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THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 by Joseph Terrell

www.wcsprintscene.com

 

A GHR CLASSIC ATTEMPTS TO REBRAND

 

Joseph Terrell

6/17/2022

Olympia, Wa…This weekend Grays Harbor Raceway will host the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic for 360 sprints on Saturday and Sunday. Now in theory this isn’t a new race as much as it is a rebranding of the Fred Brownfield Classic, which had been a staple in the northwest ever since legendary promotor’s untimely death in 2006. A name change and the fact this weekend is longer ASCS National sanctioned makes this race new in a lot of ways and while some the change is unfortunate it is not all bad.

            First, the name change. It is unfortunate that Fred Brownfiled will no longer have a race in his honor. He deserves one for what he did for racing in the northwest and throughout the country but like life itself things change over time. I don’t blame the track or anybody else for the fact the Fred Brownfield Classic is no longer but I do feel it leaves something missing in the northwest. Even though the name of the race has changed, the 92, representing the number Brownfield ran when he raced, still stands in turn three as a tribute and reminder.

            Next, gone is the ASCS National sanctioning that had been tagged to the Fred Brownfield Classic since 2015. With this sanctioning came the guarantee of a certain number of national competitors at the track and that helped with promoting the show. The common fan is intrigued by the fact that drivers from states like Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas are at their local track. Never mind the actual talent of those drivers, the hype is grand and the ASCS National Tour brought exactly that - drivers from multiple states. Well this year there will be no  ASCS national sanction and the support from Oregon and California will depend on how many, if any, drivers throw a 360 in for Sunday night on their way to the Dirt Cup.

            Another change is the format, which I think was a good change in that it ensures two heat races each night for every competitor. Much like the ASCS format the Hall of Fame Classic will not have qualifying but where it differs is in heat races. It will have two sets of heat races each night - first one lined straight up based on pill draw and second one inverted completely. So if a driver starts on the pole in their first heat, in their second heat they will start last. This even things out as far as passing points which will accumulate through both sets of heats and are tallied to line up the main. The top eight will run a dash to line-up the front four rows and the dash will be lined up by pill draw. The top four in the main Saturday automatically transfer to Sunday’s dash. Sunday is wash, rinse and repeat as far as format. This change puts more racing on the track which is what is needed if qualifying is omitted.

            The purse will be similar to what it was last year with Sundays’ night finale paying $5000 to win compared to $4000 to win last year. Saturday pays $3000 just like it did last year. Both nights pay $400 to start the main. While this isn’t an amazing payout to win or start, it is solid for 360 sprint racing and with a lack of invaders expected it should allow some local drivers to win some decent money.

            Lastly the biggest change to the Hall of Fame Classic is the landscape it is racing against in 2022 which has really hurt the build up. In previous years the The Brownfield Classic had been paired with Dirt Cup creating two big weekends of racing back to back for drivers and fans and it created a lot of buzz for both events. Well everything changed when it was announced the Dirt Cup was going back to a 410 race and now instead of being partnered with Dirt Cup, the Hall of Fame Classic seems like a radar blip on the road to the Dirt Cup. All the hype concerning the Dirt Cup, with the return of the 410s and the size of purse, has left it difficult for the rebranded Hall of Fame Classic at GHR to get the traction and excitement that this race previously had.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

A Look Back at the Spring

Joseph Terrell
6/12/2022
Olympia, Wa…It is just about time for the calendar to change from spring to summer and the dog days are upon us. Summertime on the west coast is always an interesting time as teams/drivers will begin to fan out across the country, the central valley becomes a boiler, and the northwest actually gets some sun and major races. So before the summer comes, let's look back at the storylines of the spring time.

SOME NEW STARS RISE

The last few years the west coast sprint car scene has been dominated by three drivers: Dominic Scelzi, Justin Sanders and Shane Golobic. Find a race on the west coast the last few years and more than likely one, if not all three, would be on the podium. Last year Scelzi and Sanders each one 20 races, while Golobic lived on the podium. Well 2022 has brought some new players to the game even though none of them are new names.

Corey Day has been a name since he passed Donny Schatz in a heat race in Arizona, but in 2002 Day has started really putting things together and the 16 year old has four wins (three with NARC) and finished second twice against the Outlaws during their west coast swing. Day will chase $50,000 in a few weeks at the Dirt Cup and expect him to make a splash on the national scene during the summer.

Fellow Californian Tanner Carrick is well known for his exploits on the midget scene but ever since his near Gold Cup victory last fall Carrick has started to ascend on the west coast sprint car hierarchy. His pair of runner-ups in the Bradway Classic just added to what has been a great spring for Tanner which includes three wins and 14 top fives.

Finally Washington’s Trey Starks is not a new name, he is well known in sprint car meccas such Knoxville and Central Pennsylvania, but in 2022 he seems to be re-focused and his four wins in five starts back that up. Last season Starks returned home and he was inconsistent and not necessarily fully committed. In 2022 he is and look for him to factor in all the big races in the northwest in 2022.

410 Sprints Struggle to Find Consistent Support

410 Sprint Car racing on the west coast has long been on life support but the last year has seen a lot of optimism, including from this writer, because of the addition of some new blood and better paying races. The reality is, that 410 racing still plays second fiddle to 360 racing on the west coast and 2022 has been no different.

Ever since 14 cars showed up at Keller back in February 410 sprint car counts out west have been a hot topic. The west coast swing saw solid car counts and the first three NARC shows and one show at Silver Dollar all garnered solid support. But then came 18 cars at Petaluma, the FFDM which never had more than 18 sprints and then 21 sprints at Ocean Friday night. Saturday night at Placerville saw 26 check in - although that is little deceiving because about six or seven were 360s.

The flip side is the fields are strong and generally feature some of the best drivers on the west coast. The problem is so many of the top drivers - Day, Carrick, Colby Copeland, Sean Becker, DJ Netto, etc. - do not run all the events so it is always a little bit of a hodgepodge mixture of drivers to go with base eight or nine that support every race. The problem is teams continue to default to 360 racing because it is so much more prevalent with multiple tracks running 360s weekly and none running 410s weekly.

The Era of Change at Silver Dollar and Skagit

The offseason was dominated by the change of leadership at two of the west coast's most prestigious tracks - Skagit Speedway and Silver Dollar Speedway. With these changes came a lot of anticipation as the leadership of each track made commitments to bring the tracks back to the forefront of racing; specifically reviving what used to be the two biggest 410 races on the west coast - Dirt Cup and Gold Cup.

Silver Dollar has taken the path of monthly specials and been rewarded with impressive car counts each night the track has raced. The biggest news came out recently as the track solidified its resolve to make Gold Cup a major race again announcing it would return to featuring three nights of World of Outlaw action with the finale paying $25,000.

Skagit has battled rain and critics but through it all gas got four 360 weekly races in with each drawing more than 20 cars. Last season the track only had one weekly 360 show that drew more than 20 cars. The track's attempt to revive 410 racing has been halted by rain as both attempts for a weekly show were rained out. Five cars showed up last Saturday to get practice and to date nobody knows exactly what the local 410 scene at Skagit might look like. But with Dirt Cup less than two weeks away, 55 Promotions decision to make Dirt Cup a 410 show is about to get its pass/fail test.

NORTHWEST WEATHER

Yes it rains in the northwest and sometimes a lot, but never like it has in 2022. Cottage Grove has tried to race 360 sprints nine times and have gotten one race in. Skagit has gotten four events with one event on Thursday, two on a Saturday and one on a Sunday as they have tried to reschedule events in an attempt to get races in. Grays Harbor has got two of their six scheduled races to date in.

Never was the weather more evident than Memorial Day weekend when the Marvin Smith Classic at Cottage Grove was completely rained out, Skagit barely got in one of two scheduled shows and the FFDM tour somehow got three of the four scheduled events as each night was threatened with rain. Simply put it has been brutal for promoters, drivers and fans.

The Summer season kicks off this weekend with the road Dirt Cup and ends in September with west coast Outlaw swing. While Northwest will feature many headline events during the summer - including Dirt Cup, Summer Nationals, Northwest Speedweek and the Skagit Nationals - California has some big events with Kaeding Classic, Johnny Key Classic, Placerville Posse Shootout, Gold Cup and the Tarlton Classic. It was a good spring out west and should be even a better summer.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Sometimes Less is More

 Joseph Terrell

6/8/2022

Olympia, Wa…It has often been said that sometimes less is more. Sometimes that is true and sometimes it is not but in today's racing landscape it seems promoters think more is always more when it comes to ticket prices. The more they charge the more they will make, right? Well I am not convinced this is always the case.

 

I often see tracks charge, in my opinion, too much for fans to come to the races especially if it is an entire family. Now I am not advocating charging more at the back gate. That is not the answer and that is a topic that probably deserves to be looked at also but instead I am just wondering about the cost benefit analysis of ticket prices. I am bringing this up because a few weeks ago I headed out to Grays Harbor Raceway for one of the things I enjoy the most - a weekly show with Modifieds as the headliner and street stocks and tuners as support divisions. It is just good ole fashioned weekly racing that was finished by 9 pm and the stands were packed and the concession lines full all night long. It was maybe the largest crowd I had seen at the track since fans returned with the exception of the fourth July show and Outlaw. Why were so many fans in the stands on a cool night in May to watch Modifieds? Easy five dollar general admission.

 

Instead of the normal $15 adult ticket with some cheaper variations for youth, children and seniors, the track just went $5 for everybody. Sitting in the stands, looking at the concession line made me think are tracks charging too much especially for their weekly shows. In today’s economy with rocketing costs it can be easy for any business, race tracks included, to pass those costs along. It’s simple business. But simple business will also tell you that if you pass more costs long than the consumer finds beneficial then you will lose that consumer. I feel some tracks are getting to this point. But if a track can charge say just half as much but get twice as many fans they haven't lost a thing. Go a step further and these fans will now have extra money for concessions and more concessions means a better bottom line as less waste is incurred when more food is sold. Go a step farther and what if the track draws three times as many fans as normal while charging half as much to get in? That is a win for all as promoters make out with increased ticket sales and concession sales and fans win because they feel they were able to go the track and not break the pocket book.

 

The sticker shock of ticket prices will drive fans away. When a family thinks about spending more than $60 to get in the races and then consider concession prices the average fan just cannot justify it. If they instead can get in the races for $40 or less it starts to look more affordable. Now this is a delicate balance for tracks and obviously if too little is charged the numbers won’t work because there is a finite fan base for each track to draw from but that finite base will shrink if prices are too high.

 

Even further tracks would be well served to consider this when national touring divisions such as the Outlaws come to town as well when regional series such as NARC invade. The name of these series will inevitably draw fans but if tracks get too greedy the amount of fans drawn will be reduced as they cannot afford the $100-200 it will cost just to get their family in. I have seen tracks charge $25 for a NARC show and I think it is just too much and the average fan won’t bite because of this  Lower that price five-to-seven dollars and all of sudden it looks more affordable. As humans we see certain dollar amounts and come to certain results - and something tells me an average fan seeing $25 for a regional touring division might be too much.

 

I understand this is easy to say when I am not the one taking the risk nor I am the one looking at the bottom line paying the bills. I can see why tracks may be afraid to lower prices too much and not see the return with increased fan support  - I understand it is possible just because it works once doesn’t mean it works every time. On the other hand I do think tracks need to think outside the box a touch and, in today's environment with so many entertainment options, be willing to try something different in a lot of areas including ticket prices.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

A Reason Why Pay Per View is Good

 Joseph Terrell

5/28/2022

Olympia, Wa…When it became apparent that third night of the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports was fighting a battle against Mother Nature that could not it win - Grays Harbor was under 100% chance of rain - it was either make the three hour tow to Skagit Speedway to see if they could beat the rain or stay home, lay low and watch racing on Flo and DirtVision. I chose option two which made me immediately think of some recent social media posts concerning PPV coverage (in this case Flo) and its potentially negative effect on attendance at the track. Now this isn’t a new topic by any means and I have written about it previously but since the debate has been reopened by some loud voices I thought I would revisit.

 

For some reason the debate seems to always revolve around the fan but what about the drivers. And I am not talking about the big name drivers - I am talking about the non-name drivers or the support division drivers who are now getting a chance to perform in front of a “TV audience”. Think Marshalltown and how its IMCA weekly show has become something of a cult legend. This really hit home during the drivers meeting last night at Willamette Speedway for the three divisions supporting the headlining NARC series. Track officials told drivers that they would be racing in front of not only more fans in the stands but an audience on Flo Racing and this was their chance to shine. And shine they did. Challenged to be efficient and limit yellows, the three support division rose to the challenge and rolled through their part of the program with only three yellows during the three main events after running efficient heats and dashes. For drivers at Willamette they got to be on a national stage when they would have never had that opportunity five years ago. That is a win for short track racing and one of the many positives of this new era of PPV coverage.

 

Promoters get upset when fans don’t show-up to the race but seemingly everybody is tweeting about watching the race on PPV from their backyard. Before 2020 most sprint car fans consumed their sprint car racing live and followed results and stories through the various media outlets. But obviously 2020 changed everything and fans now can watch whatever they want when they want. Without knowing anything about the financial arrangements tracks/series have with their PPV provider, I can see how tracks would be concerned about the overall bottom line. Why wouldn’t a fan just stay home and watch DirtVision or Flo  which means less people in the seats and not only less money at the front gate, but also less beer and food sold at the concession. These are facts that cannot be denied and at this point PPV isn’t going anywhere so what does this mean?

 

Well it means series/tracks will need to adjust and meet the new marketplace realities. Basically accept it and try to thrive in this marketplace by making fans want to come to the track. As I have harped on more than once in this column shows need to be run more efficiently and in a manner that keeps both the fan at the track and at home entertained. One thing PPV has really exposed in my opinion is the amount of down time many shows have. Series/tracks need to understand this and think about the fact that PPV exposes new fans to your product and that if fans see a well run and entertaining show on their screen they might think about coming to your place as a spectator in the future. But if they see the opposite they may be skeptical of planning a trip to watch live.

 

I understand the position of the promoter who maybe feels they are getting robbed of fans by online PPV service, but on the flip side this PPV service is giving your product exposure it would have never received before so take advantage of it to make new fans.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

Southern Oregon Speedway Shows Promise

 

Joseph Terrell

5/26/2022

Central Point, Or…I have been to Southern Oregon Speedway three previous times and each time I left I vowed to never return leaving the Speedway thoroughly overwhelmed. Well I guess in this case I guess the fourth time was the charm as I have finally seen the good in Southern Oregon Speedway as the management team has made the facility much nicer looking and giving hope for NARC sprint car racing at the track.

 

While there were some hiccups and the overall car count of 18 sprint cars, which was heavily influenced by the weather, was less than overwhelming it was not hard to see the potential of the track if given more chances. In addition the fans were beyond receptive as they filled the place and made exiting after the races a long wait in line which is something you just don’t see enough at races on the west coast.

 

As Thursday turns to Friday here are some of quick takeaways from Thursday Night:

 

IMPROVED TRACK

One thing each of my previous trips to Southern Oregon lacked was exciting racing. It seemed each time I was there the track was one line and the turns were configured in such a way that passing was very difficult. Not now. Noticeable banking has been added in the turns and while the track was still top dominant most of the night the last 15 laps fourth thru about ninth-tenth starting exchanging positions and slide jobs on a regular basis. Yes Mitchell Faccinto, first, and then eventual winner Dominic Scezli second checked out but behind the racing picked up as the main went on.

 

Hopefully going forward the bottom will get faster and be a more competitive line but I think this will just be a product of time and the new management staff learning how to prep the tracks for sprints. The team at Southern Oregon are from modified racing and are unfamiliar with 410 sprint car racing but showed a willingness to take some advice from drivers and did just enough prep before the main event to make sure fans didn’t have to witness a one laned, tire burning parade.

 

I was concerned about the overall amount of rock I saw in the track surface before wheel packing but honestly during the night I didn't hear any rocks dinging off the fence as they were getting thrown around. And after the races a walk of the surface revealed much fewer rocks visible than had been early in the night.

 

MOTHER NATURE

This has been the story of the year in the northwest and the Fastest Four Day in Motorsports will not be spared. Before the best of California left the state drivers were dropping off due to weather concerns. No less than probably four to five teams had planned to make the trip but changed their plans as the weather, especially this weekend for Grays Harbor, just keeps looking worse. Things are so bad up here that even today’s race, which was to be the one that would be spared any sort of rain scare, couldn’t escape the wrath as an hour long storm of wind and rain swept through the Medford-Central Point area puting everybody on edge for a second.

 

The weather is something that cannot be controlled and even though the forecast for Friday’s show at Willamette is looking better the weekend forecast for Grays Harbor is nothing short of sketchy which has teams anxious about how to proceed. Whatever happens the rest of the week it has already been shown once that fans will turn out in the northwest for 410 sprint car racing so let not let Mother Nature wash away all reason to believe this couldn’t work in the future with better weather

 

DOMINIC SCELZI

He is on a roll that can only be compared to Brent Kaeding back in his run. It just doesn’t seem to matter what happens Dom just finds himself in victory lane more often than and now has done it four straight nights with the NARC series, something that NARC guru Alex Nieten is telling me hasn’t been done since 1999 by Brent Kaeding.

 

What makes Scelzi remind me of Brent is that he is never out of it and always gets himself in contention to win. Yes sometimes he is lucky but luck in sprint car racing is often created by being in good positions to capitalize when luck gets handed to you. Dom never puts himself in bad positions, does not overdrive and just has that knack of being where always needs to be. I am sure other drivers might think he gets every break but to do what Dom has done the last two years with the NARC series isn’t the result of luck. It is the result of a driver who has fine tuned his craft and is on top of his game.

 

Time to catch a little sleep and set sail for Willamette.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME FOR THE FASTEST FOUR DAYS

 

Joseph Terrell

5/25/2022

Olympia, Wa…When NARC released their schedule the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports were on my calendar. I mean how couldn’t it be, last year I traveled over 2000 miles to attend all four races so why wouldn’t I when it required around 1000 miles of traveling. Southern Oregon, Willamette and Grays Harbor Raceway were calling my name. But also I knew since it was centered around Memorial Day that it was competing with the Marvin Smith Classic at Cottage Grove and the John Carroll Classic at Skagit. What I didn't anticipate was the crazy spring weather and Skagit adding three extra Thursday night races starting with the Thursday of Memorial Day weekend.

Make no mistake there is a lot of sprint car racing on the west coast this week. The Marvin at Cottage Grove, Skagit has 360 sprints scheduled Thursday and Saturday and down in Cali land the Sprint Car Challenge Tour has a Memorial Day doubleheader at Stockton and Marysville. 

            Still, the Fastest Four Day is the headliner for the weekend without doubt. Each show will pay $5000 to win and if one driver can sweep all four nights they will be awarded a $40,000 bonus. In addition it will showcase some of the best drivers on the west coast such as Domnic Scelzi, Mitchell Faccinto, Justin Sanders, Shane Golobic, Corey Day and the Kaeding brothers. Plus Oregon’s Tanner Holmes plans to make all nights, while Tyler Thompson, Garen Linder, Jason Solwold and Trey Starks all plan on making at least two races. Did I forget to mention Colby Copeland, who is an absolute master of tracks in Oregon, and DJ Netto. Each driver has a Northwest Speedweek championship in their trophy case.  The car count may not be overwhelming each night but expect a lot of talent each night.

            The argument could be made that NARC should have chosen a different week to venture to the northwest and not compete against the Marvin Smith Classic at Cottage Grove which is a northwest Memorial Day tradition.  This seems like a valid argument but I would ask is it really? At most two-three drivers will race the Marvin Smith instead of coming to Grays  Harbor. I just don’t see these shows competing against each other and really having a huge impact on car count either way. NARC is going to bring around 15 drivers and hopes to add five to seven locals to fill the field. The “locals” will not be the same drivers - Oregon will have drivers like Thompson and Linder supporting the first two nights and Washington will substitute with Starks, Solwold and a few others. Yes, it would be great to have Thompson, Linder, Solwold and Starks at all four races but the mere fact that Cottage Grove is pulling away a few drivers later in the week and Skagit earlier in the week isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of good drivers to go around this weekend.

            With that in mind I expect the NARC shows to draw between 18-25 cars each night depending on variables such as weather and fuel cost. The combination of questionable weather and fuel cost could have a negative effect but on the other hand it is safe to assume most teams understand this risk and it is one of the reasons NARC is offering $1000 tow money for 15 teams that travel no matter what the weather does.  This is a smart move by series and right thing to do given the cost of business this year because for a team this means a minimum of $3400 to make the trip           north, if all the races are completed, which will surely help some of the smaller budget teams like Billy Aton. Even at the low end of 18 cars the four NARC shows will feature starpower that isn’t normal in the northwest. Most races in this region the two biggest names are Starks and Solwold -  with the NARC races this will not be the case which brings added excitement and chance for fans to see drivers they don’t usually get to see.

            Furthermore for fans at Willamette and Southern Oregon having the NARC series  come to town is the biggest race each track will have all year - neither of these tracks host the Outlaws so this will be one time all year 410 sprints race at the track.  Southern Oregon has not had 360 or410 sprints on the schedule in recent years and the track has been reconfigured recently which should add to the hype. In the case of Willamette this will be the only 360/410 sprint car race at the track all year and  given past history I would expect the track to be packed with fans. Although GHR has the Outlaws this will be the first two night 410 show in almost 15 years and the feeling around the area is a lot fans are excited to see new drivers and 410 sprints.

Lastly, I truly hope that this version of the FFMD works well enough that it isn’t just a one year fad. Having 410 races in the northwest besides Skagit is key to growing the division up in this region and having the NARC’s FFMD in the northwest will help do that. I have written before and probably will have to write again, the 410 division in the northwest is going to be an up and down scenario with highs and lows concerning car counts. But the truth is while car counts may not be overwhelming the best talent will be at the NARC series races this weekend and that is why I am going that direction. That is unless mother nature points me elsewhere.

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing

 

           

 

 

 

PMC Kicks off a Heavy Stretch Out West

Joseph Terrell
5/13/2022
Olympia, Wa…It is “go” time out west. What do I mean? Well starting with this weekend's Peter Murphy Classic, headlined by the $11,000 to win NARC race Saturday night at Keller Auto Speedway, through Skagit’s $50,000 to win Dirt the last week of June the west coast will be hopping. There will be some chances to win money, some potential bonuses and in general just a lot of racing to be had and a few storylines I will be following.
First if you don't believe me about a lot of races follow along: we have the PMC this weekend at Tulare and Keller featuring NARC and SCCT. As mentioned Saturday night at Keller is headlined by the high paying NARC feature. The next weekend is a traditional west coast schedule with a lot of weekly action headlined by NARC’s first visit of the season to Petaluma. The next week things kick into gear as NARC heads on their Fastest Four Day in Motorsports Memorial Day adventure to the Northwest featuring four $5000 to win races and a $40,000 bonus to any driver that can go four for four. Memorial Day is more than just about NARC, however, as the SCCT has a weekend doubleheader with stops at Stockton and Marysville. Cottage Grove rounds out a crowded holiday weekend with their traditional two night Marvin Smith Classic paying $4100 to win Sunday night.
The fun doesn't stop in May as the first weekend of June is headlined by a 360 sprint doubleheader at Silver Dollar featuring the SCCT on Saturday night - I just make the assumption that any two night 360 show at SIlver Dollar is a big race because they will draw a million cars. The Bradway Classic featuring another NARC and SCCT twinbill headlines the second weekend of June, with NARC drivers racing for lap money in addition to the base purse. For the NARC guys the weekend started the night before at Ocean making it a doubleheader weekend for them. The third weekend of June will kick off the Road to Dirt Cup and an overall hectic final two weekends of June. Silver Dollar will host NARC on June 17 before the series heads to Cottage Grove for a Saturday night race. Meanwhile the SCCT series will head to Petaluma on June 18 for the first of three appearances at the track. The NARC is officially off until the first night of Dirt Cup on Thursday June 23 but expect many drivers to be in attendance at Skagit for the $4000 win Dirt Cup tune-up on June 20. You might even see a few NARC regulars throw in the 360 for Sunday night $5000 to Classic at Grays Harbor. Grays Harbor will kick off their Classic weekend, big 360 sprint car race at the track, with a $3000 to win race Saturday.
In addition to all these races Placerville, Ocean, Skagit, Cottage Grove and Grays Harbor and Marysville host weekly shows during this time adding to races on the packed schedule. A lot of racing for sure which always creates storylines and here are some I will be following

TIRES, PARTS, GAS PRICES

Nothing is bigger than these things in racing right now. The next six-seven weeks will see a lot of races out west and a lot of traveling for teams. How will they manage their tires, spare parts and fuel costs will be key. Some teams obviously have the budget for all these races but how will the mid to small budget teams fare as they battle the realities of supply and demand. NARC teams will be making two trips to the Northwest and even though nice purses await them the same cannot be said when it comes to gas prices. Almost more importantly will there be enough tires to supply these teams for these races.

CARS COUNTS

With the concerns above in mind is the schedule out west so saturated that these shows will struggle to have quality full fields. Time will tell on this one but I think everybody is especially concerned about what type of car counts NARC will get when it heads north.

CHAMPIONSHIP STATEMENTS

By the time the end of June comes both NARC and SCCT will have run over half their scheduled races. Heading into this weekend's PMC Justin' Sanders leads the SCCT series point standings while defending NARC champion Domnic Scelzi holds a two point lead over Sanders in that series. Expect each series to see a lot of movement in the points because the number of drivers in the top five in points not committed to the series. What do I mean? Behind Dom the next four in NARC points do plan to race the series full time and the top three in SCCT points will all miss the Memorial Doubleheader and the Petaluma race. But then who knows what will happen over these coming weeks and maybe drivers will change course of plans due to reasons mentioned above but I do believe whoever comes out of June on top of the points in each series will be in good shape for the respective championships.

POTENTIAL BONUSES

As I alluded to, the Fastest Four Day in Motorsports will pay $40,000 to any driver that can win all four and it may seem safe money but it’s not completely impossible. Drivers like Dom, Sanders and Kerry Madsen could all get on a roll and maybe strike it rich. If a driver can win the first two nights things will be interesting heading into the first night at Grays Harbor as that driver would more than likely have those elbows out just a little more.
Rumors had circulated about a potential big bonus for any driver that could win five out of six nights on the Road Dirt Cup - Silver Dollar, Cottage Grove and four nights at Skagit. What has been confirmed is Skagit is seeking $1000 per lap sponsors for the 50 lap Saturday finale which means if a driver led all 50 laps they would score a slick $100,000.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

The Era of Age Restrictions Begins

 

Joseph Terrell

5/5/2022

Olympia, WA…The west coast has been home to some of the best young drivers the last 10-15 years with many of them being accomplished 410 sprint car drivers by the age of 16. It seems like almost every year a new star is emerging who is barely, if even, in high school. Well that will be no more. Things have quickly changed, though, as the insurance company that essentially has a monopoly on insuring motorsports has changed its policy and with that changed the landscape of racing on the west coast and more than likely across the nation.

Now this didn’t come out of nowhere as rumors had been out there for a few weeks on twitter and facebook that some major changes were coming to short track racing concerning the age drivers would have to be to compete due to insurance coverage requirements. Those rumors have proven to be true. In just the last few days Skagit, Grays Harbor and Cottage Grove have announced this age requirement change that to drive a 410 drivers will have to be 16 and to drive a 360 14-16 with prior experience as well as other thresholds. In addition a driver under 16 will not be able to race 360 sprints on a track any bigger than ⅜ mile. California tracks have not made official announcements but nonetheless quietly acquiesced. This isn’t exactly new as the Outlaws, All Stars and Knoxville have long required competitors to be 16 but the question to me is whether the change by the insurance company was misguided?

Being from the west coast, and maybe I am jaded because of the flux of young talent, I have seen plenty of drivers who at 15 were more than capable of driving a 410 at a high level. I can think of Trey Starks, Buddy Koifoid, Gio Scelzi and Corey Day off the top of my head who were 15 driving a 410 at a high level. Heck if memory serves me right a 14 year old Travis Rutz won his first two starts in a 410 at Skagit. Why shouldn’t these kids be able to race 410s?  Starks was a contender at a Dirt Cup before he had a driver's license, Gio was winning NARC races with ease at 15, Koifoid was a becoming legend before he was out of middle school, Day showed Donny Schatz the fast line at 14 and Rutz had a cult following by 16 in the northwest. The reason these kids raced liked veterans was because they all have been racing almost their whole lives. They have cut more laps racing than many of their older peers by the time they got into sprints. To call them rookies or inexperienced is just not looking at the facts and the reality that the feeder system of quarter midgets to micro sprints or outlaw karts has these kids well seasoned beyond what the number of their age says.

Obviously a lot happened behind the scenes to get to this point and I have heard a few different rumors, but it really doesn’t matter because the ship has literally sailed on this issue for now. I will admit maybe 15 years ago I would have supported this move. Back then I had seen too many kids on the track that clearly did not belong there and were a hazard to themselves and other drivers. But like I said times have changed and these kids show-up at a different level than they used to. Back in the days of Jeff Gordon,  Bryan Bullard and Sport Allen it was one-off phenoms entering the man’s world of sprint car racing. Back then most kids had no experience - micro racing was in its early years  and most young kids that showed up to drive a sprint were in over their heads.                               Now I have always thought that to be in a 410 under the age of 16 a driver needs to have proof of experience and success. Really both a 360 and 410 should require prior experience in micros and maybe some practice lap to ensure the driver is ready to go. I think that is one of dumb things is that 14-16 can still race 360s by meeting some requirements because 360 sprints, especially on a lot of the quarter miles that populate the west coast, are really no slower than the mighty 410s. I fail to see much of a difference between driving a 360 or 410 at places such as Skagit, Cottage Grove, Ocean and Placerville.

This issue runs deeper than sprint car racing, though, as I saw it loop around this weekend when I was over at Wenatchee Super Oval for two nights of racing headlined by the Northwest Super Late Model Series. How does this tie in? Well the winner of Sunday afternoon headliner was 14 year old phenom Evan Goetz which was interesting because to race the series the rules clearly state a driver must be 15. Well Goetz, and his team which is connected to Jefferson Racing (a professional racing program out of Oregon involved in multiple forms of motorsports), was allowed to compete because his crew chief was deemed a professional car chief. Nothing in the rules states this but obviously it was a work around. Obviously this kid's talent warranted him being there, professional crew chief or not, as he simply outdrove the field after starting 11th. The reason I mention is because maybe there is some work around that has yet to be discovered and we all know that if there is it will get exploited.

Until then though the insurance company has spoken and tracks, at least out west, have been forced to raise the white flag. Will this be permanent or a short term change caused by an overreaction? Time will tell on that. In the big picture this doesn’t change much but I still find it surprising that in an era where young drivers are more prepared than ever that now is the time that the insurance company clamps down.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Opening Night Blues at GHR

 Joseph Terrell

4/24/2022

Olympia, Wa…The pits were filled, fans were filing in and there was no rain in the forecast - it was a beautiful day in Washington for opening night of racing at Grays Harbor Raceway.  What started out with a buzz, including obvious improvements to the tracks banking that was especially evident in the Modified main, ended in a murmur as opening night at GHR lingered from Saturday into Sunday and by the time the checkered flag flew on a shortened 15 lap 360 main event few fans were left to witness. So what exactly happened on a night that started with so much promise.

            Well before that I will just say the truth is race night is always unpredictable and this by no means meant to be taken as some sort of vendetta against GHR - it remains one of my favorite tracks to go and will continue to remain as one.  With that said a lot of little things led to the late night but the biggest issue was the amount of divisions scheduled to race. With five divisions on the card (it was six until the Super Stocks and IMCA Hobby Stocks were combined into one division) and each division having healthy car counts (23 360 sprints checked in were the most for a regular point race since at least 2018) the writing was on the wall before the first green was thrown. Maybe tracks in Iowa can run five divisions with 100 cars in the pits in two-three hours but tracks on the west coast cannot. I have seen it time and time again - more than four divisions on the card and more than likely the show is going into the next day. And this is exactly what happened at GHR. With cars flooding the pits, the track conditions still questionable because of the wet spring and the normal opening night bloopers the ship started sailing and the GHR management could not get the anchor out to stop the forward motion. 

            Now I understand why so many divisions were scheduled, I just don’t think it was a good idea. Originally this race would have been against opening night at Skagit Speedway and this would have heavily impacted the 360 car count specifically so the track wanted to be sure it had enough cars for a full night of racing. But even minus the healthy sprint car field it would have been too many divisions. The sprints would have still had at least 10-12 cars and would have run two heat races and a main event so only one race would have been eliminated - the third heat race. In addition to the 360 sprints also on the card were Limited Sprints, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Hobby/Super Stocks and Hornets. The car counts in the Mods, Stocks and Hornets were little higher than usual but given it was opening night it was not unexpected. The drain on the card was the Limiteds as they only had 10 cars but ran two heats and a 20 lap main event. Each race involved multiple yellows and adding in the time it takes to start sprints each time my guess is at least an hour is shaved off the night without the Limiteds on the card. Yes the show would have still ended close to midnight in this scenario but right there is an hour because of an added fifth division that was the least entertaining of the five on the card.

            As far as the track it was obviously wet from the spring and it really showed once the weather cooled. During hot laps and qualifying it looked dry as the sun was on the track. After qualifying water was added to the track and at the same time the sun went down and for the rest of night the track remained wet and in turns one and two it became choppy and espeicially hazardous. The 360 main event took four attempts and a fuel stop before a lap was completed - the main reason was turns one and two which gobbled up almost half the field in the first three attempts to start the race. This is another example why racing in April is sometimes a questionable idea - the weather may be right but the track is often a lot wetter than it seems on the surface. As I mentioned in the beginning the track itself looks great and it is evident the banking does not flatten off like it has previously around the top. As the season goes on and the track dries out the racing groove will be much wider than it has been in recent years and makes me excited for some of the bigger shows coming up at the track.

Another loss opportunity was with such a large crowd it would have been ideal to get done at a timely hour (say 10 pm and not 1 am) so those fans could have gone to the pits. My guess is there were some new fans in stands and one way to engage them and have them return is provide an action packed show and an opportunity to go to the pits to see the cars and drivers. This is what provides the human element - this what makes the drivers in the cars real and fans can interact and start developing that real connection that brings them back again. I remember my early years of going to races; it was going to the pits that stoked my curiosity and made me fall in love with short track racing. These were real people, with real jobs out on a Saturday night putting on a cape and becoming celebrities.It is important to ensure fans have time to experience this after the races.

It used to be perfectly fine for a track to run until midnight but like many other things those days are in the past. In today’s world, with short attention spans and so many easy ways to be entertained, tracks need to realize that they should never run more than three hours from the start of the race. After that fans start losing interest and they eventually leave before the main events which are what the whole is about. Now GHR isn’t the only track that has late shows or schedules five divisions, and I understand the need to make sure enough cars are in the pits for a full show, but at some point these things need to be balanced to ensure shows don’t run into the next day and fans aren’t leaving in droves before the main events start.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Spring Racing in the Northwest - or Not

 

Joseph Terrell

4/15/2022

Olympia, Wa…It was snowing, it was raining, it was sleeting and amidst it all Skagit Speedway pushed back its practice day to April 23 and opening night to April 30. Immediately the skeptics complained about the delay and how it was an auspicious start for 55 promotions at the track. But it is really that big of a deal to push back opening night one week when the weather, like normal, is questionable at best during the early spring.

            Well welcome to the northwest in April.  For some reason we have convinced ourselves that we need to start the season in April because we might get that one nice day. What is lost in that almost fallacy is the fact we rarely get that one nice day in April and if we do it more than likely isn’t going to be a Saturday. Likely what we get, if we get races in at all, is a cold, damp, borderline miserable night at the track where you question your sanity more than once. I have skipped more than a few early season races because I knew the weather would take the fun out of it - at some point once you have exhausted all layers of clothing and you're still freezing and wet you know the gig is up. But yet we still complain. The question is why?

            Why did Skagit announcing that opening night was being pushed back caused a stir - I mean the weather is miserable right now. Well because fans and drivers like to complain. As seen all off season Skagit has been making improvements to the facility as well as adding new clay. A quick conversation with Peter Murphy on Tuesday afternoon revealed the new clay was one of the big hang ups. It is still soft and Murphy said he was worried about the track not having any laps on it come opening night. Murphy said he really wants to let drivers get some practice laps on the new clay before getting to actual racing. Makes sense to me. Now some will say Skagit is using the weather as a cover because they are behind on improvements and track prep, and maybe they are, but pushing back the season a week isn’t a sign of anything except that northwest weather is unpredictable and for tracks/promoters the struggle is real this time of year. I think a point can be made that maybe the new promotion team at Skagit had too much on its plate, but at the same time postponing a week in April is hardly reason for concern.

On the other hand as Skagit takes it slow and tries to assess the weather, Grays Harbor Raceway, who canceled their practice day, is pushing through with their scheduled opening day this weekend even though they have also done improvements to the track. Texting with Grays Harbor promoter Bert Johnson he is confident that if weather cooperates at all, the track should be in good condition despite the heavy work they have done on the track to fix the banking issue in the turns. The reality though is that the forecast calls for rain and temps in high 30s and low 40s come race time and the chances of this weekend getting canceled because of rain are high no matter how much optimism the track might have. But just as I don’t disagree with Skagit for pushing everything back week, I have no issue with Grays Harbor pushing forward and trying to start their season as planned even though current forecasts show the weather might not be so cooperative. The track is ready and historically the GHR is lucky to get 50 percent of their April/May races in so why not in their opinion why not see if they can sneak a few races in.

Each approach has its merits given the weather this spring. By pushing back everything a week Skagit is acknowledging the facilities, specifically the track because of mother nature, aren’t ready. On the other hand, Grays Harbor is ready and willing to see if they can win the battle against mother nature a few times in the early spring and as a result get a larger than normal 360 sprint car count. I will say for all those complaining about Skagit pushing back a week, are you ready to come down to Grays Harbor this weekend and sit in almost freezing weather to watch a race. If not, don't freak out about mother nature having an effect on a racetrack - it won’t be the last time.

I will say my personal preference would be for tracks to start their season at the end of April in Washington and end some time in September. The early spring races as I have lamented are often miserable weather wise and furthermore can be real clunkers crowd wise if the weather is an issue. Skagit and Grays Harbor Raceway I think both would be well served to consider starting the season at the end of April or in early May and looking to schedule more sprint car races during the summer months when the weather is right. Across the nation tracks have fallen in love with early scheduling hoping to get that perfect day when too often they get rained out or have a crowd that can be counted by hand. Racing is a summer sport, let's not forget that.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Tire Drama in USAC has Fueled Fire

 

Joseph Terrell

4/7/2022

Olympia, Wa…Was it playing favorites or just doing due diligence? That is the question that surrounds the USAC National sprint series tire testing and specifically the samples from four teams that were found to be tampered before being cleared after testing at two different labs. Depending on what side you are on either justice was served or USAC has again shown why many have a low trust level with them.

The way it went down, according to the USAC press release, is the tires from “four unique teams” as described by USAC were sent to a lab for testing. All four samples failed to meet the benchmark standards but USAC said the tires had been altered in a way that did not create a competitive advantage. This prompted USAC to send the samples back to the original lab and two additional labs to check again. The original lab verified its original results that the tires had been altered but the two new labs reported they found no tampering and the tires were deemed legal as neither lab could find the chemical that was found by the original testing lab. Curious for sure? Especially in light that two teams - TOPPS Motorsports (Justin Grant) and KO Motorsports (Chase Stockon) - had failed tire tests that same week with the Xtreme Sprint Series. The names of the teams with questionable tires weren’t released so one is left speculating but it was clear quickly who those teams weren’t.

Not long after USAC’s reversal and announcement that no penalties would be handed out, two teams committed to the series full-time - Team Arizona (Jake Swanson) and Keith Kunz Motorsports - announced on social media they would be skipping the Lawrenceburg show as result of this decision. Both have gone on to announce their intentions to support the remaining Xtreme Sprint series races.These teams obviously felt that USAC had somewhat rigged the system and knew the results they wanted and when they couldn’t get those results they went to a different lab. The look is definitely bad when viewed through this lens. Did previous drivers who were subject to tire penalties - CJ Leary and Kendall Ruble come to mind - have their samples sent to multiple labs or was it one and done. Furthermore given that USAC isn’t exactly a sanctioning body that is going to be given the benefit of doubt plenty were ready to criticize and pounce and proclaim USAC was protecting their own.

The flip side is USAC felt the alteration was not a competitive advantage and found that odd so they decided to get second and third opinions. Isn’t that due diligence? Isn't that doing your teams right by taking the extra time and resources to verify the results? This is the message USAC is pushing and it might be right but many have already set their own narrative so USAC is going to have to work hard to make this the prevailing wisdom. That is because the assumption of many is that the four teams with questionable tires were regular supporters and with USAC already losing high powered teams the last few years they couldn’t afford to lose more. 

Now the question is what happens when the USAC season resumes in a few weeks. Will those teams that said they were going to skip Lawrenceburg, which was ultimately rained out, going to skip Atomic or will the anger have cooled. Teams can always go run the new Xtreme Series but that series is only a handful of races so ultimately non winged teams and drivers will have to support USAC some because many of the bigger non-winged races are sanctioned by USAC. Conversely the Xtreme series has been given an early gift and a chance to maybe poach a few teams for 2022 and start building the driver base for 2023. Even before the tire controversy, non-winged racing had a war brewing. This recent development has probably only accelerated the timeline as teams start to take sides.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Outlaws in California

 

Joseph Terrell

3/27/2022

Olympia, Wa…After five races in three weekends the World of Outlaws leave California and some championship contenders couldn't get on Interstate 10 fast enough to head east to Vado and leave the Golden State in the mirror with Donny Schatz leading the charge. And the reason is because after this trip west championship contenders such as Schatz and Schuchart find themselves already 100 point plus behind point leader Brad Sweet. The west coast tracks are different and the competition stout; plus throw in California natives like Gio Scelzi, Cory Eliason and Rico Abreu to the mix and the sledding was tough for some of Outlaws' best.

Not all the Outlaws are happy to head east - Brad Sweet and Carson Macedo enjoyed the home cooking and leave the state one-two in points. Sweet was ultra consistent, never finishing out of the top five, while Macedo had a win to go with  four other finishes in the top 10. As expected these two used the trip west to their advantage as they usually do. Sweet especially, though Macedo isn’t exactly terrible, just seems to finish in the top five every Outlaw race west of the Rocky Mountains. Sheldon Haudenschild held his own with four top 10s and sits less than 50 points behind Sweet  but his best finish was fifth and as usual if he can get out of the Pacific time zone without much damage it is a win. Aforementioned Schatz and Schuchart had combined three top 10s and not one top five and are already looking at a sizable gap to point leader Sweet after only 10 races.

Then there was David Gravel. Amongst the championship contenders Gravel trip had the most up and downs during the three week stay on the west coast. He showed up to California as the point leader and had a great weekend in Tulare, two nights to forget at Merced and Bakersfield that dropped him to third in points and then closed with a win out at Perris to head east less 25 points behind Sweet. He missed an opportunity to be the point leader leaving the state, but also rebounded at Perris to leave the west coast in a solid spot and knowing his team has speed.

One reason some contenders struggled so much was the performance of non-Outlaw regulars who are full time drivers with a California background. Gio Scelzi was the main cause winning two of the five races, scoring four top 10s and leaving his home state fifth in points. Scelzi, who to date does not plan to follow the Outlaw full-time, was dominant the opening night at Tulare and at Bakersfield looked the part of a full-time contender. Eliason and Abreu each added three top 10 performances during the Outlaw swing and don't forget Kyle Larson who scored two podiums and a win in his only two starts. And while he is not a Golden Stater Tyler Courtney drove the California based Kevin Kozlowski sprinter to two top 10s in three starts before heading back to the midwest. Throwing these drivers just made the field that much tougher.

The final reason was Corey Day who by himself saved the day for the “Cali Clique”.  After not qualifying at Tulare either night and looking a little out of place, Day made the main at Merced and then went to two tracks he had never seen before (Bakersfield and Perris) and scored two runner-up finishes.What the 16 year-old phenom did was nothing less than amazing as he showed skill, patience and sense that shows how special he can be against the very best sprint car drivers in the business.  Before Day came alive the final weekend of the west coast trip the local contingent had been pretty quiet. Dominic Scelzi led some laps at Tulare plus scored two top 10s, Colby Copeland made the dash one night at Tulare and Tanner Carrick made the dash at Merced. That was it for the local showing and in the case of Copeland and Carrick the end result was not that impressive. Mitchell Faccinto qualified for all five mains but never cracked the top 10 and in four starts the best Shane Golobic could do was 10th. Justin Sanders and Tim Kaeding each had unmemorable starts at Merced, while DJ Netto's had three DNQs and a 24th before a strong sixth place finish at Perris. Chase Johnson attended all five shows but only made two mains with his best finish being 14th.

While in theory the California drivers dominated when looked at a little deeper it is easy to see that most of the damage was done by drivers who do not race primarily in the state. I am sure Dom, Golobic, Faccinto, Netto and Sanders had higher aspirations but lucky for them the Outlaw will return in the fall and when they do these drivers will have a full season of 410 racing under their belts and I expect a much better showing and a win or two. Most of these teams had one race under their belt  when the Greatest Show on Dirt came rolling into town and it showed. Furthermore the tracks that have been home to the strongest performances for the “Cali Clique” - Silver Dollar and Placerville - are on the fall swing. These reasons leave me to believe the “Cali Clique” will be much stronger in the fall.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

Peter Murphy Speaks and Invites Critics to His Facebook Live Show

 

Joseph Terrell

3/14/2022

Olympia, Wa…A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the criticism levied on Keller Auto Speedway’s opening night(scoring error and low car count) and specifically the comments on the SprintCarUnlimted.com podcast the Tuesday following the race. They specifically had some hard words about Keller Auto Speedway/Skagit Speedway promoter Peter Murphy on the podcast to the point it seemed they crossed the line from criticism to personal attacks.

            Well a Sunday afternoon conversation with Murphy revealed he felt the same and that he is ready to answer all questions as he told me he would pay for Joe Von Schriltz and Jeremy Elliott to get into the pits and join him on his facebook live show the next time Keller Auto has winged sprints on April 9th. He must have mentioned this three or four times as he was adamant that he knows the truth behind the infamous scoring error that occurred opening night at Keller as well the perceived low car count and that he stands ready to answer questions especially from his loudest critics. He wants those guys to make the bold accusations they did in a more public arena where he can respond.

During our conversation Murphy spoke about the criticism Von Schriltz had laid out including his bold claims of corruption. Von Schriltz did not mix words when he said he felt Murphy was bought and paid for by the Tarlton’s and that he felt NARC shouldn’t race at Keller because of the inherent nepotism. He seemed to hint at an underlying  conspiracy that exists to keep some teams up front and other teams penalized. Von Schriltz used examples of the botched line-up opening night and changes to the format for the Morrie Williams and Simone races to support his claim that Murphy is on his own program to please the few. Murphy though has a much different take and was personally agitated that his critics would resort to such unsubstantiated attacks.

Murphy was quick to own up to the mistake with the Dash line-up opening night. He said at the time he was dealing with another issue in the pits that was serious enough to occupy his attention and had not watched the dash. It wasn’t until after the dash that he realized a mistake had been made. At that point he said he felt the only thing to do was to line-up the main straight-up just as the dash was supposed to be. The fact Von Schriltz focused on was that this decision favored the teams owned by Tarlton and Dennis Roth but in reality it was a no win situation for Murphy. Whenever there are errors with line-ups or scoring it is never clean to sort out but in the end a decision will be made and some will be upset. That is what happened here. A mistake was made. A decision was made to fix it based on what Murphy said he felt was the best solution to the problem. Murphy was upset his team had failed to get dash lined up correctly but he was even more upset over Von Schriltz accusation that he does whatever Tarlton’s want because they somehow control him. Murphy said that would be bad for business and  was already worried about the perception that there is an agenda at Keller Auto to favor certain teams.

As far as changing the format Murphy said he is only trying something new with some of these formats to see if they stick and fans enjoy. One thing it doesn’t take long to realize when talking to Murphy is that he is not about repeating the past. He is about the future and doing different things for special races. He will often note that take one look around the stands at a race track and it is obvious younger fans are needed and one way to cultivate them is by trying something different and unique.  Von Schriltz seemed to be offended that a new format  would ever be run and that  these different formats were only implemented to favor the Tarltons and other money players in the state. Murphy pointed out a few times it is his track so he can try things - the beauty of owning  the track is that you make the rules and determine the formats.

One of the things that brought quick criticism was the low car count opening night at Keller, especially the 410 division which only had 14 sprints. But Murphy said he expected this due to the early nature of the season, the fact some teams weren't ready and some drivers had prior commitments. Murphy said he ran the race as a chance to give teams a chance to shake down for Silver Cup and Outlaw swings and instead of just running a practice he decided to schedule a nice paying race ($4000 to win for 410s and $2000 to win for 360s). In talking with him I think he was surprised by the amount of comments concerning the car count but the reality is in today’s information world that is the first thing a fan often looks at and the first thing they tweet about. Von Schriltz said the car count was a reflection that nobody wanted to race at Keller when it was more a case of timing.

During the conversation it was apparent what had most upset Murphy was the cheap shots he felt were levied against some of the best car owners in California - specifically Dennis Roth and Tommy Tarlton. Murphy said these owners who have put so much into racing in the state of California shouldn’t be the recipients of cheap shots and unfair criticism just because of the economic clout they have achieved in private business. He pointed to the fact that Tarlton’s had four cars at the track opening at Keller and that Roth has poured more money into west coast racing than he ever seeks credit for and has often had multiple cars at California events. Murphy said he found it interesting Von Schriltz seems to just want to tear those supporting racing while offering nothing as far solutions or no ideas. As in previous conversations with Murphy he knows 410 racing in California is on life support and is hoping that this new group of promoters coming in and can change the way the pendulum swings so he is unsure why some seem determined to denigrate until 410 racing completely vanishes. How would that be better?

In his few years as a promoter Murphy has seen pushback at every step as he drives to drive 410 racing (and racing general) forward and throws out new ideas but these recent attacks crossed the line from criticism to personal attacks and he wants people to know that will not be tolerated. One thing I learned during our conversation was if you have a question, concern or criticism engage Murphy - don’t take cheap shots he cannot defend himself from especially when they serve to run down the sport we all claim to love.

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Low Car Count Stirs the Pundits

 

Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa

3/4/2022…I won’t lie. I was underwhelmed when I looked at My RacePass and saw that Keller Auto Speedway only had 14 410s sprints checked in last Saturday. It was a little shocking to many who, like myself, figured that it would draw 20-25 410s. But it wasn't the case and it gave some pundits fuel for their fire which is predicting the pending death of 410 sprint car racing out west. Among those pundits are SprintCarUnlimited.com founder Jeremy Elliott and his California cohort Californian Joe Von Schriltz and recently on a SprintUnlimited.com podcast the two provided some reasons why the 410 car count was low and why ultimately the division may not survive out west.

Some of the reasons and concerns are valid. Elliott lamented on the unprofessionalism of racing in California compared to Pennsylvania and some of the issues that have happened in California would cause a riot in Posse land. Messed up line-ups, scoring errors, slow reaction to burning cars and pathetic purses were all on the list. Von Schriltz hit at the elitist nature of winged 410 racing on the west coast and how it is dominated by the “Oligarchs'' (Tarlton's, Roth, Wood, Kaedings, Rudeen, Scelzi’s) who get their way and have complete sway over the promoters and the way races are ran. He seemed to see the new SLC promotion team as a new member of this team who will ultimately become part of the problem. So I guess the question is how big of a problem all of this is?

            Obviously nothing is perfect but 410 racing in California has now had two major scoring errors in the last eight months - with NARC last year at Merced and last Saturday at Kings.The NARC incident at Merced last year resulted in Justin Sanders maintaining the lead in the race even though Dominic Scelzi had led the lap before the caution on two different occasions. Opposite to Von Schriltz theory this did not favor an oligarch in a series he claims is bought and paid for by them. Instead Scelzi took to SprintCarUnlimited.com the next day with his frustration and openly mused about leaving the tour before continuing on and winning his first series championship. NARC acknowledged their error and while it was a bad look for the series they moved on mitigating whatever hard feelings persisted.

Last Saturday at Keller the error favored the Oligarch and in some ways more egregious because it didn't occur in live action. The lineup for the dash was incorrect and was never corrected. I don’t want to speculate on what was said over the radio but what is known is that after the dash was run, which was won by Sanders, it was determined the dash results would not line up the front two rows of the main as previously announced. Instead it would revert to lining up by qualifying straight up which happened to put Kerry Madsen (Roth Motorsports) and Carson Macedo (Tarlton Racing). Losing out was the Von Schriltz supported Sanders who started third instead first on the hooked up track. Von Schriltz felt it was wrong and even suggested on the SprintCarUnlimited.com broadcast that the Peter Murphy promoted Keller Auto Speedway should be removed from the NARC schedule because he was obviously in the pockets of Tarlton. Instead of just taking a huge cheap shot, maybe some targeted criticism about the race program, officiating and track prep which continues to be hit and miss is more in line. Murphy isn’t perfect but on the other hand he has shown a lot of interest in promoting 410 races out west so let’s not throw him overboard due to one scoring error.

Von Schriltz seems to have an agenda of demeaning everything 410 racing on the west coast but then saying he doesn’t care and won’t engage any of the leaders. This allows him to not have to offer ideas but just attacks. I believe Von Schriltz is trying to simplify it as a rich vs. working man thing, while trying to speak the death of 410 racing out west into existence even though he claims he is not trying to do this. On the other hand Elliott is right when he says California has work to do getting to the professional level of Pennsylvania and continued scoring errors shows work needs to be done to get there. Elliott though seems to have more optimism and while he is highly critical he doesn't seem to revel in degrading 410 racing out west like Von Schriltz does.

So what does this all have to do with 14 sprint cars checking in at Keller last Saturday. Well some 410 teams were missing Saturday (both Kaedings, Hirst, Netto, Michael Faccinto, Croft, Billy Aton are a few that come to mind) for a variety of different reasons and others aren’t ready yet (Cox), so I don’t think it is fair to take one night in February as the barometer of 410 racing on the west coast as a whole. It does show how fragile 410 racing remains out west and that if a handful of teams take the night off  the car count can become paltry. However it doesn’t mean 410 racing has no chance of surviving out west, it just means the road will be filled with potholes and that the long term goal cannot be abandoned when things aren't perfect every night.

