Thursday, April 2, 2020

News And Notes From Antioch Speedway And Elsewhere

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Racing Season Still On Hold At Antioch Speedway

The Coronavirus has put racing season on hold across the country. That's the bad news. The word is that we might be able to go back to racing by May 15th. That's potentially good news, but we're uncertain whether that date will stick or could potentially be adjusted yet again. However, the plan is that eventually racing will return to Antioch Speedway, and work continues in that endeavor. 

When Promoter Chad Chadwick stepped up to the plate to take over Antioch Speedway, he had a game plan in mind. Literally every facet of what happens at Antioch Speedway was put under a microscope. The goal is to make things better than we've seen them in years, and Chad knew that this would require a big effort. The good news is that the racing community at large has been very supportive. In fact, several people have come out on multiple occasions when work parties have been scheduled. All the racing community wants to do is make a positive difference.

Given the strict regulations everybody is under, big gatherings at the speedway, even to make repairs, are not possible. Only five people or less are allowed. This means that work is being done, but only so much can be accomplished. Chadwick recently gave an interview to announcer Wylie Wade in which he spoke of some of the beautification that will be done at the speedway, which will include a new coat of paint on the walls of the track.

The Mother's Day mini van race may not happen on Mother's Day, but Chadwick revealed that it will be rescheduled for this year. Furthermore, Chadwick is looking at the possibility of running racing events later into the year until weather becomes a problem. The goal is to be ready when the green light is given, and also to make this the type of racing program that brings the fans and the competitors. The goal of making Antioch Speedway great is still very much in effect.

Racing teams from throughout the area have continued getting their cars ready for when the time comes. There are people within the community ready to come out and help with the track in whatever way they are needed. We are experiencing something right now unlike anything we've gone through at the speedway in its 60 year history. Not since World War II, when race tracks were closed to support the war, have we lost races in this sort of manner. However, we will endure and come back better than ever when the time comes. Our community will pull together.

One of the improvements that has been implemented is a new PA system. Fans have voiced concerns in recent years about not being able to hear Wade announce. This issue was highlighted at the West Coast Nationals last year when several speakers actually shut off on race night. As part of his commitment to make a better racing experience for the fans, Chadwick has invested in improvements on the PA system. The fans will come out the winner. Along those lines, improvements are being made in the menu at the concession stands that will surely be met with positive reviews.

Comfort for the racers is also important. When the previous management took over the speedway in 1998, one of the things they did was bring in a portable bathroom with running water. Up until that point, racers used porta-potties. Unfortunately, the conditions of the bathrooms in the pits became less than desirable, to say the least, in recent years. They are being completely refurbished and should be ready to debut when the season gets going. Just as it is with the grandstand side of things, Chadwick knows that happy racers are racers who continue to support the track.

One of the factors in getting more fans to come out to the speedway is offering them a program that they want to see. By bringing in IMCA, the oldest auto racing sanctioning body in the United States, bigger car counts are anticipated in both the Modified and Sport Modified classes. Fans can anticipate some top name competitors back in action that they haven't seen in quite some time. Furthermore, the racers will be competing for National, Regional and State championship points in addition to track points. Antioch Speedway will be a part of the bigger picture once again.

In other moves designed to increase car counts, Chadwick has adjusted the rules in the Hobby Stocks, Super Stocks, Wingless Spec Sprints and Dwarf Cars. The Dwarf Car group has joined the bigger Western States Dwarf Car Association with the newly-formed Delta Dwarf Car Association. Hobby Stock rules will be more in line with what is happening at Merced and Watsonville, while the Spec Sprint division will run rules similar to Petaluma Speedway. The Super Stock division has struggled to get cars, and Chadwick wants to give it an opportunity to rebound. Rules have been adjusted to put it more in line with what's happening at other places.

The bottom line is Chadwick is looking at every facet of the speedway and how to improve it. He has assembled a team of dedicated people to achieve this goal. Getting a better car count in each division goes hand-in-hand with getting the fans to come back out to see what racing is all about. Though we are in a holding pattern for now, the 60th racing season will eventually get started. There will be announcements forthcoming on when we will finally go racing and other matters. You can find those at www.antiochspeedway.com.


30, 35 And 40 Years Ago At Antioch Speedway

Antioch, CA...As we wait for the 2020 racing season to finally get the green light to get started, we look back at some history. Antioch Speedway will be entering its 60th consecutive championship season, and there have been a lot of great memories and a lot of great racers through the years. We're going to take a look at some of the championship battles we've witnessed at the speedway 30, 35 and 40 years ago. It's hard to believe that it's already been that long since this happened.

30 years ago we were entering the 1990s, and change was on the horizon at the quarter-mile clay oval. The Late Model division wouldn't have too many years left, but numbers in this division actually had a slight increase as a few drivers moved up into this class. Since the NASCAR Winston Pacific Coast Regional championship race became a thing in 1982, there was usually at least one Antioch Speedway regular in the battle for those honors. That was again the case with Jeff Silva.

Antioch Speedway has actually had two drivers named Jeff Silva win championships. This particular driver was a champion in the Street Stock division out at Watsonville Speedway before becoming a force in the Late Models. Rising star Steve Hendren switched from Merced Speedway to Antioch in 1990, and 1985 and 1989 champion Bobby Hogge III also had his eyes on the championship. Unfortunately, they could not stop the juggernaut that was Silva aboard his "Little Red Rocket", as Hall of Fame announcer John Myers called it.

Silva used his 11 Main Event wins to outrun Merced Speedway star Gordon Rodgers to win the Regional championship that year. Antioch Speedway, wasn't even close as he beat Bert Elworthy by nearly 130 points in the end. The battle for second was just a bit closer as Elworthy held off Hendren by just 17 tallies to earn his highest ranking in this division. Only three points behind Hendren was Hogge as Keith Brown finished fifth in the Rich Richards owned machine.

The Street Stock division was riding high as there were usually enough cars to go as far as a C Main in this class. On the heels of back-to-back championships, Troy Shirk made the bold proclamation that he was going for a "three-peat" and had that painted on the back of his car. For much of the season, it looked like Shirk would achieve that goal as he boosted his career feature win total into the 30s by the time the season was done. Unfortunately, Shirk had some penalties issued late in the season and lost one of his finishes, opening the door for a new champion.

Bart Reid quickly climbed the ladder at the speedway as the top driver in the Enduro division in 1988. By 1990, he was the driver giving Shirk the most pressure down the stretch. While both drivers were among the feature winners, it was Reid winning the championship by 56 points over Shirk. Another close battle was had for third in the standings as "Rollin" Ron Parker bested Don Shelton by just 30 points. Tom Leopold and Mike Tibbetts tied for fifth in the final rundown.

The sign of the change that was to come was the introduction of the Grand American Modified division. This was the first season for a division that continues to headline at the speedway to this day. Hall of Famers Bruce "The Phantom" Curl Sr and "Rapid" Richard Johnson would have a spirited battle for the championship. Curl's racing shop was responsible for building several of the first cars that competed in this class. Johnson hadn't been a regular at the speedway in nearly a decade, but he looked like he hadn't missed a beat. 

In the end, Johnson would win the championship by just one point as both drivers were on the Main Event winner's list. John Buccellato held off Tom Williams by just eight tallies to finish third as "Okie" Al Cummings made up the remainder of the Top 5. Driving a Harris Modified, future five-time division champion Scott Busby showed signs of things to come with a pair of wins during the stretch run of the season.

The wild and crazy Figure 8 was at the height of its popularity amongst the drivers as frequently over 20 competitors lined up to do battle. The division featured absolute carnage for much of the season. With multiple feature wins early in the season, "Flyin" Brian Holden appeared to be the odds-on favorite, but three-time champion John Keldsen returned to put an end to Holden's good luck as their nasty rivalry continued. Another rivalry was had at the front of the pack between Debbie Clymens and "Madame X" Loretta Schneeberg in which Clymens fired a shot at Schneeberg in the season finale to cost her the championship.

The season would end in a tie at the top between Larry Rapp and Schneeberg, but Rapp won the tiebreaker based on better finishes. Andy Faust ended up third in the standings, just 12 points out of the lead and 10 ahead of Clymens. Keldsen held off Holden by just 12 points for the fifth position. Interestingly enough, moments after the checkered flag waved in the final Main Event, Holden put a hit on Keldsen that was so hard it knocked the rear end out from underneath his car. Though Holden took much punishment from Keldsen and others in the four years in which this division was on the roster, he got the last laugh in the end.

Rule changes prior to the 1985 season saw the Late Model class say goodbye to their regular B Mains, but there was still some great racing at the front of the pack. Three-time San Jose Speedway champion Ed Sans Jr made the decision to come to Antioch Speedway and make a run at Regional honors, but a late start put him far behind Bobby Hogge III in the standings. Hogge earned three wins that year, but Sans was a beast with nine feature triumphs.

The season finale saw several drivers managing to keep up with the pace of the leaders, and Hogge spun out in the final turn. There were enough drivers to drop Hogge back far enough at the finish that Sans would steal the championship in the end. However, the quick-thinking Hogge hit reverse and backed his car across the finish line. In doing so, he held off Sans by just seven points in the end. Nearly 100 points behind Sans in third was Kevin Pylant. 85 points back in fourth was JD Willis, who was piloting the Bruce Curl owned machine. Jerry "The Maverick" Garner rounded out the Top 5 in the standings.

By this point, the Street Stock division was consistently producing numbers that required B Mains every week. After his impressive rookie season, Bert Elworthy was certainly the most consistent driver in the field. This highly competitive division saw the feature winner's list reach into double digits. Elworthy's championship margin over rookie Ron Murray was 86 points. Murray did an exceptional job of holding off future champion Steve Wagerman for the second position by 48 points. 48 points behind Wagerman was Mike Gummus as Mike Martin rounded out the Top 5.

Change was in the air at Antioch Speedway in 1980. This would be the final year of John P Soares as the promoter as well as the last solid year for the popular Sportsman division. There was also a close battle for the championship between veteran Mike "The Blue Knight" Gustafson and "Sudden" Sam Houston. Houston purchased the Petaluma and Antioch championship-winning car of Marv Wilson and won his first career Main Event as a result. Gustafson was consistent when it counted and was also a feature winner.

By season's end, Gustafson managed to hold off Houston by just eight points. Only 36 points back in third was Buzz Enea. Enea finished ahead of State champion Richard Johnson by just one point as Jerry Hetrick made up the balance of the Top 5. Enea led the division with five feature triumphs as Johnson had three.

This was the third year for the Street Stock division but the first in which championship points were tallied. The previous season saw Scott Busby determined as champion based on his performance, followed by Debbie Clymens. Clymens returned to make a run at the championship as did Joey Rodrigues. Both drivers were feature winners during the season, but Rodrigues was a dominant force. Clymens had her iconic rollover in Turns 3 and 4 early in the season, but that didn't faze her. She came back strong the following week. 

With Rodrigues winning so often, his championship wasn't really in doubt. He beat Clymens by 76 points in the end. Just three points behind Clymens was Frank "The Wallbanger" Blasquez. Fourth went to Mike's younger brother LC Green. Vince "Beep Beep" Mills ended up fifth in the final run down by just two tallies ahead of 1981 champion Jeff Rhoton.

There have been many happy memories made at Antioch Speedway through the years, and many Legends and exciting moments have been witnessed. At some point, racing will resume as the speedway enters a new era. When that happens, we will have more new winners and new champions. Action will once again be the attraction each and every Saturday night.

Dotson, Myrick Win At The Kern Raceway Dirt Track

Bakersfield, CA...March 14...Ethan Dotson won the impromptu 40 lap combined Dirt Modified and Sport Modified Main Event Saturday night at the Kern County Raceway Dirt Track. Originally, the NARC/King of the West Winged Sprint Cars were scheduled for this show, but they cancelled two days prior out of concern over the Coronavirus. Management acted quickly to schedule the two Modified classes for a combined race, and 24 competitors showed up to compete.

