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Smock, Richards, Rodgers Win Orland Fair Time races
Orland, CA...May 17...Wes Smock won the 20 lap Pure Stock Main Event Friday night at Orland Raceway. Smock is a past Mini Stock champion at the speedway who hasn't competed in recent years. The races were part of the annual Glenn County Fair, and a big crowd was in attendance to watch the action-packed show on the 1/5 mile dirt oval.
Smock started in the second row of the Pure Stock feature behind reigning champion Paul Stephens and point leader Phil Spencer. Spencer led a pair of laps before Smock made an inside pass in Turn 4 to take the lead on lap three. Smock continued to lead as Keith Ross battled Spencer for second. Ross made an inside pass in Turn 2 of the eighth lap take second, and Spencer found himself restarting in the rear after a lap 10 tangle with Jason Matlock in Turn 2.
Smock continued to lead on the restart and over the remaining 10 laps for the impressive victory. Ross held on for second with Spencer, Stephens, Steve Martin and John Camper rounding out the Top 6. There were three 10 lap heat races, and Stephens won a good battle with Ross to win the first heat. Spencer and Smock where the other heat winners.
Tony Richards sped to his third twenty lap Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event victory of the season. Richards had the pole for the Main Event and charged into the lead from the drop of the green flag. Point leader Denny McNary was a race long second, but he finished a straightaway behind Richards at the checkered flag. Jeremy Langenderfer, RJ Baker, Ryan Owens and Cort Marchuk completed the Top 6. Richards and McNary won their respective 10 lap heat races.
Tyler Rodgers won a wild 20 lap B Modified Main Event. At the green flag, Rodgers raced between Jake Van Tol and Scott Savell to take the lead. Savell had second until being passed on the inside by Van Tol on lap four. Van Tol was in close pursuit of Rodgers as they worked slower traffic. Unfortunately, Savell spun in the fourth turn and collected the duo for a lap 15 yellow flag. This put Jimmy Ford into the lead for the restart, but Jason Ferguson charged ahead. Rodgers and third-place Richard Vander Ploeg got together with Vander Ploeg spinning on the front stretch as they were about to receive the white flag.
On the restart, Rodgers made a strong move on the inside behind Ford to gain second. Rodgers went low exiting Turn 4 and gained the lead as they took the white flag. As Rodgers went on to victory,
Ford beat Van Tol back to the line for second. Vander Ploeg, Savell, Ferguson and David Larabee completed the finishing order. 10 lap heat race wins went to Savell and Van Tol.
2016 Mini Truck champion Dan Webster returned and won the 20 lap Main Event. Webster led from the start with Hayfork visitor Ian Thulin enjoying a good battle with William Fogle for second during the early stages of the race. Unfortunately, Fogle and Kalvin Kvalvik tangled in Turn 2, putting them at the back of a lap eight restart. Webster continued to lead and scored the victory ahead of Thulin. Fogle rebounded for third, followed by Kvalvik and Beau Chandler. Webster and Fogle were the 10 lap heat race winners.
Reigning champion Tom Davis went flag-to-flag to win the 20 lap Mini Stock Main Event. Barbara Crain held second for most of the race until a lap 19 restart enabled Jason Libbee to make a move for the position. Libbee took over second but could only chase Davis across the line. Crain settled for third, followed by many time Susanville champion Larry Whitebird and Bion Barr.
When racing resumes on June 1st, fans will be in for a treat as the NorCal Dwarf Car Association makes their first appearance at the speedway in years. The California Hardtops will be there along with the Pure Stocks, Mini Trucks and the two Micro Sprint classes. For further information, go to the Orland Raceway Facebook page.
Pure StocksHeat Winners (10 laps)-Paul Stephens, Phil Spencer, Wes Smock. Main Event (20 laps)-Wes Smock, Keith Ross, Phil Spencer, Paul Stephens, Steve Martin, John Camper, Jason Matlock, Maurice Merrill, James Taylor.
Wingless Spec SprintsHeat Winners (10 laps)-Tony Richards, Denny McNary. Main Event (20 laps)-Tony Richards, Denny McNary, Jeremy Langenderfer, RJ Baker, Ryan Owens, Court Marchuk, Josh Jacobo NS, Cassandra Amore NS, Nathan Johnson NS.
B ModifiedsHeat Winners (10 laps)-Jake Van Tol, Scott Savell. Main Event (20 laps)-Tyler Rodgers, Jimmy Ford, Jake Van Tol, Jason Ferguson, Scott Savell, Richard Vander Ploeg, David Larabee.
Mini TrucksHeat Winners (10 laps)-James Woodell, Dan Webster. Main Event (20 laps)-Dan Webster, Ian Thulin, William Fogle, Kalvin Kvalvik, Beau Chandler, James Woodell, Justin Vance, Mike Chase, Dan Libbee.
Mini StocksHeat Winners (10 laps)-Tom Davis, Kevin Pendergras. Main Event (20 laps)-Tom Davis, Jason Libbee, Barbara Crain, Larry Whitebird, Bion Barr, Lori Langenderfer, John Kirkpatrick NS, Kevin Pendergras NS, Scott Camper NS.
Cody Burke Wins Bill Egleston Memorial At Ocean Speedway
Watsonville, CA...May 17...Cody Burke scored the victory in the 25.lap IMCA Modified Main Event Friday night at Ocean Speedway. It was the Bill Egleston Memorial race, which honors the memory of the past Merced Speedway champion, who was killed in a crash at Perris Auto Speedway in February of 2018. The racers were competing for an increased purse, and Burke collected $2015 for his win.
Merced Speedway point leader Troy Foulger had a front row start and raced into the early lead over Austin Burke and Jim Pettit II. The lead three ran that way until fourth place Cody Burke slipped past both Pettit and Austin Burke for second on lap eight. Cody Burke quickly reeled in Foulger, and a side-by-side battle ensued. Burke passed Foulger for the lead on lap 16, but Foulger regained first a lap later. A yellow flag on lap 19 provided Cody Burke the opportunity to take the lead. When the green flag waved, Burke charge past Foulger to take over. Burke withstood one more restart to pick up the big win as Foulger settled for second. Ethan Dotson made a late pass on Pettit for third as Danny Wagner finished fifth, followed by Andy Obertello, Dylan Thornton, Austin Burke, Alex Wilson and Anthony Copeland.
There were 29 competitors, and the eight lap heat race wins were recorded by Foulger, Obertello, Austin Burke and Tim Balding. They needed a 12 lap B Main to fill out the remainder of the feature field, and Robert Marsh won that race ahead of Jeff Faulkner, Thornton and Harley Turner.
Jarrod Mounce won his first career 20 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event and pocketed $715 from the increased purse in the process. Mounce led from the start ahead of IMCA State point leader Guy Ahlwardt. The race had yellow flags on laps seven and 12, but each time Mounce maintained his lead over Ahlwardt. Bakersfield Speedway star Kevin Johnson slipped past Clay Daly for third on the lap 13 restart. The order remained the same to the checkered flag as Mounce was the happy winner ahead of Ahlwardt, Johnson, Daly, Austin Williams, Tanner Thomas, Robbie Claborn, Tim Elias, Keith Brown Jr and Matt Ruff. There were 21 competitors, and Mounce, Johnson and Ahlwardt won the eight lap heat races.
JC Elrod returned to action and won the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. This was his first appearance since winning the opening night race, and it was worth $515 due to the increased purse for the special night. Bakersfield racer Nicholas Johnson set the early pace ahead of Quentin Harris. Elrod was in fifth on lap four, moved past Wally Kennedy for fourth a lap later and gained third from Bobby Huckaby Sr on lap seven. Elrod continued his momentum by passing Harris for second on lap eight and set his sights on Johnson. A lap 14 pass gained Elrod the lead, and the only yellow flag of the race flew moments later. Elrod maintained the lead on the restart and led the remaining laps for the impressive win. Johnson settled for second, followed by Kennedy, DJ Keldsen, Rob Gallaher, Huckaby, Joe Gallaher, TJ Etchison III, Tony Oliveira and Harris. Huckaby and Joe Gallaher were the eight lap heat race winners.
Ryan McClelland won his second 15 lap Four Banger Main Event. McClelland led at the start ahead of Dakota Keldsen and Lee Ragsdale. The lead three ran that way until Tony Gullo moved by Ragsdale to take over third on lap nine. Moments later, a caution flag waved for McClelland. Keldsen had rear end damage and headed to the pits for the officials to inspect his car. He was restored to the lead upon his return to the track and led the next three laps before his rear end finally broke, putting Ragsdale into the lead. Ragsdale led the restart, but the hard-charging McClelland passed him on the last lap to get the win. Ragsdale settled for second, followed by Kate Beardsley, Nicole Beardsley, Bill Beardsley, Keldsen, Tony Gullo, Shawn DePriest and Allen Kuykendall There were two eight lap heat races, won by McClelland and Keldsen.