 

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

Is a Non-Wing Sprint Car War Brewing

 

Joseph Terrell

2/18/2022…I just cannot help being intrigued by the World of Outlaw non-winged spinoff - the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car Series.  USAC sprints have remained unrivaled as the premier non-winged series over the past 20-25 years. No challengers have arisen against a series that for all intent and purposes has more detractors than supporters. The owners and drivers who support the series only seem to reluctantly and often complain about USAC like it is a favorite sport. Love-hate relationship to the extreme to say the least. But the USAC National Sprint Series has remained strong and weathered plenty of storms but is 2022 different?

            Before the Xtreme series was announced USAC sprints were in the throes of an identity change as two of the most recognizable stars - Kevin Thomas, Jr and Chris Windom - both announced their intentions to go wing racing in 2022 following the step of fellow USAC star Tyler Courtney. Then 2021 Rookie of the Year and five time winner Tanner Thorson and the Reinbold-Underwood team announced they would also be slapping on the wing to the tune of 50-60 Outlaw races and USAC was reeling. But the hits weren’t done coming as the World Racing Group (parent company of the Outlaws) decided why not pounce on the wounded beast.

            Now from everything that has been released the Xtreme Sprint Car Series did not just come out of thin air this winter because USAC was seemingly vulnerable. Instead this idea has been in the works and 2022 was the season it came to fruition and it just happened to be a season when USAC might be at its weakest. The loss of its bigger teams and drivers to winged racing has been startling and the theme that is repeated time and time again is it just doesn’t pay enough in non-winged racing - specifically lacking are those mega paying events that winged racing has such Knoxville, Kings Royal, Grove Nationals, Huset’s Showdown, Tuscarora 50, Dirt Cup etc. Non-winged racers want a chance to race on the biggest stage for the biggest purses and they are not afforded this opportunity if they are chasing USAC points which as things stands the highest paying race is $20,000 to win.

            Enter the Xtreme Sprint Car Series with the resources of WRG at its disposal. For 2022 the series is entering the water slowly, testing the temperature with a moderate 12 race schedule featuring six doubleheaders. For 2022 only one weekend conflicts with a USAC date which I think was exactly what the series wanted to do. I don’t believe the Xtreme series was founded to have a 12 race schedule and be some second tier series and a way to ensure the best non-winged drivers in the game become familiar with the series is making sure they have an opportunity to race with it. The purse structure and point fund have been announced as the series seeks transparency, something USAC has always lacked. Both, purses and the point fund, are very healthy for a first year series and it is clear that this is just the beginning of something bigger. Furthermore with two national series, sprints and late models, WRG has a natural platform for this new series to perform on the same card without having to be the headliner. It is not hard to see the Xtreme pairing with one of the established World of Outlaw national series to create some mega weekends where there are two $50,000 to win events on the same card in front of huge crowds giving non winged drivers what they have been yearning for. I mean Eldora seems perfect for some sort of combined mega race.

            Now not all is lost for USAC. The Xtreme Series has no races in Indiana leaving the traditional non winged hotbed to USAC and plus for the time isn’t really attempting to go head to head. The Xtreme has 8 of its 12 races in Illinois and Missouri - areas that USAC sprints rarely frequent - which shows the new series is not seeking a head to head showdown right now. Also the stars of non winged racing continue to reside with USAC and the running of the first two nights of Xtreme series at Volusia proved that point as it was dominated by USAC stars. So for now the Xtreme series is not a threat or really competition but it is hard to believe that the WRG got in the non-winged game (and midget game which has its own 12 race schedule) to be second fiddle.

            The World of Outlaws sprint series knows all about this as they have faced  startups in the past that have had a lot of stars but were over ambitious and ultimately unsuccessful . The USA tour of 1989 and National Sprint Tour of 2006 robbed the World of Outlaws of much there talent but did not rob Outlaws of the tracks they ran or support of the fans, which amongst other issues led each series to fold before an encore season could take the stage. It would seem that the WRG has learned those lessons and instead are taking the slow approach of a small schedule and a message that competing with USAC is not the goal - keep expectations moderate. Both theUSA Tour and National Sprint Tour went for jugular right out the gate and it was too much too quick. But there is just too much energy around the new Xtreme Sprint series to believe it will not continue to grow. Maybe USAC answers the bell, maybe they won’t, but one thing for sure is that 2022 might be the year that changed the direction of non-wing racing for good. USAC can meet the challenge if they want and that would be great for non-winged racing as purses would rise by virtue of competition or USAC sprints can shy away from the challenge return to the pathetic state they were in for most of the 1980 and early 90s when the series was second fiddle to west coast non wing series CRA and then SCRA.

            As I finish this column I cannot help but think of the irony that it is Casey Shuman leading the charge to bring a brand new non-winged racing series to life because it was is his dad Ron Shuman who fought in the late 1990s to create a Non World Championship, as part of SCRA, only to see USAC and lack of driver loyalty thwart those plans and ultimately both series died. Is this Act 2 Scene 1 for the Shuman family, maybe and this time the resources are behind them to make it happen.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

2022 World of Outlaw Predictions

 

Joseph Terrell

2/6/2022

Olympia, Wa…It is just about that time of year where sprint car fans that are stuck in not so pleasant weather can live vicariously through the World of Outlaws as they race through Florida, Texas and then California trying to avoid the cold and get some races in before the rest of countries racing season commences. So before the Outlaw journey begins I thought I would make my 2022 predictions while also taking a quick look back at my iffy 2021 predictions.

I was mistaken about 2021 as I thought Donny Schatz would regain his form as the best sprint car driver in the game and that Sheldon Haudenschild would be the star on the rise. Donny, well, wasn’t the Donny we remember and as time passes I am not sure we will ever see the Donny that pretty much owned 2006-2018. That time was then and now is now. As far as Haudenschild I was convinced he would be the real breakout driver of 2022 after his strong 2021 finish. Instead it was Carson Macedo who was the breakout driver of the year winning 11 races and finishing third in points. On the other hand, Haudenschild continued his trend of leaving everybody in sprint car racing wondering what could be if he could become consistent. So how will 2022 play out? Silly season never came so there really wasn’t any turnover unless you count James McFaddena and Kasey Kahne swapping rides which is more cosmetic than anything else. The only other big change is Spencer Bayston getting in the CJB car and that team returning to the tour.  So coming off an off season where everything pretty much stayed status quo, here is my best guess for the top five and rookie of the year:

 

1)David Gravel - 2022 is the year Brad Sweet gets knocked off the top of the mountain and the year Gravel finally puts it all together. The key for Gravel is not conceding too much at the short tracks because when it comes to half-miles he is second to none. Specifically the west coast has caused Gravel trouble in the past so if he can be consistent on the two west coast swings, 2022 could be the year Gravel finally becomes a champion. Gravel just seems due as he finished second last year and would have been second in 2020 if hadn’t missed a race for his Truck dreams. He is coming off a season where he won 11 Outlaws races and 14 races overall and dominated qualifying giving him the advantage of often starting up front.

 

2)Brad Sweet - If Gravel can claim the championship it won’t be without doing battle with Sweet. Sweet has established himself as the best sprint car driver in the game and he won’t give that title up easily. Where Gravel struggles on the west coast,  Sweet seemingly only weakness is Central Pennsylvania and specifically Williams Grove which conversely Gravel has been known to be pretty good at. With Williams Grove having six dates on the schedule this track could be the key to any driver thinking to beat Sweet. My prediction of Gravel winning the championship is not a sign I think Sweet is slipping, just an acknowledgment of how good the competition is. Sweet is in his prime and is coming off a 16 win season but down the stretch he seemed to lose a step to Gravel and Carson Macedo finishing in the top five only twice in the last 11 races of 2021.

 

3)Carson Macedo - He was third last year and I don't see why he would slip, especially after a strong finish in 2021. Post August 27 Macedo was only out of the top 10 twice and posted four wins. Going into 2021 I wasn’t sure Macedo could win the amount of races it takes to win an Outlaw championship but Macedo proved that he can win races and as 2021 progressed he showed he could be a championship contender. Macedo is fast in Pennsylvania and California all places in between and I expect him to put pressure on the top two. Macedo won 11 outlaw races in 2021 and 12 total and was the only driver with wins at Knoxville, Eldora and Williams Grove.

 

4)Donny Schatz - I am not saying Donny can’t win a championship, it is just as things stand right now I don’t expect it. Maybe it’s the Ford, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s this, maybe it is that but whatever it is Donny has slipped. Not slipped in a way that means he is washed up, but in the way that Schatz is not the dominant winner he once was and now is more about being ultra consistent - see the second half of last year where he lived in the top five despite not winning a lot. Schatz is not done and I still believe he has more big wins in his career to come (Knoxville, Kings Royals, National Open), but until he shows he can become a double digit winner again on the tour it will be hard for him to crack the top three.

 

5)James McFadden - This position is tough because I could go three directions but I chose McFadden because he will now be making his second tour with the Outlaws and the second time should produce much better results - not that he was bad last year by any means. He finished seventh points despite only getting showup points for the first six races and proved during the middle of the season what he could do. In a 22 race stretch starting in late July running through September McFadden finished in the top 10 21 times. McFadden has become the best Australian sprint car driver of all time and has a lot of confidence in his ability which is key to success. McFadden will be switching from KKR to Roth in 2022 but I don’t expect this to be much of a factor. Also McFadden kept himself sharp in the off season as he had a heavy workload in Australia during December and January.

 

The two drivers I considered for fifth instead of McFadden were Logan Schuchart and Sheldon. Sheldon continues just to have too many of those “he was fast until…” nights for me to consider him a top five driver with the Outlaws. Schuchart on the other hand is a top five driver I just am not sure he drives for a top five team and with Tod Quiring, JJR and Roth all stepping up their games Schuchart may be simply a victim of not having what the best in the game have at their disposal in terms of overall team. This can be taken as disrespect towards SHARK racing, but it really is a statement about how good Schuchart is (I have openly suggested he is the most talented driver in the game ) and sometimes a driver needs a change to really bring out his greatness because he has outgrown his current arrangement and needs to be pushed to find the next level. Look no farther than Schatz who once he joined TSR went from really good to iconic - he was no longer in the comfy confines of his family team and this is exactly what Schuchart needs.

 

Rookie of the Year) Spencer Bayston - No disrespect to Kasey Kahne or Noah Gass but they are not in Bayston’s class. Bayston is an Outlaw winner already (scoring two last year), which neither Kahne or Gass can say, and furthermore he is just more talented. Kahne is in the backside of his career living a dream and Gass is green and new to the national scene - he has a couple of IRA wins and a win at Jacksonville to his resume but to date a rather paltry record versus the Outlaws. Bayston had two Outlaw wins and two All Stars wins last year and didn’t really race the first half of 2021. As long as he runs the full tour he will run away with Rookie of the Year and easily be in the top 10 in points.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the dark side of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

Skagit Speedway Making it Rain

 

Joseph Terrell

1/30/2022

Olympia, Wa…I knew something was coming but I wasn’t quite expecting what was released Friday afternoon by 55 promotions relating to purses and point funds at Skagit Speedway. And I am not sure anybody else was either. It was a shock to everybody when the track finally released its 2022 purses and point funds as numbers that have never been seen before are now on the table. 

            The re-introduced 410 division will pay $4000 to win and $10000 to the points champion. The 360 division will pay $2200 to win and $8000 to the points champion. The $4000 to win 410 main events is like, someone said to me not long after the announcement, Pennsylvania money. It is true. Outside the Outlaws, only the All Stars, Knoxville and Central Pennsylvania put more money up to win. Now sure Skagit only has three 410 races scheduled outside Dirt Cup and Outlaw weekend so I don't want to get carried away. But decisions like this could cause a driver to think again about potentially getting a 410 engine in the future which is probably what will need to happen to get more 410 races scheduled. As of now it would seem the track can count on about 10 410s but the number could be closer to 15ish according to some things I have heard. I am pragmatic on this subject and truly don’t expect more than 10-12 410 locally but with the amount of money on the table I could be wrong. Also is the purse money and point fund payout enough to attract some California drivers?

            Though there is a lot of hype around 410s at Skagit, it is not like the 360 sprints are racing for pennies so drivers may decide the 360 division is alright. The $2200 to win weekly shows is the best in the country as far as I know. That is almost equivalent to the winning share of the normal SCCT purse. Drivers, and I know there were more than a few, who feel 360 sprints are being tossed overboard by the new management team at Skagit have to pause when they see the weekly purse, which in addition to the impressive $2200 also includes pay increases throughout the field. They have to look at the point fund which was essentially non existent pre-2022 now paying $8000 to win, $6000 to second and $4000 to third and think maybe Skagit is the place to race weekly especially if you think you could win races and the championship. This is big money for 360 sprints at the local level and I am sure some of the drivers in California are looking to the North in jealousy as 360 sprints in California tend to race for relative peanuts minus the SCCT events.

            In my opinion having a legitimate paying point fund that is publicized is what every track should be doing. Tracks and series on the west coast have long been pretty quiet when it comes to releasing this information or information about purses and it's easy to understand why - they are often embarrassed by their paltry purses and lack of legitimate point fund. NARC and SCCT have increased transparency into their point funds but Skagit is the first track that has made it so known that they not only have a point fund but what it will pay throughout. It will be interesting to see with so much racing in the northwest this year, and many conflicting dates, how car counts are affected by this news. Will drivers decide Skagit is the place to race because of the money on the table or will the trend of most drivers picking and choosing continue? I think the one push back will be the pay down on the points fund and how top heavy the 410 and 360 point funds are, but considering the point fund previously was essentially a weekly show purse complaints along this line might be a little misguided. Don’t forget this is just year one.

Skagit Speedway didn't just throw change at the headliners, the increases go throughout as each of the four other weekly divisions at the track will see increases in purses and point funds. This is important as the track needs each of these divisions to remain strong. Two weekly divisions the track seems to be putting a renewed focus on in 2022 - Sportsmen Sprints and IMCA Modifieds - saw $300 increases in their weekly amount to win in addition to getting their own double header weekend in September. Each division pays $2500 to the champion and the NW Focus Midgets go from no point fund to paying $1000 to win the championship. It is nice to see the track taking care of all the racers as it is important because these divisions are the backbone of the track and supply the most reliable car counts and bring families to track to watch and support.

This money is historic for west coast purposes. $4000 to win a weekly 410 race, $2200 to win a weekly 360 race, and even $800 to win an IMCA Modified weekly show are numbers you just don't have at weekly tracks on the west coast and quite honestly anywhere. As mentioned, a legitimate published point fund for all to see what is being paid is almost unprecedented outside NARC and SCCT.  In the end the proof will be in the product that 55 promotions and Skagit Speedway provides once the season starts but the offseason has been nothing less than eye-opening with the amount of renovations being completed at the track and investment into weekly shows, major races and point funds.

 

MORE WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:

 

     USAC/CRA kicked off their season in Arizona at Cocopah Raceway and it was the Damion Gardner show as he swept all three nights winning from the front row once and the third row twice. Gardner, who is well into the twilight of his career, continues to pad what is an already Hall of Fame career that features more than 100 wins in USAC competition and a Chili Bowl victory. Gardner is off and running for a 10th USAC/CRA championship.

     Two drivers hoping to deny Gardner a tenth championship - Brody Roa and Austin Williams - got off to slow starts especially with Gardner on a heater out the gate. Roa and Willams sit fourth and sixth in points after opening weekend and are in the position of chasing Garnder. Surprisingly Williams was not aboard the Tom & Laurie Sertich “Moose Mobile '' and instead back in own ride which he hasn't wheeled for a few years. Last news out of the Sertich camp was they were seeking sponsorship for the upcoming 2022 season as they hoped to chase the USAC/CRA trail with Williams.

     After years as a star (maybe legend is more appropriate word) on the micro sprint scene as well as becoming competitive on the ultra tough California 360 sprint scene, Michael Faccinto will finally get his chance at a 410 full-time as he chases the NARC championship aboard the Mike Phulps sprinter. Faccinto only other 410 start was an impressive one last year aboard the Phulps sprinter at Keller Auto Speedway as he battled up front most of the race before ultimately DNFing in the Simone Classic.

     Speaking of NARC the series has gone all in on its past and has rebranded its image so it features NARC and has eliminated King of the West from the logo to emphasize NARC. Officially NARC will crown a King of the West champion but NARC will be the sanctioning group. Seems mostly cosmetic but for the series it was an important step as the group tries to make the Club a force in racing again.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Enters New Era

 

Joseph Terrell

1/22/2022

Olympia, Wa…Silver Dollar Speedway, when it is right, is an amazing track. It can be top to bottom and not super fast so it takes more than a big motor and gassed up mentality to conquer. The high banked track has no walls in the turns so you just never know when a driver is going to go over the edge and lose all the momentum they had gained. Chico, as everyone calls it, can be so much fun that it should be a premier track in the country as I have mentioned before. Unfortunately for most of the 21st century Chico has been just a track.

            Well 2022 is a season of change for the track as everybody knows with SLC Promotions taking over with the idea of bringing the track back to its previous glory and the first step was the release of the 2022 schedule. The future of track and the 2022 schedule center around the Gold Cup, as that event's demise from a major to just another race mirrored the track's regression overall. But the track was always more than just Gold Cup and always had other headline events as well as its traditional Friday night weekly show which ran April through August

            The 2022 schedule is notable in that gone are the weekly Friday night shows that had been the staple of the speedway until the pandemic. Instead the track has transitioned to a schedule centered around the four night Gold Cup and four other doubleheader weekends. Sprinkled in are the traditional fourth of July show, NARC show in June and a Friday night show in August and that is your 2022 Silver Dollar Speedway schedule. This should not be seen as a sign of regression however but an acknowledgment of reality. I heard for a while this would be the direction to start and honestly I would be surprised if it changed. I am not saying the schedule won’t grow in future seasons but I do believe it will be more selective and special event based with a small mix of weekly shows. The new promoters did say they will have point champions, so point racing is not being eliminated it is just being downsized.

            The decision to move from an every Friday night program to a more special show based program makes complete sense from my view. In previous seasons the track has struggled to consistently get good car counts but last year when they only had a smattering of races the 360 class often saw 50 plus sprints check-in. This is a situation where less is more. Chico is too far north for drivers to support every week, but many drivers have shown that for two night shows they are more than eager to support the track. That is what they have done in 2022 with the Padjen Classic in March, 410 doubleheader weekend in April, 360 doubleheader in June, Gold Cup in September and Fall Nationals in October.

            As far as the Gold Cup goes the new leadership at the track has made it clear that they want to bring this event back to its standing as a major event. The first order of business was to bring back the traditional Wednesday invitational. In the past this was the top 32 in points in the now defunct Civil War series. In 2022 it will top 32 in SCCT points. Next step is to expand back to three nights of Outlaw racing. While this has not been officially announced it is expected this will be the direction. The track itself has said they will have more information on Gold Cup in the coming weeks which I expect to include three nights of Outlaw racing and an increased purse for Saturday night.

Bringing Silver Dollar Speedway back to prominence isn’t a daunting task, just requires leadership and a commitment to the track. In addition to a great racing surface the speedway is blessed with plenty of camping in a variety of settings depending on one's desire with showers available. Sierra Nevada Brewing is literally around the block and just down the road is a nice swimming hole. Chico itself is an awesome town with a nice downtown and plenty of places to quench your thirst. Despite its struggle in recent years Silver Dollar remains popular among drivers and fans and the arrival of new blood, with aspirations of greatness, should help bring this great track back to greatness.

 

OTHER SCHEDULING NEWS

 

Northwest speedweek has been set and it features the most unique configuration the long standing tradition has ever had. Seven nights in nine days at three tracks. It will start at Skagit for two nights with the track's traditional Summer Nationals. After a night off the speedweek moves to Sunset Speedway in Banks. After the one night at Sunset speedweek will finish with four races in five nights at Cottage Grove. Someone close to me said can you call it speedweek if they race four nights at one track. While it is weird to have all the races bunched at a few tracks, it is more races for the northwest so I won't complain.

 

Another thing included with the speedweek announcement was the fact that Western Sprint Tour is officially trying to make a comeback. With no Summer Thunder Series 360 sprints in the northwest lack a traveling series so the Western Sprint Tour looks to fill that gap. All nights of speedweek are Western Sprint Tour sanctioned along with a two race weekend at Southern Oregon. In the speedweek announcement it was mentioned that the series is looking to schedule more events this season. It would be nice to maybe get another couple weekends added to bring the total races to around 12 or 13. 

 

Lastly Petaluma has added two 360 races on their schedule in addition to their SCCT dates. There was definite noise that Petaluma was going to drop 360 sprints from their card, and they almost did, but in the end the division was given a couple dates. Merced again will have 360 sprints on the card when the USAC National Midgets invade in November.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

Northern California Midget Masters

 Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa….Northern California has long been known for its winged sprint car stars. Sills, Green, Kaeding family, McMahon, Kent, Allard, Hirst, Sweet and Macedos are just a few names that have dominated northern California headlines over the past 30 years. But for a region known for winged racing and producing great winged racers it is becoming clear that something about northern California has made the region the producer of the best midget racers in the country and one needs to look no farther than Chili Bowl for the proof.

            Chili Bowl is arguably the biggest Dirt Track race in the world - I am sure Knoxville, the World 100, the Classic in Australia would argue this point. It is where the best midget driver in the world is decided. For all the press about all the different disciplines represented in the last decade the race has become more and more dominated by a few who also happen to be the best midget drivers in the game and almost exclusively come from NoCal. And why is this? Look no farther than the Outlaw Kart scene that almost all these drivers come from. Larson, Thorson, Koifoid, Tanner Carrick, Abreu and Grant all cut their teeth in Outlaw Karts. MInus Christpher Bell these drivers dominated the 2022 Chili Bowl.

With the exception of Carrick the other five pretty much ruled the roost at the Expo Arena. Larson, Abreu and Grant pretty much own their preliminary night and when Larson finally got beat in 2022 on Tuesday it was fellow NoCal star Buddy Koifoid getting the job done. Abreu and Grant have pretty much made Wednesday and Friday their own personal playgrounds to exhibit their midget prowess. Thorson has not been a prelim night dominator but has been a contender on Saturday the last four or five years and more than once he has done it the hard way coming from a lower main. Carrick has not had the Chili Bowl success the others had until 2022 but he has been steadily improving as a sprint car driver and was as impressive as he has ever been at the Chili Bowl in 2022 picking up a prelim night win. One of the greatest ever from the Outlaw Kart division Colby Copeland has become regular in the Saturday night main despite limited midget experience. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Logan Seavey who has struggled at Chili Bowl but overall has had great success in midget racing including winning a POWRI and USAC National Series championships.

The connection that Outlaw Kart drivers have in a midget isn't much of a surprise really. Modern day midget racing is often a test of who is the most daring and willing most to slide or die. I am not saying I agree with it always…sometimes it is almost like watching Bump to Pass on a Friday night at the local pavement track. Only difference is that these midgets aren’t driving pieces of junk nor are they weekend warriors banging up their cars before drinking beer deep into the night. But I digress from my original point which is the slide or die, take no prisoners mentality of the Outlaw Kart scene has obviously prepared these drivers for to be great midget drivers. Midgets for better or worse reward the most aggressive driver who doesn’t go over the edge. And it is not just the Chili Bowl. Look at the recent seasons of the USAC National Midget Series. Again minus Bell this series has been dominated by Larson, Thorson, Abreu, Koifoid and Seavey in not only championships but most importantly wins in recent years.

            I understand that at times every one of these drivers with the exception of Grant has driven for Keith Kunz and when they haven’t each has remained in a top flight team with great equipment. And obviously one of the reasons all aforementioned drivers have been successful in midget racing is having great rides but that isn’t the only reason. Drivers get in top rides all the time and don’t produce like these drivers do. Also I understand that Kyle Larson can make any list of drivers look good but even without him these drivers' success would be noteworthy. The Outlaw Kart scene in NoCal has produced a litany of drivers in the last 10-15 years including many not on this list and has done so by creating an atmosphere where it is slide or be slidden. While I have never been to a race at Cycleland or Red Bluff I have watched plenty of videos to know that the only way to be successful in this class is by driving hard and not worrying about making enemies. This has obviously translated to success in midget racing which is very similar in its approach.

            It hard to say if the trend will continue or some other region will become supreme in producing great midget racers, but for the last 10 years or so one only needs to head to NoCal and watch Outlaw Karts to know who the next star of Chili Bowl and Midget racing will be.

 

WEST COAST SCHEDULING NOTES:

It has been well over a week since Cottage Grove Speedway released their 2022 schedule but I still want to dig in. Like Skagit and Grays Harbor, Cottage Grove has an aggressive schedule featuring 13 360 races - including four two night shows - and one already released appearance by NARC. The four two night shows are the last weekend of April, Marvin Smith Classic on Memorial Day, NW Speedweek finale at the end of July and season championships in September.  Also the track has scheduled a race on June 25 probably hoping to draw some 360 teams from Washington with the change in Dirt Cup.

The Speedweek finale is listed as a Western Sprint Tour race as is a two night show at Southern Oregon on the first weekend of June. This gives a total of 15 360 races in Oregon in addition to three scheduled NARC races. This is good for sprint car fans in Oregon as 18 total races is the most in the state in at least the last five years.

What remains unsettled is the remainder of the NW Speedweek schedule. Southern Oregon and Willamette have released their schedules and neither has a Speedweek date scheduled. This leaves Banks and Coos Bay left. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to see Cottage Grove schedule a third Speedweeek date in the middle of dates at Coos Bay and Banks.

 

Sometime during the last week as I was engulfed with Chili Bowl, Ocean Speedway released their 2022 schedule featuring 18 360 races and three 410 races (two NARC and one Outlaws). Overall the schedule is similar to previous years with one less NARC appearance than 2021. The schedule is headlined by the Outlaw appearance in March, the Kaeding Classic in July and the Johnny Key Classic in August which again is a two night weekend with a Friday night point show and Saturday night being the Key Classic sanctioned by the SCCT.

With Silver Dollar going to a more special events schedule according to everything that has come out, Ocean will be the sole Friday night sprint car in the track for most weekends. This will more than likely create the situation where you never know who is going to drop in for a weekly show which can create a certain amount of excitement for fans.

 

Finally Marysville dropped their 2022 schedule Sunday featuring a heavy dose of 360 sprint car races as the track usually does with 18 scheduled dates for 360s including one appearance by SCCT. Fourth July weekend the track will run Friday July 1 creating a big weekend of racing on the holiday for 360 sprints in California. The first race of the season is February 26 and the final race is October 29. While it continues to operate in the shadows of the higher profile tracks in the state, Marysville has found its niche with a solid amount of races scheduled and a group of drivers that support the track.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

A LEGEND IS FINALLY RECOGNIZED

1/14/2022
Olympia, Wa…Finally Tim Green has gotten his due as the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame came calling for one of the true greats from late 70s to mid 90s who for some reason always got overlooked. Despite a career in which he scored wins in California, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania and many places in between, Green had failed to get the call to join the legends of sprint car racing. Many of the legends from that time have long been inducted, now it can be said that that era of sprint car racing truly has all its greats in the Hall of Fame.
I have been one of the most vocal the last three or four years about Green’s induction and how it was almost a travesty he had been omitted until now. But even I was a latecomer to the side of Tim Green. I had remembered him from my youth as the driver of the orange All Weld Machine 14 who was constantly in the mix with Brent Kaeding and Steve Kent for west coast supremacy. I remembered him being good, really good actually but what I realized about five years ago was that he wasn’t really good, he was great and the story of sprint car racing cannot be told without him. This is the Hall of Fame at its core. I had heard the stories of Green’s midwest years before he became regular on the NARC tour and had an inclination that he might be better than I was aware of. But he wasn’t necessarily referred to as a great or legend so I was unsure where his spot in history stood? I knew his exploits at the Dirt Cup were only second to Jimmy Sills at the time, But was he a hall of famer?
Yes. As I started to look deeper I saw a driver who won Knoxville championships, NARC championships, three dirt cups and was truly one of the forces of his era. He just wasn’t some California star, he was a true national superstar. His exploits at Knoxville in a short span there are amazing with 16 career wins, two championships and a perfect prelim night at the Nationals. On top of that he has 12 career wins with the Outlaws and another four career wins with the All Stars.Besides his three Dirt Cup wins he scored another seven podiums including a stretch of five out six to start the 90s. He was fourth in Outlaw points in 1989 and scored another top 10 finish in points in 1980 and 1983. He is the only driver ever to win a NARC championship and Knoxville Raceway championship - and he did each twice. Through 1989 Green had spent a good majority of his time on the road and was an infrequent competitor on the west coast, often only around for the big races.
After the 1989 season Green came back home to California for good and spent rest of his career terrorizing the Claifornia contigent that had come use to him spending big chunks of his time on the road. He immediately was a force scoring NARC championships in 1990 and 1992 dethroning Brent Kaeding which was almost impossible at the time. The early 90s were the Kaeding, Kent, Green show. But just like that he was gone. Kaeding and Kent continued their supremacy into the 2000s long after Green’s career faded into twilight in the mid-90s as he transitioned from professional racer to a regular job and his legend was almost forgotten. Many west coast fans don’t realize the migration of west coast stars east started with Green and Chuck Gurney, and that his prowess paved the way for the migration that continues to this day. Tim Green is a name sprint car fans should never forget. His nomination into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame ensures this.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Check out my website at www.wcsprintscene.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

WHAT MAKES 2022 INTRIGUING

Joseph Terrell
1/6/2022

Olympia, Wa…The New Year is upon us and even those who indulged over the long New Year’s weekend with spirits and good times by now have realized 2021 has morphed to 2022 and that means New Year is upon us. On that note by the beginning of next week www.wcsprintscene.com will be launched as usher in the New Year with a new website. This website will have results from all west coast sprint car races on easy to read spreadsheets, driver rosters for west coast touring series and major events, plus written content in addition to what I produce for hoseheads.com and as time develops much more.
That is what’s coming. Now I want to look at what has my attention for 2022 and a personal goal to be a better race fan.

1. Every year it seems somebody from the west coast makes a splash nationally. Last year it was Devon Borden, JJ Hickle and phenom Corey Day who made waves. Who will it be in 2022? Joel Myers, Jr? Or maybe this will be the year Tanner Holmes really comes to the show? How about Jesse Schlotfeldt? It could be some driver who is not on my radar. If history is correct though somebody will make a name for themselves in 2022 and become the next big thing from the west coast.
2. The leadership change at Skagit and Silver Dollar. This isn’t meant to be a shot at the former leadership at each track but it is fair to say that in both instances the leadership had become stale and that change was needed. Change is now here and hopefully the results follow. These two tracks have unlimited potential when it comes to putting on big shows and a great history of doing such. Skagit’s huge commitment to Dirt Cup was a step for that track but will Silver Dollar match the ante when their schedule is finally released.
3. NARC making not one but two trips to the northwest in 2022. A month or so back I was told by NARC leadership that I might not have to travel to California to catch a NARC show, little did I know the result would be eight races scheduled over two trips. Yes car counts will be a hot topic as the question remains what type of support 410 racing will get from local teams, but it is still exciting to see teams that haven't been to northwest much in recent years head this way twice.
4. A combined 39 sprint car races are scheduled at Skagit and Grays Harbor across the 360 and 410 divisions in 2022. This is a big number and by comparison the number in 2021 was 33 meaning a six race increase for 2022. Cottage Groves' just released schedule plus northwest speedweek will put the total number above 50 for the northwest.. As someone who chases races and considers themselves a member of the west coast racing media this is exciting, as a realist I see some potential pitfalls with scheduling conflicts. In the end I am always in favor of more sprint car racing so I am going to let optimism rule pessmism.
5. Will more races equal more regular drivers. What do I mean? All three of the major west coast sprint car touring divisions (NARC, SCCT, USAC/CRA) have upped their schedules in 2022. NARC has gone from 21 to 27, SCCT 13 to 16 and USAC/CRA 22 to somewhere between 27 and 31 depending on TBAs getting filled. It is a bold move as each series has struggled to have full time regulars the last few years. In 2021 NARC had seven full-time teams, SCCT had six and USAC/CRA five.In the case of the NARC and SCCT winged teams have often not chased points but instead raced on a pick and choose basis based on the area they live in and other teams will go to the midwest for portions of the season. Even though they don’t have nearly as many teams to draw from, USAC/CRA has the same issue to a lesser extent. Some drivers only race Perris, others just do the Arizona races, others race when they venture north and others might go to the midwest once or twice causing them to miss a few races. I hope these series are rewarded for scheduling more races as that shows a commitment from the series to provide racing opportunities for teams. With that said I can never tell if teams/drivers want more or less races. Guess we will find out in 2022.
6. What will happen with tracks such as Stockton, Petaluma ,Calistoga and the dormant Santa Maria Raceway and more importantly is long term survival realistic. This isn’t a new subject for this column but nonetheless this issue remains relevant. Petaluma as of now is on year-to-year life support and Stockton seems to be in the same predicament. Each is battling fairground redevelopment and the likelihood of winning seems thin. Calistoga is its own beast and I am not going to pretend to understand all the problems only to say every year that track sits silent chances are it will remain that way permanently and turn into corn stalks or condemeniums. Santa Maria is looking for an owner who can make the track profitable while not hosting concerts which drove neighbors over the edge and is what led to the track closure. At least there aren't fairgrounds to battle in this instance but nonetheless there are some displeased neighbors who feel they have already been wronged by one promoter.
7. On a personal level I want to be a better short track fan. I will be honest as much as I blow the horn about short track racing, I can be very snobbish about it. What do I mean? I love 410/360 sprint cars, IMCA Mods (not B mods), the 600s at Deming and pavement super late model (not pro late model) racing when it comes to the west coast offerings on the short tracks. On the other hand I will often cruise the pits, go to camp for a beer or find somebody sharing the peace pipe for a hit of joy instead of watching many support divisions. In 2022 I want to give every division at every track a chance as they deserve a crowd and attention just as much as Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz do. Without the tuner driver, hornet driver, street stock driver and as much as it pains me to admit even dwarf car drivers, the show for the divisions I want to see will never happen. Headliners are the result of the true blue collar racers and in 2022 I want to pay more respect to this.

My next column will take a deeper look at the Cottage Grove schedule that was
released as this column was being finished. This is the final piece to the northwest sprint car schedule.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

IT’S SCHEDULE RELEASE SEASON

Joseph Terrell
12/19/2021

Olympia, Wa…It is almost Christmas but before the big day the gifts are already coming in the form of 2022 schedules. I am not sure if I remember a season where so many schedules have been released so early. Skagit, NARC, SCCT, Grays Harbor Raceway, Keller/Tulare already have schedules out and just today Placerville released theirs and old Saint Nick has not even come down the chimney. I am not complaining as it gives junkies like myself something to do in the offseason. Especially in the northwest where rain and gloom is the name of the game. But seeing schedules come out and starting the 2022 race planning process breaks the monotony.
Being the dirt track closest to my house I want to take a chance to look into the Grays Harbor Raceway 2022 schedule. The track has had their schedule out for a few weeks but only in the last week did it really come into focus. WIth the announcement of the inaugural appearance by NARC in May the sprint car portion of the schedule has been finalized and overall it seems to be a step in the right direction for sprint car racing at the track if it can avoid some potential stumbling blocks specifically concerning car count.
First the good. During the 2021 season there was a feeling sprint car racing might be dying at the track but with the announced schedule including 14 360 sprint races and three 410 races (two NARC and the traditional Labor Day appearance by the World of Outlaws), the pause button has been hit. The schedule breaks down to be two 360 races a month with the exception of June which has the three scheduled including the two day “Classic” and October which has one - the final race of the season scheduled on the first. The “Classic” as it is listed is a two day 360 sprint car show held Saturday and Sunday of Father’s Day weekend. Hopefully more information will come out about this race which is essentially the date the ASCS National Tour had occupied.
The overall 17 races scheduled between 360 and 410 sprints is the most I remember at the track in at least a decade plus. Since the mid to late 2000s when Grays Harbor was an “it” track with a lot of sprint car racing the overall number of races has been closer to 10 than 20. But all of sudden come 2022 and a resurgence in scheduling as Promoter Bert Johnson feels racers have communicated the want for more races at the track. The schedule release came after input from a zoom call with drivers and teams to see what direction they wanted to go. For the first time in my memory Grays Harbor has more 360 sprint races scheduled than Skagit. There also are three double-header sprint weekends: Memorial Day (NARC), Father’s Day (The “Classic”) and the second half of Labor Day (360 Sprints Sunday and World of Outlaws on Monday). This is not the norm for Grays Harbor and shows an investment into sprint car racing from the scheduling piece.
That is good. But the concern has to be car count which was abysmal for most of the season in 2021 and with five 360 point races scheduled against Skagit I wonder if this will change. In addition, each sprint car doubleheader is scheduled on a weekend that could make car count an issue. The NARC race scheduled in May will have a lot of competition with the Marvin Smith Classic at Cottage Grove, John Carroll Memorial at Skagit and a two day SCCT show in California. A month later “The Classic” is scheduled amidst the “Road to Dirt Cup” and the Labor Day 360-World of Outlaw doubleheader is on the heels of three nights of Skagit which always has an effect on who makes the trip South. This is not to say these shows won’t be successful, because they very well could be. But there's no guarantee that drivers and/or fans will support these events so the mere scheduling of marquee events is not the whole equation - it is only part of it. The second part is solid driver and fan support so the track continues to schedule big sprint car events in the future - this piece is yet to be determined.
While GHR and Skagit have more conflicting dates than I would hope and I am worried how many big races are occurring in the same vicinity of time, it is also exciting to see a combined 38 360/410 winged sprint car races scheduled in the state of Washington in 2022. Sprint car racing lacked pizazz last year at both tracks in Washington and with each having released its 2022 schedule I would say they are attempting to bring the excitement back and there is at least a buzz that has been non-existent in my neck of the woods recently.

SOME OTHER SCHEDULING NOTES:
● Keller Auto Speedway and Tulare released a joint schedule featuring a combined 25 events at the two tracks. I was a little surprised to only see one 410 race at Keller that was not NARC or WoO - the track has four such events scheduled in 2021. Another surprise was the three doubleheader USAC/CRA shows scheduled at the tracks increasing the non wing sprint presence at the tracks. The full USAC/CRA schedule still hasn’t been released.
● The Sprint Car Challenge Tour (SCCT) schedule is bigger than ever with 16 races on the docket. Traditionally the series has been in the 12-13 range and since its first year has not been scheduled against NARC. In 2022 the series is scheduled three times against NARC as it has expanded its schedule just like the NARC series meaning there just wasn't enough weekends to not schedule against each other. In truth there has become for the most part two distinct regulars for each series so I am not sure scheduling against each other will hurt much.
● As I was working on this column Placerville dropped their schedule. The biggest question I had concerning the Placerville schedule is where would the Posse Shootout be placed. The answer is on Labor Day weekend as it was supposed to be in 2021 before wildfires had different ideas. This will pit the Posse Shootout versus the Vermeil Classic as long as it finds a home. I am interested to see how drivers and teams choose between these two popular California races. Like racing in the Northwest I am not sure competing big races is a win but nothing says it can’t be and maybe the time has come that big 410 and 360 races can be scheduled at different tracks on the same weekend in California.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

FOR 410 WINGED SPRINTS TIME IS NOW ON THE WEST COAST

 

Joseph Terrell

12/13/2021

 

Olympia, Wa…These Saturday news drops are the way of the off season for west sprint car racing. The normaI Monday through Friday can be filled with bench racing - the real information is coming out on Saturdays and this Saturday was no different. I have written more than one column about the need for more 410 sprint car racing on the west coast and the movement trying to make it happen - NARC, 55 Promotions, and SLC Promotions have all trumped the horn of 410 racing and the need to make it big on the west coast again. The reason is simple: in open wheel winged racing 410 sprints provide the best action and are some of the baddest vehicles in all of motorsports. With the release of the NARC schedule Saturday it becomes clear that 2022 is going to be a huge year for the future of winged 410 racing on the west coast as the premier 410 series on the west coast has races scheduled from Kern County in Bakersfield, California to Skagit in Alger, Washington becoming a truly regional series.

            The NARC schedule includes 27 races - the most in probably 20 years.  It is also the most expansive in the 21st century with two trips to northwest with each one culminating in Washington - first the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports which will end with two nights at Grays Harbor and second the Road to Dirt Cup which is capped by the Dirt Cup. Most importantly the NARC schedule is featuring plenty of high money races with the Murphy Classic, Simone Classic, Dennis Roth Classic, Kaeding Classic and Bradway Memorial all on the schedule in addition to the granddaddy of west coast sprint cars the  Dirt Cup. Also all four races of the FFMD will pay $5000 to win.  It seems like things are moving in the right direction for 410 racing. With those 27 races scheduled by NARC, plus two west coast Outlaw swings, three races at Skagit (on the heels of the NARC schedule release Skagit announced it was moving its June 18 date to Monday June 20 creating four races at Skagit in six day) and the yet announced schedules of Keller and Silver Dollar Speedways it is not hard to imagine a scenario where 40-50 410 races are scheduled up and down the west coast. I think my only complaint is that NARC continues to schedule against the Skagit Outlaw show but given it is Labor Day weekend I can see why both sides hold those dates.

            While overall the scheduling for 410 sprints looks good the question remains will the cars be there on race day  - and too often the answer has been kind of.  Often the want seems higher than the reality as seemingly everyone wants more 410 races but then race day comes and only 20 sprints show up.The NARC schedule, the re-birth of Dirt Cup as a 410 race and the commitment of promoters is providing the landscape for drivers to really consider racing 410s as their main option for than in previous years. For too many years there just has not been enough 410 races for teams on the west coast to go all in on 410 racing. The sheer amount and proximity of 360 racing is why most teams have continued to make that division their main focus and would maybe dabble in 410s when time allows. Talking with promoters and others on the west coast  it is obvious that the way to grow 410 racing is to make it a viable option that a racer can pursue and know he can race just about every week. Instead of that driver buying a 410 and 360 engine maybe they will buy two 410s so if they lose one their 410 season isn’t over. Or maybe that team that only wants to race 15 times but wants some options will move to 410 racing because of the better purses and more options - these teams have previously been constrained by the same limited schedule which limits available options. Add in the new tire rules which are unifying west coast series and tracks with the World of Outlaws giving drivers another reason to consider 410 racing - won't have to purchase different tires to compete with the Outlaws.

            It is important to see growth in the 410 division in 2022 but expectations must be realistic. Is the DIrt Cup going to get 60 cars like 1996? The answer is no and the reality is 30-40 will probably show up. NARC isn't going to magically get 35 cars a night like 1996 either. More than likely the shows with more than 30 will remain rare. But if NARC can consistently get 25 that would be a win. If the Dirt Cup can get 40 cars that is a win. If the FFMD gets 25 a night that would be a win. If Skagit can get 10 weekly that is a win. 2021 saw some growth and I would say it has provided a chance for 2022 to expand on.  In a region dominated by 360 racing 360 racing  is here to stay on the west coast and 410 sprints will never displace them nor do I wish for that to happen. The hope of this column is that 410 sprints will once again be a viable option for west coast teams to consider on a full time basis. Sprint car racing on the west coast will always be a hybrid of 410 and 360 racing, but let’s push the balance to a more even level than it has been the last 20 years when 360 sprint car racing has dominated the west coast.

            My next column will be closer to home as I look at the recently finalized Grays Harbor Raceway schedule which was awaiting the NARC announcement to complete its schedule.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

           

 

 

20 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER IN 2021

 By Joseph Terrell

11/29/2021

 

Olympia, Wa…When the 2021 season kicked off in California most fans knew that Justin Sanders and Dominic Scelzi would win their fair share of races. Scelzi was focusing his attention on the west coast and specifically a NARC title while Sanders was moving to the potent Larry Antaya ride while still steering his own sprinter and Dale Miller’s sprinter when time allowed. These drivers weren’t exactly nobodies entering 2021 but on the other hand if you had 20 pegged as the win count in the state for each you were a prophetic person. Given the competition week in and week out in California, winning 20 races is no small feat so to have two drivers do it is almost unfathomable.

            But that is exactly what they did. From early in the season Sanders and Scelzi wasted no time flexing their muscles. Sanders was especially hot in early in the season and in late August. Scelzi was a little more consistent throughout the season but was especially dominant from mid-May to late June. In that time span he won the $11,000 to win Murphy Classic, $7500 at the Bradway Memorial a month later, and then headed north topping it off with a $15,000 Dirt Cup victory to round out June. By season's end Scelzi had also been crowned NARC champion for the first time in his career winning six of the 20 point races.

            Despite each enjoying resounding success the two took very different paths to 20 wins. Scelzi was primarily in his Scelzi Enterprises sprinter all year and steered this car to every win he had in 2021 - 20 in California and 22 overall. Scelzi was almost unbeatable at Keller and Tulare in 2021. Sanders on the other hand used a variety of rides to score his wins. He used his own sprinter primarily at Ocean to dominate the weekly action at the track, scored wins at Placerville in the Dale Miller 360, won a NARC race aboard the Antaya sprinter at Petaluma before ending the NARC season in the Works Limited sprinter and racking up four wins for that team. Sanders scored one victory outside of California which came in Arizona to bring his overall total to 21. Sanders also managed to squeeze in time to steer the Main Motorsports sprinter for a few races in May and then closed out the season with the Mittry Motorsports team in Arizona.

            With Sanders and Scezi gobbling up almost a third of the 410 and 360 main events contested in California in 2021 and almost all the headlines, the rest of the talent in the state fought for any real estate they could get. Heavy hitters such as DJ Netto, Bud Kaeding, Tim Kaeding and Mitchell Faccinto combined to win less than 10 races (nine to be exact). Bud won the Ocean Speedway championship on the strength of the three wins but those were his only wins all year. Sean Becker annually wins 10 or more races in a season but in 2021 he was relegated to one as he chased the NARC championship for the first time in years. Willie Croft also saw victory lane only once in 2021.  Kyle Hirst had no wins, and although he competed only part-time Hirst doesn’t usually need many starts to get a win. Rico Abreu competed in almost 20 races in the state and came with only one win.

            Still some drivers were able to carve successful seasons amongst the Scelzi and Sanders onslaught. Shane Golobic was able to win eight races including the Johnny Key Classic at Ocean and the $10,000 to Simone Classic at Keller. Andy Forsberg did what he usually does and won races at Placerville, Marysville, Petaluma and Silver Dollar. By time the season had concluded he had rolled up 10 wins and the Placerville track championship. Tanner Carrick established himself as a force on the California 360 scene with seven wins and then made noise against the Outlaws, almost winning the second night of Gold Cup before an infamous tail tank issue. Nonetheless Carrick, already a name on the national midget scene, had marked his arrival on the 410 scene. The first night of Gold Cup Colby Copeland flirted with Outlaw fame leading the first 10 laps of the main event before settling for second - one of his nine runner-ups during 2021 in the Golden State. Copeland won two races in the state in 2021. He  went to Oregon in July and dominated Northwest Speedweek winning three of the five races.

            A couple of drivers continued to develop in 2021. In 2020 Ryan Robinson made some noise in the Weiher sprinter winning five races and in 2021 he continued to do so as he won the Sprint Car Challenge Tour title on the back of one win and 12 top 10 finishes in 13 starts. Overall Robinson had three victories in the Weiher sprinter in 2021 but he also branched out making appearances in the Mike Phulps sprinter starting in May when time allowed. He produced a fourth place finish at the Dirt Cup, a career high second in NARC competition at Ocean during NARC Speedweek and sixth place finish on Saturday night of Gold Cup. Kaleb Montgomery didn’t win any championships but he did score three victories overall. Like Sanders he drove a plethora of rides during 2021 - his family car, the Jim Richardson sprinter, the Mittry Motorsports sprinter, the Main Motorsports sprinter and there may be one or two I am missing. Despite bouncing around week to week Montgomery finally topped the hurdle from being an almost winner to an actual winner. His high point was also a low point - Trophy Cup 2021 where Montgomery was the arguably the second fastest car all weekend but luck was not his friend.

            Besides the Sanders and Scelzi show, the biggest news out of California in 2021 was new group of  sub 16 year old stars terrorizing the California scene like seems to happen every year - this year specifically Corey Day, Joel Myers, Jr. and an Oklahoma intruder named Ryan Timms. Day's story is already well known and his legend is large for a driver that only has three career sprint car victories but sometimes talent is so obvious you just don’t want to overthink it. He won two NARC races in dominating fashion and let’s not forget he just kind of showed up and was a contender at Indiana midget week scoring a win along the way. Myers, Jr. wasn’t as spectacular and doesn’t have the hype but it is hard to discount what he is also doing. He finished second in Placerville points to Andy Forsberg, had an impressive third against the NARC series at Petaluma and a second at Keller against a 54 car field early in the season. Not quite Day but impressive for a driver who won't turn 16 until the middle of next season and is racing against some of the best competition in the country. Not be outdone Oklahoma teenager Ryan Timms came west a few times in 2021 and in his final voyage late in the season he finally left his mark when he won  the final night of Trophy Cup, ran third to Carson Macedo and Sanders in a thriller at Keller in November and scored a USAC National midget win at Placerville.

Finally Sanders and Scelzi may have owned 2021 in California but the biggest race of the year in the state - Trophy Cup - was dominated by a former California whiz kid turned USAC National Midget Champion Buddy Koifoid. Hopping aboard the Works Limited sprinter Koifoid rolled to one of the most dominating Trophy Cup wins of all time. Before the halfway point in Saturday’s A main it was apparent that Koifoid would be the 2021 Trophy Cup champion. Not only did he dominate the strong California contingent at Trophy Cup invaders such All Star Regulars Tyler Courtney and Cory Eliason were in the house as was Pennsylvania star Anthony Macri. They also proved no match for Koifoid on the biggest of all California stages as he was second first, second and fourth during the weekend and won $27000 for his effort. Most amazingly it was Koifoid’s only sprint start after July as he focused on the midget and his foray into the pavement Pro Late Model scene for the second half of 2021.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

Talk About a News Drop

 Joseph Terrell

11/21/21

 Olympia, Wa...It was a typical Saturday northwest late fall day...cold,dark and a lot of hanging out watching racing, football, basketball and anything else that might be on TV but in an instant one news drop changed everything. Sometime midday social media started buzzing and word was out that Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet with Colby Copeland had created SLC promotions and were taking over promotions at Silver Dollar Speedway effective for the 2022 season. Wow! This was the first thing that came to my mind. Then unbelievable optimism as combined with the new 55 promotions team at Skagit Speedway the west coast suddenly has a buzz it has truly lacked for many years. Now I know the initial announcement was limited and nobody knows exactly what the new group will do but it seems obvious that the status quo won’t be maintained at Silver Dollar Speedway - that is a good thing.

            I mean what’s not to be excited about. The argument can be made that Silver Dollar and Skagit are the headliners of the west coast and that when they are strong and relevant it spreads to the rest of the region. SIlver Dollar especially has been a shell of itself the last decade as its headline race Gold Cup became just another race on the schedule and the track's once vital 410 weekly program was ultimately replaced by 360s (ironically this happened in 2015 the same year 410s were also dropped at Skagit). Sure the blame game has been played as to why Silver Dollar faded from a destination track that was one of the most famous in the country to just another track that wasn’t even the highest profile track in its own region. It doesn't matter who's to blame or if blame is necessary because the track is obviously now in the hands of three racers with a strong connection to the history and importance of Silver Dollar Speedway. All three essentially grew up at the track and remember the times when Silver Dollar was the place to be and the initial press release leads me to believe they plan on restoring the track to its proper place in the dirt track hierarchy.

            This news is hopefully another step in the revitalization of 410 racing on the west coast which has been left to die by many in recent times as nothing seemed to spark the fire but things have changed in the last few years. NARC provides a solid series to follow and has increased the amount of bigger paying races the last few years and Keller Speedway has added a few 410 weekly shows as will Skagit in 2022. Now I don’t want to jump to conclusions but it is hard to believe that Silver Dollar will not have an increased presence in 410 sprint cars in 2022 whether through some weekly shows, increased NARC appearances or higher paying/higher profile Gold Cup.

            The return of the Gold Cup to headliner standards would be big. I lamented a few weeks ago how the Outlaw west coast swing in the fall lacked pizzaz and a lot of that is because of the decreased status of Gold Cup. Considered one of the jewels of sprint car racing in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, Gold Cup had become just an ordinary race over the last 10-15 years paying a normal purse and being reduced from three nights of Outlaw racing to two. Getting Gold Cup back to a premier race would be a huge boon and coupled with the Skagit Nationals would create back-to-back special weekends of Outlaw racing on the west coast - it has been a long minute since this has happened. While the returning of Dirt Cup to 410s, potential revitalization of Gold Cup and weekly 410 shows scattered throughout the schedule at a few tracks in itself won't revive 410 racing on the west coast, none of these developments will hurt it.