On the heels of his win at Bakersfield Speedway the previous week, polesitter Dylan Thornton settled into the early lead as Gatlin Leytham and Garrett Jernagan battled for second early. Leytham was holding the position when fifth row starter Dotson charged by on the ninth lap. Dotson closed in quickly on Thornton and made his winning pass on lap 15. Thornton held second until having issues on the 25th lap. This put Brad Pounds briefly into the second spot, but he surrendered it to Bobby Hogge IV on the 28th lap. However, Dotson had a decent lead and brought it home to the checkered flag, followed by Hogge, Pounds, Alex Stanford, Cody Laney, Thornton, Collin Hibdon, Robby Sawyer, Gavyn Manning and Jernagan.

They ran four eight lap heat races with wins going to Pounds, Roger Holder, Hogge and Sawyer. The ten lap B Main was a battle between Brian Clark and Chett Reeves. Reeves led the first half of the race before Clark moved by on the sixth lap. Clark won, followed by Reeves, Brock Crawford and Chris Harrington.

Reigning House of JuJu Central Valley Mini Stock champion Dan Myrick picked up his second-straight 20 lap Main Event win. The CVMS competitors were racing for a $2,500 purse, and Myrick's share of the winnings was $500. 2018 series champion Greg Baronian led two laps before Myrick raced by for the lead. In a repeat performance from the opener in Hanford, Myrick led the rest of the way with Baronian following closely behind for the second place finish. Rod Baronian ran third for much of the race as fifth row starter Matt Herod was up to fourth by the fifth lap. Herod kept the pressure on Rod Baronian until making the pass for third on the final lap. Rod Baronian settled for fourth, followed by Jason Cook, David Wolford, Shawn Schwartzenberger, Jeff Durant, Steve Porter and Clinton Massey.

The 23 competitors got to do time trials, and Greg Baronian set the quickest time of 18.206, beating the 18.438 effort of Cook. Rod Baronian outdueled brother Greg Baronian to win the first eight lap heat race with Herod and Gene Glover winning the other heats.

Richard Sousa won the 20 lap Bakersfield Hardtop Main Event. Sousa started in the second row and passed Tyler Weeks for the lead on lap two. Weeks held second until Jason Denman gained the position on the fourth lap. Souza went on to win with Denman not too far behind in second as Weeks and Jesse Dobbins completed the finishing order. Sousa also won the eight lap heat race.

For further information on scheduling, go to www.kernraceway.com.


Cox Wins Silver Cup Race At Silver Dollar Speedway

Chico, CA...March 13...Justyn Cox scored one of the biggest wins of his career Friday night with his 40 lap victory in the annual Silver Cup Race at Silver Dollar Speedway. Due to the Coronavirus scare, the track limited the grandstand attendance to 250 people and held the race as scheduled.

Cox had the pole position for the race and proceeded to lead every lap in victory. John Michael Bunch ran second for six laps before five-time reigning track champion Sean Becker moved by. Chase Majdic quickly settled into third. A yellow flag flew on the 21st lap for Jessie Love and Petaluma champion John Clark in Turn 2. The restart saw Kyle Hirst eliminated in a Turn 3 tangle with Michael Faccinto. After one more yellow flag on the 22nd lap, the race went uninterrupted with Cox winning ahead of Becker. Shane Golobic made a last-lap pass on Majdic to finish third. Majdic settled for fourth, followed by Blake Carrick, reigning Placerville champion Andy Forsberg, Bunch, Tanner Carrick, reigning Marysville champion Michael Ing and JJ Hickle.

Heat race wins or earned by Bunch, Tanner Carrick, Sean Becker and Majdic. Blake Carrick went flag-to-flag to win the 12 lap B Main ahead of Faccinto and Love.

Ryan Winter won the 20 lap NorCal Dwarf Car Main Event. Winter finished second a week earlier at Petaluma. Reigning Series champion Michael "Spanky" Grenert ran in front for four laps before being overtaken by Winter. However, Southern Oregon Dwarf Car champion Josh King briefly got by for the lead on the seventh lap before Winter regained command a lap later. King held second until Grenart passed him on the 12th lap. As Winter went on to victory, Shawn Jones made a last-lap pass on Grenert to finish second. Ryan Plexico finished fourth, followed by King, Wade Ehrlich, Josh Wiesz, Ben Wiesz, Kevin Bender and Cory Easton. Eight lap heat race wins went to Shawn Whitney, Mike Reeder and King. 

Due to the Coronavirus scare and regulations implemented by the state, the schedule has been suspended. For further information on when the next race will happen, go to www.silverdollarspeedway.com.


Practice Day Notes From Several Tracks

March 14...With the Coronavirus forcing several tracks to cancel due to the fact that they can't have more than 250 fans in the stands at once under the current state mandate, some of the tracks still managed to hold practices as the pits didn't have that many people total. Promoters were trying to figure out if it was feasible to hold races with low attendance, and Silver Dollar Speedway actually ran on Friday night with a limit of 250 fans. The Coronavirus, which has been classified a pandemic by the president, is forcing tracks to halt activity until things change, and the best way to find out about your track is to go directly to their social media or web page.

Yreka, CA...March 13...After the previous week's scheduled practice day was rained out, Siskiyou Golden Speedway had every intention of getting the next one in the books. Promoter Kevin Barba and his crew were hard at work during the week leading up to practice, but the forecast looked terrible for Saturday. Barba made a snap decision on Wednesday to move practice to Friday night, adding that if the weather were good enough on Saturday morning, there could be a second one then as well. Though it ended up snowing on Saturday and eliminating that option, the Friday practice happened successfully.

Work has been done on the racing surface to make it wider and faster, and around a dozen drivers showed up to take their turns. The biggest representation came from the IMCA Sport Modified class, where reigning PSM champion Matt Sanders and brother Isaac Sanders were there. Justin Foux returned with his new Sport Modified along with Gary Foster. Doug Coffman made a visit from the Roseburg area, and 2018 champion Trevor Tiffee had his car back together for some valuable practice laps. There were other Sport Modifieds represented, including cars with no numbers on them.

One of the IMCA Modified drivers to make laps was last season's champion, Duane Orsburn. He was joined by Jeffrey Hudson in the Don Roemer car. Hudson has competed already this year at Stockton. Johnny Burke and David Marble represented the Sprint Car contingent from the neighboring Medford track. There were also a few Mini Stocks on hand, including Terry Alford. Drivers got the opportunity to get several laps. For information on scheduling, go to the Siskiyou Golden Speedway Facebook page or www.siskiyougoldenspeedway.com.

Hayfork, CA... March 14...Mountain Valley Raceway beat the weather on Saturday night to hold their second practice of the year. Drivers took advantage of the opportunity to make some laps on the 3/8 mile dirt oval. Hobby Stock star Russ Newman was one three drivers in his division to make it to the practice.

Past Mini Stock champion in Jack Turner had his Pinto there to get some laps as did Ricky Berry in his truck and one of the young family Mini Stocks. Sporting a new color on his Modified, Tressen Smith was back to put his car through its paces. The speedway is hoping to see some new drivers in the Modified ranks this year and is considering the possibility of a special race for them if they can get interest from out of town racers.

Mountain Valley Raceway features Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Enduro cars and Modifieds. Scheduling updates can be found at the Mountain Valley Raceway Facebook page.

Petaluma, CA... March 14... Following the successful season opener that featured the ASCS National Sprint Car tour, Petaluma Speedway opened the gates to practice on Saturday.

There were roughly 20 drivers across multiple classes, and this included Dennis Furia Jr in a Winged 360 Sprint Car. Furia has been competing in the Spec Sprint division in recent seasons, and he took advantage of the opportunity to make his first laps in the higher horse-powered race car. There were also some Wingless Spec Sprints on hand, including past Mini Stock champion Bob Davis and the Ted Finkenbinder car.

Richard Workman, who competed regularly at Petaluma in the past and more recently has been a regular at Silver Dollar Speedway, had his Super Stock on hand. There were also some IMCA Modifieds, the 600 Micro Sprint of Rob Brown and several drivers from the Redwood Dwarf Car group. This included last season's Dwarf Car Nationals Sportsman winner Michael Affonso, Sean Catucci, Verne Hubbard and Mini Stock graduate Antonio Miramontez. Speaking of Mini Stocks, 2018 champion Tom Brown had his Pinto on the 3/8 mile adobe oval for several laps. 

Scheduling and other updates can be found at www.petaluma-speedway.com.

Coos Bay, Oregon...March 13-15...Coos Bay Speedway was represented once again at the Pony Village Mall car show in order to hype up the coming NASCAR Whelen All American Series season. The Sprint Car contingent was represented by past champion Lawrence Van Hoof and newcomer Davina Jordy. Kristy Grout had her Late Model on display along with multi-time Mini Outlaw champion Sam Talon. Scheduling and other information can be found at www.coosbayspeedway.us.

Antioch, CA...March 14...Antioch Speedway didn't get so lucky with their second scheduled practice session. The previous week saw Promoter Chad Chadwick move the event from Saturday to Sunday with some success. Though neighboring Petaluma Speedway managed to get their practice in, the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds oval didn't get so lucky. The decision was made just a few hours before the gates were to open that the practice would have to be cancelled. Weather didn't look encouraging for Sunday, so it was decided to scrap the plan.

Work continues on various areas of the speedway to get it ready for when the season opens. There will be many changes to come as Chadwick works hard to make this the best season seen at the speedway in several years. It was just revealed that the speedway will have a new PA system. There were various bugs that plagued that last year, including major issues at last season's West Coast Nationals. News and other information can be found at www.antiochspeedway.com.


Divisions That Could Be On The Chopping Block 
At Antioch Speedway

With a new promoter, changes inevitably come to a race track. The smart promoters will sit back and watch for their first year or two. They might not make major changes as far as dropping divisions that were there before they got there, but they will be looking. They obviously have a plan on what they would like to do, but they're not going to be quick to turn away cars at the gate unless the divisions don't meet the minimum numbers or other factors come into play.

Being that the IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modifieds are the staple classes, you pretty much know that both of them are secure on the roster for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the addition of IMCA sanctioning is expected to increase the car counts in both divisions. As has been the case at the speedway in recent years, you can expect that most of the big shows at the speedway that Chad Chadwick will book in the future will revolve around these two classes.

The Hobby Stock division had a good car count last season, but Chadwick felt that it could get better. Therefore, he took a look at the rules being used at Merced Speedway and Ocean Speedway to put the track in line with those tracks. The risk you take is locals parking because they feel they can't compete, but the positive is you might see more visitors from out of town and the locals might just get on board anyway. If this move works, the increase we saw last year could continue this year. This makes the Hobby Stocks a staple class. Knocking on the door outside as something that could be a possibility in the future is an IMCA Stock Car class. This could happen in the near future whether there are Hobby Stocks or not.

The decision Chadwick made to allow the Dwarf Car drivers to form a group and join the Western States Dwarf Car Association is expected to help increase the numbers. As it was, the Dwarf Cars often produced the best numbers at the speedway in recent seasons. The Wingless Spec Sprints have been at the track for 22 years and haven't had the kind of numbers they probably should. Word was that Chadwick wasn't thrilled by that, but his decision to switch up the rules to put them in line with Petaluma Speedway was designed to see if those numbers could be increased. 

Of those five divisions, the Spec Sprints could be on the shakiest of ground, but these five divisions seem to be in the best position as we look ahead to the future. The addition of the Four Banger division to the roster is not a major risk. When the division does compete, they won't require a big purse. From management's perspective, you need a division to bring new drivers into the fold. If this works out the way entry level classes have in the past, it could produce big numbers within the next few years as well. 

What most promoters would prefer, and Chadwick would have to be considered among them, is three or four core divisions that can produce car counts. If you can get that, it's easier to cut the fat. You can remove divisions and either save money or time that can go towards the classes that are more productive. Or, take some of the money saved and put it back into running the race track. Therefore, the rest of the divisions are basically auditioning to keep their place on the roster in the future. What happens with car count will dictate their longevity, but there could be other factors involved as well. 

