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Antioch Speedway Ready For Season Opening Action
Antioch, CA...The 22nd season of All Star Series sanctioned racing at Antioch Speedway and the 59th consecutive year of operation for the facility kicks off this Saturday night. Promoter John M Soares of Oval Motorsports has mapped out an exciting season schedule that offers 27 events with the possibility of an addition or two.
The event that got people talking was the announcement that October 11th and 12th will feature a $12,000 to win A Modified show with an increased purse also being offered for the B Modifieds. This will be the biggest paying Modified show not just in California, but on the West Coast. More details will be forthcoming.
Fans of the Modified division won't have to wait that long to see them put their cars on the Soares prepared 3/8 mile clay oval. This Saturday night, the All Star Series A Modifieds and B Modifieds will be competing along with the always exciting Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars in what should be an action-packed program.
This will also be the 30th season of continuous championship racing for the A Modified division, while the B Modifieds enter their eighth season. Last year, it was Nick DeCarlo turning in a sometimes dominant performance with eight feature wins and the A Modified championship to show for it. He beat the consistent Bobby Motts Jr, who has had two runner-up seasons and a championship in recent years in this division. The Motts family will be busy this year as Madison Motts, the 16 year old daughter of Bobby, makes her debut in the Hobby Stock division.
The recent practice saw over a dozen cars from the two Modified classes make laps, and some of the A Modified drivers anticipated for this show include Top 5 ranked Sean O'Gara, last season's top rookie David Zeiter, the father-and-son team of Chester and Buddy Kniss, Ron Brown and rookie Frank Furtado.
Meanwhile, the Clymens brothers will be reunited in the B Modified division this year. The last time two-time reigning champion Trevor Clymens and brother Tommy Clymens Jr raced together, they were competing in the Hobby Stock division some 20 years ago. Tommy has returned this year to race with his brother once again. They will see several of last year's top racers return, including Chuck Golden, Ryan DeForest, Kevin Brown, Randy Brown and Brent Curran. 2017 Hobby Stock champion Cameron Swank will be entering his rookie season in this division.
The Hobby Stock division will be interesting to watch as three of last year's top drivers are now entering their second season. Last season's top rookie Breanna Troen, Anthony Welborn and Josh Leach were not only Main Event winners, all ranked inside the Top 5. They promise to be even faster this year, which will make two-time reigning champion Chris Sorensen's task of defending his title that much more of a challenge. Jake Mercieca will be wheeling the former Cameron Swank car, and perennial title contender Michael Cooper is anticipated this season along with a slew of other talented racers.
Fans know that when the Dwarf Cars are in town they get plenty of great racing action. They enter their 22nd season at the speedway as Mike Corsaro attempts to match division legend Ricardo Rivera with three consecutive championships. Corsaro knows that he will get a serious challenge from second-generation leadfoot David Michael Rosa as well as Street Stock legend David Rosa. There are some great racers piloting these small, but fast cars, including Mario Marques, Thomas Leiby, Giovanni Bertolli, Jerry Doty and Troy Stevenson.
There's been much work done at the speedway to get it ready for this season. If the weather allows it to happen, the season will begin this Saturday night with a great lineup of All Star Series divisions. For further information, go to the track's Facebook page or check out www.antiochspeedway.com.
Orland Raceway Scheduled For Season Opener Saturday Night
Orland, CA...On the heels of the successful playday two weeks ago, Orland Raceway is prepared to kick off the 2019 season this Saturday night. Promoter Rich Hood and his crew have everything ready to go, and barring any bad weather, the Saturday night program will offer five divisions of racing for the fans to enjoy on the 1/5 mile dirt oval.
Headlining the show will be the popular Pure Stock division, along with Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Wingless Sprints and 600 Micro Sprints. When Hood, a longtime Pure Stock competitor at the speedway, stepped in at very late notice to promote the 2016 season, there may have been people who were skeptical about how the show was going to go. However, Hood stuck to a simple game plan, offering the fans the divisions that they were used to seeing, and the show went on.
As Orland Raceway has continued to gather momentum with new improvements in each of the past three seasons, more drivers are coming back to race again. Last season was easily the most successful year for Hood as promoter so far. This being his fourth season at the helm of the speedway, Hood becomes the longest-tenured promoter of the speedway since Paul and Carol Turner ended their decade-long run at the end of the 2007 season.
Last season, Paul Stephens added another Orland Raceway Pure Stock championship trophy to his mantle. He engaged in a thrilling season long battle with 2017 titleholder Jeremy Langenderfer. Though Langenderfer won more Main Events than anybody in the class, Stephens usually finished second and wasn't outside the Top 5 very often. This season, Langenderfer not only has a Pure Stock, he also has a Mini Mini Stock.
There are some new drivers on the Pure Stock roster this season, including Danny LaBonte and Toby Merrifield, but the fans can also look forward to seeing stars such as past Orland champion Steve Martin, Marysville champion Shannon Collins, Amanda McAbel, John Camper and Brad Ray. Multi-time Mini Truck champion Keith Ross also has a Camaro as he returns to the Pure Stock division.
Langenderfer behind the wheel of a Mini Stock promises to shake up that division as Barbara Crain will not be racing and is selling her car. Three-time reigning Mini Stock champion Tom Davis had to work hard last year to beat Crain by just 10 points. Langenderfer in the field won't be his only threat. Past champion John Kirkpatrick is back this year along with such hard chargers as Jason Libbee, Scott Camper and Sean Perry. Furthermore, 2016 Mini Truck champion Dan Webster now has a Mini Stock.
Webster and Ross have been the drivers to beat in Mini Truck competition in recent years. William Fogle, who has ranked near the top of the point list for the past few seasons, is hoping to take a bigger step and make a run for the title and feature victories. Zach Webster, who has been competing in Micro Sprints in recent seasons, also has a truck. Much like the Mini Stocks, the trucks give the fans a good field of vehicles to watch with some exciting racing as well.
The Wingless Sprint Car division has been a part of things at Orland Raceway going back to the 2002 season. Ralph Jacobo had been fielding a pair of cars that would make practice laps during intermission in 2001. Son Josh Jacobo and Rob Worthington were two drivers who got behind the wheel early on. Jacobo is a multi-time champion, but the reigning champion heading into the season is Tanner Thomson. Thomson beat RJ Baker by just one point in the closest battle at the speedway. One driver looking to do battle as he tries to make a run for his second Orland championship is multi-time Chico champion Tony Richards. There is word that the displaced Silver Dollar Speedway drivers may start coming to Orland, which would certainly make the Wingless Sprint Cars an exciting show for the fans to enjoy.
Fans and drivers have been chomping at the bit to see the gates open at Orland Raceway once again. If the weather allows it, Saturday night should be an exciting show from start to finish. For further information, go to the Orland Raceway Facebook page.
Antioch Speedway Beats Weather To Hold Successful Playday
Antioch, CA...March 23...Despite rain the day before and in the early morning hours, Antioch Speedway managed to hold one more playday ahead of the March 30th season opener. During the week leading up to event, the weather wasn't so bad, and promoter John M Soares was confident that he could make it happen. Though he kept an eye on how much rainfall there was on Friday, he left the speedway that evening still confident that the practice would go on.
On Saturday morning, Soares roamed the facility and contemplated whether it would be a wise decision or not. Other race tracks in the area had already canceled, meaning there were other racers looking for a place to get one more practice in. There were puddles on the straightaways that could be handled easily enough with water pumps. The bigger question was, could the pits hold up, and would the teams be able to get their trailers in and out okay?
The decision was made to proceed with the scheduled practice. Though a few teams had some difficulty maneuvering in the pits, the sun hovering over the still green pits dried things out enough, and practice went on. Roughly 40 teams checked in from various divisions, and everything went off as scheduled.
With the All Star Series A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars all booked for the season opener next week, there were several drivers in those classes who took advantage of the final practice. One noteworthy Modified visitor was Petaluma champion Oreste Gonella. He was part of a combined total of about 14 A and B Modifieds making laps on the Soares prepared 3/8 mile clay oval.
Young gun Buddy Kniss and rookie Frank Furtado were also on hand with their A Modifieds. From the B Modified ranks, there were several drivers on hand. Reigning champion Trevor Clymens and his brother Tommy Clymens Jr were there. Possibly the top contender to bump Trevor from the top spot, Brent Curran, was a surprise arrival. Rookies Kelly Campanile and Cameron Swank were also making laps.
