Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pit Stops: Notes From Sunday's Antioch Event

First of all...

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Wanted some reading material to go with the DCRR Racing Radio Show.  Ended up bringing back an old staple from DCRR Racing News, Pit Stops.  Because I'm still working through issues with my audio, the show is again hosted here.  There was some minor static and a rough moment I caught before I completely messed things up.  Gonna keep working on this...

DCRR Racing Radio Show

Pit Stops
Notes From Sunday's Antioch Event

I'm doing this DCRR Racing Radio show for Antioch Speedway and the Ventura results and I had a dilemma.  What article do I post with it?  I had this article sitting from 2010.  This is when I ghost wrote the entire season at Antioch Speedway.  I think it could be interesting just in looking back at my thoughts from five years ago.  I recall not running it because, since it wasn't glowing about everything, it would be viewed as negative by some.  Nope.  I was only doing my stuff that year to help the track, so I held that post.

There's another one I called Who Killed NARC.  Now, this article discussed the end of the 40 year old Winged 410 Sprint Car organization.  Yes, The Outlaws were just in town, and they are amazing, but NARC was a site to see back in the day too.  I've heard people blame John for killing them, which is just silly.  I remember that ill fated Jim Allen column that killed any chances they had to stay at Antioch, so that inspired the column as I broke it down point by point.  This article may yet run on the blog.  I'm just picking the right time.

So, what do I talk about?  Well, for starters, I was at Antioch for the show on Sunday.  WoO is truly amazing.  Those car haulers are immense.  They took up so much room.  WoO officials started to worry when a wave of late arrivals nearly pushed the car count to 40.  These guys were waiting to get in, and they all did.  They made it work.  The pits were over flowing with people.  In fact, people had blankets laid down on the pit benches to reserve their spots.

That made it difficult for me to find a seat once I realized I was not going to be sitting in my usual spot in the grandstands.  Plus, the press box was filled.  Actually, as I watched from the pits, I realized there was room for me where I'd usually sit.   I'm glad I didn't go there.  After I sat down in a different spot, who should approach me but J.D. Willis.  This is the same man who helped me last a little longer with The DCRR.  This is the man who will be in the Antioch Speedway Hall Of Fame when its restarted.

We're chatting, and he is surprised when I told him he is still the all time win leader.  He expected to be passed.  Two active drivers could get by him.  You know who they are, Scott Busby and Bobby Hogge IV.  Regardless, J.D. is the greatest in my opinion, and that's saying something.  Bobby is pretty amazing himself.  Then, there's Bobby's dad, Jim Pettit II, Ed Sans Jr. and so on.  Nobody won more Modified features than Busby, though Hogge is right behind him.  J.D. had 19 or more wins in three divisions.

My Mount Rushmore of Antioch Speedway is J.D. Willis, Gary Pacheco, Bill Brown and...  That's a tough one.  I bounce between Dean Cline and Richard Johnson for that one.  It's not like Merced Speedway where, without question, it's Dennis Moomjean, Ted Stofle, Vern Willhoite and George Steitz.  Why only the older era guys?  Because, at Merced, it's almost impossible to argue against the body of work of those four.  They were so good, they kicked butt at other tracks as well.

At Antioch, you can make a strong case for Bobby Hogge III or Jim Pettit II for that fourth spot.  Pettit is the all time win leader in Antioch Late Model history, and Hogge is second.  Pettit won three track titles to Hogge's two, and both were Regional champions.  But, again, Cline and Johnson were great.  Dean just won races, but never really chased points.  Johnson is a two time Stock Car track champion, a two time Sportsman State champion and he was the first Dirt Modified champion at Antioch.  People forget that.

Can you believe we have had Dirt Modifieds at Antioch Speedway since 1990?  This is the 25th anniversary of this division, and they have been at least co-headliners at the track since 1994.  That's staying power.  The racing hasn't always been stellar, but the division has been reliable.  And now, we have Sport Mods poised to take over.  The only problem with that scenario is if they ever do drop the Dirt Mods for the Sport Mods, the cost of Sport Mods will go up. 

As I walked the pits looking at those Sprint Cars, I was amazed.  These guys really have the best of everything.  They travel in comfort.  Some of those enclosed trailers are air conditioned. They have all of the state of the art tools and everything, back up chassis and motors.  They come very well prepared.  They are professionals.  They demand a high purse, but that's because they deserve it.  They are the best of the best that Winged Sprint Car racing has to offer.

Obviously, WoO has the media covered.  Gary Thomas and whomever else is working the beat knows all the ins and outs, so I didn't go into the day trying to do their gig.  I'm not as familiar with the names in the field.  I did see Rico Abreu.  What an amazing talent.  This guy is going places.  He rode the same wave that has taken Kyle Larson to the top, and he may not be far behind.  Rico's Chili Bowl win helped get him a NASCAR East Stock Car ride.

Then, there's the #49 car of Brad Sweet.  I was impressed with this guy since he emerged on the scene with the BCRA Midget Lites.  He actually won several races at Antioch, and I have audio calls of most of them.  He was smooth, but he seemed rather young.  I mean, I wondered if he was even over 14.  I became a fan, and I followed him in the Trucks and the Xfinity Series.  He should still be there, because he was showing a lot of potential.

I looked on in wonder at the Roth Racing Team as they had both of their cars stripped down and seemed to be going over each of them very carefully.  Tim Kaeding, who has won a WoO race at Antioch, finished tenth, while his teammate, David Gravel, was back in 21st.  The good news, I guess, was he was a lead lap 21st.  Only one yellow and the leaders caught traffic in their battle.

Daryn Pittman became the sixth different feature winner in WoO action at Antioch.  The a fore mentioned Brad Sweet was fourth, and in between those two were Paul McMahan and Kerry Madsen.  There was a WoO REPORT on Late Model Racer's forum.  It was interesting to note that Sweet had the fast time, though I didn't know that as I couldn't hear the announcer in the pits.  I'd love to see Antioch do the same thing they did in the pits at Petaluma and have the speakers tuned in to the announcer when the Pit Board operator isn't calling the next race to staging or whatever.

Speaking of Petaluma,  Chase Johnson was within a spot of making the show.  The fourth generation racer finished a strong fifth in the B Main.  Of course, people may know that Chase is the great grandson of the legendary Johnny Franklin of Hardtop fame at Contra Coast Speedway in Pacheco.  The kid has potential, he just needs the right opportunity to let it show.

If your name is Kaeding, you are usually a force in whatever division you are running.  Generally, that's Sprint Cars.  It started with "The Campbell Comet" Howard Kaeding in Supers at San Jose.  Brent Kaeding won how many NARC and King Of California titles in his illustrious career?  Tim Kaeding has done his share of winning.  Bud Kaeding has done some great things with USAC, and I admit I was surprised he was back with the Winged Sprinters on Sunday.  I wasn't surprised that he won a heat race and finished fifth in the feature.  Talent just runs in the family.

It was interesting to see the NARC connection on Sunday night.  Jason Statler just barely eked into the feature with a fourth in the B Main and then placed 14th in the Main Event.  When the #3c car showed up, my first thought was that it was Paul McMahan. He certainly won in that car a lot.  On this night, it was Jonathan Allard.  Jonathan is certainly a star at tracks like Marysville and Placerville, and he placed 20th in the show.

McMahan was in the #51 car, and as I mentioned, he finished second in the Main Event.  He certainly shined in preliminaries, where he beat eventual feature winner Daryn Pittman in the Trophy Dash after winning his heat race.  Chasing him in the heat was a past Antioch WoO winner, Shane Golobic.  I had a chance meeting with Shane when he and his father John Golobic where in Indiana watching a race at Kokomo that Don O'Keefe Jr. and I were spectating.  It doesn't surprise me to see him doing as well as he does.  He had potential then, and he's only gotten better.

This is why you see the next generation racers getting into Sprint Cars.  We had the Hirst family being represented by Kyle Hirst.  You may remember Rick Hirst making his presence known with NARC back in the day.  Then, there was JoJo Helberg making laps.  JoJo didn't make it out of the B Main, but good seat time was logged and that makes a difference.  Of course, the Helberg family had their moments with Fred Helberg in the 1960's and 1970's at Petaluma and then Joe Helberg in Late Models in the late 1980's and early 1990's. 

I've said it before, but families in racing are what keep the sport going.  The Kinser name remains represented in WoO with Kraig Kinser, who was 11th in the feature.  I'm sure I don't do WoO justice in my writings here, but I thought I'd say something before I get to the regular Antioch racers and the visitors who challenged them on Sunday.