Super Stocks remain on the roster after 20 years. Chadwick is trying to give this division a fighting chance by adjusting the rules and replacing the Limited Late Model name. Previous management sacrificed a thriving Street Stock division to save this class, but numbers never really popped after that. Bringing six to eight cars to the track simply doesn't justify a spot on the roster if enough of the other divisions are performing well enough. There are a few things to consider here.

How many drivers have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a change? Now is their time to make a statement and get the average up into the double digits. The effort that Roy Bain is making with the Tri State Pro Stock Series effects Antioch. The rules at Antioch were adjusted to put them more in line with the group, which could have a date at Antioch in the future. That series is important because as we watch the Late Model division fade away, Pro Stock/Super Stock racing is what's preserving that popular style of racing for the fans. Of the divisions on the chopping block, this is probably the one that is most wanted when you consider all of the factors involved.

Fans love Winged 360 Sprint Cars, but the problem is this division doesn't have a cheap price tag. The previous management invested heavily in trying to get this class started and paid a good purse. However, the roster never really grew. If new regulars started supporting, some of the previous regulars stopped. When you're paying $1,200 to win and $150 minimum to start and are still lucky to get 10 cars, most promoters aren't going to put up with that for very long. Booking could have been done differently to help the situation, but there were other factors.

One thing that could be attempted would be drivers in this area forming a group. Antioch Speedway isn't likely to offer double-digit dates for this class at this point, but five or six dates is possible. A group organizing between Antioch and Stockton with a visit or two at Petaluma could at least maintain a presence in Antioch. If you're giving the track a solid double-digit car count and a show for the fans, it's justification for keeping you around. There are other options to keep open wheel racing on the schedule, which includes booking two to four special series visits. Though that didn't happen this year, it could in the future.

The most painful loss for longtime fans is the Late Model division. The previous management loved this class and fought hard to keep it alive. However, car count dwindled to under double-digit on average. Their purse isn't as big as Sprint Cars, but it's still big and makes keeping it around something that might not be high on Chadwick's list. Much like with the Sprint Cars, it seems like the only way to save Late Models would be to create some sort of tour.

In the case of the Late Models, you'd have to look at it from the perspective we had some 20 years ago. There once was the CarQuest Late Model Tour competing at tracks up and down the state, and Antioch got a couple dates a year. That might not seem like much, but the fans knew one thing. When this division was booked, there was a car count. It wasn't something with a handful of cars, and that meant good racing. There would be enough cars in the area to get the numbers back up to double-digits as it is, but the likelihood of that happening isn't so good. Drivers could band together to form a Bay Area Late Model group, but the prospects of getting certain promoters on board with that don't look so good.

Hardtop racing was lucky to land anything on the schedule, and the new management isn't particularly fond of the class. However, they can justify their existence by supporting the dates they have. This has been an issue with many excuses for why the car counts don't seem to do well. The Bay Area group now has about a dozen cars, and Northern California in general is well into the twenties. If you can't deliver at least 8 or 10 cars, you shouldn't be surprised if the dates stop coming.

This is another case where leadership is required within the group. Management has other things they need to worry about, and coordinating car count in this class is not high on the priority list. That means somebody within the group should be rounding up the troops for any given date and keeping management updated on who is coming that night. It also means that the group itself has to make supporting their shows more enticing. You could view the Hardtops as a novelty or nostalgia act, and that means they don't have certain pressures on them that other classes have. Fans aren't necessarily coming because of the Hardtops, but they can enjoy their portion of the show and make the overall program better.

This is the area in which a promoter could look at a project class. If there's something new on the horizon that they're interested in building, they could give this position on the roster to that class. That means only a handful of dates, knowing you're not going to have a big car count. If the Hardtops don't increase their numbers for any given race date, something else could threaten them for their position. For instance, Antioch Speedway was a Sportsman track for two decades. If a few local drivers built cars for that division, they could get a few dates and the Hardtops could lose theirs.

Obviously, changes are on the horizon. Anybody who's been watching what's been going on at the speedway since Chadwick took over knows that the goal is to boost the numbers and make Antioch Speedway a destination spot once again. This means that the divisions on the roster need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. The bigger the core divisions get, the easier it's going to be to run less of the other classes. In other words, the drivers who really want to race had better get their cars out there when the time comes. It's a good bet that the caliber of program people have been watching over the last few years will be vastly different in the next few years if the changes being implemented by the new management take hold.


The Editor's Viewpoint

I have to admit that I have shut down since the virus pretty much wiped out the racing schedule through mid May. That's just projections, but it could actually go longer. This is not good news for the sport that we love, but it's going to hurt lots of businesses as well. This leads me to thoughts that don't fit in with the racing community. I'll just say that I am distrustful of things that we hear from the media and our politicians in general. I'll leave it at that.

Regardless, we're in shutdown mode. I also admit that I wasn't inspired to just put a post together for reading material. After putting up a few blog posts this year, I wasn't really encouraged to continue. Things are a bit rough for me. I know, times are tough for everybody. But when you feel like you're putting out a lot of energy and the energy isn't coming back to you, it can hurt your motivation. I'd like to continue to do what I've been doing for the duration of the season, whatever season we manage to get. However, I'm not inclined to post too much while we're in shut down mode. I have to figure out how I'm going to afford certain essentials at this point. I know others are in the same boat, but it leaves me making decisions on where I should put my energy.

Despite my feelings that we are a nation that is overreacting to something and it's politically motivated, I nonetheless have to deal with the facts as we all know them. Everything is shut down. We are not doing anything until we get a green light. When the state mandates started creeping in, some of the promoters were hoping they could buck the system somehow. Personally, I thought they were being foolish. We had tracks running in front of 250 fans and other tracks debating whether they could hold races in front of empty grandstands and stream the event online.

Here's the thing, when you can't run races under your normal business model, you're foolish to try. Every aspect of what you do on race night has to be functioning. In other words, you can't run your racing program based just on what you get in the pits unless you're going to double the entry fee. It's kind of interesting, because Mike McCann and I have this discussion every once in awhile. He sees the day coming where the fans won't even matter to the track. It will be pay to play. I see it as a gloomy outlook, but that may be what happens to keep the sport alive. Who knows?

What I do know is it's poor business on behalf of promoters to attempt to run a racing program without trying to get as many fans as you can to spectate. There were a few promoters falling all over themselves to try this. Why? You're going to be a hero? You do realize that the good things you do will ultimately not matter when the masses turn against you for something you are perceived to have done wrong, right? I'm not saying screw the racers and don't try to be a hero. What I'm saying is you need to do what's best for business. A promoter isn't there just to give the racers a place to race. Obviously, that's part of the goal. A promoter is there to run a business that is profitable enough to continue.

When you open the gates, you want as many people to come out there as possible. If you can get more cars, you go for it. You see, this is what the promoters were thinking when they were trying to pull off a race with no crowd. They were figuring that if they opened their pit gates, the racers with no place to go would come to their track. Suddenly, you might have a pit area with over 100 cars. Of course, you are breaking the rule. At that point, you couldn't have more than 250 people gathering. Chico tried to run a race with 250 people in the stands, but the track still had well over 250 people total there and had their hand slapped for the stunt they pulled.

I get it. We're all frustrated by what's going on now. Some of us have a sense that things aren't as bad as we're being told they are. Yes, people are dying. That's a fact. People die every year from the flu and other things. I could easily drift off into other topics here, and I'm going to contain myself. I bring myself back to the point by simply saying, it doesn't matter what you believe right now. What matters is we are in shutdown mode and that's what we have to deal with.

While the promoters were trying to figure out a way around all of this, the states basically stepped in and said, no you don't. It's no longer 250 people. We've still had tracks, believe it or not, hold practice sessions for a few racers. It's a very ballsy move to do something like that. Why? You may not believe this is as bad as they say, but if you gather people in one location and somebody ends up dying, do you think you're going to be let off the hook? Nope. The proper course of action right now is to wait it out and see what happens. Patience.

Racing promoters need optimum conditions to open their gates. No gray areas. You need to be able to get as many fans into those grandstands as you can, just as you need to get every driver. My concern is that when the regulations are adjusted, it won't be put back completely to normal at first. We might be dealing with a situation where only 250 people can gather before it goes back to normal. Some promoters will be so tempted to go ahead and run in front of empty grandstands. It's almost a certainty that some will do that, but you need optimum conditions. If I were in charge, I would sit patiently and wait until we could do it right.

Do I understand why promoters are tempted to do things in less-than-ideal conditions? Yes I do. What's going on right now is hurting many businesses, not just the sport of auto racing. There are some tracks that are struggling to stay alive, and they needed to open the gates on time. The fact that they won't be getting their full seasons will affect them negatively. Some tracks across this country will close because of what's happening right now, just as other businesses will do the same. So, there are going to be promoters who work things out in their own minds for how to run a race in less-than-ideal conditions. Sometimes they may be right, but other times they may just do more damage.

What we have to understand is people are now feeling the pinch economically. People aren't able to go to work, and that means that by the time things get back to normal, there are some families and even some racers who may not be able to afford to race or will have to cut back on how much they go to the track. Let's not forget the businesses. Because their bottom lines are being affected, there will be more businesses who cannot support the sport by sponsoring the track or individual racing teams. This is something we need to take into consideration. The 2020 season could be a loser, regardless of how much racing we get in. Plus, we still don't know when we're finally going to be able to open the gates again. The date in California is May 15th, but it's not a firm date. It can be moved back. I'm reading where some states aren't planning to go back to any semblance of normalcy until June 10th. When you consider the politics in California, you have to wonder if they will jump on that bandwagon next.

Promoters simply want to know what date they can get started. A lot of work has gone into preparing these race tracks. This means that money has been invested into improvements, and promoters haven't been able to open the gates to make any of it back yet. Plus, tracks are still having to pay bills despite the fact that they haven't been open. This is definitely not a good situation, and promoters are trying to figure out how they can make up for lost time when they are finally able to open their gates.

Some might take a look at the two night a week option, but the problem comes down to who can afford to do that. Others are taking a look at running the racing season as late as they can. While the gates at some tracks may close at the end of September or mid October, there are now some tracks seriously considering running all the way to the end of the year if weather allows them. Given the fact that our weather patterns aren't reliable, it's possible that a track could even pull off a race on Christmas weekend if they so chose. I've heard of multiple tracks in California looking at this as a viable option.

I'm at a loss as to what to say about this whole thing, and it's left me sitting at my desk not wanting to do any articles at all. What do you say about it? It's taken me awhile just to sit down and write this. I could write about other things and just do some basic hype. The question is, what do I hype and when do I hype it? In other words, are we really going back to racing in mid May? If I start typing about schedules, I don't know for sure that this is actually going to happen. I don't want to write about things that I don't know for sure, and that's another reason why I am just sitting back and watching.

I've made the decision to alter my writing schedule. There were some things I would be writing right now leading into the season at Southern Oregon Speedway, and I canceled all of those articles. I would normally be doing division by division previews that also mention the schedule for Southern Oregon Speedway, but I'm not sure how the schedule will be affected in Medford. There are a couple of things that have been pulled off of the schedule that will be announced soon. These were special attractions that were pulled by the organizers. So, I will instead focus on hyping things when I know an actual date is coming. Mike has been in the unique position where he's been able to sit back and watch. As the season wasn't even scheduled to start until the first weekend of May, there was no reason to say anything. He's been playing wait and see.

One of the series that has been silenced is the Iron Giant Street Stock Series. I was very saddened to hear the news, James Whitehouse was in a difficult position. They pay much of their own purse at every track they visit, and sponsorship numbers were not looking so good. James has decided to wait until 2021. Will there be a series in 2021? My concern in Oregon is that the IMCA Stock Cars are taking hold, and this leaves the Street Stocks fighting for survival. Several drivers have been building cars legal to IMCA standards, and it may come down to drivers deciding to go that way, depending on what tracks end up doing. I'm saddened by the news, but that's progress for you. I just know that there is no Iron Giant Street Stock race in Medford on Memorial Day weekend.