Note: A late report revealed that McClelland was disqualified in post race tech, giving the win to Ragsdale.
John Hohmann won the 15 lap Police N Pursuit Main Event. He started on the front row along with Roy Iler, and the two ran first and second to the checkered flag. Hohman represents the Scotts Valley Police Department while Iler is from the San Benito Sheriff's Office. Justin Rhodes finished third ahead of Cliff Sloma, Dan Anderson, Nate Graham, Steven Fernandes, Mike Mount, Adam Rikalo and Tony Weir. Eight lap heat races were won by Iler and Hohmann.
The speedway will be dark for Memorial Day Weekend, but the Taco Bravo Sprint Cars return on May 31st along with the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Four Bangers and South Bay Dwarf Cars. For further information, go to www.racepmg.com.
Sprint Cars Make Season Debut
At Antioch Speedway Saturday Night
Antioch, CA...Finally, the Winged 360 Sprint Cars will be making their season debut as part of the five division lineup of All Star Series racing Saturday night Antioch Speedway. It's going to be a busy next few weeks for the Sprint Cars as they will be running a Civil War Series event on June 1st with another All Star Series event for the class on June 15th. Also in the lineup this Saturday night will be the A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.
When last we left the Sprint Cars, Matt DeMartini was winning his first career championship ahead of previous champion Art McCarthy. The finale was quite dramatic as McCarthy led several laps after DeMartini flipped out of the event on the opening lap. Had McCarthy won the race, he might have managed to overtake DeMartini for the point lead, but his motor expired on him and ended his race as well.
McCarthy, who is a two-time champion at Antioch and Petaluma, is anticipated for this Saturday's show. Also expected to be on hand is two-time Dwarf Car champion and current A Modified title contender Danny Wagner. Wagner has landed a ride in the car owned by Dave Johnson. Other racers to watch for include Jacob Tuttle, Tim Burcher, David Dias and Burt Foland Jr. The other interesting thing about the Sprint Car show at Antioch is you never know what drivers will show up to run for the money. We've seen several drivers come to Antioch and get their first career wins in this class in the past few seasons.
The A Modified championship race is currently being led by third-generation racer Buddy Kniss. Kniss has been very consistent so far and also notched his first career feature win at the third event of the season. Most recently, Danny Wagner got the win, keeping him 20 points behind Kniss in the close battle. It's Buddy's father, Chester Kniss, who is tied with Nick DeCarlo for third in the standings. DeCarlo won the first two events of the season, but he has only run one race since. Kniss is also a feature winner this year.
Having competed in the Hobby Stock division for the past few seasons, Frank Furtato has made the move into Modifieds this season. He currently finds himself fifth in the standings after an eventful first five starts. His lead over Sean Wilson is only 21 points. Other drivers to watch for this week include Brian Pearce, past champion Kellen Chadwick, Greg Allen McElhaney and David Zeiter.
The B Modified point battle continues to be close after five races. Trevor Clymens managed to take the point lead from Cameron Swank after the most recent event. Swank had a solid effort going for the first four weeks, but he retired early from the most recent race and finished out of the running. The reigning champion Clymens is a one-time winner, but he has somebody not far behind him.
Brent Curran scored his second win in the last three races, which should move him into second in the standings. Curran had a nightmare start going for the first two weeks and had considered other options before deciding to give it another go. He may be glad that he did as he will continue his effort to join his father Brian Curran as an Antioch Speedway champion. Also very much in the championship hunt is two-time winner Tommy Fraser and the steady Kevin Brown, both of whom are ranked inside the Top 5 in the standings.
Reigning Limited Late Model champion Mark Garner got caught up in early tangles last time out and could only salvage a sixth place finish from of it. Another driver hoping to get a victory is past Street Stock title winner Todd Gomez, who placed third last time out behind the season debut of Kenny Shrader. There are some impressive rookies in the ranks this year, led by Keith Steinmetz, Tommy Clymens Jr, Dennis Gilcrease and Haley Gomez. You never know who might win this week in this very competitive field.
Reigning Hobby Stock champion Chris Sorensen continues to run well so far this season. Sorensen has two wins and has yet to finish outside the Top 3. Though he didn't win the most recent two events, he finished on the back bumper of Brad Myers and Bobby Motts Jr after their respective victories. The consistent Breanna Troen is doing well with five Top 5 finishes so far and holds down second in the standings ahead of season opener winner Josh Leach.
Making things interesting this year is the fact that several rookies have joined the field. Two of the top rookies are Will Buirch and Phillip Oreta, who are currently battling for fourth in the standings and the top rookie spot. Ken Johns and Dalton Jewel are others new to the class this year. The division continues to grow its ranks, and other racers to watch for this week include Luke Brignoli, Judy Allison Arth, Ricky Foster and John Wacht.
Rounding out the lineup this week will be the exciting Dwarf Car division. Right now, the battle is between Scott Dahlgren and David Rosa. Rosa won the most recent event to join Dahlgren and Danny Wagner on the Winner's List, but he is trailing in the standings after a disappointing second race of the season. There are some great competitors in this class, and others to watch for this week include Troy Stevenson, Devan Kammermann, Travis Dutra, Mario Marques, Jerry Doty and Travis Hensley.
This is the first race of the season to feature five divisions on the card, and that means the fans will be treated to lots of cars and lots of great racing. The Memorial Day offering at Antioch Speedway is something worth checking out. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
Sprint Cars, Modifieds Headline Four Division
Merced Speedway Program
Merced, CA...After last week's disappointing rainout, racing returns to the quarter-mile clay oval at Merced Speedway this Saturday night. Back for their second appearance will be the IMCA 305 RaceSaver Sprint Cars, along with the popular IMCA Modifieds. The Valley Sportsman and California Sharp Mini Late Models round out what should be an exciting program.
Last time we saw the RaceSaver Sprints, it was Grant Champlin picking up the win ahead of reigning series champion Grant Duinkerken and Kyle Rasmussen. Duinkerken is not one of the point competitors this year, but Champlin and Rasmussen are. However, there's a different name at the top of the point list after four events at Keller Auto Speedway. It's Brooklyn Holland. They call her Pretty Brooke, but they should call her pretty fast as she has won two Main Events in her four starts. Her lead in Hanford is just two ahead of Champlin and seven ahead of Michael Pombo. Rasmussen is eight points back.
IMCA's presence in the Sprint Car world is with their usual flair. They've always attempted to make divisions more economical for the racer, and the way they've done.it in this case is with the 305 motor. It's gone over very well at Hanford and when they've visited other tracks, including Tulare, Santa Maria and Bakersfield. There could be a lineup of anywhere from a dozen to 20 racers, and other drivers to watch for this week include Brandon Emmett, Lance Jackson, Maura Simone, Mike Schott and Rob Solomon.
After four races, Troy Foulger finds himself leading the IMCA Modified championship battle, but it's anything but a comfortable lead. Foulger, who pilots the Bowers Racing Modified, is the only driver in the field with four Top 5 finishes, but that only gives him a five point advantage over two-time champion Randy Brown. Brown and multi-time champion Paul Stone are also feature winners this year. Stone won the most recent event and is only eight points out of the lead at this stage in the game.
The battle is still early, and there's lots of racing left to go. Fourth-generation competitor Ryan Porter is still looking for his first win, but he is only 10 points out of lead and 17 ahead a four-time champion Ramie Stone. DJ Shannon counts himself among the winners this year and will be looking for another victory this week. Other drivers to watch for include Jessie James Burks, Ricky Thatcher and Harley Turner.
The California Sharp Mini Late Model class is in their third season at the speedway, and nine competitors have registered points among the eight different vehicles that have competed so far. Reigning series champion Tim Crews has two victories so far and holds a 12 point advantage over Logan Clay. Only 15 points out of the lead is second-generation racer Riley Jeppesen, and he is just one point ahead of rookie Caitlyn Lopez. Kennzzie Brown has been spending her time racing Karts in recent years, and she is another of the new drivers in this class. She is only 28 points out of the lead as the championship battle looks to be between these five competitors. Other drivers to watch for this week include Rodger Guthrie, Bubba Nelson and Jeremiah Enriquez.
After three events, the Valley Sportsman division has seen three different feature winners. Most recently, it was Rick Elliott getting the win, which put him in the company of reigning champion Jerry Cecil and Chris Birdsong. Elliott actually finished second to Cecil in the standings last year and currently leads Chris Corder by 10 points in the title chase.