The IMCA Sport Mods were a part of this show.  Originally, the Wingless Spec Sprints were booked as well, but it may have been a good thing they were taken off the schedule.  The guys needed time to get situated and work on rebuilding car count.  What interested me was the little tidbit I heard about a Rosa wanting to go Sprint Car racing.  No, not David.  He's happy with the Stock Car stuff.  I'm talking about Victoria Rosa, and I think that young lady has potential.

When David Rosa had put his win total in Street Stocks up around the 40 win mark, he chose to do something pretty cool.  He stepped away from Antioch and headed to a little track called Dixon Speedway.  David was pretty active there, and I believe he even served a stint as president of CORA, the group that promotes the little one fifth mile dirt track.  Terry DeCarlo has served in that capacity for a while now, and his family has been a driving force in making things happen there.

You see, Rosa wanted to get his kids, David Michael and Victoria, into the sport.  So, he put them in Box Stocks and they worked their way up.  Both of these kids have talent.  Victoria started demonstrating that when she had back to back third place seasons in Super Hobby Stocks at Antioch.  She lost the battle with Natalie Perry by a mere two points that first year.  David says she will be back racing again, and that may eventually be in a Limited Late Model.  However, Victoria says she wants to race Sprint Cars.

I'm sure there's a mixture of pride and nervousness when he hears that from her.  Victoria sometimes can be a bit stubborn, like her dad, but she developed her love of the sport from him. It was her birthday, and where was she on Sunday?  Helping her dad with his Sport Mod.  There will be another Modified from Rosa Racing very soon, and that would be the car driven by David Michael.

Back in 2013, young David debuted in the Modifieds to a Top 5 season with "Rookie Of The Year" honors.  He was running in the Top 3 until missing a race for a bowling tournament in Reno.  He's a little more willing to listen to dad's advice, and that could serve him well in the races to come.  And, the older Rosa points out there is another racer waiting in the wings as another daughter will be racing Dwarf Cars when she turns 14.  I suppose David is taking a cue from friend, Chester Kniss, who will put his son in a Dwarf Car when he turns 14.

The results on race day weren't so rosy for David as he had motor problems and didn't finish the Main Event.  But, there's always next time.  I was saddened to hear that David's old car owner, Carrigan "Brownie" Brown, passed away in recent years.  He was a good man who put together some nice race cars.  Racing is losing too many good people it seems, and we need to keep encouraging the next generation to take an interest in the sport if we want it to survive.

Ron Brown has raced about everything, it seems.  Back in the 1970's, that included Stock Cars and the Sportsman division.  By the time the Sportsman division ended, Ron had been Top 20 in both divisions.  He dabbled in Late Models with his brother Randy before that became too costly, and then he did some Street Stock racing. He married his wife Lori Brown in the 1990's, and they are still going strong.  She steadily became a better Street Stock driver, ranking Top 10 and even winning Main Events, and then she did the same in Limited Late Models, where she is a champion.

During all of that time, Ron went from trying to run the figure 8 to Dirt Modifieds and eventually landed with Limited Late Models.  One of the reasons that class took off was because it had a guy like Ron behind the scenes helping others.  He has received awards in the past for his sportsmanship.  Ron started the Limited Late Models with back to back championships, but he also worried that people thought he was in it only for himself.  Anybody who would say that simply doesn't know Ron Brown at all.

The fact is, getting that beautiful #3 Sport Mod to the track was a team effort, and Ron has said he couldn't have done it without all of the help he had.  Chief among them was Vince Pokwyrka, who logged a lot of hours working to get this car ready.  Ron was nervous coming into the night, but who can blame him?  That first hit was coming.  You just hate to blemish the look of a race car when it could win a "Best Appearing Car" contest, but that's inevitable.  Though his results weren't great, Ron will be back to try again.

From Marysville came three of that track's racers.  That track had a playday on Sunday night, but this trio was ready to actually race.  There was Jimmy Ford, Jason Ferguson and Jim Waller.  Ford and Ferguson were factors in the race.  Actually, Ferguson might have won the race if not for late motor problems.  Ford, on the other hand, finished second in his heat and the Main Event.  It was like coming home for him.

Jimmy grew up at Antioch Speedway watching his uncle Jerry Garner driving for his grandfather Nick Burcher.  He started racing Street Stocks and even raced Late Models for a time as well.  Eventually he moved up north, but he found the race track up in Yreka and made trips to Antioch to run when he could.  He has since relocated to the Marysville area and started racing there.  He ran Sport Mods at Antioch when the division launched in 2012, and continued racing his Mini Stock, where he was 2014 Marysville champion.  Jimmy was delighted when the Sport Mods were added to Marysville this season, giving him a place closer to run. As his finish at Antioch indicates, he is fast and will be tough to beat wherever he races.

It's been interesting watching Al Sotomayor become more competitive.  The brother of past Top 3 Watsonville Street Stock racer Art Sotomoayor, Al got into racing when his nephew Matt Sotomayor sold him his Watsonville championship wining Four Banger.  When Matt moved into Sport Mods, Al started bringing his Four Banger to Merced so the two could race at the same place.  As luck, and skill, would have it, Matt and Al won their respective division championships at Merced in 2013.

Naturally, Al wanted to see how he could do in a Sport Mod, so he moved up in 2014.  He ended up being Top 5 ranked at Antioch.  With back to back Top 5 finishes, including his fourth place finish on Sunday, Al seems poised to win a Main Event soon in that beautiful #65 car.

Speaking of firsts, rookie Patti Ryland won her first Sport Mod heat race Sunday night.  That's not surprising when you consider she has won everywhere she's gone.  The two time Four Banger champion had many wins in that class before going on to back to back Top 5 seasons in Hobby Stocks and winning races there as well.  Patti got more seat time and drove to a Top 10 finish on Sunday.

It would be easy to get frustrated if you are Keith Brown Jr.  He has been very fast in his #128 car this year, but his efforts at all three Oval Motorsports tracks have not yielded any feature wins yet.  He won his heat race on Sunday and seemed poised to win the feature after Ferguson had his problems.  Unfortunately, He saw that familiar #7j car of Fred Ryland drive by him and steal the victory.  Keith settled for third and should remain second in IMCA State and Antioch points to, you guessed it, Fred Ryland.

The reality is, Fred Ryland makes it his mission to have a competitive and winning race car in every division he enters.  He's already in the Top 20 in wins at Antioch in less than ten years, which means his win total has surpassed 30.  In fact, a half dozen wins at this point, and Ryland will be in elite company as he moves into a tie with none other than Bobby Hogge III for tenth on the win list.  At this rate, he may even pass him before the year is out.

Ryland will be headed to Merced Speedway on Saturday night to try for another win, and it's anticipated that Brown will be there with him.  Considering the fact that you don't get full points unless you have a ten car field, one has to wonder if the team may be considering bringing Patti Ryland's car with them as well.  Back in the early 2000's, the Williamson team did a similar thing as title contender Bob Williamson was joined by his son Bobby in the other #19 car.

Merced was represented by Mark Squadrito on Sunday.  Mark was also among the Top 10 at the checkered flag, but 2013 Antioch champion Jeremy Hoff wasn't as lucky as he had a bad night.  It's nice to know that Hoff has said he will still race at Merced, though he wants to travel too.  The reality of the situation is that Hoff is third at Merced with Ryland between he and point leader Josh Hensley.  Hoff basically spotted Hensley a race, but he has the talent to make up that lost ground and reel him in if he should decide to go for it.  In the absence of that's, it's Hensley's championship to lose at this point.

What is nice is Hoff's attitude that if the fans want to see him at Merced Speedway, he will show up and make the effort if he can.  Merced Speedway has been ridiculed and put down by some racing snobs for years, and that always annoyed this writer.  That track has a proud racing tradition and has produced some of the best racers in the state.  People pull into Merced and think they are racing with pushovers, and yet they leave having been beaten by one of those drivers.

So, at the risk of editorializing, I salute local drivers like Kevin Joaquin, Darren Miguel, Ty Shelton, Mark Odgers, Josh Hensley, Jeremy Hoff, Bill Egleston, Alex Wilson, Jennifer Corder, Chris Corder, Kevin Lockerby, Brian Widdowson and just all of the racers who are hanging in there and fighting to keep racing alive at a track that was all but abandoned in 2009 before Oval Motorsports came in and gave it new life.