Three of last season's top Hobby Stock rookies, Breanna Troen, Anthony Welborn and John Wacht, were making laps. Troen, who was the top rookie last season, had made it to the practice the week before. Two of this year's potential Dwarf Car championship contenders, David Michael Rosa and his father David Rosa, were there for practice. The beautiful green #0 car of Giovanni Bertolli was back, and Travis Dutra, a past Mini Truck champion who has raced more at Petaluma than Antioch in recent years, had his car there for practice. NorCal Dwarf Car star Danny Wagner got to make laps behind the wheel.
Having been more active at the speedway in recent years doing track maintenance, past Antioch Figure 8 and Super Hobby Stock champion Jimmy Robbins finally got his Limited Late Model together and made an appearance for a shakedown run. Fellow Limited Late Model racers Ryan Cherezian and John Evans were also there. Another past Super Hobby Stock champion, Gene Haney, was making laps in his Hardtop. Spec Sprint racers Doc Brophy and Jeff Lee were also there. Brophy was one of the original Spec Sprint competitors in 1999, and Lee has won multiple features at Antioch in the past.
This wraps up practice, and the next time the cars are back at Antioch Speedway it will be time to begin championship point racing. The scheduled program for next Saturday night will include All Star Series A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars. Unless the weather gets out of hand, the season will get started. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series Scheduled To Kick Off Saturday At Petaluma Speedway
Petaluma, CA...Weather has not been kind to Petaluma Speedway so far this month. Promoter Rick Faeth has been forced to cancel the two playdays leading up to this Saturday's scheduled season opener. Headlining the program will be the Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series in a shootout event that will also include the local PitStopUSA.com regulars. Also on the card will be the popular Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks, Jake Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks and the Santa Rosa Auto Body 600 Micros.
The Hunt Series began in 2010, which will make this the tenth championship season for the series that brings together the best Spec Sprint drivers in the state. In reality, the concept began earlier than that with the NCMA holding Select Series events and crowning champions during the five seasons leading up to the launch of the Hunt Series. When the NCMA decided to focus primarily on the pavement in 2010, the Hunt Series took it from there.
Terry Shank Jr was so impressive during the first five seasons that he either won the title or the driver winning it had to hold him off to secure the championship. Shank won three of the first four with Taylor Simas and Tommy LaLiberte the other two champions. During the past four seasons, Gary Nelson Jr, Klint Simpson, Austin Liggett and Shawn Jones have won the championships. Liggett moved on to win the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car title last season.
Jones has won just about everything he can as one of the biggest stars of Dwarf Car racing for the past decade-plus. Last season, the occasional Spec Sprint racer focused his primary attention on winning the series title. With an impressive seven Top 5 finishes and one win out of ten starts, Jones held off Troy DeGaton and Ryon Siverling to secure the championship.
Siverling is the grandson of longtime NCMA racer Burt Siverling, and he won the Petaluma championship in 2017. Last season, it was Shayna Sylvia using her two feature wins to score the impressive PitStopUSA.com Wingless Spec Sprint championship. Past Winged 360 Sprint Car titleist Bradley Terrell had three wins to edge past Siverling for second in the standings. Local stars such as Scott Chapeta, Eden McCormick, Dennis Furia Jr and Bob Davis are looking forward to battling the Hunt Spec Sprint racers this Saturday night.
There is no division at Petaluma Speedway with a longer heritage at the track than the Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks. This division was founded back in the 1970s and has held over 40 championship seasons. Division "Iron Man" Shawn McCoy was recently seen at Antioch Speedway making practice laps last week. McCoy is a two-time Petaluma title holder who finished third in points last season ahead of two-time champion Matt While.
However, the battle for the division crown went the distance between long time competitors Mitch Machado and Steve Studebaker. Studebaker had come within a few points of winning the title the year before, and despite winning two Main Events, he settled for second again last season. This is because Machado racked up seven feature wins to secure the championship. Studebaker is a multi-time division champion and a definite threat to win again. Other drivers to watch for include past champion Jim "Woody" Woodward, Manny Avila, Snazzy Duckworth and Sean Cook.
The Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks remain the cheapest way for racers to get involved in racing at Petaluma Speedway. Parody is such that the last 14 seasons have seen 14 different drivers win the division championship. Last season, the consistent Tom Brown outran five-time winner Dave Spindell to claim the championship. Other stars of the division include Danny Manzoni, Roy Dearing, Roberta Broze, Sophie Shelley, Antonio Miramontez and Jeremy Tjensvold.
Rounding out the lineup will be Santa Rosa Auto Body 600 Micro Sprints. The division was added to the roster a few years back to give the fans another open wheel class to enjoy, while also giving drivers from the Kart level a way into racing on the three-eight mile adobe oval. David Engstrom is the reigning champion after a close race with Cody Gray. Engstrom picked up three feature wins, while the young gun Gray had one victory. Other stars to watch for include George Nielsen, Dale Grissom, Brian Slubik, Justin Adiego and Jenna Perkins.
Weather permitting, Saturday's lineup Is the perfect way to kick-off what should be an exciting season at Petaluma Speedway. This is the 58th consecutive championship season at the track which also staged several seasons of racing back in the 1950s. For further information, check out the Facebook page or www.petaluma-speedway.com.
Sawyer Opens Triple Crown Series With Victory
At Kern Raceway
Bakersfield, CA...March 22...Robby Sawyer made an impressive late charge to win the opening round of the Triple Crown Series Friday night at Kern Raceway. The win paid Sawyer $1,500 in the series that is being sponsored by Holder's Heating And Air Conditioning. He scored his win by making a move around Steve Drake on lap 21.
Brad Pounds jumped into the lead after the race was restarted due to a crash in Turn 2. There would be just one yellow flag after that, and Pounds was the early leader ahead of Danny Lauer and Steve Drake. Drake slipped past Lauer for second on lap nine and then raced by Pounds to gain the lead on lap ten. Moments later, the yellow flag slowed the pace. Drake continued to lead Pounds and Sawyer on the restart. The Top 3 ran closely with Sawyer finally taking second from Pounds on lap 19. Two laps later, Sawyer put the moves on Drake to take the lead, and he began to pull away from there. Sawyer won by nearly a straightaway. In a good battle for second, Ryan Daves and Logan Drake moved into the place and show positions on the final lap as Pounds fell off the pace. Sawyer won ahead of Daves, Logan Drake, Steve Drake, Clint Reichenbach, Danny Lauer, Jerry Flippo, Kollin Hibdon, Danny Cavanagh and Pounds.
The 17 car field ran a pair of eight lap qualifying heat races, and Karl Noland outran Steve Noland to win the first one. Drake picked up the second heat victory ahead of Ryan Lauer.
Kevin Johnson turned in a stellar performance in going flag-to-flag for the 20 lap B Modified Main Event win. Johnson had a perfect evening as he also scored a win in his eight lap heat race. The Main Event was destined to go all 20 laps without a yellow flag, and Johnson bolted into the lead from the start. Amazingly, the Top 5 in the race ran in the same order throughout the entire distance with Kevin Johnson winning ahead of Jason Nation, Gary Dutton, Gavyn Manning and Matthew Mayo Jr. Garrett Jernagan settled for sixth, followed by Michael Johnson, Chris McKellar, Nick Spainhoward and Austin Ruskauff. Kevin Johnson outran Mayo to win his heat race. Jernagan was the other heat race winner in front of Manning.
Santa Maria Raceway competitor Scotty Preast collected the victory in the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event. Preast charged into the lead at the start ahead of Don Mead and Wayne Dotson. Dotson took second from Mead on lap six before a yellow flag slowed the pace. Preast continued to lead the way over Dotson with Nicholas Johnson taking third from Mead on lap ten. Johnson grabbed second from Dotson on lap 13, and a lap 15 yellow flag bunched the field again. Preast led Johnson on the restart with Mead taking third from Dotson. Preast held off the pressure of Johnson for the well-earned victory. Mead was a strong third, followed by Dotson, Trevor Baker, Kevin Irwin, Dale Frye, Justin Gonzales, Jacky Roberts and Joe Gallaher. Dotson won the first of two eight lap heat races ahead of Irwin, while Kyle Wood held off Johnson to win the second heat.
Riley Clem scored the victory in the 20 lap QRC Kart Main Event. Clem powered into the lead at the start ahead of Karson Sylvester. Following a lap four yellow flag for Kyle Griffith, Gerald McKellar motored past Sylvester for second as Clem continued to lead the way. Clem would lead McKellar through another yellow flag, but a lap 17 caution flag set up one last opportunity for anybody to get past Clem. Levi Smith took second from McKellar on the restart, but the best he could do was chase the flying winner Clem for the second place finish. McKellar settled for third, followed by Sylvester, Tailer Morrison, Larry Moody, Robert Gordon, Kevin Wageman, Wyatt Moody and Kyle Griffith. Clem won the first of two six lap heat races ahead of Wageman, while McKellar outran Sylvester for the victory in the second heat.