Corder had a few starts last year, but he purchased the Jeff Bristow 2017 championship car with the hopes of being more competitive and getting a win this season. He'll be out to make that happen this week, and other racers to watch for include two-time champion Mike Friesen, Eric Seely, Jeff West and Gary Hildebrand.
With Sprint Cars and IMCA Modifieds on the card, Saturday's show should be exciting. For further information, go to www.mercedspeedway.net.
Edwards, Lauer, Horton Win Ventura Raceway Main Events
Ventura, CA...May 18...Tyler Edwards won the 30 lap VRA Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Ventura Raceway. Edwards was able to gain the lead when Kyle Smith saw his run up front end with mechanical issues on lap 20.
Smith set the pace at the start ahead of Scott Farmer and Cody Majors. Majors slipped past Farmer for second on lap six, but St James gained the runner-up spot on lap 10 before a yellow flag waved for Farmer. Smith continued to lead St James and Majors on the restart, but Majors made the move into second on 16 with Edwards following into third. Smith suffered a mechanical issue on the 20th lap as Majors led at the caution flag. However, Edwards took the lead from Majors on the restart. St James gained second, but he would surrender the spot back to Majors on lap 28. Edwards led by a comfortable margin at the checkered flag, followed by Majors, St James, Rick Hendrix, Evan Jonker, Smith, Bruce Douglass, Farmer, Charlie Butcher and Ricky Lewis. Majors set the fast time of 12.224. Farmer won the first 10 lap heat race ahead of Majors, and Smith outran Douglass to win the other heat.
Ryan Lauer won the 20 lap IMCA Modified Main Event. Lauer took the lead on lap five when early leader Dennis Eckert pitted. Danny Lauer followed into second with Trevor Fitzgibbon running third. The lead trio ran closely until Danny Lauer's run came to an end for a lap 15 yellow flag. Ryan Lauer continued to lead Fitzgibbon on the restart, and they finished closely in that order. Austin Grabowski had a solid third place finish, followed by Terry Hershberger, Jack Parker, Scott Olsen, Dave Phipps, Andrew Greiman, Danny Lauer and Eckert. There were two eight lap heat races with Eckert winning the first one ahead of Danny Lauer. Kevin Hocking outran Fitzgibbon to win the other heat.
Jason Horton won the 20 lap VRA Dwarf Car Main Event. Horton led the first four laps before being passed by Tommy Velasquez III. Horton stayed closely behind him in second through a pair of yellow flags. On lap 16, Horton made the move around Velasquez to get the lead. Tim Conely passed Velasquez on lap 18 just before the final yellow flag flew. Horton led the restart and went on to the satisfying victory. Tommy Velasquez III made a last lap pass on Conley to finish second. Conley settled for third, followed by Trent Morley, Nick Velasquez, Tom Morley, Ridge Abbott, Tommy Velasquez, Ryan Parker and Danny Valdez.Tommy Velasquez III set the quickest lap of 13.528 and also won the first eight lap heat race ahead of Horton. Nick Velasquez outran Morley to win the other heat.
Bruce Douglass won the 20 lap VRA Senior Sprint Car Main Event. He charged out to lead at the start. Wally Pankratz settled into second on lap two and chased Douglass the rest of the way for a second place finish. Danny Parrish ran third until being passed by Chris Meredith on lap 14. Parrish settled for fourth ahead of Greg Andrews. Douglass set the fastest time in qualifying with a lap of 12.690. Meredith outran Pankratz to win the eight lap heat race.
Alyssa Smith won the 20 lap VRA Hobby Stock Main Event. Jeff Houghton led a lap before being passed by Ricky Lewis with Smith following closely behind. Lewis and Smith ran closely at the front of the pack with Tom Stephens Jr not far back in third. On the 13th lap, Smith finally made her winning pass around Lewis, and she pulled away to victory from there. Lewis settled for second, followed by Stephens, Ryan Changus and Houghton. Smith set the fastest time of 15.136 and then outran Stephens to win the eight lap heat race.
After a break for Memorial Day Weekend, racing resumes on June 1st with the second USAC/VRA Sprint Car Battle At The Beach event. Also competing will be the Dwarf Cars, Senior Sprints, California Lightning Sprints and Hobby Stocks. For further information, go to www.venturaraceway.com.
Antioch Speedway will be expanding to a five division lineup this Saturday night as part of their Memorial Day Weekend offering. The track generally ran five divisions most of the time last season, but Promoter John M Soares adjusted it to a four division schedule for the start of the season to make sure the show could get done within the 10 pm.time frame that was agreed upon with the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds. This hasn't been a problem.
Now that the All.Star Series officials are establishing a rhythm and the program has been running smoothly, there will be five divisions of racing this Saturday night. There's also the added attraction that the two other Bay Area Race tracks, Ocean Speedway in Watsonville and Petaluma Speedway, are dark this weekend, meaning Antioch might see some different drivers coming to town this weekend.
Earlier this season, Antioch had a Winged 360 Sprint Car event scheduled, but Soares decided to remove it to allow drivers to go to the nearby Stockton Dirt Track. There was a very huge purse being offered to the racers, and as a gesture of good faith, Soares decided to let any of the local racers who wanted to head to Stockton try their luck. Though there is a race happening at Stockton again this weekend, the Winged 360 Sprint Cars remain on the schedule at Antioch. The locals are excited about getting back out there again.
Just over 10 years ago, Soares had the quarter-mile clay oval expanded a little bit in Turns 1 & 2. The reasoning behind this move was because he was hoping to attract more Sprint Car races and have bigger events, and that turned out to be the case in the years that immediately followed. Soares had a championship season for the Winged 360 Sprint Car division in 2010, won by "Cowboy" Craig Smith.
It took a few years to get everything lined up just right, and after a couple of events in 2013, the Winged Sprint Cars had enough races to crown Chris Magoon the 2014 champion. There hasn't been a repeat champion in the current five-year run of the class as Shawn Arriaga, Billy Aton, Art McCarthy and Matt DeMartini have won the championships in each season.
With experience that dates back to the old San Jose Speedway, the road to the championship generally goes through McCarthy. Art has finished no worse than third since Antioch restarted the championship effort for the Sprint Cars. In addition to his 2017 title, he also won the 2007 crown and is a two-time champion at Petaluma Speedway as well.
McCarthy struggled just a bit last season in his runner-up point effort, but he came out strong in the season finale by leading several laps before his motor gave up on him. He remains one of the drivers to beat in the Sprint Car show this weekend.
Car owner Dave Johnson has fielded competitive Winged 360 Sprint Cars out at Petaluma Speedway in recent years, but he has a good driver lined up to compete at Antioch this season. He's none other than "Captain Chaos" Danny Wagner. Wagner has driven Dwarf Cars, Mini Trucks and A Modifieds at Antioch and been victorious and all three disciplines. The Winged 360 Sprint Car may be his biggest challenge yet, but he has proven he knows how to get a car to the Winner's Circle. Wagner is also a two-time Dwarf Car champion at Antioch and currently in the battle for the A Modified title.
We were excited to see two-time Wingless Spec Sprint racer Dan Gonderman get back behind the wheel after a terrible work related accident over a year ago left him with two broken legs. Gonderman drove the Spec Sprint to a second place finish. However, in recent seasons, he has been competing in the Winged 360 Sprint Cars. We haven't heard whether Dan intends to field a car for this show, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him.
Tim Burcher was last season's top rookie in points and finished in the Top 5 in the standings. Though he has struggled at times, he's gained more confidence with each turn behind the wheel. Tim will be out to try and get better results this year. Competitors such as second-generation racer Burt Foland Jr, David Dias and 2017 "Rookie of the Year" Jacob Tuttle have been regulars in this class for the past couple of seasons, and another second-generation racer, Matt DeMartini, did a great job last season in winning two features on his way to the championship. Foland has been chasing a win for a few seasons and finally got his first Antioch victory last year as well.
You will often see drivers fresh out of the 600 Micro and Outlaw Kart ranks come to Antioch to take a shot at their first wins. Reigning USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car champion Austin Liggett, Kaleb Montgomery and Colby Johnson are three such drivers who have won their first Winged Sprint Car Main Events at Antioch Speedway in recent years, and you never know who might show up next. Also, it's possible that a few Petaluma stars may come to town as their track is dark this week.
The Wingless Spec Sprints are off this week, and last week's show was rained out. So far, nobody has been a match for Shannon Newton as he continues to pull away from Roy Fisher in the championship battle. Newton has driven the Richard Basden car to four consecutive victories, twice ahead of Fisher and once each ahead of Gonderman and Adam Teves.