When 55 promotions took over Skagit Speedway at the end of the 2021 season and announced that Dirt Cup would return 410 sprints and pay $50,000 to win in 2022 it was hard to imagine anything bigger happening on the west coast in the near future. But the announcement that Silver Dollar is changing hands to a group of drivers that were raised at the track has if not topped at least equaled. The most important part about both moves is that people who love racing, with the funds available to make the necessary investments, are now in charge at both tracks. In the bigger context as the west coast continues to have tracks close or being on the edge of closing anytime racing people with the necessary means to invest in racing take over a track it is a step in the right direction for short track racing in the region.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about the west coast and national sprint car racing scene. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

410s COMING BACK TO SKAGIT - SORT OF

Joseph Terrell
11/11/2021

Olympia, Wa...It has been anticipated since the news that Skagit Speedway had been sold to 55 promotions - what will the 2022 schedule look like and specifically how many 410 races would there be? Depending on who I talked to over the last few months the number was different - from one 410 race to a schedule consisting of many 410 races to somewhere between. Well last Friday the anticipation ended as Skagit Speedway released its schedule in that always awesome Friday afternoon news drop that seems to get overlooked - meaning the schedule has been released without much notice. So what is the 2022 schedule all about?
Despite all the expectations and speculations, the 2022 schedule is not much different once you look past the obvious changes - Dirt Cup to 410 racing, ASCS off the schedule and the addition of three weekly 410 races. Like previous years 360 and sportsmen sprints continue to dominate the weekly schedule proving that 55 promotions is not just going to wipe away 360/Sportsmen sprint racing at Skagit as some seemed to think - 360s and Sportsmen are the backbone of weekly racing at Skagit. Other scheduling staples remain - John Carroll Memorial is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, weekend off around July 4, Clay Cup weekend off, Summer National remains the fourth weekend of July and Monster Trucks are back in August. One noticeable addition besides three 410 sprints dates was the two night Sportsmen Sprint/Modified special at the end of the year, which was much needed as these weekly divisions deserve to have a weekend to headline.
Overall the schedule features 13 360 sprint dates, 13 Sportsmen sprint dates, 12 modified dates, 11 midget dates and nine 410 dates. The schedule is diverse with rotating divisions comprising three and four class weekly shows throughout the year. Also unlike previous years when many weekends the Sportsmen were the featured division, only one weekly show all year does not have either 410s or 360s on the schedule. For those drivers that have both 410 and 360 engines this allows them a chance to get around 20 races at Skagit (22 if there are no rainouts to be exact). This will be the most nights with either 360 or 410 sprints on card since the 2015 season, which is a win for two reasons: first as already mentioned more possible 360/410 races at Skagit for drivers and the second is I am sure the track is hoping a headlining sprint division on the card every week will draws fans who seem harder and harder to get for weekly shows.
With the announcement of the schedule and that 410 racing is returning at some level, the next big ball to drop from Skagit seems to be the purse announcements which they have teased. From what I have heard, the money available throughout the season is going to be an improvement from years past including the winners share for 360 weekly shows going up to $2200 to win. But we will have to wait to see the specifics. Of special interest to me is what the 410 weekly purse will be for the three weekly shows scheduled and will the 360 Summer Nationals purse see a change with Dirt Cup moving back to 410s.
With Skagit’s schedule out I am now waiting to see Grays Harbor release a detailed schedule. They have one up with dates listed, but the only date with divisions is the traditional July Modified Nationals. Also the rumour of NARC dates at the track has seemed to lose steam - all indication is the only 410 race at Grays Harbor will be the Outlaw date on Labor Day. From what I have heard they plan to run 360 sprints at least every weekend Skagit doesn’t plus a few more 360 events as the track looks to try to build back its 360 sprint division. The track is skeptical racing 360s against Skagit when they schedule 360s but the short racing season almost precludes it from happening. With this in mind Grays Harbor held a meeting Saturday with 360 drivers trying to figure out what drivers are looking for in 2022 from the track in terms of scheduling and other issues. Also even though the ASCS National Tour is not running at Skagit in 2022, the pin has not been completely pulled on a return trip to Grays Harbor in 2022. Depending on what happens in Montana will have a big impact on a possible ASCS return as ASCS needs some corresponding races to come to Washington - whether this is Montana or Oregon. With new leadership with ASCS it will probably be a month or so until this gets worked out.
To date the only other northwest sprint car race scheduled in 2022 is the Marvin Smith Memorial at Cottage Grove which is moving back to its traditional Memorial Day slot which pits it against the John Carroll Memorial at Skagit. Last season Cottage Grove had eight scheduled 360 point races so it will be interesting to see how they fit their 360 dates with Skagit and GHR, as each track looks to feature sprints. As seen last year, too many races scheduled on the same date in the northwest is a loser for everybody.
Hopefully with Skagit releasing first, other tracks will look at it and create schedules that are best for fans and drivers. These would be schedules having minimal conflicting dates in the region and respecting each track's bigger races so they can be the focus of the weekend. One area of cooperation could be creating a road to the Dirt Cup (speedweek?), which would require tracks working together and could potentially lead the groundwork to greater things in the northwest. As schedules get finalized I will have more on the big picture of the 2022 sprint car season and what it will look like in the northwest.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing. I occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

IT”S NEVER TOO EARLY TO LOOK TO 2022

Joseph Terrell
11/2/2021

Olympia, Wa...The World of Outlaws have put the nail in the 2021 season before it is even over. Brad Sweet was essentially declared champion after last Saturday’s race as all he has to basically do is show up at Charlotte. Then on Monday the 2022 schedule was released effectively turning the talk and attention to 2022 - and there was a lot to unpack with that announcement. Four races paying $100,000 plus and points fund that pays $200,000 to win and $50,000 for second. Also legendary tracks omitted (i.e. Lernerville, Kokomo, Las Vegas), while new tracks glean the schedule as well as tracks that have waited for years for the Outlaws to return. There will be a lot of discussion over the next few days about the schedule - and what people like and what they don’t - but I want specifically to discuss the west coast dates and an Outlaw date that could have an effect on one of the big west coast races.
At first glance not much has changed from previous schedules minus Bakersfield replacing the dormant Santa Maria Raceway and the omission of Stockton and Calistoga which speaks to the perilous situation surrounding those three tracks. Six races in the spring through California with another eight race swing in September with four shows in Washington and four in California. Very similar to years past when COVID has not affected the scheduling. Perris will continue to have its WoO/CRA combo show, Tulare will have a two day show, Skagit three day Skagit Nationals is set for Labor Day weekend, Grays Harbor has its traditional Monday night Labor Day, and Silver Dollar will host the Gold Cup for two night clash. Merced and Ocean will also have dates during the spring with Keller and Placerville having single night dates to close out the west coast swing in September.
However there are few changes with the first one being to move the spring California swing to completely take place in March. Let’s look at the history real quick: The 2018 coast swing was almost a 50/50 ratio between races and rain out as the swing was run during March as had been historically a problem. March is the only month it rains in California...seriously. So it is curious to see the Outlaws move to an all March schedule for the California spring swing with such a chance of rain. On the flip side with Las Vegas off the schedule and no Arizona Speedway the California swing back was destined to move forward. The Outlaws need a place to run in March and even with the weather concerns California is the best option available. The addition of Bakersfield is a boon to the schedule and Tulare is always worth the price of admission but hopefully mother nature plays nice.
During the fall swing the only significant change seemingly was the Skagit Nationals switching from Friday-Sunday on Labor Day weekend to Thursday-Saturday. But the bigger news in my opinion is the lack of any change to make the fall west coast swing more attractive. I couldn’t help but notice the Keller Speedway date has not been designated the Tarlton Classic and $21000 to win first prize. Add in that “Gold Cup” is still a shell of what it used to be and the fall west coast swing is lacking pizazz besides the Skagit Nationals. The drive out west in the fall is not attractive to drivers - Brent Marks has said so and other drivers are going to realize they can stay closer to home competing for purses that are similar if not better than Outlaw purses. Brian Brown is another example of a driver who heads East and not West when the calendar turns to September because the better paying non-Outlaw races. The fall west coast swing is just not inviting for a lot of drivers especially if they can stay closer to home and chase better money. There was a time when the fall California swing was special and drivers that were not Outlaws would come out but the lack of big paying races during this swing in the last 20 years has killed that vibe and 2022 looks no different in that respect.
Lastly nothing has been hyped more on the west coast the last few months than the 2022 version of Dirt Cup which is returning to 410 sprints and paying $50,000 to win. But when the Outlaw schedule was released I couldn't help but notice that the same weekend as Dirt Cup Huset’s will be hosting their three night $100,000 to win Outlaw show. Why does this matter? It is not much of a secret that Skagit Speedway is counting on a huge presence from California but also from different regions to the east to supply the amount of cars needed to make Dirt Cup a success. Are teams/drivers going to drive past Huset’s all the way to Skagit for less money to win - doesn’t seem likely. Now I know the team at Skagit will not let DIrt Cup fail but the scheduling of the Huset’s race had to cause the leadership to take a second a look and shake their head in disbelief.
Overall the World of Outlaws 2022 schedule is stout - littered with big races and a huge points fund. As a sprint car fan this is what I have been begging for - more money for drivers and teams to earn. I wish the schedule was a little kinder to the west coast but I know that is splitting hairs given that s total of 14 races are scheduled in California and Washington - giving west coast fans plenty of time to catch “The Greatest Show on Dirt.”

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

THE TROPHY CUP

By Joseph Terrell
10/25/2021

Tulare, Ca/Olympia, Wa...Trophy Cup is just one of those must see events. I mentioned in my previous column and the 2021 version only reiterated this idea. It is a destination for so many race teams and drivers - an event they look to all year because of its unique format, the legendary Thunderbowl Raceway, the parties, the money raised and friends. It is all the above but Thursday, Friday and Saturday from about 5pm to 11pm it is all about the drivers and their attempt to tame the Tulare Thunderbowl and take home the $27000 top prize for the Trophy Cup champion.
The long straights, high banks and always a nice a hole a two mixed in the Thunderbowl is tough to conquer. It eats cars like a horse eating grass - often with ease and no discretion. A driver can go zero to hero in a moment and sometimes the demanding conditions and inevitable contact that occurs causes tempers to rise above a manner deemed appropriate socially. So here is a look at what caught my attention during the three night of Trophy Cup 27:

● Buddy Koifoid won Thursday’s main event and set the tone for the weekend as he simply dominated. Even before Saturday’s main event it seemed he was in a great position to win as he was nine points ahead of Friday night winner Rico Abreu and 16 points ahead of third running Kyle Hirst. The championship was sealed barring disaster when Abreu and HIrst got together early and were eliminated. After that Koifoid avoided trouble and mounted a late race charge to finish fourth to go along with a first and second the first two nights. Only other drivers to score top 10 finishes all three nights were second and third in points - Colby Copeland and DJ Netto.
● As Koifoid was cruising to an easy overall championship 15 year old Ryan Timms was again reminding everybody just how special he is. Whether it was his domination of ASCS National Speedweek to his many POWRI midget wins, Timms just wins. Saturday night of the Trophy Cup was no different. Yes the field was inverted but make no mistake in one of the most talented features of the season anywhere Timms simply laid a whooping. Minus a gaffe on lap 40 that allowed Tanner Carrick to take the lead, Timms set a pace on Saturday night nobody could match.
● Fellow 15 year old Corey Day never won a main during the weekend but he did finish fourth in overall points, two spots ahead of Timms. Day seemed to be a different driver than the one I saw in August and was much more patient which is only bad news for the competition.
● As someone who has been around sprint car racing my whole life I understand just how expensive these cars are and the Thunderbowl will always be tough on cars and this year was no different. At least five teams brought down a second car and many others did extensive re-bullds. The Country Builders team went back to Tracy after Thursday to retrieve a new car only to see one car catch on fire and the other flip on Friday before calling it quits after Friday night qualifying. The fact there is a flip count at this race doesn’t sit right nor does the fact that some seem to celebrate the carnage. I know a few drivers who I talked to during the weeknd who weren’t racing and when I asked why they said “Look around.” Flipping is not cool.
● No driver wrecked harder than JJ Ringo Friday night. He hit the turn three wall full throttle and rode the wall for a second before flipping violently, landing in turn four. Later that evening I walked by the pits and saw something that barely resembled a sprint car and Ringo visibly shaken in the back of his trailer. Fast forward 10 hours and as I walk the pits Saturday morning I see the Keller Motorsports team pulling down a second car and getting to work. I was shocked. JJ Ringo and the whole team would have been justified in saying they had seen enough for the weekend but no...Ringo showed why sprint car drivers are some of the most courageous athletes in the world as he hopped back in the rocket ship for some more Saturday night.
● As ugly as some of the wrecks were, nothing matched the ugliness of what happened between Dominic Scelzi and Devon Borden during the first heat race of Saturday night. Scelzi entered Saturday seventh in points and Borden was 19th. Each driver is big time, expects to win every time they are on the track and don’t lift for anybody. That all came together on the second lap of heat one Saturday night and ultimately resulted in both drivers on the hook. Scelzi confronted on the track and then again in the pits leading to his disqualification. Borden parked his ride for the night. I am not going to go into details because I don’t know exactly what happened but you could see the pressure mounting on Scelzi as the weekend seemed to slip away. WIth undefeated season at Tulare coming into Trophy Cup, Scelzi was almost deemed Trophy Cup champion before the race.
● Scelzi's disqualification created the biggest controversy of the weekend as officials elected only to start 23 cars instead of 24 - not replacing Scelzi who had enough points to be in the A. Two of the most upset were Justyn Cox and Willie Croft. Cox was 21st in points so would have started on the pole of the invert 20 main instead of the 21st position he started after transferring through the B. Croft started seventh in the B and missed the main - if Cox would have been moved up he would have started on the pole of B since they inverted six. Why they didn’t start 24 and bump up everybody one position is beyond me. My belief is they paid Scelzi the $5000 for qualifying for Saturday’s main and didn’t want to pay an extra driver the guaranteed $5000.
● Anthony Macri left an impression right away. His thrilling second place finish Thursday night had the California faithful fired up and smashing beers. Post race he was interrupted multiple times by fans as he tried to drink a beer on his way to a post race party. West coast fans love drivers who get up on the gas...Macri gets up on the gas and has a new fan base for years to come.
● The two most important events of Trophy Cup continue to be Thursday qualifying and the Saturday main event. Even though you get to choose your best point night, a good Thursday qualifying effort will ease your mind as you start the weekend ahead of the game. Saturday night's main event is an opportunity to make amends for your weekend. Timms and Tanner Carrick showed that a good finish Saturday can help salvage a weekend as they entered the main 19th and 17th in points but used podium finishes to wind up sixth and fifth in points. Only qualifying and Saturday’s main offer 150 points and work down.
● Steve Kent is one of the best to ever strap into a sprint car from the west coast. One thing that made him legendary was his drive and determination which was on display again this weekend as he wrenched on his son's (Steven Kent) sprinter. After Steven Kent found the wall and damaged his front end in his Saturday night heat race, his dad went to work in ferocious style. Banging, yelling, demanding and not giving up Steve and his band of Grandpas got Steven out for the B. Friday I had asked Steve if ever wanted to strap back in and he said “No” but you can tell the fire still burns.

The 2021 season has finished for me. Ten tracks and 35 races stretching from Tulare to Skagit the season was a blast as I was able to catch many of the major events on the west coast and even get shoutout from the legendary Bobby Gerould on my journeys. While I am now grounded until spring of 2022 look for this column to continue to churn as the world of sprint car racing never slows.
Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

IT IS FINALLY TROPHY CUP TIME

Joseph Terrell
10/17/2021

Olympia, Wa...Through the years Trophy Cup has evolved into the biggest sprint car event on the west coast. Beginning at San Jose Speedway in 1994 (a race I attended) the Trophy Cup travelled to Ocean and Kings before finally finding a home at the Tulare Thunderbowl in 2005. While it has always been a big race once the race became a guarantee of $25,000 to the overall winner and $5000 if a driver starts Saturday’s A main in 2018 the race catapulted to a new level and now has an almost Knoxville/Chili Bowl like feel. It is a must see event and like Knoxville and Chili Bowl the hype is months long as drivers entries compile and excitement builds. This year's 27th edition pays $27,000 to the overall champion and has a pre-entry list hovering around 100 - which only happens at Knoxville .
One of the traditions of Trophy Cup is the ever changing driver entries and different driver/owner combinations. The first entry list is usually revealed early in the summer but as we know sprint car racing is an ever changing sport so the occupants of seats may change a little. Austin McCarl was originally listed as driving the Tarlton sprinter but he has since moved to the Olfill Country Builders sprinter. Multi-time race champion Jac Haudenschild had been pegged as the driver for a second Rico Abreu sprinter just announced he is out for a myriad of reasons. Mitchel Moles has moved from his family car to the Roth Motorsports entry and it was recently announced All Star champion Tyler Courtney will be steering the other Roth ride. Posse member Anthony Macri will be in a Tiner-Hirst entry as he along with Courtney will be making their Thunderbowl debuts. All Star runnup Cory Eliason returns to his local stomping grounds aboard the Rudeen Racing Sprinter. Ryan Bernal has returned to the Tarlton camp after McCarl and Corey Day chauffeured the car earlier in the year. Day is entered in the Jason Meyers sprint car after being originally entered in the family car. Mitchell Faccinto recently announced he will drive a second car for DJ Netto Racing after being entered in the Stan Greenberg sprinter that he normally occupies. A few more questions on the entry list remain but for the most part the entries are set and that means it is time to make a list of my favorites for the 2021 Trophy Cup.

Here are my five favorites plus two well known drivers that not getting a lot of pub but could be very dangerous
1. Dominic Scelzi - He simply has been unbeatable at Tulare in 2021. Literally he has won every 360/410 race run at the Thunderbowl - six for six. While he is not one of the six Trophy Cup Champions entered in 2021 his resume which includes 21 wins overall and every major west coast race date makes Scelzi an easy pick. He is a front runner every night in 2021 and it is hard to imagine a scenario where he won’t wash, rinse and repeat at Trophy Cup.
2. Rico Abreu- Hasn’t been great by his standards in 2021 but who can forget the last Trophy Cup in 2019 and Abreu wrecking havoc as he swept the weekend in a never before seen occurrence. With that still in my mind I can’t drop Rico lower than second. He is such a streaky driver all it takes is for him to find momentum and he could be a Trophy Cup champion for a second time.
3. Shane Golobic- The 2016-2017 Trophy Cup champion is the epitome of consistency. He does not put up huge win totals like Scelzi and Justin Sanders but he is always in the top five and it is not like he never wins - he does have seven in 2021. Unless you're sweeping the weekend like Rico, Trophy Cup is about being consistent all weekend long and gaining solid points every time on the track. Nobody is better at this than Golobic.
4. Cory Eliason- The All Star runner-up returns to his home region for Trophy Cup and is looking for his first win in the prestigious event. Eliason like Rico probably has not had the amount of success he wanted in 2021 nonetheless Eliason has become one of the Top 15 drivers in the country and has to be considered a contender anytime he is racing in California or anywhere else for that matter.
5. Justin Sanders- He has never won at Tulare and realistically I would be surprised if he was a threat but...on the other hand has won 20 sprint car races in 2021 so I am not going to say no chance. If Sanders can be consistent during his preliminary nights and not put himself in whole coming into Saturday things could get interesting. He will be aboard the Dale Miller XXX for the weekend.

Outside these five it seems like a crap shoot. Can a youngster like Corey Day make some noise? Besides Abreu and Golobic four other drivers will enter the weekend with previous Trophy Cup championships - Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, Tim Kaeding and Craig Stidham. Can any of these regain the magic touch? Tim is seeking his fourth Trophy Cup championship but hasn’t won one since 2009. Courtney and Macri have been two of the best non World of Outlaws drivers in the country, but Tulare is brutal and can be unkind to newcomers - ask Freddie Rahmer. Tanner Carrick has become a contender in California and has won seven races in 2021 but has limited experience and success at Tulare. Sprint Car Challenge Tour frontrunners Ryan Robinson and Colby Copeland come into the event off strong runs at Petaluma . Robinson won solidifying his SCCT point lead and Copeland has been hot since the middle of the summer with five wins since July 10. Central California stalwarts DJ Netto and Mitchell Faccinto enter the Trophy Cup as teammates and both are looking for their first taste of Trophy Cup glory at a track near home.
But when I think of contenders outside the box a little I am going with the following:
● Buddy Koifoid- Koifoid has had Trophy Cup success with prelim win under his belt and is obviously one of the most talented young drivers in all of racing. While he has spent most of 2021 in a midget, don't forget Koifoid opened 2021 with two sprint car wins in Arizona and will be aboard the always potent Works Limited Paul Silva wrenched sprinter. A Koifoid win would not shock me in the least.
● Devon Borden- Borden has raced half miles all year in Posse land but don't forget he cut his teeth on the short tracks of the west coast and in the last year has only sharpened his craft against the best weekly competition in the country. Borden nicknamed “The Daredevil” for a reason and isn’t always patient or consistent but man can he be dynamic and who knows maybe Trophy Cup 27 is the weekend Devin Borden truly announces his arrival.

Next stop is Tulare Thunderbowl in Tulare, California. Yes the 14 hour drive will be long and at least one time I will question my sanity but once I arrive and the action starts it will be like home sweet home. The drive will be long forgotten.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

BIG WINNINGS MAKES BIG STARS

Joseph Terrell
10/13/2021

Olympia, Wa...Let’s pay these drivers like Late Model drivers get paid. I think about this almost every time I watch a Sprint Car race. Or heck even like crate Late Model racers get paid but I don’t want to get too petty. This cry only got louder in my mind as dirt super late model racing is reaching a point where even it’s highest paying race is occurring while another premium race will be going on.
What am I talking about? The same group that provided $50,000 to win late models races at Bristol, Texas and Las Vegas has added more dates to their 2022 schedule including another $50,000 to win event at the legendary Belleville High Banks that will take place the same weekend as The Dream at Eldora. This seems absurd at first glance...in sprint car racing this would be a self-inflicted wound as not enough “star” power exists to have multiple major events on the same weekend but Late Model racing is different and does have the star power to pull this off. Late Models have two national tours that major shows non-sanctioned series can draw from, not to mention many great regional drivers (Brandon Overton and Bobby Pierce to name a few) that run more a pick and choose schedule. Star power in Sprint Car racing exists in the top half of the World of Outlaw standings - these are the drivers fans will travel to see. I am not saying these are the only great drivers in sprint car racing, I am just saying they are the ones that draw the crowds.
I am not even done writing this and Lucas Oil Late Model series just dropped their 2022 schedule with no less than 11 events featuring payouts over $50,000. The tentative World of Outlaw Schedule features two and plus the four mentioned above will put late models at 17 races paying at least $50,000. Throw in The Dream, The World and Peach Classic at Senoia and Late Model racing is at 20 races paying $50,000 or more. Sprint Car racing is probably looking at somewhere between five and eight total in 2022. This isn’t new and it has allowed late model racing to build aforementioned “star” power that sprint car racing lacks. Throughout the years late model racing has produced a plethora of major races allowing many different drivers to win a major race. This creates “star” power. Winning a major race that has national attention makes a driver marketable when promoting a big race. This allows Dirt Late models to have competing races at the same time with each race having marketble drivers who draw crowds. In many cases regional drivers have become national stars and are headliners when they pull in the pits. I am not convinced the same can be said about Sprint Car racing - yes we have regional stars that we think have star power but do they truly.
For an example one needs to look no farther than Keller Auto Speedway (Kings) in Hanford. Two weeks ago fans absolutely stormed the place for the Outlaws while last weekend the stands were noticeably thinner for a twin 410/360 bill that had all the stars of California present - Scelzi, Sanders, Golobic, Netto, Bud and TK to name a few. The regional stars did not pack the stands like the Outlaws did and examples like this are easy to find across the country. Knoxville is not immune to this dynamic nor are the tracks in Ohio. Outlaws have star power and draw huge crowds - regional sprint car drivers draw regional crowds. Now I am not throwing shade at any of the regional stars in sprint car racing, it is just a fact that with a major win a driver becomes a name and somebody that can be promoted. This is what late model racing has done as a gluttony of drivers have major wins making them a name that has marketability. Sprint car racing has essentially had three major races since the mid-2000s (the Nationals, Kings Royal and the National Open) and these races have been dominated by Outlaw regulars for the most part with the National Open being a slight exception. This means Outlaw drivers are taking all the big wins and building their brand but since regional stars struggle to breakthrough in the column they continue to lack marketability. To make my point, I think about drivers like Brian Brown, Danny Dietrich and Cole Duncan and how much bigger a name they would be if they had a Nationals, Kings Royal or National Open win on their resume.
What I am saying is two things: Sprint Car racing needs more big paying shows and at the same time not all these big paying shows should be Outlaw shows. It would be great to see the All Stars have a couple of races pay $50,000 to win - they currently stand at one with the Tuscarora 50. Maybe the Selingrove Nationals could become a $50,000 to win show in 2022. The west coast is having the Dirt Cup next year at $50,000 so there is one addition but we need more that will allow regional drivers to cash that big check and build their name. Racing names are made by winning big shows with big paychecks and this is why late model racing has so many names and sprint car racing really only has a few. The formula is like this: promoters promote high paying big Sprint Carraces that are not always Outlaw races and new winners and heroes will emerge creating more drivers that can be marketed as “stars”.
That is all for this rant. My next column will drop early next week as I reveal my 10 favorites heading into the Trophy Cup. With a Wednesday departure for the Trophy Cup next week this week is going to fly by.
Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

The 2021 Northwest Sprint Car Season

10/5/2021
Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa..I am not sure how I would characterize the 2021 Northwest sprint car season. The early part of the season was filled with excitement but once the checkered flew Saturday night at Dirt Cup in June it was kinda like 2021 was just in the way of 2022. The impending ownership change at Skagit seemed to be all that anybody could talk about and it hung over the entire northwest sprint car scene as if 2021 was lost so let’s hurry to 2022.
Coming off a 2020 season that saw no fans and only Skagit run 360 sprints there was a lot of anticipation for 2021 as fans returned and so did other northwest sprint traditions like the ASCS National tour invasion, northwest speedweek, Summer Nationals, Marvin Smith Memorial and the traditional World of Outlaw swing. Early in the season the excitement level was high but as the summer came for some reason the steam of the northwest sprint car season lost its will and had little bang except for the four race Outlaw swing. Following the ASCS swing car counts became more and more paltry as the season endured; the last six races on the calendar in Oregon/Washington had car counts of 7, 12, 5, 7, 6 and 13. Some of the struggles were caused by poor scheduling and part shortages that have plagued racing but there was more.
Furthermore during the Summer some of more high profile events struggled to draw cars. Skagit had more sprints for a $1600 point race in June than it did for a $10000 to win race in July. Cottage Grove had a $5000 to win speedweek finale and $4100 Marvin Smith race and barely cracked 30 cars with the aid of local limited sprints. Sure part shortages played a part but there was something else at play, like an underlying apathy towards racing amongst drivers and fans in the region.
The change of ownership at Skagit had a lot to do with it. With the past regime just riding out the days the sense of apathy seemed to seep from Skagit to all of the northwest. Skagit is the trend setter in the northwest so when it got to that weird point where the old regime was just riding it out before the new regime took over it seemed like everything was on hold until 2022 and that feeling prevailed throughout the northwest. It was like drivers, teams and fans hit the pause button sometime in July and forgot to hit play again.

Not to say 2021 had no excitement and the season was all that bad. Here are some of the highlights:
● We definitely saw a changing of the guard in 2021 as Cam Smith, Garen Linder and Chase Goetz all stepped up their games to leap past Jason Solwold and Colton Heath only to be supplanted themselves. Solwold and Heath have long been trend setters in the northwest but in 2021 they found themselves the followers and not the leaders. Smith's moment came at the opening night of the Brownfield Classic when he whipped the ASCS National tour at Grays Harbor Raceway. Linder and Goetz rose to the top a month later when they dominated the Summer Nationals finishing first and second each night.
● As these three tried to ascend to the top a returning star beat them to the top. Returning home after spending three years driving nationally, Trey Starks was up and down for most of the season but finished with three wins including the Smith Memorial. Starks was also second on the final nights of the Brownfield Classic and Dirt Cup. By the end of the season Starks had risen to the top which he capped off with a win Saturday at Grays Harbor to close out the northwest season.
● At Dirt Cup Dominic Scelzi came, saw and conquered as he won two of the three nights including the $15000 finale after Blake Hahn was a victim of slower traffic. A week earlier Washington native turned national driver JJ Hickle won the Brownfield Classic finale in front of his home crowd.
● Oregon driver Tyler Thompson announced his arrival when he scored an impressive third during the final night of the Brownfield Classic. He would later score a win at Cottage Grove and the season championship at the track.
● California fledging star Corey Day scored his first career sprint car win on the opening night of northwest speedweek at Coos Bay. That might be important someday as this young driver has superstar written all over him. Speaking of speedweek another Californian Colby Copeland was simply dominant after Day’s opening night win as he won three of the next four nights and cleared over $10000 for his week's work.
● Although Solwold was off a notch in 2021 he did score the Skagit Speedway championship to further add to his accolades. The Grays Harbor championship was won by another driver just adding to his accolades as Jay Cole claimed another championship.
● Lastly, anybody that showed up for the Dirt Cup Finale, Saturday Night of Summer Nationals or Saturday/Sunday Outlaw shows was reminded why Skagit Speedway is...well Skagit Speedway. As Justyn Cox once tweeted “Skagit is badass”.

Now fast forward to 2022 as pretty much seemed to happen in June. Skagit Speedway has new ownership and hopefully the parts issues will start to clean up. There seems to be early optimism that promoters throughout the northwest will work together in 2022 which was obviously lacking in 2021 as races were often scheduled against each other dividing up the limited cars available. The re-introduction of 410 racing at some level in the northwest has created buzz - this is not just a Skagit thing as Greys Harbor has worked with NARC the last few years to try to secure dates and I expect a few Oregon dates. Hopefully this helps end the apathy of 2021 and leads to an exciting 2022.
Not sure what the rest of the season holds for me but hopefully a trip to the Trophy Cup is in the books but either way just because the northwest season has ended plenty of racing abounds throughout the year thanks to the internet and the access it provides which makes it easy to find something to opine about.
Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

HAS THE ASCS NATIONAL TOUR DIED

 Joseph Terrell

9/22/2021

 Olympia, Wa...I recently tweeted that the ASCS National Tour died at the DIrt Cup this year. I don’t know exactly what prompted the tweet but it is something I had been pondering for the last few months as the ASCS National Tour disintegrated following the DIrt Cup..  Seth Bergman left after DIrt Cup and Alex Hill has been a sporadic competitor. Scott Bogucki suffered an injury in July and has not been a series regular since. Enumclaw teenager Colby Thornhill bailed in August and headed home, snagging a frontier region win on the way back The tour has labored on with six drivers being full time competitors and only four of those being contenders to win against predominantly small fields with the exception of the bigger shows.

            Looking back, the death was probably long before the Dirt Cup this year as the quality of series regulars has regressed during the last five years. The series travels from California to Pennsylvania to Washington to Iowa and Missouri and points in between paying a paltry purse for most shows and tow money that is not sufficient to keep up with cost of gas and transportation in this decade. Many of the best drivers on the tour have found other ways to make a living - either moving to 410 ranks or getting real jobs - leaving the series starved for quality regulars. The tour thrives on its big shows like Dirt Cup, 360 Nationals, Hockett Memorial and Short Track Nationals but in between are plenty of paltry fields performing in front of small crowds at below standard facilities. To be honest 360 sprint car racing has become like this - super big shows which draw huge fields but the weekly and regional shows struggle to get full fields.

            I am not trying to hate on the ASCS National Tour - it has had many memorable moments during their tours through the Northwest the last decade plus - but the series has changed a lot over the years. When the series truly went “National'' in late 2000s (2009 I believe) the series paid more to win on the second night of a two day show than it does now ($6000 then to $4000 currently). Cost of racing and 360 engines specifically have risen dramatically but the purse has dropped. No wonder drivers have found other places to race. Why support every race if you can stay close to home or travel to higher paying 410 races and not incur travel costs to race for $3000 or $4000 to win. Instead save your resources for the bigger shows and show up with fresh equipment and crew because you haven’t been driving all across the country.

            On top of those struggles the ASCS National Tour has lost two of those big shows I referenced earlier in the last two months. In August it was announced that the Dirt Cup was going back to its 410 roots and then just this week Knoxville announced it was ceasing its relationship with ASCS in a dispute over the use of aluminum engines in 2022 and that the 2022 360 nationals would not be sanctioned by ASCS.. Combined with the Hockett, these three races were the triple crown for the ASCC tour and two will not be part of the tour next year. If the ASCS National tour wants to remain national then it needs to look at what it is doing and change course. I know the Hahn’s have never been ones to pay a penny more than they have to but time has come that the bare minimum has gone up substantially. Losing two major shows is going to hurt and I have already heard rumors about the fragile state of the national tour. And how much longer until more tracks realize they do not need to pay the ASCS sanctioning fee to get all the top drivers - example would be the Dirt Cup which saw the quality of the field buoyed more by the presence of California drivers than ASCS National drivers.

            I might be wrong and the ASCS National tour will thrive in 2022 and beyond but the evidence points the other way. Besides the major shows there is not enough money in the ASCS National tour to attract the talent it did in 2009-2016 to compete for championships.

 

WEST COAST NEWS NOTES:

     Last weekend saw exactly one sprint car race on the west coast and it was the $21000 to win Tarlton Classic at Kings Speedway. California native and Tarlton backed Carson Macedo won the World of Outlaw event in front of the sellout crowd. I haven’t seen so many fans at a California race in a long time which is good.

     What wasn’t good was that only 24 cars checked in. This was another reminder that 410 sprint car racing on the west coast has a long way to go despite the efforts of Jim Allen and Peter Murphy to make it grow.

     Among the heavy hitters missing at Kings were Justin Sanders, Tim and Bud Kaeding, the Carrick brothers, Sean Becker, Andy Forsberg, Ryan Robinson, Willie Croft and Colby Copeland to name a few.

     The World of Outlaw event started a stretch of 410 racing at Kings Speedway. The next four 410 events in California will be held at Kings Speedway including the next three NARC shows.

     Both Skagit and Grays Harbor had their season championships rained out last weekend which wrapped up season championships for two legends of the northwest - Jason Solwold (Skagit) and Jay Cole (Grays Harbor). Amazingly these two drivers have been the dominant drivers at their respective tracks for the last 25 years. Not sure how many years each driver has left but they have each had an amazing run.

     Robbie Price will be in the Greg Wheeler sprinter this weekend at Eldora as he competes against the World of Outlaws Friday and All Stars Saturday.

     Petaluma Speedway announced it will operate at least through the 2023 season. Given the fragile state of so many tracks on the west coast any news involving a track being open longer is welcomed. Petaluma holds its biggest race of the season this Saturday - the $5000 to win Adobe Cup for 360 sprints.

     The final Trophy Cup entry list came in at an astounding 107. Fifteen cars were labed with drivers TBA and a few entries are teams no longer together so the actual number is probably closer to 90-95. Not bad for what has been called a “gimmick show” by SprintCarUnlimited’s host Jeremy Elliott.

 

            Headed to Grays Harbor Raceway this weekend for some IMCA Modified racing. Initially I was going to head to Wenatchee for some pavement Super Late Model racing this weekend but with my buddy Shaun Hulbert on the mic at GHR I have made a change of plans. On the sprint car scene front both NARC and USAC/CRA are in action Saturday as their seasons enter their final quarter of the schedule.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

9/16/2021

 

Olympia, Wa...This last weekend was a little different for myself because for the first since 2014 I wasn’t parked at Silver Dollar Speedway baking in the sun and enjoying the Gold Cup life which includes staying up late and then waking up super early as the heat bakes me out of my tent. Did I miss it yes - but life goes on as does this column because the last week itself supplied a lot of west coast sprint sprint car news.

            Here is look at some of the major stories and developments on the west coast that caught my interest over the last week or so:

     Justin Sanders. He won at Silver Dollar on the Sunday before the Gold Cup but was obviously sick. After he missed the Gold Cup it is pretty obvious what being sick meant. I still cannot believe he raced last weekend and was in public when he was obviously showing symptoms but I digress.

     Before the Gold Cup even kicked off it was announced to nobody's surprise that Placerville was cancelling its September 18 show due to the raging fires in that part of the state. What was a surprise is that Keller Auto Speedway moved its Friday show to Saturday and then announced that the Outlaw race was now the Tarlton Classic paying $21000 to win. This left the NARC series holding an empty bag as the Tarlton Classic was originally scheduled as a NARC race for October 30 and now isn’t. The race in October is still on as a NARC race but for less money and less prestige. Change is a part of life but more than a few NARC drivers are frustrated about losing a huge series race and seeing it become an Outlaw race. NARC leadership was not in the loop as they found out the same way I did - via a press release.

     I firmly believe Brad Sweet and David Gravel are the best sprint car drivers in the game but on the opening night of the Gold Cup Colby Copeland almost took down both Goliath’s. Despite being passed by both, Copeland would not relent and regained the lead before settling for second behind Gravel in a race that was another example of how awesome Silver Dollar Speedway can be. It was a career night for Copeland as he claimed the best Outlaw finish of his career. Overall Copeland had a great weekend at Silver Dollar as he was a winner on his Platinum Cup preliminary night and finished third in the Saturday night Platinum Cup finale.

     The second night of the Gold Cup saw Tanner Carrick play the role of David against Goliath. Having less than 20 410 starts Carrick in his career was up to the task on the final night of Gold Cup as he battled Logan Schuchart and Sweet. Like Copeland the night before Carrick lost the lead but regained it and seemed poised for his first career 410 sprint win  (yes that is right) but a loose tail tank derailed a story for the ages. Carrick dabbled in the midwest racing midgets but seems to have found a home back in California racing sprint cars. He has six 360 sprint car wins in 2021.

     Silver Dollar continues to be the place for surprising runs. Think 2015 and Tanner Thorson going 13th to second and challenging for the win in his first career Outlaw start and one his first 410 starts.

     Platinum Cup. It was a two day 360 event in 2019  on the Wednesday and Thursday of the Gold Cup. In 2021 it was a four day event with preliminary nights on Wednesday and Thursday, C and B main events Friday and a $5000 to win main event Saturday. In victory lane Andy Forsberg - who was unable to run Gold Cup after suffering motor issues the weekend before at the Vermeil Classic - was bitter sweet about being in the winners circle on Gold Cup Saturday for winning a 360 race.  While I believe the Platinum Cup has been a good addition to Gold Cup week, it needs to go back to its Wednesday-Thursday designation and leave Friday-Saturday for the Outlaws. One way to help this would be for the Gold Cup to pay more than $10000 on Saturday night and bring back the fame and prestige to this legendary event. Pay more and get more cars - it is that simple. Making Gold Cup a major event again would be another step i reviving 410 racing on the west coast.

     Speaking of Forsberg, he now has eight wins in 2021 after snagging the $5000 payday and the Thursday night preliminary. After a slow start for a driver that always wins 10 plus races in years Forsberg has reeled off five wins since August. With two races left at Petaluma, two at Silver Dollar and one at Marysville - track which he excels at - don’t be surprised if Forsberg again gets 10 wins in a season.

     Canadian driver Robbie Price has been racing 410s extensively the last month or so after spending most of his career in a 360. He did all of NARC’s speedweek, the Outlaws at Skagit and made his way back to California for the Gold Cup. Price skipped the Grays Harbor Outlaw show because of some issues concerning receivement of race earnings from early in the year at the track.

     JJ Ringo has had Heavy D spinning the wrenches on his Keller Motorsports sprinter the last few weekends. The results have spoken for themselves as Ringo made both mains at Gold Cup with ease. Heavy D has a long legacy of bringing up drivers.

     It was just announced a few days ago Steve Kinser will be at the Stockton Dirt Track in November at the combined NARC/SCCT season finale signing autographs. Talk about star power - he is the greatest ever in my opinion. Schatz is close but Kinser is the GOAT.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON FANS LOVE 410 SPRINTS

Joseph Terrell
9/7/2021

Olympia, Wa...Four nights of World of Outlaw action in the state of Washington confirmed what I have always known - sprint car fans in this state love 410 racing. In a state and region dominated by 360 sprint racing this weekend was another example of how much fans in the state of Washington will turn out for the World of Outlaws and 410 sprint car racing. Huge crowds filled the stands all four nights (three at Skagit and one at Grays Harbor) and even though the car counts were low it didn’t seem to have an effect on the excitement of fans.
Four nights of huge crowds were treated to four good races and four different winners as the Outlaws stormed through the state and lived up to their reputation as “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” With efficiently run programs and high quality racing (with few cautions and no reds I believe) the Outlaws gave the fans their money's worth. Interestingly enough for all four winners it was their first win at the track - Skagit (James McFadden, Brad Sweet and Carson Macedo ) and Grays Harbor (Logan Schuhcart). Sweet and David Gravel were the only drivers to finish in the top five all four nights, while Macedo won the most money over the weekend which was bolstered by his $25,000 win Sunday night at Skagit. As I wandered the pits Monday night and looked at the line of cars leaving Grays Harbor it was hard not to think about the future of sprint car racing in Washington and the re-introduction of 410 racing.
I am not convinced the average fan can often say what is different about 360 and 410 racing, but I am convinced that the average fan does believe 410 sprint car racing is a higher level of motorsports. I have heard I do not know many fans say that Skagit Speedway and Dirt Cup are not the same since 410s are no longer the headliner. Although the quality of racing has not suffered ever since Dirt Cup went to 360 racing it has lost a little bit of the luster in the eyes of the general fan - in my opinion whether its a 360 or 410 race Dirt Cup is extremely hard to win and has been great race no matter what division is featured. Now obviously many of these fans also forget what a disaster 410 racing was the last two years it was on the card with paltry car counts and uncompetitive fields. Nonetheless the difference between the crowds for big 360 sprint shows in Washington (ASCS National swing in June) to the crowds for the big 410 sprints shows (World of Outlaws) show that in the eyes of the fans 410 racing is supreme and more worthy of their time and money.
Now obviously the Outlaws are a different beast and draw a fan base that no other dirt track series will (I call them the NASCAR fans that come out to watch NASCAR owned sprint car teams race), but this does not lessen the excitement that many fans in Washington have for 410 sprint car racing. The difference between 410 and 360 sprint car racing is the way they attack the track. With the added horsepower 410 sprint cars have an advantage when it comes to widening a racing surface - they simply run through the cushion pushing it to the wall. This was evident at Grays Harbor Monday night when the main event was almost around the top of the track. This doesn’t happen any other time of the year at the track because nothing else has the power to run around the top of the track at GHR. Same thing at Skagit - they way the 410s push that track makes it wider and racier than normally is for 360 racing.
This all is mentioned amidst the recent announcement about Dirt Cup going back to 410 racing and the possibility of 410 weekly racing returning on a somewhat limited scale. While many local drivers have expressed concern about this change and how it will affect them and their investments into their 360 sprint programs, the way fans react to 410 racing makes me understand why 55 Promotions is pushing this agenda. The potential to fill the house with a card featuring 410 sprints is there as the Outlaws have shown and Dirt Cups of yesteryear have shown.
Now obviously the issue of having enough cars for a full program will be the bigger question as 410 racing originally died because of waning support. This last weekend showed we have about seven locals (Washington/Oregon) that have 410 engines right now with rumors swirling about another three or four drivers/teams looking for a 410. Now obviously 10 cars is not a full field but it would be a start and potentially that 10 become 16-18.
The plan to bring back 410 racing is not without risk and I am sure it will be the subject of this column plenty of times between now and next racing season as much is still to be determined. The fact is the fan interest 410 racing brings is hard to ignore and a big reason I am sure 55 promotions is making this push.

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:
● The car counts for the four nights were 23, 24, 24 and 21. The last night at Grays Harbor was bolstered by SHARK Racing and Two-C Racing pulling down second cars to get to 21 and the standard format.
● Wayne Johnson had reached out to Colton Heath last week about potentially driving his car over the weekend because of feeling under the weather but ultimately decided to run all four nights. He did park it after heat races Friday but ran a complete program the next three nights
● Oregon’s Tyler Thompson and Wsahignton’s Malachi Gemmer not only made their World of Outlaw debut this weekend but it was also their first time in a 410. Both drivers struggled against the best drivers in the country but gained valuable laps and e.xperience throughout the four nights.
● Oregon’s Tanner Holmes was also making his World of Outlaw debut over the weekend. Holmes has run 410s early this year in Arizona, at the Murphy Classic and with the All Stars on a couple of occasions but this was his first test against the best. His best performance of the weekend was at Grays Harbor where he qualified 10th quick and ran in the top 10 early in the main before fading to 14th.
● Jason Solwod and Trey Starks were the only locals to crack the top 10 during the weekend. Solwold finished ninth on Friday, while Starks finished ninth Sunday and Monday. Starks performance Monday was especially impressive as he missed his qualifying lap after a rear end issue in hot laps and started the main 18th.
● Washington’s Austen Wheatly made his first appearance of 2021 and first since 2019 during the four night Outlaw swing. He had a great qualifying effort on Monday when he was sixth quick. Unfortunately he couldn’t capitalize in his heat and started the main 12th and finished 13th.
● NARC and USAC/CRA had a two night Louie Vermeil doubleheader over the weekend at Silver Dollar Speedway. On the NARC side Dominic Scelzi and Justin Sanders split the weekend giving them 18 and 20 wins on the season respectively. The USAC/CRA races were captured by Illinois’ Carson Short and Damion Gardner. The USAC/CRA guys also had a Monday date at Petaluma which saw Austen Williams get the win.
● The highlight of the Vermeil had to be the Sunday USAC/CRA show which saw extremely close racing for the lead throughout the race and was decided on the last lap when Gardner put the bump and run moved on Brody Roa. Roa was obviously not happy and when he approached Gardner in victory lane Gardner gave a WWE sort of speech saying Roa deserved it because of past incidents. One thing about Damion Gardner - he is exciting and gives fans a show.
● Sanders has now won three of his first six starts in the Works Limited sprinter. In his other three starts he has been outside the top 10.
● The car counts at the Louie were solid as NARC drew 31 and 29, while the USAC/CRA guys had 35 and 32 check-in. Monday night was a different story for USAC/CRA as only 15 cars checked in at Petaluma. Petaluma continues to struggle to draw cars for touring series races.
● Grays Harbor Raceway had $2000 to win 360 sprint car race on Sunday that drew seven cars. Pathetic but unfortunately car counts have been simply lacking since the Dirt Cup. Jay Cole seized the opportunity to score his second win of 2021 and the bigger than normal winners share.

Unlike years past I am not on the road to the Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway. After a busy last month that saw me attend 13 races at eight different tracks it is time for a weekend off. With the Northwest season winding down, not sure where I will be next but that doesn’t mean the news cycle will be slowing as this offseason promises to be an exciting one not only in the northwest but the entire west coast.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt super late model racing and pavement super late model racing.


 

 

CALIFORNIA JOURNEY COMES TO AN END

 

Joseph Terrell

8/30/2022

 

Redding, Ca…After four races in four nights on four different surfaces NARC Speedweek has come to a conclusion. While the racing was not the greatest it was fun to travel to different tracks each night and see what they have to offer. With fires all around I had feared that possibly more than Placerville would get cancelled but this did not happen and for the most part the smoke was minimal during the four nights of racing.

            After covering the Thursday and Friday night stops in a previous column here are my thoughts on the two tracks visited Saturday and Sunday.

 

Stockton DIrt Track - After two nights on small tracks, night three of speedweek went to the 4/10 mile Stockton Dirt Track changing the dynamics. Stockton is built inside an old horse track at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds. Unfortunately it also resides on prime real estate in a city with a major housing shortage so the future of this track is more than peril - it seems like its fate might have already been written. The City seems determined to get this land for housing and at this point nothing indicates this will not happen.

            The facilities themselves leave a lot to be desired - grandstands are a relic of the horse racing days, bathrooms are disgusting and the lighting for the track is questionable for sprint car racing - but no matter it is always a shame to think about a track closing down even if it is not a premier facility. It is too bad the track couldn’t be improved with better lighting and better overall facilities for fans to come to - but with the future of the track in peril, who is going to make these investments.

 Saturday night's main event showed Stockton can be racy as Dominic Scelzi came from sixth to win and Tanner Carrick finished third after starting 11th. Throughout the field there was good racing in the main event proving Stockton can provide great action when in the right condition. Hopefully the number of events at this facility are not numbered because it has great potential.

 

Petaluma Speedway - Speedweek ended at what might be the most unique tracks on the west coast due its surface and location. Petaluma features a gumbo clay like nothing else on the west coast and it is situated in such a way that it feels like you're watching a race in a strip mall parking lot. Petaluma Speedway is a lightning rod in California as many drivers and fans absolutely despise it while others have a huge fondness for it.

            The gumbo is unique and the track is narrow which makes it difficult to pass. Amazingly after a whole night of racing the clay was extremely soft still not packed hard like most dirt tracks at the end of the night. Justin Sanders led all 30 laps but was dogged the whole way by Colby Copeland. Although the main event did not feature much passing it is easy to see that if the field got deep into lapped traffic the racing could get exciting because of the tight corners and tricky track surface.

            The fact that you feel like you're sitting in a strip mall parking lot is weird. The Dick’s Sporting Goods across the street feels so close you can see the sizes of the athletic shorts inside and the Buffalo Wild WIngs is so close I could see the baseball game on the big screen. While I make light of this fact, this is very unfortunate as the city closes around the speedway and the fairgrounds a push has been made by the city to eliminate the fairgrounds for housing and development - I know shocker right. Much like Stockton, Petaluma Speedway is sitting on property that some feel can be used in a more efficient (profitable) sense. Unlike Stockton where it may be too late, the battle to save Petaluma Speedway is not over so maybe the gumbo will survive as a group of local leaders work to save the fairgrounds and speedway.

 

            The battle to save race tracks in California is real and on Sunday morning we made a quick trip by the now closed Altamont Speedway in Tracy, California to see what happens when the track loses the battle. We pulled up to a facility being guarded by a security guard and gated up securely to allow no spectators. It was sad because just outside of my view is a paved race track ready to race sitting idle because the racing community lost the battle. Hopefully his story stops repeating itself.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:

     Justin Sanders won a race at Merced he shouldn't have, lost a race at Stockton with a flat tire he should have won and closed the week with a dominant flag to flag win. Sanders struggles to be as consistent as Scelzi and Shane Golobic but when he sniffs victory he almost closes the deal and that is why he has won 19 races in 2021.

     Speaking of Scelzi and Golobic, they were consistent. Scelzi was never off the podium during the four races which allowed him to secure the Speedweek championship and extend his NARC point lead. Golobic had finishes of fifth, fifth, fifth and fourth. Qualifying set Golobic back all week.

     DJ Netto came into Speedweek right behind Scelzi in the point chase but after three finishes of 10th or worse he will need to really pick up the pace if he wants to get back in the title hunt.

     Colby Copeland was second Speedweek points, never finishing worse than eighth and getting on the podium twice. This Van Lare/Antaya combination will be a factor in the 410 ranks as the season winds down.

     Brother Bud and Tim Kaeding were never factors but remained consistent and neither finished out of the top 10 during the four races.

     The car counts for the four nights were 23, 24, 23 and 18 with 34 drivers competing overall. While the car count was on the low side the competition was not. Each night saw only maybe one or two drivers that were off the pace. Everybody else was fast. Quality is always better than quantity.

     While I understand the 410 car counts being what they are, it was hard for me to understand how only 13 360 sprints checked in a $3000 to win and $300 start Saturday at Stockton. Ran as a companion show to NARC, I figured at least 20-30 would show with the amount of 360 sprints in the state and only one other race going on. Golobic would score the win.

     Joel Myers, Jr. was slated to drive the MIke Phulps sprinter Sunday at Petaluma but elected instead to run his own car and parlayed that into setting fast time at his home track. Myers would be credited with eighth when the checkered flew - his best run in three starts during the week.

     Kaleb Montgomery got an opportunity to wheel a 410 Sunday at Petaluma for car owner Dan Monhoff with a motor from Steve Short. Montgomery won his heat and started the main seventh. Unfortunately he would be a DNF and credited with 16th.

     Rico Abreu never finished worse than sixth during the week after a 20th place finish on opening night at Merced. Abreu will head to Skagit this week to battle the World of Outlaws.

     For the third weekend in a row Andy Forsberg scored a win giving him six overall in 2021. He won the Marysville Raceway point finale Saturday night before making his lone Speedweek appearance Sunday at Petaluma.

     Eric Fisher and Trey Starks won in 360 races in Washington Saturday night. Fisher scored his second win of the year at Skagit Speedway and Trey Starks scored his first win of the year at Grays Harbor Raceway.

     Finally a lot of excitement in California right now about the DIrt Cup going back to 410 racing from drivers and car owners. This is good as Skagit will need all the support they can get from California and any other region as the track tries to bring back 410 racing to the northwest in 2022.

 

            Home just long enough to do laundry, mow the lawn and cash a check. Then it's back on the road for three nights of Outlaw racing this weekend at Skagit and then Monday night at Grays Harbor. Although the northwest season is not over for all intents and purposes the Outlaws swing marks the end of the northwest season for many fans.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintcarscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON THE ROAD IN CALIFORNIA

 

Joseph Terrell

8/28/2021

Watsonville, California...Two nights in the book and two more two go. Two quarter miles with different characteristics were featured the first two nights and here is a look back at my thoughts.

 

Merced Speedway - The only new track on this four day adventure I hadn’t been to I didn’t know what to expect. I had seen some races late last year on flo racing and read some good things about the speedway so I was excited to get to the track and see what it was all about. It was smaller than I expected and also higher banked than I had thought. The turns have a whipping effect and when in the correct conditions a 410 sprint car rips the track and can register a blistering lap as evidenced by Rico Abreu’s new track record of 10.354. Unfortunately it was like Abreu wore out the track as the next fastest in the 14 qualifiers that followed him was a 10.793 and the surface struggled the rest of the night to keep up with high powered 410 sprints.

            First the track was watered and tilled after hot laps and qualifying which truly didn’t have much effect on the track for heat races. By the end of the third of three 410 heat races track conditions had again become less than ideal and on the verge of taking rubber. The program proceeded with four more support division heat races, a NARC dash and three support division main events before reworking the track for the NARC main event by again watering and tilling. For the first 15 laps the track was hooked up hammer down and then came about four or five laps of really good racing and then the rubber set in and by the last five laps everybody was in the same groove.

            Merced normally doesn’t run 410 sprints and the track was not in prime condition for most of the night but with that said the track has tons of potential and showed glimpses of providing a great racing surface. Overall my first trip to Merced left me intrigued and wanting to return because of what could be a potentially fantastic track.

 

Ocean Speedway...Over the coastal range to Ocean Speedway for night two. From the depths of the Central Valley to the Pacific Ocean the scenery may be different but another quarter mile was on tap.

Most of the day was dominated by two incidents from the night before: the 78 (Mark Barrosso) and the scoring errors (Dominic Scelzi). Twitter handled the first and Jeremy Elliott and Sprint Car Unlimited handled the second. The truth is both were bad looks in the day of floracing and 24/7 media and NARC will need to clean up its act in some areas going forward specifically traffic hazards and consistent scoring.

The track itself was hooked up all night as Ryan Robinson set an all time 410 track record but not an all time track record which is held by Keith Day set during a 360 race. The fast surface put passing at a premium throughout the show and even with four support divisions the track didn’t get good for racing until right at the end of the NARC main event. Just then the track was just starting to slick off but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have rubbered up in five laps so it is hard to say. Going into tonight I was warned that they had increased the banking in the track and that it had made it less racier and more difficult to prepare. Tonight showed that the difference between being wet and hooked to rubber down is a small margin. Often increased banking sounds great as fans envision drivers pushing the cushion but more banking is not always better if the only way around the track is to push the cushion.

It wasn't all bad as Ocean Speedway runs one of the, if not the, most efficient show on the west coast. Five total divisions ran 11 total heats, a dash and five main events. The show concluded about 930pm and would have been done earlier than that if not for the lengthy NARC A main which included a fence repair. I am never a fan of excessive support divisions but if track is going to run as efficiently as Ocean it makes it much easier to swallow.

 

NEWS AND NOTES THROUGH TWO NIGHTS:

     Car counts have been disappointing to some but the level of competition is stout. Through two nights only Dominic Scelzi has scored top fives both nights with a second and third.

     Justin Sanders had a stout debut in the Kevin Kozlowski Works Limited Eagle with a win on Thursday although it was marred in controversy because of confusion on how to line up after yellows. Friday night at his home track Sanders was below average and was never a factor.

     Ocean regular Kurt Nelson entered the first two nights of speedweek and brought a seventh Friday at his home track. Nelson qualified in the top 10, won his heat and was in the dash before running in the top five the first half of the main event.