People don't know all of the details and the full story of last year, and the purpose of saying that here is not to name names or place blame.  What's done is done, but there are two sides, sometimes more, to every story.  So, getting upset about any of that when it only involved a select few people to begin with is not only pointless, but it's destructive to the track.  Maybe it's better to concentrate on the positive and the future and work on making that better.

Sometimes people are going to have opinions that aren't popular, and they can be construed as being bad or against the track.  I've witnessed that from a certain racer who I believe doesn't have a car at the moment.  But, it's important to know that while he says some of the things he has said, he has supported the tracks as a spectator.  Is this a bad person or a passionate fan who cares about the sport and thinks things can be better?

Well, things can be better, but if people just walk away and give up on it, it won't have a chance.  If they come back and communicate where they think things can be better, but also listen to what is being said, common ground can be found and we can get past the hurt feelings.  And, that's what I'm hoping for.  I want more cars and better racing at Merced Speedway, and I believe the current promoter can help make that happen if given a chance.  I also believe there is room for improvement in that area.

We'll see what happens at Merced and Antioch this weekend, but we'll save the pre race talk for another article.  This one has gone on long enough.  Whatever you do, have fun and try to keep smiling.  Real life is annoying enough at times, but this sport we all love is supposed to be there to help give us a break from all the bad things that may be bringing us down in our day to day lives.

Note: The following is only speculation at this point and has not been announced.

Mike Conley Memorial 30 Lap Figure 8?

Okay, there's been some talk about a Figure 8 race at Antioch, possibly a year end show or maybe at the County Fair race.  Nothing has been announced, and it might take work to make it happen.  It might also be difficult to reach the minimum car count required to get it booked.  We're talking 12 cars minimum, $500 to win and $100 to start.  The minimum is a hard minimum.  That means, 12 cars minimum are needed to make this thing happen, more cars are preferred.

The challenge in making this happen is that Hobby Stock car count isn't what it once was, and some drivers are averse to taking the risk to their cars.  Plus, the race has sort of been abandoned.  Why run a race like this?  Bragging rights.  A successful race that provided cars and really entertained the crowd would be a positive for the track.  The winner has won something very challenging and becomes the race champion until next time.

Who is Mike Conley?  Mike was one of THE biggest boosters of this race at Antioch Speedway.  He was a Top 5 Stock Car racer at Antioch in the early 1970's who came out of retirement when the race was brought to Antioch in 1987.  He loved Figure 8 racing.  He ranked Top 10 in this race in three of the four seasons, making it as high as fifth one season.  He fielded two cars and helped others get their engines ready with his Conley's Machine Shop business.  He supported that race from 1987 until it was done to the end of its run in 1990.

There is no official date set for any of this, and it's only a rumor at this time.  One way to make it happen is to start getting commitments from racers to take part in it.  And for those who know Mike Conley, there's no better tribute we could pay him than to have a big Figure 8 race to honor his memory.  Could a big Figure 8 race happen again at Antioch?  You never know.  Time will tell.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ryland Uses Late Race Pass To Gain Antioch Victory

First of all...

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

The finishes are unofficial as of this writing and will be updated as needed

Ryland Uses Late Race Pass To Gain Antioch Victory

Taking the lead from Jason Ferguson with five laps to go, point leader Fred Ryland went on to claim the victory in the 20 lap IMCA Sport Modified Main Event.  The division ran as a support class to the World of Outlaws Sprint Car race on Sunday evening. The win was the second straight at Antioch for Ryland and added to his point leads in the Antioch and IMCA Sport Mod State point races.

Marysville regulars Jimmy Ford, Ferguson and Jim Waller towed to Antioch for the special race.  Keith Brown Jr. won the first eight lap qualifying heat race ahead of Ford, while rookie Patti Ryland won the other heat race ahead of Chuck Golden.

All 16 IMCA Sport Mod competitors survived to start their Main Event.  Ferguson had a front row start for the feature and settled into the early lead ahead of Ford and Golden.  Waller was an early retiree and Ron Brown spun in Turn 4 for a lap six caution flag.  Ferguson chose the outside on the restart and continued to lead P. Ryland, as K.  Brown settled into third.  K. Brown and F. Ryland shuffled P. Ryland out of the Top 3 on lap ten, just before another yellow forced a lap thirteen caution flag.  Ferguson continued to lead K. Brown and Ford on the restart.  F. Ryland took third from Ford on lap 13 and made a high move in Turn 4 a lap later to grab second from K. Brown.  After a lap 15 caution flag, F. Ryland grabbed the lead on the restart.  Ryland repelled K. Brown's every effort and would collect the impressive victory. Ford brought it home a strong second with a late restart pass on K. Brown.  K. Brown settled for third as Al Sotomayor and Paul Mulder rounded out the Top Five.  Al Johnson was sixth ahead of K.C. Keller, Mark Squadrito, Golden and P. Ryland.

Next Saturday night, racing resumes at Antioch Speedway with a special Family Appreciation Night at the races as part of Easter Weekend.  IMCA Modifieds will headline a show that includes BCRA Midget Lites, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  There will be an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids in the infield and the drivers will do a special autograph session on the track.  For more information, see the official Oval Motorsports Website

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Les Friend Fourth Different IMCA Modified Winner At Merced Speedway

First of all...

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Working with limited and unofficial information, so this will be updated as more information becomes available.  Just wanted to get something out there for the people who care about Merced Speedway as I do...

Audio Show Below This Article
Race Results From Everywhere and Merced and Antioch observations

Les Friend Fourth Different IMCA Modified Winner At Merced Speedway

Racing resumed Saturday night at Merced Speedway with a show headlined by the IMCA Modified division.  It was the fourth point event of the season, and Sacramento area competitor Les Friend held off 2014 champion Paul Stone to win the 20 Lap Main Event.  Stone was making his first appearance since January and came up from the fourth row for his runner up finish.  Antioch regulars ran at the head of the pack in the IMCA Sport Mod feature with Fred Ryland collecting his third Merced win of the season ahead of Keith Brown Jr.  Kevin Joaquin became the first repeat winner in five races for the Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks with his 20 lap feature triumph.  Mike Hynes made an appearance to snap Mark Garner's two race win streak at Merced for the Limited Late Model feature win.

The IMCA Modifieds ran two qualifying heats with Friend pacing the first heat ahead of IMCA State title hopeful Alex Wilson.  Coming off of his impressive third place run in last week's Main Event in which he led several laps, multi time Street Stock titlist Ricky Thatcher won the second heat race in front of Joel Myers.  Friend and Clarence Holbrook shared the front row for the Modified Main Event as Stone lined up on the fourth row outside.  As Friend raced into the lead, second row starters John MacDougall and Thatcher gave chase.  MacDougall came into the night ranked third in the standings as a one time feature winner.  Stone's charge to the front saw him grab second from MacDougall, but he could only chase Friend to the checkered flag.  With Friend, Stone and MacDougall grabbing the Top 3 finishing potions in order, Wilson improved on his point total as the #2 point runner with his fourth place finish.  Myers grabbed the fifth spot ahead of two time champion Bob Williamson, who started last in the 13 car field.

The Top 2 in the IMCA Sport Mod State point race going into the night were Ryland and Brown, and it was Brown winning the heat race ahead of Ryland.  Third generation Antioch racer Brown had the outside front row with Merced point leader Josh Hensley and Antioch point leader Ryland lined up in the second row.  Brown didn't enjoy his spot for too long before he was being challenged and passed by Ryland.  From there, it was Ryland and Brown running 1-2 to the finish.  John Gish enjoyed one of his better efforts for a third place finish ahead of veteran Street Stock and Sportsman competitor Gary Tucker and past Sportsman champion Mark Odgers.

The Hobby Stock division has a growing list of up and coming drivers, and last week's surprise feature winner, Darren Miguel, won the heat race ahead of Jil Merlin.  Merlin is coming off of back to back Top 10 point seasons in Hobby Stocks at Watsonville, and she lined up behind pole sitter Sarah Leslie, the 2012 Antioch Four Banger champion.  However, point leader Kevin Joaquin would lead a parade of competitive lady drivers, who battled behind him as he sped to his second win of the season at Merced and third on the circuit.  Leslie could not hold off Merlin, who picked up a second in the feature.  The steadily improving Jennifer Corder would get past Leslie for her second third place finish of the season.  Leslie settled for fourth as Miguel ended up fifth.

Antioch competitors made up the short field of Limited Late Models as Garner was gunning for three in a row at Merced.  The second generation Antioch competitor won the heat race ahead of Hynes.  Hynes recently purchased a DIRTcar Late Model, but will continue to support Limited Late Models as well.  Come Main Event time, Hynes turned the tables on Garner by collecting the victory.  Garner settled for second with John Evans third.