Jett Yantis won the 15 lap Sr Mini Dwarf Main Event. Yantis also outran Seth Hanson to win the six lap heat race, making this a clean sweep effort. Yantis led the race from the start ahead of Adam Nohl, who had scratched from the heat race. By lap eight, Yantis held a straightaway advantage over Nohl, but traffic cost him half of that lead on lap eleven. Undaunted, Yantis still pulled away to a straightaway advantage over Nohl by the checkered flag. Joshua Chambers grabbed third from fourth place finisher Eric Vences on lap 13. Ethan Johnson and Hanson completed the finishing order.
Landon King outdueled Khloe Cotton to win the 12 lap Jr Mini Dwarf Main Event. Cotton was going for the sweep after a dominant victory in the six lap heat race. King set the early pace on the 1/8 mile dirt oval ahead of Cotton and Watson. Cotton charged past King for the lead on lap three, but she surrendered the lead back to King in traffic on lap six. By then, even third place Watson was down a lap. Cotton moved in behind King for one last challenge with two laps to go, but King stayed cool for the victory. Watson settled for third, followed by Hayden Joplin, Paislee Hughes and Travis Varney.
Racing on the dirt at Kern Raceway resumes on April 6th with the return of the NARC/King Of The West Fujitsu 410 Winged Sprint Car Series. Joining them on the card will be the Bakersfield Hardtops. For further information, go to www.kernraceway.com.
Gaurdino Wins USAC/VRA Wingless 360 Sprint Car
Battle Of The Beach At Ventura Raceway
Ventura, CA...March 23...Tristan Guardino won the 30 lap Wingless 360 Sprint Car Main Event Saturday night at Ventura Raceway. This was a Battle Of The Beach event where the VRA locals took on the visiting USAC group In the first of a series of races for the season. Gaurdino enjoyed a nip-and-tuck battle with Jake Swanson during the early stages of the event, but in the waning laps, he pulled away to an impressive victory.
It was Cody Majors racing into the early lead over Swanson. Gaurdino settled into third on a lap two restart. Swanson led Guardino past Majors on lap six, and an intense duel ensued between Swanson and Guardino. During the next five circuits, The two exchanged the lead several times each lap, but Gaurdeno was in front on lap 10 moments before the yellow flag waved. Gaurdino continued to lead on the restart, and only Swanson was keeping pace with him during the next half dozen laps. However, Gaurdino got into the groove and steadily pulled away to about a straightaway advantage by the time the checkered flag waved. Swanson held on for second. In another good late race battle for third, both Troy Rutherford and Carson Macedo shuffled Majors back to fifth on the last lap. Kyle Edwards finished sixth, followed by reigning series champion Ryan Timmons, Slater Helt, Steve Hix and Jeff Fillingame. The 19 car field ran three 10 lap qualifying heat races with the wins going to Macedo, Timmons and Majors.
Jerry Kramer was a surprise winner in the 20 lap California Lightning Sprint Main Event. Dan Hillberg set the pace from the start ahead of Dominic Del Monte, and they ran that way through two yellow flags. The complexion of the race changed on lap 18 when the lead two cars tangled for a yellow flag. This put Jerrett Kramer into the lead, and he led the final two circuits for the surprising victory. Eric Greco made a last-lap bid to overtake Kramer, only to come up just inches short at the checkered flag. Cody Nigh finished third, followed by Jeff Dyer, Bobby Michnowicz, AJ Bender, Grant Sexton, Bruce Douglass, James Turnbull and Pat Kelley.
A strong turnout of Lightning Sprints saw the need for a 10 lap B Main, won by Aiden Lange ahead of Turnbull and Sexton. Eight lap heat race wins were recorded by Bender, Michnowicz and Kyle Dodd. Nigh bested the 26 car field in qualifying with a fast lap of 12.412, edging the 12.602 of Dodd.
Chris Meredith won the 20 lap VRA Senior Sprint Car Main Event. Greg Andrews set the early pace ahead of Meredith and Danny Parrish. Wally Pankratz slipped into third on lap six, and Meredith led Pankratz around Andrews for the first two positions on lap 10. Parrish regained third on lap 11, and the only yellow flag of the race flew on lap 17. Meredith continued to lead on the restart and led the final three circuits for the win, followed by Pankratz, Parrish, Tyler Hatziken, Tom Stephens Sr, Andrews, Paul Mircic and Mark Shepard. Eight lap heat race wins went to Pankratz and Parrish.
Jason Horton won a caution plagued 20 lap VRA Dwarf Car Main Event. Horton led from the outset with Tommy Velasquez III in close pursuit. Despite six yellow flags, Horton maintained his advantage over Velasquez on each restart. A final caution flag waved on lap 14, but Horton pulled ahead on the ensuing restart and led the remaining six circuits for the victory with Velasquez a close second. Tom Morley raced past Johnny Conley for third or lap 11 and would finish there, followed by Nick Velazquez, Michael Tobiason, Jeff Brink, Tony Margott, Korey Cowan, Conley and Trent Morley. There were 18 cars for the Dwarf Car show, and the three eight lap heat race wins went to Conley, Tommy Velasquez III and Trent Morley.
After back-to-back weeks off, VRA sanctioned racing continues on April 13th with Sprint Cars, Senior Sprints, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks, Focus Midgets and IMCA Modifieds. For further information, go to
Management has made the decision to cancel this race on Monday due to the weather forecast and the amount of work still required to get the racing surface up to their standards. They will try again on May 6th with a program consisting of IMCA RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, Mini Stocks and the Valley Sportsman division. For further information, go to the Facebook page or www.venturaraceway.com.
As there wasn't a lot of information available for a Jefferson Racing News post, we brought some Jefferson Pit Stops to this blog.
The people of Cottage Grove had high hopes that their season might kick off last Saturday night, but it can be a big gamble trying to do any racing in Oregon in March. The race was rained out, but there was oval track racing to be had in Oregon a little bit down the road in Roseburg.
Douglas County Speedway likes to kick off each new season with the annual 200 lap Enduro and chili cook-off. Over 20 racers came to do battle in the sometimes wild and crazy long-distance race. Half of the field managed to take the checkered flag, led by the popular Batmobile of Mike Batman. Batman is one of the stars of the PRA Hardtop division, and he held off Hornet star Bob Vancil, Jimmy Smith, Mike Kennerly and Bryan Lane. As advertised, there was also a chili cook-off before the race, and Valerie West was awarded with the best chili honors.
On Saturday, May 4th, the speedway kicks off with Rumble On The River. This will be a loaded program, and it starts on Friday May 3rd with a special kickoff party and barbecue social. It's an opportunity to meet the drivers and sponsors. The track is charging $5 for spectators and crew. The Saturday race will pay tribute to long-time PRA member Bruce Latta. The new Winchester Pub And Grill PRA Sport Modifieds will be battling with $1,000 going to the winner. Also in the lineup will be the PRA Hardtops, Hornets, Mini Stocks, Super Stocks and the J Class. For further information, check out the track's Facebook page or go to www.douglascountyspeedway.com.
Coos Bay Speedway held a successful Mud Drag program on Saturday, but the oval track had several drivers taking advantage of practice on Sunday. The NASCAR Whelen All American Series season kicks off on April 13th, but some of the racers were chomping at the bit to make practice laps. From The Late Model side of things, Toby McIntyre, Wayne Butler and Richard Wallace were among the drivers making practice laps. At press time, we didn't have a lot of information as to who else was practicing, but we did see the Tom Elam Modified there. Elam was driving a Late Model at Coos Bay last season, purchased from Mike George, and this may have been the Modified that he ran at Roseburg. You can find out more on what's happening at Coos Bay Speedway by going to their Facebook page or www.coosbayspeedway.us.
We were contacted by one of the representatives at Mountain Valley Raceway in Hayfork, California regarding getting us information, so we're hoping that maybe we'll be able to do some updates from there during the course of the season. They had a practice scheduled for last Saturday night, but the weather was not in favor of that. As is the case with tracks up in Northern California, it can be difficult getting anything in this early in the year. The season opener is scheduled for April 13th, and everybody has their fingers crossed. You can go to Mountain Valley Raceway on Facebook to get more information.
Kevin Barba and his crew have been working hard at Siskiyou Golden Speedway to get the race track up and operational. They had hopes that last Sunday would be an opportunity to make practice laps, but the weather was anything but cooperative. The speedway was represented at the Sportsman Expo on both Saturday and Sunday, and it was actually hailing and raining on Saturday.