     Landon Brooks was involved in a hard accident Friday night as he batted outside the top 10. Making his debut the Ed Butterfield 76, Brooks showed improvement over the two nights but the rest of the weekend is in question as his sprinter was severely bent.

     Ryan Robinson continues to impress whenever he gets in the Mike Phulps 56. With scheduling issues limiting him just to Friday night he made the most of it and came home second as he chased Mitchell Faccinto all night. The Phulps team plans to complete Sunday at Petaluma but with a different driver as Robinson is unavailable.

     Faccinto’s win Friday was well needed. Him and his Stan Greenberg team have not been as stout in 2021 as the last few years. Getting a NARC win should infuse this team with some much needed momentum.

     Canadian Robbie Price was a surprise entrant. Talking to Price in the pits he said it was a great opportunity to get some laps in before the Outlaws invade Skagit next weekend. Price finished seventh on Thursday and qualified fifth on Friday before incurring DNF in the main event.

     Corey Day was involved in a devastating flip Thursday involving the aforementioned 78. Day flipped his Tarlton sprinter violently down the front stretch into turn one. He was okay but sore and elected to skip Friday night but hopes to return Saturday.

 

            Back on the road to Stockton for night three and then to Petaluma Sunday. Tonight's action at Stockton features an added bonus of 360 sprints also on the card racing for $3000 to win.

 

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell 8/25/2021

 

Olympia, Wa...I am checking off another bucket list time this week as I head to California. Ever since the heyday of NARC in the 1990s NARC speedweek had always been a bucket list thing for me. Unfortunately NARC speedweek died as the series became King of the West and seemed like a bucket list item would never be completed. Enter Jim Allen’s return and the rebranding of King of the West back to NARC and what do you know - NARC speedweek is about to be checked off my bucket list.

Rejuvenated in 2019 NARC speedweek was revived with a four day four race series with stops at Placerville, Silver Dollar and two nights at Stockton creating the “fastest four days in motorsports.” Obviously the 2020 version was cancelled at California dealt with effects of COVID-19, but in 2021 COVID restrictions have been eased and speedweek is back, this time being dubbed the “fastest five days in motorsports” with stops at Placerville, Merced, Ocean, Stockton and Petaluma. But before speedweek could commence mother nature had other ideas ravaging California with fires and causing Placerville to have to cancel the opening night as the El Dorado Fairgrounds provide base for firefighters and support teams that are battling the blazes raging through Northern California. So we are back to four days but it will have to do and I am still counting it for bucket list purposes.

One of the things that intrigued me about NARC speedweek in its original form and speedweek now is the mix of drivers that will show each night and will someone pull off an upset. We know the teams that travel with the series every week (Netto, Scelzi, Bud Kaeding, TK, Becker, Billy Aton etc.) will be attending all four nights. I also expect Colby Copeland (Antaya 16a), Ryan Robinson (Phulps 56), Justin Sanders (TBA), Shane Golobic and Corey Day (Tarlton 21) to be at all four events. It has just been announced Rico Abreu will be running all four nights as well. Will anybody be in the Roth 83jr? What about drivers like Willie Croft, Mitchell Faccinto, Kyle Hirst, Joel Myers, Jr., the Carrick brothers and Andy Forsberg to name a few. How many races will they run and what tracks? Forsberg is really good at Petaluma while Croft and Faccinto get around Stockton as well as anybody. Hirst is Hirst and Myers is shown he can be fast anywhere. Can former Ocean Champion JJ Ringo win in Ocean - he finished third in Santa Maria last month? Will Aton get a second career win at Petaluma? One thing I have learned about racing in California is one just never knows who might show up and catch everybody off guard.

            All this makes for an interesting four days in California where the action will bounce between the scorching hot Valley (Merced and Stockton) to cooler settings closer to the ocean (Ocean and Petaluma). My expectations are competitive fields each night with 10-15 winners possible depending on the night and track. Car count will hover between 20-30 - which seems low compared to other major 410 sprint speedweeks (Ohio and Pennsylvania) but on the west coast that is a solid number.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:

     It is hard to believe coming into last weekend Shane Golobic had not won since May 8 but it was true. With a lot of big races coming up Golobic got back to his winning ways Saturday night as he bagged the $5000 to win the Johnny Key Classic at Ocean Speedway for his sixth win of the year.

     Ryan Robinson continues to develop into one of the better drivers in California. Robinson was driving his family car, instead of his normal 360 sprint owned by Todd Weiher, won the Friday night prelude to the Key and then finished third behind Golobic and Scelzi Saturday night. Robinson is the Sprint Car Challenge Tour leader with three races remaining.

     With a two race weekend at Ocean on tap smart money would have said Justin Sanders would score at least one win. On the contrary Sanders finished third on Friday and could not recover from a hard heat race accident to make the call for the C. Sanders still leads the nation with 17 sprint car wins overall including 16 in California.

     Silver Dollar Speedway had a rare Friday night race last weekend and it was Andy Forsberg getting the win ahead of Kyle Hirst and Chase Madjic. Showing how strong the 360 sprint car scene is in California SIlver Dollar had 36 cars Friday and Ocean drew 39.

     Kalib Henry was fourth at the Johnny Key Classic. Somebody please get this guy a top flight ride - Roth, Antaya and Tarlton come to mind. He deserves one.

     With no 360 sprint car races in the northwest last weekend the limited sprint took center stage with six race Interstate Sprint Car Series speedweek. Regular 360 driver Tyler Thompson won three of the six races but Southern Oregon’s Camden Robustelli won the overall series batte after scoring two wins.

     Two track champions were decided last week in California. The first was expected as Friday night's race at Ocean Speedway was the track's final 360 point race and a fourth place run by Bud Kaeding secured the title for him ahead of Sanders and teenager Joey Ancona. The second was Placerville Speedway which was to have one more point race this Saturday but has been cancelled due to fire situation in the area making August 14 the final point race. Veteran Andy Forsberg won the championship ahead of 15 year old Joel Myers, Jr. by 28 points and in a point race that was close throughout the year.

     Down in USAC/CRA land Brody Roa scored his second win of the year in the Hall of Fame Classic at Perris Speedway ahead of Stevie Sussex and Cody Williams. Point leader Damion Gardner faded to a fifth place finish allowing Roa to close the lead to 24 points. More than $13,000 was on the line in the form of fast time awards, trophy dash win and laps led. Roa came home with around $5000 including $2100 for being fastest in qualifying. Sussex was also a big winner as he led laps 2-27 which included at least two $700 laps but I have been unable to find an official release of exact amounts won. Matt Mitchell won $2000 for winning the battle of four three lap trophy dashes.

     Coming up is another Saturday night where two  Washington tracks (Skagit and Grays Harbor) run 360 sprints head to head although car counts continue to be an issue in the state during the summer. I complained about this when the schedules were released, have continued to and will continue to until northwest promoters can work out a sprint car schedule that doesn’t divide up what is a very finite resource.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell 8/17/2021

Olympia, Wa...As I headed out Highway 8 to Grays Harbor Raceway I was pretty excited for a night of racing featuring a full field of IMCA Modifieds and 360 sprints. As could be expected the modifieds pulled their weight by signing 25 strong and the 360 sprints...well I assumed they would get somewhere between 12 and 16.
Boy was I wrong. Instead of 12-16 sprinters I was shocked to get to the track and see only seven sprint cars checked in. I know even 12-16 sprinters does not seem like much but for Grays Harbor that is a solid car count. To put it in context the car counts in the previous point shows have been 16, 9, 10 and 7. The high count of 16 had been the only other point race at Grays Harbor that did not have a conflict with another race in the northwest hence the optimism going into last week's point race. Plus with this weekend coming up being quiet throughout the northwest for 360 sprints it seemed logical teams would want to get out as the northwest race season winds down.
I am not sure just one reason can be pointed to as why such a small car count was present but I have a theory as to what the problem truly is. Some teams are parked with motor issues, some teams pretty much just run Skagit and some teams seem to complain about a lack of racing but then don’t race the races available to them. The biggest factor though is that Grays Harbor Raceway just doesn’t have a base of drivers to draw from to support weekly competition. The track is located in a small town (Elma) 30 minutes west of Olympia (not a racing hotbed exactly) and when it comes to sprinters local teams just don’t exist. For most Skagit based teams it is at least a two hour drive and for teams in Oregon it is closer three to four hours and even farther if it is a team based in Southern Oregon. In the Shelton-Olympia-Tacoma area there are probably 10 or so teams total. That is not a lot to draw from when four or so those teams either don't race regularly or travel extensively and aren’t really locals.
So even before all the politics that enter sprint car racing and how it affects where teams choose to race, GHR simply lacks a solid enough base of cars to support weekly sprint car racing. I know some will say track conditions, not enough to win ($1400 to win weekly) or track mismanagement have led to the declining car counts and these play a role but not the major role. No track can have a weekly division that does not have a solid base to support it. Five local drivers and then hoping 10 other teams will travel to fill out the field is a big ask for a weekly show.
Instead again it was apparent the IMCA modified division had become the headline division at Grays Harbor Raceway and sprints had become a support division. The promoter of the track has said the same thing in conversation. It is the modified division that consistently draws 20 plus cars with fields featuring many potential winners. It is the modified that gets the fans on their feet yelling and screaming as they race three and four wide swapping positions on a turn by turn basis. The modifieds have a local base of 25-35 teams that support the track on any given night so even if 15 stay home a big enough field will be present for a full main event. And this is okay. The fans at GHR (myself included) recognize this and would be just happy to see sprints a handful times a year (four to six) with quality fields and higher purses making it sort of special event. Modifieds have proven to be a worthy headline division while having a good sprint show once a month that has that special feel would probably help draw cars and fans as well.
Obviously a lot of change is happening in the northwest with new ownership at Skagit Speedway and hopefully it will help inject energy into northwest sprint car racing as well as getting tracks to work together again to provide quality sprint car fields whenever they race. I do know struggling to draw 10 cars a night for a weekly show is not a sustainable business model and hopefully Grays Harbor recognizes this and works to make sprint car racing worth watching when it is on the schedule.

WEST COAST NEWS NOTES:
● Jesse Schlotfeldt took advantage of the seven car field at GHR to score his first career 360 sprint victory. After a disastrous ASCS National northwest swing Schlotfeldt has rebounded with some strong runs that last four weeks.
● Justin Sanders is back in the winning mode as he scored his second straight win at Ocean Speedway giving 16 for the year in California and 17 overall.
● Speaking of Sanders it sounds like he’s out of the Larry Antaya sprinter as Colby Copeland has been announced as the driver for the upcoming NARC speedweek. The same report said to expect Sanders to be in a new ride for speedweek.
● Andy Forsberg scored just his third win of 2021 and first at Placerville. Hard to believe Forsberg only has three wins to date - he has made a career of winning 10 or more races a year - but with one of his stomping grounds (Silver Dollar) idle for most the year wins have been scarce for Forsberg
● With this week's Johnny Key Classic California hits a stretch of having a big race just about every weekend through the end of the SCCT/NARC schedule (November 7). Among the races coming up are Posse Shootout, Vermeil Classic, Gold Cup, Adobe Cup, Fall Nationals, Cotton Classic, Trophy Cup and Tarlton Classic.
● This week the northwest has no racing on tap as the limited sprints take center stage with a six night speedweek through Oregon and Washington.
● With the lack of rain in California fans don’t have to worry about rainouts but instead have to worry about races being cancelled because the track is being used as a staging area to fight fires. Placerville was the latest victim as they were forced to cancel the NARC speedweek opener due to the El Dorado fairgrounds being used to fight the fires devastating California.

Plan to catch northwest limited sprint races this week at Sunset Speedway on Thursday and Grays Harbor on Friday. IMCA modifieds are on the schedule for Friday at GHR so that is an extra bonus.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell (August 13)

Olympia, Wa...The last two weeks the two tracks that I have frequented more than any others in my 38 years of going to races went in very separate directions. One has new ownership and exciting plans while the other seems destined for lost speedways which the story of mismanagement and developments again stops the noise of racing.
When I wrote about pending track closures last time I specifically referenced the status of Petaluma and Stockton which are on fairgrounds(and the shaky ground of fairground tracks in general). This land is heavily sought in both areas to develop and the fact is the operators of these facilities are going to make more money selling to developers than leasing to a promoter. On Tuesday Santa Maria Raceway became a quick reminder that it is not only tracks on fairgrounds facilities that are in trouble.
Santa Maria Raceway - which became Stadium 805 as they expanded their entertainment options to concerts and festivals - was shuttered because of a battle with neighbors concerning noise. The battle is much deeper than racetrack versus community as it is being portrayed. The death of Santa Maria Raceway is one that starts with the death of original owner and promoter Doug Fort. Once he died the track became a money grab for each person owner/promoter that came next. Whether it was selling the land above the track to developers that led to building houses where fans used to park when the World of Outlaws were in town or becoming a racetrack/concert/festival venue changing the nature of the facility - the identity and the area it occupied changed.
Now Santa Maria sits closed as the track says they did everything right but the county kept changing the rules. The county and homeowners surrounding the track paint a different picture of track ownership that didn’t follow the rules in place. Local homeowners say they object to concerts and not the racing at the track. Track ownership says that they cannot make enough money on racing alone. I am not sure where the truth lies but one thing I know for sure is that Santa Maria Raceway was part of the fabric of the community, Stadium 805 was not and the community reacted to the change negatively. One has to wonder what would've happened if the upper had not been sold and houses not built?
The story of Skagit Speedway is much different as Fifty-Five Promotions has taken ownership from Fun Time Promotions effective at the end of the 2021 season and are eager to elevate the standing of the track. This is good. Yes change will occur and not everybody will welcome or favor it but fans/drivers/media should support those promoters/tracks that look to expand the sport. That doesn’t mean don’t ask questions or voice opinions but it means be patient, be professional, listen to answers and give the new leadership team a chance to show what they are about. Anybody that has been around Skagit Speedway knows that offers have been on the table for years to purchase the track and repurpose it (water park or motocross facility to name a few) but ownership of the track has always been racing people whose main goal was to preserve the existence of the legendary speedway. For the last 20 years this is what Steve Beitler has done for the speedway and he finally found a group of buyers who love racing as much as he does and will keep the track alive and relevant for the foreseeable future.
The reason I say this is on the heels of the huge announcement yesterday that the 50th Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway will return to its 410 roots and pay $50000 to win. There was some immediate pushback from drivers who are invested in their 360 programs. With the announcement local 360 drivers were probably thinking they had just lost their headline weekend and were being relegated to second tier status. I can understand this concern but also would think maybe we all need to just be a little more patient and wait for schedule announcements. It's just one race and one announcement. Maybe the Summer Nationals will be rebranded so 360 drivers will still get that national platform. Until I have a chance to talk track ownership and find out more I am going to be optimistic. The new group has made one announcement and to say it was big and bold would be understatement and this group truly loves racing which is the key.
The tale of Santa Maria Raceway and Skagit Speedway is the difference between racers and business people running race tracks. For better or worse Skagit has continued to be in the hands of owners who love racing and want to preserve it. Post Doug Fort Santa Maria Raceway became the tool for people to make money even if that came at the expense of the track's very existence.

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:
● Kalib Henry won the $5000 Mark Forini Classic at Placerville last Saturday. With all the young talent in California Henry gets lost in the shuffle but his results show he shouldn’t be. Somebody get this kid a consistent regular ride so he doesn’t have to bounce around week to week.
● The other big race last weekend on the west coast was the Marvin Smith Memorial at Cottage Grove. Robbie Price returned after a month long absence and scored the $2500 Friday night win his first night aboard the Cook Contractors sprinter. The next night Trey Starks won the $4100 Saturday night prize aboard his family's J&J. For each driver it was their first win in 2021.
● Washington native Devon Borden finally showed the Pennsylvania Posse what he was all about. After two months of showing speed but not consistency, last weekend Borden showed consistency and swept the weekend winning at Williams Grove and Port Royal. Borden is improving against tough competition and it will be interesting to see how he fares as he enters big race season in Posse country
● Justin Sanders finally won again. After a rough month and a half where Sanders couldn’t catch a break he was back in victory lane last Friday night for his 15th win of the year in California (16th overall). Now is the time for Sanders to get refocused as the Johnny Key Classic, NARC Speedweek and the Outlaw swing are fast approaching
● The Scelzi brothers are pretty tough in the 360 competition when big money is on the line. Dominic scored the $15,000 to win Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway in June and younger brother Gio decided to match him and scored the $15,000 to win 360 Nationals at Knoxville. Maybe they can settle the score at Trophy Cup?
● Finally four big races in recent weeks have had astonishingly low car counts: $10,000 to win Summer Nationals at Skagit (360 - 21 cars); $10,000 to win non-sanctioned 410 race at Huset’s (410 - 20 cars), $20,000 to win FAST series Race of Champions at WV Motor Speedway (410 - 29 cars); $20,000 to win Front Row Challenge at Southern Iowa Speedway (410 - 25 cars). Don’t want to make much of this, besides it is amazing to me when promoters put up big money and drivers don’t support it but then complain about not enough big paying races.

I am headed to Grays Harbor Raceway Saturday night after a Thursday night trip to Sunset Speedway to watch some IMCA modified racing. 360 sprints are on the card Saturday for the first time since July 10 and will be joined by the IMCA modifieds as they conclude their speedweek. With no competing 360 sprint car races in the northwest this weekend hopefully a healthy car count will appear.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Cannon Beach, Or...With a limited amount of sprint car racing last weekend on the west coast (and none in the northwest) I figured this would be a great time to look at some of the big stories in west coast sprint car racing in 2021. As I enjoy the Oregon Coast slowly putting this list together, the news that has been swirling around Skagit Speedway all year was finalized. Steve Beitler was selling the track to Fifty-Five Promotions (Kevin Rudeen, Mike Anderson and Peter Murphy make the group) effective at the end of the 2021.
Excitement has been swirling since this announcement Monday and I hope to have more on what the future might hold for Skagit Speedway. With this announcement fans can be assured racing will continue to happen in the Skagit Valley for a long time and the new group has every intention of making Skagit Speedway the diamond of the west coast. Once I get more solid information I will discuss what the future of Skagit Speedway might look like.
But for now I want to look at what in my opinion have been some of the big stories on the west coast in 2021. Obviously the sale of Skagit would rank number high but since that story is just developing I want to look at my list before the sale of Skagit.

● FANS IN THE STANDS
After a start of the season that saw both the ASCS National Tour and World of Outlaws cancel their spring swings, things started to turn for the better as restrictions of tracks began to loosen up and down the west coast. This means fans returning and by mid May it seemed “normal” had returned. Considering how rough 2020 was on west coast tracks and promoters as they tried to press on without fans in the stands it has to be a welcome sight to see fans back in the stands in 2021 with no restrictions - for now.

● THE SPRING OF SANDERS BECAME THE SUMMER OF SCELZI
Early in the season Justin Sanders was racking up wins in California at an alarming rate. He won three times in March, five times in April and another four in May. At that point he had 12 wins in California and 13 overall. He scored two more wins in June at Ocean but since his win at Ocean on June 18 Sanders has not scored a win and has struggled to finish races. Dominic Scezli on other hand has caught fire as the weather has warmed. Scelzi had a strong March with four wins but only had one in April. But in mid May Scelzi swept the four race Murphy Classic and hasn’t looked back. In June he only had one California win but that doesn’t tell the story as he won the Dirt Cup at Skagit to score $15,000. July saw Scelzi real off four wins moving his total to 14 in California and 16 overall. Even more impressive, Scelzi has won the three highest paying races to date on the West Coast - Murphy Classic, Bradway Memorial and Dirt Cup.

● A CHANGING OF THE GUARD IN THE NORTHWEST
This change has been slowly happening since Roger Crockett left for Oklahoma following the 2017 season. Until then the northwest sprint car scene was dominated by Crockett and Jason Solwold. In the years since Colton Heath kind of moved into that spot as the rival to Solwold. 2021 however has been all about Cam Smith and Garen Linder. Solwold hasn’t won all year and Heath has one win on April 17. On the other hand Smith has five (including an ASCS National win) and Linder has three (including Summer Nationals). Neither of these drivers is new to the scene and have shown they are capable in recent years but in 2021 they have become the drivers to beat in the northwest.

● COREY DAY BRINGS IN A NEW DAY
One of the biggest stories all year in California and beyond has been the rise of Corey Day. The son of the legendary Ronnie Day, Corey has has quickly shown that he will not wallow in his dad’s shadow but more than likely cast an even bigger one. With one pass of Donny Schatz in Arizona and a new legend was off and running. Surprisingly Day only has one sprint car win to date but he has displayed the sort of flair for the dramatic that just yells superstar (think about his spirited charge to fourth from the back at Silver Dollar on May 1). Day showed his versatility when he went and competed in Indiana midget week and picked up a win after only a handful of midget starts. Like any young driver Day can overdrive at times and be wildly inconsistent but the talent is obvious.

● FAIRGROUNDS AND RACING - DO THEY STILL MIX
One of the realities of racing on the west coast is most tracks are on fairground properties and generally this has worked but a couple of situations in California show how this relationship became strained as the state looks for places to build and fairgrounds look to make money with some of their real estate. Petaluma Speedway and Stockton Speedway are both located on fairgrounds and are in danger because their respective fairgrounds look to make some money and their respective cities look for affordable housing. WIth so many California tracks on fairground property and affordable housing at a premium in the state I hope this doesn't become the prevailing trend.

● 410 RACING - WHAT IS THE FUTURE
Despite what seems to be a yearning for more and better 410 sprint car racing on the west coast it just can’t seem to get traction. The NARC series (winged) struggles to get 20 cars and the USAC/CRA series (non winged) does not fare much better. I truly am concerned about the USAC/CRA series as they lack any young talent and a base to draw drivers from. As some stalwarts of the series over the last handful of years get older, no young drivers are coming to replace them. NARC on the other hand has a big base of drivers in Northern California (more drivers have 410s than is perceived) they just don’t show up on the same night. Racing in Northern California tends to be very regional so the same driver doesn’t race at Tulare, Petaluma and Silver Dollar. NARC needs to make their purses stronger, increase the winning amount (at least $4000 hopefully $5000) and most importantly schedule more at the tracks racers want and less at tracks drivers don't want in hopes to get more drivers to follow the series full time. WIth Kings Speedway scheduling a handful of weekly 410 shows and noise about some 410 races at Skagit in 2022 the future for winged 410 racing isn’t bleak like it is for non wing 410 racing but improvement is still needed to get it on firm ground.

I am sure there are stories I have missed but those are the six that have stood out to me in 2021 to date. With the sale of Skagit Speedway and many big races still remaining the story of 2021 is far from written.

After a weekend off I am headed back to catch the Northwest Super Late Model Series at South Sound Speedway on the pavement this weekend. It has almost become a tradition that the first weekend of the month is for pavement racing. August should be an exciting month as I catch Supers on the pavement, some of modified and ISCS speedweek and top it off with a trip to California for NARC speed week.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Skagit Valley, Wa...Car counts is a great topic for race benching. How many cars are coming? That is always the first question for race fans when going to a race. We have been trained that way in a sense - more is a better is always true when it comes to racing, right? Well maybe not. Maybe it is just best to go to a race, enjoy who is there and see if that set of drivers can entertain you for the evening. If so, does it matter if there were 20 or 50 cars? This scenario played out this last weekend at Skagit Speedway for the Summer Nationals.
With $10000 on the line to win a 360 sprint car race surely 30-40 cars would show up as has been the case the last 10 years. But many dynamics in 2021 caused the car count to barely crack 20 - well below my over/under number of 31.5. First the Canadian border remains closed. Second, the ASCS frontier region was running a three race weekend, keeping a few drivers close to home. Third NARC had a two race weekend as well as Placerville having a points race which kept the Cali drivers in the Golden State. Lastly was attrition as three or four teams were not in attendance as they try to recover from a busy June as a lot of drivers ran seven races in June which is a lot for a month in the northwest and don’t forget speedweek the week before. If each of these dynamics that came together kept one of two cars away the car count could easily have been 30-34 and more in line with expectations.
So Friday afternoon there was a lack of buzz that was noticeable - not many cars, not many campers and not many fans. Word started spreading early in the day the car count would be maybe only 21 or so. As the pit gates closed that was the number amazingly for such a high paying race. Skagit has had more cars for a weekly show and the week before Cottage Grove had 30 cars Friday night of its two night speedweek finale. So to say it was a little underwhelming when only 21 cars checked is an understatement. But fast forward 30 hours or so and nobody could remember as once again the Summer Nationals produced an epic race - a battle for the lead as two drivers battled for their first huge payday playing a wicked game of cat and mouse.
Garen Linder and Chase Goetz swapped the lead on three different occasions with Linder finally securing the top spot for good on a lap 38 restart slide job as the two raced through one and two. Before that each driver put on a clinic in lapped traffic as they sliced and diced without making contact with slower traffic or each other. It was a huge win for Linder while at the same time Chase Goetz was just two laps from sweeping Summer Nationals - something that just doesn't happen. There was racing throughout the field but the front two stole the show and rightfully the spotlight.
When the checkered flew on lap 40 and Linder secured his first big paying sprint car win the Saturday night crowd left very happy. The talk of only 21 cars had lost traction to the great main event that essentially featured a 40 lap race for the lead. It shouldn’t have been no surprise as the 2021 edition quickly joined the 2019 and 2016 editions of the Summer Nationals as some of the best races in the last 10 years at Skagit Speedway.
I will admit even this writer was taken back by the small car count but I was quickly reminded of my own words - give me a full feature field and an awesome race and I am a happy camper. That is exactly what happened Saturday night. Twenty-one cars started the main event - which is plenty on the 3/10 mile oval - and they provided an entertaining exciting race accentuated by an instant classic battle for the lead. Which is what sprint car racing and short track racing is about in general. It is not about car count - it is about the quality of the product and the main event delivering the goods. The goods were delivered Saturday night at Skagit Speedway.

SUMMER NATIONALS NEWS AND NOTES:

● Cam Smith overcame a damaged front wing and secured a podium with a late race pass of Eric Fisher. In fact both nights podium had the same three drivers - Linder, Goetz and Smith. Seeing Linder and Smith on the podium both nights was not much of a surprise but for Goetz it was a sign that he is now among the upper echelon of the northwest.
● Speaking of Fisher, talk about a tale of two nights. Friday night he was slow in qualifying and mired deep in the field during the main event. Fast forward to Saturday and he was third quick and seemingly had a podium finish wrapped up before Smith’s late move. Fisher’s weekend is a representation of his career - he can be really good and really average and not necessarily streaky. You just never know what Fisher is going to show up.
● The one driver who seemed he might be able to contend with Linder and Goetz Saturday was Colton Heath. Heath had taken second from Linder around lap 10 or 11 but was caught in an incident with a slower driver only a few laps later. Heath was able to rebound and finish sixth but he again was left wondering what could have been. In my opinion Colton Heath is the best northwest driver without a Summer Nationals/Dirt Cup crown since 2000. Heath was the first driver out of the pits Saturday - last word was they were going to catch the second half of the ASCS Speedweek. I did not have a chance to confirm with the team though.
● Going into the weekend Trey Starks was my favorite but things just didn’t go his way. Friday Starks made a few mental errors in the main event before rallying to pass Jason Solwold for the last automatic transfer in the waning laps. Saturday Starks started sixth and just couldn’t gain much traction before being part of a lap 18 incident that didn’t stop him but damaged his front wing - same incident aforementioned Smith was part of. Starks struggled with the damage more than Smith and he faded from fifth to eighth in the final half of the race.
● The biggest surprise entrant had to be Max Mittrry. The Californian returned to Skagit Speedway for the second time in 2021 and had a solid Saturday night coming home seventh. Mittry and Mittry Motorsports teammate Chase Madjic are becoming the Outlaws of the west coast because you just never know they might show up.
● Three drivers that were a surprise no show were Greg Hamilton, Brock Lemley and Robbie Price. Hamilton is back racing the first four nights of ASCS Speedweek in Alex Hill’s place, while Lemley indicated his fun level had pegged after a trying few weekends in June. Price is suffering from a concussion that rumor has occurred as the result of a Saturday night/Sunday morning Dirt Cup altercation.
● Finally no weekend at Skagit is complete without talk about the impending sale of the track. A source has told me it is a done deal, but rumors also abound that the deal has fallen through. My take the whole time has been let's just wait and see.

An off weekend is on tap. After a weekend featuring three major shows in Washington (Summer Nats/Summer Showdown/Mod Nats) this weekend lacks anything worth going to - things that make you wonder. But my family will appreciate it but the race chaser in me wishes one of those big shows from last weekend was this weekend.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

 Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...It has to be one of the most unappreciated big 360 sprint car races in the United States. This Saturday a driver will make $10000 for a night's work at Skagit Speedway and in the process become the Summer Nationals champion. Friday night pays $2000 so potentially a driver could bag $12000 with the weekend sweep. The longstanding Summer Nationals seems to get lost in the summer racing season, but make no mistake this is often one of the most hotly contested and best sprint car races of the year.

            Due to the fact the Summer Nationals does not get a lot of travellers and  isn’t an ASCS National race many fans overlook this race and forget just how big it is. Only Trophy Cup, Knoxville 360 Nationals and Dirt Cup pay more to win and yet the Summer Nationals seems to fall under the radar every year except in the northwest where it is circled on calendar as a must win event for drivers. The Summer Nationals has become the de facto Northwest Championship because the lack of invaders almost ensures the winnings will go to a northwest based team.  So who are the favorites to become the 2021 Summer Nationals Champion:

 

 

1.    Trey Starks (+500) The Dirt Cup runner up this year will be a factor without doubt. Starks has been on the podium the final night of Brownfield and Dirt Cup and was destined for another one during the northwest speedweek finale at Cottage Grove before his tire had other ideas. Starks is a national talent competing on a regional level so good chance he will be in the mix when the checker flies. Interestingly Starks still is looking for his first marquee win in the northwest.

2.    Cam Smith (+800) Four wins at Skagit and five overall it seems hard to not make Cam Smith the favorite...but unfortunately Starks is strong right now and Smith still needs to prove he can win a big race. Despite making Starks the favorite I would bet on Smith - it is his time to break through and win a major race at Skagit.

3.    Colton Heath (+1200) Heath is in the same boat as Smith...they both have been out on the Sea for a long time and they can see the shoreline but cannot navigate to it. Despite all the success Heath has enjoyed since teaming up with the LAW Motorsports 10 or so years ago he still has not scored that big payday.

4.    Garen Linder (+2500) Linder has been snake bitten at Skagit in years gone by but recently he has started to see a little more success at the track. He was third during the Carroll Classic in May and finished eighth the final two nights of Dirt Cup. Just like the three drivers above him Linder is another driver in need of a signature win and a Summer Nationals victory would provide that.

5.    Jason Solwold (+3500) This year's results tells me Solwold will be lucky to finish in the top five. But I have been around the northwest sprint car scene too long to count out Solwold at the Summer Nationals. He has four victories in this race and the last five he has ran he has a win and four seconds. I felt Solwold was ripe for a big Saturday night at Dirt Cup and I have the same feeling for Saturday night of Summer Nationals.

 

A couple more odds:

 

     Robbie Price (+6000) The 2019 Dirt Cup champion has been pretty average in 2021 but don’t count out Price just yet. He has a lot of laps in a sprint car, especially at Skagit, and is one of those drivers who will surprise with a great run out of nowhere.

     Brock Lemley (+7000) Lemley has a fast sprint car… that much has been evident in 2021. Question is can Lemley put together a whole night especially for a 40 lapper like Saturday night will be. Smart money says no but Lemley is no stranger to magical runs in big shows and does have a 2014 Dirt Cup championship on his resume.

 

Finally Car Count (over/under 31.5): On the heels of Northwest Speedweek, competing against a ASCS frontier region race and NARC doubleheader and the fact that two northwest drivers (Tanner Holmes and Greg Hamilton will be in the midwest) it seems likely this race will not draw the number of cars it should with the amount of money being paid out.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:

     The biggest race last weekend on the west coast was the Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway for micro sprints. In the headlining 600 division central California’s Mitchel Moles won another big micro race as he grabbed the $10000 first prize. Moles needs to concentrate on sprints and midgets as he has made the micro division his personal playground and it is now time for him to show he can win at the sprint car level. Moles will be in Roth Motorsports 83jr this weekend.

     At Ocean Speedway the Howard Classic was run last weekend featuring 360 sprints Friday night and NARC sprints on Saturday for $6900 to win. Kaleb Montgomery continued his strong 2021 campaign as he picked up the win Friday night for his third overall of the year. Saturday it was Sean Becker grabbing his first win of the year as he steered clear of the carnage in a race marred heavily by wrecks. As much as I like double file restarts one has to question the wisdom of continuing to use them Saturday night at Ocean as the broken sprint cars piled up

     Oregon held its traditional Northwest Speedweek last week with a $5000 to win show at Cottage Grove capping the week. The week had one main theme...Colby Copeland. Copeland never finished worse than fourth in five races including three wins and sweeping the weekend at the Grove. In the process Copeland won his second speedweek title and now has six career speedweek wins - all in the Jim VanLare SHARK powered sprinter.

     Amazingly Justin Sanders has not won a race since June 18. That is one whole month for a driver who had 15 wins in less than 30 starts to begin the season. Since then he has eight starts and no wins.

     The USAC/CRA series struggles to draw more than 25 cars a race but  continues to provide compelling and interesting main events producing plenty of storylines. One example: check out the slide job Austin Williams put on Damion Garnder last weekend at Perris - the USAC/CRA series produces one of these moments almost every night they race.

     Finally just before finishing this column news started to break that San Joaquin Fairgrounds (home to the Stockton Dirt Track and Delta Speedway) was being partitioned so half the parcel could be made affordable housing. Guess what half the tracks fall in? Answer is obvious and hopefully this does not end the way it seems likely to. With the future of Petaluma Speedway also on shaky ground because of fairground redevelopment it is just another reminder how important it is to support local short track racing and keep the tracks we have - especially on the west coast.

 

            Off to the Summer Nationals this weekend at Skagit but plenty of racing on the west coast as NARC has a Tulare-Santa Maria double header and Placerville and Marysville run weekly shows.

 

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and more than occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Somewhere, Oregon...Oh those Oregon bullrings. They are small, dusty and can be frustrating to drivers and fans with the varying conditions. The facilities themselves are often underwhelming but nonetheless fans flock to these bullrings every July to watch a week of racing up and down the state to decide who is truly the master of the Oregon bullrings.

            This year's edition of the July tradition features stops at Coos Bay on the Southern Oregon coast, Willamette Speedway in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Sunset speedway west of Portland and finally a two day conclusion at Cottage Grove south of Eugene. After missing Monday's opener I was able to catch Tuesday and Wednesday at Willamette and Sunset before heading home and back to work.

            I hadn't been to Willamette in probably nine years and when I pulled in it looked familiar. When I last visited in 2012 Willamette was in the middle of a makeover (which included a reshaping of the track that has produced much better racing)  but unfortunately that makeover looks like it stopped mid process. The seating area is very nice while the concessions were overwhelmed for the crowd on hand, with too few concession stands open. The pits had no restrooms with plumbing. They were closed as were other areas of the track. The track could have used the grader during the night but unfortunately the machine was broken so the track had to rely on water and push trucks to try to beat down the cushion in one and two. But in typical Willamette fashion the main event was half decent after a run of average heat races and dash. As one driver told me in the pits it doesn’t seem to matter -  Willamette always gets racy for the main and tonight was no different.

            Although Colby Copeland ran away and hid during the 25 lap main, the action behind him was frenetic at times. Kinzer Cox, Corey Day and Tyler Thomspon swapped the fourth spot numerous times the last few laps before Day secured the position on the final two laps. Jodie Robinson was able to charge from 19th to seventh providing further evidence of the track surface allowing for great races. Willamette is a gem in central Oregon and has never been known for its pristine facilities and probably never will be but hopefully something can be done to get more sprint car races scheduled at Willamette and a stronger leadership team can be put in place to help this facility move forward.

            Next stop was the smallest of all Oregon bullrings Sunset Speedway. Nestled between Portland and the Ocean at first glance Sunset Speedway seems like a micro sprint track. A second glance doesn’t change that. From the track to the stands Sunset Speedway reminds me more of Deming than Willamette or Cottage Grove. Even though the track is small, sprint cars are more than capable of running on it and have put on some great shows when the track slicks off. Speedweek 2019 was a prime example of a good Sunset, 2021 was not. The track was predominantly one lane for the heats and by the main was all one line around the bottom. Justyn Cox used his pole position to dominate the main event as he was never seriously challenged aboard the Doug Rutz XXX. Restarts were the only chance to make a pass as once a lap or two set in it was a train around the bottom. Tyler Thompson can attest to this as he was running fourth before moving up a lane and fading to sixth at the end.

            That is the chance one takes when heading to Sunset Speedway. The track can be a victim of hot sun and heavy winds on the same day so it is hard not to overwater but once the track gets over watered it is hard to bring it back. Wednesday the track got too much water and not enough sun and never slicked off enough to provide the surface needed. Walking the track after the races it was still really wet after a 30 lap main event. Sunset is always fun though as the track is a relic of the past when weekly drivers went to the local fairgrounds to bang fenders. It still has that feel which is one reason I find myself visiting it almost every year at least once.

 

OTHER SPEEDWEEK NEWS AND NOTES:

     Car counts. I hate bringing the subject up but the first three nights featured 18, 19 and 16. Not exactly great numbers and noticeable to fans and drivers. After a conversation with one driver it seemed neither of us knew the solution but all we can do is keep supporting and hope to somehow spawn more interest in the northwest.

     Peter Murphy has been the talk of the west coast the last year and his appearance with Jason Meyers cruising the pits at Willamette only keeps the talk going. Not sure the nature of the trip but Murphy cannot just show up without speculation flying as what he might be planning next.

     Canadian car owner Doug Rutz has arrived stateside and found a familiar face to pilot his sprinter Justyn Cox. After a year and half without racing together the team wasted no time getting to speed as they followed two runner ups with a win at Sunset.

     Only one Washington based team made an appearance during the first three nights of speedweek and that was the Cook Contractors 22x at Willamette with Brinton Marvel.

     Jodie Roobinson and her team practically rebuilt her sprinter Tuesday night after a hot lap accident that seemed innocent enough. It wasn’t as Robinson and crew replaced both a rear end and front end and much more to get her ready to tag the A.

     Joel Myers, Jr was going to skip Wednesday night until he got the call from Doug Rutz to run a second car. Myers was an early DNF. He will return to his car Friday at Cottage Grove.

     The run of the early part of the week had to go to Drake Standley. The young Californian driver battled a variety of issues the first two nights but rebounded with a strong fifth place run at Sunset. The young driver has limited experience and is using the week to get as many laps as possible.

 

            That is all for now. Headed to Deming on Saturday for the Clay Cup Nationals finale before next weekend's $10,000 to win Summer Nationals at Skagit.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...NASCAR and Knoxville Raceway just said “Ouch” is what I was thinking as I watched the end of the NASCAR Truck race which morphed into a demolition derby. After some very competitive and racy heat races the 150 lap main started good but then...well lets just say the track became on almost pavement like surface and it was a fight to the bottom.

            Once this occurred the race resembled a demolition derby as drivers pretty much “bumped and ran” their way to a position. WIth no option to pass cleanly and with playoff points/spots on the line drivers were left to basically plow into the turns and make room for a pass, consequences be damned. During post race interviews Carson Hocevar, Donny Schatz and John Hunter Nemechek to name a few seemed to be in almost disbelief of what happened and all kind of thought the race turned into a joke - which it had. The final three laps took almost an hour as “big one” after “big one” occurred. It reminded me of why I don’t enjoy superspeedway racing.  So does NASCAR belong on dirt? Maybe.

 Konxville and NASCAR have already been active on social media with how much the fans enjoyed the show and how it was a giant success in the eyes of fans at the track. They don’t want to talk about the last 60 laps - just the fan experience. And yes the fan experience is important but at the end of the day the show is put on by drivers and their teams and many are left disappointed with their equipment ruined and shattered dreams - how much fun are they having? What really made this race a mess is the fact it was the second to last race before the playoffs and there were some desperate drivers trying to get that automatic berth - think Derek Kraus, Chandler Smith and Johnny Sauter to name a few. This compounded the problems of poor track conditions.

            I have not been impressed by either dirt NASCAR production this year. They weren't on the right track. Bristol should be paved and should stay that way. I think it is a shame to take one of the best paved tracks on NASCAR’s schedule and throw dirt on it. Knoxville is meant for sprints and super dirt late models where drivers can carry the sort of speed to run around the cushion. Also 150 laps was just too many at Knoxville without any sort of water or track prep. If NASCAR wants to run at Knoxville the format will need to be more in line with a traditional super late model dirt format - heat races and maybe 50 lap main event. But if NASCAR wants their dirt races to resemble normal NASCAR races with three stages it needs to bail from Knoxville and Bristol and make amends with Tony to get back at Eldora. That track is set up to run a truck/cup style car with its banking and surface - which it proved over the last decade with many great truck races. Now obviously that is easier said than done but what we saw at Knoxville isn’t good for NASCAR or dirt racing.

            That is key because this race was not only a joke for NASCAR but dirt track racing also. Many pavement people tuned in to watch NASCAR at the granddaddy of dirt ovals and were treated to a glorified county fair demolition derby. As dirt racing searches for mainstream acceptance, a carnage filled race with caution after caution only enforces the idea that dirt racing isn’t ready for the big time. Hopefully future NASCAR dirt endeavors (this is not going away) are conducted in a way that fosters cleaner/better racing giving fans and drivers a great experience.

 

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...I have often said about the Dirt Cup - “it only happens once a year”. The reason is it is just that special of an event. I would argue it is the third biggest 360 race of the year and many ASCS National drivers will say it is the biggest. With $15000 to win on the line Saturday night at Skagit Speedway the general theory is make apologies on Sunday for any harm done Saturday night. 2021 was no different and after missing a year the Dirt Cup was as intense as ever. So here are my 10 storylines from the weekend:

 

     The battle for Supremacy - Coming into the Dirt Cup Dominic Scelzi and Justin Sanders had been waging war in California over supremacy in that state. Sanders has more wins, Scelzi has a huge four race sweep of the Peter Murphy Classic to his resume. Scelzi again proved to be dominant with big money on the line as he finished second Thursday, won Friday and after leading early Saturday Scelzi re-inherited the lead after disaster struck Blake Hahn and cruised to his first Dirt Cup and 12th win of 2021. After an up and down weekend Sanders seemed poised for second place finish Saturday but was derailed when he made contact with a lapped on a late race restart. Look for this battle to continue through the year.

     Blake Hahn - Another year and another near miss for Hahn. 2021 looked like it was finally going to be the year Hahn was going to win the Dirt Cup as he took the lead from Scelzi mid-race and proceeded to run away. Using a line that saw him diamond turns three and four (a la Steve Kent ), Hahn had no challengers until Robbie Price crashed in turn three and collected Hahn ending his bid for that elusive Dirt Cup win.

     Rumors and tall tales - Dirt Cup is always time for good rumors and tall tales. With people camped at the track for most of the week it leaves plenty of time for bench racing and rumors. The biggest one this week and really that last few years has been the potential selling of Skagit Speedway. The rumor seemed to gain a lot of momentum as the week went on but in the end no announcement was made and the rumors continue to be just that. In addition there was no shortage of the usual tall tales coming from campsites, crew members and drivers and anybody you could talk to. Everybody could do better and everybody was just that close before it went wrong.

     Chase Madjic/Ryan Robinson - This pair of young drivers turned more than a few heads over the weekend. Madjic was the source of a lot of controversy Friday night involving himself, Colby Thornhill and the boys in blue, but that shouldn’t overshadow his impressive Skagit debut that ended with 6th place finish Saturday night. Madjic displayed a hard on the gas style that was perfect fit for Skagit where slide jobs are the name of the game. Robinson's weekend started slow but he and his team kept grinding and when the checkered flew Robinson found himself one spot short of the podium. Robinson's style is different from Madjic - Robinson is more calculating - but no less effective.

     Car Count - The previous weekend at the Brownfield Classic there was a buzz that the DIrt Cup car count could be 60. Officially 47 cars checked in. There was obviously a disconnect between the track and confirmed drivers but in the end it didn’t matter. 47 cars was plenty and often fans get fixated on a number that has nothing to do with racing. The 47 car field was stout as evidenced by the fact two previous Dirt Cup runner ups (Willie Croft and Scott Bogucki) were watching the A in street clothes. Car count continues to be overrated and I’d rather have 47 cars with 35 competitive than 60 and 25 competitive.

     Survival - Each night the main event was about surviving. Really the whole weekend was about surviving and advancing. Whether it was a heat, qualifier or main the key was to pass when you could, not get passed and avoid accidents. More than a few drivers built new cars and banged their cars straight so the ability to keep your car clean and all four cannot be overrated. The drivers that largely did this were the ones starting up front come Saturday night.

     Bogucki on the wrong side - Twice during the weekend Bogucki was on the wrong side of hard racing. First Thursday night Bogucki got the short end of a hard battle with Jason Solwold in a qualifier. Solwold would ultimately win the qualifier and finish seventh in the A, while Bogucki had to pull down a backup car. Friday Bogucki again was the loser of contact. This time with Garen Linder down the frontstretch - Linder would go into finish eighth and lock into Saturday’s A. Bogucki would be relegated to Saturday’s B and ultimately failed to make the show.

     Weather - It was hot. Thursday was warmer. Friday was even warmer and Saturday was a scorcher with the temp nearing 100 which resulted in the races not starting until almost 9pm Saturday night. When I arrived home at 3am Sunday morning it was 72 and when I left for work at 9am it was nearing 90. This isn’t northwest weather but it was better than what a lot Dirt Cups have been pestered by - rain.

     Some Favorites Struggle/Some Don’t - In addition to Scelzi and Sanders I had pegged three other drivers as ones to watch - JJ Hickle, Trey Starks and Cam Smith. Hickle and Smith just couldn’t get any momentum all weekend and the drivers that split the Brownfield were playing catch up all weekend. The expectation to be a Dirt Cup contender can cause drivers to overthink and not do normal things and each of these drivers was a victim of this. Starks on the hand was not affected and produced all weekend along, finishing a career best second at Dirt Cup.

     Support Divisions - I will never understand why a major show like the Dirt Cup has a support division. Just not necessary in my opinion but I am under no illusion this will ever change. This is not a knock of the focus midgets but just feeling that major races should be stand alone events.

 

 

A few more things:

     Matt Covington finished third Saturday. He will win a DIrt Cup one of these years

     Colton Heath continues to search for that first career ASCS National win. Thought he might get it on Friday night but Scelzi had other ideas.

     Scelzi won $18,500 during his three day visit to Skagit Speedway. Starks was next on the earnings list with $8550.

     Turn four is the most difficult turn to navigate at Skagit. Hahn showed success taking the diamond approach but throughout the weekend drivers battled turn four and how to get off it.

 

            The Dirt Cup and northwest ASCS National swing are behind us with northwest speed week and the Summer Nationals ahead of us in July. This week however will be quiet in the northwest as both Grays Harbor and Skagit sit idle. California has shows scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday if a driver is looking for a three race holiday weekend.

 

 

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...One big weekend in the books and one more to go. Playing out over a hot Father’s Day weekend, the Brownfield Classic was the first big race in the northwest since the World of Outlaws of 2019. It was great to see friends and hang at the race track watching a full field of some of the best 360 drivers around. The weekly shows have been fun but there's something about a campground full of fans drinking beer, playing cornhole and cooking out that just makes everything right. It is safe to say racing is back in the northwest and hopefully COVID does not interrupt again.

            With that the Brownfield Classic is a small preview of what is to come this week when Skagit Speedway hosts the Dirt Cup. Paying $15000 to win Saturday night a field of 50 or so drivers featuring the best of the northwest, California and the ASCS national tour are expected to descend upon the legendary northwest oval. In addition fans will swarm the facility and the camping scene will be like something out of a NASCAR infield. Dirt Cup is, and always will be, the premier event in the northwest and the one loyal northwest fans most look to. The Outlaws are for those who go once a year, Dirt Cup is for those who spend all their free time chasing races like this writer. If the energy running through pits at Grays Harbor is any indication the atmosphere at Skagit will be dynamic.

            So with a stacked entry field and huge money on the line who’s the favorite in 2021. Many would assume California’s Justin Sanders or Dominic Scelzi would be favorites. Or how about Trey Starks. There will be four former winners in the field (Brock Lemley, Jason Solwold, Seth Bergman and Robbie Price), maybe one of them. Maybe Cam Smith who has three wins (four overall) in five starts at Skagit in 2021. But no - I am going in a different direction doubling down on my Brownfield Classic favorite.

 

Here are my five favorites and the next five:

1)    JJ Hickle (+500) - Built a completely new car for Sunday night and was unfazed leading the final 25 laps and winning in dominating fashion. Furthermore Hickle was the last driver to win a big 360 race at Skagit (2019 Summer Nationals) - and he did it by passing Jason Solwold and Seth Bergman in the final laps. Combining his experience he has garnered the last two years and his natural ability Hickle will be tough to deny come Saturday night.

2)    Justin Sanders (+800) - Could be the favorite if he was in a different ride. Out of the cars he drives normally it is the Larry Antaya Motorsports ride he is the most inconsistent in. He has been most dangerous in his own car or the Dale Miller ride scoring 13 of his 14 California wins in those cars. Still Sanders it is Sanders and that means he has to be a favorite especially on a small track like Skagit which is closer in size to the tracks in his wheelhouse - Silver Dollar, Placerville, Ocean and Marysville.

3)    Trey Starks (+1000) - For the most of the Brownfield Classic Starks looked subpar but then came the Saturday night A main and he showed out. Driving 15th to second and passing with ease on track not easy to pass on, Starks announced he is okay and still a favorite.

4)    Dominic Scelzi (+1200) In 2021 Dom has just won. Or it seems that way. He has scored 10 wins so far including the 360/410 sweep of the Murphy Classic that netted him four wins in one weekend. Scelzi has limited experience at Skagit but that shouldn’t matter as I expect Scelzi to be a player all weekend.

5)    Cam Smith (+1600) Was going to be the favorite until Sunday night when his night ended with his car barely resembling a sprinter. In one of the hardest crashes I have ever witnessed which involved five sprinters Smith bore the brunt of the damage. With his car destroyed and being unsure of the overall effect on him and his team I feel like this still might be a stretch but given his success this year he had to be in the top five.

 

            Those are my favorites but the next five are also drivers that could end up cashing the big prize.

 

6)    Blake Hahn (+2000)

7)    Matt Covington (+2500)

8)    Colton Heath (+2800)

9)    Willie Croft (+3700)

10) Jason Solwold (+4300)

 

 Car Count over/under - 49.5

 

            The field is so deep for the Dirt Cup there are still at least five or six more drivers that  could win the race, if not more. The key is the first two nights and staying out of trouble and tallying enough points to start up front. With the strength of the field a driver cannot afford to be buried in Saturday nights starting lineup and hope to charge to the front.

 

 

BROWNFIELD CLASSIC NEWS AND NOTES

     Sunday night's accident involving Cam Smithand four other drivers was one of the worst I have seen. From my angle it was hard to tell what started it but in an instant cars were scattered and battered in turn one. Willie Croft and Lane Taylor suffered major damage in the accident.

     Saturday night saw a lot of carnage in heat race action. JJ Hickle bent a frame in an accident that collected Seth Bergman who ended up on the hook with front end damage. Other drivers suffering front end damage in heat race action were Bailey Jean Sucich and Eric Rockl. Rockl would also suffer a bent frame.

     ASCS regular Bergman missed his first race of the season Sunday as he elected to get ready for the Dirt Cup after Saturday’s accident.

     A couple of major themes over the weekend were support divisions and the tire shortage. In terms of support divisions, why have two during an ASCS national show? In terms of the tire shortage the situation is real - more than one crew chief and driver talked about it over the weekend. As the summer racing season commences look for this topic to be at the forefront.

     A stout field of 38 and 36 cars checked in each night. My predictions were way too low as I figured 33 would be the max.

     Garen Linder led early Saturday and finished a career best second in main. Sunday was a different day and the southern Oregon driver saw his night end up on the hook with a mangled race car.

     Rookie Lane Taylor spent the first half of Saturday’s main running in the top five before fading to tenth. Taylor has made vast improvements each week this year and has Glenn Borden, Jr helping out which will only accelerate the learning curve.

     Oregon’s Tyler Thompson showed out in a big way Sunday. He started on the pole, led early and eventually finished third driving the Cook Motorsports Plumbing sprinter. The team has had speed this year but has struggled to put together a full night. That changed Sunday.

     The only reason Solwold made the favorites list was because his late race charge Sunday that saw him go from seventh to fourth. It reminded me that Solwold has a way of rising to the level of competition.

 

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Olympia, Wa...That time of year is here. The days are long and tempers are about to become short which can only mean the ASCS National Tour is about to arrive in the northwest. First stop Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma and with that comes the time of year to set some odds for the junkies like myself. These odds for Sunday’s night’s finale which is up to $5000 to win.

 

     JJ Hickle (+10) - I know Skagit Speedway success does not always relate to Grays Harbor Raceway success but Hickle showed Saturday night at Skagit he is on kill mode. Charging from eighth to second in a talented field Hickle was the class of the field over the final 10 laps but just ran out of time to chase down winner Cam Smith. Hickle will enter the Brownfield Classic as the current ASCS National point leader with an average finish of a little better than five. In addition Hickle has considerable laps at Grays Harbor and after two years of competing against stout 360 competition (California in 2020 and ASCS in 2021) he has to be the driver to beat.

     Matt Covington (+100) - Covington currently sits third in ASCS National points and was extremely strong in the northwest in 2019. He was leading late in the 2019 Dirt Cup before mechanical issues derailed him. Not to be deterred, Covington rebounded to win the Brownfield Classic the next weekend. Covington has proven to be strong in the northwest and I expect nothing less in 2021.

     Trey Starks (+135) - Starks finally put together his first complete night of the season at Skagit Saturday when he finished third. Starks only has one start at Grays Harbor is 2021 and it resulted in a DNF but he has been fast every time he has been on the track this year. I think Starks has been eying these big events as he has missed them in the past due to national sprint car aspirations. Now back home Starks has a chance to start his northwest legacy.

     Colton Heath (+185) - Colton is the best weekly driver in the northwest and with Devon Borden off the scene he has no challengers. He runs up front every night and is in contention unless involved in an accident or incurring mechanical issues. Colton won the season opener this year at GHR and if you go back to 2019 when Colton won his last appearance at GHR that year he is on a two race win streak separated by a year. Heath has never scored an ASCS National win but I think this year that changes and the Brownfield Classic could be the event.