There was a race at Kern Raceway before everything was halted. The NARC/King of the West Fujitsu Winged 410 Sprint Car Series went ahead and cancelled their visit to the track a few days before the race was to happen. I believe that the leadership of the group was weighing their legal obligations in terms of pubic safety, and they decided to cancel that race as well as a few others. Kern Raceway did not cancel the race as the Central Valley Mini Stock drivers were still coming. They hastily scheduled a Dirt Modified/B Modified race that turned out pretty well for them. This was a case of promoters thinking on the fly to keep racing going.

Down in Antioch, I know Chad Chadwick is in a challenging position. I don't want to speak for him too much, but before all of the state orders were put in place, he was weighing the possibility of running a race in front of an empty grandstand and looking at other options. Even now, he's trying to figure out how to get the most out of the racing season when it is able to start. From Chad's perspective, I know he has invested heavily in trying to turn this track around, and this news couldn't have come at a worse time. Interestingly enough, it looks like John got out at just the right time and has been paid in full. Talk about good timing.

Chad now assumes all of the bills associated with running that track, and this includes any money being invested in improvements and the money paid to take over as the promoter. The last thing he needed to see was races being canceled. Last weekend would have been the first race of the season, and it's gone. I believe Antioch Speedway was the first track to announce that they would be racing by May 15th at the very earliest. Chad is surely crossing his fingers to be able to follow through on those plans, but I would caution people to wait and see. We really don't know yet.

The last thing a new promoter who has spent so much money needs to hear is that the season may be a wash. I've heard some dire predictions that we won't be racing at all this year, but I don't believe that. I do believe we could lose more than the nearly two months that are already out the window. How much, I don't know. It's just not a good situation. While I know Chad is looking at the opportunity to run deep into the year to make up for lost time, at some point you have to look at how that will affect the 2021 season. It's a tough spot, because like I said, this is a business. It's not just about him trying to be a hero to give the racers race dates, he's trying to figure out when he can get things going and work towards recouping his tremendous investment.

All we can do is wait and see. It is what it is. Will we go racing again this year? Probably. I'm not going to speculate on when, because this is not something I have ever seen before. What we're going through right now almost feels like it's being turned into something similar to what happened in September of 2001, and I'm not really thrilled by that. I was just talking to Mike today about the good old days. I mentioned that I would surely love to go back in time to the late 1970s and go from there again. Happier times for sure. These are definitely trying times, and all I can say is love your family and friends and appreciate them.

I don't want to go on longer than I already have. I don't have much to say, and until I can see a path to racing season getting started again, my inclination is to refrain from doing racing articles unless something has to be said. I'm not generating anything towards myself, and I do have needs that have to be addressed. If I'm not going to get support through the blog efforts, I need to find another way to do that. I intend to honor my commitment through this season as announced. Other announcements that I was hoping to make are still in limbo. It is what it is, and I'm not stressing over that at this point.

I also had an unfortunate accident with my laptop computer recently. I spilled water on the keyboard. At first, it looked like everything was going to be okay, but then the keys started malfunctioning. Then, the laptop started shutting off every 20 minutes or so. I spent over a day removing every important file from the laptop, so I'm happy about that. Then, it stopped shutting off every 20 minutes and the keyboard has returned to about 98% normal. I'm still monitoring the situation, but I know that this laptop is no longer stable. I'll figure out what to do next based on the finances I have to work with. In other words, I'm making do for now.

Other than that, thank you for reading and I'm going to end this column. Until next time...


The Case For Bringing The NCMA Back To The Dirt

I was looking at the Antioch Speedway Days of Old page. If you haven't followed this Facebook page, you really should. For that matter, follow Merced Speedway Days of Old, Petaluma Speedway Days of Old and Chowchilla Speedway Glory Days if you want some nice Facebook pages that look back on the past. This particular post on the Antioch Speedway Days of Old page was by my friend Christopher Bennett. He shared a picture of the fast purple #86 Tobias Modified, driven to four NCMA championships by Hall of famer Darryl Shirk. 
I could say a lot about the early days of the NCMA. I've actually penned a book looking back at the early years for the group as it got started and made it through various struggles. It was written as a form of therapy, but if I wanted to do a first-class copy, I still have all the material to put a professional touch on it. All the statistics, results, standings and everything from 1988 through 1993 are in those pages. I served as publicity director for the group during that time and was the secretary from 1989 through 1993. 

Without the NCMA, we wouldn't have Spec Sprints. That's just a fact. Without Doug Fort bringing the California Dirt Cars to Santa Maria Speedway, there wouldn't be an NCMA. I don't think people are aware of those facts. What Don O'Keefe Jr and I did was returned the NCMA Modifieds back to their Sprint Car look to present this more affordable style of racing to promoters who weren't looking at it before. The results certainly speak for themselves. Antioch Speedway has had the class for 22 years, and Petaluma has been running them for at least 15. Orland Raceway has been running the class for almost 20 seasons now.

I look at the NCMA in those early days as we watched people like Mike Johnson, Roland Lokmor, Mike Lokmor, Gordon Chapa, Gary Beattie, Gordon Rodgers, Roy Winters, many time champion Scott Holloway and Shirk. It was a neat class, and I loved the idea. When Jim Booth, another legend of the group, introduced the Coup and Sedan style bodies to the class, it was with good reason. They needed to do something about the look as the bodies on these cars didn't look like the DIRT Modifieds from Pennsylvania the way they did in Santa Maria. The NCMA went a different way than Santa Maria, voting more with the racer's pocketbooks. The look that Booth brought to the class gave it a nostalgic, old school feel.

My belief then is the same as it is now. We needed something like this. Just as you see the Sport Modifieds recycling the old Modified chassis with the E Modified division on the horizon, this class enabled drivers to get old Sprint Car chassis back out on the track again. It recycled older equipment and still made it competitive for what it was being used for. That is still very important. Sometimes the association was its own worst enemy and would shoot itself in the foot at times when growth was on the horizon. As somebody wanting to see this class grow to what the Spec Sprints became, it was very frustrating for me to watch. 

While the Spec Sprints took over at Antioch Speedway starting in 1999, the NCMA continued to do their thing on the dirt for another decade. However, asphalt was quickly introduced as a way to make sure they had more dates. You ended up with a tug of war between the people who wanted to run on the pavement and the people who wanted to run on the dirt, and ultimately the pavement won out. For the last decade, the leadership of the NCMA has focused on the pavement, despite the fact that the numbers have declined severely. They keep the NCMA banner hanging, which I give them credit for, but they are lacking. After 30 years of existence, the NCMA should mean more than it does.

This is not a shot at the leadership of the group. They are putting races into the record books and crowning champions. They've still managed to keep this thing going. I do have respect for Ed Amador, who passed away last year. Ed was certainly a driving force in keeping this thing going for the past 20 years. It's like he said to me one day, "The NCMA will continue to live on, even if it's just a bunch of old men sitting around the coffee table telling old stories." The man had a passion for this class.

I don't want to get into every little detail, but going to pavement was an important move for the group. They weren't able to get as many dates as they would have liked on the dirt, and there were enough people willing to run pavement too. It's interesting that an overwhelming majority actually voted in favor of Mike Johnson's proposal to do pavement at a meeting in 1988. Shirk actually negotiated 10 pavement dates for the group in 1990, but those dates ended up being dropped as Shirk headed back east to handle family matters. The pavement seeds had been planted way back then.

Altamont Raceway was in close enough proximity that enough drivers were willing to go there. That basically became their home pavement track until that track closed. I find it interesting that the very first driver to win a Main Event at Altamont was the driver who won the first NCMA race in 1988, club founder Mike Johnson. It was his last win with the group. As with Roland Lokmor, Scott Holloway, Bill Ivins, Ed Amador and a few others, Johnson is in the group's Hall of Fame. Why Jim Booth and Gordon Chappa haven't been inducted still boggles my mind.

To bring it back on point, as the first decade of the 2000s came to a close, NCMA leadership made the decision to focus exclusively on pavement. This came at a bad time for Chowchilla Speedway, which lost the car counts they got when the NCMA ran their select series events there. However, the group was able to book dates at Madera, Stockton and Roseville, among other places. The early years of this move saw them not lacking for race dates. The club lived on.

I could talk history of the group, but this column would go longer. You know that Shirk, Holloway, Amador and David Goodwill are four of the most decorated champions within the group. People like Duane Watson and Del Quinn are also title winners with the group. The thing is, there are 30 years of memories associated with this group as they competed at dozens of tracks in California. The history means something, and it's one of the reasons I would even be willing to have a discussion here. The NCMA is missing a golden opportunity, but the window on this opportunity could close soon. 

It was three years ago at about this time when I was hearing from Scott Holloway and Roy Greer about the possibility of bringing the NCMA back to the dirt. I didn't dismiss this, because I do see the potential. They can get dates at dirt tracks. Some of the tracks they might desire will be a little more challenging to get, but dates are getable to make this thing happen. There is potential. The problem was when they pitched the idea to the NCMA, it was rejected outright. I personally believe that the matter should have been pursued with vigor throughout the year and brought up at the next rules meeting, but it didn't get that far. People walked away and said what's the use.

Holloway had a brilliant idea from a marketing standpoint. The group was coming up on its 30th Anniversary season, and that meant you could sell the nostalgia factor. The shirts and hats and NCMA yearbook detailing the history. It's not easy for any racing group to make it to thirty years, and this group has. Holloway believed that this was possible, and I agree. The NCMA is in a unique position to walk back to the table on the dirt and have a say in how this Spec Sprint division is shaped in the future. The people invested on the pavement don't want to hear it, and I understand that. Dirt isn't even a thought in their minds, but trying to get people to run the pavement if they adjust the rules beyond what a Spec Sprint should be is being discussed.

The reality is, the group is lucky to get eight dates for a season, and the calendar has far more racing opportunities than that. One could simply book dates using the NCMA name on dirt only on nights when the payment is not booked. Or, you create NCMA Dirt and NCMA Pavement. You try not to book on top of each other, but if it happens it happens. Most of the pavement drivers are not going to go to the dirt, and most of the dirt drivers won't go pavement. However, getting people to run any kind of NCMA event at all could ultimately entice some of those dirt drivers into trying to run the pavement that the current leadership loves so much.

I see an opportunity to go back to the dirt, but it would require the NCMA leadership we have in place now to sign off on the idea. Realistically, I don't see that happening. With Amador no longer among us, one has to wonder how much longer this thing can stay afloat before the group folds. I don't really like to look at it that way, but this is something any of the old school NCMA fans should consider. If the day comes when the NCMA can no longer get pavement dates and they decide to fold, is somebody willing to step up and try to obtain the name and bring it back to the dirt? It may not be something possible now, but things can change in the next year or two. 

Ultimately, I'd like to see the leadership come to their senses and allow a limited NCMA Dirt schedule to be pursued. You probably don't want more than a half-dozen or eight dates on the dirt anyways to get it started. I have ideas on where the group could go first and how to give it a fighting chance. Anything that gets the name out there more and puts more races on for the fans is ultimately helping the name brand. The people just wanting to focus on the pavement still win if they get more people talking and looking at what they do.

The NCMA has the history. There are many ways to market the group. You could have a special Hall of Fame night picnic that gets together some of the old guard and puts somebody in the Hall of Fame that night. Clippings could be put on display for the fans to learn a little bit more about the history. There are plenty of ways to sell this thing and reinvigorate a group that started with such high hopes when Mike Johnson founded it back in 1988. What I'm proposing is a long shot. I'm well aware of that.

One of the things that I would do differently would be to have a benevolent dictator leader. That is to say you've got somebody making the decisions that doesn't have to go through a board to get approval on every little thing. You could put a few racing advisors in positions to keep the leader updated, but most of the more successful groups generally don't have a board debating every little thing. They let the leader do what needs to be done and go racing. What hurt the NCMA in those early days was too many things went to the board and people's personal agendas, and progress that seemed to be made went away quickly.