Though there was no opportunity to practice, there was an opportunity for several race car drivers to show off their vehicles while Barba and officials were handing out schedules and the newly designed bumper stickers to the fans. Fans even got an opportunity to get pictures with the race cars and in some cases could even buckle in and see what it's like to sit behind the wheel of the cars that will be competing when the Yreka track opens for its first race of the season on April 13th.
We noticed a pair of Mini Stocks were there. There was the #85 car, which has been up for sale and was last owned by the Jorgensen team. There was a #99 car, which we have no driver information on. Rising young star Darek Alford also displayed his car at the Expo. The Jefferson State Jalopy Association had one of the cars from the shops of Karl Bernstein and JJ Smith on display. A pair of IMCA Modifieds were there. The 2018 "Rookie Of The Year" from Southern Oregon Speedway, Branden Wilson was there, and Jeremy Ohlde received the "Best In Show" award for his #21 IMCA Modified.
Not to be left out, there were several Outlaw Karts on display. Jim Berry has secured the contract to run the smaller track at The Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds, and he plans to run at least 11 shows this year. A lineup of at least a dozen cars were parked side-by-side, and kids had opportunities to sit in the cars. This is certainly the best opportunity young, would be racers have to get involved in the world of auto racing.
Among the cars on display were those of Cale Cunial, Cole Cunial, Drew Berry, Logan McKnight, Nick Perrin, Josh Steinhoff, Brandon Steinhoff and Dallin Dagata. Berry has put a lot of passion into his efforts to help promote Kart Racing in recent years and is looking forward to trying to grow the support for the fledgling program. You can find out more by going to the Yreka Outlaw Kart Facebook page. You can find out more about Siskiyou Golden Speedway by checking them out on Facebook or going to www.siskiyougoldenspeedway.com.
When a promoter gambles on the weather, sometimes they come out ahead and get the show in, and other times they fail. Oftentimes, even if the show runs, there's low attendance because fans will stay home if the weather looks bad. Chico Silver Dollar Speedway and Placerville Speedway both threw in the towel on Thursday, but Marysville Raceway Promoter Dennis Gage was intent on having another race. Weather has not been kind to Marysville, and the Sherm Toller Memorial race had just five cars for the $2,500 to win Civil War race a couple of weeks ago.
On this occasion, it rained the night before and at various points during the day. Management still made the decision to let people sign into the pits, but they held the fans out in the parking lot until it looked like they might be able to get away with the race. They had crews working the track to try and get it back into shape, but it was just too much. After three hours of trying to do something, they admitted defeat and canceled the program.
Obviously, this is the negative side of trying to run a race when the weather is not being cooperative. There were people who were very understanding about the situation, but others criticized the track for trying when it didn't look good. Sometimes, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. In any case, Marysville Raceway will try again this Saturday night with the Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Super Stocks being joined by the NorCal Dwarf Cars. Further information can be found at the Marysville Raceway Facebook page or at www.marysvilleraceway.com.
Weather keeps abusing Silver Dollar Speedway as well, and they were unable to get a race in last week. This Friday night, they will try again with the Winged 360 Sprint Cars, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Street Stocks all in the lineup. When management made the decision to drop the Winged 410 Sprint Car class in favor of 360 Sprints last season, car count increased as a result. They're hoping for good things when racing begins this Friday night. For further information, go to the Silver Dollar Speedway Facebook page or www.silverdollarspeedway.com.
The People Of Chandler Just Want A Race Track
Chandler, Indiana...Many people regard the state of Indiana as racing country. There is plenty of great Midget and Sprint Car racing to be found in that state, and people know about the Terre Haute Action Track, Bloomington and Kokomo, for example. People know about the legendary Indianapolis Speedway. You have racers moving to Indiana because they have more opportunities to do what they love. There seems to be more appreciation for the sport in Indiana than in many of the other states in the country.
Quietly, the race track in Chandler, Indiana has been doing its thing for nearly 50 years. Harold Baker, who is now in his 90s, was the owner of the property. The speedway has had an interesting past under his ownership. Promoters seem to come and go. They might get things running really well at the 3/8 mile dirt oval or the 1/8 mile dragstrip, and suddenly they will have the rug pulled out from underneath them. Somebody else will come in and run the place until Harold gets bored with them, there's a difference in philosophy or the business goes under.
The one theme in all of this is that racing has continued with new people running the race track. The people of Chandler aren't really asking for much. The speedway is more about Stock Car racing than open wheel racing, not that they don't get races from various open wheel groups. They run what you would call local, "weekend warrior" divisions there. That is to say, they run divisions that the local racers can afford to run.
Things seemed to be okay in 2017. The dragstrip was still going and having big events. The oval track was up and running as well. By all accounts, the people managing the two tracks were doing a good enough job. Was it the biggest stage in racing in the state? No. It probably doesn't even rank near the Top 5, but in the hearts and minds of the people of Chandler, it was still racing. Families came to watch and race, and you better believe that it meant something to them.
Enter Reno Fontana. Fontana is a Californian who has claimed some sort of tie to the town of Chandler. To listen to him, it's like he has always wanted to run that race track for years, and he was just looking for the opportunity to do it. We could easily dig up history on Mr Fontana, but that's not what this article is about. A simple search on the web will find plenty of information for somebody to make their own informed opinion on who Reno Fontana really is.
Who he was to the town of Chandler, however, was the guy who threw a monkey wrench into the racing program. It's likely that if the people running the drag strip and oval track were allowed to continue, the 2018 season would have happened. They would be making plans to get things started this year as well. Reno, however, had other ideas. He had a grand vision of a place called Movieland Speedpark.
It's important to note that the people of Chandler were not asking for what Reno was offering. A chapel on the property, a giant swimming pool in the shape of a guitar, a movie theater and on and on. For starters, the race track is in a flood zone and ends up under water during the winter months. Secondly, and this is important, the people of Chandler simply want a race track. That's all. Nothing fancy, just Saturday night racing.
The speedway was being run by Kevin Baesel Jr and Mark Van Winkle. They completed the 2017 season on the both tracks. Baesel's expertise was focused primarily on the drag strip, but when he was asked to keep the dirt track going, he enlisted Mark Van Winkle to keep that facility alive. What you had was people from the area who genuinely cared about that race track and the people involved. Even if it wasn't perfect, the intentions were always good.
A look at what was going on at Chandler Speedway in 2017 finds that the core divisions were UMP Modifieds, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks. You're not talking about high-dollar divisions here. This is what the locals could afford. Lest you think an effort wasn't made to make things special, one only needs to look at the final point race of the 2017 season to find that the Pure Stock and Mini Stock Main Events paid $1,000 to win. The Street Stocks had a race during the season to remember one of Chandler's own, Mike Burch.
There were special attractions sprinkled throughout the season. They brought in the Indiana Late Model Series as well as Wingless Sprint Cars. They had Vintage Stock Cars and Sprint Cars. They featured the Ohio Valley Lightning Sprints on ten occasions that final season. By the way, Mr Fontana acquired the rights to the Lightning Sprint Association and renamed them the Movieland Lightning Sprints. Will there be a season for them this year? Will the drivers regroup under another name, as is their right?
The final event held at the oval track in 2017 was a good old-fashioned Enduro and Destruction Derby. They ran three different classifications of Enduro and ended it all with a crowd-pleasing Derby. By all accounts, the night went well. There was no reason to think that there wouldn't be a 2018 season. The people who continue to support racing in Chandler were looking forward to it.
It's just Saturday night dirt track racing, but it's special to the community. Special occasions might include Power Wheel racing for the little ones to live out their fantasies of being race car drivers like their heroes. There was a bike giveaway night for the kids where 20 bikes were given away on the night the Late Models came to town. There was even a night where the first 200 entries to the grandstands received a free hot dog and a Coke at the concession stand.
Chandler Speedway did what good race tracks do. They held races. All across the country, there are those tracks that nobody outside of that particular area knows about that are doing their thing on any given weekend. Chandler was one of those places that you probably never heard of until Reno Fontana entered the picture with his grand vision of Movieland Speedpark. Nobody in Chandler was asking for the big vision, but he was offering it to them nonetheless. He certainly talked big.
When the news came that there would be no 2018 season because Reno had entered the picture with his grand plans, the community became divided. True believers of Reno's vision spoke up in defensive of him. The other side recognized that they might be getting sold a bill of goods and came out against Fontana. Families, in some instances, we're divided. It was not a pretty situation, and Fontana seemed to take joy in stirring the pot and getting people talking. He appears to be one of those people who believes there is no such thing as bad press. Drivers were left with a choice of either parking their cars because they didn't want to tow or making longer trips to go racing.