     Blake Hahn (+250) - Hahn has logged a lot of laps at GHR over the years and although he has been consistent he has never won at GHR nor a major factor. Currently second in points Hahn is always up front in ASCS races which makes it hard not to make him a favorite even though he lacks big time success at GHR.

 

This is not to say other drivers are worth mentioning, I just see these five as the favorites. Here are a few other drivers I believe have a good chance.

 

     Cam Smith (+500) Amongst the drivers not on the favorites list the one  I will have my eye on is Smith. While Smith does not have a start at GHR he comes in the Brownfield on heels of his third win in five starts at Skagit giving him the ever important momentum. Smith has many laps at GHR so it is not hard to see him carry his success at Skagit to GHR.

     Scott Bogucki and Dylan Westbrook (+550) - Other drivers barely missing the top five were ASCS regulars and Westbrook. Both drivers sit in the top five in National points and have shown they are versatile enough to adapt to any track.

     Willie Croft (+600) - One final driver is Californian Croft. Croft has been hot lately and has won at GHR before. More on him below.

 

            Ironically two drivers who didn’t even get a look were Seth Bergman and Jason Solwold. Two drivers that are always in the mix in the northwest when money is on the line have not shown over the last year plus they have the speed to win big races. They are going to have to prove it to me to get back on the favorite’s list.

 

            Finally one last odd:

     Car Count over/under (31.5) - Traditionally the Brownfield has been run after Dirt Cup so I am interested to see how running before Dirt Cup will affect the car count. Will some drivers skip the Brownfield to save equipment for the Dirt Cup. Traditionally the Brownfield Classic car counts have hovered in the mid-30. I think the car count will be more than 30 but I have a hard time seeing more than 33 cars based on what I know at the time of writing this column.

 

BROWNFIELD CLASSIC NEWS:

     As mentioned earlier one reason Colton Heath has ascended to being the best driver in Washington is because the exodus of Devon Borden. The 2019 opening night winner of the Brownfield Classic had preliminary plans to chase ASCS National points but those plans were changed in Posse land in May where he was adopted as one of their own. Borden will pilot the famous Mike Heffner sprinter this weekend and maybe beyond. Look for Borden to become more enmeshed in Posse culture as the season goes on.

     The Brownfield Classic now sits at $5000 to win Sunday night. Potentially it will go higher as sponsors have been generous in the northwest in 2021 when it comes to adding to purses.

     Entering this weekend's Brownfield Classic Gray Harbor Raceway has only completed three 360 races to date with two others being rained out. Winners have been Colton Heath, Garen Linder and Lane Taylor.

     While Linder did not make the cut for my favorites list he is a driver to watch the next few weekends. Has been the most consistent driver in the northwest in 2021 and has shown speed at GHR. Question is can Linder overcome the big race jinkx that seems to linger over him.

     Joel Myers, Jr and Willie Croft will be representing California during the Brownfield. More drivers may come but to date these are the confirmed. Croft will be steering his familiar 29 and has been hot lately since going back to his own ride in April with eight top tens in 10 starts. He started the season driving the Mike Phulps sprinter.

     Speaking of the Phulps sprinter this is the ride Myers will steer at GHR. Taking a night off from the family car he usually steers, the current Placerville point leader will make his debut in the Phulps ride and at GHR. Myers is filling in for Ryan Robinson who will back in the ride for Dirt Cup. Robinson has SCCT commitments this weekend at Petaluma. Myers can be inconsistent (as any 15 year old will be) but has 12 top 10s in 25 starts including a third place with NARC in Petaluma a few weeks back.

     Dylan Westbrook enters the northwest swing coming off a win in Knoxville’s 360 sprint division Saturday night. Westbrook has three podiums in nine ASCS national starts and sits fifth in points. Westbrook has the talent to make some noise the next few weekends.

     Oregon’s Tyler Thompson night at Skagit Saturday was a short one. Making his first Skagit start in the Washington based Cook’s Construction sprinter Thompson saw his rear end break entering his second lap of qualifying ending his night. Thompson will be at GHR in his own family car.

     Reece Goetz has been an infrequent competitor in 2021 as his Goetz Brothers Racing Team fights motor issues. As of Saturday night he was unsure whether he would be at the Brownfield or Dirt Cup.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Olympia, Wa...Some of my favorite shows are not always sprint cars shows. I love sprints but I also love the IMCA Modifieds at Grays Harbor. Another racing love for me is Super Late Models on the pavement. With sprints split across three northwest tracks, I took the opportunity last weekend to head 20 minutes south to South Sound Speedway to take in my first Northwest Late Model Series race. The 125 lap $3000 to win feature event featured 21 cars starting the main event at the tight quarter mile oval.

            As the field began to assemble Saturday night for the feature the 21 cars got in a line going around the track at an accelerated pace during their warm up laps. The sound of 21 car supers going around the track on the throttle making a unison sound couldn’t help but get me excited for the ensuing race. The cars have an unique sound and when 21 of them fired off it sounded like racing should sound - a rumble through the air.  In addition supers just look cool and when lined up for a main they are an awesome sight. The bodies are somewhere between pavement late models and dirt super late models. They are the lightest, fastest version of stock car type machines on pavement.

The race itself was nothing amazing, featuring a bump and run pass for the lead on lap 13 that proved to be the winning move. Nonetheless there was some entertaining racing mid pack that made the show interesting and it was obvious that the series has many talented drivers. Also the 125 laps were run in less than 45 minutes showing the drivers weren’t just wrecking each other. “The Tour” as the series is called has talented drivers and has featured three winners and in three races and I intend to attend at least one more show this year.

            I am always interested in how a pavement race format rolls out differently than dirt racing. Pavement events start early in the afternoon and include a heavy dose of practice before the event starts. Dirt track racers get about three or four laps of practice and they are set to go. Then there was qualifying. The late models did the traditional one car at a time for two laps but the support divisions were given time allotment for qualifying allowing them to come on the track at any time during the time frame.

            One thing I hadn't witnessed before is how does a paved track deal with a rain shower? Well I found out Saturday night. Just as the supers were about to start qualifying a squall rolled and before you know it fans and drivers were heading for cover. Following about a 15 minute deluge I was curious how the track crew would bring the track back. They had push trucks driving around the track, they had a truck with an air dryer attached and finally a truck with a big tire tied to the back being dragged around the track. After about 10-15 minutes the amount of water coming off the tire reduced and then it started to smoke. Once the tire was smoking the whole way around the track the crew knew the surface was rolled back in.

            It alway fun to do something different and Saturday night reinforced that idea to me. I plan on making a few trips to pavement tracks in 2021 during weekends and as mentioned hope to catch at least one Northwest Super Late Model Series tour race. But now it is time to get back to sprint car business with a trip to Skagit this week, followed by the Brownfield Classic at Grays Harbor and then another trip to Skagit for the Dirt Cup to close out the month. I'll be at all six shows.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:

     One of the participants in Saturday's Super Late Model race was Washington’s Devon Borden. Borden came home 11th as he fought break issues and a very talented field. All indications have Borden headed back east soon rather than compete against ASCS National Tour during northwest swing.

     Justin Sanders just continues to rack up wins at an incredible pace. Friday night at Ocean saw Sanders score his 14th win of the season. Wins might get harder to come by as the NARC schedule picks up, but there is no reason to believe Sanders won’t get to 20 wins in 2021.

     Following Sanders to victory lane was Zane Blanchard. Blanchard is a young driver on the California scene just grinding away. Not every young driver is a super star by 16 and it’s nice to see Blanchard have second place run smack in the middle of Sanders and Bud Kaeding.

     Blake Carrick was really strong in 2020 and seemed prime for breakout season in 2021. However the young California driver has been avergae in 2021 but Saturday saw him score his second win at Placerville. Blake also won early in the season at Marysville. Blake still has time to rebound and have a strong 2021 season.

     Kalib Henry finished second to Carrick. Henry is a very talented young California driver who just needs a big break. Early season plans had him racing more 410 races but to date he continues to make sporadic appearances in the McCulloch RV sprinter. Somebody get this guy a full time 410 ride.

     It is kind of weird to win your first main after your first championship but that is exactly what Chase Goet did. In 2020 Goetz was the Skagit Speedway 360 sprint champion but Saturday Goetz scored his first career win at the track. A rarity for sure.

     In addition to Goetz Saturday produced two first time winners in the Northwest. Lane Taylor (Grays Harbor) and Kinzer Cox (Cottage Grove) each scored their first wins ever in the 360 class.

     Oregon’s Tyler Thompson will be in the Washington based Cook’s Construction sprinter for this weekend at Skagit and Dirt Cup. His plans for Brownfield Classic are up in the air.

     Should be a great weekend of racing on the west coast - NARC Doubleheader with SCCT joining the back end and the last race at Skagit before the Dirt Cup.

     The second part of the doubleheader for NARC is the Bradway Memorial with a lot of extra money on the line throughout the night. This is always one of the most prestigious races on the west coast for 410 racing.

           

            Next column will have my favorites to win the first leg of the ASCS National Series northwest tour - The Brownfield Classic at Grays Harbor Raceway.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

 

Olympia, Wa...In more ways than one this past weekend was the start of the racing season in the northwest. Memorial Day is the kickoff point as between Memorial Day and Labor Day big races are plentiful in Oregon and Washington whether its sprints or modified, dirt or pavement all the major races in the northwest will happen in the next three months.

            2021 Memorial Day will also be remembered as the weekend crowds came back en masse and are here to stay as the threat of the pandemic begins to recede ever so slowly. With Washington announcing 50 percent capacity at stadiums fans and tracks took full advantage. The pictures from Skagit Speedway made me feel like I was the only person not at the track Saturday night. A packed house was evident at Skagit which was great to see as fans have been severely limited over the past 14 months and I was intrigued to see if people had found other things to do. I guess they haven't, which is great news for northwest racing in general.

            With this move to a new normal all things are a go for a great two weekends of racing in the northwest in late June to kickoff the summer. After months of speculation the Brownfield Classic and the Dirt Cup are now set to happen. The ASCS national tour will invade for another round of the national stars versus the regional stars. This two weekend battle is always spirited and the northwest locals have shown they are not pushovers. With only one race remaining at Grays Harbor until the Brownfield and two at Skagit before the Dirt Cup it is not too early to start looking for drivers to watch.

            Three drivers have kindled my interest - Garen Linder, Cam Smith and Trey Starks. It is a given that Jason Solwold and Colton Heath will challenge each night but I was looking for other drivers that will challenge the national stars. Other drivers on my radar are Tanner Holmes and Greg Hamilton (Skagit) but for now I am sticking to the previously mentioned three and here what I like about them to date.

             Linder has been the best driver in the northwest in 2021. Two wins and three seconds in five starts. Linder has really risen his game this year and it has shown. Linder is the only driver besides Heath with podiums at Grays Harbor and Skagit showing that he can be good at both tracks. One concern is that Linder has struggled during recent ASCS national visits, especially at Skagit. Also it is not given Linder will run both weekends but if he does and he can continue his current momentum he might be in the hunt for his first career ASCS National win.

            Smith's season started rough with problems that forced him to essentially sit out opening night at Grays Harbor and Skagit but since then things have turned around. In three main events at Skagit since Smith has two wins and a fifth place finish and has flexed some muscle. Smith has experienced regular season success at both tracks but during the big races Smith has struggled mightily with various issues from bad luck to just under performing. History is not on Smith’s side in that regard but his recent runs have shown Smith has the speed to get the job done but winning big races is more than just speed.

            Now I get to Starks. Starks is no underdog or weekend warrior. He has spent years on the road racing primarily in Knoxville and Pennsylvania but has returned home to concentrate on his business. While he doesn't plan to run weekly, Starks has shown in 2021 he will still be a contender. He finished fourth in a Dennis Roth sprinter at Kings in April and in his first two appearances in the family sprinter at Skagit he flirted with victory before ultimately seeing a mishap derail his efforts. Starks doesn’t have a start at Grays Harbor to date - that could change this Saturday. Given the experience he has acquired over the years and the speed he has shown Starks could be a contender for more than one victory over the two weekends.

            This was just a preliminary look at three drivers that have impressed to date and is no means an early prediction. With a few more races to be run until the invasion things could change and new contenders could emerge. The week leading up to the Brownfield and Dirt Cup I will rank my favorites for each event with hypothetical voting odds. In addition to the northwest stars and national stars.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:

     Quiet weekend of racing on the west coast saw only two 360 sprint races all weekend. Cam Smith won at Skagit Saturday night and Andy Forsberg won the Sprint Car Challenge Tour race Sunday night in Marysville.

     Smith became the first two time winner at Skagit Speedway in 2021.

     It was Forsberg’s third win of the year, first with the SCCT. With Silver Dollar Speedway running a limited schedule Forsberg has seen the number of races he runs reduced and which in effect has reduced his win total. Forsberg has typically won more than 10 races a year.

     Oregon’s Tyler Thompson continues to make starts in California for the Washington based Cook’s Construction team. Thompson was sixth Sunday night at Marysville following his efforts as fastest qualifier. I would expect Thompson to make a few Washington appearance’s in this car before the ASCS National tour arrives.

      Through five races the Sprint Car Challenge Tour Championship sees the top six only separated by 22 points. Amazingly only one driver amongst the top six (Tanner Carrick) has a win. Chase Madjic leads the bunch as they head to Placerville in two weeks.

     Other point leaders on the west coast are: Justin Sanders (Ocean), Dominic Scelzi (NARC and Kings 410), Joel Myers, Jr. (Placerville), Billy Wallace (Marysville), Garen Linder (Cottage Grove and Grays Harbor) and Jason Solwold (Skagit)

     As mentioned last week Washington’s Devon Borden headed home from Pennsylvania for a few weeks. He will be competing this weekend at Sound Sound Speedway in Northwest Super Late Model Series race before more than likely heading back to Pennsylvania. Ever indication as of now is that Borden will not be competing in the ASCS northwest swing.

 

 

            With 360 sprints spread out along the northwest like a holiday buffet (point races at Skagit, Cottage Grove and Grays Harbor this Saturday) - I am switching it up and heading to South Sound to watch the Northwest Super Late Model Series. It will be my first time seeing “The Tour” and my next column will compare and contrast what it is like going to pavement shows and dirt shows.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia,Wa...Last weekend as Skagit Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway raised their winning 360 main event total to $2100 and $1800 respectively it occurred to me it was a little bitter sweet. It was awesome to see the tracks raise their winning total but wouldn't it be even better if these races weren’t at the same time.

With both tracks competing against each other on the same night for the same set of cars fans were denied the best possible show. Most of the heavy hitters went to Skagit but not all as Garen Linder and Corbyn Fauver chose Grays Harbor. Instead of having a field of maybe 20-25 sprints at one track, Skagit had 16 check-in and Grays Harbor had nine. If tracks are going to throw extra money they need to coordinate to provide the best show possible. I know each track has their take on who's to blame for the scheduling but in the end fans lost out a little last weekend. For the drivers it was a win in that there were two nice paydays available but it had to be a loss for them also as they weren’t being challenged by the best field possible. Instead of rounding back to the same subject of how the tracks are running against each other I wanted to propose an idea that would only require tracks to work together for a little more than a week.

I have been thinking about this since last year but what the northwest needs is a mini series with each main paying $2500 during a weekday and Saturday nights would pay $5000 plus. This is not necessarily an original idea - I really started thinking hard about this last year during the Southern Nationals featuring super late models. As I followed this miniseries on PPV and social media, which features races over a three week span with varying paydays depending what day the race was, it made me really think the northwest needs something like this. We have the races - northwest speed week and Skagit’s Summer Nationals - just not the structure. So what am I proposing?

To start I imagine this series taking place in early August when the scene in California slows down for a few weeks before the stretch of major shows starts in that state. Now three weeks would be too long for the northwest but I think a 10 day stretch with eight races could work. Start at Southern Oregon on a Thursday and then go to Cottage Grove on Friday and  Saturday followed by Willamette on Sunday. Monday would be at Sunset with a day before tackling Grays Harbor on Wednesday. One more day off on Thursday before the miniseries finishes at Skagit Speedway with a two night show. It just basically combines northwest speed week and Skagit’s Summer Nationals with a link race at Grays Harbor. The key would be well paying races and a nice point fund that pays 10-12 deep that encourages drivers to attend all the races. Timing is also important as the first two weekends in August generally light in California which might help draw cars north.

Until last year the northwest had the Summer Thunder Series but that series was nothing more than glorified weekly shows for the most part and all the big shows were either ASCS shows or shows that only paid show up points. 2020 Cottage Grove was off the schedule before the season was cancelled so the series had essentially morphed into a Washington series. With the dirt track in Yakima in limbo and the series just kind of dissolved which makes this the perfect time to come up with something better and more prestigious. As with anything it would require promoters to come together and put egos aside to create something that could be special for fans and drivers.

 

I am not sure of my plans this weekend as work commitments will keep me from getting to the John Carroll classic race at Skagit this weekend. Might head out to Grays Harbor Sunday for some IMCA modified racing but that is too be determined.

 

 

WEST COAST NEWS NOTES:

     Saturday night's big winners in the northwest were Garen Linder at Grays Harbor and Greg Hamilton at Skagit. It was Hamilton’s first win of the year in only his second start. Linder now has two wins and two second in four northwest starts. Linder is also the current point leader at Grays Harbor and Cottage Grove.

     Making his first northwest start of the 2021 season was Trey Starks. Steering his familiar family sprinter Starks was contending for the lead before misfortune ultimately led to a seventh place finish. Starks has said he will pick and choose his races this year, has speed and will be a contender at the big shows coming up in the northwest.

     In California Justin Sanders responded to Dominic Scelzi’s four win weekend by getting two himself this past weekend. Sanders kicked off the weekend winning at Ocean in his own car. He followed that with his first NARC win of the year Saturday at Petaluma in Larry Antaya’s sprinter. He just missed the weekend sweep as he finished second in the Main Motorsports sprinter Sunday night at Placerville to Justyn Cox.

     Through three races Scelzi leads DJ Netto by six points and Bud Kaeding seven in the NARC point standings. Sanders' win helped him rebound from two lackluster starts to sit fourth in standing 11 points behind Scelzi.

     Some notable no-shows for the Petaluma NARC race were Shane Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto and Willie Croft. Croft and Faccinto at Stockton for a $3000 360 sprint race, while Golobic took the weekend off. Croft made the right decision as he pocketed the money at Stockton.

     Washington’s Devon Borden Pennsylvania swing has ended for now as he heads home for some pavement late model racing. At this point it seems week to week for him on his next race but rumor has it his truck and trailer are still in Pennsylvania so maybe the door isn’t closed on his time there yet.

     Corey Day was in the midwest last weekend running Clauson-Marshall midget. Day was sixth and fourth on the weekend as he continues to shine no matter the platform. LIke many talented California drivers Day’s time as west coast driver might be minimal.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @wcsprintscene where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Who is the best sprint car driver in California? Justin Sanders would be the answer for many. Shane Golobic would also get a lot of votes as he kills with consistency. But after last weekend Dominic Scelzi has everybody re-thinking their best driver in California list.

            Some performances are just so riveting and dominating that the universe of sprint car racing gets shook upside down. I think of 1998 and Brent Kaeding sweeping Dirt Cup, Brad Furr’s storied northwest speedweek run when he went five for five, Jason Solwold’s 2015 run when he won three of out five ASCS National races and never finished off the podium and Rico Abreu’s 2019 Trophy Cup. Add Dom to the list as he pulled off an amazing feat of sweeping all four main events held over the weekend in the California Valley during the Peter Murphy Classic. He swept Friday night at Kings Speedway winning the Sprint Car Challenge Tour main event and the weekly 410 main event and then doubled down the next night at Tulare taking the $11,000 to win NARC race as well as the weekly 360 show. I don’t have exact winning totals but my guess is he won about $17,000 in about 24 hours worth of work. This is professional athlete earnings. So how does this affect who is the best driver in California.

            Until Dom’s explosion the general consensus had been Sanders was the best driver in California. With 10 wins entering last weekend the fact seemed too hard to argue but I remained skeptical. Sanders has padded his win totals at his normal haunts - Ocean, Placerville, Silver Dollar - in 360 competition. I need to see Sanders win in 410 competition and outside his comfort zone - places like Kings and Tulare - before I declare him the best. Not taking anything away from what he does or his win total but Sanders needs to become a more complete driver who can win anywhere. He isn’t there yet but I do believe if runs the full NARC series and becomes accustomed to running different tracks Sanders may become the best.

            After spending a lot of time travelling the last few years Dom has returned to California with a vengeance. He showed what was to come in 2019 when he won five NARC races but otherwise ran a limited west coast schedule. In 2020 he concentrated in the midwest and then finished the season on the Outlaw tour. Although he had less than spectacular results at times (he did have one All Star win and some other nice runs), he was obviously crafting his art.  2021 Dom is showing this time paid off as he now has nine wins at four different tracks this season. Like Sanders though Dom tends to pack on the wins at certain tracks (Kings, Tulare, Silver Dollar). Dom needs to improve at Petaluma and Placerville to name a few to become a complete driver.

            Which leads me to Golobic. He is a complete driver who can win at any track in the state and has won at any track in the state. His 2021 pales in comparison to Sanders and Scelzi when it comes to wins but Golobic remains a consistent podium runner as his forte. Sanders has always won a lot of races and Scelzi has definitely developed a sweet spot in the valley that will allow him to rack up wins, but Golobic is more stealth and may only win 9-10 races but when it is all said and done he will have tons of podiums and plenty of big wins. It happens every year seemingly...other drivers get the hype during the season but when the final check falls Golobic is the best.  One thing that could affect this is how much Golobic races with USAC National Midgets and races Knoxville/Huset’s but I still expect him to be in the discussion if not at the top of the heap by the end of 2021.

            A few other drivers who might get in the discussion include DJ Netto and Bud Kaeding but each of these drivers will each need to stack up some wins and compete for the NARC title, if not win the title, to move to the top. 2021 has a long way to go but at this point the race for best driver California is a three pony race and could easily stay that way for the entire year.

           

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: Besides Scelzi the west coast featured four first time winners in 2021 on Saturday night. Brad Bumgarner (Marysville), Ryan Robinson (Placerville), Cam Smith (Skagit) and Garen Linder (Cottage Grove)...Skagit had 19 cars checked in Saturday after a disappointing 11 on opening night. Car counts are a big subject in the northwest as through five sprint car races in Oregon/Washington no race has had 20 ...Washington race tracks got a breath of fresh air last week when the Governor announced the state would fully re-open by June 30 at the latest. Although this is after ASCS National swing the sense is that the state will open before that and the Brownfield Classic and Dirt Cup will go on as scheduled...A week after a thrilling USAC/CRA win Chase Johnson’s entered the Murphy classic on a high note. A blown engine Friday night ended his weekend before it could start...Willie Croft has returned to his own sprinter after driving the Mike Phulps sprinter to start the season and his results have picked up. He ran third in Saturday night's NARC headliner...Bud Kaeding was in the Phulps 360 over the weekend in addition to driving Dad’s familiar sprinter during the 410 portion. Kaeding was fast out of the gate as he scored two podiums for the Phulps team....Sanders made his debut in the Main family sprinter at Tulare and Kings. He was unable to crack the top five. Sanders was eighth in the NARC show driving the Larry Antaya sprinter...USAC/CRA has announced their two day Summer Fest in July has been reduced to a one night show.

           

            Off to Grays Harbor again this weekend. With 360 sprints scheduled at Skagit and Grays Harbor it will be interesting to see what the car count is like at each track.

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The moment of the year in sprint car racing to date probably happened last Saturday in Bakersfield when the USAC/CRA sprints visited and by the time the series was done they had lit Bakersfield, the racing community and social media afire. Everybody knows what I am referencing. Chase Johnson driving through Damion Gardner to score the main event victory.

            With rain covering most of the northwest, I spent Saturday night at home. After watching the Outlaw main from Eldora I decided to flip over to the USAC/CRA show and catch the main event. After some early action Gardner had settled into the lead by lap 20 and looked like he was on his way to adding another trophy to the mantle when Johnson started making hay. Driving a 360, Johnson’s underpowered car seemed to be better as the track took rubber. Johnson closed and by lap 25 he was on Gardner’s tail. This cat and mouse game lasted for the next four laps as Johnson couldn’t find a way around. Finally as the two took the white flag Johnson closed as they entered and by the time they came out of turn two Johnson was literally touching Gardner’s bumper. At this point Johnson had a decision to make.

            He decided to not lift and move Gardner out of the way and take the dramatic last lap victory. Gardner got sideways down the back stretch but recovered to finish second. Obviously Gardner was not happy and it showed in victory lane as he had to be restrained by officials. Johnson was unapologetic in victory lane and paid no attention as Gardner circled around him. Social Media lit with opinions on the incident. Some supported Johnson. Some supported Gardner. More than one didn’t necessarily defend Johnson but felt Gardner had done his fair share of dirty moves that it was warranted. For a series that seems to be hanging by a thread at times this was a great night for USAC/CRA as they stole the racing spotlight from Eldora. It has gotten outright ugly between Johnson and Robert Ballou on twitter. One has to think the next time Johnson shows up for an USAC/CRA show that Gardner will be ready to exert some form of revenge.

            In the end this is great for racing. Short track racing (dirt and pavement) is built on tight racing and personalities that sometimes settle the grievances on the track. Now I don’t support some wild slide job that tears up equipment and potentially causes injury. But I don’t mind what happened Saturday night because it was a nudge not some action that caused a violent wreck. It was hard-nosed racing and Johnson wanted to win. Gardner has done many things to win races which has included more than one questionable slide job. I understand Gardner being mad at the moment and think his reaction was completely appropriate but he still came home second and his car was not destroyed. But there is more in my opinion.

            Johnson is the up and coming driver who is trying to make his name. Gardner is a hall of famer, three time Oval Nationals Champion and one of the greatest ever in the non winged discipline. Gardner was once the young buck trying to make his name and he ruffled the feathers of a future Hall of Famer more than once - can you say Rip Williams. I am not saying it is okay to take drivers out but I am saying for young, hungry drivers like Johnson who are trying to make a living racing sprint cars sometimes a little bump might be needed to keep your name in the limelight. Johnson has been unable to lock down a full time ride in 2021 so winning is important to keep his name relevant in the mind of sprint car owners. Johnson will have his day of reckoning with Gardner, but in mind it was worth it as he pursues his sprint car career.

This is Saturday night short track racing at its best and is why I fell in love with it so many years ago. It is about being edgy and pushing the limits, it is about winning and in the end there are no friends on a Saturday night when the checkered is waving.

           

            Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late models.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…I am the first to say that it is great to be able to go the race track again but this doesn’t mean my joy of being back at the track is going to blind from reality. And in this case the reality is what I had feared - struggling car counts for weekly northwest sprint car shows. With many northwest based teams choosing to travel more and a lack of new drivers 2021 is going to be tough on weekly car counts.

            This was evident Saturday at Skagit when only 11 cars checked in and when Chase Goetz scratched after hot laps the field was reduced to 10. After two years where Skagit had been around the 20 car mark for most weekly races this was an eye opener and even I hadn’t thought the car count would be that low - I figured around 15. Now the car count was skewed by the fact that two regular drivers (Cam Smith and Eric Rockl) were not racing due engine issues and two more were racing in Chico (Colton Heath and Chris Bullock).  It is hard to believe this will not be an issue all year and with numerous conflicting dates in the northwest throughout the season fans will often see what are already slim fields split up more.

Skagit has been the lowest of three northwest tracks sprint openers in 2021. Grays Harbor had 16 and Cottage Grove 19 but a quick look shows these numbers propped up a little. Grays Harbor had the support of at least eight cars which race primarily at Skagit. Cottage Groves field was bumped by the participation of some limited sprints. The actual amount of competitive cars at Cottage Grove was closer to five or six. I am not complaining or bemoaning, just stating the facts concerning weekly 360 sprint car racing in the northwest in 2021.

It may have been only 10 cars but their was a race Saturday at Skagit and few storylines emerged:

     Jesse Schlotfeldt announced his arrival to 360 racing with a strong second place finish. He led early before Eric Fisher got by on lap four. Schlotfeldt rebounded late and made a bid on the white flag lap only to come up short. It was Schlotfeldt’s first race in the 360 and he looked right at home. Schlotfeldt was a shooting star in 2018 as he terrorized the micro ranks and seemed to fade a little the last few years as he dabbled in sportsmen sprints and continued to run the micro. Looks like he has found his footing again in 2021.

     Corbyn Fauver started the night by being fast time with an 11.152. Fauver was average in the main and finished seventh but nonetheless he continues to improve as he enters his third full year of racing. Fauver had a few near wins in 2020 and is fast again in 2021. I expect him to be in victory lane soon.

     The Lemley Family Racing team has the nicest looking setup in the pits in the northwest. Immaculate car with clean and pristine trailers. Far cry from some of the operations the Lemley’s have been part of in the past. This one is well funded and being run professionally. As for the team Chance Crum ran a solid fourth and Brock Lemley fifth. Lemley was fast and was challenging Crum for third after blowing by Jason Solwold when he spun out and brought out the yellow. Crum will be in and out the second sprinter through the Dirt Cup before concentrating more on the midget in the summer.

     The biggest issue with small fields is the main events can be boring. With no traffic and few cars on the track the field has a tendency to spread out and passing is at a premium. This was the case Saturday at Skagit and to an extent Grays Harbor two weeks ago on their opening night.

 

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: Silver Dollar Speedway had an amazing 61 cars each night last weekend. Even with all the competition California dominators Dominic Scelzi and Justin Sanders proved why they are amongst the best in the state….Friday Scelzi scored his fifth win of the season, while on Saturday Sanders held off Scelzi to score his ninth win of the year in California and 10th overall...The show Saturday was 15 year old Corey Day who had the lead and went to the back about halfway through the race and then proceeded to race through the field to take fourth. Day was good in micros, I wouldn’t say great, but has really found his groove in full size sprint cars. He will be winning races sooner than later...Back to Sanders. His 10 overall wins by May 1 is simply ridiculous. While I would like to see him be more successful and active in 410 racing there is no doubting his ability to win races in bunches. He is hot right now and until he cools I expect the wins to keep stacking...The average car count for a winged sprint car race in California for 2021 is just over 31...One of the northwest drivers planning to travel more in 2021 is Tanner Holmes. Holmes recently released his schedule and it includes ASCS northwest swing, 410 races in California, ASCS National speed week, Knoxville 360 nationals and more are on the docket...Devon Borden seems to be dabbling in everything. First he is running for ASCS National rookie of the year. Then he was spotted testing and then making his pavement debut in a pro late model. And now 410 racing? With ASCS out in Pennsylvania Borden was able to get three 410 starts with help from Don Ott Engines. Borden came to life Sunday (his third start) at BAPS where he ran as high as fifth before problems caused him to DNF. Borden was banging wheels with the best of the Posse and fit right in. No tougher place to just jump into 410 racing than Central Pennsylvania and Borden made a nice showing for himself. The teams in PA are knowledgeable and I am sure they took note.

 

This week I am headed back out to Grays Harbor for 360 point race number two at the track. With no other 360 sprint races in the northwest and the possible return of some regulars who were gone last week I look for the car count to get close to 15-16.

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The weather in the northwest during the spring can be a race track junky like myself's worst nightmare. After opening night at Grays Harbor Raceway saw the temperature peak above 80 this last weekend's weather was a almost complete washout as the clouds and rain returned and with them came the unique northwest conditions that can make a spring day the most dreary afternoon ever. As the rain cancelled every sprint car race north of California on Saturday I thought to myself how much as changed.

 

            Pre-COVID a weekend washout would mean no racing and a pouting race fan like myself sitting on the couch resenting mother nature. But in 2021 a washout is different due to the amazing expansion of PPV options for dirt track fans. With the races rained out I was able to quickly pivot and get my weekend racing fix via DirtVision and FloRacing. In 2019 DirtVision was still kind of a niche thing and FloRacing was nothing. But when COVID hit the need to supply fans stuck at home with racing allowed these PPV mediums to expand in ways that weren’t imagined two years ago via increased demand. This is a good thing and it allows fans a chance to catch racing when weather or even worse work makes it impossible to get to the track. Anything that opens more races to more fans is good, but what if fans stop going to their local sprint car races to stay at home to watch the Outlaws, All Stars, the Posse or whatever they like.

 

            The reason I mention is because recently I have listened to podcasts and read columns featuring diehard sprint car fans who seem intent to skip going to their local sprint car race and instead stay home and watch the race of their choice from comforts of their own home. On one hand this is understandable during the spring when race fans often spend the evening cold watching too many support divisions waiting for the sprint car main event. But on the other hand this is not what watching racing is about - it is about going to the track and supporting the track because how else will the local track and sprint car division survive. I understand when tracks run too many support divisions but staying home isn’t going to cause the number of support divisions to reduce but increased attendance might.

 

            Let me be clear I am a fan of how much PPV racing is available. Considering I live in the northwest (which has a short race season) and that my professional career causes me to sometimes have to work crazy hours over the weekend I love having options when I cannot go to the track. But when  I can go to my local tracks (Grays Harbor/Skagit) and support the local 360 drivers the decision is a no-brainer. Live racing is better than PPV racing any day of the week. Let me be clear I  am not going to ask sprint car fans to go to races not featuring their favorite division or never go to other tracks (I know I go to other tracks) but when the local track is running sprints staying home to watch PPV is not supportive of the local sprint car drivers who deserve the most support or local tracks that are the backbone of short track dirt racing.

 

            PPV is here to stay and with it come many positives. I just hope fans don’t become so ensconced in all they can watch from their couch that they stop going to the race track.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: One edit note from last week. Tracks in Washington are running at 25 percent capacity not 50 percent capacity as previously mentioned. In reaching out to Skagit and Grays Harbor the 50 percent capacity seems to be the minimum for hosting shows bigger than weekly points races...Speaking of fans Silver Dollar Speedway will host for fans for the first time since March 2020. The track will feature two nights of racing with SCCT headlining Saturday night...Silver Dollar was just another track to open to fans in California at some level as the state slowly emerges from its strict COVID shutdown...Cottage Grove was the one northwest track to race last weekend  and beat mother nature Friday night. California’s Jodie Robinson scored the win ahead of Garen Linder and Tanner Holmes. 19 cars checked in for the first 360 race in Oregon since 2019...Robinson made the trip to Petaluma Saturday and finished eighth...Down in California Shane Golobic did the double dip as he swept the weekend. Friday he won at Ocean and Saturday he did it again as he claimed the SCCT race at Petaluma...Justyn Cox is the series point leader going into this weekend's SCCT race at Silver Dollar with 388 points. Tanner Carrick sits second with 382 ahead of Ryan Bernal who has 379. Currently third through 12th are only 24 points apart...Devon Borden made his 410 debut over the weekend in Pennsylvania. Using a Don Ott engine Borden was able to get laps at Williams Grove and Selinsgrove in the 410. Before the ASCS national tour invades those same tracks this weekend. Borden progressively got faster over the weekend and has plans to do more 410 racing just not sure when...The Northwest Super Late Model Series on pavement had its season opener on Sunday in Wenatchee and a familiar name to west coast fans was in the field. Buddy Koifoid was making his first super late model start and finished 12th in the 26 car field. Koifoid had has made one pro late model start previously at South Sound Speedway.

 

            Weather permitting I am headed to Skagit Speedway this weekend for their opening night but if the weather doesn't cooperate Grays Harbor and South Sound are the back-up plans.

 

Email me at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...As I plowed through a busy work day left I had butterflies in my stomach. It had to be too good to be true - as soon as workday ended my travelling partner and myself would be headed to Grays Harbor Raceway. But it wasn’t. At 430 pm we hopped on highway 101 before quickly being on highway 8 and headed west to Elma. Winding through the hills, remembering all the familiar landmarks along the way, we arrived at the track a little after five. And while the pits and the scene were just as I remembered a few things had changed.

 

            First, instead of my steady van I often use to travel to races, I was abroad an environmentally friendly electric car. Second my temp was taken and third I was wearing a facial cover (mask).  And while all these things can be considered political and the mere idea seems to upset many in the racing world, the reality is these things have no effect on racing. When I last went to race in 2019 I don't think I could have imagined driving an electric car to the track and then once there getting my temp taken and being required to wear a face mask, but this is a new reality and truthfully once I got to the track none it mattered. The electric car is just as good as a gas car and the temp/mask requirement causes small inconveniences to be able to back at the track.

 

            Most amazing to me was after being away for so long once I got into the pits it was like I had been at the track just last week. The smells, the sounds, the groups of people bench racing nothing had changed and that is what is so awesome about racing - for as much the world changes the scene at a race track in America never really changes that much. It is comfortable for us immersed in this environment and as I cruised the pits it was evident how much I had missed it. It became more evident when I sat through wheel packing and hot laps because I was so happy to be back - pre-COVID wheel packing and hot laps were something I would have never watched.. I didn’t want to miss a moment. Featuring five divisions the weather was above 80 as racing started after seven and just above 50 when the sprint checker flew at 1030 - typical GHR where fans start the night in t-shirts and shorts and end the evening in pants and hoodie.

 

 Sixteen 360 sprints checked in Saturday to chase a $2000 first prize as local sponsorship increased the winners total from its normal $1400. Reece Goetz looked like he was going to be the driver to beat as he set fast time, won his heat race and took the early lead in the main before Colton Heath roared to the lead from his sixth starting spot and ran away and hid. Oregon star Garen Linder snuck by Goetz in the waning laps to get second. Goetz held onto third. The track slicked off as the night went on the track was very racy come main event time. Each turn had a couple grooves that could be used after it looked like it might become a bottom feeder in the heat races.

 

The 16 sprints entered were a solid number for GHR but a quick look shows the track is going to struggle when Skagit and/or Cottage Grove is also running. Of the 16 cars I only counted five that could be considered locals. A few more might pop in week to week but the reality is it will be difficult for GHR to get more than 10 sprints for a show when other tracks race. This is a problem and the number one reason a few years ago GHR and Skagit decided to create the dual track challenge was to eliminate unnecessary conflicts and maximize car count at each track. The 2021 season has many nights of conflict and the early indicators make me believe this will be to the detriment of each track as they split a finite amount of sprint cars. Add in the weeks that Cottage Grove runs and the fears I have been expressing seem inevitable - not enough cars to provide a full field when multiple northwest tracks run 360 sprints on the same weekend.

 

This weekend coming up has 360 sprints at Cottage Grove Friday and at Cottage Grove, GHR and Skagit Saturday. This will provide no winners and the only thing that might save the tracks from some paltry car counts this weekend is mother nature as it looks she just might wash out the whole weekend. Hopefully I am wrong about the rain and car counts but as far as car counts go it is a simple math equation and right now the math doesn’t add up.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: The 16 car field was quickly reduced to 15 as Cam Smith scratched after hot laps. Smith was puffing out some smoke when he shut it down during hot laps. Smith and engine builder Marc Huson were seen looking at the powerplant afterwards...Former ASCS national driver and 2019 Dirt Cup champion Robbie Price was GHR for opening night and came home fourth after struggling early in the evening. For now Price seems to be running a pick and choose schedule...Down in California Justin Sanders continues to dominate. Another weekend and another double dip as Sanders roared to victory Friday at Ocean and followed with another win Saturday night at Placerville. That gives Sanders eight wins in the state of California...Other winners in California this weekend were Dylan Bloomfield at Antioch (his first career win) and veteran Billy Wallace at Marysville...Rumours are swirling around Silver Dollar speedway. Currently the track has a limited schedule in place due to COVID regulations but a big announcement was pending as this column is being written...Were less than two months away from ASCS National tour hitting the northwest and it seems like a race versus time. Washington like most states in the union is on a parallel path with vaccinations and another potential surge. Right now GHR and Skagit are able to operate at 50 percent capacity but some counties in Washington have been reduced to 25 percent because of recent surges. A step back in Grays Harbor or Skagit county could be the death nail for the ASCS northwest swing. It is just a matter of who wins the month of May - vaccinations or COVID surge.

 

Was hoping to head back to GHR this weekend but with weather looking iffy, mother nature might keep me home and tuned into PPV. Either way my next column is going to look at the battle between going to races and staying home watching multiple races on PPV and whether it is good for racing?

 

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late model racing.


 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...For the first time since the fall of 2019 Grays Harbor Raceway will host 360 sprint cars and fans this Saturday. With last year's fan restrictions in Washington Grays Harbor Raceway was not allowed to host fans during the 2020 season and as a result hosted no 360 sprint cars races. Things are better in 2021 and with that Grays Harbor is now allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity and by extension ready to bring 360 sprint cars. This is exciting for many reasons, one of which Grays Harbor is the closest dirt oval to my residence and another is after a year when I opined often that it seemed Grays Harbor was moving away from 360 sprints the packed 2021 schedule indicates this is not the case.

 

            Opening night at GHR this Saturday will also kick off the northwest sprint car season. The 2021 season in the northwest is very intriguing because the region is in the midst of a changing of the guard while also being victim to some high caliber talent leaving the region. Years past were dominated by Jason Solwold and Roger Crockett but Crockett packed up for Oklahoma in 2018 and Solwold dominance has waned. In the last few years Colton Heath, Cam Smith, Eric Fisher and Garen Linder have joined Solwold in the seasoned veteran crowd. Young drivers have also emerged in the last fews years such as Devon Borden, Tanner Holmes and most recently Colby Thornhill creating a deep pool of talent augmented by another half dozen strong weekly competitors. While the 2020 season was shortened and limited to Skagit Speedway the talent week in and week out was unprecedented for recent times, so 2021 will be more of the same, right?

 

            The quick answer and correct answer is a loud No. The reason is that talent breeds drivers who want to travel and flex their muscles. In today's sprint car game young talented (and sometimes not talented) drivers have no patience and want to go big time immediately. In today’s racing world if you're trying to go beyond sprint cars you need to move quickly. Drivers in the northwest are no different and some of the stars of 2020 will be much less frequent competitors in 2021 in the northwest. Washington tennagers Devon Borden and Colby Thornill have been regulars on the ASCS national tour to date and I don't expect to see much of either driver minus Dirt Cup and the Brownfield Classic. Young Oregon star Tanner Holmes is starting to put more time in the 410 and although he has yet to release an official schedule (one should be out soon according to his facebook page) it only makes sense that if you're pursuing 410 racing the northwest will not be on the schedule much.  In addition Chance Crum who had started to become a force in the 360 scene is now moving to Indiana and even though he is scheduled to make some 360 starts in northwest, they will be limited.

 

            Not all is lost though. Young Washington drivers Corbyn Fauver and Bailey Jean Sucich as well as Oregon’s Tyler Thomspon are providing a nice influx of talent to push the core veterans mentioned earlier. One thing for sure - as I have mentioned before - with more tracks running in the northwest in 2021 the talent will be spread at times and not concentrated on one track. This will provide less competitive fields but will also provide more opportunities for different winners in 2021. This weekend will be the first taste of what to expect in the northwest and with GHR being the only show this weekend I expect a solid car count featuring many of the top drivers in the region.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: Two drivers have seem to set their mark already in California. On the one side is Justin Sanders who has six wins eight starts in 360 competition after winning Saturday in Placerville. On the 410 side DJ Netto led all 30 laps Saturday at Kings Speedway making him two for two in 410 competition while leading 60 out of 60 laps to date….Trey Starks made his first appearance Saturday at Kings aboard the Dennis Roth sprinter and came home fourth. Starks is running a part time schedule in 2021 has nothing set in stone but I wouldn't be surprised to see him make more appearances in the Roth car....Starks was followed by Tanner Holmes as he passed four cars to finish fifth. It was Holmes best career finish in 410 action...Tony Gualda made a rare appearance Saturday night in Mike Phulps sprinter that Willie Croft had been steering. Gualda, in his first career 410 start, was an impressive sixth...After spending the early season in the Phulps sprinter, Croft has been back in his own ride the last few weeks...CRA star Brody Roa made his first 410 winged start Saturday and came home 22nd. Roa plans making sporadic winged starts through the season. Roa was second in the companion USAC West Coast series race at Kings...Roa followed Ryan Bernal in the West Coast series race. Bernal had solid night at Kings with his win the West Coast series race aboard a Matt Wood sprinter, ran second in the USAC midget race in a Tarlton midget and capped the night by running seventh in the 410 main aboard the Tarlton sprinter...Sean Becker continues to struggle in 2021 aboard the Dave Vertullo sprinter. Expect the team to move the Maxim chassis as they search for the right combination…Maryville continues to produce first time winners. Last Saturday it was Nick Ringo getting the job done...Devon Borden was seen doing more late model testing this week at South Sound Speedway. With ASCS national schedule getting ready to hit high gear it is unknown when he will make his next pavement start.

 

            Next week's column will look back at opening night at Grays Harbor Raceway and the return of fans to the stands.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...The northwest sprint car season is getting close and with fans being allowed in a limited capacity the excitement is definitely building. After an entire year with no fans, tracks in the northwest are waiting with open arms. One of those tracks was South Sound Speedway Saturday night about 15 miles south of my residence. And why do I mention this and not Cottage Grove in Oregon or Deming near the Canadian Border as opening with limited fans.

It’s because a few of the drivers that were in attendance Saturday night at the season opener at South Sound Speedway were names very familiar to sprint car fans especially those on the west coast - Buddy Koifoid and Devon Borden. After testing during the month of March (Koifoid tested multiple times and Borden at least once) both drivers made their pavement debuts in the pro late model class South Sound. Although I was unable to attend the event I want to reflect on the pavement debut for two young stars on dirt.

Koifoid has already made his name on the national level as star in winged sprints and midgets and the foray into pavement seems as the logical next step. Koifoid has been a star on the rough and tumble California sprint car scene (winning a Trophy Cup prelim main atv 14) as well as the always competitive Ohio scene (two wins versus the All Stars in the state). This all before turning 18. And he is not bad in midgets either. He had 10 midgets wins in last season and already five in 2021. He has been compared to Kyle Larson by some - which might be a stretch - but nonetheless has shown the talent and seems to have all the backing to find opportunities to pursue a career on pavement which would peak with a chance at NASCAR.

Borden is less of a household name but to sprint car fans he is on the radar. In 2019 he won an ASCS National Sprint Main at the age of 16. He has established himself as the driver to beat in northwest action and in 2021 is taking his show on the road as he chases the ASCS National series. Borden has not had the exposure Koifoid has but has big aspirations in racing and getting lap time on pavement is helpful to furthering those aspirations.

With that said, racing a pro late model race at South Sound Speedway is little more than an exhibition. A total of nine cars were on hand. Borden and Koifoid (along with his Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Kaylee Bryson) were in cars that were the class of the field. In the end Bryson scored the win ahead of Koifoid. Borden was fourth after leading some laps and getting involved in an incident. I don't take these results as anything more than Borden and Koifod getting seat time - which is good if they both want to pursue more pavement racing but finishing in the top four in their first events needs to be taken very lightly.

In the end I want to see what these guys can do in super late models which are premier class in pavement racing. Koifoid will get his opportunity in a few weeks in Wenatchee when he competes in the Northwest Super Late Model Series opener. As of now Koifoid last pavement appearance will be another pro late model appearance at South Sound on May 29. Koifoid has midget commitments with Keith Kunz and has been rumored to be making appearances in a second Ray Brooks sprinter out of Ohio, but hopefully time will allow him to make some super late model appearances during the summer to further develop and show what he has. Koifoid is young but in the pavement world the road to NASCAR can close quickly and it is important that if Koifoid is going that direction that he gets more exposure via super late model races and potentially some ARCA starts. Think Jesse Love who is younger than Koifoid but is already on the NASCAR radar with his ARCA success and super late model success at the World Series of Racing in New Smyrna.

Borden on the other hand seems more committed to dirt track racing at least for 2021 as he chases the ASCS National Tour leaving few off weekends as the season gets rolling. Borden’s foray in pavement racing seems more coincidental, where Koifoid had a huge press release announcing his three northwest dates, Borden all of sudden popped up at a practice session at South Sound. Even Borden’s appearance last weekend was not a sure thing as he was still contemplating his sprint car schedule a week before. Like Koifoid, though the window can close quickly so if he has pavement dreams he will need to make the decision what his focus will be.

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: Justin Sanders is on a roll in 360 action in California. Another weekend and another two wins - Friday at Ocean and Saturday at Placerville. That is five wins in California and six overall in 2021...The only other winner over the weekend was Jake Haulot at Marysville. By my account it was Haulot’s first career winged 360 sprint car win...For the second straight week Chase Madjic was second at Placerville. Madjic was MIA in the early season but has returned with force the last two weekends...Kings Speedway will be hosting one of its handful of 410 races this Saturday. A few surprise entrants so far are wingless star Brody Roa, northwest star Trey Starks in the Roth sprinter and Oregon driver Tanner Holmes. It will pay $3000 to win...It would appear as of now Tanner Carrick is concentrating on his sprint car career which adds another talented full time drive to the sprint car racing scene in California.

Next week's column will discuss what to expect in the northwest sprint car scene in 2021 as the Grays Harbor Raceway kicks off its 2021 season April 17.

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...As the short days start to turn longer and the bright, shiny object known as the sun appears racing in the northwest is on the horizon. In less than a month the first 360 race of the season will happen at Grays Harbor Raceway and the following weekend Cottage Grove and Skagit are scheduled to start all with some amount of fans in the stand. While COVID restrictions do remain in both Oregon and Washington they are loosening and fans are slowly returning.

 

            As we await the start of the season in the northwest racing in California is now a month in. Despite the cancellations of the ASCS National Tour and World of Outlaws sprint California swing and the makeup Trophy Cup that was scheduled for May, racing in the Golden State has gotten off to a strong start. Car counts have been strong through 15 races. Kings Speedway has seen especially strong car counts with 41, 54 and 56 cars checking in for the three shows. Overall the average car count has been 33 with eight different drivers winning. In addition both NARC and SCCT got their first point races in 2021. All this with most tracks still racing without fans although that is slowly changing. So what drivers are shining and winning races.

 

            Looking back at the first month of racing in California one driver has really made his mark and that is Dominic Scelzi. Running a full California schedule in 2021, including all the NARC races, Scelzi has shown that the last few years of travelling have made him a better driver. Scelzi served notice with a strong second place finish to close three race Wild Wing Shootout in Arizona. Since then  Scelzi has roared to four wins with the King of Thunder 360 sprint series in the Central Valley. Scelzi has one once at Kern County and Kings and then twice at Tulare after sweeping last weekend races at the Thunderbowl. In the NARC opener two weeks ago at Stockton Scelzi was a solid third showing his 410 program is strong as his early success in Arizona indicated. With four wins already and much of the season ahead of us Scelzi could easily get into the 15 win range which is usually enough to lead the state.

 

            The one driver that has won more than 15 races in a year in California before is Justin Sanders and he already has three after sweeping the Silver Cup in Chico and winning last Friday’s season opener at Ocean Speedway. Sanders also won in Arizona earlier in the year in ASCS Southwest action. Sanders will be in a variety of cars including the Dale Miller sprinter for Placerville/SCCT action, the Larry Antaya hot rod during 410 action and I would assume select 360s shows and don’t forget Sanders family car which he drove to victory Friday. Sanders will rack up wins at Ocean and will get a handful in the Miller sprinter. The deciding  factor on his overall win total is how he does in 410 action. If Sanders gets three or four 410 wins I could see Sanders getting to 15-18 win total and challenging Scelzi for most in the state.

           

            I expect Andy Forsberg and Sean Becker to get a good win share (around eight) but neither will challenge Scelzi or Sanders for overall wins. Shane Golobic, arguably the best driver in California, as usual will spend too many weekends racing midgets or out of the state to rack up high double digit wins. Golobic will get his and be competitive in all the big races but his “national” schedule causes him to miss too many California races. Rico Abreu always gets a handful but he is an infrequent California competitor for most of the late spring and summer through Knoxville. Drivers like Mitchell Faccinto, DJ Netto, Bud Kaeding and Tim Kaeding will compete for the NARC championship but I don’t see these drivers winning more than five or six races total. Austin MCarl falls into the same category. Justyn Cox would also fall into this category as he chases the SCCT title.

 

            Then there's the young drivers which have already made a strong impression in 2021. The Carrick brothers (Blake and Tanner) each already have won. Tanner’s came in the SCCT opener last weekend at Placerville. Joel Myers, Jr. has become a frontrunner on a more consistent basis in early 2021 including a career second best at Kings. Corey Day turned heads with his performance in Arizona in January has shown speed amongst some inconsistency. His 17th to 4th run Friday night at Tulare was a glimpse of the talent he has and by the end of 2021 he will be contending for wins. Chase Madjic has shown flashes but still needs consistency. For micro stars Joey Ancona and Jake Andreotti continue to get more laps and should improve with experience. As the season goes on the youngsters will push the established drivers more and more.

 

            Obviously the state has a deep talent pool and it will be difficult but early in the season Scelzi and Sanders both look like drivers who can put together a season with a lot of wins and separate themselves from the competition. Both drivers drive to win every night and early in the season this has put them a step ahead of the competition.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: The news of Arizona Speedway closing is seemingly old news but still devastating. Given the seemingly murky situation involving Petaluma Speedway and to some extent Santa Maria Raceway it is a stark reminder of how fast the racing can stop forever at a track...The paved Yakima Speedway in Washington suffered the same fate recently as it was announced it was closing and selling. Another reminder of how quick things change...Okay back to sprint car news...California saw some musical chairs last week as a few drivers moved around...Chase Madjic was back in Mittry Motorsports sprinter in Tulare after Robbie Price had driven the car the previous two weeks. Madjic knocked off the rust quickly finishing third Saturday night in Placerville...Price was back in family car in Tulare and as of now will remain in there for the 2021 season after bouncing around a little in late 2020 and early 2021...Bud Kaeding made a cameo appearance in the Tarlton sprinter as normal driver Austin McCarl had a  wedding to attend. Kaeding struggled Friday but rebounded for a solid sixth place run Saturday night...Bud’s brother Tim was in Texas was winning an Bandit Outlaw sprint race filling in for Alex HIll. Tim was originally to drive the three race ASCS National weekend but when rain came the team instead headed to Kennedale...Willie Croft has been in Mike Phulps ride to date made a cameo in his own sprinter and finished fourth at Placerville...Ryan Bernal was in the Matt Wood sprinter Saturday night at Placerville as Shane Golobic raced at Bristol with NASCAR. Bernal competes with the Wood team during midget action at Chili Bowl and on the west coast, but surprisingly the talented all around open wheel driver does not have a full time ride in 2021... Northwest drivers continue to use the early California season as time to get races in and last weekend it was Tanner Holmes' turn. The Oregon teenager was impressive in his first appearance at Tulare finishing fifth and ninth...USAC/CRA was on the docket Friday night at Tulare and Max Adams scored his second straight win with the series. Although car count was low at 21 the feature had no less than six lead changes. The CRA guys always seemingly put on great mains despite the many detractors of the series...The next night was a non sanctioned 410 event at Tulare and it was Damion Gardner outlasting the 14 car field...Good chance Buddy Koifoid and Devon Borden will be in the field for season opener at South Sound Speedway in Pro Late Model action on the asphalt. Each has tested at the track in March and have tentative plans to make their pavement debut Saturday night.

