in those three divisions will make it a point to be ready. The car count will increase, and I'm anticipating the numbers will go into the 100s for this. They do a kickoff barbecue party and car show on Thursday night, get into racing on Friday and wrap it up with the bigger show on Saturday. It goes from there to the big show at Antioch, the show at Bakersfield and then Merced's big shindig, all in October. As for Watsonville and their race this Friday and the coming Pettit Memorial, go to the Ocean Speedway Facebook page to get information. You can also watch it all on internet pay-per-view via floracing.com.
Chris Briggs has been hard at work trying to organize the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame online presence. This was all stuff I had intended to do, but I admit I lagged on certain things. I'm still dealing with mixed emotions about walking away. I feel in some ways that I was forced to do that, but in other ways I feel it was the right thing to do. I was able to find somebody in Chris who cares about that race track and is ready to jump in and do more. This is exactly what was needed. The web presence is part of it, organizing the committee and putting some big plans in motion that will make this thing grow.
I don't know what's going on with respect to the Hall of Fame on October 10th. I'm out of the loop. Maybe that's for the best. I haven't been asked for my input, and I'm not going to force my way into any of that. The Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame has been created. I did my part, and now it goes on to somebody else. I'm not giving up on the notion that I can help start another Hall of Fame at another track. In fact, I'll do so if given the right opportunity. I'm proud of the fact that I've helped get the Antioch and Southern Oregon Racing Hall of Fame started. You can either talk about it or do it, but talking won't get it done.
One of the things that made the Hall of Fame happen for me was sponsorship. Back in the day, I wouldn't have hesitated to take what money I was making from the magazine or anything I might have been paid at the race track and put it right back into something like this. Sadly, I am just not making enough money at all. What little I get is spent immediately, so there is no saving. Therefore, when I pitched the Hall of Fame idea in 2018 and began working on the list of nominees, I didn't have the money to do a damn thing. That year, I had an anonymous sponsor come in and essentially pay for the whole thing and had additional support from JD Willis, Paul Gould and Mike Kord. Add Rick and Diana Panfili giving me a place to stay and helping me put other things together, and we pulled it off. I'm very proud of the first Hall of Fame year. I think we nailed it.
My biggest flaw in 2019 was acting like a kid in a candy store. I had a list, and people were offering other names. Rather than insist on no more than 10 inductees, I decided that for the 60th season I would go ahead and induct more. I shouldn't have done that. Therefore, there were people who didn't attend, and awards were unclaimed. It still wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for some great people sponsoring me. The initial sponsorship of Dennis Furia Jr and Billy Bowers was what made it possible to proceed, and there were others.
Here's the thing. Chris Briggs shouldn't be expected to foot the bill for this whole thing. He'll have to rattle the tin can and ask for some support. Thankfully, I had The Tip Jar to help me with some of this and others gave me money in person. The overall cost for just getting the awards and the display boards and other odds and ends, not to mention paying my way down there, was over $1,000 for both years. If not for the community getting behind me while we established this thing, it never would have happened. It would have simply been a post on the racing blog that talked about it. This is all about the racing community and preserving the great heritage of Antioch Speedway.
Chris and I have spoken of some ideas, and I think he has some good ones. He talked about the 50/50 drawing. Larry Adams and I spoke about that as something Antioch Speedway should get back into, and I support Larry's idea there. I've had the idea of an Antioch Speedway Alumni Association or something, and Chris seems receptive to that idea. This would be something that might be membership-driven. Membership might go towards the Hall of Fame or any special alumni night that might happen. I don't know, but this is a way to get some of the old veterans involved in the track in some capacity.
I actually envision a second night that could be special at the track. I love that Hall of Fame night is still joined with the Donna Soares/Larry Damitz Memorial, because I think it needs to be there. However, you could have a Legends Night earlier in the year. What Legends Night could be is a special race for people who aren't currently active. You might see some names show up that you haven't seen in a long time. Whether they get behind the wheel of Hobby Stocks or Four Bangers, you have a special race. It's one race a year, a trophy and bragging rights. It's also an opportunity for the track to play up the history and see some of the legends back on the track. Obviously, an alumni association could be a part of this.
I had an idea where my jumping off point would have been on nominees if the covid-19 shut down hadn't happened. That is to say, I had a short list. It would have been about 10 names, and that would have just started the discussion. Several of those names might have made it in, but others would have been added and subtracted as nominees came in. Or, had I gotten my butt in gear and got the committee started, that would have been my proposal and others would have made theirs. I thought about sharing that list and talking about why, but I'm going to refrain for now out of respect to what Chris is doing. It's up to him to guide things, and I'm here to support him. The important thing is that it continues.
I'm not privy to what he's doing and who, if anybody, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. The night in question is October 10th, so it's coming up fast. Chris has just created the website and a Facebook page for the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame. I haven't received any messages requesting input, and obviously I'm in favor of abbreviating the list this year. We can't have fans, it's going to be harder to get some people to show up on short notice and that means two to four people would be perfect for now. I have an idea on that, but I'll leave it there. As I said, I might share my thoughts in the next couple of weeks in this column.
Wednesday afternoon saw a bombshell dropped on the racing community in Lakeport. Apparently, the Lake County Fair Board decided to terminate the contract between them and the NCRA. I'm not privy to the actual reason why, and there has been lots of speculation that the original agreement had flaws in it and other such things. What the termination of the contract means is that they have to get a new contract. It also means that other potential bidders have a right to request an RFP and submit their own bids. Therefore, the NCRA could end up getting the track back, or somebody new could come in with a better proposal. What I'm reading suggests that they're not interested in terminating racing, but I'm just getting details at this point in time.