As 2018 came and went, more people were beginning to wonder. Are we going to have a race track again? Forget the other plans, will we be racing? Reno seemed to indicate that this would be the case as he started speaking of rules for the 2019 season and even released a schedule. But then, word came out that there was a lien against the track for owed money for improvements made to the drag strip. There was also the matter of two years of property taxes owed by the Baker family. The property was going to be seized by the bank and put up for auction.
In December, Fontana and Baker worked an end around in which Fontana appeared to buy the property. This has been done in the past at race tracks, but there are those who question the authenticity of this particular sale. When it was announced that the race track would go up for auction and a sign was posted at the front at the facility, Fontana confidently proclaimed that there would be no auction.
Nonetheless, the auction company had two open houses in which people were allowed to tour the facility to see what work needed to be done and what they might be willing to bid at auction. Word came that there were people with money intent on buying the property and keeping a race track alive. Through it all, Fontana insisted that it would never go up for auction. Early in the morning hours of the day of the auction, Fontana made good on his promise and stopped it.
How could he do that? Did he really own the property? There are people who still question his ownership and whether a legitimate sale was actually made. But, Fontana had enough of a claim to make the move that he did. He filed for bankruptcy. This is also a questionable move. How can your business already be bankrupt when you never actually opened up the gates to do any business? Bankruptcy protection is a legitimate option for people to attempt to restructure their debts and keep their businesses going.
Where it gets interesting is that Fontana never held races at the facility. In fact, if you ask people in Chandler if they've even seen the guy, they will tell you no. A look through the list posted online as to who has been named as people Fontana admits he owes money to includes people that he has been doing business with since he stepped into the picture and claimed he was buying the race track. You can be sure that Fontana will be claiming that he's been doing business for Chandler Speedway or Movieland Speedpark despite the fact that no races have been held under his leadership to date.
This is where we are now. The race track sits dormant and in need of work. Obviously, if you get the right equipment out at the dirt track, earth can be moved and the track can be in whipped into racing shape in relatively easy fashion. More work will need to be done at the drag strip to get it up and operational. But then again, when you're bankrupt, how can you afford to pay anybody money to do any of these things?
At this point, you have people asking if the track will really be open for racing in April. Fontana has remained consistent that there will be racing this year, and the fact that he stopped the auction will have the true believers looking towards the gates in anticipation that racing will resume. It's in the hands of the courts at this stage, and nobody really knows how this chapter in the story that is Chandler Speedway is going to end. Baker is in legal hot water over his actions, but interesting enough, Fontana could still come out of this thing smelling like a rose, even if he never opens the race track.
The lives that were affected are those within the racing community in Chandler that simply want to go racing again. When Todd Riley (UMP Modifieds), Wes Smith (Street Stocks), Kyle Kelly (Pure Stocks) and Jimmy Waters (Mini Stocks) were crowned champions at the end of the 2017 season, it's likely that none of those drivers thought that they were winning the last championships at the speedway. This is where we are now, waiting to see if there will be new champions. If so, will it happen this year?
The last four seasons at Chandler Speedway saw four different champions in each of the four respective divisions. This means it was very a competitive field of racers where nobody was necessarily dominating. Just good old-fashioned, local dirt track racing. And that's what the people in Chandler want. They just want to go racing and make more happy memories. The sad fact is that nobody knows what the future holds for this track. Time will tell.
2017 UMP Modifieds Final Points Standings Top 10
1. Todd Riley 256
2. Lee Hobbs 190
3. Christopher Cole 189
4. Dustin Golden 187
5. Tyler Weiss 176
6. Chad Weiner 150
7. Dustin Beck 149
8. Alan Bowling 138
9. Mark Cole 124
10. Lance Foreman 103
2017 Street Stock Final Points Standings Top 10
1. Wes Smith 206
2. Brandon Beckort 157
3. Darrel Hutchison Jr 107
4. Chase Estes 96
5. Tim Asbell 62
6. Kassidi Gibbs 57
7. Darrel Hutchison III 44
8. J.R. Mason 39
9. Levi Bell 32
10. Dennis Vincent 29
2017 Pure Stock Final Points Standings Top 10
1. Kyle Kelley 237
2. Chris Sparks 180
3. Pat Kaelin 178
4. Darrin Meece 142
5. David Sartore 137
6. Dane Heilman 120
7. T.J. Meece 119
8. Jay Weiner 116
9. Kurt VanWinkle 91
10. Joey James 87
2017 Mini Stock Final Points Standings Top 10
1. Jimmy Waters 221
2. Daniel Abell 187
3. Devon Cravens 125
4. Don Fulkerson 91
5. James McCulley 86
6. Ashley Hayes 70
7. Madison Roberts 60
8. Adam Roberts 49
9. Ronnie Skaggs 46
10. Tommy Wilson 45
Recent Chandler Speedway Champions
2017 Todd Reilly
2016 Dustin Beck
2015 Blaze Melton
2014 David Mitchell
2012 Robert Taylor
2011 Stan Beadles
2017 Wes Smith
2016 Brandon Beckort
2015 Greg Dedrick Jr.
2014 Mark Van Winkle
2012 Danny Ashby
2011 Blake Myers
2017 Kyle Kelley
2016 Darrin Meece
2015 Bruce Curl
2014 Marshall Jones
2012 Chad Weiner
2011 John Lane
2017 Jimmy Waters
2016 Madison Roberts
2015 Rickie Rush
2014 Katlyn Minks
2012 Nick Seibert
2011 Blayne Ellis
Management has made the decision to cancel this race on Monday due to the weather forecast and the amount of work still required to get the racing surface up to their standards. They will try again on May 6th with a program consisting of IMCA RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, Mini Stocks and the Valley Sportsman division. For further information, go to the Facebook page or www.mercedspeedway.net.
Merced Speedway Prepares For Season Opener
This Saturday Night -- Canceled
Merced, CA...Since assuming control of Merced Speedway in January, track General Manager Doug Lockwood of S&S Motorsports has had his share of challenges. One thing that was certainly not helpful was the rainy weather. While it has been needed in California, rain is not the friend of a dirt track racing facility.
The race track, located at the Merced County Fairgrounds, has been in operation since 1950. Though it is one of the cleanest facilities in the state, there were some improvements needed. Among the things that S&S Motorsports is bringing to the speedway are upgrades to both the grandstand and pit concessions, improvement to the fencing on the back straightaway and off of Turns 3&4, a reshaping of the quarter-mile clay oval and many truckloads of new clay to make for a better racing surface.
Because of the rains and the fact that improvements couldn't even begin on the racing surface due to the saturation of water, both planned practice days and the originally scheduled season-opening event on March 23rd were all canceled. This is because the crew was just a bit behind schedule in the repairs they were making. As of press time, the March 30th season opener is a go.
Lockwood announced a schedule with lots of surprises and excitement for the fans to enjoy throughout the season. There will be Monster Truck shows, special appearances from various Sprint Car associations, the return of the Dwarf Car Nationals and all of the regular local divisions the fans have been enjoying in recent seasons. It will also be capped by the 4th Annual John Fore Jr Memorial Dirt Nationals show in October.
On Saturday night, the IMCA Modifieds will headline an event that will also include the Hobby Stocks, the Valley Sportsman division and the California Sharp Mini Late Models. The Modifieds enter the season as the longest continuously running championship series at the speedway, having their first season back in 1991. This will be the 29th season for the fastest regular division on the card.
The open wheel Stock Car series is sanctioned by the longest running Stock Car sanctioning body in dirt track racing, the International Motor Contest Association, or IMCA for short. Last season, Darrell Hughes II turned in the best performance of his career in holding off Brian Pearce and multi-time champion Ramie Stone to win the Modified championship. The lineup of great competitors at the speedway includes such notables as Ryan Porter, Justin Villanueva, DJ Shannon and Jarod Fast.
The Hobby Stock division is known for fast, slam-bang competition. This division held its first championship season in 2003, making it 15 years in which they have been a part of the speedway. However, the Hobby Stocks are pretty much a continuation of the Pure Stock division that ran at the speedway since 1990. It was Kodie Dean turning in a dominant performance in terms of feature wins, but he still needed to get the win in last season's finale to hold off the consistent Shannon Nelson for his second straight championship. The Hobby Stock division includes such hard chargers as past champion Michael Shearer, Kristie Shearer, Austin Van Hoff, Robbie Loquaci and Kalob Shelton.