 

            Counting down the days until the season opener at Grays Harbor Raceway on April 17 as I get to my first live race since October of 2019 in Tulare. Until then a few more weekends of pay per view.

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement super late model racing.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...I remember a time when the NARC series was the premier racing series on the west coast and one of the premier in the United States. The series featured a stout field featuring drivers like Brent Kaeding, Tim Green, Steve Kent, Chuck Miller, Paul McMahon, Kevin Pylant, Ronnie Day and many more. It wasn’t that every driver was at every race - it was you just didn’t know the mix it was going to be. It was exciting.  If it wasn’t one of the aforementioned it was legends like JImmy Sills, Tim Green and Chuck Gurney.  But slowly, for many different reasons, the series slipped as leadership changed hands but each time the excitement the series had in the late 1980s through most of 1990s could never be regained.

 

In 2018 things started to come back as the leadership of years ago returned in an effort to revive the NARC series and 410 racing in California in general. Obviously the progress of the series was put on hold during 2020 but last weekend the NARC series opened what it hopes to be a full season at the dirt track in Stockton. The 2021 looks to be a good one for the NARC series in most rights with a strong 20 race schedule featuring multiple big races and a five race speedweek in August.

 

The one thing that NARC will have a hard time repeating is the impressive car counts of the late 80s and 90s which often saw car counts in the high 30s and low 40s. During that time Chico, San Jose and even Skagit upin here in the northwest had strong  weekly 410 divisions which helped support the touring series. Nowadays tracks do not run 410 sprints weekly so drawing more than 30 cars for a NARC race is going to be difficult. Racing isn’t always about car counts though and sometimes quality can come without quantity. And this is exactly what the NARC series is hoping to produce in 2021.

 

The opening night show at Stockton was an example of exactly what type of show NARC can put on even though the car count was moderate at best. At first glance one can look at the initial 23 car field as disappointing but a deeper look will show otherwise. The field featured many drivers with impressive national resumes like Rico Abreu, Shane Golobic, Bud Kaeding, Tim Kaeding and Dominic Scelzi. Also on hand was former Knoxville champion Austin McCarl and 2019 NARC champion DJ Netto. Perennial double digit winners Justin Sanders and Sean Becker were also checked in as was Mitchell Faccinto. Young superstars Blake and Tanner Carrick were also in the house as was Kyle Hirst. Though only 23 in quantity the field was obviously deep in quality and this is what NARC is hoping the season will be like.

 

I am a big supporter of the NARC series and am a big believer of quality over quantity but at some point a certain amount of quantity is needed and I hope the NARC series can maintain this during the 2021 series. The core drivers this year will include the Kaeding brothers, Scelzi, Netto, Sanders, McCarl, Faccinto, Becker and Willie Croft. Overall the series will probably have 10-12 drivers compete in every race. The question for the series is will enough drivers sprinkle in for each show to get the sort of quantity needed to keep car counts respectable and by extension fans interested. Unfortunately with so many teams on the west coast focusing on 360 racing on the west coast it will be a struggle at some shows to get enough quantity. On the other hand shows like the Murphy Classic, Bradway Memorial, Kaeding Classic, Speedweek, the Vermeil and the Tarlton should be fields in deep quality.  I expect a few rough nights car counts - think Santa Maria and Kern County might struggle to get 20 - but overall my guess is that NARC will get 23 plus for more shows than not. If this is the case it should be enough quantity combined with quality to keep fans interested.

 

410 sprint car racing is not done in California yet and the NARC series as well as Kings Speedway - which plans around five 410 races in 2021 - are working hard to keep it relevant. 410 sprint car racing (winged and non winged) is the best open wheel racing on dirt. 360 sprints are nice and so is midget racing but 410s are the premier division. Hopefully with the efforts of NARC and Kings Speedway will revive 410 winged sprint racing to a solid state where car counts are in the mid 20s at lowest with an always deep field of potential winners.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: The Saturday race at Stockton was won by Netto who also won the dash before leading the entire main to score opening night win. Netto won his 2019 championship without winning a race..The track conditions at Stockton seemed amazing from my PPV perspective and drivers' comments have verified the surface excellent. Stockton has struggled with an almost scary fast track surface at times but Saturday it slicked off and allowed drivers to race side by side something that doesn’t happen often at Stockton...Sanders enters 2021 with high expectations as he chases the NARC championship aboard the Larry Antaya owned sprinter. He struggled at Stockton and crossed the line 11th. Don’t expect Sanders to make a habit of running that deep in the field...Two of the youngest drivers in the 23 car field were Blake Carrick and Joel Myers, Jr.. Both drivers are south of 16 but have shown they are up to the challenge as they are already contenders in the 360 division...Carrick was credited with 12th Saturday night, while Myers, Jr. was tallied 23rd in his 410 debut. Carrick was one of the best drivers in California in 2020 and Myers, Jr. has been dynamic in early 2021 in 360 competition and expect both to be quick learners in the 410 division...The only other show in California over the weekend was at Marysville Raceway Saturday night. Kaleb Montgomery scored the win over northern California stalwart Andy Forsberg. Montgomery often competes in Central California and made a rare trip to the northern part of the state worth his while...The ASCS National Tour kicked off its season last weekend in Texas and it was Washington’s JJ Hickle aboard the California based Ivan & Jan Worden sprinter sweeping the weekend. Hickle has ascended quickly during the last two years and is in the argument for best 360 sprint car driver in America...Devon Borden and Colby Thornhill, two teenagers from Washington, also competed at Devil’s Bowl. Each finished in the Top 20 each night. Wouldn’t surprised to see each driver chase the entire tour or at least run a majority of it...Cottage Grove finally got word that Oregon will be allowing 25 percent capacity which means they will run the schedule that features 360 sprints nine times during the season. First 360 race at Oregon oval will be April 23 and 24.

 

            This weekend's sprint car schedule on the west coast features 360 sprints at Ocean and Tulare Friday night. Saturday night 360 sprints are at Antioch and Tulare while Placerville hosts the Sprint Car Challenge Tour - its first series race since 2019. The USAC/CRA series has a Friday night show at Tulare and Saturday night Tulare will host a non sanctioned 410 non winged show.

 

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...February and the first week of March did not deliver a lot of good news concerning sprint car racing on the west coast. The World of Outlaws and then the ASCS National Tour cancelled their spring California tours. To make things worse Tulare cancelled the May Trophy Cup. Racing looked unsure as fans were still not being allowed in stands and 2021 was quickly reminiscing 202 but now might be a bright light at the end of the dark tunnel has been spotted as recent announcements have sparked hope.

 

            Well maybe not a bright light but a light. In the last week Placerville has announced it can have limited fans, Petaluma can have 500 fans, Perris Auto Speedway announced it will open April 10 after sitting silent for more than a year and Washington announced effective March 22 race tracks can have 25 percent full grandstands. These are small steps and in each instance an advance can be rolled back with a spike in cases. Also it shouldn’t be forgotten that as of now Oregon still has not made any progress in opening race tracks to fans. But it is good to have progress of any sorts on the west coast and with the vaccine being rolled out, herd immunity should be reached sooner than later giving west coast sprint car racing a hope that “normal” is not too far away. Whether that be Father’s Day, fourth of July or Labor Day “normal” is coming and west coast sprint car racing will return in full force at some point.

 

            One sign of a positive change is that all three major touring sprint car series in California (NARC, SACC and USAC/CRA)  plan on running their 2021 schedule after either running a very limited schedule or no schedule at all. This is good. These touring series are important to sprint car racing in California because they give drivers a chance to chase a championship and travel to different tracks. Last year all were either idle or ran limited schedules because of the pandemic which had a negative effect on sprint car racing in California.

 

The first series to start in 2021 was the USAC/CRA series which raced last weekend at the Kern County Dirt Track. This was the first USAC/CRA race in California since 2019 and it looks as of now they will have a good chance of completing a majority of their 2021 season after only running four races in 2020 - all in Arizona. The season opening weekend drew 30 and 32 cars respectively. This was a nice car count for the series which was making its debut at the Kern County Dirt Track. It included a mixture of series regulars, invaders and west coast 360 sprint car drivers looking for a race to compete in. Getting 30 or more cars each night for series was impressive as they often draw between 20-30 depending on track.

 

One thing about the USAC/CRA series is it always seems to produce a lot of different winners and sometimes a surprise winner. Last weekend was a prime example of this as the first night was won by USAC West Coast driver Ryan Timmons who held off Iowa invader and midget ace Davey Ray. Timmons became the third driver to win a USAC/CRA race with a 360 engine under the hood. The second night was won by California turned Indiana regular Max Adams who was making a cameo appearance in the always competitive Josh Ford Motorsports sprinter. The core drivers this year are some of the usual suspects like Damion Garnder, Brody Roa and Austin Williams who leads the point after two races. Other regulars who had impressive opening weekends were Chris Gansen and Matt Mitchell - who has made limited starts the last few years but is looking to return to regular competition. Gansen had a career best third place finish Friday and Mitchell was fourth Saturday. Another regular of the series Tommy Malcolm struggled all weekend aboard the Dino Napier sprinter and came out 12th in points.

 

With Jake Swanson moving to Indiana the championship looks to be a three driver battle between Garnder, Roa and Williams which is a sign of talent of these three and also a reflection of where the USAC/CRA series is at. It would be nice for the series to have some new championship competitors but looking at the current lineup I just don’t see any other drivers being able to compete with the big three of USAC/CRA. This is a problem for USAC/CRA as the lack of new talent has created a lack of excitement. A common post on social media over the weekend was CRA is dead. Hopefully this trend changes as the USAC/CRA series puts on excellent shows - heat races inverting six that foster passing and the main events usually featuring multiple leaders - but without young drivers coming up I worry how long this series will remain relevant.

 

 

NEWS AND NOTES: Davey Ray had to be the surprise entrant last weekend for the USAC/CRA race. The Iowa based driver tends to race regionally and is more known for his prowess in the midget ranks but showed Friday night he can cut it in non winged sprints...Austin Liggett has been very successful in USAC/CRA competition the last few years when he competes was a non factor both nights at Kern County….Kings Speedway hosted a doubleheader for winged 360s last weekend as replacement for the originally scheduled ASCS National shows at Tulare and Kings and was rewarded with a stout field and huge counts...Friday night Washington’s JJ Hickle outraced the 54 car field for the victory, while Saturday night it was Dominic Scelzi outracing a 56 car field...Hickle has become one of the drivers to beat at Kings as his fifth place run on Saturday gave him two wins and three top fives in his last four starts at the track...Saturday was Dom’s second win in 2021 and I expect many more from him in 2021 as he concentrates on the California scene. While not as hyped as Gio, Dominic is no slouch...Joel Myers, Jr. continues to open eyes as he finished second Friday and started on the pole Saturday.... Hickle and the Ivan Worden team he drives for will head to Texas this weekend to kick off its chase for the ASCS National Championship...Iowan Austin McCarl is going to make noise on the west coast this year as the pilot of the Tarlton sprinter as evidenced by his fifth and third place runs at Kings...Another driver that was solid at Kings was Daryn Pittman as he steered the Jason Meyer’s sprinter to a fourth and second place finish. Pittman is seeking work for 2021 and was supposed to drive Meyer’s ride at times in 2021 so it will be interesting to see how many California appearances he makes…After a successful first weekend aboard the Mittry Motorsports sprinter Robbie Price had a rough weekend at Kings failing to qualify for either nights feature...Marysville Raceway had its second show of the year Saturday night and Andy Forsberg outran the 18 car field aboard F&F sprinter. Sean Becker was second as the northern california stalwarts finished up front like normal...Down in Arizona Washington native Seth Bergman kicked off his 2021 season with a Southwest Regional win at Cocopah Speedway. Bergman will be seeking his first ASCS National championship in 20210 after years of trying. With Hafertepe out of the picture he is a definite favorite.

 

This weekend the NARC series kicks off its season at the Stockton Dirt Track. I will be watching on floracing as the premier west coast sprint car series kicks off its 2021 season.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...While the California season is off and running up here in the northwest the 2021 schedules are just starting to get finalized. In the last week Skagit and Cottage Grove released their 2021 schedules. Grays Harbor released in February meaning northwest drivers and fans finally have schedules to look at as they plan their 2021 season. Everything is still in flux as the northwest copes with the pandemic (Cottage Grove released two schedules - one with 360 sprints and one without) but with schedules out this article is going assume all races will be run as scheduled.

 

            The first thing about the schedules is just like the 2020 schedules that ultimately didn’t play it - too many races are scheduled on top of other races. The

northwest has a finite amount of sprint car teams. When multiple tracks run on the same night it dilutes that number. One of the reasons Skagit’s 360 shows were so strong last year was the fact no tracks were competing against them. Now I understand there will be times that two tracks have to run on the same night but that should be limited as much as possible and under no circumstance should all three tracks run on the same night but unfortunately that happens in 2021 if the schedule holds.

 

            A total of 39 360 sprints races are scheduled in the northwest to date. Cottage Grove is scheduled to hold the first 360 sprint race in the northwest of 2021 on March 27. Now this very preliminary as I mentioned earlier Cottage Grove has two schedules released with the one featuring 360 sprints which is contingent upon fans being allowed in the stands. As of now that seems unlikely but for now March 27 is the first scheduled 360 sprint race in the northwest. Following that 360s aren’t scheduled again until April 17 at Grays Harbor. The next weekend is the first of two weekends in which all three tracks run. Cottage Grove has their annual Spring Fling scheduled for April 23-24, while Skagit has its opening night and Grays Harbor also has 360s scheduled. It just doesn’t make sense and will make it difficult for any of the tracks to have a full field.

 

            May has no major conflicts save maybe May 22 when both Skagit and Grays Harbor run. Recent years have shown each track the benefits when they don’t schedule on top of each other but unfortunately this happens too often in 2021. One good thing in 2021 is that the John Carroll Classic is the only 360 race May 29 in the northwest.

June starts with one of those major conflicts as June 5 is another of those dates when all the three tracks have sprints scheduled which just doesn’t make sense. The second part of June will see the ASCS National Tour hit the northwest for two weekends. First is Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Grays Harbor June 19-20 and then Dirt Cup at Skagit June 24-26. As has become normal, the fourth of July weekend is quite. The following weekend Skagit and Grays Harbor again compete as they each run their season championship. The next weekend has sprints only scheduled at Cottage Grove for two nights July 17-18. Traditionally this would be the northwest speedweek finale but to date nothing more than Cottage Grove has been scheduled. The next weekend is another stand alone weekend as Skagit Speedway hosts the Summer Nationals July 23-24. This where I get confused about the scheduling.

 

            July 31 has no races scheduled and then next week Cottage Grove hosts the Marvin Smith Memorial August 6-7. This Cottage Grove’s headlining 360 event so it is a little disappointing that Skagit has a 360 race scheduled the same night. It would be great for all the two night shows to be able to run without competition to ensure the best drivers are at these headlining shows.  Another oddity in August is that Grays Harbor both run on August 28 while August 21 sits empty as an off weekend. It would be more efficient for one track to run the 21st and the other the 28th but common sense hasn’t seemed to prevail.

 

            September is headlined by the World of Outlaws descending upon Washington Labor Day weekend for a three night show at Skagit with one night show Monday to close out the weekend at Grays Harbor. Grays Harbor also has 360 sprints on the schedule Sunday night of Labor Day weekend as they traditionally do. September 11 sees Cottage Grove run its final 360 race and a week later Skagit and Grays Harbor both have their season championship. Again why? Grays Harbor and Skagit have always run their season championships on different weekends but in 2021 they conflict. Season championship always struggles for cars as the season is all but over and having Skagit and Grays Harbor run against each other is only going to cause low car counts.

 

The final weekend of September sits empty as the dirt track in Yakima sits quietly which traditionally closes out September. The final sprint race scheduled is October 3 at Grays Harbor. Racing in October in the northwest is very iffy but Grays Harbors has gotten this in before so maybe weather will play nice and we get a rare October race in October.

           

            Overall the 2021 360 schedule in the northwest is strong with a number of two day events scheduled and each track has 10 or more races scheduled. Northwest racers will have an opportunity race almost every weekend from mid-April to mid-September but as a fan and critic it seems the tracks could have done more to ensure that drivers get the best fields to compete against every week and fans get the best show possible.

 

NEW AND NOTES: Even though the ASCS California swing was cancelled Kern County went on with their scheduled two day show. Dominic Scelzi and Shane Golobic split the weekend. Friday night saw 34 cars check in with 35 the second night...Chico also opened its season last weekend with its two day Silver Cup. Despite a lot of noise about paying half the purse because of no fans the race still drew a healthy car count of 37 and 35...As far as racing at the Silver Cup it was the Justin Sanders show. Wheeling the Dale Miller XXX sprinter Sanders swept the weekend giving him three wins in three starts in 2020. Sanders will drive the Miller sprinter during the season at Placerville when he is not pursuing NARC points...A good contingent of northwest drivers ventured south for the weekend and a couple got on the podium Saturday. Robbie Price finished second during the second night of the Silver Cup and farther south Jason Solwold finished third at Kern County...Joel Myers, Jr. continues to impress early in the 2021 finish with a pair of fourth place finishes during the Silver Cup. After a few years of showing hints it seems like Myers is ready to step up in ranking. He started the season strong by setting a fast time and finishing 11th at Kings Speedway a few weeks ago...A late schedule change has Kings Speedway running a two day this weekend as Tulare was unable to get approval to run Friday.

             

            This week has a busy schedule on tap for 360 sprints in California as they compete Friday Kings and Saturday at Kings and Marysville. The USAC/CRA will begin its 2021 season at Kern County with a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. I will be catching some USAC/CRA action on Flo Racing.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Not long after my last column was written the World of Outlaws announced what was already obvious - the California races as well as those in  Vegas, Arizona and New Mexico were being cancelled. With no fans or limited fans in many of these jurisdictions the Outlaws were left with no choice. Tracks just can’t put on Outlaw shows with no fans or severely limited capacity. It was also a stark reminder that the pandemic rages and on the west coast life remains very restricted.

 

            This isn’t a political statement but a reality: 2021 is starting similar to how 2020 went - west coast racing is heavily restricted with none or limited fans, while the plains, midwest and southern regions race like the pandemic is in the rear view. The west coast is in race with time when it comes to the 2021 race season. The California early season is being severely altered with the Outlaw cancellation and other possible cancellations to come. The northwest is still a month plus from racing but Oregon and Washington are in no better shape than California as far as activities with fans go. Things are getting better but as winter becomes spring it seems eerily similar to last year where we keep thinking we are not that far from racing with fans again - but the reality never comes.

 

            Ron Rodda’s column recently on this website in which he interviewed Silver Dollar and Marysville promoter Dennis Gage highlighted the situation in California. Gage needs fans in the seat. The county says no. While Silver Dollar has a partial preliminary schedule Gage says beyond the season opening Silver Cup in early March everything is in question. Gage needs at least 50% capacity to race consistently and for the bigger shows later in the year like the Vermeil Classic and Gold Cup he will need 100% capacity. Marysville is in the same position. Last year the track relied on floracing revenue to make the season work but this year flo has gone to more touring series leaving Gage wondering how Marysville can operate with no fans or PPV revenue although to date this weekends opener is still on. This is a situation that all promoters along the west coast are facing - they just don’t know when there will be clarity on the issue which is making it difficult to plan.

 

            The first part of the season in California looks unsteady at best. Kings Raceway held its first 360 race of the season to kickoff the California season last Saturday but Tulare which was supposed to race this Saturday cancelled officially Monday after rumors persisted Saturday and Sunday. The ASCS National Tour is coming to California for two weeks as things stand but recent announcements have said “as of now”implying something could change. NARC plans to open its season March 20 at Stockton. Yes the pandemic will subside and at some point life on the west coast will return to “normal” but the uncertainty is such a constant reminder how powerful this virus is and how life remains so limited in so many ways. In the northwest we will have the Dirt Cup at the end of June? Not without fans. Will NARC and the Sprint Car Challenge Tour actually have seasons? It might be difficult if each series is forced to cancel a significant amount of races because of fans restrictions. The first of two Trophy Cups scheduled in May at Tulare seems hard to fathom right now as it would seem a show with such a substantial purse would need to be 100% capacity allowed. Tulare will more than likely not be in that 100% capacity stage by May. Or will it?

 

            That is the million dollar question that I nor anybody else seems to have the answer to. All I can say I fans up and down the west coast may have their hearts broken a few more times by this virus before they get what they long for.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: A stellar 41 car field was on hand at Kings Speedway Saturday...It was kind of surprising that Shane Golobic’s win Saturday was his first ever at Kings. Off the top of my head I can only think of Santa Maria, Merced and Kern County as the only California tracks Golobic hasn’t won at...What is a sprint car season without Tim Kaeding in a Roth Sprinter. Well there was no wait in 2021 as TK opened the season with a third place run Saturday at Kings aboard a Roth sprinter. TK will also be in the Roth ride for ASCS California swing...Earlier in the week Kaeding announced he will chase the 2021 NARC title in his normal Bates-Hamilton ride...Another owner-driver combo that comes together at least once every year is Colby Copeland in the Van Lare sprinter. Copeland drove the familiar No. 5v to a sixth place finish after starting 12th...Second place was Carson Macedo aboard with Tarlton sprinter. With the Outlaw schedule in flux Macedo was in his home state getting some laps in. No Outlaw goes back and races in his local region like Macedo with the exception of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen maybe...One of the most impressive drivers at Kings was Joel Myers. The “young teenager” was the fast qualifier, won his heat before starting on the pole in the main event. He faded in the finale finishing 11th but it was nonetheless an impressive performance for the sub 16 year old driver…Another very young driver in A was Washington’s Colby Thornhill. The Enumclaw driver qualified for the main in the strong field and was scored 22nd in the final tally. Thornhill is getting a lot of seat time as he is at seemingly every race there is after spending last summer concentrating on racing at Skagit...Other northwest news has Chance Crum getting in the Lemley Family Racing 360 sprinter after a partial year in 2020. The well known micro and mini sprint driver showed a lot of speed in the 360s last year and is scheduled to start his season in California for a few weeks. Like seasons past Crum will be in multiple rides for 2021 amongst many different classes according to a recent press release...Perris Speedway cancelled its March schedule including the USAC/CRA show that was a companion event to the Outlaws...Justin Sanders headed to Arizona last weekend for the ASCS Southwest opener to drive the Bob Ream sprinter and did what he usually does - win.

 

            With the season starting to unfold - somewhat at least - I am not sure what my next column will be on but it seems the news cycle of the season is starting to flow so I am sure something will present itself.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Along the west coast two very different off seasons exist. In the northwest it is long and dark stretching from October to mid-April usually. The scene in the golden state is much different as the offseason lasts just long enough for everybody to get to Tulsa and back. The 2021 season commences less than three months after the final checker fell in 2020 as Kings Speedway will get the 360 sprint season started this Saturday. With that this column will look exclusively at the upcoming winged sprint car season in California and will end with some season predictions.

 

            Unlike other regions which tend to be dominated by either 410s or 360s California is a hybrid where all the major teams and drivers compete in a mix of 410/360 races depending on location, purse and series. Each engine type has a major series for drivers to chase - 410s have NARC and 360s have the Sprint Car Challenge Tour - while plenty of major 360 races litter the schedule. In addition Kings Speedway has added a few 410 shows to add a few races to the 410 schedule. And don't forget the ASCS National Tour March swing and the World of Outlaws who have a spring and fall swing.

 

            The NARC series will consist of 20 races starting March 20. The Sprint Car Challenge Tour will feature 13 points paying races. For the NARC series some of the major events will be the Murphy Classic in May, the Bradway Memorial in June, Kaeding Classic in July, speed week in August, the Louie Vermeil Classic Labor Day weekend and then Tarlton Classic to cap it off at the end of October paying $21,000 to the winner. Outside of the NARC series there will be six spring outlaw races starting March 20 at Perris and four in the fall. And also four weekly 410 shows at KIngs will give 410 drivers an opportunity to get 25-30 starts if the season goes as planned. On the 360 side many of the major races do not fall under the SCCT sanction as they tend to operate as non sanctioned races with exception of the Johnny Classic at Ocean in August. As mentioned, ASCS spring swing will start in two weeks kicking off their tour March 5 at Kern County. That same weekend Chico will be hosting their annual Silver Cup. May sees the first of two trophy cups in 2021. July features the Kaeding Classic and August has the Forni Classic. Labor Day is the Placerville Shootout and the end of the month is the Adobe Classic at Petaluma. The Fall Nationals at Chico opens up October and the biggest 360 race of the year happens a second time in 2021 a few weeks later with a three night Trophy Cup at Tulare. In between drivers will compete for Championships at Ocean, Placerville, Kings-Tulare, Petaluma, Placerville, Marysville and Chico. In total as of now 137 total dates are on the California 410/360 schedule and that number could grow.

 

Now we know the races who are the drivers to watch. Let's start with the usual suspects. In the valley you have DJ Netto, Mitchell Faccinto and Dominic Scelzi as the drivers to beat. Over by the bay it is Bud Kaeding and Justin Sanders who reign supreme. If you're north of the bay it is Chase Johnson’s playground. The Sacramento area is home to Andy Forsberg, Sean Becker, Justyn Cox and Colby Copeland. Then there is Shane Golobic who never runs a series or track regularly but is pretty much the driver to beat at any track he shows up at. Also in this category is Tim Kaeding and Kyle Hirst. Also Knoxville regular Austin McCarl will be aboard the Tarlton sprinter for NARC races and other select starts - he surely will be a contender as he gets used to the California tracks. And finally one cannot forget Rico Abreu. As usual expect Abreu to spend a majority of his time in the midwest but he always seems to find his way home for the bigger shows and generally finds himself up front.

 

 

Those are the drivers we are used to winning but a new crop of winners is on the rise. 2020 saw drivers such as Blake Carrick, Tanner Carrick, Chase Madjic and Ryan Robinson arrive on the scene as drivers competing for wins. Robinson won an impressive five times in 2020. The other three scored three wins a piece. Keith Day, Jr. picked up a win in 2020 as well. Then there are drivers such as Corey Day and Jake Andreotti who are ready to make noise. Also will this be the year that Tucker Worth or Ben Worth take the next step and become contenders? Don’t forget about Kalib Henry who will be running 410s primarily in 2021. Can he become a contender with NARC? Henry was impressive in 2019 at Placerville and seems the only thing holding him back is consistent funding. Speaking of drivers who need consistent funding will Tony Gualda find a consistent ride in 2021? A rising star Gualda struggled at the end of 2019 and was never able to get a consistent ride in 2020. Michael Faccinto is older than the other rising stars but is just getting started in the sprint ranks and had a solid 2020 aboard the Harley Van Dyke sprinter. Will he continue to drive sprints consistently and improve?

 

In addition to the questions surrounding rising stars questions surround some usual suspects. How much will Sanders and Johnnson race in California? Sanders spent time on the road last year and by all indications is looking to spend more time on the road in 2021 - just how much? Johnson does not have a consistent ride at the moment but has had some success in USAC circles so will he end up there? His 410 car owners from years past have moved to Iowa so may he pop up at Knoxville from time to time. Also Willie Croft raced sparingly in 2020 will he return in 2021 aboard his own machine and once again be a contender?

 

            A lot of uncertainties makes predictions difficult but as usual the California scene is super deep and talented with a nice mix between veterans, superstars and young guns. All this plus not being sure who is going to compete with each series makes it difficult to predict the 2021 NARC and SCCT champions. Nonetheless I am going to take a shot and say the NARC champion will be Dominic Scelzi and SCCT champion will be Sean Becker. I am also going to predict that Golobic leads the state in wins and that at least one California regular will win a race against the Outlaws. Dominic Scelzi will win the Tarlton classic.  California drivers will win three of the four ASCS races with Seth Bergman winning the other one. Finally Faccinto and Abreu will split the two scheduled Trophy Cups.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: One concern with the California schedule is the overlapping big races. March features ASCS competing against the Silver Cup and Labor Day has the Posse Shootout going against the Vermeil Classic. Not sure this is productive scheduling as it only splits the field...Other instances are the first night of the outlaw swing at Perris and the opener for NARC which are both March 20 and a week later the outlaws are at Tulare while SCCT kicks their season off at Placerville...On the other hand tracks seemed to coordinate in writing schedules as Petaluma, Placerville and Marysville all have at least one Sunday show to not steps on toes of another track...That is productive scheduling and the races seem more spread out in 2020 so that four or five tracks are racing one night and the next night none are. No brainer that this should create deeper fields.

 

            Not sure what my next column will be about but with sprint car racing there's never a shortage of issues to commentate about so I am sure I will find something that will draw my interest.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Oympia, Wa...It was a Super Bowl Sunday news drop that I was lucky I even noticed as my eyes weren't on racing Sunday. Instead they were on queso dip, beer and the big game but out of nowhere it was released that Skagit Speedway was going to expand their traditional World of Outlaws show Labor Day weekend from a traditional two day show to a three day extravaganza that will culminate with a $25,000 to win feature on Sunday night. So what does this mean?

 

            Well it is apparent that Steve Beitler (promoter of Skagit Speedway) saw what is going on in 410 racing with all the major tracks and promoters having headline 410 shows and he wanted to join the club. With the Outlaws being the only 410 show on the Skagit docket it was the only chance to make a splash. For years Dirt Cup was a major 410 race with a premier purse but it has been a 360 race since 2015. Skagit has now returned to the major 410 race scene with the three night stand that will be dubbed the Skagit Nationals. The first two nights will pay the traditional $10,000 to win Outlaw purse making all three nights $10,000 plus. Skagit Speedway has never paid $10,000 plus to win on three consecutive nights so this will definitely be a landmark event as far as purse goes. One thing for sure is Beitler has always wanted to make sure Skagit has been in the headlines and now Skagit is home to a high paying 410 race and two high paying 360 races. But does all this money change the actual Outlaw event at all?

 

By this I mean Skagit has really struggled with car count in recent Outlaw events, so will having the largest purse for 410 racing on the west coast change that. Now on one hand maybe it doesn’t matter - in 2019 Skagit Speedway was absolutely packed for the Outlaws with Saturday night pretty much being standing room only. All this with a field that was around 20 cars. With that many fans in the stands does it matter if only 20 or so cars are in the pits. As a promoter 9,000 plus fans is a win whether 20 or 50 many cars at the events. But ultimately a promoter wants to put on a  great show and that means a full field with no support divisions like other major Outlaw shows. To make this happen Skagit is going to need some cooperation from California because as of right now California has a major 410 and 360 race the same weekend the Outlaws are at Skagit meaning the chance for support from the Golden State is slim to none. Without drivers from California there are simply not enough 410s in the northwest to make a full field.

            I only mention all of this because it is such a shame to see a promoter put up such a big purse and not be rewarded with a deep field of contenders. The purse being put for the Skagit Nationals should draw a 40 car field with 20 potential winners when in reality it will be lucky to draw 24 cars with 12 potential winners. The logistics just make it impossible. Even California which has some sort of 410 scene has struggled to draw cars for Outlaws shows - see Gold Cup 2019 which drew a measly 26 entries. Sure that race doesn’t pay a huge purse but it has 410 base to draw from. Going to a weekly show and seeing only 20-24 sprints is fine but going to a major sprint car race and paying a high ticket price to see a small field is not a good look to fans. Hopefully in the future Skagit can work with California tracks and therefore get some support but until then the Skagit Nationals will be no different than previous Outlaw shows at Skagit Speedway with the exception of money on the table.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: When NARC released its schedule earlier this year Silver Dollar Speedway was left off the schedule as the Bradway Memorial was moved to Placerville but that has changed with Louie Vermeil Classic being moved from Calistoga to Silver Dollar...Reasons for the move were tied to COVID and work needing to be done at Fairgrounds but one cannot wonder about the future of the once legendary track that has sat idle more than a year now...The positive is Silver Dollar Speedway has six races in eight day stretch that will feature NARC, USAC/CRA, the Platinum Cup for winged 360s and World Outlaws… The negative is the Placerville Posse Shootout will take place at the same time as the Vermeil which could split cars and fans as both tracks draw from similar regions...It seems I might have been wrong as signs point the ASCS National Tour making their two week swing through California in early March. The season opener at Canyon has been cancelled but the races at Kern County, Tulare and Kings are a go at this time...The World of Outlaws continue to remain quiet about their west coast spring in late March and early April.

 

            My next column will preview the season in California as the season starts February 20 at Kings Speedway. I will look at the big races (410 and 360) on the California calendar and what drivers to watch out for.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…It Is Wednesday afternoon as I start this column and in two days the World of Outlaw sprints cars will kick off their 2021 in Florida with a three race stand. With racing on the west coast still a few weeks away - which this column will focus on once the season starts - I figured this was a great opportunity to make some 2021 predictions. The Outlaws seemed poised for a huge 2021  with new teams in the fold and some huge events planned. The tour also features established drivers on new teams and introduction of the Toyota engine maybe in the near future - Gio Scelzi has been running one since Friday night at Screven and word Roth has one in the trailer.

 

To start the World of Outlaws roster for 2021 is simply ridiculous. That is not a knock on past seasons but just a reality that if all the drivers that have committed race the whole season the competition night in and night out will be the best it has been in 15 years or so. I see six drivers that could lay claim to finishing in the top 5 meaning one is going to be left out. The rookie of the year class itself features four well known drivers who already have Outlaw wins on their resume. So how does one make predictions on the top five in points and rookie of the year? Take an educated guess and see what happens.

 

            First let's tackle the top five. Last year the running order was Brad Sweet, Logan Schuchart, Donny Schatz, Sheldon Haudenschild and Carson Macedo. David Gravel was sixth in points but only because he missed three races. If he would have averaged sixth place finish in the three races he missed (his season average was 5.94) Gravel may have been the 2020 champion. So that is what I meant when I said six drivers for five spots. Remember Macedo was fourth for most of the year and would have maybe finished their if the KLR team hadn't nose dived after announcing they weren’t returning. Also what if Jacob Allen continues to improve could he vie for a top five spot. And don't forget the rookies - they all have solid resumes. Aaron Reutzel (three time All Star Champion), Parker Price-Miller (9th in points last with Outlaws but wasn’t Platinum Member), Brock Zearfoss (a veteran of the Posse and All Stars) and the recently announced Australian James McFadden (a five time World Series Sprintcars Champion).

 

             Another factor in making predicitons has to be some of the changes that occurred over the offseason. As previously mentioned, the KLR shutdown forced Macedo to seek work. He landed in the Jason Johnson Racing sprinter that Gravel had driven. Gravel is now in the Tod Quiring camp replacing Kerry Madsen. While JJR has been on the road for a while now Quiring’s team has not been a full time competitor with Outlaws in recent years so it will be interesting to see if they can hit the ground running or if they will struggle with the rigors of the Outlaw tour. Another twist is longtime Schatz engine builder Ron Shaver taking over the Ford program that struggled last year. Then there is Reutzel making the move to Roth Motorsports but being allowed to bring his crew and run his package. This was done so the team could get out of the gates fast as this team no doubt has bigger goals than just Rookie of the Year. Could they possibly sneak in the top five? Jason Sides is teaming with Rico Abreu to create a partnership that will allow more funds and more time to focus on racing. Can Sides become a contender again? Time will tell.

 

            So here are my predictions:

1.    Donny Schatz - I don’t expect Donny to dominate like he has previously - winning 20-30 races a year. The competition is too good for that but I do expect Donny to return to form as the best sprint car driver in the game. With Shaver taking over the engine program, look for this team to qualify better and race better as they get horsepower to the track. Some preseason races have seen Donny flex some muscle and look for that to continue throughout 2021 as I see this team winning around 15-18 races and claiming another championship.

2.    Brad Sweet - One of the reasons Donny will not return to the 20-30 wins a year status is Brad Sweet. He has gotten too good over the last five years and now can lay claim to best sprint car driver in the game. Two Outlaw championships are impressive no matter the situation and there is no reason to believe this team which hasn’t changed the last few years won’t contend for a third in a row. I look for Sweet and Donny to go back and forth all year but in the end I see Sweet settling for second and somewhere between 10-15 wins.

3.    David Gravel - If Gravel was returning to JJR I might have him at first or second but I just couldn’t make that call that he had a new home. Being with a new team and new crew chief have me concerned it may take this team a little time to gel which if you're going to win an Outlaw crown you can’t give Schatz and Sweet time. However once Gravel gets going I expect big things from this team which is why I still think he will end up third winning around 10 races.

4.    Logan Schuchart - It is weird that I think Schuchart might be better in 2021 but somehow I have him two spots lower than where he finished the 2020 season in points. But the fact is the three above are the three best in the game and while I think Schuchart is breathing down their necks he is still just a tick below. Schuchart and SHARK racing seem to get stronger every year and I expect 2021 to be no different as Schuchart continues his rise to the top of sprint car racing. He will be a champion sooner than later but in 2021 I see him finishing fourth with 7-10 wins.

5.    Sheldon Haudenschild - This one was difficult. The first four were fairly easy in my mind but I struggled with fifth because even though Haud has gotten more consistent he still has too many mistakes (see early races in 2021) that are often his fault. That almost had me put Macedo here as I expect him and JJR team to be very consistent all year in 2021. I don’t see Macedo winning more than three or four races and I see Haud maybe winning 10-12, but Macedo’s consistency will keep the battle for fifth close. Ultimately I believe Haud is a better driver than Macedo right now and that will be enough to crack the top five.

 

     Rookie of the Year - Aaron Reutzel. While the class is deep and talented Reutzel will be the driver to beat. I could easily see Reutzel winning four or five races and being on the periphery of the Haud-Macedo battle for fifth. Reutzel has thrived everywhere he has raced and I don’t expect much different on the Outlaw tour. Yes the competition is tougher and championships tougher to come but Reutzel has all the ingredients to be an Outlaw champion in the future and he quest will begin by being the 2021 Rookie of the Year. If McFadden was going to be at every race I could see him pushing Reutzel but the fact he is going to miss some early season races and just receive show-up points will be too much to overcome. PPM will be solid and will probably sneak in top 10 points with a win or two while Zearfoss will struggle the most and will struggle to score a win unless it is in Pennsylvania.

 

            It all starts February 5 in Volusia and will end in November in Charlotte. A long road to haul and who knows what the standings and the rookie race will look like after the dust (literally) clears at Charlotte but I feel confident my predictions will be pretty accurate.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES:Chase Johnson, who is still working on putting together something  permanent, will start the season in Florida competing with USAC in a second Goodnight sprinter...Daryn Pittman has been ride hunting and right now has seat in the Jason Meyer’s sprinter for the west coast swing - if it happens...Speaking of the Meyer’s sprinter look for teenager Corey Day to make more appearances in the car as the season progresses. The young 15 year old put the sprint car world on notice in Arizona will drive a mixture of his family car and the Meyer’s car in 2021....Jonathan Allard has been a rare competitor in California in recent years but in a recent interview revealed plans to race for the Dalton’s (his New Zealand owner) during the summer in California...USAC/CRA was supposed to open its season in Arizona in March but rumors are circulating that might not happen. One problem is the race is not on Canyon Raceway’s schedule…WIth both the ASCS National Tour and World of Outlaws scheduled to be in California in March time is getting near to make a decision if these races will happen. Both groups have been quite up to this point but I still see these races as very unlikely given the current situation.

 

            Not sure what my next column will be about as I will just see what is going on and see if a story presents itself. Still waiting for the west coast season to kick off which it is scheduled to on February 20 at Kings Speedway.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Last weekend the 2021 winged 410 sprint car season got started in Arizona with the Wild Wing Shootout at Arizona Speedway and kicked off what has a chance to be an amazing season throughout the country pandemic notwithstanding. As the country has tried to fight out of a pandemic the last year 410 winged racing has seen a major bump in major races throughout the country and in an odd way is thriving as the country waddles in the mud. The Wild Wing Shootout is just one of the many new major races in the United States that isn’t World of Outlaw sanctioned which opens chances for different drivers to win big races and big paydays. A major race in my opinion must at least pay $10000 to win on the final night.

 

           

            The Wild Wing Shootout was $7000 to win Friday and $10000 to win Saturday and Sunday. The All Stars now have 14 races that pay $10000 or more. Amongst them are four races that pay more than $20000 to win races (Dirt Classic at Lincoln, Rudeen Foundation at Kokomo and the Wiekert and Tuscarora at Port Royal). Pennsylvania Speedweek has two races that pay $10,000 or more. In addition the Posse has the $10,000 to win Dream at Port Royal and $20,000 Selinsgrove Nationals in September. Huset’s is hosting a $10000 to win race in early August. The FAST series includes four events paying in excess of $10000 including $20,000 to win at West Virginia Motor Speedway in August. NARC has the Peter Murphy Classic and the $21000 to win Tarlton Classic. The new Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis will host a $21000 to win race in mid-October. In addition to these high paying races Williams Grove Speedway has stepped up and with every weekly race paying at least $5000 to win. Port Royal has added purse money. Huset’s weekly purse is not heavy at the top ($3000 to win) but pays through the field well ($2000 for third, $1000 for fifth and $400 to start). All this is exciting for 410 racing and the future.

 

            The Tarlton Classic is a great example of how much a big payday can mean to a local team. An average NARC race pays $3000 to win. The Tarlton Classic is worth seven wins when you look at it from a winnings standpoint. The Huset’s race in August would be worth three weekly wins using the same theory. My only criticism concerning purses would be with the World of Outlaws. I think every race should be $15000 minimum to win and $20000 for two night shows. The Outlaws raised their purses some this year which is good but if you look back and see how rarely they raise their purses it still seems a little outdated for a series that proclaims itself as the premier series in all of dirt racing. I know the Outlaws provide a solid amount of tow money and the point fund payout is healthy but that doesn’t mean the Outlaws shouldn’t strive to have the highest paying national series in all of dirt racing. RIght now they are kind of mixed in with the two touring late model series when it comes to purses but the World of Outlaws Sprint Car should and can be better than that.

 

 

I have been vocal in my belief that 410 sprint car racing (winged and non winged) needs more bigger paying races like their fendered counterparts (dirt late models) have. Dirt late model drivers don’t have to race with major touring series to race to race for high paying purses. This hasn’t been the case in recent years as almost all the major races with exception of few have fallen under the World of Outlaw sanction. The last few years the tide has started to change and 2021 offers the most big paying regional races in probably the last 20 years if not more. It is good for sprint car racing when local/regional drivers can put big paychecks in their pockets because let’s be honest more they are not beating the Outlaws or even the All Stars to some extent very often. These cars are expensive and a big payday can help a team stay afloat. Hopefully 2021 is the start of a new era of high paying regional/local shows that will help keep 410 sprint car racing thriving in the years ahead. Winged 410 racing is more than the World of Outlaws - the Outlaws are a product of the strength of 410 racing. A better base makes a better product.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: The story of the weekend was Buddy Koifoid dominating the first two nights of the Wild Wing Shootout aboard the Reinbold-Underwood sprinter which usually competes without the wing. He won his heat each of the first two nights and led 55 of 65 the main event laps Friday and Saturday...Tony Stewart dominated Sunday leading all 35 laps of the A main after setting a new track record in qualifying...In other news out of the Reinbold-Underwood camp they have parted ways with Logan Seavey on the non winged side and for the USAC Florida swing tabbed Tanner Thorson for the driving duties. This team is not afraid to change driver seats with frequency so no telling where they go next...The other big story to me was the performance of Corey Day Friday and Saturday. The young driver from Clovis, California steered the Jason Meyer sprinter like a seasoned vet in his 410 debut. After a solid 12th place run Friday, Day was on the gas Saturday as he charged from 17th to 8th in the A main. Day did not race Sunday...Overall four drivers missed the final night - Day, Mason Daniel, Bill Balog, Sean Watts. The final car count was 22 after 26 registered Friday and Saturday...A number of pre-entered drivers including the Carrick Bros, Colby Copeland and Tucker Klaasmeyer to name a few did not show after earlier committing...Even though the field was a little smaller than anticipated it was diverse and deep. The Outlaws (Schatz, Macedo, Reutzel and Daniel), the All Stars (Eliason), the Posse (DeWease), NARC (Netto, D. Scelzi, Tim Kaeding), IRA (Bill Balog), true Outlaws (Abreu, G. Scelzi, T. Stewart) the legends (Swindell), the newcomers (Day, Tanner Holmes, Ryan Timms), USAC (Koifoid)  and even CRA (AJ Bender) were all represented...A trio of Northwest drivers made the trip south and two of them probably wish they hadn’t. Let’s start with Oregon’s Tanner Holmes who was making his 410 debut. Over the three nights he showed improvement and got more comfortable as he finished 21st, 18th and 13th respectively. His weekend could be considered a success...Now for Oregon’s Brian Boswell and Washington’s Jason Solwold, a success it was not. Boswell was mired with motor difficulties all weekend and barely hit the track. Solwold was leading the B Friday when his engine blew. Saturday his Shaylen Raye Motorsports team got an engine from the Bates-Hamilton team. After a strong qualifying run and solid heat race mechanical woes steered their head again and Solwold was an early DNF. Sunday the team was relegated to their 360 engine and never completed a lap in Sunday’s A main...British Columbia native and ASCS National Tour regular Robbie Price spent the weekend in the Craig Minks sprinter he drove at the end of 2020 in Arizona. No word on how many races they will do together but expect some more....A couple more schedules dropped the last few days from Northern California. Silver Dollar has a partial schedule as of right now while its sister track down the road (Marysville Raceway) released a complete schedule. The tracks schedule compliment each other providing fans in the area at least one option most weekends....Grays Harbor Raceway in my neck of the woods released their full schedule featuring 13 360 sprint car dates. A re-commitment from a track that looked like it was moving away from 360 sprints. WIth Skagit yet to release its full schedule it is little early to speculate if this will create too many conflicting dates.

           

            My next column I will give my preview of the upcoming World of Outlaw season and my picks for top five in points and rookie of the year.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...My last column was about the Tulsa shootout and this one is about Chili Bowl. Thanks to floracing and MAVTV I was able to watch a majority of the Chili Bowl which concluded my binge watching races from the Tulsa Expo Arena. It was kind of nice watching Chili Bowl at home enjoying the pleasures of my own residence and escaping the constant inhaling of toxic fumes for a week. As always the Chili Bowl produces a bunch of storylines but I want to focus on what  the big storylines were in my estimation.

 

     Unfortunately as the week went on the track prep and the whole scene around track prep became the main story. Chili Bowl has always been known for a lot of track reworks throughout the night. But unlike the past where these were quick touch-ups as the week went on each edition of track prep became a bigger story. Tweets were sent out explaining why prep was being done and as they week went on the tweets became more numerous making me and many other viewers wondering exactly what the headline was. Then came the Saturday night production on MAVTV where a majority of the show featured track prep as the crew spent almost an hour prepping for Saturday nights A main. While I firmly believe that a race as big as a Chili Bowl deserves to feature the best track conditions possible at some point there has to be a balance. Chili Bowl is a huge race that will draw race fans that are not dirt fans and the way to keep them is a not constant parade of watering, grading and push truck races.

 

     While they are not a thing in sprint car racing, superteams rule the midget scene and for all intent and purposes they have drowned out the competition. Super teams KKM, CMR, CBI, RMS, Dave McIntosh, Swindell, Matt Wood and one car Larson/Silva super team combined to have 16 of the 24 starting spots and nine of the top 10 finishers.Only Daryn Pittman in fifth was able to crack the super team dominance on Saturday night. I am not saying this is good or bad. The emergence of so many super teams hasn’t dampened the talent or the competition but it definitely set a line of demarcation between the contenders and pretenders and if not on the right side of the line the Chili Bowl struggle will be real.

 

     Piggybacking on super team dominance leads me to the crazy fact that one can almost know the preliminary night winners without even watching. Monday (McIntosh), Tuesday (Larson), Wednesday (Abreu) and Thursday (Bell) all produced the same winners as the prelim nights the year before. In the case of Larson, Abreu and Bell they have such a lock on their respective night it has the field inevitably feeling like second is the race for first. With McIntosh winning Monday for the second straight year it seems Monday is following the pattern. The only night that lacked a repeat winner was Friday but it wasn't a surprise. Justin Grant has been the Friday dominator and regained his throne from Tanner Thorson (who won on Friday in 2020) to stake his claim as Friday night dominator. I am not able to explain this situation where such a deep and talented field is being dominated by the same drivers every year except through the dominance of super teams and the spread out prelim nights have created a situation where the talent has thinned just enough during  the week that the same few continue to dominate.

 

     Finally the last big news coming out of Chili Bowl had nothing to do with Chili Bowl but had to do with a new USAC National Sprint/Midget twinbill at Huset’s in September featuring $20,000 to win Saturday night features for each class. This is huge for non winged sprint and midgets as they lack big paying shows which is one of the reasons non winged and midget drivers are migrating to winged sprints - more big paying races. The event being dubbed the Huset’s Speedway USAC Nationals is being presented by Matt Wood - the same promoter that has created the Hangtown 100 in November at Placerville. In addition to these two events Wood has said that he is looking for one more venue to round out the three major races he plans to promote. Wood who also owns a midget super team and Shane Golobic’s full time sprint ride has become one of the major movers and shakers in racing especially with the midgets. Even though Wood came to fame through sprint car racing - first his connection with Bryan Clauson when he was chasing the winged dream before his untimely death and now his support of son-in-law Shane Golobic - his passion has always been in midget racing.  Therefore it is no surprise that both major events he has promoted would feature midgets and my guess so will the third and fully expect this event to be more in east giving Wood a major midget race in the West, the Plains, and the Midwest/East Coast.

 

            And with that it is time to get back to sprint car racing. The Wild Wing Shootout is set for this weekend in Arizona and the following weekend the All Stars start their season in Georgia. A lot to look forward to in 410 sprint car racing in 2021 and I can’t wait to get it started.

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR NEWS: Wild Wing Shootout will feature a heavy dose of California and Northwest drivers. Amongst the recent additions to the entry list were Washington’s Jason Solwold and Oregon’s Tanner Holmes...It will be the first 410 start for Holmes. Holmes had an impressive 2020 season in 360 ranks and plans on a big 2021 including potentially chasing the ASCS National tour...Solwold is a wild card every time he shows up. He can be a front runner or lapped traffic at any race he enters. As he ages he is no longer the dominant star he used to be but like every veteran when he is good he can be devastating...The Wild Wing Shootout will feature an interesting mix of Outlaw starts (Schatz and Macedo), All Star stars (Eliason),  Posse stars (DeWease) and non winged sprint stars (CJ Leary will be in the Bowman No. 55) to go with the strong west coast contingent registered...Macedo will be aboard the Tarlton KPC in Arizona...The only touring series in the Northwest is on hold as of now. According to promoter Steve Beitler the series has been put on hold at least for this year. This was too bad but the series had already lost a little a luster when it went from 16 to 12 races on the 2020 schedule (ultimately cancelled by COVID)...With Petaluma releasing its 2021 schedule the overall sprint car schedule in California is becoming more clear. Still missing Ocean, Chico and Marysville. Looks like Petaluma will have a few Sunday night shows to avoid conflicts with other tracks. Overall the schedule includes a mix of winged 360, winged 410, non winged 410 and non winged 360 sprints on the schedule...Hearing a lot of rumors about the spring swing through California for the Outlaws and none of them good. I have yet to reach out to the Outlaws but my guess is the Outlaws will not race in California this spring and neither will ASCS for that matter. Hope I am wrong. Reality tells me I am not.

 

            My next column will look at the news from the Wild Wing Shootout and also look forward to the 410 sprint car season across the country 2021.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Given this column appears on a sprint car web page I try to keep the content strictly on sprint cars for the most part. Sometimes though a race causes me to change directions and the Tulsa Shootout did just that. Thanks to floracing I was able watch the mini sprint extravaganza for the first time and did not disappoint. For most of the week I followed along casually watching when I could but Saturday night I locked in for the last chance qualifiers and main events and was not disappointed.

 

            Mini sprints are not always my favorite. Not that I have anything against mini sprints, just not my preferred dish. The mini sprint scene in the Northwest is strong and the Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway is a marquee event which I have attended numerous times over the years. I have never left the Clay Cup disappointed (maybe covered in dirt) but  I chase sprint car racing so if a decent sprint car race is on the schedule I am headed that way. Watching the shootout I definitely changed my appreciation for the mini sprint division. After going to 10 Chili Bowls and vowing to never go back to Tulsa, the shootout has me walking back that statement and thinking about returning to the Expo Center for one more go.

 

            With the amount of competitors entered the shootout is already legendary on that front but what impressed me was the true depth of the field. The shootouts four main divisions - Winged Outlaw, Non Winged Outlaw, A Class, Non Winged Stock - were simply loaded. Quantity is quality at the shootout. Mini sprint stars were joined by stars from sprint, midget and even NASCAR. Many of the headliners compete in all four divisions but that doesn’t the headline drivers dominate. And the format is brutal. A driver gets a heat race and qualifier to lock into the main and given the fact the field isn’t broken into multiple preliminary nights a driver is competing against the whole field all weekend. One mistake and you're in the alphabet soup. Also a great heat race doesn’t mean anything. In the Non Winged Outlaw class only four of the top 16 after heat races were in the top 16 after qualifiers. In the Winged Outlaws it was five out of 16. And if you get stuck in the alphabet soup you have to finish in the top two all the way through to the B. A top two finish in the B just gets a driver into the 16 car last chance qualifier which takes the top eight. Nothing comes easy at the shootout.

 

            Come Saturday night like any big race the cream usually rises to the crop though and the shootout was no different for the most part. Most impressive was Pennsylvania’s Brian Carber who captured two drillers on Saturday as he won the Nonwinged stock and A class mains while finishing second in the Non Winged Outlaws. He outlasted Christopher Bell and TJ Smith in Stock Nonwing. In A class Carber was the man ahead of 12th starting Tyler Courtney and Jason McDougal. The Oklahoma native Kris Carroll pulled the small upset when he won Non Winged Outlaw main ahead of Carber and hard charging Brent Crews. The 13 year old Brent Crews stole the show for a while Saturday as he worked the cushion to move to from ninth to second as he passed heavy hitters such as Daison Pursley, Alex Bright and Thomas Kunsman. Crews got to second before finishing third at the line.