Racing resumes next Saturday night at Merced Speedway with the exciting Mini Stocks back from a two week break.  Also on the card are the IMCA Sport Mods, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and the Valley Sportsman division.  For more information, check The Official Oval Motorsports Website.

DCRR Racing Radio Show

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sport Mods Join Outlaws At Antioch, Modifieds Star At Merced

First of all...

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Here is a new DCRR Racing Radio Show leading into this weekend's racing.  We're doing this one in house while we get out audio sorted out and contemplate a move in host sites.

If you missed the Audio Calls from Antioch Speedway, you might want to check them out.  I did all five Main Events, and that post can be found HERE.

GoLiveStream.com has a video of the Southwest Tour race held recently at Madera, and it can be viewed HERE.

Sport Mods Join Outlaws At Antioch, Modifieds Star At Merced

Sunday is the World of Outlaws at Antioch Speedway.  I already wrote some about that in an article that you can read HERE.

Originally, Wingless Spec Sprints and IMCA Sport Mods were on the schedule for Sunday night at Antioch, but the Spec Sprints were given a break.  I totally agree with that decision.  Guys are still getting situated with the new rules that were announced weeks before the season opener.  Cars are coming. I heard from the division's all time win leader, Jim Perry Jr., that he is working on a car, and his son, Jimmy Perry III, made his season debut Saturday night.  So, giving them this race off, even though it would have been held in front of a Sprint Car crowd, was the right move to make.

Besides, the Sport Mods are just getting started.  We had a few interesting things to talk about last week.  First of all, there was IMCA National Championship contender Fred Ryland.  Ryland was leading the points at Merced, but he walked away to make the commitment to his home track.  Keith Brown Jr. did likewise.  While Brown had absolutely miserable luck all night long, Ryland did just the opposite.  He led most of the Main Event to collect his fifth win of the year on the IMCA Sport Mod circuit. He will be tough to beat this year.

Ryland may have won his heat race too, but rookie Tim Hammett spun out right in front of him in the final turn.  I can see where people were getting frustrated with the rookie who spun a few times, but he's just learning the ropes.  Tim brings a lot of enthusiasm with him, and I think he will get better with time.  Joining Hammett on the rookie list is two time Four Banger champion Patti Ryland and KC Keller.  Patti may be the favorite in the rookie race, and she finished second in her heat race.  After running second early in the feature, she fell back to eighth.

Al Sotomayor seems more comfortable behind the wheel of his #65 car.  After his impressive Mini Stock championship season at Merced in 2013, he spent last year getting acquainted with his Sport Mod and finished third in points at Antioch.  He missed the two January races and finds himself back in 19th in the standings as a result.  Al Johnson seems to be one of the drivers to watch to challenge F. Ryland, a task that may be easier said than done.  Johnson gained the win in the heat in which Ryland had his lapped traffic issues and then finished fourth in the Main Event.  Megan Ponciano fared well with a heat win of her own and a fifth in the feature.  She's actually third in the standings behind Keith Brown Jr., who had a miserable night in last in the Main Event.  Brown trails Ryland by two points, Ponciano is five points back and Johnson is 16 points behind the leader.

It's anticipated that car count will increase on Sunday with drivers visiting from Merced or even Bakersfield for State and National points.   So, a car count in the mid or high teens could be on hand.  Who might show is subject to speculation, but drivers like 2014 State champion Nick Spainhoward, Jeremy Hoff and Bruce "Bubba" Nelson could be among the drivers to watch for.

Back at Merced, there may be reason for concern over the car count situation.  At Antioch, Chief Steward Brad Coelho was passing along word from management that they wanted to know who in the Dwarf Car division might be interested in supporting Merced Speedway for some races.  Considering that Merced could draw from other groups, properly scheduled Dwarf Car dates could help, but scheduling will be important.  Nor Cal or South Bay drivers might come if they know about it or are able to.

This is something that could go for Chowchilla Speedway as well.  Other divisions that could be available include the IMCA Stock Cars.  That division ran Chowchilla several times last season and seemed to enjoy it.  When the start time was adjusted, the drivers balked at supporting the cause.  It's not a big car count as it is, but it can bring 6-8 cars to Chowchilla if done right.  BCRA Midget Lites or even the Midgets could be pursued for a date or two.  Then, there is the Okie Bowl Hardtops for a possible Chowchilla or even Merced and Chowchilla visit.  Better yet, a venture between the northern and southern groups, if the drivers are open to it.

However, the bigger priority should be getting the local drivers back on board with Merced Speedway.  To this reporter, the best approach might be to call a meeting in the Merced area on an off night, either at the track or maybe a local pizza parlor.  This probably should have happened when the previous General Manager, Doug Williams, walked away.  Anybody could see that Doug was a very popular man in Merced with the racers and the fans and a past Regional Champion and BCRA Hall Of Famer to boot.  People were already reacting badly to his departure.

Sonny Nabers seems to be a qualified replacement from all that this reporter knows, but he should have been introduced properly to the racers in a meeting within a week or so of the announcement that he would be GM at Merced and Chowchilla.  Considering the uncertainty of the game plan at the track or what the future was, this would have been a good time to assure the racers that things would be okay and discuss the future with the new GM.  None of this happened, and the lack of support at the banquet was further proof that people were unhappy.

The purpose of this is not to slam Oval Motorsports.  John Soares Jr. actually cared enough to reopen this track when it appeared dead it 2010.  He managed to get it up and running for a 14 race season that year and it's still going.  It's unlikely a season would have happened in 2010 otherwise, and who knows beyond that.  At this point, it may be in the racer's best interest to support the show if they can and deal with 2016 when it gets here.  The desire to make Oval Motorsports fail could lead to the failure of the track itself.  John was in Merced last week trying to reassure the races of his commitment to them and that track.  Will it make a difference?

Going into last week, the IMCA Sport Mods were set to take a car count hit.  Point leader Fred Ryland and Top 5 ranked Keith Brown Jr. would be heading back to Antioch, and Mark Odgers was parking the Modified and dusting off his Sportsman after his fifth place Sport Mod feature finish a week earlier.  It was hoped that a few other racers would be returning, but what happened was not good news for the track.  The man poised to take the lead, 2014 champion Rick Diaz, and fellow Top 10 racers Mark Squadrito and Neill Barcellos were also absent from the field, leaving six cars for this show.

The show went on, and past Antioch champion Jeremy Hoff was there to win the Main Event from his pole position start.  Hoff had also won the heat race over Josh Hensley.  Hensley figured to finish second in the Main Event, but a last lap pass from two time Hobby Stock champion Bruce Nelson dropped Hensley to third at the finish.  Hensley now leads the standings by 18 points over the absent Fred Ryland.  Hoff is the next driver up, 28 points out of the lead.  The news doesn't get any better for the division as last place finisher Tim Prothro clobbered the wall in Turn 4 before he could take a checkered flag.

What will car count look like this week?  With Antioch dark on Saturday night, a driver or two might go back.  Hopefully, it will double from the six that appeared last week and we can look at that low turnout as an anomaly.  We'll find out on Saturday.

IMCA Modifieds were back, and we had a bit of a clarification from a source as to what Stone Racing will be doing.  Paul Stone is gearing up for the big one week event taking place from Yreka up through Oregon at various tracks.  He has a new car he will be running.  It's likely that he'll need to shake it down some place beforehand, but we haven't heard where or when that will be.  He's not defending his Merced crown, obviously, and we'll just have to see if he's interested in running for the Hanford championship again. 

Cousin Ramie Stone, meanwhile, has Paul's old car, which took some damage in an open show.  Ramie has been working on getting it back together for a return.  We'll spare you the names of others who haven't been seen yet, but Bill Egleston, Alex Wilson and John MacDougall are the three who have stepped up after three races.  Only five points separate Egleston from third ranked MacDougall.  As there are no date conflicts on the horizon for MacDougall as far as Antioch is concerned, he's poised to make a run at his first championship at Merced.

As a past champion, beating Egleston won't be easy, but none of these three were on the podium last week. Egleston was the closest in fourth.  The Main Event featured two of the track's past champions doing battle with perhaps the best Dirt Modified driver ever, Bobby Hogge IV.  Multi time Street Stock champion Ricky Thatcher looked great leading early from the pole.  If not for the yellow flags early on, he could have won this race instead of settling for a respectable third place finish.