I'm sure this caught some people off guard. I've had praise for the way Bob and Nadine Strauss ran things at this track, especially when you go back to the 1990s. I got an opportunity to watch one of their October Classic Events back then, and they had a heck of a program. However, we're going 20 years in the past when we talk about that. The last 20 years have seen a steady decline in this program. I think there's people that want to put the blame at the feet of David Furia, to which I would have to respectfully disagree. The place was already suffering when David came in and tried to revive it. He did the right thing trying to cultivate a series between Ukiah and Lakeport, but eventually he was at odds with the NCRA. I'm not getting into that as I don't know all the details.
Here's what I think. Lakeport Speedway should become a dirt track. I might offend purists, but I would also point out that they were a dirt track in the past. I would further point out that Petaluma Speedway may not have that much longer of a life, and Lakeport as a dirt track would give the competitors another option as some of those racers aren't so keen about crossing the bridge and racing at Antioch Speedway. I might also add that at various times during the last 30 or so years promoters have looked at that place with an eye towards putting dirt on it. I know two of the promoters who have made that proposal, but the NCRA was able to repel the challenges.
As far as how it was in the 1990s, nothing needed to change. It was working just fine. The program is so far down in the ground right now that a change like putting dirt on the track might just be the thing to do. I think it could revive the program, but that's just my opinion. I know there are racers who would disagree with me, and I'm sure that Nadine would strongly disagree with my opinion here. However, I'm looking ahead to the future of racing in the area and the fact that Ukiah Speedway is doing the pavement thing much better and has a pretty good relationship between themselves and Eureka. If Shasta gets their act together, I think there'd be a good relationship there as well, and there would still be a strong pavement racing presence in Northern California.
My opinion is that the NCRA will ultimately win the day, but if the right person puts in an RFP, it could change. The important thing to me is that racing continues at Lakeport Speedway, whether it's pavement or dirt. The tradition must live on. Personally, I'd like to see it become a dirt track and see if that could actually grow the interest a little bit more. You could start seeing things like dirt Sprint Cars coming to town and other things that might spark interest, and to me, that would be a good thing. I'm not sure what will happen next, but we'll be keeping an eye on it.
Roy Bain of the Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series has not been resting on his laurels. He did a couple of live streams this week to give us the status on things. They're racing at Fallon, Nevada this weekend, and it will be a morning race. This is so that the track can work with Fernley Raceway. The series will pay $1,000 to win at Fallon. Fernley will be welcoming the Pro Stocks, though that won't technically be a series race. This is for the drivers who might want to have two races in one night, which I see as a good thing.
In the stream earlier this week, Roy seemed to indicate that they didn't expect the Stockton Dirt Track to open for the races that are scheduled in November, which would also mean we'll lose the Gary Patterson Tribute race for the Sprint Cars if that holds true. Therefore, they get to participate in the Bob McCoy race at the Adobe Cup at Petaluma on September 26th. At least $1,000 will be on the line for the winner there. They are welcomed at the Larry Damitz Memorial at Antioch Speedway on October 10th, and then comes the Al Miller Memorial race on October 31st as part of what should be a big show for Antioch Speedway in general.
Roy referred to this as one of the biggest Pro Stock races on the West Coast, but it's the biggest. There are a ton of sponsors coming in and throwing money into this, and I'm sorry I didn't take notes on all of this. I believe Winning Attitude Motorsports and Lyle Hopper is behind it again in some regard. There are others. Roy had more good news on Thursday night. My colleague Cory Penfold has been noticeably absent over these past few months as far as his Moxie Media and Promotions operation is concerned. When they are in full swing, they are very good at what they do. However, Cory and wife Sandra have been busy cultivating their Outlaw Kart track, Marion Creek Speedway.
The good news is Roy has apparently worked out a deal to get Cory and his team involved for the Al Miller Memorial race, and that means Penfold will take a more active rule in media relations. Cory and his capable team, which includes the very talented Nina Bobina and Gary Gripp, will be in Antioch. They have somebody flying a drone for footage, Cory will surely take the microphone and do the Pro Stock broadcast and I don't see how this could be a bad thing for the effort. It will improve the quality of the presentation. It's certainly a good thing for the Pro Stocks.
Roy has made his foray into internet streaming, and I've spoken with Cory about the possibility of Moxie Media getting into the same thing. They do have a show on Speaker Radio called West Coast Wide Open, which has been on hiatus lately. I have a feeling that Cory and his team may fire that back up again very soon. I'm excited about that as I'm interested in their coverage for the Pro Stocks and what their take might be on some of the other happenings in the sport. As usual, you can go to the Tri State Pro Stock Challenge Series Facebook page for regular updates, and also follow Moxie Media and Promotions on Facebook as I think they will probably start getting more active in the days ahead.
That's about the way I see it heading into the weekend. I'm thinking that we might do one more weekend preview post before we start to scale back a little bit, and that may be iffy as well. There are other things that need my attention, but race review articles will continue. There are too many big races not to cover. The racing season will still go on into November, if the weather allows it to happen. I was kind of hoping that after the election we might hear of more tracks that could have fans in the stands for those races, but I don't know. I guess that's something we'll find out in the weeks ahead.
I sincerely hope we don't end up creating a segment of fans who are comfortable sitting at home rather than going to the track. I do support tracks having streaming services even when they have grandstands open, because there's always going to be people who don't live by the track or whatever who might watch your show. It's more revenue to be made, but the grandstands revenue is where it's at. If you have live streams bringing you revenue, why wouldn't you do that? Right now, streaming services are the only way fans can watch, and we're certainly learning a few things about each track. Some places might need a little more help when it comes to their announcing, but that's the subject of another rant.
On that note, I'm going to end this column. Until next time...