Car count has been a bit down, but three drivers who have been at all events are division mainstay Rick Panfili, last year's top rookie Mackenzie Newton and rookie Jeff Scotto. We finally did get the first appearance of Alan Miranda last time out, and word is that two-time defending champion Bob Newberry is about ready to return to the action as well. That will certainly add another exciting element to the show.
While fans love their Sprint Cars, a staple at Antioch Speedway since 1990 is the A Modified division. The championship battle has taken on a different look this season as Nick DeCarlo has taken himself out of the battle and both past champion Bobby Motts Jr and Sean O'Gara have yet to race in this class this year. Third-generation racer Buddy Kniss and his father Chester Kniss have been competing this year, and Buddy finds himself leading the standings by just 20 points over Danny Wagner. Buddy scored a popular first career feature win at the third event of the season, and Wagner backed up his rich victory at Placerville with his first Antioch win the next week. It seems like the battle is on between these two drivers, and it's certainly going to be interesting to see what happens next.
Chester Kniss has not been known as somebody who's pursued points throughout his career, but he's driven several different classifications of cars, including Street Stocks, Limited Late Models, full Late Models and even Hardtops. Kniss finds himself in a tie with two-time winner Nick DeCarlo for third after five events. DeCarlo has missed a pair of races, but he's been dialing in a new car and is certainly a threat to win.
Past Top 10 Hobby Stock racer Frank Furtado currently finds himself ranked as the top rookie, just three points behind the third place battle. It's been a bit of an adventure for Frank, but he's done well so far. We've also seen the return of Greg Allen McElhaney and Sean Wilson, along with last year's top rookie in points, David Zeiter.
Two other drivers who have been showing up lately are past champion Kellen Chadwick and Brian Pearce. Pearce was a strong second in the standings at Merced Speedway last season. Chadwick wasn't necessarily chasing points last year in his limited schedule, but he still won five Main Events. He is looking for his first win of the season, and it's possible that it could happen on Saturday if he shows.
The B Modified division continues to be an interesting race at the front of the pack. Two-time reigning champion Trevor Clymens managed to move past Cameron Swank for the lead after the most recent event. Swank had all Top 5 finishes in his first four starts, but bad luck took him out of the most recent race early, allowing Clymens and two-time winner Brent Curran to assume the Top 2 positions in the standings.
Curran entered this season with high hopes of competing for the championship. Having watched his father Brian win a Modified championship some 15 years ago, it's a goal of Brent's to do the same. He started his career at Antioch by winning the Four Banger championship back in 2014, and he was also the top Hobby Stock rookie back in 2017 while ranking second in the standings.
Last season, Brent decided to gain some valuable experience on various different racing surfaces, meaning he traveled throughout California and even into Oregon, winning some races along the way. He did have one Antioch win to his credit, and he knew that should he come back to his home track full-time, he'd have a real shot at a championship.
This year couldn't have started out more disastrous for Brent as crashes took him out early in the first two races. He was even questioning whether he wanted to pursue this championship or start racing elsewhere again. However, Curran is not a quitter. He returned for the third event and promptly scored the victory. He also won the most recent race and is putting the pressure on Clymens.
Another driver not far out of the lead is two-time winner Tommy Fraser. Tommy is another racer who hasn't been afraid to go test his talent on the road, and it's made him a better driver. Though people might look at Clymens, Curran and Swank as the prime championship contenders, you shouldn't ignore Fraser as he is definitely a threat to win the title.
The competition is very tough in the B Modified division, and if you get a win, you've certainly earned it. Past Street Stock champion Todd Gomez won a pair of features two years ago in his "Rookie Of The Year" winning season, and he's getting closer to another win as his recent.third place finish behind Curran and Kenny Shrader would attest. There's also the steady Kevin Brown to consider. Kevin has had multiple Top 5 finishes and resides in the Top 5 in the standings after five events. A win might be just around the corner for Kevin.
Mark Garner parked his Limited Late Model after his successful championship run last year. He was a Top 5 driver with multiple wins in this class two years ago, and he's interested in his testing his talent against the competitive field. Though his season hasn't started off as well as he'd have liked, Garner could strike for a victory on any given week.
The B Modified division continues to be one of the fastest-growing classes at the speedway as racers like Dennis Gilcrease, Keith Steinmetz, Jason Womack and Frank Cafaliello join the ranks. Tommy Clymens Jr, who we last saw running Mini Trucks and Hobby Stocks, has returned in a B Modified and counts himself among the Top 10 in the standings, not far out of fifth. After a year in the Hobby Stocks, Haley Gomez has also moved up and is battling for a Top 10 point position.
In the Hobby Stock division, Chris Sorensen is attempting to match Kimo Oreta as a three-time champion. Sorensen is off to another strong start with two wins and and two seconds in his last four starts. Sorensen now holds a 36 point lead over Breanna Troen and seems to be pulling away from last season's top rookie. Troen his been very consistent this season with all Top 5 finishes, but she is still just four points ahead of Josh Leach in a closer battle for second. Leach opened the season with a Main Event victory and has looked good so far this year. It looks like the championship may come down to one of these three drivers, but Troen and Leach need to step up their game a little bit more to keep pace with the more experienced Sorensen.
There are several new drivers in the field this season, and fourth through sixth in the standings are all rookies. Will Burch has taken over the #7 car from past division runner-up Lindsey Buirch. Will and Philip Oreta are in a good battle for fourth in the standings with Buirch leading by 12 points. Oreta has had mostly Top 5 finishes, but he lost a wheel in the most recent race to end his night early. Running in sixth is another rookie, Ken Johns.
It seems like there continues to be new drivers joining the ranks of the Hobby Stock division every week, and this bodes well for the future of the class. Dalton Jewell holds down eighth in the standings, and the rookie is ranked behind past champion Brad Myers. Myers is usually working Turns 1 & 2 as an official, but he had a three-race span in which he raced to a pair of second place finishes and a victory.
Now in its 25th season, the Hobby Stocks are the spiritual successor to the old Street Stock division, which was a staple class at the speedway for some 40 years. There are some eager drivers hoping to put their names in the record book as feature winners, but to do so, they'll have to get through Sorensen.
A couple of speedway veterans, Trevor Clymens and Bobby Motts Jr, have run this class in recent weeks. Clymens took over the old Anthony Welborn car, while Motts wheeled the car that will be driven by his daughter Madison Motts to the most recent Main Event win.
NorCal Dwarf Car star Scott Dahlgren has been racing at Antioch Speedway this year and appears to have his sights set on the Dwarf Car championship. After three races, Dahlgren has done very well. The one-time winner leads the most recent winner, David Rosa, by 26 points. Two-time Street Stock champion Rosa has looked good this year, but some bad luck in the second event cost him some ground to Dahlgren.
It's a rather crowded field in the battle for second as Rosa leads Troy Stevenson and Devan Kammermann. Kammermann competed with the NorCal Dwarf Car group last season to get more experience running at different venues, and the young racer is hoping that this will serve him well as he makes a run at the Antioch title. Much like the Hobby Stock division, the Dwarf Cars are generally fielding double-digit car counts and putting on some of the most exciting racing at the speedway.
It's a great lineup of racers that includes two-time champion Danny Wagner, 2010 title winner Jerry Doty, Chris Becker, Travis Dutra, Mario Marques and Chuck Conover, among others. After winning back-to-back championships, Mike Corsaro has elected to take it easy this season, but we'll be seeing him in action at times this year. He blew a motor at the most recent race, but he has a new one in the works.
While the Antioch Speedway program continues along, what's happening at Petaluma Speedway these days has the racing community talking. Promoter Rick Faeth has had some big events so far this year with strong car counts and a good fan attendance. At the most recent PitStopUSA.com Shootout race, the four division program packed the pits with over 80 competitors. The standout division right now continues to be the Wingless Spec Sprints, and there were 28 racers at the last show.
Petaluma Speedway has a nice mixture of open-wheel classes such as the Winged and Wingless Sprint Cars, General Hydroponics Redwood Dwarf Cars and Santa Rosa Auto Body 600 Micros, and Stock Car classes such as The Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks, McLea's Tire Service IMCA Modifieds and Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks. The Super Stocks are continuing a heritage at the speedway that goes back to the mid 1970s.
What's interesting about the Super Stock division is that some of the longtime racers continue to be on the roster to this day. This includes reigning champion Mitch Machado, two-time champions Steve Studebaker and Shawn McCoy and another past champion, Jim "Woody" Woodward. After three races, The Winner's Circle has been occupied by the same man, Machado. In fact, Machado has had to beat Studebaker to get his three wins as the same battle that took place last year is happening again this year. The only difference being that Machado is piloting the Baker Motorsports entry.
the Mini Stock division continues to graduate some good racers into the Super Stock class, including last year's winningest Mini Stock racer David Spindell, 2017 champion Austin Ohlinger and Snazzy Duckworth. Other racers, such as two-time champion Matt While, Manny Avila and Gary Adams are making the Super Stocks an exciting show to watch every week.