Past Hobby Stock champion Ryan Porter was on a mission to get to the front, and Bob Williamson was a casualty of that mission as he ended up taking a ride into the infield.  Once Porter got the lead from Thatcher, he had to try to keep it.  Hogge was coming from the back, and he was soon on Porter's back bumper.  Any time you win a Main Event ahead of Hogge, you know you did good, and Porter scored an impressive victory Saturday night.  Since Porter and Thatacher both missed one of the three races, they rank fourth and fifth, respectfully, but the season is still early.

It's anticipated that the IMCA Modifeds should see a car count in the 10-12 range, but whether it can go higher than that depends on who is motivated to tow from Antioch or what locals will decide to go racing.  It's not likely that Hogge will show up, but you never know.

One thing that monitoring the point races at Antioch and Merced in 2015 has taught this reporter is that you can't assume anything.  Drivers aren't running every race this season.  Hobby Stock ace Kevin Joaquin appears to be all in in his quest for a championship, but chief rival and 2014 point runner up Kristie Shearer was a no show last week.  In fact, incoming Top 3 drivers Ty Shelton and Dexter Long were also absent, opening the door for Jennifer Corder to climb into second.

Corder has been a busy woman this season driving both a Mini Stock and a Hobby Stock.  Her previous outing found the Hobby Stock rookie having her best finish in third. Last week, she finished fourth to pull within five points of Joaquin, who was a disappointed sixth.  Meanwhile, George Silva, a Top 5 point runner in 2013, was credited with a fifth place finish despite being knocked around like a pinata when he crossed paths with the bumper of William Kennedy on a restart.

Kennedy, a past Watsonville Hobby Stock champion, briefly had grabbed the lead before the incident and had to charge back through the pack, taking second from long time Merced Speedway competitor Gary Hildebrand.  However, the star of the show was rising star Darren Miguel.  Miguel was coming off of a win in Mini Stock action a week earlier and also has a win at Chowchilla in which the race was run in the opposite direction.  Being a winner in two different divisions in the early goings of the season shows just how much potential the driver of the #86 car has.

The Hobby Stocks have run four races with four different winners so far, Joe Willoughby, Joaquin, Shearer and Miguel.  Will there be a fifth different winner this week?  We shall see, but the competition has been so close in this class that it could happen.

The question in the Limited Late Model and Valley Sportsman divisions going into last week was who wanted to race at this point.  Limited Late Model star, Mark Garner may have been wondering if the locals were running scared of his fast purple #76a car.  This time, he was met at the gates by Top 3 2013 competitor Scott Van Gelder and defending champion Roy Hart Jr., but neither was a match for him.  In fact, they weren't even a match for 2014 Antioch "Rookie Of The Year" Peggy Sue Jarred.

Peggy Sue has been anxious to get more seat time in her #313 car, so she followed Garner to the track again, only this time they were joined by another Antioch racer, John Evans.  Jarred chased Garner in the heat race for the second place finish and then did the same in the main Event.  Needless to say, she was very pleased, though maybe a bit surprised that the track's 2013-14 champion was not a threat.  In fact, Hart was also unable to beat Evans to disrupt an Antioch 1-2-3 finish.  So far, this Merced-Antioch "Shoot Out" has yielded nothing positive for the Merced side of things.

When the division returns this week, Garner and Jarred could be there again.  The question is, will Hart, Van Gelder and Buddy Thatcher be there?  Will any other locals or Antioch and invaders be there?  And, can anybody stop Garner on his mission for Limited Late Model domination?  The eyes turn towards Vallejo and a certain 86 year old leadfoot and past Merced Speedway champion.  We'll just have to see who might want to come play at Merced this week.

A few drivers got tired of watching Marcus Lung and Kenny Birdsong playing with their Sportsman cars, which led to Eric Seely, "The Missle" Mark Odgers and Jeff Bristow joining the fun Saturday night.  That didn't matter to Lung, who led all the way for victory.  Like the Limited Late Model class, this was the first event in which the class actually registered any points this season, and that makes Lung the leader.  Hopefully, the cars will continue to show up as this is an enjoyable division to watch, especially for fans who remember those days gone by when this division ruled the track.

Seely had the second spot for the start of the race, but it was 2013 point runner up Jeff Bristow giving chase early on.  Bristow was trying to make a move, but it was not to be.  Unfortunately, he ended up pitting his #9 car, which gave the third spot to past division champion Odgers.  Odgers gave it a valiant effort in his pretty #4m car, which wasn't as pretty after an unfortunate encounter with Birdsong in the battle for fourth.  However, Mark settled for third at the finish behind Seely.

The Odgers Racing Stables added an old friend to its collection, Mark's old Street Stock.  Where that car will end up seeing the racing surface again is the question, but rumors are it could be Madera, where Mark has enjoyed the occasional race in the past.  Mark is a man who will drive anything, and usually very well.  He's done Hobby Stocks, Limited Late Models, Modifieds, Sport Mods, Sportsmans, Street Stocks and even Destruction Derbies.  In fact, Mark and his family are proudly a part of the sport.

His daughter Marissa, like him and his wife, is a champion.  Marissa is a past Four Banger champion at Merced and has done alright in her Sport Mod as well.  Wife Darcie is a Chowchilla Ladies Series champion and won a battle with past Merced Champions Jimmy Lust and John Clarke for a surprise Street Stock feature win one night at Merced in the early 2000's.  This writer had the pleasure of calling that race.  Even son Andrew Odgers has gotten into the act in the sportsman division.  As the saying goes, the family that races together, stays together.  With the Sportsman division off this week, we'll see if the team returns this week with a Sport Mod or two.

And, it is a four division show at Merced Saturday night, featuring IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and Limited Late Models.  The Sunday night show at Antioch will be World of Outlaw Sprint Cars and IMCA Sport Mods.  For all of the official information, check the Oval Motorsports Website.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Audio Calls From March 21 At Antioch Speedway

First of all...

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

 Yeah, I Love Announcing The Races

I wrote a column for The DCRR. I'm sot sure if I ran it or not back then.  I was trying to locate it to post it here, but I'm having no luck finding it.  I want to be brief here anyway.  The audio is linked at the bottom of this article if you want to skip my ramblings this time.  I understand.  This is just my thoughts on announcing.

In my auto biography, I spoke of announcing when I was a kid.  I'd turn the TV down and announce football games.  If I didn't get in the game at recess at school, I'd announce it.  Then, there was the hot wheel racing on my coffee table.  Yes, I'd run a full program every week from time trials to the Main Events and everything in between.

I'd tape the numbers with masking tape on the roofs of the cars.  The Sportsman division and the Street Stocks.  I kept points.  In my hot wheel world, guys like Allan Nordstrom, Len Mello, Don O'Keefe Jr., Ron Brown, Marion Heaton, Dan Hatfield and others could win.  I've always been a fan of the underdog.  So, I'd run these races and announce them.  Then, I'd go watch the real races.

I didn't think about announcing so much when I stared writing about the races.  I got a couple opportunities with the NCMA and at Petaluma, but it was fun.  Petaluma happened on somebody's whim, which I write about in my auto biography.  I had to go bragging about my knowledge of Petaluma racers.  Well, it was true.  I kept stat books for Antioch, Merced, Watsonville, Petaluma, San Jose.  I think there's some Bakersfield there too.

I cared enough about the NCMA that I jumped at the chance to make sure the guys got the proper coverage.  I wrote about those opportunities at Marysville and Antioch and what happened at Antioch then to put an end to it.  But now, I had an interest in announcing.  It only grew as the next few years passed.  I learned some from Butch Althar about the importance of announcing sponsorships.  It wasn't being done properly.  From what I've heard lately, it's not being done at all now at one track I know of.

Why is that important?  Sponsorship is the life blood of this sport.  Without that extra money coming in, some drivers can't even afford to race, and tracks need that sponsorship money too.  Even if there are signs around the track and sponsors painted on the cars, that's not enough.  Announce those names.  It means something to those businesses and it makes them owners happy.  If they are happy, the sponsorship money comes.  If the money comes, more drivers race and the track can do more.  Why is this a foreign concept to some people now?

When I got the gig in 1998, I knew I'd be plugging sponsors, so I started gathering them immediately.  As car count grew and the track became pressed for time, I'd hear the whole, "we don't have time for sponsors" nonsense.  Oh really?  Watch me make the time.  Drivers had their sponsors announced twice a night, sometimes three times.  The track did too.  Even with over 100 cars, I made the time.  I heard of drivers before I came along who lost sponsors because they weren't being announced.  Seriously.