Who would be that leader? That's a big question. I'd love to be involved in something that puts the NCMA back on the dirt, but I don't know that I could step in to lead. I do know a couple of people who have been around that would probably be right for the position. The leader could be somebody that is voted in for a term of two or three years at a time and reviewed. If there are concerns, they can be addressed and the person could possibly be voted out of office. But, giving somebody with a vision enough leeway to do what they need to do would certainly be the goal.

When it comes to rules, I'm the first to tell you that I'm not an expert. The one thing I would always try to do is vote on the side of the racer's budgets. I need as many of the little guys at my races as possible. If I don't have them, I have no car count, so rules need to be such to ensure us as many cars as possible. Formatting has to be such to give the crowd an entertaining show with good competition and passing. There is a throwback idea that I would put in with my NCMA return to the dirt.

I would consider bringing back the Coup and Sedan bodies for any racer who wants to put them on their car. I am not saying we abandon or make illegal the Sprint Car body. There was a time when the group ran on the dirt where those bodies were illegal, but you want to encourage them to come out too. The people who would run Coup and Sedan bodies give the fans something else different to look at other than the same old Sprint Car look. It's part of the show if we have three different looks to give the fans. 

Will anything come of this idea? I'm not holding my breath. I reached out to Holloway a year after we had the initial discussion, and he never responded on that subject. My guess is there's not enough of the people left from those days who want to put it back out there. I would be interested in being involved with an effort as long as I'm still involved in the sport. I do see concerns about the future of Spec Sprint racing, and I believe that having a group like the NCMA involved in this whole thing would be a good thing. I am concerned about what direction the Hunt Series might take the rules, but my hunch is that the people who would be involved in the NCMA would be a little bit more conservative and budget-minded.

I'm somebody who is guilty of being a little bit nostalgic. I look back on the old days with fondness, even when those days may not be as perfect as I remember them to be. The NCMA had its struggles. I was there to witness some of that. But they also had some characters within the group and people who fought hard in the early days so that the group could exist today. People like Jim Berryhill, Chuck Murch, Keith Collins, Paul Nelson, Henry Mitchell III, Scott Perry, Burt Siverling, Rick Panfili, Don Hicks, Gary Turner Jr and Jim MacAtee were among them. Building a stronger NCMA means that there's a chance for some of those old stories to be told to a new group of racing fans and the history can come alive again.

And to think, this column started because of a picture of Darryl Shirk. He was such a good man that I was so proud to know. I'm honored to be the one to have inducted him into the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame and to see that the NCMA bestowed on him that honor as well. When it comes to who the greatest driver in the history of this group was, I'd have a very difficult time saying somebody other than Darryl Shirk. If you were there, you know.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Merced Speedway, Petaluma Speedway, Antioch Speedway, Bakersfield Speedway, More

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Forsberg Wins ASCS National Sprint Car Race 
At Petaluma Speedway 

Petaluma, CA...March 7...Andy Forsberg scored one of the biggest wins of his career in the 30 lap ASCS National Sprint Car Main Event Sunday night at Petaluma Speedway. Forsberg is a ten-time Civil War Sprint Car Series champion and won his second-straight title at Placerville Speedway last season.

Forsberg had a front row start next to four-time reigning series champion Sam Hafertepe Jr, but he fell back early as Hafertepe set the pace. Working the 16th lap, Forsberg took the lead. Everything seemed to be smooth sailing from there until Forsberg hit a rut and ended up falling back two positions on the 25th lap. Fortunately, a yellow flag waved at the same moment, restoring Forsberg into the lead. Forsberg went on to score the victory. Shane Golobic would finish second ahead of five-time reigning Chico champion Sean Becker. Hafertepe salvaged a fourth place finish, followed by Justyn Cox, Scott Bogucki, Carson Macedo, Blake Carrick, Tanner Carrick and Chase Johnson. 

There were 42 competitors on hand for the show. The eight lap heat race wins went to Jordan Mallett, Johnson, Chelsea Blevins, Willie Croft and Hafertepe. The eight lap qualifier races were won by Dylan Westbrook, Becker and Forsberg. The remaining positions for the Main Event were filled by the top finishers from the two 12 lap B Mains. Tony Gualda Jr won the first one ahead of Johnson and Mallett. Croft outran Harli White and Shane Hopkins to win the second B Main. 

Danny Wagner won the 20 lap General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Car Main Event. Wagner is a past NorCal and Antioch Speedway champion, and it was another NorCal champion, Ryan Winter, who set the pace early on. Wagner gained the lead on the eighth circuit, but it was still a nip-and-tuck battle between Wagner and Winter from there. However, Wagner would prevail at the checkered flag, followed by Winter, Michael "Spanky" Grenert, Mark Hanson and reigning champion Chad Matthias. Kevin Miraglio was docked two positions on a jump-start infraction, dropping him from fourth to sixth, followed by Joey Lingron, Darren Fridolfs, Carroll Mendenhall and Jack Haverty.

There were 42 Dwarf Cars in action with the eight lap heat race wins earned by Miraglio, Hanson, Grenert, Winter and Wagner. Haverty won the 12 lap B Main.

After back-to-back playdays, the season opens on March 28th with the Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series being joined by the Santa Rosa Auto Body 600 Micros and General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Cars. For further information, go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.


Sweet Claims The Glory At Merced Speedway

Merced, CA...March 6...Merced Speedway kicked off the 2020 season with a special Friday night race last week. This was the inaugural visit for the ASCS National Sprint Car Tour, and a large crowd witnessed 51 of the best Winged 360 Sprint Car competitors doing battle on the fast quarter-mile clay oval. When the checkered flag waved on the 30 lap feature race, it was 2019 World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Brad Sweet grabbing the glory.

Sweet shared the front row with ten-time Civil War Sprint Car Series champion Andy Forsberg. However, Forsberg wasn't a match for Sweet as he fell back a few positions. Sweet managed to outrun Shane Golobic for the impressive win. 2019 ASCS championship runner-up Blake Hahn crossed the line third, followed by Carson Macedo, Forsberg, Ryan Bernal, Roger Crockett, Blake Carrick, Dom Scelzi and Alex Hill.

The festivities started with six eight lap heat races, and wins were collected by Michael Faccinto, Sweet, Justyn Cox, Tanner Carrick, Thomas Kennedy and Forsberg. Preliminary points were further calculated after four special qualifier races. These eight lap races were won by Hahn, Golobic, Justin Sanders and Dom Scelzi. The top point earners made it directly into the feature, while two 15 lap B Mains filled up the remainder of the 24 car finale. It was Chase Johnson winning the first B Main ahead of Tanner Carrick and Robby Price. Cox outran Mitchell Faccinto and Harli White to claim the second B Main.

In the IMCA Sport.Modified race, Speedway star Michael Johnson picked up the win in their 30 lap feature. Third row starter Johnson held off reigning champion and fourth-row starter Fred Ryland to get the win. 2019 Santa Maria champion Kevin Johnson ended up third, while 2018 title winner Jeremy Hoff charged from 13th to finish fourth. Rounding out the Top 10 finishers were Chris Falkenberg, Timothy Allerdings, Paul Espino, Tanner Thomas, Kaylin Lopez and Patti Ryland. Eight lap heat race wins went to Michael Johnson, Fred Ryland and Kevin Johnson.

The California Sharp Mini Late Models saw a division record nine drivers come to compete. This included a few new names from the Outlaw Kart ranks. After starting back in the last row, it was Garrett Corn picking up the win in their 20 lap race.  Kennzzie Brown had her best finish yet as she held off Riley Jeppesen to finish second. Fourth went to Brayden Morton ahead of Emali Van Hoff, Tyler Tucker and Jay Brooks. Mechanical issues sidelined Carson Guthrie and Kaylin Lopez prior to the Main Event. Corn and Brooks won their respective six lap heat races.

Racing returns this Saturday night with IMCA Modifieds in action along with the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks and South Bay Dwarf Cars. For further information, go to www.mercedspeedway.net.


IMCA Modifieds Back In Action 
At Merced Speedway Saturday Night

Merced, CA...The IMCA Modifieds kick off their 2020 season at Merced Speedway this Saturday night. The IMCA Sport Modifieds return after supporting last week's highly successful ASCS National Sprint Car event. Also in action will be the Mini Stocks and the South Bay Dwarf Cars. The winners of the two Modified classes and Mini Stocks will also be competing for increased winner's prize money.

Merced Speedway had one of the most exciting IMCA Modified programs in the state last season. It was Troy Foulger turning in a rather dominant performance by wheeling the Bowers Motorsports Modified to six wins in his 13 starts. He won the championship by a wide margin over the consistent Ryan Porter. Last season saw Porter shut out of the win column with seven Top 5 finishes, and the talented fourth-generation competitor will be out to change that this weekend. Some of the stars of the field include past champions Ramie Stone, Bob Williamson, Paul Stone and Randy Brown. Others anticipated include last season's top rookie Jesse Burks, DJ Shannon, Ricky Thatcher, Jeff Streeter and more.

There were 18 competitors for the IMCA Sport Modified event last week, and two-time Merced champion Fred Ryland was forced to settle for second behind Bakersfield star Michael Johnson. Though Ryland had a pair of wins last season, he led the division with eight Top 5 finishes in his 12 starts. If he's not winning, he's usually right up there among the leaders. Some of the drivers to watch for this week include 2018 champion Jeremy Hoff, Chris Falkenberg, Tanner Thomas, Paul Espino, Dwayne Short, Chuck Weir, Tony Peffer and division newcomers Kaylin Lopez and Richard Ragsdale.

The Mini Stock division serves as one of the gateways for new drivers into the wonderful world of racing at Merced Speedway. In 13 events last year, they had eight different winners, but it was the consistent Lee Ragsdale rebounding from losing a close championship in 2018 by holding off everybody for the glory last year. There will be some new drivers on the roster this season, and some of the veteran competitors to watch for include 2019 championship runner-up Lucy Falkenberg, Tyler Post, Shawn DePriest, Jerry Tubbs, Austin Sprague and three-time Merced champion Chris Corder.

The South Bay Dwarf Cars will round out an exciting program. This is an excellent tune-up for the group, which will host the 4th Annual Merced Speedway Western States Dwarf Car Nationals on April 3rd and 4th. Many of the South Bay Dwarf Car events happen at Ocean Speedway, and multi time winner Mark Biscardi managed to dethrone Gene "Punky" Pires to win the championship last season. These two stars of the group are anticipated on Saturday night along with such notables as Marty Weisler, Ryan Amlen, Jimmy Damron, Barry Waddell, Eddie Claesson and Trafton Chandler.

Saturday's lineup will offer plenty of speed and excitement for the fans to enjoy as the season is just getting started. For further information, go to www.mercedspeedway.net.


Antioch Speedway Opens Gates 
For First Of Three Scheduled Playdays

Antioch, CA...Since Chad Chadwick took over Antioch Speedway, much work has been done to improve the facility, and work is ongoing. On Saturday afternoon, the track was scheduled to open for its first of three playdays. Several drivers were even lined up at the gate when sprinkles turned into rain. Chadwick monitored the situation closely and decided that it was best to postpone the practice session. However, he quickly devised a new plan. 

The practice was postponed until Sunday afternoon, and over 30 drivers across various divisions still made it. The fact that Chadwick and his crew have worked long hours reshaping the racing surface and making changes that have been requested by the racers made this practice opportunity enticing. The speedway has been widened and as a result has gotten that much faster.

On Wednesday night, Chadwick opened the gates for an important test session among a few select racers. The idea was to see how drivers who have traveled to various venues in recent weeks liked the new configuration. These drivers, which included Nick DeCarlo, Troy Foulger, Bobby Hogge IV and Kellen Chadwick, approved. Hogge was turning laps in the low 15s. DeCarlo and Foulger enjoyed one particular practice session that evening where they were running side-by-side and making slide job passes in each of the turns. 

Everybody was chomping at the bit to get a look at this race track, and Sunday's practice was well received among the racers who attended. Again, there was plenty of side-by-side racing as drivers wanted to test the high side and the low side. It wasn't even a race day, but it was still an enjoyable sight. If this is any indication, the race track is going to be exceptional when the season opens on March 28th to a lineup of IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Delta Dwarf Cars. There will still be playdays on March 14th and 21st.