For the long time fans of the speedway, watching the Valley Sportsman division will bring back happy memories. The Sportsman division was featured at the speedway from the mid 1960s through 1979. 20 years later, then track Promoter Chuck Griffin revived the division in 1999. This is the 20th anniversary season since the revival of the class. You will find different makes of race cars in this class, which also runs wings and bigger tires. It's the most unique race car featured at the speedway, and Watsonville Hall of famer Jerry Cecil claimed the championship last year after a close race with Rick Elliott. Other stars include Chris Birdsong, Chris Corder, Eric Seeley, Jeff West and Mark Odgers.
Last, but certainly not least on Saturday's bill will be the California Sharp Mini Late Models. This is a scaled-down version of a Late Model, running a 600cc motorcycle engine. Michael Shearer is the authorized car dealer in California, and this division seems to be attracting the young Outlaw Kart racers in the area onro the bigger quarter-mile oval. Last season, it was Tim Crews winning the title ahead of Carson Guthrie. Other stars of the division include Riley Jeppesen, Ian Shearer and Logan Clay.
Lockwood and his crew have put in plenty of hard work at the facility to get things ready for Saturday's show. This four division lineup will offer plenty of excitement for everybody, and it's just the beginning. Racing will continue for championship points from then through September, and there will be a wide variety of different divisions offered for the fans to enjoy. For further information, check out the Merced Speedway Facebook page or go to www.mercedspeedway.net.
Bakersfield Speedway Unofficial Race Results March 23, 2019
IMCA Modifieds Main
Karl Noland Sr
Clint Reichenbach DNS
Justin Schweitzer DNS
Stephen Streeter DNS
Jerry Flippo DNS
Roy Maynard Jr
Anthony Balcazar DNS
Kyleigh Forster DNS
Raymond Noland Jr
Scotty Preast DNS
Jerry Flippo DNS
Tony Banks ncg
William Holmes DNS
Tommy Rosenberger DNS
Wyatt Moody DNS
Rowdy Sneed DNS
John McKinley III
Beginner Box Stock
Irwindale Raceway Unofficial Race Results March 23, 2019
Southwest Tour Series
Eric Nascimento Jr
Lucas Oil Modifieds
Madera Speedway Unofficial Race Results March 23, 2019
Smokey Hanoin Classic
Henk Gaalswyk Jr
Kurt Davidson Jr
Jr Late Models
Manny Gonzales Jr
Ventura Raceway Unofficial Race Results March 23, 2018
USAC/VRA Sprint Cars "Battle Of The Beach"
1 #15T Tristan Guardino
2 #73 Jake Swanson
3 #11 Troy Rutherford
4 #21 Carson Macedo
5 #81 Cody Majors
6 #39E Kyle Edwards
7 #29t Ryan Timmons
8 #81X Slater Helt
9 #57 Steve Hix
10 #17R Jeff Fillingame
11 #88K Koen Shaw
12 #96 Charlie Butcher
13 #15 Rick Hendrix
14 #7K Darren Vanderly
15 #14 Tom Hendricks
16 #21K Tyler Williams
17 #87K Gage Rucker
18 #51 Austin Ervine
19 #2 J. J. Ringo
1 #66 Chris Meredith
2 #2 Wally Pankratz
3 #1K Danny Parrish
4 #27 Tyler Hatzikian
5 #16 Tom Stephens Sr
6 #3G Greg Andrews
7 #5K Paul Mircik
8 #2K Mark Shepard
California Lightning Sprints
1 #1 Jarrett Kramer
2 #8g Eric Greco
3 #45 Cody Nigh
4 #4 Jeff Dyer
5 #21x Bobby Michnowicz
6 #91 A. J. Bender
7 #3 Grant Sexton
8 #31 Bruce Douglass
9 #2j James Turnbull
10 #03 Pat Kelly
11 #18 Dalton Sexton
12 #73X Aiden Lange
13 #22s Gage Cheek
14 #17 Dale Gamer
15 #7f Frank Ditmar
16 #10 Dan Hillberg
17 #37 Dominic Del Monte
18 #42d Kyle Dodd
19 #7 Doug Nunes
20 #69x Jonathon Conley
1 #73X Aiden Lange
2 #2j James Turnbull
3 #3 Grant Sexton
4 #18 Dalton Sexton
5 #22s Gage Cheek
6 #03 Pat Kelly
7 #17 Dale Gamer
8 #7f Frank Ditmar
9 #56d Bill Dodd
10 #02 Jason Arnolde
11 #24 Chase Gaal
12 #2r Robb Pelmear
13 #74 Shane Sexton
14 #42 Jon Robertson
VRA Pro Dwarf Cars
1 #93 Jason Horton
2 #14 Tommy Velasquez III
3 #18 Tom Morley
4 #4 Nick Velasquez
5 #8c Michael Tobiason
6 #88 Jeff Brink
7 #2 Tony Margott
8 #45 Korey Cowan
9 #69 Johnny Conley
10 #48 Trent Morley
11 #0 Brad Curnel
12 #58 Tim Morse
13 #11 Zach Curnel
14 #91 Cody Cowen
15 #25 Bill Vint Jr
16 #6 Tommy Velasquez
Kern Raceway Unofficial Race Results March 23, 2019
1 #198 Robby Sawyer
2 #22D Ryan Daves
3 #111 Logan Drake
4 #96A Steve Drake
5 #C9 Clint Reichenbach
6 #41 Danny Lauer
7 #13 Jerry Flippo
8 #48K Kollin Hibdon
9 #25J Danny Cavanagh
10 #15B Brad Pounds
11 #91 Michael Scruggs
12 #17N Steve Noland
13 #3 Ryan Lauer
14 #2H Bobby Hogge IV
15 #55 Karl Noland
16 #28 Trevor Fitz
17 #38T Dylan Thornton
1 #20S Kevin Johnson
2 #83 Jason Nation
3 #16 Gary Dutton
4 #51G Gavyn Manning
5 #M13 Matthew Mayo Jr
6 #4 Garret Jernagan
7 #22C Michael Johnson
8 #18C Chris McKellar
9 #40 Nick Spainhoward
10 #88C Austin Ruskauff
11 #68S Billy Simkins
12 #74 Wayne Dotson
13 #17B Tyler Blankenship
14 #43 Braydon Gladd
15 #34 Robbie Claborn
1 #91 Scotty Preast
2 #1N Nicholas Johnson
3 #99 Don Mead
4 #74 Wayne Dotson
5 #10 Trevor Baker
6 #2 Kevin Irwin
7 #5X Dale Frye
8 #0 Justin Gonzales
9 #71 Jacky Roberts
10 #1 Joe Gallaher
11 #52 Tyler Bannister
12 #14 Kyle Wood
13 #26s Stephen Johnson
14 #52x Jerry Flippo
1 #9 Riley Clem
2 #8S Levi Smith
3 #12 Gerald McKellar
4 #14 Karson Sylvester
5 #60 Tailer Morrison
6 #11M Larry Moody
7 #17G Robert Gordon
8 #49 Kevin Wageman
8 #12M Wyatt Moody
9 #84G Kyle Griffith
10 #3K William Holmes
11 #67 Zach Hanes
13 #4 Joey Yantis
Sr Mini Dwarfs
1 #1 Jett Yantis
2 #12N Adam Nohl
3 #32 Joshua Chambers
4 #86P Eric Vences
5 #26S Ethan Johnson
6 #21H Seth Hanson
Jr Mini Dwarfs
1 #43K Landon King
2 #4c Khloe Cotton
3 #60 Blake Watsonm
4 #5 Hayden Joplin
5 #H21 Paislee Hughes
6 #17 Travis Varney
The Editor's Viewpoint
I'm in the early process of putting together the latest post for the main blog. It's Friday night, and a lot of stuff has gotten rained out. I actually wanted to take some time to focus on my non racing-related stuff, but when my mind won't focus, there's not much I can do. Racing keeps pulling me back into it, even when there's nothing pressing that I have to do on this particular day. The next thing you know, races are happening elsewhere and I'm in front of the computer watching live scoring. In this case, it's Kern Raceway.
I noticed I had a critic of one of my articles again. It's really not a big deal, because I know you can't make everybody happy. It's the idea that I put as many hours as I did, for free last week as I didn't get paid and there were no tips, and in a matter of how how many seconds, somebody made themselves feel good by putting down my effort. On the bright side, there's going to come a point when they won't have my articles to put down. Not yet, but eventually.