Of course, my extensive knowledge when it comes to track history came into play when I announced.  Always present the racers in the best light so the fans learn more about them.  This includes history, current facts, sponsors and other interesting details.  Those details are learned by walking through the pits.  Can you believe some track announcers still read from a piece of paper without walking the pits?  That's unacceptable.  Set the announcing gear up before the racers sign in and be there at the gate to meet them.  That's how it's done.

I brought this same style to Merced and Chowchilla.  When, Johnny Sass was at Merced, he knew the value of sponsorships.  His skills landed the track many good sponsors and helped keep things going.  The fact that he let me call the races at Merced in his booth is something I will never forget.  I admired announcers like Sass, Althar, Harry Osbourne and Ron Albright, to name a few.  I wanted to be good like them, and think I did okay.

It's a responsibility to announce.  You have to keep the crowd informed and entertained.  You have to take care all of the drivers and you have to do what the tracks need you to do.  I'm proud of the work I did in the six years these tracks had me announcing.  I think I added something to the show and helped showcase those racers as the stars of the speedway that they ALL are.  Were I to do it again, that's how I would approach it.  If the opportunity never arises again, I'm proud of the way I did it before.

Do I still have that ability?  I don't know.  Maybe I do.  I have an audio you can listen to, which  is right below this article.  It's five divisions of Main Event action at Antioch Speedway from March 21, 2015.  What a show and what a hooked up race track.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this.  It was certainly fun to watch.

DCRR Racing Radio Audio Calls From Antioch Speedway
March  21, 2015

Being A Good Publicity Director

Many times, my conversations with my friend Don O'Keefe Jr. lead my mind to interesting creative areas.  He has a good mind for racing and he knows the value of looking ahead at where things are going and plotting courses for a better future.  This is something that is needed in the sport desperately in some places.  One area you can start with is Publicity Director.

This leads me to an area which was inspired by one of Don's old News & Rumors columns that I've linked HERE.

Let's Look At Websters Dictionary, shall we.

noun pub·lic·i·ty \(ˌ)pə-ˈbli-sə-tē, -ˈblis-tē\

: something that attracts the attention of the public

: attention that is given to someone or something by newspapers, magazines, television news programs, etc.

: the activity or business of getting people to give attention to someone or something

noun di·rec·tor \də-ˈrek-tər, dī-\

: a person who manages an organized group of people or a part of an organization (such as a school or business)

: one of a group of managers who control a company or corporation

: a person who directs a play, movie, etc.

Okay, the definition of the role is obvious.  You handle the publicity (the hype) for the track, and you direct it to all of the appropriate media and social outlets.  You should use any and all angles, because your success will have an effect on the success of the race track.  I believe I played a part in successes at multiple race tracks.

One thing missing from some tracks is a proper news release of what happened at the previous race.  It's lacking names, a race summary and even timeliness.  Waiting all week to put something out there is not good.  Put that word out there immediately.  There are many ways to accomplish this.

Social media is important.  Use Twitter, Facebook and whatever.  It's free and people see it.  You can just put up a few sentences and a picture, a few paragraphs or whatever.  On Twitter, you get in and out in 140 characters.  Put up the winners and a link to the web site.  Do live updates.  Social media matters.

Now, there's also the newspapers and news sites.  You need to hit them and hit them hard.  Really, you should have a laptop at the track and get to work as soon as possible.  I did that at Chowchilla, and it made a difference.  And, here's another thing to try.  If newspapers have a writer they are willing to send, embrace that.  It can lead to more space in the paper.

As the track's PR person, you see to it that the big papers in the area are invited.  You have a media guide booklet in the press box for them, full pit access as needed, internet connection and even food and drink.  Yes, food and drink.  The big sports do it.  Altamont Raceway even did it for their weekly races.  If they have guys willing to come from the newspaper and write articles for the track, welcome them and be helpful to them.

The PR person will give the newspaper reporters a phone number so if any questions arise, you can answer them.  I did this at Antioch for the previous management.  All too frequently, they had the reporters calling me for the information on track history and that sort of thing, and I helped new reporters learn the ropes.  So, the PR person might need to help break in a novice reporter, because that's who the paper is likely to send unless the paper has a veteran reporter who loves racing.  That's okay, though, because that new reporter can turn into a friend and ally for the race track

Now, as PR person, you still issue a press release race review for the newspapers, and you send it to any paper within 30-40 miles of the track.  It doesn't matter if it all gets used, some of it gets used or you get ignored.  Get them used to the fact that they have information coming in, and eventually they will pay attention.  That's how it worked for me at Chowchilla.  Newspapers still matter.  A press release on Wednesday that hypes up the coming event should be a part of the job too.  Hype up the point battles and that sort of thing.

Then, you can get into individual driver stories.  Those matter too, but some PR people rely on them as a crutch.  If you are mainly doing those types of stories, then many drivers aren't getting any mention at all.  They get discouraged and start thinking they don't matter to the track at all.  These are basic fundamentals, but only some of them.  Technology has changed, but the need for an effort has not.

The Publicity Director is responsible for presenting the track in the best light and attracting fans to the races each week.  Why should they want to come? Here's a news flash.  It's not to "save racing" because that's not a fan's responsibility.  They are responsible for spending their hard earned dollars on things that entertain them.  It's up to the race track to entertain the fans and make them want to spend money there on a regular basis.

So, the PR person needs to have prompt news releases that hype the important details.  They should be a part of making sure the web site has relevant information for the fans.  They should engage in social media in a friendly manner, whch doesn't always happen.  They should keep an eye on the pulse of the internet and social media and give people a reason to get excited about the races.

I don't think it's a stretch to say this person can have a big impact on whether fans come to watch or whether some racers come to race.  They can help make or break a race track.  If they aren't doing their job right, the track can suffer for it.  Anyway, this is just something to think about.  It would be nice to see some Publicity Directors that can direct publicity in the right way.  Fortunately, there are some tracks that have one.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Karl Noland Sr., Roy Atchinson Win Rocky Hill Features

First of all...

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

 Karl Noland Sr., Roy Atchinson Win Rocky Hill Features

The point season opened Saturday night at Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville, and five divisions were in competition.  After an early battle with Kevin Collier, defending champion Karl Noland Sr. won the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event.  After finishing second to the flying Jarred Plumlee in the Mini Stock 30 lap feature, Roy Atchinson claimed the victory in the 20 lap Super Mini Stock Main Event.  Cale Hosfeldt won the American Stock 15 lapper.  The Mini Dwarf Cars had two classifications with JD Brown winning in the Senior group of older kids and Ethan Johnson grabbing the victory in the younger Junior class.

Karl Noland Sr. started things off with a Hobby Stock heat race win over another long time Porterville and Bakersfield competitor, Kevin Collier.  Joe Humphrey scratched to leave six cars for the feature.  Collier beat K. Noland Sr. at the start, and Eddie Dale Memorial winner John Collins retired early.  Karl Noland Jr. settled into third, and K Noland Sr. began a side by side battle with Collier for the lead on lap five.  An inside move on the back stretch two laps later put K. Noland Sr. into the lead.  Raymond Noland Jr. spun in Turn 2 for a lap eight caution flag, and K. Noland Jr. pitted.  K. Noland Sr. maintained a slim lead over Collier over the final 12 circuits for the victory.  Collier's second place finish came aboard 2014 Mini Stock champion Joe Robinson's car as he was trying to help him set the car up.  Jason Ridenour won a close battle with R. Noland for third, but he was later disqualified, handing third to R. Noland ahead of. Noland Jr. and Mitch Collins.

In the Super Mini Stock heat race, defending track champion Adell Shelton, who won the Eddie Dale Memorial Race for her division two weeks ago, scored the eight lap victory ahead of Darren Estermann.  Atchinson grabbed the Main Event lead at the drop of the green flag ahead of Estermann and Shelton.  A low move in Turn 4 of the third lap gained Shelton second, and Estermann fell out to hand third to William Hughes.  Atchinson set a fast pace and built a big lead as he lapped Russell Todd with two laps left.  Atchinson brought it home a happy winner ahead of Shelton, Hughes, the truck of Kit Murphy and Todd.