 

            The headliner of the night at the shootout and well deserved was the Winged Outlaw division. Even though the division features 100 less cars than the other three the quality was off the charts especially when the 24 car field main rolled out. Amongst the field was All Star regular Zeb Wise, 360 sprint regional champion Aryton Gennetten, USAC sprint stalwarts Kevin Thomas, Jr., Brady Bacon, Jadon Rogers and USAC midget stalwarts Pursley and Emerson Axsom. In addition the mini sprints were represented by many of their usual suspects like Jason McDougal, Kenny Miller, Frank Flud, Kyle Spence, Mitchel Moles and Chris Andrews. Throw in Tulsa Expo legends Jonathan Beason and Alex Bright and it almost seemed like the A main at Chili Bowl. The field was so deep that drivers like Bell and Carber were unable to make the field. In the end it was the California star Moles who benefited from a late race mistake from Beason (who jumped the restart on lap 42) to win the 55 lap shootout headliner ahead of Beason and Courtney. This late race drama added intrigue but I do wonder why they would let Beason lead 10 or so laps when he jumped the start. Throw the yellow immediately in my opinion but what is a big race without controversy.

 

            As a whole I was most impressed with the quality of drivers at the shootout. With so many drivers one would think the field would be watered down but this was not the case. Each division featured ultra competitive racing throughout the weeknd. And it wasn't just the name drivers. The amount of quality of mini sprint drivers in the country is much deeper than I thought and the seriousness in which they take it is second to none in racing. As a sprint car guy I often find myself thinking of the mini sprints as the minor leagues where those that cannot cut it in sprint cars reside - but in reality mini sprint racing is an end game for many because it is what they can afford to be competitive. Just because a driver cannot make it to sprint cars it doesn’t mean they care less or are not as talented - it is often just the hand they were dealt. And these mini sprint drivers are playing the hand the best they can.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: The Sprint Car Challenge Tour which has been quiet since April of last year announced their 2021 schedule featuring 13 point races and one non point race. Like seasons past the schedule has no conflicts with NARC...USAC/CRA finally released their completed schedule as did the USAC West Coast sprint cars. The CRA guys have 24 dates and the west coast series has 18 dates. No conflicts allowing a driver to pursue both championships...Iowa driver Austin McCarl has been announced the driver of the Tarlton Racing sprinter in 2021. The team will chase NARC points plus other selected events. Look for McCarl to continue to compete in the midwest when time allows...Another recent driver announcement has Sean Becker securing full time rides for NARC and SCCT. In the NARC wars he will steer the Dave Vertullo sprinter and SCCT ranks he will be aboard the Dan Monhoff sprinter.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The year we all wish to forget is almost in the rearview with a brighter horizon ahead of us. Not tomorrow but the time is coming where we return to some sort of normal and fans can go to races as they did before all over the country - not just certain regions. And when that time comes fans up and down the west coast should be ready as they have been away from the track for a long time. This is what makes the schedule releases that have occurred to date so fun to look at. The anticipation of planning the 2021 schedule and what to look forward to.

 

            I am very intrigued by the Outlaws, ASCS,  NARC schedules, the announcement of two trophy cups and the release of the Perris schedule which features 12 dates for USAC/CRA sprints. While most tracks have not released their weekly schedules a lot of big shows have been announced. This what has been released to date.

 

     The World of Outlaws will feature a total of 12 races on the west coast to date as March 21 is listed as TBA. The spring swing features two dates at Tulare and one at Merced, Ocean and Perris. The fall swing has two dates at Skagit followed by one at Grays Harbor. After that the series moves to California for two nights at Chico and a night each for Placerville and Kings. As I mentioned in a previous column this is less races on the west coast than previous years but it still provides a lot of excitement. The Outlaws should be fun at Merced and KIngs - two tracks that have stepped up their program. On the other hand two staples in California - Calistoga and Stockton - are not on the 2020 schedule. Also off the schedule is the traditional Oregon stop which I was hoping might get moved back to Cottage Grove after spending recent years at Willamette Speedway.

 

     ASCS schedule has the tour coming west in early March and again in late June for a total of eight events. The March swing features two nights at Kern County and a night each at Tulare and Kings. Interesting none of the tracks that were part of the 2020 California swing were scheduled in 2021. The tour returns in June for its traditional run through the northwest with the two night Brownfield Classic and the three night $15,000 to win Dirt Cup at Skagit. The northwest swing has become a staple for the ASCS national tour with DIrt Cup being one of the crown jewels of the ASCS schedule.

 

     The NARC schedule features a stout 20 race schedule with a back loaded schedule due to lingering COVID concerns. The biggest news was moving the Bradway Memorial to Placerville from Chico, the addition of the $21,000 to Tarlton Classic to the schedule and the expansion of speed week for five races in five nights. Also the Peter Murphy Classic will remain at Tulare. Already well noted has been the fact NARC will not have any races at Silver Dollar Speedway with the decision to move the Bradway Memorial which left the staff at Silver Dollar scrambling and eventually without a date. Also NARC announced that a four race Pacific Northwest swing will take place in 2022. Early word has a two night stop at Grays Harbor as part of the four races.

 

     Two Trophy Cups. That is right. 2021 will feature a Trophy Cup Memorial Day weekend and on its traditional date in October. Each race will feature a traditional purse. One thing that will be interesting is what the field looks like in May as it probably won't feature the influx of outsiders the fall race will. Memorial Day is a huge racing weekend around the country and I suspect the amount of invaders will be limited.

 

     Perris Auto Speedway released its schedule and for the first time in recent memory it has increased the amount of USAC/CRA races. From March to November Perris hosts at least one race with the three night Oval Nationals closing out the season. New to the schedule is a two day show July 16-17.

 

     Some more scheduling news. Skagit has announced that the $10,000 to win Summers Nationals will be July 23-24.  Tulare and Kings have announced they will feature five weekends with a Friday show at one track and a Saturday at the other. One of the Friday dates will be a Sprint Car Challenge Tour at Kings the night before the Murphy Classic at Tulare. This is the first mention of the SCCT since last spring.

 

 

            Of course this is all subject to change. COVID is raging and even though a vaccine has started to be implemented no one knows how long it will take to get to enough people to truly get the west coast open again. Realistically it seems the March-April ASCS-WOO tour through California would be in jeopardy. Given the state's current condition and that March isn’t far away it is hard to see any fans being allowed. I hope I am wrong because the west coast is dying for some big time races with fans...on the other hand if things progress with vaccination as seem planned then I see no reason why racing on the west coast can't go back to “normal” by late spring or early summer.

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Kerry Madsen was named the driver of Mike Barshinger sprinter based out of Pennsylvania. Why do I mention this - because sounds like Tanner Thorson got a long look for that ride but midget racing commitments got in the way. Thorson has made it known his desire to be a full time sprint car driver but sooner or later that is going to involve giving up the midgets...The nine west coast ASCS races out part of a much bigger 61 race schedule. So far Washington natives Seth Bergman and JJ Hickle have committed to run the series. I wonder how many 360 teams will be able to handle the extended schedule in 2021 (traditionally the national tour runs 35-40 races)...Speaking of Hickle he was fourth on national 360 rankings for 2020 behind Mark Smith, Shane Golobic and Sam Hafertepe, Jr. That is some nice company for Hickle to be with. Nice to see him get recognition for a strong 2020...Kalib Henry continues to be one of the most underrated drivers in California. The young star has kinda gone under the radar but announced on social media he will be focusing on 410 racing in 2021 and will start his season in Arizona. Henry will be a contender as long as he can get a decent amount of 410 starts...Washington’s Trey Starks is scaling back his racing as he has left the Gobrecht Motorsports team. He plans to concentrate on work commitments, while racing bigger races in Northwest and elsewhere if opportunity arises. He has no interest in a weekly commitment though.

 

                        Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt late model racing and pavement late model racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The 2020 sprint car season in California started with high anticipation. The ASCS National Tour returned in March, NARC was set for a prime season with tons of talent committed to running the series, Kings Speedway was in the hands of Peter Murphy but then a little thing called COVID-19 started circulating and everything changed quickly. In the end California was able to get 60 races and 61 main events across the 360 and 410 divisions with 25 different winners but the season lacked many of the headlining events.

 

            2020 saw no Trophy Cup, Bradway Memorial, Murphy Classic, Outlaw swing, NARC speed week, Fall Nationals and the Posse Shootout was a much smaller version. And while some tracks were able to consistently race some like Tulare and Santa Maria never raced because of COVID. In all cases grandstands were effectively shut but tracks worked around that as the season went on as they ushered fans through the pit gate into the stands. In any case attendance was a fraction of what it usually is and this led to most the big races and most 410 races to be cancelled as without fans not enough revenue could be generated to pay the purses. Not all was lost as Ocean Speedway held the Kaeding Classic July, Placerville had the highly successful Tiner Classic in early October and Kings closed out October with the massive $21,000 to Tarlton Classic.

 

            Before the pandemic the California sprint car season was off and running. Kings and Stockton had each held two events, Marysville one and ASCS National Tour had stormed California (Brad Sweet and Andy Forsberg held serve respectively at Merced and Petaluma) and the first night of Silver Cup was completed before everything was shut down. Before the pandemic there had been seven winners in eight starts showing the competition was as deep as ever in California. In addition to Sweet and Forsberg, Shane Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto, Ryan Robinson, Keith Day, Jr. and Justyn Cox. Robinson was the only repeat winner in this time and all the drivers except Sweet and Day would go into win at least once more after the return to racing.

 

            From March 14 - May 8 sprint car racing in California was silent before Marysville roared back to life on May 9. A total of five races were run in May with four at Marysville (winners were DJ Netto - twice, Robinson and Forsberg) and one at Antioch (Chase Madjic). June saw 10 races as Placerville had its first race of 2020 June 13 which was won by Cox. The next night John Michael Bunch got the upset win at Marysville. The next weekend saw Ocean kick off its season on Friday with youngster Blake Carrick the win, while the next night was the first 410 race of 2020 in California and Indiana invader Spencer Bayston took the $3000 prize. Petaluma closed the three race weekend on Sunday with Sean Becker getting the win. The next week saw five races on the docket and Golobic would win three of them. He started by winning a Wednesday race at Marysville and Thursday at Ocean. Friday at Placerville Becker won the first night of the pared down Posse Shootout. Golobic was back on top for the Posse Shootout while down at Kings it was Netto again.

 

            Twelve events were run in July headlined by the Howard Kaeding Classic July 17-18. Netto won the opening night of the Kaeding Classic featuring 360 sprints. The next night was a $5000 to win NARC 410 race and it was Kyle Hirst scoring the big win. Two other races were run in July at Ocean and they were won by Becker and Faccinto. Other winners in July were Colby Copeland and Blake Carrick at Placerville, Tanner Carrick (twice) and Becker at Marysville, Madjic won at Petaluma and Golobic won the only race at Chico after March.

 

            With many drivers heading to the midwest in August California only had seven races on the schedule and Justin Sanders dominated the month winning three times. He won at Ocean twice and scored his first career win at Petaluma to close out the month. Other winners in August were Colby Johnson at Antioch, Bud Kaeding at Kings, while Blake Carrick and Robinson split a pair events at Marysville. September was a stark reminder of reality as this would usually be the time the California season really takes off but this year only had five races during the month as there was no Outlaw swing or Vermeil Classic. Five different drivers won in September - Robinson at Marysville, Netto at Ocean, Tanner Carrick at Placerville,  Madjic at Kings and Forsberg at Petaluma.

           

            After only five races in September, October was a big month even with the Trophy Cup cancelled. Golobic kicked off the month with a $5,094 win in the Tiner Classic at Placerville, grabbing his sixth final victory of the year in California. The next weekend Kings Speedway had four main events over two nights. Kyle Hirst kicked off the weekend with a 410 win aboard the legendary Williams Motorsports sprinter. The next night was the Morrie Williams Classic featuring a NARC 410 twin 20. Ironically Williams Motorsports swept the events with HIrst winning the first and Dominic Scezli the second as he made a rare appearance in a Williams sprinter. The night also featured a 360 main which was captured by Bud Kaeding.

The next weekend Ocean finished its season with the Johnny Key Classic and it was Mitchell Faccinto taking the win and the track championship.

            The headliner in October was Tarlton Classic the night before Halloween with a $21,000 to 410 main event. Drawing a stout 410 field with plenty of invaders it was California native and Outlaw regular Carson Macedo dominating the event in the Tommy Tarlton sprinter. He was followed by Kyle Larson and Outlaw champion Brad Sweet. October closed a night later with Andy Forsberg winning the 360 finale at Marysville. Just like Faccinto at Ocean, Forsberg closed his championship with a win.

 

            November started with a doubleheader at Stockton featuring 360s and NARC sprints. Copeland snagged the 360 main, while it was Sanders taking the NARC main. The next week Washington native turned California regular JJ Hickle started on the pole and pulled a small upset as he held off the challenges of one central California’s best  DJ Netto and Outlaw regular Carson Macedo. The following Friday 360 sprints were at Merced and it was Kyle Larson getting his first in California in 2020. The season finished with two races at Antioch that were won by Kaleb Montgomery and Cox.

 

            When it was all said and done even the weirdness of COVID-19 didn’t change what we all knew going into 2020. And what we knew and still true is that drivers such as Golobic, Faccinto, Forsberg, Becker, Sanders, Bud Kaeding, DJ Netto and even HIrst continue to be the drivers to be beat. But a new generation is on the rise with Ryan Robinson, the Carrick Brother and Madjic all showing they have what it takes to take down the old guard. Hopefully 2021 is smoother and all the big races that we are used to seeing return and the California sprint car scene returns to normalcy.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...I was listening to the Rigsby Podcast on DirtonDirt ast night and after a long interview of celebrating the success of dirt racing (in their case specifically dirt late model racing) in 2020 the subject turned to some of the negatives and specifically the lengths of shows. Dirt racing survived a pandemic but what it won't survive is continually running inefficient shows in an age when the attention span is short.

 

            I have always been a proponent of more efficient shows. That does not mean starting earlier and reducing laps of races but it means running smart shows with a reasonable amount of classes and very little to no dead time. Being at the races one doesn’t always notice all the delays but in 2020 where I watched everything on the screen it became more and more apparent as the year went on that this is the biggest issue facing dirt track racing. And then there are tracks that don’t necessarily have a lot of down time but decide the need to have 10 classes on one card and run the headliner last (specifically races in the South have this issue). Either way having fans at the track for four to five hours with a lot of downtime or endless jalopy classes is not the way to keep fans or draw new fans.

 

            Race promoters need to realize that from the first green to the final checkered the maximum amount should be three hours. The NFL has continually changed rules over the years to speed up the game to keep around the three hour mark because they know that is what their fans want. Racing is no different. Race fans want to go to the track and be entertained. That is what they are paying their hard earned dollar for. Yet some promoters don’t get this concept. Some think fans want to watch track prep or push trucks go in circles. Others seem to think fans want to be drugged through hours of heat races and main events before seeing the headline class they came to see. This will cause fans to leave before seeing what they paid for and that fan will be hesitant to go back. I have had experiences like that where I have had to leave the track before the headline division main event because it past midnight and I had work commitments the next day. It definitely taints that facility in the eyes of the race of fans who had a bad experience.

 

            I don’t just want to be a complainer so here is what I am advocating for when it comes to how shows are run. First of all it depends what kind of show it is and when it is racing. I'm going to use the Northwest as an example because it is what I am most familiar with. Tracks up here tend to start at seven, run three-four classes weekly and depending on the track finish between 10 and 11. During weekly shows the tracks in the Northwest do a good job of not overscheduling classes. Where some of the tracks struggle is they seem to have a fear they might finish before 10. I have been to a certain track for many weekly shows where the heat races are complete by 8-815 and then somehow maybe one B main is run and before you know it the mains are not starting until 915 and the Sprint Car main is the final race. What should have been finished by 10 sometimes ends after 11. Instead of selling an extra hot dog get the races finished in a timely manner and see that new fan become a permanent fan. All tracks in the Northwest struggle to be adaptable when it comes to starting times. In the spring and fall seven o’clock start times are great but in the summer when the sun never sets promoters should think about starting at eight and finishing by 11. The later hour isn’t a big deal in the summer because in general people in the Northwest tend to stay up later in summer because of the long days. A three hour show with constant action that finishes by 11 is much more acceptable than starting at seven having to take an inevitable break for either sun setting or track prep because it is still beating on the track as heat races start. The key is the three hour window. The start time and end time will be dictated by the time of the year.

 

            I completely understand going to a weekly show in Northwest and seeing two or three support classes in addition to 360 sprints but when it comes to the bigger shows I have higher expectations. Support classes should be limited to the most one and even then it shouldn’t be an open race. What I mean by this is if the ford focus midgets are going to be the support class (as they often are in the Northwest) limit the car count and races. Maybe cap the car count at 20 based on points and then run one main event at some point where there might be an intermission to keep something on the track. If a big show finishes in two hours or two and half hours so be it. Fans can get home early or have plenty of time to tour the pits. Running a full show of focus heats and B mains is too much. Fans at these shows want to see the stars and will only tolerate one or two support races (not classes) at the most. Promoters need to push teams to be more efficient in the pits and let them know in the pit meeting the show will be moved along at an efficient pace and will not wait for anyone. One would have to think even though I am taking a fan's perspective that drivers feel the same way. When they race these multiple race weekends that means daily maintenance each day. I'm pretty sure they don't want to be at the track until midnight because the support division had to get its race completed.

           

For better or worse 2020 has changed the landscape and streaming has blown up. Fans can watch any race they want from the comfort from home and promoters need to adjust. Keep the shows efficient and fast paced and fans will still come. Keep them slow and drawn out fans will stay home and search for a better option from the comforts of their couch.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: Justyn Cox won the final 360 sprint race of 2020 in California Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. His third win of the season came aboard his own sprinter. His previous two wins had been aboard the C&M Motorsports car...A lot of west coast drivers headed to the desert last weekend in Arizona only to see Kyle Larson run his usual roughshod and sweep the weekend. It was Larson’s 34th and 35th sprint wins of 2020...Northwest born drivers were represented well in each night's main...Friday night saw Devon Borden (9th), JJ Hickle (10th), Reece Goetz (14th) and Colby Thornhill (23rd) make the main against the 54 car field...With 55 car checked in Saturday night Hickle (4th), Borden (10th) and Robbie Price (24th) cracked the main...Price was not aboard his usual family ride but was in a sprinter owned by Casey Minks...Skagit Speedway released the dates of its big races for 2021. The Dirt Cup will be its traditional last weekend of June. The Summer Nationals will be July 24 and 25 and the World Outlaws will be Labor Day weekend as previously announced.

 

            Next column will look back at the season in California from its start in February to its conclusion Thanksgiving weekend.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Earlier in the year I wrote a column rating the 10 best 410 sprint car drivers in the country. It was a mid season poll according to me. With the 410 sprint car season officially over it is now time for my top 10 410 sprint car drivers in 2020.

 

1)    Kyle Larson - no brainer here. How dominant was Larson in 2020? He led the World of Outlaws and All Star Circuit of Champions in wins. He dominated in Pennsylvania winning the speed week championship, swept the Weikert Memorial and won the Dirt Classic. He won the Capitani Classic, and was second at the Governor’s Reign and National Open. Overall Larson finished the season with 32 wins and 47 podiums. Larson will be racing NASCAR next year.

2)    Brad Sweet - This was a tough decision as I almost put Gravel in this spot but in the end Sweet was the best driver not named Larson in 410 racing in 2020. He won his second straight World of Outlaw championship. Sweet’s 2020 included overall totals of 10 wins and 34 podiums. The only knock against Sweet in 2020 was his performance in the big shows. He wasn’t much of a contender at the Capitani, Governor’s Reign and the National Open but his overall performance warrants second on this list. Sweet will be back in the Kasey Kahne Racing sprinter next year chasing a third straight Outlaw championship.

3)    David Gravel - Sixth in Outlaw points despite missing three races to race trucks and if he had not missed those races it could have been Gravel and not Sweet crowned champion. Gravel was impressive at the big races as he was second at Capitani, won the Governor’s Reign and just missed the podium at the National Open after winning the opening night. Gravel scored nine wins overall in 2020 and 19 podiums. It was the amount of podiums that gave the nudge to Sweet in my opinion. Gravel moves from Jason Johnson Racing to Big Game Motorsports in 2020.

4)    Logan Schuchart - Schuchart was second in mid season ranking but faded to fourth in the final ranking as he struggled some down the stretch. Make no mistake Schuchart had an impressive 2020 and has officially become part of the upper echelon of 410 racing. Schuchart was second in Outlaw points. He won seven races and had 27 podiums overall. He won the Jackson Nationals and was third at the Capitani and National Open. Schuchart will return to SHARK Racing in 2021 to try to grab his first Outlaw champion.

5)    Donny Schatz - Third in Outlaw points. Won the biggest sprint car race of 2020 (the National Open) and won the Sarver Memorial at Lernverville. Yet it was a down season for Schatz as he finished the season with just five wins and 18 podiums. Of note Schtaz showed some of his old form after the Capitani as he never finished worse than 11th in the final two plus months. Look for Schatz to be strong in 2021 as he will again be in Tony Stewart Ford powered sprinter.

6)    Sheldon Haudenschild - Was not on my midseason list but boy did he pick up the pace in the second half the season winning five Outlaws races over the final two months to come home fifth in the final Outlaw points. Overall Haudenschild had seven wins and 18 podiums. He was third at the Governor’s Reign. The stats don’t tell the whole story. Haudenschild was a contender down the stretch every night and was often the fastest car on the track. As he gets more consistent look for him to rise up the rankings in years to come. Sheldon will return to Stenhouse-Marshall Racing in 2021.

7)    Aaron Reutzel - Another season and another dominating All Star run by Reutzel. Reutzel won his third straight All Star championship and although Cory Eliason stayed close, in reality the championship was never in doubt. Overall Reutzel won 13 races in 2020 and had 28 podiums. Reutzel had no Outlaw wins in 2020 but also he didn’t race the series as much because of scheduling. Reutzel has been the best non Outlaw driver in the country the last few years and will have his chance against them in 2021 as he will drive the Roth Motorsports sprinter.

8)    Danny Dietrich - The best driver in Pennsylvania which still means something. Dietrich spent the early season running with the All Stars and finished 10th in series points. He was second in Pennsylvania speed week points. Overall Dietrich won 13 races and had 26 podiums. Dietrich won at six different tracks in 2020. Dietrich didn’t win any championships in 2020 as he bounced around between tracks in Pennsylvania will do much the same in 2021 as he returns to the Gary Kauffman owned sprinter.

9)    Cap Henry - The big surprise of 2020. Henry has always been a solid driver for years but in 2020 Henry was the man in Ohio. He won 12 races in Ohio, including three against the All Stars, and had 16 podiums. Henry won the championship at Attica and seven times there. But Henry was not a one hit wonder but any means. He proved that by winning All Star races at Fremont and Wayne County in addition to winning one at Attica. Expect more of the same from Henry in 2021 as he steers the Lane Racing sprinter throughout Ohio.

10)  Lance DeWease - A lot of choices here but I went with DeWease because of his impressive numbers in limited starts and because he scored a major win. DeWease had six wins and 17 podiums which is all the more impressive considering he generally only races the bigger shows in Pennsylvania when wins and podiums are difficult to come by. In addition DeWease won the $53000 to win Tuscarora 50 out running a stacked field which included some guy named Kyle Larson. DeWease will start his 2021 season with a rare venture west in the Kreitz sprinter as they will race in Arizona in January.

 

Drivers who were also in consideration: Carson Macedo, Freddie Rahmer, Anthony Macri, BIll Balog, Cole Duncan, Cory Eliason, Brent Marks, Rico Abreu.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: Kyle Larson spread the love last Friday as he won a 360 sprint at Merced Speedway. It was his first win in a 360 of 2020. It was also his first 360 start of 2020...Larson was followed by Dominic Scelzi and Bud Kaeding. 48 cars checked in for first and only 360 race at Merced in 2020...The next night at Antioch Kaleb Montgomery got the win ahead of Tony Gualda and Blake Carrick...Gualda was aboard the Josh Ford sprinter and was making a rare 2020 start...The USAC National Midget series finished its west coast swing over the weekend at Merced. Thomas Meseraull drove the RMS midget to his first career USAC National midget victory Friday night. Saturday Tanner Thorson drove to his seventh USAC National midget victory of the year...Some big new breaking the last few days was the release of the World of Outlaw schedule and Tulare Thunderbowl schedule...The Outlaw schedule features five spring dates for California with a sixth being a TBA. The fall swing sees three shows in Washington and four shows in California...The Oregon traditionally between Elma and Chico is off the schedule. Also Calistoga and Stockton are not on the schedule...The Tulare schedule features two Trophy Cups. One Memorial Day weekend for the 2020 cancellation and then the traditional October date. Schedule also includes the Peter Murphy Classic in May and a two night Outlaw show at the end of March.

 

                        That is for this week. Few sprint car shows this weekend with 360 sprints at Antioch closing out the California season and ASCS Southwest at Arizona Speedway Friday and Saturday for the Copper Classic. That will be a wrap for sprint car racing until mid-January in Arizona.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 Joseph Terrell

  Olympia, Wa...Midget racing is a different breed of racing. Some love and some loathe. For those that love midget racing they will emphasize the side by side racing, endless slide jobs and the young talent on display that is not afraid of driving hard and for those that loathe them they will point to the fact that many of these slide jobs are dirty and many of the drivers are spoiled brats just spending their parents money. Others will also point to the high cost of midget racing but relatively pathetic purses they race for. Whatever your take though the USAC National midgets have been very exciting the last few nights culminating in a last lap spin Tuesday night at Bakersfield for the championship.

 

            Let’s start with Tuesday. When the main rolled off with Kyle Larson starting outside the front row it seemed to be no brainer. Teamed back with Keith Kunz, surely Larson would roll to another victory in 2020 but fellow Keith Kunz driver Buddy Koifoid had different ideas. After passing Larson lap 19 the two exchanged the lead officially four times and countless times in between. Koifoid answered the bell every time to finely secure the win. As they two were exchanging slide jobs right behind them Tyler Courtney and Chase Johnson were doing the same. Courtney was locked in championship battle 11 points behind Chris Windom who started 20th. Courtney got by Johnson more than once only to see Johnson grab the spot back. Courtney knowing every spot counted was able to finally secure the spot at the line.

 

            As this was happening up front Windom was methodically moving through the field. At first it was one car here and one car there but WIndom picked up the pace late and used a late restart to get into seventh. As Courtney took the checkered third it seemed Windom had finished seventh and therefore Courtney would win second straight USAC National midget championship. But this is midget racing and contact is sometimes expected. Earlier in the heat races Logan Seavey had intentionally spun Justin Grant after Grant had gotten into Seavey earlier in the race. With a championship on the line Windom did the same to sixth running Ricky Stenhouse, Jr as they came through three and four. Not really caught by the camera as it was focused on the leaders, it later appeared from a device in the infield that Windom drove hard into turn three and used Stenhouse, Jr. as a brake and clearly spun him around giving Windom the championship by one point. That is the good, bad and ugly of midget racing all in one main event.

 

            The win for Koifoid was his second straight national series as he won the Western World finale Saturday in Arizona. In that one Koifoid didn’t have to exchange slide jobs as he led all 30 laps without serious challenge. Tanner Thorson stayed close and after some choice words for Koifoid on Friday night I think everybody was waiting for Thorson to throw one of those crazy midget dive bombs that is all or nothing. Thorson never got close enough to even try one. So what happened Friday night Western World?

 

            Thorson won a thriller after a lap 29 caution caused a two lap shootout. Running third on the restart Thorson used a big move to get by leader Logan Seavey and Koifoid in turn one and never looked back to take the win. Earlier in the race Thorson took the lead briefly on lap five but Koifoid got by him on lap six and the two started the slide job exchange. As they raced each other that gave Seavey the opportunity to race by and he took full advantage taking the lead on lap 10 and running away from the field before the late caution. In victory lane Thorson expressed overall displeasure with Koifoid’s driving style saying Koifoid’s dirty sliders had killed his momentum and he thought his chance to win the race. At least on television it never looked like the two touched and it seemed to be just  good hard racing but Thorson obviously thought differently.

 

            I fall more on the side of loving midget racing. The racing may be a little dirty at times and a lot of money is thrown around for small payouts but just for pure excitement midget racing will deliver more often than not. For a lot of drivers this is their first step in making their name and they are not going to leave anything on the table.

 

NEW AND NOTES: Koifoid and Thorson may not see eye to eye but no doubt both drivers are having great seasons in 2020. Koifoid is the overall midget wins leader with 10 total while Thorson finished the season leading the USAC National midget series in wins with six. He has seven total...Joining the USAC National midget series in Arizona was the USAC/CRA who ran their third and fourth races of the year a little more than eight months after their first two...Justin Grant won the first night driving a second Reinbold/Underwood sprinter. Grant was the fourth and final leader of the 30 lap race. Grant finished the season with seven overall wins...Following Grant to the finish line was Tyler Courtney in Clauson-Marshall sprinter and Arizona’s Charles Davis, Jr...CRA regular Brody Roa led the first 12 laps before Chris Windom got by. Moments later Roa received a right rear from Courtney and his night was ended...WIndom suffered a flat tire right before the red and went to the back. He rebounded to finish fifth in the locally owned Bill Michael sprinter...Saturday night saw Courtney lead all 30 laps ahead of Windom and Grant...It was Courtney’s fourth non wing win of the year in limited starts as he moves to full time wing racing in 2021...Eight time CRA champ Damion Gardner ran fourth in the Mark Alexander entry while Austin Williams was fifth in the Tom and Laurie Sertich sprinter. Williams was fourth on Friday night...Ryan Bernal was aboard the Gene Gile sprinter for the weekend. He was the fastest qualifier Friday and finished sixth on Saturday night. Hard to believe Bernal doesn’t really have a permanent ride especially considering how versatile he is...Besides his third place run Friday night in the midgets Logan Seavey has struggled a littl. He flipped hard in Friday’s sprint main and did not race the sprint portion Saturday night. He finished eighth in the midget main Saturday but failed to qualify for the main at Bakersfield after Carson Macedo stole the final transfer spot with an aggressive slide job past sixth and seventh place...There was one wing race over the weekend and it was Saturday night at Kings Speedway. Washington native JJ Hickle drove Ivan and Jan Worden sprinter to the win over the 56 car field. Hickle held off a late race challenge from DJ Netto for his first win in California...Carson Macedo slid into second late and Netto finished third...Corey Day with only three or four starts in a sprint car and finished an impressive eighth. Day will be running sprints full time next year as his family bought the Brad Furr operation...Washington 14 year old Colby Thornhill was also impressive as he finished 10th the final order. Thornhill has used the last few months to travel throughout the country and although results have been mixed the improvement as a driver is evident..Hickle announced Tuesday that he would be looking to follow the ASCS National Tour in 2021 driving the Worden family sprinter. He announced this on two different podcasts saying there were still some details to work out though, like funding.

 

            This week sees the conclusion of the west sprint car season as the final 360 race will be run Friday night at Merced. The USAC National Midgets will be on the card Friday and Saturday at Merced in a non-points paying race. My next column I will rank my top 10 410 drivers for 2020.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Had a lot of ideas swirling through my head for this column. I could discuss the epic dust fest at Charlotte or the motocross track at Stockton that sprints ran on, but a message early Saturday morning got my attention and still does.

 

            With a heads up I got on the Santa Maria Raceway (or Stadium 805) facebook page and saw a local group that lives near the track was starting a petition to shut down the track. When I woke up Sunday morning and started to think about the weekend in sprint car racing I decided it was better to discuss a track that needs help staying open than complaining about the track conditions at Charlotte or Stockton. Yes the track conditions at those two aforementioned tracks left a lot to be desired but I figured enough have already written about that or thrown shade on social media (me included)...so I went a different direction.

 

            After seeing the tracks statement on its facebook page saying that surrounding neighbors had made complaints about noise and were starting a petition to get the track closed I was initially annoyed. The track has been there since the early 1960s and didn't these buyers see the track. When I went to the track in the 80’s and 90s very houses were near the track. But that has changed and now the track is surrounded by new development and as has happened to many other tracks once developments start the lifespan a racetrack starts to wane. It is too bad that a racetrack that has been in the area for years before development is often overrun once the development starts. Many times the new residents will say at first they dont mind the track but before you know it they are calling for it to be closed. Is this the situation with Santa Maria Raceway? Is this case with Santa Maria? After looking into it I am not sure.

 

            First it is important that Santa Maria Raceway is part of what now is Stadium 805. Acquired by new ownership in early 2019 with sponsorship from nearby Firestone 805 brewery the track became part of a grander vision of the new ownership. Santa Maria Raceway would remain as a racetrack. In addition Stadium 805 would host rodeo, festivals and concerts. It seemed like a great idea. The seating at the track is situated on a hill and the landscape creates a natural amphitheatre. Also in a concert setting the venue can hold more than 10,000 spectators making it one of the biggest venues on the California central coast for concerts. But therein lies the problem.

 

            Homeowners and prospective buyers knew the track raced 15-20 times a year - they didn’t know about concerts which drew a much larger crowd than the races. The best race crowds are 3,000 to 4,000. And anybody that has been to Santa Maria Raceway knows that there's only one way in and one way out so to say it can get congested is an understatement. I can’t imagine the amount of traffic if 10,000 people showed up. And that is what surrounding residents are complaining about loudest. In addition to the noise residents worry these events that draw huge crowds cause excessive traffic and in the worst case scenario could prevent emergency vehicles from getting to the neighborhoods behind the track. The concerns of the neighbors are legit and to be fair they have not called for races to stop but just to end concerts and other activities that cause excessive traffic.

 

            The problem is that the reason the new owners bought the property and see it as economically profitable was the many ways they envisioned they could use it. That is why even though the residents nearby are not necessarily trying to close the track per se track ownership is presenting it as an effort to close the track because without Stadium 805 there will be no Santa Maria Raceway. At this point both sides are gathering support before San Luis Obispo County gets involved. There are a lot of issues about permits and what exactly they allow since the track has historically operated just on race nights. Trying to do some quick research today it was hard to find out how the county feels but I will say that the inability to get an emergency vehicle to a neighborhood at any time is a problem and one I am sure the County is going to be asking Stadium 805 ownership about.

 

            The legal process always takes forever and right now the whole situation is irrelevant as COVID has prevented any gatherings at Stadium 805 for the time being. Hopefully all sides can come together and find a solution that is suitable to the neighbors, the County and allows track ownership to still be profitable. Every race track that closes is one too many.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: Stockton speedway held a NARC/360 sprint twinbill Saturday night on a super fast and rough track. Stockton is already one of the fastest tracks on the west coast and Saturday’s rough conditions offered another degree of difficulty for 18 NARC sprints and 46 360 sprints in the field...In NARC competition Justin Sanders tamed the best aboard the Larry Antaya sprinter for his first career Stockton win. He led all 30 laps in collecting $3000. Rico Abreu and DJ Netto rounded the podium...Chase Johnson started outside the front row in the NARC main but was a victim to the track conditions and flipped violently in turn three. He was okay...Iowa native Austin McCarl made another appearance abroad the Roth Motorsports KPC and finished fifth in the NARC main...His brother Carson made his 2020 California debut in the 360 class and failed to make the A….Speaking of the 360s Colby Copeland drove the Canales family sprinter to the $2500 main leading the final 22 laps...Rounding out the podium in 360 competition was Tanner Carrick and Cole Macedo. Macedo was especially impressive as he rebounded from a lap six caution for his podium run...Former non winged regular Tristan Guardino led the first three laps and ultimately came home with winged career best fourth place finish...Justyn Cox, Shane Golobic and DJ Netto competed in both sprint divisions at Stockton...Willie Croft was back competing in the Mike Phulps sprinter in 360 competition. Ryan Robinson has been driving the Phulps sprinter in 410 competition recently...Sean Watts was in a 360 Saturday night at Stockton and finished 18th. Watts' only other starts in 2020 had been in 410 action...Roth Motorsports, who had been rumored to be leaving the Outlaw tour, signed Aaron Reutzel to compete full time next year. This announcement came on the heels of Josh Baughman announcing Reutzel would not be returning to the team. Despite the success of Baughman/Reutzel rumors had started to leak that this team would split up...For the first time since March USAC/CRA sprints will be in action. They will compete alongside the USAC National midgets in Arizona.

 

            The winged sprint car season in California is almost done. 360 sprints will wrap up the Kings Speedway season Saturday Night. The final 360 race will be the night before Thanksgiving at Merced Speedway. I will be checking the non-winged sprints and midgets from Arizona this weekend via Flo Racing.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...It had been on the schedule all year at Kings Speedway - October 30 would be the first annual $21,000 to win Tom Tarlton classic for the 410 winged sprint cars. It was going to be a huge addition to 410 racing in California and with NARC primed for a huge 2020 it looked like 410 racing was coming back to life in California. Then COVID hit and while tracks ran 360s few were willing to run 410s without fans because of the cost of the purse. Enter Kings Speedway. Four of the five 410 races this year in California have been held there and this Friday will be number five and it is a headliner.

 

            In a normal year a $21,000 to win a 410 race in California would be huge but in 2020 when NARC essentially cancelled their season, we had no Murphy Classic, no NARC Speed Week and the Outlaws were unable to come west this event has become even bigger. The event is helped by the fact the Outlaws are off this week. With that amount of money to win on the line it has already been announced that Kyle Larson, Carson Macedo (Tarlton car), Aaron Reutzel (Roth car) and Daryn Pittmam will be in the field. Also the last time the 410s raced at Kings Shane Golobic, Justin Sanders and Colby Copeland were not in the field - they will be this time.

 

            Maybe not car count wise but field quality wise this will be the toughest field of the year in California all year with possible exception of the ASCS National races back in early March. 410 racing struggles get the number of cars a big 360 race would get but often the competition is better. Given the names that we will be on hand that weren’t earlier in the month I would expect a field of 30-35 sprints with the number of potential winners between 15 and 20 (maybe closer to 22-23 depending on who all shows). Ever since Dirt Cup became a 360 show and Gold Cup became a normal Outlaw show the west coast has been in need of a special 410 show that could be considered a major. The Tarlton Classic is looking like it just might be that.

 

Also if the Tarlton Classic becomes a yearly event it sets the stage for what could become a huge month of racing for California teams and fans in the future. Just like Pennsylvania has their month of money (September), October could become California’s month of money. It could start at Chico for the Fall Nationals and then move to Kings for Morrie Williams Classic and Cotton Classic. Then onto Tulare for the Trophy Cup. Then it’s back to Kings for the Tarlton Classic. Sprinkle a few more shows and October has the potential to help attract drivers and fans to California as other areas of the country slow down due to weather. This would make California the center of sprint car racing for a month and bring national exposure to the tough west coast sprint car scene.

           

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: No sprint car racing in California last weekend...In addition to the sprints the Tarlton Classic will feature USAC Western State Midgets. Amongst drivers already entered for the $2100 to win event are Ryan Bernal (in a Matt Wood midget) and Carson Macedo...Justin Sanders and the Antaya Motorsports team return to the west coast after a trip to midwest to run mostly with the ASCS tour. Sanders had a handful of top five finishes with his best being a second on the Friday night of the Hockett Memorial. He had one World of Outlaw start missing the main at Plymouth...One thing I missed last week was the new team formed in Ohio that will employ two Californians. Ray Brooks racing will feature Cole Macedo on a full time basis and Buddy Koifoid on a part time basis. The teams will be maintained by the Linder family. Macedo and Koifoid have both spent time living at the Linder house so no surprise to see this group remain together...Reached out to World of Outlaws PR and asked about the traditional west coast spring swing. At this point they are working on the schedule with the intention of coming west in the spring. Time will tell.

 

            In addition to Tarlton Classic Friday night, Marysville will run their final race of 2020 on Saturday featuring 360 sprints. Outlaws are off this week as the end of the season is upon us.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Sure has been an exciting last week plus on the national sprint car scene. Silly season started in a big way and it seems there will be a lot more changes before the beginning of the 2021 sprint car season. Before getting into that let’s look at what has not changed and that is the World of Outlaws point championship. Brad Sweet just keeps doing Brad Sweet things.

 

            Sweet is closing on his second straight championship after a dominating points weekend through the plains. Even though he didn't win he was second both nights and was able to extend his point lead to 62 points ahead of Logan Schuchart and 82 points ahead of Donny Schatz. With only three races remaining  the gap is pretty healthy and barring disaster it would seem Sweet second championship is becoming a formality and it really shouldn’t be surprising as he has been the best full time Outlaw all year.

 

            Schuchart showed strength during the summer and had the point lead in August but has not been able to close down the stretch. Sweet hasn’t finished worse than 11th since August 14. Even though he has only won once in that span (he has eight Outlaw wins overall) his consistency is striking compared to Schuchart who has finished 12th or worse in four of the last eight events. That has been the difference as Sweet has been able to salvage even bad nights to get decent points. Schuchart has struggled the last month to not have bad nights and is now in a position where it is more about holding off Schatz for second than catching Sweet for the championship.

 

            As the Outlaw championship winds down though silly season winds up and that has been very evident the last few weeks. It started at the All Star series when Paul McMahon announced he would not be returning to the Tom Buch team and Zeb Wise announced he would not return to the Sam McGhee team. McGhee quickly nabbed Ian Madsen, who had been running the second Baughman-Ruetzel car since Knoxville, to finish out the season.

 

Then the Outlaws got in the mix. Spencer Bayston who had been steering the Roth Motorsports in what was seen as a tryout since late September was let go and replaced by Dominic Scelzi. Surprising since Dom is not looking for an Outlaw ride as he concentrates on the west coast next year. It was assumed that Roth would look at another driver with Outlaw aspirations but I have also heard that Roth isn’t returning to the Outlaws next year and is just riding out the season. Either way I was surprised that Bayston did not make it through the end of the season.  But then it is Roth so no driver is ever secure.

 

Then it got weird in my opinion.

           

            First it was announced that David Gravel was not going to be able to compete in either outlaw show last weekend due to NASCAR Truck commitments and Shane Stewart would be driving the 41 and Parker-Price Miller a second JJR 141. Miller had been the sub in the previous races Gravel had missed but with a team championship in mind JJR thought it might best to have Stewart in the car it would seem. Yes JJR has a long relationship with Stewart but they could have as easily put him in the second car. Miller obviously was not a fan and quickly announced that he would not be driving the second JJR car and was essentially leaving the organization. In addition he announced he would be in the Indy Race Parts car the rest of the year - including being teammates to Stewart at the remaining Outlaw races in Kokomo and Charlotte.

 

            It didn’t stop there. All of sudden Gravel was available on Friday at Lakeside but he wouldn't be driving the familiar JJR 41 - instead he would be in the Dietz 14 that Miller had driven all year. Then to top it off Stewart won the Friday night main event. Publicly it was relayed as no big deal that Stewart was driving the 41 but I just couldn’t help wonder why a team that has one of three or four best sprint car drivers alive would choose someone else - even if for only one night. Gravel will be back in 41 for the rest of the season and Stewart will partner back up with Indy Race Parts.

 

            That is where we are at for now but it just seems a lot is going to happen.

 

KLR is closing - according to everyone. Where does this leave Carson Macedo. Macedo has Tarlton backing him and rumors are already circulating he will be with JJR next year with Tarlton as the main sponsor. Again how do you replace Gravel?

 

            So where does Gravel go? His NASCAR aspirations are on life support but he doesn’t seem ready to give up yet. His big problem in both NASCAR and Outlaws is he doesn’t bring huge backing. I am confident he will be in a top flight ride next year it just is not clear where.

 

            Then there is Gio Scelzi. It has been pretty obvious he enjoys running  a sprint car compared to a stock car and rumor has him thinking about going full time Outlaws with KCP Racing in 2021. That is a big decision though to step away from a stock car back to full time sprint car racing. Gio may never get another chance at stock cars.

 

            And then there Price-Miller. He seemed like he was going to be a longtime member of the JJR and Phillip Dietz team. What had started as a part time endeavor with Dietz had become basically a full time Outlaw ride for Miller but that relationship unraveled quicker than a cheap sweater. Miller does have backing and in interviews seems confident he will land somewhere. Miller has fallen back on Bernie’s Indy Race Parts team before so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start 2021 in this seat.

 

With all that said I can confidently say that Sweet, Schuchart, Schatz, Sheldon Haudenschild and Jacob Allen will return to the outlaws next year but a lot is in limbo about who will be the rest of regulars.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: Only one sprint car race on the west coast last week and it was the Johnny Key Classic at Ocean Speedway. Race was delayed from August and paid $3000...With no (or very limited) fans allowed at tracks on the west coast all high paying races have been cancelled so $3000 to win (usually $5000) was pretty nice….Mitchell Faccinto was the best amongst the 48 car field as he drove to his third win of 2020 in the Stan Greenberg KPC...Faccinto was followed by two of the best in California. Shane Golobic was second in the Matt Wood sprinter and Bud Kaeding was third in his father's Maxim...Ryan Bernal was fourth in Keith Day KPC in only his 11th start in California in 2020. His best finish to date has been a second at Kings in late June….Tanner Carrick rounded out the top five. With Tanner out of midget scene as of now it will be interesting to see what 2021 holds for him and his younger brother Blake. They both showed speed all year along they are contenders whenever they show up...Willie Croft was fast time for the event in the Mike Phulps sprinter. Croft has run a very limited 2020 schedule and struggled to post good finishes. His best finish of 2020 has been fourth in late July at Chico which came aboard his own sprinter

 

            Sprint car season is winding down as we are down to probably less than 10 410 races left in the country. If weather allows I'll be watching DirtVision Saturday night at Kokomo with both the World of Outlaws and non winged sprints on the card. I will also be checking at late model action on floracing - specifically the Fall Nationals and the big race at Bedford, Pennsylvania. No sprint car racing on the west coast this weekend.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…Last weekend at Port Royal two things happened that have occurred all year - Kyle Larson wins and Brad Sweet is consistent. While Larson had his hands full Saturday Night with Brent Marks he eventually swept the weekend, at the same time Sweet was quietly doing what he had to if he was going to win the 2020 World of Outlaw Championship.

Most people knew that if Sweet was going to win the Outlaw championship he had to get through Pennsylvania without shedding too much ground to Logan Schuchart and Donny Schatz. Though he was far from spectacular in the four race run through Posse country he was consistent and avoided any of those terrible finishes that could have opened up the door and he leaves with a 32 point lead over Schuchart and 68 point lead over Schatz.

At first glance Sweets results of the four races are not mind boggling. He was 11th and 10th at the Grove and then 11th and 8th at Port Royal which gave him an average finish of 10th. Schuchart had a 17th and 3rd at the Grove while at Port Royal he had a 12th and 4th which gave him an average finish of 9th. Schatz was the best of the three as he scored the only win amongst the group. His finishes were 7th and 1st at the Grove and 7th and 11th at the Port which gave him an average finish right between 6th and 7th (6.5 to be exact) every night. So while Sweet had the worst of average finish he did not give much up and even though he lost a few points he still came out in a solid position with only five point races remaining. Running in the top 10 or 11 every night in Pennsylvania is difficult which I will discuss in a second.

First, how important was it for Sweet to be consistent over the two weekends? It was that much more important because of the lack of a West Coast swing. Traditionally the west coast has been a spot for Sweet to do work in comparison to Schatz who has at times has struggled on the west coast especially during the fall stops at Skagit and Chico. The advantage over Schuchart isnt as big for Sweet, especially after last year when Schuchart showed a lot of speed especially during the fall last year. Still though Sweet has made a living feasting on the west coast and the lack of those 15-20 races this year cut his margin of error when on the east coast but Sweet has shown the last 3-4 years that he is very consistent and has proven that again this year. This is why he is on his way to a second straight championship.

This is not to say the championship is locked up by any means as one finish of 20th or worst could cause trouble for Sweet but I don’t expect the competition to be as tough the next few weekends. Even though much was made about the struggles of Posse versus the Outlaws in 2020 don’t underestimate the competition the last few weeks. Anthony Macri had three top 10s, Freddie Rahmer was third first night at the Grove, Danny Dietrich was second opening night at the Port (overall Posse had four of the top 10 positions) and then the second night Marks was second and Lance DeWease was third as again the Posse had four drivers in top 10. In addition the fall swing to Pennsylvania brings a lot of “travellers” so just getting a top 10 can be very difficult. Most of the regions the Outlaws go to they are much more dominant and the top teams do not struggle to crack the top 10. Plus Larson will not be in the field the next few weeks so that opens up a top 10 position. This should all play to Sweet’s advantage.

WEST COAST NEWS: Kings Speedway had a huge doubleheader last weekend which featured a total of four main events in two days...Friday night was the debut of the Kings Speedway 410 division and it was Kyle Hirst outlasting the 24 car field in the Williams Motorsports Maxim. He was followed by Tim Kaeding in the Bates-Hamilton sprinter and Bud Kaeding making his debut in the Tarlton KPC...Saturday night the Kings Speedway 360 division joined the NARC series which was a running twin 20s paying $2800 to each winner in a race dedicated to late car owner Morrie Williams...In the first NARC 20 lapper Hirst repeated his previous night win. Hirst made a dramatic last lap pass that saw him hop over Mitchell Faccinto as he was taking the checkered. Faccinto finished second in the Stan Greenberg KPC and Sean Becker broke his streak of bad finishes as he finished third in Dan Monhoff sprinter...The second feature saw Dominic Scelzi win in the second Williams Motorsports sprinter making it a clean sweep for the team founded by Morrie Williams...Following Scelzi to the line was Tim Kaeding and Ryan Robinson who spent the weekend driving the Mike Phulps sprinter...Austin McCarl set fast time over the 23 car NARC field as he was driving the Roth Motorsports KPC all weekend. He finished in the top 10 in each main with his best run being fifth in the second A Saturday...Tim Kaeding was the overall point champion from the twin 20s. Kyle Hirst now has three wins in the five 410 races held in California this year...The 360 main was won by Bud Kaeding as he was driving his father’s Maxim. Dominic Scelzi was in his traditional Scelzi Enterprises KPC and DJ Netto in the Netto Ag KPC...Interestingly Bud, Scelzi and Netto were the only drivers who finished in the top 10 in all four main events held at Kings. Andy Forsberg and Mitchell Faccinto were the other drivers to compete in all four main events...A couple drivers that were not in attendance were Shane Golobic and Willie Croft. Colby Copeland only competed in Friday’s show...Look for two California drivers to finish the season on the Outlaw tour. Scelzi will replace Spencer Bayston in the Roth Motorsports KPC and Tim Kaeding will finish the season in Tony Stewart's Ford powered sprinter...Schedules are starting to get released and it will be interesting to see if the Outlaws schedule the traditional spring swing through California. My guess would say no and that they will come west just once next year which would be in the fall.

As has been the norm recently I will be watching the Outlaws via DirtVision this weekend as I follow the greatest show on dirt as we near the end of the weird 2020 season. Also California has another big race this Saturday as Ocean Speedway will host the Johnny Key Classic for 360 sprints $5000 to win.

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa… Taking advantage of the weird times I was able to tune into Dirtvision all weekend and take in all the action from Williams Grove. For west coast fans this has been the norm all year and I have tried to make the best of it watching as many races as I can since I am not chasing races in person.  And while live action cannot be matched watching the complete National Open for the first time was pretty cool even it was from my man cave (garage).

 

The World of Outlaws are the premier sprint car series and their shows are far superior in quality to any other sprint car racing. And when they go to Pennsylvania for the National Open the quality goes off the chart. All the Outlaw regulars, plus the best of the All Stars, the Posse, the true Outlaws and the best of Australia usually descend on the National Open every year making it one of the most difficult races to win all of short track racing.

 

            This was the stage for the National Open this year. And hanging over all of this was Kyle Larson. After leaving a path of destruction for most of the year Larsonn headed to the National Open to try to score his first win in the race and he arrived as the favorite according to many. But these big races are different and Donny Schatz was not to be denied and when the dust settled Saturday night it was Schatz standing in victory lane claiming the $75,000 prize and recording an a record sixth National Open title.

 

            In a season that has been dominated by Larson it was still Schatz who was winning the biggest race of 2020 and showing he was not done. Schatz has been open about the struggles this year but he and his TSR team have kept digging and now have five wins and since Knoxville has scored 15 straight top 10s to continue to linger in the points race only 70 points behind Brad Sweet with seven races remaining. Can he close the gap in seven races - I am not convinced but I do believe Shactz will win a couple more races this year and possibly make it interesting in the waning weeks.

 

The National Open was the final major of the year - Capitani and Governor’s Reign being the others (sorry Tuscarora 50 and Jackson Nationals) - and  one thing has become clear is that a certain group of six sprint car drivers has risen above the competition. Looking at the podiums on the final nights of each of these shows features a combo of names that include Larson, Schuchart, Gravel, Haudenschild and Schatz. Throw in Outlaw point leader Sweet and this group has become the cream of the crop in sprint car racing right now. Sweet has kind of struggled at the majors but when you're the Outlaw point leader that speaks for itself.

 

            Five of the drivers are ones that have been there all year but Haudenschild is the one that has really elevated his game the last month plus and has become a potential winner every night and therefore an elite driver . Haudenschild was third at Eldora and backed up with fifth place finish at the National Open. He has won four times since August 29 and on at least three instances was in position to win. Haudenschild still needs a little more consistency but is showing championship speed and could be a contender in 2021.

 

            Speaking of 2021 it could be an interesting championship battle for the Outlaws as there will be a legit five contenders for the championship (assuming Gravel runs the full season and Larson does not). It has been a while since the Outlaws have had five title contenders in one season. The last 10 years most years have had at most maybe three legit contenders so to have five would be amazing. Also each of this group of six drivers has won at least five Outlaw races this year which just shows how competitive and equal this group is.

 

            But before we get to 2021 the 2020 point race still has some life in it. After running only 11th and 10th at Williams Grove, Sweet leads Schuchart by 38 points and Schatz by 70 going into next weekend. If Sweet runs consistently in the top five he should maintain his lead but one average weekend and a great weekend for one his pursuers and Sweet could get nervous. Schatz was able to gain 28 this weekend. Sweet did not have a DNF but winning is key and Schatz did just that. The Outlaw point structures gives 150 for the win and 130 for 10th so that big point lead dissipates quickly if one is not careful and with another weekend in Pennsylvania where Sweet has struggled, opportunity exists for Schuchart and Schatz.

 

            One driver not in position to take advantage is David Gravel. As a result of missing two races this season Gravel has no shot at the point lead (his JJR team on other hand continues to lead owner points) but he has made plenty of noise. And given Gravel’s average points per race had he made the two nights he missed Gravel would probably have a 15-20 point lead over Sweet right now. But he doesn’t and will surely be left to wonder what could have been in 2020 had he not flirted with stock cars. He has been especially stout in the major as he finished first at the Governor’s Reign, second at the Capitani Classic and fourth at the National Open which just shows how much speed his team has.