Spelling mistakes have always happened. I am admittedly not the best editor. I would type my articles and proofread them twice, and mistakes would still get by. Back in those days, as I've mentioned in my book, I got to the point where I didn't look at my magazines anymore. That moment where I felt good because the work was finished and the magazines went out to the customers was ruined the minute I saw a spelling mistake. The facts were pretty sound. There might be mistakes, but 95% or more were spelling mistakes. That's a little comforting, I guess.
What I've discovered these days is that I don't have to be stuck in front of my computer typing out articles. Since I don't get to take the walks I so dearly want to take these days, the next best thing I can do is start dictating into my phone while I pace the room back and forth. Hey, at least it's some exercise. Sometimes I'll record audio shows while I jog in place. It really gets me revved up, and anything to help me lose weight is a plus.
It really doesn't get me done that much quicker to dictate into the phone. The phone doesn't always hear you correctly. Then there is the issue with names that it doesn't know how to spell no matter how many times you correct it. I still have to go through the story and clean the text up and proofread it twice, and even then, the mistakes get by me. I do like being able to keep moving at least a little bit. Plus, I tend to be rough on keyboards just because I kind of peck away at the keys pretty hard. I never learned the traditional way to type, but even though my two-key method goes quickly, it can be sloppy sometimes.
I actually discovered the effectiveness of dictating into the phone when I used to be able to get out and take long walks. Of course then, I had phone service, which is required since for some reason the speech to text program needs to be interfacing with the internet. Otherwise, it tends to come out more gibberish and takes even longer to clean up. Since I really don't have enough money to pay for a phone service, the phone is only good when I'm around Wi-Fi signals. It's still invaluable.
When I'm doing my thing for the race track, having Wi-Fi is a necessity. I'll get up on the roof of the tower or wherever and shoot a quick video letting everybody know what we're doing that day before anybody shows up. It's an easy upload from there. I will run around the pits taking pictures of cars so the fans know who's there. Whatever. I don't have to go run to the laptop and peck away to get something up on social media. I can do it from the phone and it's a snap. It is interesting the way technology has advanced, though it's scary when you realize where it's leading us.
What the internet, from the laptop to the phone, has done is changed the way we spread the word. The traditional means aren't always effective. Printed media will still be viewed by the older audience, but the younger audience more and more has their faces buried in their smartphones. If they happen to be looking in your direction on social media, this is where you get the word out to them.
But anyway, I find that the cell phone is useful to me in the media effort. Using it as a writing tool has become part of the job. Interacting with people on social media or just seeing what the latest news is is also invaluable. I say I'm tired of social media, and I really am, but you can't deny the information that is out there. You have to be paying attention, because it goes down the memory hole very quickly, but it's there as a tool to help provide color to the articles I do in some cases. It helps me write. Unfortunately, it's not perfect. Spelling mistakes will still get past me, but I think people know what the intent is.
Moving on, I'm still in a holding pattern at the moment. I continue this on Saturday morning, and I'm not at a race track. I actually thought that would not be the case. However, it is. I don't know what that means for the future. I don't know exactly what that means to me personally. I'm going to end up being at a race track this year regardless of if it's not the one I thought I would be, so I'll file things in my memory and try to resist the temptation to get too stressed out about it. There's that whole social media thing. Nope, I won't be airing it there either. As my good friend is fond of saying to me, there's always a time and a place.
What I've been trying to convey since I set foot back at a race track about this time four years ago is that I've needed help. I felt and still feel as if what I can bring to a race track helps. At least ways, I've heard that from Mike McCann on numerous occasions. I don't seek that kind of praise. I do what I do, because it has to be done. I do what I do because it's what is keeping a roof over my head. I think I've proven that I'm pretty good at it too, and I've helped make a positive differenace here too. I may not be building things up for the future, but I'm maintaining the things I need to get by in the here and now. I still don't know what the future holds for me.
Ready or not, racing season is coming. I've been working the routine that I've done for the past few years. Admittedly, it's been more of a challenge for me to get up for things, but at times I manage to get myself back where I need to be mentally to do this stuff right. I can see a day coming when I'm not doing this at all. The biggest reason I ever walked away was because I realized that too much work went into what I do without things coming back my way. Look at it as your job. Would you keep doing the job you do if you couldn't pay the bills? It really doesn't do it for me now since I returned four years ago, but it has provided one important one thing. I have a roof over my head. No building my personal future, but maintaining my current situation. As tough as that is for me to really deal with, I'm left with the thought that it's better than nothing and it could be worse.
So, the negative mood that I'm in right now is starting to seep out, meaning I need to change the subject. It doesn't really do me a lot of good to dwell on that stuff. I understand the world owes you nothing. You can't assign things to certain people because you believe in them and that they care about you. If they've never expressed that, it's just you living in your mind. You have to deal with what reality is and make the best of your situation. This is what I intend to do. Because I am going to be involved in racing at a race track, and because the situation is such that I can continue to do what I've done, the racing media effort will continue through the 2019 season. I may make adjustments, but I'll still be doing quite a bit. I'll do my best, even if I make make some mistakes along the way. I will say more on certain things when there is more to say.
One of the things that has caught my eyes is the continuing saga of Chandler Speedway in Indiana. I've been watching this story unfold during the past year or so because it was brought to my attention by Mike. The man is always looking at what's going on in racing and looking for the next opportunity. I see him continuing that endeavor long after he's walked away from the sport. He's one of those guys that will look at a vacant race track and start thinking about what he could do and what it needs and all that. And in this case, he was looking on in disbelief as a man named Reno Fontana began talking about a place called Movieland Speedpark, better known as Chandler Motor Speedway to the people in that neck of the woods.
I sat down to write an article the other day about the track. Yes, there is drama, but I wanted to convey that at the heart of the matter is a race track. The racers want to go racing again. The fans want to go spectate. This race track may be in the shadows of the bigger tracks in the state, but it means something to the people who are there. The track did a lot of special things within the community, and even if it wasn't the perfect place, it was still the people's place. It mattered to them.
You didn't have a perfect situation in 2017 with Kevin and Mark. They were a couple of guys who stepped forward to maintain a drag strip ànd an oval track. If they weren't out there doing what they did, it's just possible that the track would have sat dormant two years more. They didn't want that to happen. In fact, when I've listened to the live Facebook broadcasts that Kevin has done, even with the health situation that he has been through, I have no doubt that he would have continued his efforts in 2018. But, this is where Reno came into the picture making big promises.
Set aside what Reno Fontana has been saying, and if you look at his posts on Facebook you're going to be amazed. Reading his posts and the comments below is more entertaining than most of the crap you'll find on TV these days. I really don't want to get too much into him here. The saga continues on, because the latest chapter finds that the track was going to go up for auction. Reno stepped up at the very last minute and stopped the auction due to his filing for bankruptcy. People are wondering, how exactly are you bankrupt when you never even opened the gates for one night of business? How are you bankrupt when you were never officially acknowledged as the owner of the place until a questionable transaction was made in December of 2018?
The man I wonder about is Harold Baker. He's the one who opened the place. I don't hear a lot of good things about the old man, but I suppose one nice thing to say is that at one time he thought the property would make for a good oval track and drag strip. However, people have come and gone. That is to say, promoters have come and gone, giving people hope and races to go to and then been shown the door. Baker remained the constant. I'm sure people didn't like him all that much, but the fact that he would let the next person try earned him a pass.
I don't know the man's mental capacity at 90 years old. There are some people at that age that are as sharp as a tack. Is he one of them? Is he one of those people who didn't see Reno coming? Is he one of those people who put himself in a bad position by not paying taxes and bought into what Reno was saying? I really don't know. He's put himself in a very precarious position, because legally, he stands to be in deeper trouble than Reno might be if things are exposed. The old man could end up in jail, so I have to wonder what the hell he was thinking. I can't imagine the guy is so broke that he couldn't pay his taxes and save the place and his only option was to make an end around deal with Reno.
And there's the other thing. Reno has a checkered past. The man is an Elvis impersonator. Just look him up and you'll be amazed that he's even able to do what he did here. He is a very slick talker, and I suppose the only thing that being exposed through the years has done is improved his line of BS for the next time. I don't know. Crazy as it sounds, Summer Taylor, the General Manager of the place, is organizing a work party today as they still claim that April 19th will see the gates open for more racing. In the back of my mind I wonder, if this is some sort of scam that Reno is pulling, what is he going to do if he does end up with this race track?
As for Baker, didn't the man ever bother to look at the past of the man he was dealing with? Weren't there red lights going off above his head warning him that doing business with him wasn't the smartest thing he could do? Reno didn't come into the negotiation with money. The man doesn't have much money to speak of. He wants to play with other people's money. The big dream he spoke of for what he wanted Movieland Speedpark to be revolved around the idea that he would get a government grant. That is who Reno Fontana is. The man who had a GoFundMe page setup to raise money for his fictitious track, or at the very least wild dream of a track?