With the word that Antioch Speedway is now an IMCA sanctioned race track, several drivers couldn't resist bringing their Modifieds and Sport Modifieds to make some practice laps and get a feel for the track. Past Chico and IMCA All Star Series champion Ryan McDaniel made the trip, and Kellen Chadwick was back as well. Reigning track champion Buddy Kniss and his father Chester Kniss were there among others. Last season's top rookie, Frank Furtado, managed to get the bugs worked out of his motor enough to make some laps.

The IMCA Sport Modified division figures to get much more competitive this season. Reigning IMCA State championship Guy Ahlwardt, who is from the area, announced his plans recently to return regularly to Antioch Speedway. Though Ahlwardt wasn't at practice, reigning track champion Tommy Fraser was there along with 2015 Antioch and State champion Fred Ryland and his wife Patti.  Last season's runner-up, Kevin Brown, Tommy Clymens Jr and several others were there putting their cars through their shakedown runs. 

As with the IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modifieds, the Hobby Stocks will be at the season opener. There were several drivers making valuable practice laps. Last season's championship runner-up Breanna Troen and her team finished their race car just in time to make laps. Troen is hoping to step up her game a little bit this year, but she knows there will be plenty of competition. After winning one of the late-season Main Events last year, past division championship runner-up Jason Robles was there along with Judy Allison-Arth, Anthony Silva, teen racer Jacob Mallet Jr and others. There's quite a bit of buzz in the Hobby Stock division as we prepare for the new season.

Open wheel competitors were well represented with Winged 360 Sprint Car, Wingless Spec Sprint and Dwarf Car drivers making laps. Notable among them was last season's Winged 360 Sprint Car champion Jacob Tuttle. Tuttle has enjoyed competing at Antioch Speedway for the past three seasons and is hoping that the division can maintain a presence here in the years ahead. Jeff Lee, a feature winner in this class in the past, put his Wingless Spec Sprint through its paces as well.

Work is ongoing at the speedway as Chad Chadwick and his crew have many things to complete before the March 28th opener. The competitors noticed the cleaner environment, and some of those people actually helped by participating in the multiple work parties the speedway had prior to this practice day. Work is ongoing on the pit bathrooms as they get a major overhaul. They should be ready for the season opener. There are lots of other surprises in store as speedway management assesses the situation and moves forward with a plan to improve all aspects of the facility and racing program itself.

This will be the 60th championship season for the speedway, which opened for weekly racing in 1961. Drivers hoping to make valuable practice laps before the season officially opens will take advantage of the March 14th and March 21st playdays. For further information on scheduling and other things, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.

Ocean Speedway 2020 Season Kicks Off Friday Night

Watsonville, CA...Once again, Promoter John Prentice has an exciting season planned for Ocean Speedway. The track will continue to feature some big Sprint Car and Modified shows throughout the season, which will conclude at the end of September. This Friday night gets things kicked into gear with the Taco Bravo Sprint Cars back in action along with the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Four Bangers. 

The Sprint Car division featured an exciting battle last season that went to the finale. Bud Kaeding had been impressive all season long, but a mishap on the final night led to the championship being won by the consistent James Ringo. 

The Taco Bravo Sprint Cars offer the fans some of the most exciting open wheel action they'll find anywhere in the state on any given Friday night. These are the fastest cars you'll see at Ocean Speedway, and a top-notch list of talented competitors includes such hard chargers as Justin Sanders, Koen Shaw, Jeremy Chisum, Jason Chisum, Jake Andreotti, Kurt Nelson, Jayson Bright and multi-time champion Brad Furr.

The Sprint Cars will have some big events during the season. This will include three visits from the NARC/King of the West Sprint Cars. They have the Pombo/Sargent Classic on June 12th, the 10th Annual Howard Kaeding Classic on July 18th and a final appearance on August 28th. The Sprint Car Challenge Tour makes an appearance on August 22nd as part of the 60th running of the Johnny Key Classic. There will be plenty of opportunity to check out some great Sprint Car racing all season long, including this Friday night.

Last season, the IMCA Modifieds had one of the closest championship battles at the track, won by Austin Burke, just ahead of brother Cody Burke and Jim Pettit II. All three of these drivers have won at least one championship in this class and had some classic battles at the front of the pack last season. After being inducted into the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame last October, Jim Pettit II will be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame this June in celebration of his impressive racing career on both pavement and dirt. Cody Burke had won the previous two championships, and these three drivers could be the ones to beat.

The only thing likely to prevent six-time champion Bobby Hogge IV from winning a seventh title is the fact that he'll probably run a limited schedule. As it was, he won five of the eight times he competed last year. Ocean Speedway has some very talented IMCA Modified competitors, including past champions Robert Marsh, Nick DeCarlo and Brian Cass as well as decorated Late Model champion Jeff Decker, Raymond Keldsen, Anthony Giuliani and more.

As with the Sprint Cars, the IMCA Modifieds will have some big events with the Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks also on the bill for those events. It will start with the Third Annual Bill Egleston Memorial race on May 17th. The 23rd Annual Mike Cecil Memorial race happens on August 1st and the 10th Annual Pat and Jim Pettit Memorial Dirt Track Shootout happens on September 25th and 26th. The Cecil race and the second night at the Pettit Shootout are both All Star IMCA Modified Series events as well.

Last season saw the IMCA Sport Modifieds have a very strong season as car count was up significantly. Atwater's Jarrod Mounce decided to compete at Watsonville all season long and won a good battle with Adriane Frost to claim the championship. State championship contenders Guy Ahlwardt and Kevin Johnson were both Top 5 ranked, and Ahlwardt ultimately won the State to championship. All four of those drivers won multiple Main Events, and drivers like Justin McPherson, Charlie Hunter, Kelly Campanile, Steven Allee, Max Baggett and Randy Miller are expected to be among those looking to make it into the winner's circle this season.

Rob Gallaher outdualed his father Joe Gallaher to lay claim to his third Hobby Stock championship last year. This team is impressive week in and week out. Rob led the division with seven feature triumphs last year with his dad winning twice. While these two drivers figure to be tough to beat, some impressive racers will be out to claim some of the glory for themselves. This will include past champion Wally Kennedy, Jerry Skelton, DJ Keldsen, Nick Triolo, Bobby Huckaby, Ryan Muller and ageless veteran Tony Oliveira.

The closest championship race at the speedway last season happened in the Four Bangers, and it was the consistent Kate Beardsley and Nicole Beardsley tied atop the point list when the season wrapped up. Both drivers had 11 Top 5 finishes, but they were not among the seven different drivers in the 13 events held to win a Main Event. These two along with past champion Bill Beardsley will be hoping to change that this year, but drivers like John Grill, Ryan McClelland, Dakota Keldsen, Tony Gullo Roly Iler and Ray Bunn will be out to get some of the glory this year.

The fans and racers have been waiting patiently for spring to arrive and racing season to get underway. This Friday night offers an exciting five-division lineup that is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. This begins non-stop action all season long at the speedway. For further information, go to www.racepmg.com.


King Of The West Sprint Cars, 
CVMS Mini Stocks Head To Kern Raceway

Bakersfield, CA...This Saturday night, the NARC/King of the West Fujitsu Winged 410 Sprint Car Series kicks off a brand new season at the Kern Raceway Dirt Track. Joining them will be the House of JuJu Central Valley Mini Stock Series and the Kern County Hardtops.

The King of the West Sprint Car Series will be competing at 10 different venues this year in a season that will go all the way until November 7th. Last season saw a close championship battle decided by just 11 points among the Top 3 competitors. In the end, it was DJ Netto claiming the honors in the Netto Ag Motorsports entry by just eight points over Bud Kaeding. Kaeding was piloting the Williams Motorsports Sprinter, while Dom Scelzi was only 11 points out of the lead in the Roth Motorsports entry. It's interesting to note that Scelzi led the field with five feature victories, while Kaeding had two wins. Netto used consistency to claim the honors with a pair of seconds and three third place finishes among his best efforts. Netto also won the King of Thunder Sprint Car championship at Tulare and Hanford.

With the return and merger of the NARC brand with King of the West, the premier Winged 410 Sprint Car effort in California is now 60 years old. It remains the pinnacle of Winged Sprint Car racing in California and on the West Coast. Getting a win on this tour isn't so easy with the competition level being as tough as it is, but last year saw 10 drivers claim the honors in the 19 race season. It's also notable that Sean Watts scored a popular first career win and ended up eighth in the standings last season.

Watts is one of the other drivers anticipated this weekend along with such notables as Willie Croft, Geoff Ensign, Ryan Bernal, Nathan Rolfe, Kenny Allen and Chase Johnson. The King of the West Sprint Car Series usually checks in with a field of around 20 or so cars, and that should again be the case this Saturday night.

Once again this season, House of JuJu in Clovis and Morro Bay is sponsoring an impressive $5,000 championship point fund for the Central Valley Mini Stocks. This money will be distributed among the Top 10 point competitors in the 10 race series. Last season, it was Dan Myrick claiming the honors, and he's in the running once again this year. A few weeks ago in Hanford, Myrick found himself in a heated battle with reigning Kern Raceway champion Clinton Massey. Massey encountered a spun car in his path and crashed, ending his run. Myrick went on to pick up the win. 

2018 CVMS champion Greg Baronian managed to finish second in the Hanford race ahead of Jeff Durant, Scott Glenn and Jason Cook. There were 21 competitors for the season kickoff event. For the Kern Raceway show, a purse of $2,500 has been put up with $500 going to the winner. It's anticipated that this will draw another huge field of Mini Stock racers as this division doesn't usually get purses this big. Some of the stars to watch for include 2018 Kern and Hanford champion Andy Boydstun, Gene Glover, Stephen Cook, Paul Schwartzenberger, Steven Porter and Haily Marvin.

For over a decade, the Kern County Hardtops have been bringing their exciting brand of vintage racing to several venues on the southern side of California. Unlike some of the Hardtop groups, these drivers actually race, and sometimes it gets very exciting at the front of the pack. Drivers are excited to return to Kern Raceway once again, and front runners such as James Bradburn, Rich Souza, Kenny Mason, Brandon Stanphill and more are anticipated.

Saturday night should be an exciting program at Kern Raceway as there will be racing on both the pavement track and the dirt track that day. For further information, go to www.kernraceway.com.


Thornton, Jernagan And Johnson 
Open Bakersfield Speedway Season With Victories

Bakersfield, CA...March 7...Dylan Thornton opened the season with an impressive victory in the 30 lap IMCA Modified Main Event Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway. Thornton drew the pole position for the race and proceeded to lead all 30 laps in victory. The battle was for second with front-row starter Steve Noland holding the position for eight laps. On the ninth lap, Alex Stanford and Brad Pounds charged into second and third. Pounds pressured Stanford until gaining the position on the 21st circuit. However, Pounds was no match for Thornton, who brought it home to the satisfying win. Cody Laney moved into third on the 25th lap and would finish there, followed by Stanford, Kollin Hibdon, Austin Kiefer, Kyle Heckman, Logan Drake, Rob Sanders and Noland. The 24 competitors were divided into four eight lap heat races with wins going to Thornton, Hibdon, Ryan Davies and Stanford.

Garrett Jernagan scored the win in the 25 lap IMCA Sport Modified feature race. Jernagan charged by 2018 State champion Austin Manzella on the second lap and proceeded to pull away to about a half straightaway victory from there. Manzella held second until Santa Maria champion Kevin Johnson motored by on the seventh lap. Past State champion Nick Spainhoward gained second briefly on the 10th lap before surrendering the position back to Johnson a lap later. It was a battle of the Johnson's on the 17th lap as Michael Johnson passed Kevin Johnson for second. However, Kevin Johnson came roaring back on the 20th lap. The battle was fierce in the waning laps with Michael Johnson passing Kevin Johnson on the final tour to claim second behind Jernagan. Jason Nation finished fourth, followed by Manzella, Spainhoward, Matt Mayo, Billy Simkins, Daniel West and Brock Crawford. The eight lap heat race wins went to David Pearson, Mayo, Manzella and Brylon Holder.