Moving back to the Wingless Spec Sprint class, the division has been averaging 19 cars per race after 4 events. It's still a very close battle at the top which finds the Top 4 drivers in the standings without a win so far. Only past Chico champion Angelique Bell has four Top 10 finishes, which not surprisingly gives her a four point advantage over Scott Chapeta. Hawaii native Boy Moniz is 15 points out of the lead on the strength of a pair of Top 5 finishes, while second generation racer Dennis Furia Jr is the only driver with three Top 5 efforts and is 20 points out of the lead.
Cody Fendley, past Winged Sprint Car champion Bradley Terrell and Jimmy Christian are the winners so far with Terrell picking up the first two wins of the season before taking off for two weeks. Fendley took last season off, but he now has the fifth position in the standings, 22 behind Bell and just two ahead of past champion Sparky Howard.
The Winged Sprint Car class finds John Clark leading after three events with a pair of Top 5 efforts. He's also the only driver with all Top 10 finishes so far, giving him a 34 point advantage over Joel Myers and a 36 point lead over fourth-generation racer Chase Johnson. Johnson has two victories, but it's not likely that he'll continue to pursue points at Petaluma. He will certainly be a threat to win anytime he's there. Chico regular Brent Bjork is the other feature winner, and he is currently fourth in the standings. The winged class doesn't have quite the car count the wingless class has, but they're certainly putting on some good racing so far.
The weather was not so kind to the Bay Area tracks last weekend as Petaluma and Antioch were both a washout, as was Merced Speedway. However, Ocean Speedway managed to get their Friday night offering into the record books. This was a special night of racing as it paid tribute to past Merced Speedway champion Bill Egleston. It highlighted that the Watsonville track also has big special events for the Stock Car classes in addition to the big show's they have for the Winged Sprint Car class.
The IMCA Modified division has four races in the record books, and after his $2015 victory last week, reigning champion Cody Burke moved into a four point lead over brother Austin Burke. Cody is now a two-time winner. The surprising Anthony Copeland is now third of the standings, 13 points out of the lead and one ahead of past division champion Jim Pettit II. Pettit and Bobby Hogge IV are the other feature winners this year.
The extra money Modified offering grew the car count to 28 competitors last week for what turned out to be a really good show all night. Burke may have gotten the win, but race long leader Troy Foulger certainly made him earn it. Foulger, who currently leads the standings at Merced Speedway, would settle for second ahead of Bakersfield star Ethan Dotson and Pettit. The Bill Egleston race serves as a reminder that anytime there is big money on the line, the stars all flock to the well-prepared Ocean Speedway dirt track.
The IMCA Sport Modified division appears to be a two-car battle between Austin Williams and two-time Four Banger champion Adriane Frost. Last Friday, however, it was Merced racer Jarrod Mounce notching his first career win to shock the house. Mounce pocketed $715 for the win. With 21 of the best drivers in the state on hand, Williams managed a fifth place finish, while Frost could only get to 11th. This appears to be a battle that could stretch on throughout the season as both drivers are hard chargers.
Newcomer Max Baggett is third in the standings, four ahead of the steady Charlie Hunter. It's still early in the battle, and there's plenty of time for drivers to begin to make a move in the standings. One thing that can be said about the Ocean Speedway program is that drivers do want to support the Sport Modified effort there. In recent years, one of the things that has hurt the cause is the purse, which hasn't paid all the way through the field.
The big money show attracted the two drivers who are racing fiercely for the IMCA State championship. Both drivers, Guy Ahlwardt and Keith Brown Jr, hail from the Antioch area. As Antioch is not sanctioning their class, both are forced to race every weekend somewhere else in California. This leaves them traveling as far north as Susanville and as far south as Bakersfield to get their starts, and only a few points separated Ahlwardt from Brown heading into the weekend. Ahlwardt certainly helped his cause with a second place finish last Friday ahead of Bakersfield star Kevin Johnson and Late Model veteran Clay Daly, who was piloting the car run by last season's State title winner, Austin Manzella.
The Hobby Stock division finds two-time champion Rob Gallaher leading the way by 18 points ahead of father Joe Gallaher. JC Elrod seemed poised to make a serious run at the Hobby Stock championship after winning the opener, but he missed the next two races. Lest anybody think that Elrod is just going away, he returned and pocketed the $515 prize for his victory in Friday night's Main Event. To get that win, Elrod had to beat Bakersfield star Nicholas Johnson and past Watsonville champion Wally Kennedy. Kennedy managed to hold off DJ Keldsen for that finish, and he moved 14 points ahead of Keldsen in the race for third in the standings.
Another Keldsen, Dakota Keldsen, has been doing good things in the Lloyd Keldsen Jr Tribute Car in the Four Banger division. Dakota has a pair of wins, but his absence from a race has forced into play catch up in the standings. Lloyd's birthday would have been last week, and Dakota tried as hard as he could to get his third victory in his honor. Unfortunately, a busted rear end sent him to the pits as Merced racer Lee Ragsdale emerged with the win. Ragsdale had finished second in the standings at Merced last season after a heartbreaking season finale. The win on this occasion, however, came after apparent winner Ryan McClelland was disqualified in tech.
There is no truth to the rumor that the Four Banger division is going to be renamed the Beardsley division. Three of the staunchest supporters of this class in recent years are 2017 champion Bill Beardsley, 2018 champion Kate Beardsley and Nicole Beardsley. After five events, Kate and Nicole are tied for the lead with Bill 24 points out. It was Kate finishing second on Friday ahead of Nicole and Bill. Despite watching the finish from the sidelines, Keldsen still ended up fifth.
One of the most interesting things happening at Ocean Speedway this year is what's taking place in the Taco Bravo Sprint Cars. After five events, Jeremy Chisum has emerged as the unlikely point leader. Two of the heavy hitters in the class, three-time champion Brad Furr and 2015 title winner Justin Sanders, have bowed out of the point race, though they have been racing a little bit at the speedway. With five Top 10 finishes and two Top 5s, Jeremy Chisum leads one-time winner Kurt Nelson by 25 points and James Ringo by 28. Last season's point runner-up Koen Shaw and Jason Chisum also count themselves among the Top 5 in the standings. With the next driver 150 points behind Jason Chisum, it appears as if the matter of who will be the champion this year will be settled amongst the five leaders.
Ocean Speedway has jumped in to see if they can do something to stimulate the USAC Speed2 Western Midget division. Mike McCluney and John Prentice had discussions prior to the season about what could be done to get this division jump-started, and it was decided to establish the Ocean Midgets, which use the USAC Speed2 ruleset.
David Prickett, who also runs a full Midget, has won both Main Events, and a field of no less than six cars has been at both races so far. Randi Pankratz has made the trip from Bradley, California to support the Watsonville show. She's done well with two Top 3 finishes keeping her within 13 points of Prickett. Jackson Dukes is only 20 points out.
People in Northern California have lamented the fact that the Midget division has been struggling in recent years. Everybody agrees that something must be done to try and stimulate the car count and help bring this style of racing back to prominence. What is being done at Watsonville is seen as the next step in trying to generate interest. Not only is this a nice representation of Midget racing, it's also a way by which young drivers can move up from the Outlaw Kart and Micro ranks to go racing on the bigger tracks.
Merced Speedway is in its first season under the promotion of S&S Motorsports. Long time USAC official Doug Lockwood is the General Manager. Lockwood jumped at the opportunity to return to his old home track to guide the ship after the passing of popular Promoter Ed Parker. Lockwood has been involved with the community's younger racers with his Lockwood Race Prep business and has visited different venues to work with some of the future stars in their Kart racing efforts.
Prior to the season, the Merced Speedway racing surface received some new clay and was reshaped, and other improvements were made to the facility, including the pit bleachers and the pit concessions and restrooms. The racing surface has improved noticeably, and fans have been treated to some great side-by-side, and sometimes three-wide battles.
Drivers are definitely finding the quarter-mile clay oval to their liking that year. The competition level has been so high that in the track's regular divisions, only two drivers have picked up more than one win. They are Hobby Stock point leader Shannon Nelson and California Sharp Mini Late Model racer Timmy Crews, who each have two victories to their credit so far.