The Mini Stocks ran a pair of heat races, and Atchinson won his heat ahead of Shawn Schwartzenberger.  Zack Westlake won the other heat ahead of Plumlee.  Atchinson had the pole for the Main Event and set the early pace ahead of Plumlee.  Robert Jackson spun on the back stretch for a lap two caution flag.  Atchinson led Plumlee and Westlake on the restart.  Clinton Massey spun in Turn 2 for a yellow flag on lap five.  Atchinson still led Plumlee and Westlake on the restart as Showtime Screen Printing Dash For Cash winner Andy Boydstun settled into fourth.  An inside move in Turn 2 of the 12th lap gained Plumlee the lead from Atchinson.  Boydstun made a similar move on lap 15 to take third from Westlake.  Boydstun saw his pass of Atchinson negated when another car spun for a lap 17 yellow flag.  Plumlee continued to lead and would take it all the way to the checkered flag.  Atchinson was a strong second ahead of Boydstun, Westlake, Schwartzenberger and Chris Rutledge.

Jeff Lloyd won the American Stock heat race ahead of Hosfeldt.  Hosfeldt had the front row for the Main Event and led from start to finish.  Eddie Dale Memorial winner Jake Peters never let Hosfeldt get away from him, but he had to settle for second ahead Brian Bartlett and Lloyd.

In Junior Dwarf action, Johnson made a last lap pass on Mallory Meyer to win the heat race.  Johnson led from the start of the Main Event to grab the victory trophy as Meyer settled for second ahead of Trenton Euro and Kercie Jung.

In Senior Dwarfs, J.D. Brown collected the heat win over Madison Meyer.  Meyer didn't let Brown get the feature win easily.  She battled him fiercely throughout the race as they enjoyed several side by side laps.  In the end, Brown prevailed ahead of Meyer, Ryley Millard, Austin Martin and Allie Jung.

The track also presents plaques to the second and third place feature finishers and interviews them, including the competitors in the two Dwarf Car classes.  Seeing the kids being interviewed really conveys the family spirit behind the revival of the race track.  Special things are planned when racing returns to the speedway on  Easter weekend, April 4.  For more information, check the official Rocky Hill Speedway Website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Papenhausen, Myers, Ryland Antioch Winners As Porter, Miguel Win At Merced

Having an issue with one of the sites I work with, but the audio is finally up.  This hasn't been an easy late night early morning, but I wanted this to be up.

First of all...

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Papenhausen Withstands Foulger's Challenge For Antioch Win

A cool evening in Antioch did nothing to prevent the action from heating up on the race track Saturday night as the DIRTcar Late Models paid their third visit to Antioch Speedway.  After taking the lead from Troy Foulger on lap eight, defending champion Richard Papenhausen managed to lead the rest of the way and fought off late challenges from Foulger for the victory.  Foulger made a strong move in Turn 1 on the last lap and ended up spinning to avoid taking out Papenhausen.  This allowed last week's winner, Jeff Decker, to finish second, while Foulger recovered in third.

Another 12 car Late Model field put on an entertaining show.  The heat races were no indication of what was to come as Foulger won his heat race by a straightaway ahead of Dennis Souza.  Decker ran away with his heat race ahead of Papenhausen.  Once again, Mike Hynes was a Main Event scratch.  Paul Guglielmoni and Rob Norris shared the front row with Papenhausen starting third, Foulger seventh and Decker tenth.  Guglielmoni led the opening lap before Danny Malfatti smacked the front wall for a caution flag.  Dean DeVolder briefly gained second on Lap 2, but Foulger rode the outside line into second a lap later before Terry Kuntz spun in Turn 2 for a yellow flag.  Guglielmoni pitted with a flat tire to hand Foulger the lead.  Foulger chose the outside on the restart and led Papenhausen as Decker had managed to charge his way into third.  Papenhausen made an impressive low move in Turn 1 of the eighth lap to take the lead from Folger, then closed the door on Foulger's attempt to regain the lead in Turn 2.  Papenhausen began to pull away just a bit over the next few laps, but traffic began to slow him down.  The leaders lapped fifth place Norris late in the race, and Foulger got a run on the inside exiting Turn 4 of the 19th lap.  Foulger ran on the inside of Papenhausen entering Turn 1 on the last lap, but he ended up spinning from second in the process. Papenhausen brought it home to victory as Decker gained second before Foulger was able to recover in third.  David Newquist rebounded from last week's disappointment with a lead lap fourth place finish as Norris and Rod Arnold were each a lap down in fifth and sixth, respectively.

The next event for the regular divisions at Antioch will be on April 4th and will feature IMCA Modifieds, BCRA Midget Lites, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  This event is being billed as Family Appreciation Night as part of Easter Weekend.  There will be an Easter Egg Hunt in the infield, and the drivers will meet with the fans on the back stretch and sign autographs.  Next Sunday is the first 2015 visit of the World Of Outlaws Sprint Car Touring Series.  For all of the official information on these events and more, check the Official Oval Motorsports Website.

Non Stop Action Sees Myers and Simpson Score Antioch Wins

After running out of time in her charge from the last row to a second place finish a week earlier, two time division champion Melissa Myers won a non stop 20 lap Northern All Stars Hobby Stock Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway.  The excellent preparation of John Soares Jr's one-third mile clay oval also produced a non stop Wingless Spec Sprint feature, and Klint Simpson scored the win in that race by a wide margin.

Hobby Stocks enjoyed their best turnout of the season so far and needed three heat races.  Previous feature winner Nick Baldwin took the lead midway through his six lap heat and scored the victory ahead of Calvin Louis Jr.  Two time defending champion Kimo Oreta won his heat race by a straightaway in front of Jason Jennings.  The third heat was captured in equally impressive fashion by Myers, who won ahead of Russell Shearer.

As luck would have it, Myers shared the front row with Christopher Brown for the Hobby Stock Main Event.  Myers led Brown and Oreta at the start, and the lead trio quickly pulled away, leaving Jason Jennings to battle with Louis until he pitted from fourth on lap four.  Tenth starter Baldwin moved up to battle Louis and Shearer for fourth.  By the mid point of the race, the leaders began working heavy traffic, and it nearly cost Myers the lead to Brown on a couple occasions.  Meanwhile, Baldwin was up to fifth by lap 11 and pressuring Louis hard for fourth.  Brown finally surrendered second to Oreta in Turn 4 of the 14th lap.  Oreta made a couple of serious attempts to get past Myers, but she was not going to let this one go.  Myers sped home to her second win of the season and her tenth career win in this division.  Oreta was a very close second.  Brown crossed the line in third, but he was later disqualified in tech.  This gave Baldwin the third position ahead of the steady Louis, Danny Jones, Shearer, past division champion Chris Sorensen, Jeremy Jennings and Brian Zachary, the final lead lap car.  Michael Cooper was a lap down in tenth.

The Wingless Spec Sprints saw the return of Jimmy Perry III for the first time in six years, and Perry won a battle of the #21's with Roy Fisher in his heat race.  Simpson won his heat race ahead of the steadily improving Marcus Smith.  Point leader Kyle Bakkie and Simpson shared the front row of the Main Event, and Simpson blasted out into the lead at the start.  Bakkie was soon a comfortable second, leaving Rick Panfili to battle Dirt Modified ace Brian Azevedo for third.  Further back, Ryon Siverling was battling the rest of the pack in an effort to hold onto fifth.  By lap ten, Simpson was a full straightaway ahead of Bakkie, and soon he was right behind the fifth place battle.  Knowing he had such a big lead, Simpson cruised home from there and let the fifth place combatants have their battle.  Simpson dominated the race in victory, and Bakkie settled for his third straight second place finish.  Likewise, Panfilli held off Azevedo for what would be his third straight third place finish, and Siverling kept Fisher at bay to finish fifth.

The next regular point race for the regular divisions at Antioch will be on April 4th and will feature IMCA Modifieds, BCRA Midget Lites, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  This event is being billed as Family Appreciation Night as part of Easter Weekend.  There will be an Easter Egg Hunt in the infield, and the drivers will meet with the fans on the back stretch and sign autographs.  Next Sunday is the first 2015 visit of the World Of Outlaws Sprint Car Touring Series.  For all of the official information on these events and more, check the Official Oval Motorsports Website.

Ryland Dominates Sport Mods, Haverty Wins Thriller At Antioch

Saturday night, the IMCA Sport Modifieds finally returned to Antioch Speedway for the first time since early January, and the fans got to see what fans in Chowchilla and Merced have already seen, a dominant Fred Ryland.  The IMCA Sport Mod National title hopeful and current State point leader led all but the opening lap to win the Sport Mod Main Event.  Meanwhile, Thomas Leiby had sure victory plucked from his hands late in the Northern All Stars Dwarf Car Main Event by eventual winner Jack Haverty, who started 12th.

