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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
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.