The IMCA Modified division continues to attract some top-notch talent, and it's a good battle at the top of the list again this year with Troy Foulger, Randy Brown and Paul Stone holding down the Top 3 positions, with only eight points separating them. All three drivers are multi-time division champions, and it's anyone's guess which one of these drivers may end up with the championship. With Ryan Porter and Ramie Stone lurking just outside of the Top 3, it's not a guarantee that one of these three drivers will win it all.
Last season, Brown took a break from point racing after posting back-to-back Merced championships. The Chowchilla resident also has one title to his credit at his old home track, and he has certainly picked up from where he left off this year. Paul Stone has usually taken his show on the road in recent years, having won multiple Merced and Hanford championships. People know that should he apply himself to racing for points at his home track, he's capable of winning it all once again.
The Bowers Racing Team started the year off on a sad note when family patriarch Bill Bowers passed away. Billy Bowers continues to carry on the family tradition by fielding one of the top Modified efforts in the state. After four consecutive championships in Antioch, Bowers and driver Troy Foulger have taken their show on the road in recent years and won some of the biggest events on the West Coast. This year, they've set their sights on Merced and are the only team with all Top 5 finishes so far.
Though some of the signature races Merced Speedway is known for are now absent from the schedule, there is a very special race coming up that will feature the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks. It's the Second Annual Ed Parker Memorial race, and that race happens on June 15th. All of the Merced stars will be hoping to pick up the victory, but it's a good bet that there will be some top caliber talent from as far south as Bakersfield and as far north as Chico coming to town with the intent of winning the prize.
The Hobby Stock division continues to have some great racing through the pack. Shannon Nelson was the model of consistency last season as she matched champion Kodie Dean in the Top 5 category. Dean just happened to get more wins and still barely held her off for the title. Knowing that she needed to step up her game, Nelson has come out swinging with three Top 5 finishes and two victories, giving her a 21 point lead over teammate and 2016 champion Michael Shearer.
Austin Van Hoff figured to be a contender this year after a solid effort with two wins last season, but he stumbled out of the gate. Last time out, however, he finished on the rear bumper of Nelson with a strong second place finish. Van Hoff is only 44 points back despite his disappointing start, and there's plenty of season left for him to make up some ground.
Dexter Long has made visits to other tracks this year, but he also won the Merced season opener to keep just four points behind the surprising Domossie Scoggins for third in the standings. Scoggins is a newcomer to the class and finds himself leading last season's Mini Stock champion, Allen Neal, by six points in the rookie race. There's a good group of racers in the Hobby Stock class, and it's anybody's guess who might win from week to week.
FND Motorsports is the title sponsor for the Hobby Stock class and the biggest instigator for the establishing of the California Sharp Mini Late Model effort. Michael Shearer is the official car dealer in California. Seeing a need to get some of the young future stars out on the bigger track, Shearer convinced then promoter Ed Parker to add the class two years ago. Last season was their first championship race, and it was Timmy Crews winning the title.
Crews is also making his first starts in the Hobby Stock division this year, but he continues to be a force in the Mini Late Model class with his two victories. The division has welcomed newcomers Kaylin Lopez and Kennzzie Brown. Both racers have competed at the Chowchilla Barn Burner Series during the fall and winter months. Those two drivers hold down fourth and fifth in the standings as they look for their first win. Logan Clay and Riley Jeppesen are currently the closest contenders to Crews in the point race. Jeppesen is a past feature winner, but Clay is still looking for his first victory.
Merced Speedway is the first track in California to give these miniature versions of Late Models with 600cc motors a chance. There have been eight different vehicles to compete so far, making this the best year yet for the growing class. It is a great opportunity for the young teen racers to go racing at a bigger venue and gain valuable experience as they prepare to take their racing careers to the next level.
The Mini Stock division is the other entry point into the world of racing at Merced Speedway. It was initiated at the track roughly 15 years ago by then Promoter Chuck Griffin. Several drivers have made their first laps at the track via this division, but it's a familiar name at the top of the point list after three races. Three-time division champion Chris Corder and second-generation racer Lucy Falkenberg are winners so far this year, and Corder leads Falkenberg by just 10 points.
Last season, Lee Ragsdale gave it a valiant effort in his bid to beat Allen Neal for the championship, only to be taken out in the season finale and forced to settle for second. At the moment, Ragsdale is third in the standings, 11 behind Corder. He and Corder are the only drivers with three Top 5 finishes, while fourth-ranked Jennifer Rodgers is the other feature winner. New drivers continue to join the ranks, including Tyler Post and Shayla Gould, and the racing is always exciting in this class.
As with many of the other venues in California, the IMCA Sport Modifieds continue to attract new drivers to Merced Speedway every year. Only two events have been put into the books so far, and Andrew Peckham and Kelly Wilkinson were the winners. Second-generation racer Nick Tucker leads Wilkinson and 2016 Merced champion Fred Ryland by just one point in a good battle up front. Even Fred's wife Patti Ryland is in the hunt, four points back, while perennial championship contender Bruce Nelson, Peckham, Tanner Thomas and Tim Elias all count themselves within 10 points of the lead.
The talent level is high in the Sport Modified division at Merced as it is with most of the classes, and at least half of the field comes to town with a real shot at winning the Main Event that night. You also never know when the car count will be so big that he a B Main will be needed. The Sport Modifieds are yet another example of what's right with Merced Speedway in 2019.
Ocean Speedway Unofficial Race Results May 17, 2019
Bill Egleston Memorial Race & First Responders Appreciation Night
Jim Pettit II
Raymond Keldsen Jr
Bobby Hogge IV
Freddie Ploudre III
David Spriggs DNS
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Keith Brown Jr
Dwayne Short DNS
Bobby Huckaby Sr
T.J. Etchinson III
Bobby Huckaby Jr
Ryan McClelland DQ
John Grill DNS
Police n Pursuit
Tulare Thunderbowl Unofficial Race Results May 17, 2019
Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour Presented by Abreu Vineyards
Danny Faria Jr
Tony Gualda Jr
Danny Faria Jr
USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Cars
Jace Vander Weerd
Richard Vander Weerd
Bruce St. James
Danny Faria Jr
Ventura Raceway Unofficial Race Results May 18, 2019
VRA Sprint Car
Bruce St. James
VRA Dwarf Car
Tommy Velasquez III
VRA Senior Sprints
Tom Stephens Jr
The Editor's Viewpoint
Nobody likes it when the rain falls during racing season. We've been putting up with it during the winter and early spring months, and then we have racing scheduled. Everybody wants to go out to the race track. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has other ideas. There's not a lot you can do. I've often thought that up in Oregon somebody could make a lot of money if they invested in covering an entire race track. You have more of a chance of racing during racing season when these rainouts come, and they will come. Then again, that's probably a pipe dream. Too much money.
On Wednesday, I pretty much knew where Mike stood with the racing in Medford. It was going to get canceled. The weather forecast did not look promising. The only possible opening we had was on Friday, where there was going to be some sun and only a 20% chance of rain. However, we pretty much knew when we went to the track on Thursday that he was going to pull the plug on this race.
The frustrating feeling is knowing that it didn't rain a drop at that race track on Thursday. It rained quite a bit on the way down and in areas not far from the track, but not at the track. I don't even think it rained all that much on Friday, but the call was made. I am told that it downpoured at the race track right around 6 on Saturday. Was it a good call? You damn right. Two Cloud McCann wins again.
You can be a hero and fight for these races or you can do what's best for business. You already know that if it's gloomy and it's raining in the area around the track, your casual fans aren't coming. Even some of your regular fans won't come. Only the hardcore fans will show up along with your racers. There might even be a few racers who don't come because they think it's going to rain. But for those who are there, they will love you for the moment, if you get lucky and make the show happen without it raining on everybody during the night.
As a fan before I really understood the business workings, I used to get frustrated when races would get cancelled and you could still have run the damn thing. Then again, people have to understand that the promoter is the one investing the money. The promoter brings the appropriate payouts to the track and is prepared to pay everybody what was guaranteed. So, if they have a bad night and they're not taking enough money in, they still have to pay those guarantees. Mike is the kind of promoter who does not like sliding scales and does not back out on what he says he will pay. You'll get consistency from him. What he says is what he does.
So, I understand the business decision and I find no fault with it. I find no fault with a promoter doing whatever they want to do when weather looks threatening. It's their investment. If they want to be a hero and try to please the racers who will come out, they should do it. If they want to regroup and come back at it again when the weather is nicer, they should do that too. With Mike, you're going to get somebody who isn't going to try to run a race unless it looks like the chances are very good that the racing will happen. He may try to run a race when the weather is gloomy and cold provided the forecast isn't showing rain, but if it's showing rain, it ain't going to happen.