Two ladies who know a thing or two about how to win at Antioch Speedway are past Hobby Stock champion Megan Ponciano and two time Four Banger titlist Patti Ryland.  Ponciano led P. Ryland for the 1-2 finish in their Sport Mod heat race.  Meanwhile, Fred Ryland seemed headed for an easy heat race win before having trouble lapping rookie Tim Hammett, who spun in front of him in his first Antioch race.  This gave the win to Al Johnson ahead of Chuck Golden.

P. Ryland and Johnson had the front row for the feature, and Johnson led a lap before a spin forced a yellow flag.  Johnson went with the outside for the restart, and F. Ryland led P. Ryand into the 1-2 slots.  Keith Brown Jr stalled with mechanical issues for a lap four caution flag.  As the Rylands ran first and second, Johnson had his hands full in a battle with Ponciano, Paul Mulder and Al Sotomayor for third.  Mulder stalled on the front stretch for a lap nine caution flag.  F. Ryland chose the outside for the restart and continued to hold command as Sotomayor gabbed second.  Johnson dropped P. Ryland from the Top 3 on a restart a lap later.  Debris in Turn 4 caused a lap 13 caution flag, and Mulder made a front stretch move past Johnson for third on the restart lap.  F. Ryland was never seriously threatened, though Sotomayor wasn't too far behind in second.  Mulder was third as Johnson, Ponciano, Golden, KC Keller and P. Ryland rounded out the lead lap finishers.

The Dwarf Cars had the high car count of the night and ran three heat races with ageless veteran Charlie Correia winning his heat race ahead of Adam Teves.  After the leaders tangled midway through the second heat, Kevin Miraglio won that six lapper ahead of two time Street Stock champion David Rosa.  David Teves captured the third heat race ahead of Leiby.

Leiby and Rosa shared the front of the Dwarf Car feature as last week's 1-2 finishers, Danny Wagner and Travis Dutra, were back in the ninth row.  Leiby led the opening lap, and Mike Corsaro took second from A. Teves on a lap two restart.  Brian Tilsith and Correia crashed on the back stretch to end their race on the third lap.  Leiby led Corsaro and A. Teves on the restart, and Haverty dropped Miraglio back to sixth on lap seven.  Corsaro got out of shape and fell from the lead group on lap nine as A. Teves and D. Teves were now second and third.  Haverty took third from D. Teves on a lap 11 restart as Wagner slipped into fourth.  Haverty was pressuring A. Teves hard and made a low move in Turn 4 of the 15th lap to take the second spot from him.  Rosa spun for the final yellow on lap 16.  Leiby chose the inside on the restart and led them trough Turns 1 and 2.  By the time they exited Turn 4, however, Haverty moved past Leiby on the inside for the lead.  Once in front, Haverty brought it home to a satisfying victory ahead of Leiby, D. Teves, Paul Urdahl, Wagner, A. Teves and Jerry Doty, all on the lead lap.

The next regular point race for the regular divisions at Antioch will be on April 4th and will feature IMCA Modifieds, BCRA Midget Lites, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  This event is being billed as Family Appreciation Night as part of Easter Weekend.  There will be an Easter Egg Hunt in the infield, and the drivers will meet with the fans on the back stretch and sign autographs.  Next Sunday is the first 2015 visit of the World Of Outlaws Sprint Car Touring Series.  For all of the official information on these events and more, check the Official Oval Motorsports Website.

Porter Prevails at Merced, Miguel Wins Wild Race

The IMCA Modidieds were back in action Saturday night at Merced Speedway, and this race featured a three car race up front that went down to the wire.  When the checkered flag flew on the 25 lap event, it was local ace Ryan Porter grabbing an impressive victory.  Despite a spirited duel with Watsonville racer William Kennedy, Darren Miguel collected his first Northern All Stars 20 Lap Hobby Stock victory.  Taking full advantage of a pole position start, Jeremy Hoff won the IMCA Sport Mod 20 lap Main Event.  Mark Garner returned and won his second straight Limited Late Model Main Event on the quarter-mile clay oval, while Marcus Lung won the Valley Sportsman Main Event as car count more than doubled in that division.

Merced's IMCA Modified division was invaded from all sides as John MacDougal came from up North to try for a second straight win, Kyle Heckman came up from Santa Maria and decorated champion Bobby Hogge IV came in from the west.  Multi time Merced Street Stock champion Ricky Thatcher had a pole start for the Main Event and raced into the early lead ahead of Bob Williamson.  Contact from Porter sent Williamson spinning into the infield off the back stretch on the second lap.  Sean Wilson spun for a lap four caution flag.  Thatcher chose the inside for the restart and continued to lead Porter as fourth row starter Hogge was now in fifth.   Hogge made successive back stretch passes on laps eight and nine to leap from fifth to third, and a lap ten caution flag wiped out Thatcher's half straightaway lead over Porter.  The restart lap saw Porter exit Turn 2 with the lead.  The accordion effect exiting Turn 2 sent a car a spinning for a lap 14 caution flag.  Porter led Thatcher on the restart, and an inside move on the back stretch of the 15th lap put Hogge into second.  Hogge began to pressure Porter immediately, and point leader Bill Egleston moved in to briefly challenge Thatcher for third.  Despite heavy pressure from one of the very best Modified drivers in the state in Hogge, Porter kept his cool and scored a well earned victory.  Hogge settled for second ahead of Thatcher, Egleston and Heckman.

The Hobby Stocks provided one of the wildest races of the night.  The evening started off with past Watsonville champion Kennedy winning his heat ahead of 2014 Merced champion Raul Rodriguez Sr.  Mini Stock ace Miguel and Kennedy led the pack to the green and quickly settled into the 1-2 positions.  Rodriguez pitted and a spin in Turn 4 forced a lap eight caution flag.  Miguel chose the inside for the restart, and Kennedy briefly raced into the lead before George Silva and Jennifer Corder got together in Turn 4 for a caution flag.  The restart saw Silva get a good jump, only to cross the front end of Kennedy's car and crash into the front wall.  Miguel now had the lead ahead of speedway veteran Gary Hildebrand and Corder.  Kennedy made his move past Corder for third on lap 14 and took second from Hildebrand two laps later.  Miguel went on to collect the victory, trailed by Kennedy, Hildebrand, Corder and Kevin Joaquin.

The Sport Mod drivers already knew incoming point leader Fred Ryland and Keith Brown Jr. would choose their home track in Antioch once forced to, but 2014 track champion Rick Diaz was a surprise absentee.  Heat winner Jeremy Hoff, himself a past Antioch champion, had the pole for the main Event and proceeded to enjoy a flag to flag romp for the victory.  New point leader Josh Hensley had a good run in second, but he lost that spot to a last lap pass by third row starter Bruce Nelson.  Duane Short and Watsonville racer Tim Cecil completed the Top 5, and Tim Prothero crashed into the wall coming out of Turn 4 before he could take the checkered flag.

Back to back division champion Roy Hart Jr. was back with his Limited Late Model and Scott Van Gelder had a few bugs worked out of his car, but neither were a match for last week's winner and point leader Mark Garner,.  Garner won his heat race from fifth starting ahead of fellow Antioch racer Peggy Sue Jarred.  Counting Antioch, Garner has won his last three starts, and he led flag to flag in this race after starting on the pole.  Jarred, meanwhile, was a career best second with John Evans making it an Antioch sweet of the podium.  Hart and Van Gelder rounded out the Top 5.

After two weeks with the only cars in the field, Marcus Lung and Kenny Birdsong finally had company.  That didn't stop Lung from wining his heat race from the pole ahead of Eric Seely.  Lung and Seely shared the front row for the feature and scored a 1-2 finish.  Lung was never challenged, leaving the battle behind him.  Jeff Bristow ran closely with Seely early on as Mark Odgers battled Kenny Birdsong for fourth.  Bristow was making a run at Seely for second when Odgers got underneath Birdsong for fourth on the front stretch.  Birdsong come down on Odgers, resulting in contact.  Birdsong soon retired as Lung continued to lead Seely.  Odgers began to challenge Bristow.  A few laps later, Odgers made his move past Bristow for third, but he could only chase Seely before the checkered flag fell.  Lung collected the victory ahead of Seely, Odgers, Bristow and Birdsong.

Next Saturday night, all but the Sportsman division will be back as IMCA Modifieds headline the show that includes IMCA Sport Mods and the Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and Limited Late Models.  For more information, check the Official Oval Motorsports Website.

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 25 by GenWhat