Yet, when it was all said and done on that day in December, Harold Baker signed a deal making Reno Fontana the owner of that track. The thing is, they could have some private agreement worked out behind the scenes. Reno could be assuring him that he will take care of him in the end, but once he's free and clear and the owner of the track, will he take care of the old man? Something tells me that he won't, because the guy is already filing for bankruptcy and he hasn't even done any real business at this race track yet.
The other thing is that there is a pecking order of race tracks when it comes to Indiana. Yes, the racing scene in Indiana is the envy of racers from other states. You can talk about Terre Haute, Bloomington, Kokomo, Montpelier and on and on. You can speak of Indianapolis Speedway. This little track in Chandler doesn't rate among the Top 5. In fact, it probably rates at the bottom of the Top 10, if there. I don't say that to belittle this race track, because I know what it means to the people there. I merely want to put things into perspective.
You have a grandstands that fits probably a thousand or so people. Reno is telling people that 5000 fans will be showing up at these races, but that wasn't the case before. Maybe, if you really work hard and do the right things, five years down the line or so, you'll book such an event that 5000 fans will come, provided you have the seating capacity to accommodate them. Maybe. But that's not reality at the moment. That's a fantasy in somebody's head. You have to deal with reality, and reality tells us that if you get it up and running, you're maybe selling a thousand tickets on a good night. Give or take a hundred. That's not bad, folks. But it's not what Reno is promising.
If you are bringing that many fans to the show, that's the money you have to work with. That's the money you have to pay the drivers with, pay your employees with, pay the other necessary costs to run the place and then pay your debts. So, it's not a windfall of money. Getting a government grant to do what it is he says he's going to do is a pipe dream. It's not going to happen. I know the guy has a great line of BS, but there are limits. His line of BS may ultimately leave him with a race track, though some people say it's only a delay until it goes up for auction again.
It's just been a fascinating story to watch. You sometimes will read a comment made by Reno and wonder if he even believes his own BS. People have used the terms flim-flam man or snake oil salesman to describe people like this. I understand that the racing scene has had some colorful promoters through the years, but this man takes the cake. I'm getting ahead of myself, because he has not yet proven himself to be a race track promoter. That is unless you add wannabe at the end of that title.
This brings me back to the real losers in this whole scenario. That would be the racers and the fans. Another Saturday night where they don't get to race. Another Saturday night where they don't have that fundraiser like they've done in the past. The fun little Power Wheel races they had for the kids. The special shows they had for their various divisions. A fun night for father and son to go to the races together and watch those Saturday night heroes. That Saturday opportunity for the working man to get behind the wheel of a race car and be a hero for a night. Gone. For now at least, it's not happening. What will happen next?
The one thing about Reno is he loves being the center of attention. He really is one of those guys that doesn't believe there is any such thing as bad press. He might look at it that way, but half of that racing community is against him. You've literally got family members fighting each other and exposing their dirty laundry on social media in this heated argument. That is what Reno has brought to Chandler so far. Not racing, but divisiveness. I'm sure he's got some idea in the back of his mind for what he's going to do next, and it might be entertaining for us to watch. Unfortunately, it's reality for those who are right in the middle of it.
Being that it is March and the rainy season isn't completely over with, there was another batch of rainouts taking away practice opportunities and racing opportunities at various venues this past weekend. Some years you can start in March and everything is fine, but other years It takes a little bit longer to get going. Such is the nature of the beast. It wasn't too many years ago when you started racing in April and ended in early September, because weather would really mess with you more back in those days. Weather patterns have changed a little bit in the past 30 or so years, opening up windows to go racing from March through October. So much for a lengthy offseason.
Of course in Oregon, we have a different set of circumstances to deal with. You might talk about racing in March, which is the case for Cottage Grove Speedway, but the weather will put you in your place most of the time. Heather booked two races in March, and the first one has been claimed by the weather. The second one? Everything they have booked from now through April will still be 50/50. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. One way of thinking of it is why bother when chances are you're going to get rained out? Then again, if you schedule something and the weather gives you a break, you get to race.
Oregonians are pretty much used to the fact that they'll start racing in mid April at the earliest, and if they're lucky races will be scheduled through the end of September. They don't get to do it in March, and they don't get to do it in October. There's not the rush of tracks up here trying to schedule their big October specials, because you just don't know if it's going to get rained out of not. Plus, the nature of Oregon weather makes it less attractive for people to come from out of state for any big October shows that might be booked.
We've been dealing with the situation In Medford where the window was open to run through about mid October, though you're dealing with colder weather at night. The best window you have is racing from May through about mid September, and even then Oregon weather is going to claim the victory in some of those races.
Californians have it a lot better in that regard. Especially when you venture down to the Southern California area. I still think you spread the racers too thin and that has something to do with dwindling car counts. There are just too many demands on people's money these days, and something has to give. What is giving? You end up with lower car counts at many venues and lower than desired attendance figures. You soldier on and hope for the best next time, but they continue to make schedules where they're trying to start things as early as February and will go all the way through the end of October. If Rocky Hill Speedway in Porterville comes to life again, you can count on them attempting some November races as well.
Antioch Speedway will go live for their first scheduled race, weather permitting, on March 30th. John kind of hit one out of the ballpark with his playday on March 16th. Weather was not looking good in February or early March, but he saw the window open wide for the seven days leading up to that playday. There was a lot of work to be done, but he and the crew worked hard. It also should be pointed out that several members within the racing community volunteered their time during the week to help with the efforts. I have mentioned that if you can get the community on board with this track, you can start seeing a turnaround in numbers. But will they be onboard?
Playday got rained out in Petaluma, and Antioch got hit with rain as well. The difference was, Rick decided not to try for the playday. He'll open for racing season in Petaluma on March 30th. John wasn't going to call this playday until he was absolutely sure it was hopeless. It rained hard on Friday. Not being down there in person, I haven't looked at the facilities, but a brief video shot revealed water on the back straightaway at about 10:30 on Saturday morning. I can only speculate that John would not be thrilled to know that that picture made it into the public eye.
When you go back to November of 2017, John planned a playday at the last minute. I'm not exactly sure why that was the case, but he scheduled one. They got hit with rain, and there were puddles to deal with. However, he had the track in good enough shape to practice. There are differences between playday conditions and racing conditions. There's a little bit more leeway you can have when you're just trying to practice. As long as the water is drained to the point where it's closer to the infield and the drivers have room on the track, it is workable.
The biggest reason you do a practice for the drivers is because they get to test their equipment. You put your foot to the floor on the straightaways, and how it does the motor sound? You go through the turns, and how is the car handling? They are testing their cars. The promoter's reasons for opening the gates are multiple. Obviously, the top of the list is that you're making money. Remember folks, it's a business. Also, the promoters have various expenses that come up during the year, so that little bit of money they may make for having a playday or two will be spent by the time the season is even a month or two in. You're also trying to test various things at the track, see that you can get your crew on the same page and all of that.
John looked over the facilities before this practice and determined that he could do it. The pits weren't so bad that they couldn't handle cars, and the sun was shining overhead. It would dry out more. Secondly, even if the track wasn't looking as good as it did the week before, John knew he could get the water off and be able to put cars on the track. So, he was going for it. There were too many reasons why, and they outnumbered the reasons why not.
The last part I want to add is the special remembrance ceremony for Donna Soares. This was happening on Sunday, and I had thought that I might be there by then. I do not like going to these type of occasions. I've been dealing with enough loss in my life that I've had enough. I'd rather keep the special memories of the people I love in my mind and my heart and not go someplace where I'm just sitting there being sad. However, I would have been there for Donna.
Aside from the fact that Donna has always been good to me and we always got along pretty well, she also got along well with my sister. She cared about my sister and I appreciate that she did try to look out for her. I'm still sad that we've lost her. I'm still sad for John that he's lost part of himself. What do you do when somebody you've been together with for over 50 years is no longer in your life? It's tough. He keeps her in his heart and in his thoughts always, and that will just be the way it is for John.
Regardless of where things go in my life, I care about John and Donna and that's just the way it's going to be. I miss Donna and will always remember her. I also wish John nothing but the best. I know what he's been through, even if I don't completely know and understand, if you know what I mean. That's sort of something you have to live through to completely understand. John's also been given an opportunity with Antioch Speedway this year, and I certainly hope things work out not just for him but for the racers as well. In whatever my capacity is to make a difference, I will continue to do my best.
On that note, I'm ending this column. Until next time...