Mike was not alone in this. Roseburg canceled first. Then St Helens. The Friday shows planned at Willamette and Cottage Grove were canceled on Thursday. The next day, both tracks canceled their Saturday shows. Coos Bay also canceled. Sunset wasn't scheduled. Willamette held out the longest, and believe me there was much complaining when they finally decided to cancel. I know there were people complaining about Southern Oregon Speedway when Mike finally canceled that. Only Hermiston and Madras were able to have races in Oregon
Everybody's unhappy when they see the cancellation, but when they get to race day and see the rain falling, they understand. A lot of people say some hateful things in the moment, but I don't think you see very many of them jump back on there and say they are sorry for saying what they said. I get it. Emotions run high. You want to go racing. You want to watch racing. Your track isn't making it happen, and they're the bad guys.
The weather system went all the way into California and took out most of the Saturday night action. It was kind of amazing to see as Stockton 99 Speedway closed first. One by one, Petaluma, Merced, Antioch, even Marysville. They canceled. I think Dennis Gage learned his lesson after attempting to run twice this year and having everybody there, only to have it rain on them during the night. So you pretty much figured Marysville would cancel. We lost the Peter Murphy classic in Tulare as well. Bakersfield Speedway gave it the old college try, but they pulled the plug on it on Saturday afternoon. This left Ventura, Barona and Orange Show all down south and Yreka up north.
Kevin Barba was committed to making the Mike Caveye Memorial Mini Stock Blowout happen. He looked at the weather forecast and saw that the rain was coming sometime after 9:00. He rolled the dice. Sometimes when you're a new promoter, you're looking for certain things like this that will get the people on your side. When you hold a race in threatening weather and make it happen, people will notice that and appreciate it. From a promoter's perspective, it's a long-term investment. Do this now, and even if you take some losses, people will remember what you did and come back.
Siskiyou Speedway is not on the most solid of ground. Kevin inherited a program that lets just say was on the down turn. So, he's the man charged with not only getting the racers to come back but overseeing the much-needed improvements to the facility. Every time a racing weekend comes up and you don't make it happen, it's a missed opportunity. Plus, he still has that disastrous season-opening effort that saw the fence get taken out and the rest of the races canceled. He is enthusiastically jumping in and doing everything he can to make it happen.
This race had the Mini Stocks headlining along with the IMCA Sport Modifieds and the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks. Kevin started looking at the program and thinking that maybe he could get some more cars there. On Thursday, he attempted to add an IMCA Modified race. Here's my thinking on this. Kevin knows that he needs to re-establish this class again. Not just a class that has special shows, but something more regular. In my opinion, he ought to take a look at the schedule right now and think about putting the division on there any time Medford isn't racing. He also needs to make a serious effort to contact any of the area racers who have cars and have not been seen in the last couple years to see why they aren't running and what can be done to get them back. Start locally. The Medford cars will come when they do.
In any event, on Thursday he reached out to IMCA with the hope that maybe he could add a race. If he successfully holds the ones he has scheduled, he will qualify for the minimum four races needed to make it an official point race in IMCA's eyes. But, there was the opportunity to try to get another race. Had Kevin reached out earlier in the week, he might have had a better chance. I think there's some sort of window that IMCA looks through. If you don't contact them within that time frame, they can't do anything for you. So, it was a no-go.
This is one of the things I don't like about IMCA in that a promoter knows what's best for their track. A promoter knows what cars they might have a chance to get. When you're dealing with IMCA, you have to go through them. They're all the way out in Iowa, and they're going to make the decision on what's best for your track? I understand they want to be careful when it comes scheduling so games are not played with their Regional and National point listings. That was not what was going on here. In fact, I seriously doubt anybody in those point races would be coming to Yreka. But, you have to play "Mother May I" with these guys. It also wreaks havoc with your schedule in September, which is one of the reasons Kevin doesn't have a date booked for the second weekend. I also know that if you didn't go with the sanctioning, there would be a racer mutiny most likely. So, you just take your lumps from IMCA and move on.
Kevin told the racers in the Modified class if they wanted to come, they could do practice laps. If they had enough cars show up, they could race. He was also contacted by people from the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars and the Sprint Car classes, which were both scheduled for Medford only to lose out due to rain. He opened his gates to them. I don't know if either one of those classes raced, and I believe there were four Dwarf Cars. Sources said there would be three Sprint Cars, but I can only confirm two.
You do want to be very careful when you make moves like this as the neighboring track might not look kindly on the effort. This is particularly true with regards to the Sprint Car class, where high purses are being paid in an effort to build this class up. It's just an observation I'm making. I understand why a promoter who works hard to build their classes would look at it that way, and I also understand a promoter who is just trying to get as many cars as they can to come to their track.
I've worked with a promoter that some of the established guys called PT Barnum leading a three ring circus. His name is Tom Sagmiller. He opened the unlikely track in Chowchilla and ran that thing for over seven years. Tom did some good things, but he was unorthodox in the way he did them. He was going to get his race cars and fans anyway he could, and there were certain tracks that frowned on him. At the end of the day, he made it work. So, I do understand that promoters will do what they have to do for their business.
The other risk you take in putting other divisions out there to make the show is that you know there's weather coming. You know that at around 9 pm, you're going to see rain. I believe they had Trophy Dashes scheduled after the heat races and did away with them to move the program further along. So Kevin knew while they were in the moment that they'd better get going. Why invite more when you know you're going to have a challenge with the three scheduled divisions you have?
You want as full a pit as possible. The more cars you have in the pits, the better it is for business. It's not that promoters are giving up on the grandstands, quite the opposite. Promoters know that they have a certain bottom line that they have to reach, and it starts with getting as many cars as you can in the pits. Watsonville, for instance, beat the weather this last weekend. They had a packed pit area. However, the grandstands looked very sparse. Did John Prentice lose on that race? I tend to think he didn't after what was in the pits is added up, but it still might be close.
Kevin has made the commitment. He wants 500 people in the stands. This is something he said from the outset, and he is committed to giving away tickets in that endeavor. It's fine to have a goal, but I would bet they're not there yet. I would bet this will be a work-in-progress, and one of the things he understands is that getting people in the stands requires more cars in the pits. People want to watch race cars, and let's face it. Car count has not been good in Yreka in recent years, other than a few specials every year. So, if he thought he could add a few more cars to the pits as more things the fans can look at, he was going to go for it.
Everybody worked together to make this show happen. They beat the weather. The fans got to see some good racing all night long and that's what matters. Was it a little bit cold? Yes. It was definitely cold. My bet is that it certainly didn't help the attendance, but it helped the track in other ways. Kevin is going to gain points with the racers for trying. They added another race to the record books. And it's just overall more positive than negative for what's going on at Siskiyou Speedway this year.
I've been thinking the track is a little bit further along than they really are when I crunch the numbers. They still have to work at stimulating the local racer interest. Thanks to some surprise entrants, the Mini Stock and Sport Modified classes did reach double-digits. Left to the locals, this probably wasn't going to happen. The Pro Stocks continue to deliver a double digit car count, which is one of the positives. They know when they book this class, they're getting that. The fact that Medford and the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock Association couldn't quite come to terms was a blessing for Yreka.
Kevin still has to work to build up the brand. He was handed the keys to the gates of a place that was on the downturn. I certainly know the feeling, because I've been witnessing that in Medford for the last few years. Things were way down, and things are coming along. In that case, you have a promoter who has stayed very consistent in his game plan. He calls it Promoting 101, and you know what you're going to get from him. When you go to the pay window, whatever the car count is, you still know what you're going to get. That number doesn't fluctuate.
So Kevin has to establish himself as the promoter and give the racers a reason to want to come. It's a work-in-progress, but there are still more good things being said in Yreka than bad things. That's a positive. You're not going to get those numbers to big places overnight. That's just not the time we live in. It's a different world from what we would call the glory days. You get there by dedicated effort, week in and week out, and you never get over confident with the success or too down when a night doesn't go so well. You get back in there and try to learn what works and what doesn't. They will get there
I did happen to catch a note in my online searches to see how our media effort was going. It was a letter to the editor from Siskiyou County Motorsports Association President Ken White. The SCMA has promoted the Yreka track for several years, and Ken was voted in as president for this year. Interestingly enough, Kevin was the president of the association last year, and I think that opened his eyes to what was going on with the association and the race track in particular. Whatever the case, he began to distance himself from the association and work on the plans he had in mind for becoming the next promoter.
The association has been there to keep those gates open. When they were told that the place was going up for bid, they were also told by the fairgrounds to remove all their stuff or it would become the property of the next promoter. It was clear that the fairgrounds wanted to go another direction with the promoting. I have been aware of this fact for a couple of years as there was a prominent figure in the Yreka area who was asked if he would consider putting in a bid for the track a couple of years ago.