Chad Johnson won the 20 lap IMCA Stock Car Main Event. Jayden Schweitzer led the opening lap before past Hanford champion Loren DeArmond went charging by. DeArmond held the lead until problems on the eighth lap dropped him deep in the pack. At that point, Chad Johnson held the lead. Nicholas Johnson swept past Schweitzer for second on the 14th lap, but he wasn't quite able to make the move as Chad Johnson won ahead of Nicholas Johnson, past Hanford champion Troy Patee, DeArmond, Chris Broucaret Schweitzer, Tyler Johnson, Brock Hamilton, Cody Johnson and Ethan Dotson. The eight lap heat race wins went to Nicholas Johnson and Ethan Dotson.

Racing resumes next Saturday night with the Western Pro Stocks opening their season, joined by the Hobby Stocks, American Stocks and California Lightning Sprints. For further information, go to www.bakersfieldspeedway.com.


Bakersfield Speedway Unofficial Race Results March 7, 2020
IMCA Modifieds

Dylan Thorton
Brad Pounds
Cody Laney
Alex Stanford
Kollin Hibdo
Austin Kiefe
Kyle Heckman
Logan Drake
Rob Sande
Steve Nolan
Roger Holder
Gavyn Manning
Michael Scruggs
Darrell Hughes II
Jerry Flippo
Bryan Clar
Ryan Dave
Kolby Hann
Blake Thornell
Ethan Dotson
Randy Thornell
Robby Sawyer
Bobby Hogge IV

IMCA Sport Modifieds
Garrett Jernaga
Michael Johnson
Kevin Johnson
Jason Nation
Austin Manzella
Nick Spainhoward
Matt Mayo
Billy Simkin
Daniel West
Brock Crawfor
David Pearson
Justin Gonzalez
Markus Frazier
Brandon Jennings
robby claborn
Tyler Blankenship
Brian Baker
Brylon Holder
Mike Wells
Matthew Mayo

IMCA Stock Cars
Chad Johnson
Nicholas Johnson
Troy Patee
Loren DeArmond
Kris Broucaret
Jayden Schweitzer
Tyler Johnson
Brock Hamilton
Cody Johnson
Ethan Dotson
Wayne Dotson

American Stocks

Steve Johnson
Tyler Irwin
Steven Amick
Brian Childress
Josh Yadon
Miranda Scott
Nick Coffman
Clay Water
Daryl Mealer
Cobly War
Craig Houk
Mason Conwa
Andrew Johnston
Mark McCaslin


Unofficial Ventura Raceway Race Results March 7, 2020
VRA Sprint Cars

Rick Hendrix
Trent Williams
Brandon Wiley
Tyler Hatzikian
Will Perkins

VRA Pro Dwarf Cars

Jason Horton
Shane Linenburger
Kobe Kerns
Kevin Powell
Brian Powell
April Banuelos
Jeff Brink
Cameron Russell
Gage Cheek
Evan Jonker
Mike Keebler
Mike Long
Jack Chavez
Jeff Hinz
Tim Morse

VRA Senior Sprints

Chris Meredith
Nate Robinson
Will Perkins
Tom Stephens Sr
Danny Parrish
Wally Pankratz
Russell Martin
Rob Kershaw
Mike Coo

IMCA Modifieds
Trevor Fitzgibbon
Austin Grabowski
Danny Laue
Jack Parker
Andrew Greiman
Dennis Eckert
Dave Phipps
Bailey Jones
Tim Labrake
Sam Garvin
Terry Hershberger
Brandon Hoekstra
Donald Houghton
Todd Barnes

VRA Hobby Stocks
Joel Chavez
Ryan Changus
Jeff Houghton
Ken Redman
Dalton Houghton


Unofficial Merced Speedway Race Results March 6, 2020
ASCS National Sprint Cars
Main Event

Brad Sweet
Shane Golobic
Blake Hahn
Carson Macedo
Andy Forsberg
Ryan Bernal
Roger Crockett
Blake Carrick
Dominic Scelzi
Alex Hill
Dylan Westbrook
D.J. Netto
Jordon Mallett
Mitchell Faccinto
Justyn Cox
Thomas Kennedy
Robbie Price
Harli White
Grant Dunkerkin
Justin Sanders
Tanner Carrick
Chase Johnson
Matt Covington
Scott Bogucki

B Main 1
Chase Johnson
Tanner Carrick
Robbie Price
Matt Covington
John Carney II
Scott Bogucki
John Clark
Shane Hopkins
Billy Butler
Chase Randall
Chris Martin
Tony Gualda Jr
Stephen Ingraham
Chelsea Blevins
Jeremy McCun
Travis Reber
Kaleb Montgomery
Devon Borden

B Main 2

Justyn Cox
Mitchell Faccint
Harli White
Joey Ancona
Greg Hamilton
Danny Sams III
Colby Johnson
Sean Becker
Ryan Bickett
Mitchel Moles
Willie Croft
Garet Williamson
Mindy McCune
Bradley Terrel
Michael Faccinto
Sam Hafertepe Jr
J.J. Hickle

IMCA Sport Modifieds

Michael Johnson
Fred Ryland
Kevin Johnson
Jeremy Hoff
Chris Falkenberg
Timothy Allerdings
Paul Espino
Tanner Thomas
Kaylin Lopez
Patti Ryland
Richard Ragsdal
Jason Ferguson
Dwayne Shor
Tony Peffer
Chuck Weir
Sean Vega
Kodie Dean
Nick Tucker
Andrew Peckham

California Sharp Mini Late Models
Garrett Corn
Kennzzie Brown
Riley Jeppesen
Brayden Morton
Emali VanHoff
Tyler Tucker
Jay Brooks
Carson Guthrie
Kaylin Lopez


Unofficial Petaluma Speedway Race Results March 8, 2020
ASCS National Sprint Cars

Main Event
Andy Forsberg
Shane Golobic
Sean Becker
Sam Hafertepe Jr
Justyn Cox
Scott Bogucki
Carson Macedo
Blake Carrick
Tanner Carrick
Chase Johnson
Chris Martin
Tony Gualda Jr
Dylan Westbrook
Devon Borden
Robbie Price
Geoff Ensign
Blake Hahn
Harli White
Jordon Mallett
J.J. Hickle
Shane Hopkins
Alex Hill
Chelsea Blevin
Willie Croft
Roger Crockett

B Main 1
Tony Gualda Jr
Chase Johnson
Jordon Mallett
Chase Randal
Colby Johnson
Jake Haulot
Jesse Love
Garet Williamson
John Carney II
Ryan Bickett
Mindy McCune
Jeremy McCune
Blake Hahn

B Main 2

Willie Croft
Harli White
Shane Hopkin
J.J. Hickle
Bradley Terrell   
Roger Crockett
Danny Sams III
John Clark
Greg Hamilton
Matt Covington
Billy Butler
Travis Reber
Thomas Kennedy

General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Cars
Main Event

Danny Wagner
Full results not posted, see article above for more information


The Editor's Viewpoint

I'm close to making an official announcement. This will happen by the end of the month. It's something that I've been thinking about and not necessarily wanting to address, but I feel the time may be right for me to make this move. It certainly has not been easy, but before I say anything, I want to make sure that I have all of the facts at my disposal. No, it's not an announcement that I'm going away or pulling this blog. I will be active this season. I just need to do what's right for me. I'll probably be the bad guy if I end up doing what it looks like I might have to do, but so be it. Being the doormat hasn't really worked for me either. 

It's kind of funny that we went through February with lots of sunny skies and dry weather. There were tracks even in Oregon that could have held practice sessions had work been done on the racing surface. Then, as we hit the first weekend of March, it decided to rain. This did away with the planned practice in Yreka and the big ASCS National Sprint Car race planned for Placerville. Antioch Speedway had a practice that they really tried to make happen that Saturday, but rain had other ideas.

The cool thing is that Promoter Chad Chadwick decided to think outside the box and make a snap decision. The moment he knew that practice wasn't going to happen on Saturday due to the wet weather, he decided to switch to a Sunday practice. Pretty much everybody who was going to be there on Saturday showed up on Sunday, and much was learned about the racing surface. Some of the top traveling teams had taken a sneak peek at the surface with a session of their own during the week, but this was an opportunity for everybody to make their first laps on the quarter-mile clay oval. 

Reshaping the track was high on the list of things that Chadwick wanted to do. Drivers have been voicing their desire to see the speedway widened out just a little bit more, and Chadwick wanted to make that happen at the West Coast Nationals last year. Now that he is the one at the helm of the speedway, he can put his own plans in motion. The biggest reason for the sneak practice during the week was to get the opinion of some racers who have been traveling a lot in recent years and know a thing or two about different racing surfaces. Once things looked good there, the weekend practice would provide an opportunity for everybody to make a run.

It was interesting watching the Wednesday practice video footage that was put out there for all to see. I enjoyed watching Nick DeCarlo and Troy Foulger slice and dice and do slide job passes in each turn. Antioch Speedway has had a nice outside groove for years. What we witnessed in this case was two good grooves. In fact, there was lots of side-by-side practicing on Sunday as well. If you didn't know any better, you might have thought they were holding a race. It seems to be a general consensus that the racers are pleased with the quarter-mile clay oval.

Obviously, the first temptation a new promoter will have when stepping into a racing facility for the first time is changing as much as they can. This holds true with successful programs being taken over by new promoters the same as those taking over programs that are in decline. You want to put your stamp on it. In Chadwick's case, I think you can understand that he looked at declining numbers in the pits and in the stands and figured that some big changes were needed to reverse that trend. I might wonder if certain things needed to happen or not, but some things certainly did need to happen. 

What you have to be worried about is that when numbers go down to a certain point and remain there, it becomes more challenging to reverse the trend. We are several years away from what I would describe as the "Glory Days" of racing, and it's just a different time. Therefore, if you let the low numbers be the norm, you're going to have more of a challenge trying to get those numbers back up. If you sit there and do nothing, what exactly is going to change for the better? So, I won't nitpick the decisions that have been made, because you have to allow the new promoter to put his vision out there and be given an opportunity to take hold.

We are watching promoters risk their money every week to keep the gates open. This is happening at a time when technology both in our own personal lives and within the automobile industry are presenting certain challenges. What new divisions can you try versus what older divisions can you hold onto? What divisions are working and what divisions can be salvaged by tweaking the rules just a little bit? There is much to work with at Antioch Speedway when it comes to the different divisions and the potential car count. Though I'm not going to tell you that suddenly there will be 100 cars in the pits every week, the car count average on any particular week should increase.

Everything seems to be working so far, but the big test happens when the grandstands open on race day. How many fans will be coming out to watch? The obvious goal that you have, especially considering this is a Bay Area track, is that you want 1,000 fans per week or more. The fans are there to be enticed, but I can assure you it's not a guarantee that you're going to hit those numbers consistently. This won't happen without proper marketing, proper presentation and giving people a reason to spend their hard-earned money coming through the gates. Tickets and food at the speedway aren't cheap, and if you're asking a fan to come out there four times a month, you're talking about a family spending a couple hundred dollars or more out of their budget every month to be there. The task you have is making them want to be there.

So far, so good. There's a lot of things that need to be done at that speedway, and a lot of work is being done. The pit area certainly needed to be cleaned with certain things being removed. This is happening. The pit bathrooms have been problematic for years, and they are being completely redone. It was either that or remove them entirely. I don't believe that the bathrooms in the pits have been maintained properly for the past several years, and quite honestly they were disgusting. You almost could have had porta potties out there and it would have been a step up from the actual bathrooms with running water. It isn't just the fact that the speedway hadn't been maintaining them properly, but some of the people using the facilities weren't properly respecting them either. Hopefully, when things are cleaned up, the people in the pits will keep in mind that the way they treat the facilities will have an impact on how clean or unclean they end up being. How would you treat your own bathroom at home?