The association removed everything. I think they may not have expected that they would lose in the end. They've always been there because the established promoters tend to shun the place. I think a lot of the long time players see too many negatives and not enough positives, so the only chance the fairgrounds had in a new promoter was somebody eager enough to take on a new challenge who hadn't done it before.
When Kevin won, the association offered the use of their equipment for a fee, but he politely declined. He furthermore made it clear on social media that the association has nothing to do with that race track. He wanted a clean break from all of that. It's rather unfortunate, in my opinion, that the association is viewed in a negative light, but that's the way it seems to be.
The association has kept the gates open, as I've said. I will not point a finger of blame at them during their hard times. I do say that you have different promotional philosophies between a promoter and an association. A promoter is going to run it more like a business and look at the bottom line, while an association might look at what is needed just to keep the gates open and not really be forward-thinking when it comes to the future. That's just my observation.
What hurt the association was the treasurer embezzling money. They were left in a major hole going into the 2018 season, and they are lucky they were able to even get things started. This is not the first time this has happened with that association, and they overcame it the last time. What Ken pointed out in his letter to the editor was that they have worked to pay back $13,000 of the debt that they incurred thanks to the person who was convicted of embezzling the money from the association treasury.
At this point, one might ask why there's even an association at all. Ken points out that they are working to clear the debt. It is my guess that they are in a state of readiness. Should something happen and Kevin Barba fail in his endeavors, I think that there is the belief that the association will be there to save the day again. Kevin will be working hard to make sure that that day never comes. At any rate, I found the letter that Ken wrote to be an interesting read.
This coming weekend is another memorial event. Frankly, I like that Kevin took the three memorial races that were run together on Memorial Day Weekend in recent years and separated them. They made the Mike Caveye Memorial that much more special because it was there on its own. Mike's kids and grandkids were there to enjoy this special night remembering him. This weekend we'll have the Bo Hittson and the John Arnberg, but not on the same night.
Kevin made an adjustment to his Saturday night program when he saw that IMCA Modifieds are racing in Medford. This wasn't a special race for the class in Yreka anyways, so he just removed them. He added the Mini Stocks that night and the special Bo. Hittson race will be for the IMCA Sport Modifieds. The race started years ago as a Street Stock race. Though there are Sport Modifieds running in Medford, some drivers will probably come to Yreka for the extra money. They should do all right and have a good show, though It would always be better if there was a working relationship between the two tracks. We're not there yet, but maybe we can get there. Removing the Modifieds was a nice gesture, but probably a smart move as well as I don't think he was going to get any cars.
Sunday really has the potential to be big. The IMCA Modifieds are running for extra money in the John Arnberg, and the racers like to come to town for that. Yreka was also fortunate enough to be able to piggyback off of Medford's Iron Giant Street Stock race. Because all of the drivers are in Medford on Saturday, they just decided to add a race on Sunday in Yreka. It's just a tow over the hill, so why not? This means they should have a bunch of Street Stocks. The Sunday race has the potential to be big for the track. Kevin might very well be looking to see how many local drivers dig their Street Stocks out of mothballs to support this race, because you never know what could happen with that class in the future if there's interest.
It's my hope that Yreka continues to turn itself around and strengthen the program. It wasn't too many years ago that they had a much better car count and actually more divisions as well. I still feel like Kevin should be looking at adding some classes, because at the end of the day, the pressure is still on the Sport Modifieds and Mini Stocks as the core two classes. They really should have three or four in house classes minimum. Whether that's Street Stocks, Hornets, Jalopies or ultimately more IMCA Modifieds, this needs to happen in the long run. Then again, Kevin didn't get the keys to the gate until March 1st, and Rome wasn't built in a day. You've got to give it time, but the intent and the effort is clearly there.
The people expecting Movieland Speedpark to fail got another eye opener. Reno Fontana promoted his second race last Friday night at the Chandler, Indiana racing facility, and the car count increased over the previous race. I still haven't seen the results, but from video footage and shots of the somewhat small grandstands, it was a hit with the locals. It's kind of an interesting thing watching this track, because I don't believe the drama is over yet. We're in between the moments of drama, and that means that all they have to worry about is getting those gates open and having races.
They haven't done everything perfect. That's obvious. The cameraman on the track during practice was a miscue. No open concession stand for the first race. This place probably shouldn't have been opened. Reno has claimed bankruptcy, so there's no money to put into anything there. He's relying on people to help and volunteer to make things happen. The man has also humbled himself just a little bit. He's no longer talking about his grand plans for the property, though they may still be on his mind. He's simply talking about having this dirt track, getting the drag strip open and making a few improvements to both places.
One might ask, in light of all the negativity that's clearly been there, how are they doing so well in car count and people coming to watch? There is no secret or special answer to that. People want racing. People will rally behind anything if they're going to give them racing. The critics will ask whether the track has insurance, a permit to run the concession stand or whatever they may come up with next, but the fans just want to go to the race track. The only way they're going to worry about the permit to open the concession stands is if they get sick on the food there. The only way they're going to worry about the insurance on the track is if somebody gets seriously hurt. Let's hope neither of those things happen, especially if the proper paperwork hasn't been filed.
Make no mistake, Reno Fontana has to be smiling today. They told him he would never get this far. I'm one of those people who didn't think he would. He has now promoted two races. Reno, perhaps humbling himself some more, was quick to think Mark Van Winkle the track maintenance man and Summer Taylor the General Manager for their hard work. They've been the ones on the ground rallying the troops. He didn't even touch down in Chandler until a few weeks ago, so they've done whatever work they could do to get the track ready to actually open.
I still insist that Reno really has kind of flown by the seat of his pants. Let's just take away all of the nonsense promises he's made for the property itself and talk about that race track. In over a year's time, the man really hadn't mapped out a game plan. There was no serious promotional effort being put forth. Even now, you have to look around to find the results, if you're lucky. The webpage is a mess and the Facebook page doesn't get updated the way it should. That's the reality of Chandler right now.
Then again, the commitment now may be to add things and improve things a little bit at a time. As long as the courts say this property is his, they'll continue to race. And as long as they continue to race, I have to go by my usual saying and say there's a chance for good things to happen. People may not want Reno Fontana to be the promoter of this race track, but they have to brace themselves for the possibility that this will be the reality going forward. If racing continues, is that a bad thing?
I've dropped a hint that there was a big announcement to be made here, and I'm close to making it. What I'm considering right now is the removal of one of the tracks covered here as part of my media effort. The track would still remain covered on the blog, but it won't be covered by me in any media outlets. I will drop them. One might ask me why I would make that decision, but I have reasons that are personal to me. I'm not really wanting to make this move. In light of the fact that the powers that be continue to not reach out to me and talk about me in negative ways as if I am wronging them somehow, I am left in a position where I think I need to stand up for myself a little bit.
The effort that I'm doing is voluntary. Tracks haven't reached out and paid me anything, and I haven't asked. This one particular track, however, is a little bit different. I do believe I could have been offered some help somewhere along the way and haven't been. Therefore, it's time to re-evaluate what it is I'm doing and weather I should be doing it. The blog will go on as it has been, and you're still going to get the information you've been getting here.
So, if I make this announcement, nothing's going to change with regards to the blog. It's only going to change with respect to who gets stuff mailed for them to media outlets. I'm dreading this move, but I think it may be needed. My personal deadline comes on the day that this blog will be posted, so there is still time for something to change.
It still remains a bit of a struggle for me to keep up the pace then I'm on with the writing effort. Sometimes I feel like I'm being a bit dramatic when I talk about it, but be that as it may, it hasn't been easy. This particular week saw a lot of rain outs, and it was supposed to be an easy week. I was supposed to relax a little bit more. I still had 10 articles written and pretty much ready to go on Sunday evening.
As often happens to me when I have idle time, I start thinking I haven't done enough. Therefore, my Monday was spent writing Pit Stops articles for both this blog in the Jefferson blog and being my usual wordy self. I'm not enjoying the editing process, and it's a struggle to motivate myself to do that. It is a struggle to get motivated to do any of this lately. I wish I could say it was easier.
Nonetheless, I will continue to do my best to keep up the pace through the conclusion of the season. I've never been one who likes to give up once I get started. Being that this is a voluntary effort and support has been lacking this year, that makes it a little bit harder for me to motivate myself. So if you do like what's being done on these blogs to report on the racing scene, support us by throwing us a tip via The Tip Jar at the top of this post or share the links. Your support is very much appreciated.
On that note, I'll end this column. Until next time