One of the things that will help Chad out with his turnaround effort is the endorsement of some of the big-name drivers who aren't necessarily racing there every week. I've seen people getting on social media and talking about the new attitude at the speedway and why they will be supporting. They want other people to come out and support this thing as well, so seeing people like Guy Ahlwardt, Fred Ryland and Kellen Chadwick talking so positively about the track is certainly going to help. This is especially true for the grandstands where fans who want to see certain names out there on the track will be more likely to come watch when they know they are there.

I should also point out that I received confirmation that John Soares has indeed sold Oval Motorsports to Chad Chadwick. My sources have told me that the deal is completely finalized now and Soares is not officially affiliated with the speedway. This marks the second time he's run a racing program and ended up selling his operations to somebody else. The first time was when he saved Merced Speedway from the ash heap, did a major overhaul to the race track and righted the ship. In Antioch's case, John promoted this race track for 22 years. 

I think ultimately history will note that John did right by Antioch Speedway. Everything was by no means perfect and there were definitely some lows. There were highs as well. Anybody who was there during John's first three seasons knows some of the highs, there were big Modified $5,000 to win races through the years, big Late Model specials, big Sprint Car events, and oh yes, the first ever appearances by the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars. John did all of that. I think there is quite a bit to be proud of.

To me, it's the nuts and bolts of the thing. What you do week in and week out. It isn't the specials, it's the fact that he gave the regular locals a place to run. John added new divisions and gave the racers opportunities to try out things they may never have otherwise. To me, a major calling card for him is the fact that the races went on as scheduled for 22 years, unless it was weather or something Fairgrounds related that was beyond his control. He kept things going from the era of West Coast Speedways and has successfully made the handoff to Chad Chadwick.

There will be speculation about what John might be doing next. I've heard rumors. He has several different race cars at his disposal, so seeing him at Antioch Speedway or another venue is certainly a possibility. Could he aim even higher? Could John return to promote another race track or even help put a race track on the map that isn't currently active? I guess you never know. On the other hand, considering his body of work in promoting, racing, car building and all of that, his legacy is well secured. He's earned the right to walk off into the sunset. Like I said, I am proud to still call him my friend and will always be grateful for the opportunities he gave me way back when.

This weekend will see several other race tracks open, and I've been trying to get more in the mode of writing again. I did talk myself out of doing the extra media effort this past weekend. One of the race tracks I would have covered didn't give me all the information I needed, and I admit I decided that I wasn't going to stress out trying to find the information. After all, it's voluntary and I'm not getting paid to do what I do. I'm still unsure about how much of that I'm going to do beyond what I present on my blogs, but I do know there are several other tracks opening their gates this weekend, including Kern Raceway, Silver Dollar Speedway and Ocean Speedway.

Merced Speedway will run one of their regular programs, and I just learned that General Manager Doug Lockwood has increased the winner's prize in IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Mini Stocks. I think this is Doug's reminder in light of the highly successful ASCS National Sprint Car show they just had that the local divisions are very important. I like that Doug is a Sprint Car person who respects Stock Car racing and realizes that it's going to take all of that to keep this thing going. You'd be amazed at some of the race tracks that lose sight of that fact. 

The ASCS National Sprint Car show was to come through Merced, Placerville and Petaluma last weekend, but rain wiped out Placerville. Merced had a rather sizable fan attendance to witness 51 Sprint Cars competing among the other divisions that were on the card. Petaluma was an even split of 42 Sprint Cars and 42 Dwarf Cars and a packed house. I think it was a smart move for these promoters to go ahead and book this Sprint Car series, and what was learned was that you can have huge fields for these events, they don't cost as much as a World of Outlaw program and the fans will respond by buying tickets. Ultimately, this is what you're in the business for as a promoter.

I was hoping to get some details on the Orland Raceway practice. I know it happened and saw a few pictures, but that's about the extent of the information that I received. Not too far up north of Orland, the Siskiyou Golden Speedway practice did get rained out. In fact, the practice scheduled for this Saturday looked so gloomy that Kevin Barba made a snap decision on Wednesday morning to move the practice to Friday. There could be snow on Saturday, and this was the only way to have any opportunity to practice. 

This brings up the debate about a promoter putting himself at risk to be the hero versus making a move that may ultimately be better for business. We just witnessed Antioch Speedway making such a move, and it paid off. We're only talking about practice here, and it's not like a snap decision is being made to move a race. In Yreka's case, I don't think it's going to affect things too much. Drivers who were planning on being there on Saturday who live in Yreka will probably be there, but people traveling from too far of a distance out of town may have those plans altered due to work.

They're going to have the Sportsman Expo in Yreka this month. This is an opportunity for the racers in Yreka to put their cars on display and meet with some of the people at this event. Usually there's at least a few racers in the various classes who participate, and somebody ends up being awarded for the Best Appearing Car. We're coming up on the Pony Village Mall show in Coos Bay, which is when several racers from the speedway display their cars indoors. Again, when you can get this kind of exposure leading into a season, you jump at the chance.

Southern Oregon Speedway used to be represented prior to the season at a car show at the Rogue Valley Mall. By the time Mike McCann and I got here, that was ended, although the speedway is still represented at the Pear Blossom Parade in April. Tony Incerty of the safety crew of the speedway does an exemplary job of organizing things. For the Pony Village Mall show, once McCann had the door opened to make it happen on March 28th and 29th, he put speedway announcer Cory Penfold and Moxie Media on the task of signing and sealing the deal. This is going to be a great opportunity for exposure for Southern Oregon Speedway.

One of the areas that Cory and his crew excel at is this type of promotion. Prior to coming to Southern Oregon Speedway, Cory helped organize the mall show for Willamette Speedway. The cars will be displayed prominently indoors with the drivers meeting and greeting the people. Cory will also be going live with his radio show, West Coast Wide Open. If you don't follow Moxie Media And Promotions on Facebook, you should do so. This is the way to find out when they're going live and other news that Cory may break.

Oregon is slowly coming to life. The weather being what it is in the state, we get off to a later start than California. However, the weather has been so crazy that if track prep had been handled in February, they probably could have had practice up here as well. Cottage Grove Speedway did a clean up party last weekend and would hope to get a practice in this week. However, it looks like rain ahead, and I'm not holding out hope for the March 21st opener either. The weather teased  Oregonians. Everything looked nice in February, but we're reminded what state we live in with the rain that will probably go on and off through March and into April.

I'm entering my fifth season at Southern Oregon Speedway, and one of the strangest thoughts in my mind is that I've actually officially been a part of this staff longer than I have at any other race track. Technically, I was only an official member of the staff at Antioch Speedway for three seasons, and was retained as a writer in 2003. I was officially involved at Merced Speedway for three seasons, though two of those were only part time. I never would have figured that the race track I would be affiliated with officially for the longest period of time would be Southern Oregon Speedway. People will say, "but you were at Antioch for years," and that's true. However, I wasn't an official member of the staff most of the time. Though I did handle magazine publicity for the speedway, I was more or less there as a representative of DCRR Racing News. 

My heart has never really left Antioch when it comes to racing, and I don't think the time will ever come when I completely let go of that dream, even when I walk away from the sport. However, I feel like I have an emotional stake in Southern Oregon Speedway and its success. I set about a task to help make things better, and I've done everything I can think of to help Mike bring that into reality. The results are speaking for themselves, but I remain very nervous entering the fifth season. I'm always aware of the possibility that things can go terribly wrong or there won't be something that I can do to fix any problem that might come my way. 

I've made some good friends up here and been involved in some really special moments in the four years here so far. It became more of a concern in my mind last year, given some of the chaos behind the scenes, that we don't mess up and have something fall apart. My attitude is, "not on my watch." The ultimate goal is that when I walk away from this race track, I can hand off the duties that I handled to somebody knowing that it's better off than it was before I got here. I don't think there's much else that you can do but give it your best and hope it makes a difference.

Regardless, the speedway won't have any racing until the first weekend of May with a practice the weekend before if the weather allows. I don't think Jim will start taking a cut on the race track until the beginning of April. This has been tradition. I hear some people say we should get started earlier or this or that, but the season won't start any earlier than it's planned. The weather is still going to impact stuff, so what do you really get accomplished if you start cutting the race track two months earlier versus doing it a few weeks ahead of time? From my perspective, Jim Rodgers has had the track in good shape when the racing season has started for the past four seasons.

Where I can hear people's complaints and understand them well enough is when it comes to the pits. They get wet and there are times when we cancel our program with a track that could still be raced on. The pits get soft too easily, and you'll hear lots of solutions about how we can put some other sort of surface in the pits to prevent that or figure out a way to improve the drainage system. We're talking thousands of dollars of expenses to make this move, and sure you can make a racing program happen sometimes when it might otherwise be canceled. I certainly understand the racer's concern. If it's at all humanly possible to go racing, they want to do it.

What I've learned now that maybe I wasn't quite understanding when Brynda Bockover was trying to teach me that lesson at Antioch Speedway some 30 years ago is pretty simple. If you've got gloomy skies and it's raining in the area, it doesn't really matter if you could hold the race at the speedway. You're guaranteed to lose a good portion of your fans. If you have a low crowd for your show, it's almost certain that all the work you're putting in will lose money. Like it or not, a promoter might do this for the good racing, but it's still a business. It's not good business to lose money too often or you're not running the race track anymore.

Mike has a plan that he sticks to pretty rigidly. If the weather says the chances of raining are low enough, he's racing. It might have rained the day before and will rain tomorrow. If the grounds can hold the cars in the pits and the track is ready, he's rolling the dice. The problem is that if it's still gloomy skies, you suffer. This was what happened for the season-opener a few years ago when it was cloudy and gloomy and you could have almost counted the attendance in the stands by hand. You don't want to open your season with a low number, because you really shouldn't. You want to establish momentum immediately.

I always talk about some of the joys of a new season. You have new race cars, new bodies on those cars with nice looking wraps. You have lots of green in the area from the rains. It's definitely something that's pleasing to the eyes. In Oregon, we have a little bit of what I'd call rainy weather depression. It'll get you down how much it rains up here. So, the minute people can go outdoors again, they are ready. If going outdoors means they're facing cloudy, cold and potentially wet weather, even with the desire to get outdoors, they're going to stay home. What I'm saying is I do hope that there's sunny skies when the season opens at Southern Oregon Speedway in May. You always want to start out strong.

At the moment, there's not a lot on my mind that needs to be expressed in this column. I  am just trying to keep my mind focused for what I'm inclined to believe will be my final season being involved on a regular basis in the sport. Unless something I'm not seeing comes my way next year or this year for that matter, I feel like it might be time to pursue things differently. I'm not getting any younger, I'm not getting any happier and my outlook for the future isn't getting any brighter.

What has made things easier for me when it comes to motorsports is that I can get my mind engaged in what is happening in the sport. When I'm involved in racing at a specific venue, I believe I have proven through the years how much I can contribute to the overall positivity of the track. I'm also starting to realize that as I've entered my 50s, maybe it's time for me to get out of the way and let others have a crack at things. It's a new era with new ways to look at things, and though I can adapt and roll with some of it, maybe the era of the written word and somebody wanting to document things every week is passing by. It's all just bits on a computer now that sometimes gets deleted when the season's over to make room for the next season. Have I overstayed my welcome? 
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I'll continue to stand up and fight for what it is I believe in. I believe in everybody involved in the sport and those in the past who made it special. I believe in the history and I believe in honoring the legends, and even if no race tracks give a damn about any of that, as long as I draw breath, I will. Whether that matters to any particular race track, I'm beginning to have my doubts. I'm left to believe that for the most part, my services aren't needed or wanted by the powers-that-be. While I will never completely go away and will write things on this blog when I feel the need, I'm prepared to step back into the shadows. 

Before that happens, however, I have a season to cover. I'm looking to have fun and take it one week at a time. I value the friendships and some of the precious memories that have been made through the years. As I said, I do have an announcement forthcoming, but I'm going to wait until all the facts are presented and say something by the end of the month. Until then, I'm going to end this column for now...