MORE STUFF: West Coast racing only had one sprint car race last weekend and it was a big one...Fifty-eight sprint cars descended upon Placerville Speedway (Ca.) Saturday night for $5,094 to win Mac Tiner Memorial and no surprise it was Shane Golobic driving the Matt Wood sprinter victory. The premier sprint car driver in California in 2020 Golobic is always tough when the money is bigger and Saturday night was no different...It was Golobic’s state leading sixth sprint car win. This does not include his win at Huset’s a few weeks ago...Following Golobic to the line were Colby Copeland in the Canales family sprinter and teenager Blake Carrick in his family's car...It was Copeland’s fifth top two in six starts at Placerville and for Carrick it was his 10th podium overall in 2020...Carrick has made huge strides in 2020 and I wouldn't be surprised if in 2021 his name gets more well known nationally...Tanner Thorson was in Dan Menne KPC Saturday night at Placerville and put it in the A against the deep field. Thorson hasn’t raced in California much since he split with Clyde Lamar in early 2019 and is searching for a ride as he recently left his midget team. It is no secret he wants to get back to winged sprint racing so it will be interesting to see what he does in 2021...Sean Becker finished 12th at Placerville. Why do I mention it because it was his eighth straight finish outside top 10 since August 8. Before then he only had three…One of the nation's biggest 360 races took place over the weekend as the Short Track Nationals were at I-30 speedway. Amongst the west coast drivers competing in Arkansas were Washington's Devon Borden and Colby Thornill and California’s Justin Sanders and Kyle Offill. Borden had the best weekend as he scored an 11th Friday and 7th on Saturday. The Washington teenager is going to be one to watch in 2021...Saturday’s $10,041 Short Track Nationals paycheck went to Sam Hafertepe, Jr. Hafertepe struggled early in the season as he competed in 410 action but since primarily returning to 360 action he has reclaimed his title as best 360 sprint driver in the country...Kings Speedway (Ca.) will hold a double header this weekend featuring 360s Friday and NARC 410 sprints on Saturday..It will be only the third NARC race of 2020 and it will have a special format featuring two 20 lap main events each paying $2800. Drivers with overall best results will receive an extra $1000. One twist is at the end of the first 20 all cars on the lead lap will be inverted. If a team chooses to change a tire they will start 24th in the second A main...It has already been announced that Austin McCarl will be the driver of the California based Dennis Roth sprinter both nights at Kings. Could this be a tryout of some sort? Spencer Bayston has left something to be desired in the Dennis Roth Outlaw car since he took over for Daryn Pittman.

 

            That is all for now. I will be turning into DirtVision this weekend as the Outlaws battle the Posse for a second straight week. My next column will look at Outlaw points race after Port Royal, what truly makes a big race in 410 sprint car racing, the weekend at Kings Speedway and any other west coast sprint car news.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Woke up this morning and it really hit me that sprint car season is over in the northwest. The northwest sprint car season in 2020 was like none other as tracks operated under a no fan mandate and only one track ran 360 sprints. And a season that looked like it might never start gave northwest fans one of the most interesting seasons of sprint car racing in the northwest in a long time. How did this happen?

 

            In April and most of May racing in the northwest looked questionable at best as Washington and Oregon were under heavy no gathering mandates which had no signs of ending and still exist in many ways today. With no fans a reality that promoter’s in the northwest were going to have to face how tracks could pay the purses for 360 sprints. Grays Harbor and Cottage Grove decided against that and proceeded with shows that featured limited sprints, modifieds and stock cars. Skagit decided to give it a try and  pay a full purse. To make this work the track moved its show from Saturday to Thursday, provided a reasonable PPV option and had the support of many different sponsors. What was an idea provided one of the most competitive seasons in Skagit Speedway as each night seemingly had 10-12 potential winners in the field. Here is how it played out.

 

On June 4 Skagit kicked off the season featuring 360 sprints in epic fashion as Eric Fisher raced past Colton Heath at the checkered in one of the closest finishes in the history of the track. The next week produced another scintillating finish as this time it was Brock Lemely getting by Heath at the line in another photo finish. Week three would finally see Heath get the win as he outlasted Trey Starks. Racing 360s for a fourth straight week, teenager Devon Borden closed out the month of June by picking up his first win of the year. The teenage theme would be one that persisted throughout the season.

 

July 2 was supposed to be point race five but mother nature had other ideas and the sprints would have three weeks off before getting back at it on July 23. This night was all Starks as he blasted by Jason Solwold on the start and dominated the race for the win. Tanner Holmes showed strength as he passed Solwold and started to chase down Starks but lady luck had other ideas and his efforts finished in a DNF. Holmes would get redemption. After the July 23 race the points battle had become a six driver battle between Heath, Lemley, Borden, Fisher, Solwold and Cam Smith. These six drivers had established themselves as the class of the field and then  week six happened.

 

Just as the season was coming into view it was all shaken up on July 30. Four of the championship contenders were not in attendance as Heath had headed to Konxville, Lemley decided to put Chance Crum in his car for the rest of the year, Fisher was unable to attend for personal reasons and Solwold was cross country chasing Pennsylvania Posse glory. Borden took advantage as he drove to his second win of the season at Skagit over Robbie Price who had returned to home from the ASCS National Tour.  Smith would run fourth and the championship race had become a two person race.

 

Week seven saw Travis Jacobson score his first win at Skagit in more than seven years ahead of Oregon driver Tyler Thompson who was looking for his first career win at Skagit. Fisher returned to finish third but the missed race was fatal to his championship pursuit as Borden and Smith each collected top 10 finishes to solidify their status as the contenders. But the point shake up was not done as week eight had another surprise as Smith was unable to race and instead had to call on JJ Hickle to fill the seat for the night. The former northwest regular found out how tough the competition was and failed to qualify for the main. Borden finished third and the championship looked like his. While this was playing out during week eight 14 year old Colby Thornhill was becoming the youngest sprint car winner in Skagit history as he beat Reece Goetz to the checkered.

 

Week nine would see another teenager crack victory lane as the aforementioned Tanner Holmes got the monkey off his back and finally scored his first Skagit win. He did it in epic fashion as he also set fast time earlier in the night. Holmes would beat fellow Oregon driver Garen Linder who finally had a good night at Skagit after what seemed like two years of bad luck.  Although Borden had an off night finishing 19th he was virtually guaranteed the championship as long he fired on championship night as he enjoyed a 60 plus point lead over Chase Goetz and Thornill. But before championship night could come the points were thrown for another loop as Borden and Thornhill announced they would be skipping championship night to head to Missouri and the Jesse Hockett Memorial. Tanner Holmes also made the trip.

 

This put Chase Goetz in prime position and he entered the championship night  more than 40 points ahead of Smith who had clawed his way back into contention after missing week eight. Chase did what he did all year on championship - qualified average, okay in his heat and passed cars in the main to salvage top ten. Smith outperformed Chase all night but it was not enough to make up for the lost night and ultimately fell 20 points short. Instead Chase Goetz had quietly been consistent (never finished better than fifth and never worse than 11th) and was rewarded with his first 360 championship. But just like the rest of his season Chase was getting outshined.

 

The reason was teenager Bailey Jean Sucich shocking the field as she inherited the lead from Corbyn Fauver (another young driver that is getting close to victory lane) and then held off Solwold late to win. Sucich became the fourth and most unlikely teenager to win at Skagit in 2020. Solwold actually got by on lap 22 but Sucich regained the position immediately and was not going to be denied. Before her win Sucich best finish of the season in eight starts at Skagit was sixth and she was not on the list of potential winners. Now she is.

 

And that is the northwest sprint car season in 2020. It started with a thrilling finish and ended with a shocking upset and in between produced nine different winners in ten races and saw the point lead change hands four times.

 

MORE STUFF: As mentioned Borden, Thornhill and Holmes all made the trip to Missouri. Borden came away the best weekend as he finished 11th on the final night against a stacked field. Expect all three drivers to spend a lot of time on the road in 2020...California star Justin Sanders came home fifth at the Hockett. He and his Antaya Motorsports team are making their second excursion to the midwest in 2020. Sounds like they will be gone for about six weeks..Last Saturday at Placerville saw the three of the most improved drivers in 2020 on the podium. The Carrick brothers were one-two and Hickle was third. All three of these drivers have made huge improvements in 2020 and are now in the upper echelon of the California 360 scene...If schedules hold together racing in California should go into mid November. But that is a big if...Ocean Speedway has cancelled their October 9 date. No reason given.

 

            On tap this week on the west coast is two 360 races Saturday in  California. Drivers will have the option to race at Petaluma or Kings. I will be tuning into World of Outlaw action for the rest of the year with Skagit’s season complete and most of my upcoming columns will have a more national feel as I follow the outlaws virtually to end the season.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The 2020 season is winding down on the west coast or is it? In the northwest it is for sure as next Thursday will be the final 360 sprint race in Washington but California got a shot in the arm this week when Ocean Speedway added four races to their schedule with one in September, two in October and a season championship in November.

 

Before these added races there were only about four or five 360 races left with exception of Kings Speedway which still has three 360 races and three 410 races scheduled in the fall months. Nobody truly knows how many of these races Kings will run, especially the 410 shows as purse demands for these events make it difficult in a fanless environment but now California teams at least some more races on the schedule before 2020 closes. And this brings me to the topic of this column: can we expect tracks to survive another year without fans.

 

            While much of the country has had fans return in some fashion the west coast has remained steadfast in its COVID policies. This has and will have a huge impact on racing going forward on the west coast because many tracks have had to sit silent while in many instances owners/promoters have still had bills to pay. The reality is that this can’t continue without a potential of seeing race tracks close in an area of the country that already doesn't have enough race tracks. And this has left me wondering what will 2021 look like and what could be done to help these tracks survive even if the pandemic is still raging.

 

            First I am not advocating a political position but just kind of spitballing ideas on ways to get fans at the track if the 2021 season starts without a vaccine which it more than likely will. Considering California usually starts late January/early February it seems hard to imagine a vaccine will be approved and can be mass produced by then. Even the northwest season which starts in April seems really soon when you think about it. So what can be done? While some tracks like Skagit, Marysville and Ocean have managed to have a successful slate of sprint cars tracks other places like Chico, Cottage Grove and Stockton have been either shutdown or in the case of Cottage Grove only able to essentially run limited sprints, mods and stock cars because without fans they cannot afford a 360 sprint purse. Even tracks that have found a niche cannot survive like this forever.

 

            When it comes to ideas I am not reinventing the wheel here just really talking about reality. As the pandemic goes on without a vaccine the ball will continue to be pushed on getting back to close as normal as we can. For promoters this is getting fans back to the track (they are the lifeblood of racing) while at the same time being conscious of the world we live in. Without a vaccine tracks will need to operate with a reduced capacity (35-50%), ensure face masks and social distancing is strictly enforced, sell no concessions, all admission (stands and pits) is prepaid, no fans in pits after races, teams leave as soon their race is over and one night shows only with no camping. A proposal along these lines is very reasonable and would ensure an environment that would be safe to everybody while allowing tracks to get some revenue back.

 

            Along these lines is probably the reality of what will be mandated if fans are allowed back in the stands. Sure it is not perfect for promoters but it would be a step in the right direction. Take a track like Skagit as an example. Yes their fan capacity would be reduced and therefore revenue but they also created a nice PPV option that fans can watch if they can’t make it out. One thing about COVID is how much it upped the PPV game and promoters need to realize this will continue to be a revenue stream even after the pandemic ends. I am sure promoters want (and I want also) to have big shows again like the Outlaws, Trophy Cup and Dirt Cup to name a few but after what happened in Knoxville I would caution against these gatherings that could easily spread the virus. And if an outbreak is linked to a track it will be devastating for racing on the west coast.The governments of California, Oregon and Washington have worked closely on their COVID response so one bad seed could ruin it for all. The best way to avoid this is for tracks to make proposals that are done with public safety in the forefront which is what  my ideas earlier do.

 

            The bigger fear is that no vaccine exists in the spring and no fans allowed at the tracks and tracks just cannot open up after being silent for a year. I think of places like Chico, Perris, Santa Maria, Tulare, Stockton, Willamette (Or.), Yakima (dirt and paved) to name a few that have been silent for all or most of 2020. Can they do it again and even think of surviving. I hope we don’t have to find out because it could be bad. Even for the tracks that have raced in 2020 many have done so on bare bones and reduced purses and I am not sure there will be more fat to trim in 2021. Again could have a devastating effect. Once promoters have trimmed as much as they can the next option is usually shutting down or in the case of private owned tracks selling to a developer that has been in his ear for years.  The first thing a developer does is knock down the track (Mansfield, Ohio great example).And we all know that for the most part once a track closes it will not re-open.

 

            Now hopefully a miracle happens and a vaccine is widely available and by spring next year we all back at the track but this pandemic has been devastating and I feel it is only prudent to consider the long term effect this pandemic will have on the future west coast racing and how it could not be good.

 

MORE STUFF: Last night Marysville ran a tribute to the cancelled Gold Cup. Ryan Robinson continued his standout 2020 picking his fifth win of the year in Todd Weiher sprinter. Regular season champion Andy Forsberg drove the family car home second and Tanner Carrick rounded out the podium...Last week I had declared Bud Kaeding the Ocean Speedway champion. But with the season being extended that declaration was premature….One of the October dates at Ocean will be a makeup for the Johnny Key classic...Justin Sanders, Justyn Cox and Oregon’s Brian Boswell are amongst early entries for next week's ASCS National Tour sanctioned Hockett Classic in Missouri. I would expect to see a few more west coast names to appear next weekend...Just in the last few hours Daryn PIttman has announced a sort of retirement from racing. He said he wants to move into non driving part of racing but did not totally squash the idea he would drive again just it wouldn't be full time. It would seem his career as an Outlaw will end in  2020...Who knows what will happen with the Roth ride next year. Will they scale back or fill the seat? Roth has made a habit of going back and forth to the Outlaws so it just may be time for him to pull back for a year…One name that would be a good fit if Roth continues Outlaw racing would be Shane Stewart.  Stewart was going to race for Roth in the early part of the season before COVID wiped that out. Stewart is eager to get back on the tour and has quietly had a really good year consistently being a front runner and with the Outlaws has had one win and 14 top 10s in 25 starts...Lastly speaking of the Outlaws it will be interesting if they schedule the spring west coast swing in 2021. I highly doubt they will.  With the lack of fans and no vaccine I could see Outlaws not scheduling the early west coast trip in 2021 so they don’t have to later change it.

 

 

            That is all for now. I will be tuning into Skagit Speedway Thursday Night Thunder for the sportsmen sprint season championship later tonight. Next Thursday Skagit will have championship night for 360 sprints. Ocean and Placerville return to action next weekend. This weekend looks quiet for sprint racing on the west coast but around the country plenty of great racing rages on including the Outlaws in Kansas and the big $53,000 to win All Star race at Port Royal.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Washington...Another night and another different winner at Skagit Speedway as Thursday Night Thunder continues to deliver week and week out. Last night it was Oregon teenager Tanner Holmes scoring not only his first 360 sprint win at Skagit but his first 360 sprint of his career. Holmes qualified fast time, was second in his heat and led all 25 laps aboard his family owned KPC. Holmes has been fast at Skagit before and has had a couple chances for victory but last night he was not to be denied. In addition to Tanner Holmes plenty of story lines presented themselves through the night so lets take a look:

● With the win Holmes became the fourth winner out of the nine races who are 18 or younger. Devon Borden has two wins and Colby Thornhill one. While many of the stars we know in the northwest are still going strong the changing of the guard is more evident each week.
● The only challenge Holmes faced was from Trey Starks. Making his fourth Skagit Speedway start of 2020 Starks chased Holmes for the first nine laps before trying a massive slide job in turn two. Starks was able to get underneath Holmes for a second but Holmes drove back by as Starks got into the wall and ultimately upside down.
● Holmes was headed quickly out of Skagit and pointed towards Montana for their three day stampede at Electric City Speedway. Holmes was followed by as many 10 other drivers as they try to sneak in some late season races
● The Lemley team, Colton Heath and Jason Solwold all elected to skip Thursday night at Skagit and head straight to Montana. Also expect to see California based teams of Joel Myers, Jr. and JJ Hickle to be in attendance.
● Following Holmes to the line was fellow southern Oregon driver Garen Linder. It was the best finish of the season for Linder at Skagit in three starts. He does have an ASCS Frontier region win in 2020.
● Eric Fisher was third which gives him four podiums in 2020 at Skagit which leads all competitors. Fisher sits sixth in points as he has missed one race.
● Point leader Devon Borden and second in points Travis Jacobson both had nights to forget. Borden qualified 12th, blew an engine in his heat and then rolled over early in the main and was scored 19th. Jacobson night was even worse as he eventually scratched after his car wouldn't fire during hot laps of qualifying. Borden still enjoys a 59 point lead but Jacobson has now dropped to fifth in points.
● Sitting second in points is Chase Goetz as he finished fifth in the main in the Roger Oudman sprinter. Goetz has struggled to qualify but has been fast as soon as the races start and has scored seven straight top 10s to get into second place in points. Goetz has had a really good season as he also won two Sportsmen sprint wins at Skagit and a pavement sprint win at Evergreen.
● 14 year old Colby Thornhill had an up and down night but rallied for an eighth place finish and sits only three points behind Goetz in the points. Thornhill is one of the drivers headed to Montana and will be making his first 360 sprint starts at a track besides Skagit.
● After missing one week Cam Smith was back in action in the Dave Smith SHARK powered XXX and he drove to a fifth place finish and gained a spot in points to move up to fifth. Smith has earned more points per week than Borden but the missed race a few weeks ago has derailed any chance to repeat as track champion.
● Bailey Jean Sucich scored her best finish of 2020. She finished sixth after starting the night by qualifying seventh quick. It was Bailey Jean’s fourth top 10 in eight starts at Skagit.
● Jeff Dunlap rebounded from his heartbreak two weeks ago to run 10th which is his best finish of 2020
● Only five drivers have made all nine 360 races at Skagit in 2020: Borden, Chase Goetz, Thornhill, Jacobson and Ashleigh Johnson. Johnson also has perfect attendance in the Sportsmen division
● The next two weeks will be season championships at Skagit Speedway. Next Thursday will feature Sportsmen sprints and the following Thursday will feature 360 sprints. In a break from years past, a full program will be run each week featuring qualifying and heat races.

Getting for the weekend and will definitely be keeping an eye on the World of Outlaw event at Huset’s. This has traditionally been Outlaw weekend at Skagit and many fans in the northwest are definitely alert to the fact that a big time track with big time backers are hosting the Outlaws. Not saying the Outlaws are not coming back to the northwest just saying I have a lot of interest how the Huset’s race unfolds and what it could mean for 2021.

Next column will look forward to 2021 and what I see realistically happening given the current situation on the west coast.

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Cannon Beach, Oregon...For five months I have more or less stayed home besides work and essential things. It has been long and at times I have felt like I was never going to leave home but that has changed as I listen to the ocean on the beautiful Oregon coast. Cannon Beach is a family tradition for my family but it usually involves races at Cottage Grove or Banks before heading to the coast during the week and then probably catching more races. But this year races were omitted but in a weird 2020 just getting somewhere different seems pretty awesome.

As the ocean blows and the waves crash, the sprint car season on the west coast limps along as it begins to get close to fall. Last weekend featured only two 360 sprint races on the west coast - Wednesday at Marysville and Sunday night at Petaluma. What was supposed to be a four race weekend was reduced to two as raging fires forced Ocean and Placerville to cancel their scheduled events. For Ocean it marked the end of their sprint season as the last two events were cancelled due to fires and Placerville sits idle until September 19. The next two weekends have no 360 sprint car races on the schedule. More on that later.

The two races that were run last weekend produced two drivers used to victory lane. At Marysville Ryan Robinson steered the Weiher Motorsports sprinter to his third win of the year at the track and fourth overall. Robinson has shown a lot of speed this year as he has been behind the wheel of the Weiher sprinter all year unlike last year where he bounced around a little bit. Most impressive is Robinson has picked his four wins in less than 15 2020 starts. Two of the best in California followed Robinson as Shane Golobic brought the Matt Wood sprinter home second and Tanner Carrick continued his hot streak bringing his families sprinter home third. For Carrick it was his eighth podium in last 10 starts which includes two wins.

Sunday night at Petaluma it was a familiar face in victory lane just at an unfamiliar track. Driving the Larry Antaya sprinter for the first time since June Justin Sanders picked up his first career victory at Petaluma and his third of the year in California. Sanders spent the early summer in the Plains chasing ASCS and All Star glory returned to California for Kaeding Classic and since then has settled in as best driver in the start winning three times and finished second twice in his last 10 starts. Andy Forsberg drove his own sprinter to a second place finish, while Kaleb Montgomery scored his second overall podium of 2020 finishing third.

The next few weeks are dormant for California racing so it will be interesting to see what teams do. Some teams will just wait for the next race (September 19 at Placerville) but with a big race weekend Montana coming up Labor Day some drivers might head that way. As of press time JJ Hickle was committed, while Sanders and Joel Meyers have indicated interest. Several top northwest teams have also indicated they will go after racing Skagit this Thursday. Only in 2020 would Montana be the place to be on Labor Day for racing but given the current environment it looks it just might be that way.


MORE STUFF: Forsberg won the Marysville sprint car championship which added to his lengthy totals of championships that is now well into the 20s. In 12 starts at Marysville Forsberg scored a win, five podiums and five fast times to secure the championship over defending champion Michael Ing...The 12 races saw eight different winners as Robinson (3), Tanner Carrick (2) and DJ Netto (2) all had multiple victories...The raging fires forced a premature end to the Ocean speedway sprint season. They were still able to get seven races with six different winners and Bud Kaeding was champion on the back of consistency as he had no wins. Overall the track produced six different winners in the seven races with only Sanders winning two...Sean Becker was one of the best drivers most of the year in California but has hit a cold spell and his best finish in his last five starts is 10th...One driver who was supposed to be a NARC regular Spencer Bayston is having a great season in a few starts. In less than 10 410 sprint starts Baytson has scored a win in California and Pennsylvania and easily qualified for the Capitiani Classic. Full time ride anybody?...In northwest sprint news Jason Solwold has left the John Trone Motorsports team and returned home. Work commitments for Solwold forced him to come back home. Also the team has struggled outside of Williams Grove and Trone is looking for a commitment which Solwold isn't the guy. He has always maintained the Shaylen-Raye Motorsports team is his priority. I would expect this team to be at Skagit for the last two point races.....Expect a handful of northwest teams to race Skagit Thursday before heading to Montana for the weekend. Amongst those committed are Skagit point leader Devon Borden and young star Tanner Holmes. This will be a long tow but I expect Skagit Speedway promoter Steve Beitler to get the races over early Thursday so the teams can head out...With drivers missing races and Borden’s overall consistency Borden has pretty much solidified the 360 point battle at Skagit with two races remaining...As mentioned the season on the west coast is winding down quickly. Skagit has two 360 races left and depending what happens California probably has 8-10 races left at the most. This depends if Kings Speedway runs their full fall schedule.

That is all for this week. I will be covering Skagit Speedway 360 point race number nine this Thursday like I have all year - remotely. The first eight races have produced seven different winners and heavy hitters such as defending track champion Cam Smith and Solwold are still seeking their first win.

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.


 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Last week was an example of how thin of a string racing is on around most of the country and especially in the northwest. Beginning of last week Skagit Speedway was announcing their season would go through September 17 and then last Thursday night (as the races were going) rumours began to fly that the season in the northwest would be ended Monday August 24 by a new Governor’s order. By Friday morning those were just rumours and Skagit Speedway along with other tracks in Washington were back in business. The events showed quickly things can change and how easily racing can be cancelled.

 

            With that in mind I decided to have this column be a power ranking of the best 10 410 sprint car drivers in 2020 if the year ended today. Obviously number one will be a no brainer but a lot of other drivers besides Kyle Larson are having great years and I wanted to rank them, not necessarily on total wins but overall success in 2020.

 

 

1)Kyle Larson - You know all the stats. Nothing new to say.

 

2)Logan Schuchart - Schuchart has had an under the radar great season. Early it was Brad Sweet and lately Kyle Larson but from Florida to now Schuchart has been the most consistent driver in 410 racing. He has racked five wins including the Jackson Nationals and led the Outlaw point standings twice. He is the current leader by 8 points ahead of Sweet. His Outlaw stats besides the five wins include 23 top fives and 30 top 10s in 34 starts. His average finish is 5.84. Throw in a handful podiums in local Posse action and that is good enough to be ranked second.

 

3)Brad Sweet - The difference between Sweet and Schuchart is small. I gave the advantage to Schuchart because he is the Outlaw point leader and has a better average finish in Outlaw races than Sweet whose average finish is 6.77. Sweet does seven have Outlaws wins (nine total) and for through June was probably number one on the  list. Sweet’s oOutlaw stats are similar to Schuchart as he also has 23 top fives but has one less top ten.

 

4)David Gravel - Gravel has been stout all year and if not for missing two Outlaw point races he would be right in the championship battle. Gravel has four Outlaw wins (five total) including the Summer National at the Grove. He has an average finish of 6.16 in Outlaw competition and has reeled off 18 top fives and 28 top 10s in 32 outlaw starts. Gravel was the only driver at Knoxville who was even close to Larson’s league. Ever since his 18 win season in 2017 Gravel has fallen off the radar a touch but make no mistake he remains in the discussion for best sprint car driver in the world.

 

5)Donny Schatz - It was difficult to slot Schatz because of the expectations and the realities. The expectations are that he wins 20 plus outlaw races every year and simply suffocates the competition. 2020 has been nothing like that but that doesn’t mean Schatz is a bum. He is third in Outlaw points with three wins. He won the Silver Cup at Lernerville which allowed him to take the Outlaw point lead. His average finish with the series is a respectable 7.27 and despite struggling he is still only 58 points behind Schuchart. Donny is still lethal and capable of being number one again.

 

            The top five to me are very cream of the crop. Number six is kind of by himself in a class where he isn't top five but he is clearly a step above everybody else.

 

6)Aaron Reutzel - He has 10 (eight with All Stars) overall wins and has led the All Star point chase since the start. He is clearly the best driver not on the Outlaw tour. He has proven to be too much for the Posse and this year won Ohio speed week showing he had begun to master a region he had struggled in. Reutzel has two wins at Knoxville also to show how tough he can be. Reutzel is inconsistent but is too dominant when he is on to list any lower.

 

7)Cap Henry- Henry has been the best regional driver in the country in one of the toughest regions (Ohio), Henry has won 10 times joining Larson and Reutzel as only drivers with 10 or more 410 wins. He has won four straight at Attica and seven overall there including one during Ohio speed week. He picked off another Ohio speed week win at Wayne County. He also won a regular point race at Wayne County and Fremont. All the drivers above Henry are professionals but Henry is a weekend warrior who accomplished all this in roughly 20 starts. Yes he deserves to be this high.

 

8)Danny Dietrich- Consistently the best regional driver in the country Dietrich started off slow but has won seven times (eight overall) in posse land since June 27. He just got off a stretch of winning five out six in Pennsylvania. Dietrich competed with All Stars early in the year and showed off his versatility winning on a new track in Texas. Dietrich is the best driver in Posse land night and night out and 2020 is no different. For that reason I am going to slot him at number eight.

 

9)Carson Macedo - Macedo has really started to flex his muscles in 2020. He has one Outlaw win and two in Pennsylvania but it is not the win total that is impressive, it is the fact he has become a consistent front runner with the Outlaws. He has 16 top 10 finishes in his last 18 starts and started to pressure Schatz for third in points. Overall in Outlaw races Macedo has 11 top fives and 29 top 10s. He has an average finish of 7.81. The guys two thru five in my ranking make the Outlaw points tough but Macedo is closing the gap rapidly.

 

10)Bill Balog - This last slot was tough and I thought about going a couple of different directions but settled on Balog. What Balog does every year in the upper midwest is unbelievable. He just continues to dominate the competitive IRA series and this year has been no different as he has won eight straight stand alone IRA races. Some might say he is cherry picking but he is a regional driver that dominates his region much like the other two regional drivers on the list. That is all he can do is beat the drivers he competes against and Balog does it better than most. Balog has struggled against the Outlaws and All Stars but nonetheless I gave him the nod for the final spot.

 

Just Missed: Sheldon Haudenschild and Cory Eliason. Both of these drivers are very capable and are national stars on the rise but there are only 10 spots and not everybody could make it. Other drivers I considered were Lance DeWease, Austin McCarl, Brian Brown, Rico Abreu, Cole Duncan, Brent Marks, Freddie Rahmer and Anthony Macri.

 

MORE STUFF: Some quick notes from last week as only one 360 race was contested. That was Thursday night at Skagit Speedway. Saturday was supposed to be the Johnny Key Classic at Ocean but fires forced its cancellation...At Skagit Thursday night a crazy round of qualifying saw most of the front running drivers qualify in the bottom half of the 26 car field...Lance Sargent in his second night out was fast time aboard his families Fauver powered sprinter. He would finish sixth in the A…The A was won by 14 year old sensation Colby Thornill started fourth and took the lead on lap 21 when race long leader Jeff Dunlap broke. Thornhill now sits third in track points...Dunlap was chasing his first career 360 sprint victory until his fate was determined as he slowed on lap 21. Dunlap seems to have one night a year he just runs up front out of nowhere...Chasing Thornhill to the finish line was Reece Goetz and 16th starting Devon Borden. Borden was victimized by a bad qualifying run and was on the move in the A as he solidified his point lead...Borden’s point lead got a big boost when second place in points Cam Smith was unable to participate. Smith did put rising star and recent ASCS speed week champion JJ Hickle in the car for the night but the Washington native struggled and missed the A by one spot.

           

That is all for now. California tentatively has three 360 sprint races scheduled this week (Wednesday at Marysville, Saturday at Placerville and Sunday at Petaluma) but with fires raging I am not sure how many races will actually get in. Skagit will be featuring the Sportsmen sprints this week. 360 sprints return on 9/3 at Skagit Speedway.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...LIke a band of gypsies drivers from up and down the west coast took to the road and headed to the Great Plains to chase their sprint car dreams. From superstars to those just wanting to experience life on the road, west coast drivers have been scattered across the plains and have flexed their muscles wherever they showed up.

 

            Just like every other year the first half of August is all about Knoxville. That didn’t change in 2020 even with postponement of the Nationals to 2021. The Knoxville 360 Nationals and Capitani Classic provided a lot of money to be won and again made Iowa the center of the sprint car world in August. But this year is different and as 410 drivers were chasing  the gold at Knoxville the ASCS sprints were experimenting with a new format during their six race speedweek that started last Monday in Kansas and ends tonight in Arkansas. Don't forget the two nights at Oskaloosa that happened on Sunday and Monday (unfortunately rained out) after 360 Nationals and there was racing everywhere. West coast teams took advantage so let's see how they did.

 

            Californians Shane Golobic, Colby Copeland, Dominic Scelzi,  Tim Kaeding and Kyle Offill focused their attention in Iowa while many of the other west coast teams headed to ASCS speed week following Oskaloosa. Before going forward I'll just say I don't consider Rico Abreu, Cory Eliason, Trey Starks,  Gio Scelzi, Seth Bergman, Roger Crockett or Robbie Price west coast  drivers - they are national drivers.

 

            In Iowa Shane Golobic flexed the most muscle and in a big way. Golobic finished an impressive second during the 360 nationals. He then ran fourth at Oskaloosa before having a lot of speed during the Capitani Classic just not the results, He qualified 16th Thursday before heat race miscue ruined his night and ultimately he missed the show. Rebounding Friday Golobic qualified top 10 before finishing fifth in the A.  On Saturday Golobic was impressive in his qualifier as he took advantage of some breaks to get the fourth position and transfer to the A. Golobic was a DNF in the A but has now shown that he is a contender at Knoxville. He has made somewhere around 10 starts there in 2020 the experience showed for sure.

           

Scelzi had a solid 360 nationals that included a third place preliminary run and ninth place on the final night. He was then second the next night in Oskaloosa but the 410 was not so kind. Unable to ever have consistent speed Scelzi spent the whole weekend buried and called it weekend after qualifiers on Saturday. Copeland was never a factor at the 360 nationals and had his best run of the weekend when he finished fifth at Oskaloosa. He did make the A Friday during the Capitani but broke on Saturday fighting for a transfer spot in the C. Kaeding had top 10s both nights at the 360 nationals and on Sunday. During the Capitani Kaeding couldn’t get over the hump as he failed to qualify for the A all three nights. Each night he was in top 10 in the B but couldn’t get higher than seventh. Offill was unable to make an A against the stout competition over the two weekends as the young driver continues to challenge himself against the best in hopes of improving as a driver which he has immensely in 2020.

 

            A lot of drivers went back to focus on 360 racing and they included Californians Michael Faccinto (travelling since July), Shane Hopkins, Chelsea Blevins Washington’s Colton Heath, Bailey Sucich, JJ Hickle (in California based car) and Oregon's Tanner Holmes who competed just in ASCS speed week. These drivers experienced different levels of success but the star to date has been JJ Hickle amongst this group. Hickle was the only one of these drivers to put it in the 360 nationals A and finished a modest 15th at Oskaloosa before going on tear with one win, four podiums and five top fives in the first races of ASCS speed week and having a controlling point lead going into tonight's finale. The speed week fields have been stacked each night ranging from a low of 37 to high of 54.

 

            Heath and Faccinto have had some nice runs as well. Heath making his first laps east of the Rockies made the A in his preliminary night at Knoxville before missing the A on Saturday night. He finished 16th at Oskaloosa but has been strong during speed week with four top 10s highlighted by a third place finish run Thursday night and sits fourth in speed week points. Faccinto sits behind Heath in speed week points after a rough stretch in Iowa where he missed the A all three nights. He has since reeled off five straight top fives in speed week competition. Hopkins best runs were a podium finish at Oskaloosa in non winged competition and a third Friday night at Creek County before heading home. Holmes started speed week strong with two top 10s in the first three races but has missed the A the last two nights.

           

            Blevins and Sucich competed in 360 Nationals, Oskaloosa and the first night of speed week before heading home. Blevins made the dash during the first night of speed week before finishing 19th. It was her only A appearance of the weekend. Sucich in her first voyage east missed the main in all four races she competed in but gained that all valuable experience.

 

            Tonight the speed week finale will happen and these drivers will head back west but not after they made their presence known up and down the plains over the last week and a half. Many drivers were not discussed that have also had great weeks because they have since moved from the west coast or race nationally (includes Larson, Sweet, Macedo, Eliason, Abreu, G. Scelzi, Trey Starks, Seth Bergman, Roger Crockett - i think you get the point). The overall talent produced by the west coast is never ending.

 

 

MORE STUFF: Their were a few sprint car races on the west coast this week as Marysville was in action on Wednesday and Ocean on Friday...Blake Carrick continued his breakout 2020 season as he got his third win of the year when he outlasted veteran Colby Wiesz and his older brother Tanner Carrick. The Carrick brothers have gone from intriguing and fast to contenders every night in 2020...On Friday at Ocean things were normal as Justin Sanders steered his familiar family owned XXX to his second straight victory. After a weird 2020 that saw Sanders really not get his west coast season started until July he has come on and looks to be back in top form...Chasing Sanders to the line were Tanner Carrick and Mitchell Faccinto…Sean Becker had a rare off week as he finished 19th in Marysville and missed the show in Ocean...California based Main racing has made few starts in 2020 but they have been effective. Sweet drove the car to victory in March and then Ian Madsen was second the first night of ASCS speedweek. Tim Kaeding and Madsen piloted Main sprinters during the 360 nationals...Knoxville was big for Tarlton Racing. Tarlton sponsored cars and drivers finished first (Larson), fourth (Macedo) and fifth (Bayston)...Speaking of Bayston he has been a rocket when he gets a chance in 2020. He has two podiums in the two 410 races in California and then went to Knoxville raced up front all weekend.

 

            That is all for now. This next week I will be again covering Skagit Speedway’s 360 sprint race Thursday night remotely as usual. Grays Harbor Raceway is having a LImited Sprint shootout Saturday night that I might check out as to date I have not viewed any races from GHR in 2020. Down in California the only race on the schedule for 360s is Saturday’s Johnny Key Classic at Ocean Speedway.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Skagit Speedway has now held seven 360 races in 2020 and has produced six different winners after Travis Jacobson drove to victory in the Cook Family sprinter. Here are some quick takeaways from point race number seven:

 

     As mentioned Jacobson was winner number six in seven races. That speaks to the quality of competition that has been competing weekly. 40 different drivers have now competed in at least one point race with six drivers making all seven. This has meant the fields have not always been the same mix of driver but every week it seems like at least half or more of the field is a contender. Hasn’t always been that way at Skagit.

     Coming into last night Jacobson had one podium in six starts at Skagit. Jaocbson has had more than a little success in the past as he has won three Summer Nationals and a World of Outlaw event at Skagit. On Thursday Jacobson was in old form as he was fourth quick before stalking Tyler Thompson in the closing laps of the 25 lap sprint car event. Jacobson made the winning move on lap 22 and pulled away as he won for the first time since 2013.

     Thompson looked like he might just get that first career win at Skagit as he dominated early and led the first 21 laps from the pole but struggled with lapped traffic at the end which ultimately allowed Jacobson to make his move. Although surely disappointed with not closing the deal the young Oregon driver has made vast improvements at Skagit in 2020 he has competed in the last five races with two straight podiums.

     Eric Fisher has been hit and miss at Skagit and last night was a hit. Fisher was fast all night and finished on the podium for the third time in six outings. Fisher has been plagued by inconsistency as his other outings have resulted in a ninth, 12th and 13th.

     Cam Smith has been consistent lately in weird ways. He continues to struggle in qualifying before rallying in the heats and main to salvage the point night. Last night was no different qualifying 12th out of 17 cars. No worries for Smith as he proceeded to win his heat and charge from 12th to fifth in the A on a very fast track. In the process he picked up two points on point leader Devon Borden.

     It looked like Borden was set for a big night after setting fast time and adding 10 points to his point lead in the process. But things slowed from there as Borden was third in his heat and dropped from sixth to 10th in A.

     Lance Sargent made his debut a good one. Sporting a new Fauver Racing Engine under the hood Sargent qualified fifth quick and ran fifth in the main.

     Another driver making his season debut was multi time track champion Barry Martinez as he was steering the Matt Jensen owned sprinter. Martinez has not been in the seat much in recent years but got faster as the night went on and finished ninth.

     The 17 cars Thursday was the second lowest car count of 2020 but it wasn't without its benefit. Two drivers (Eric Rockl and Cory Swatzina) were able to get much needed seat time as they adjust to 360 sprints. Rockl is a rookie and was struggling to make the main but the last two weeks has been able run the main event and get that all important seat time. Swatzina has many laps around Skagit but was making his debut with a 360 powerplant. Not having to fight to just make the main Swatzina was able to get a lot of laps and work on getting comfortable. Bigger car counts are nice for sure but sometimes for development of new drivers a little smaller field is beneficial.

     A lot of drivers who competed at Skagit early in the year are chasing races across the land. Colton Heath and Bailey Jean Sucich are in Knoxville. Tanner Holmes is racing with ASCS Frontier this weekend before tacking the ASCS speed week. Jason Solwold continues to race in Pennsylvania for John  Trone.

 

            That is all for now. Meant to write this right after the races last night but watched the Knoxville 360 nationals replay and had to push back to Friday morning.

           

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Washington...Well I just couldn’t resist getting involved into the debate. What debate am I referencing you may ask? It is the debate that has become the talk of the 2020 sprint car season nationwide - is Kyle Larson having the greatest season ever by a sprint car driver. Even though we are in a shortened season and are at the beginning of August Larson has put such an assault on the competition that it is impossible to not to compare this season to greats of the past.

 

            To say Larson has been anything less otherworldly would be an understatement. He has dominated All Star competition with 13 wins (including a record seven in a row before a flip at Huset’s Sunday night), he has four wins against the Outlaws and dominated Pennsylvania Speedweek picking up another four wins in those nine days. That is 21 wins total. It has not mattered if it is short tracks or big tracks. Tacky or dry. Smooth or bumpy. Larson has had all the answers. Driving a car that Paul SIlva has on point at all times Larson has raised the bar for sure. But is this the greatest season ever?

 

            Time will tell. We still have a lot of racing to go (hopefully) and many headline events remaining including Capitani Classic, Tuscarora 50 and the National Open. To even start the conversation in my opinion Larson needs to win at least one if not two of these major races. So far the major Outlaw races that pay more than $20,000 to win have seen Larson only participate in one and that was at Lernerville where he finished second to Donny Schatz. I know Larson has some impressive wins including sweeping the Knoxville Outlaw event in June, winning $26,000 at Plymouth, Wisconsin, and more than $15,000 at Portsmouth in Ohio and Williams Grove. But I need a major Outlaw victory or the Tuscarora 50 victory to be to the level of the greatest season ever. Why?

 

            One of the arguments for Kyle Larson is that he is doing in an era in which the competition is much closer and the equipment is equal and so to dominate like this is more than impressive than Wolfgane in 1985 (55 wins) and 1989 (44 wins) and Steve Kinser in 1987 (more than 50 overall wins). It is always hard to compare eras  but In the three seasons mentioned above Wolfgang and Kinser won  the Knoxville Nationals. In 1985 Wolfgang won the Kings Royal and the National Open. In 1987 Kinser also won the Gold Cup and in 1989 Wolfgang added a $50,000 to win Selinsgrove Open. The point is Wolfgang and Kinser  won a lot and won when the money was on the line. Larson needs one of these mega wins in my book to be compared to these three seasons. Were these the greatest seasons ever though?

 

            Maybe we don't have to compare different eras. What if the greatest season was only five years ago in 2015. In this season Donny Schatz  had a season that was amazing by his hall of fame standards. After 2006 it was evident parity had become the new reality in sprint car racing. Since then only two drivers have won 20 or more races in an Outlaw season. The first was Joey Saldana in 2009 when he won exactly 20. It seemed like an anomaly until Donny won 23 in 2013 and 26 in 2014. But in 2015 Donny went to a new level when he reeled off 31 wins against the best sprint car competition there is. Schatz won the Knoxville Nationals and Gold Cup. He was second at the National Open. In an era dominated by parity Schatz made a mockery of it. He won the Outlaw championship by 544 points which given the Outlaw point system is ridiculous. For good measure Donny had three more seasons of 20 or wins to make it six in a row but 2015 was special as he won 40 percent of the World of Outlaw races that year.

 

            What separates Schatz 2015 season from Larson’s 2020 in my mind is he was dominating the Outlaws. Not picking and choosing races. Schatz was winning 31 races, falling a grueling tour that features the best drivers who go and take on each region's best. Nothing on the Outlaw tour is easy. And surely 31 wins is not. This not diminishing the competition of the All Stars or the Posse - winning against these drivers is no easy task and Larson deserves all the attention he is getting - but the Outlaws are another level especially in today’s era where everybody has “good” stuff. This is why in my opinion Schatz 2015 season is the gold standard for sprint car racing in the 21st century and maybe for the 20th century.

 

MORE STUFF: The epic point battle at Skagit Speedway dissipated last Thursday as four of the top six in points did not race for a variety of reasons. Devon Borden used that to his advantage and dominated the evening setting fast time and winning his second race of the year at Skagit. In the process Borden gained the point  lead...Borden was followed by former ASCS National tour regular Robbie Price and rising Oregon star Tyler Thompson. It was Thompson’s best finish ever at Skagit. Cam Smith finished fourth and as of now is Borden’s only competitor in the points chase…Price has had a rough 2020 and recently pulled off the ASCS national tour. After qualifying a disappointing seventh Price rebounded to drive from seventh to second in the main event...For the fifth time in six races Skagit had 20 or more 360 sprint cars check in...California had a quite week with only two races on tap; Wednesday at Marysville and Saturday at Antioch...Sean Becker drove the Don Monhoff sprinter to victory Wednesday as he scored his fourth win of 2020...Becker was followed to then line by the Carrick brothers Blake and Tanner...In Antioch Colby Johnson scored the win in his families Pit Stop USA sprinter. He was chased to the line by Justin Sanders and Billy Aton...Johnson became the 16th different winner in California amongst the 360 ranks. Throw in the two winners in 410 races and you have 18 different winners in California across the 360/410 classes in 2020.

 

            Again I will be covering Skagit Speedway this Thursday from my porch (2020 normal) and tweeting updates all night as the 360 sprints have point race number seven. California action has Ocean and Silver Dollar on Friday and Kings returns to action Saturday night. Placerville was scheduled to run Saturday but has cancelled.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa...Making the best of the 2020 season Skagit Speedway has delivered five entertaining 360 sprint car shows and it has produced a very exciting point race. Unlike many years when only few drivers actually run all point races, 2020 has seen 13 drivers compete in the first five shows including Tanner Holmes who has driven from Southern Oregon to attend all five races. The increased amount of regulars and increased amount of competition has created a fun 2020 season which has an exciting point battle that might only get more interesting as the schedule winds down.

 

            Quickly looking back at last week's action it looked Colton Heath was going to extend his point lead as he started fourth after being the fast qualifier and winning his heat race. But Heath spun on lap two and although he did rebound for sixth it did allow for the points to stay close. While Heath was rebounding from his spin Trey Starks was checking as he drove his family's sprinter from third to first by turn two of lap one and never looked back scoring the $2100 win. Holmes was having a career run from fifth to second and was catching Starks but was victim of flat tire late in the race. Jason Solwold and Greg Hamilton rounded out the podium. So how about that point race.

 

            First of all the schedule. To date Skagit has run five 360 races and has them on the card the next two Thursdays. After that Skagit has three more Thursday’s on the schedule with classes not announced. My guess is that the 360 sprint class will run eight or nine races meaning that leaves of three or four races to gain points. Right now the battle is probably six drivers deep but the upcoming events could be a determining factor in how the battle turns out. Also another key point is Skagit awards points for qualifying, heat races and the main event making every time a car is on the track important.

 

            As of right Colton Heath is in the driver's seat it would seem. He has a 26 point lead, has finished in the top two three times (one win) and has been the fast qualifier twice. If not for some tough breaks in the last two main events Heath lead would be even bigger. But Heath is registered for the Knoxville 360 Nationals and rumor has him leaving this week for Knoxville which will cause him to miss two point races and end any championship hopes.

 

            Second through six are only separated by 24 points which is where things get interesting. Brock Lemley sits second in points and has been the most consistent driver with five top 10 finishes and one win. Nine point behind Lemley sits Devon Borden who has been inconsistent at times but like Lemley has managed to finish in the top 10 all five races. Borden also has one win. Just six points back of Borden is defending champion Cam Smith. Smith has not been as good as he was last year but has managed to be in the top 10 four times and his only finish outside top 10 was 11th last week. Eight points behind Smith is opening night winner Eric Fisher. Fisher has relied on his win and a second on June 25 to stay in the top five one point ahead of Solwold. Fisher has struggled in the three other shows with only one top 10. Solwold started slow but has reeled off four straight top 10s to get into championship contention. LIke Heath it is still to be seen if Solwold will make all the shows as his ride in Pennsylvania may cause him to miss some shows.

 

            Even if Heath and Solwold miss some shows there will still be a great four way battle for the championship. Also this year each week has featured fields that have been 10-12 deep with potential winners making even top fives difficult. This will keep the race interesting as the point leaders are often spread out through the field creating a chance to make up a lot of points in one night. After lamenting the last few weeks about all that has been cancelled on the west coast I am going  to celebrate the exciting season at Skagit and enjoy the next four-five weeks. Something tells me the championship will be decided on the final week.

 

MORE STUFF: As mentioned Trey Starks won Thursday night at Skagit Speedway. The $2100 to win show drew 26 sprints the most this season at Skagit. Through five shows Skagit has averaged 22.6 cars...Starks finished eighth Saturday at Knoxville as he looks to gain speed in the Gobrecht Motorsports sprinter at the Iowa speed plant before the big August races...Corbyn Fauver finished fourth Thursday which was his second straight top five at Skagit. In the first three races he had no top 10s...California had another mini speedweek last week as drivers had an opportunity to race four times in five nights. Four drivers raced all fours (Shane Golobic, Blake and Tanner Carrick and Jesse Love) and three of them won (Golobic, Blake and Tanner Carrrick)...The racing started Wednesday at Marysville where Tanner Carrick drove to victory ahead Golobic and Blake Carrick to defeat the 20 car field...Friday the action moved to Ocean and it was Micthell Faccinto driving the Stan Greenberg KPC to victory over the 30 car field. Faccinto capitalized on a late race mishap by Goloboc to win ahead of Bud Kaeding in the Kaeding Performance Center Maxim and DJ Netto who was steering the Netto Ag KPC...Saturday it was up to the hill for $2500 and Blake Carrick was the man as he bested the huge 45 car field at Placerville. Blake's victory came ahead of Andy Gregg in the GUTS sprinter and Andy Forsberg who was driving the F&F Racing sprinter...The weekend concluded at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico as they held their first since March 13. The track was greeted with 39 cars and in the end it was Golobic getting the win in the Matt Wood sprinter. Golobic was followed to the line by JJ Hickle in the Worden Family sprinter and Tanner Carrick...The Carrick brothers have joined that upper group in California sprint car racing with their performances the last two month. Both drivers are contenders nightly and each have two wins in 2020...Ryan Bernal who has been hopping rides a little in 2020 was in the Bill Spencer sprinter Saturday night at Placerville that Jodie Robinson usually drives. Bernal was 10th. He has also driven for Keith Day and Dennis Roth in 2020 on the west coast...Jodie Robison was in the Dave Vertullo ride that she pilots in 410 action over the weekend at Placerville and Chico...Willie Croft has struggled in 2020 as he has spent most of the year driving for Mike Phulps but hopped back into his own ride Sunday and scored a season best fourth...Justin Sanders made his debut in the Menne Motorsports sprinter Sunday night at Chico. The team fought gremlins all night and ultimately did not qualify for the A main event. Sanders drove his own sprinter Friday and Saturday...Mini sprint star Mitchel Moles competed in the last three nights of racing in California last week and while he did not have great results (p12, p22, p15) it was good to see Moles in a sprint all weekend. It seems he is at that point in his career where he needs to commit to sprints and see what he can do.

 

            That is all for this week. I will be covering Skagit Speedway from my porch Thursday night ( as I do every Thursday) while Friday and Saturday you will find me glued to dirt vision doing the late model thing. California has a slow week with only two shows: Wednesday at Marysville and Saturday at Antioch.

 

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...As my last column lamented just about every big sprint car race on the west coast has been cancelled but this last weekend was a small reprieve as two big shows on the west coast were ran - of course with no fans in the stands but just getting a big race in these times is a miracle in itself. Up in Washington, Deming Speedway held its annual  three day Clay Cup Nationals for mini sprints headlined by the open 600 main event Saturday that paid $10,000 to win. Down in California the two day Howard Kaeding Classic was taking place headlined by the $5,000 to win NARC 410 main event Saturday night.

 

            I am not a mini sprint expert by any means but with $10,000 on the line I spent last weekend watching all three nights of Clay Cup (from my porch of course on PPV) and providing updates on twitter. With it being the biggest dirt race of the year on the west coast in 2020 unless something drastically changes I did not want to miss the show. The format at Clay Cup features two preliminary nights where drivers accrue points through the night as they qualify, run heats and main events. In addition to the 600s Clay Cup features 1200s, restricted 600s and junior sprints. Drivers get to pick their best night come Saturday so one bad night does not bury your weekend. Classic example of this would be the driver who ultimately won the $10,000 600 feature and for good measure won another $3,000 on the same night when he won the 1200 main event. That would be Chance Crum.

 

            Crum won the Thursday night 600 main and combined with his heat and qualifying efforts was in great shape after night one sitting second in points to Jared Peterson. Things unraveled quickly on Friday as Crum was struck by motor issues and was unable to get a qualifying lap in. He rebounded and finished fourth in his heat race and won the C before calling it a night. If it had been combined points the lack of a qualifying lap and therefore no points gained would have buried Crum. Instead Crum started outside the front row Saturday by virtue of his Thursday night performance and drove away from the field to score the biggest win of his career. Crum was chased by some of the best in the business but nobody challenged Crum after the first few laps as he navigated traffic efficiently and never made the mistake his pursuers needed. A few minutes before putting on his dominating performance in the 600 main Crum did the exact same thing in the 1200 class as he started on the pole, took the lead and set sail for the $3,000 payday. All in all he led 79 of the 80 main event laps he raced Saturday night and scored a cool $13,000 for his efforts. Not bad a payday for dirt track racing let alone micro sprint racing.

 

            The rest of the top five was a mix of savvy veterans and upcoming stars. Californians Jake Andreotti and Mitchel Moles ran second and third. Fourth and fifth went to Washington drivers Evan Margenson and pole sitter Jared Peterson. Andreotti was looking for his second Clay Cup title in his final micro sprint start. He will concentrate on sprint cars going forward. Moles was looking for that first major micro victory to solidify his amazing resume which includes more than 40 wins last year. Moles has dabbled in sprints and it seems only logical he will move that way permanently in the near future. Margenson and Peterson have raced sprints in the past but have settled in the last few years driving focus midgets and micro sprints.

 

            Clay Cup continues to be a marquee event on the west coast and even though I think the four classes are too many and would prefer just the 600s and 1200s myself it is still amazing to see Deming Speedway put on such a great paying event and even more impressive was pulling it off in 2020.

 

MORE STUFF: As mentioned earlier California had the Howard Kaeding Classic which featured 360 sprints Friday and 410 sprints Saturday...DJ Netto was the man Friday as he outraced the 39 car field to score his fourth victory of 2020 aboard the Netto Ag KPC...Following Netto to finish line Friday night was Shane Golobic in the Matt Wood sprinter and Mitchell Faccinto in Stan Greenberg KPC...Justin Sanders made his second start of the season in California (he had been in the Southwest/Plains) Friday and raced to sixth after starting 20th...Saturday night saw Kyle Hirst pick up the $5,000 to payday as steered the Williams Motorsports entry the win over the 32 car field...He outlasted Sanders who was driving his own XXX and Spencer Bayston who wheeling the Tarlton Motorsports KPC...Bayston has struggled in 360 competition in California but has been stout in the 410 with a first and third...Faccinto barely missed being on the podium both nights as he ran fourth Saturday....Golobic registered his first finish outside the top five in California Saturday when he ran seventh...Sean Becker made what is a rare 410 start aboard the Don Monhoff sprinter and came home tenth...Chase Johnson who had big plans for 2020 that have been curtailed was aboard the Josh Ford sprinter both nights of the Kaeding Classic. He finished 18th and 11th during the two nights...Ryan Bernal was aboard the famed Dennis Roth KPC Saturday night and drove it from 14th to 9th. Bernal has been in search of a 410 ride for 2020 after spending 2019 driving the Tarlton sprinter...Kyle Offill had his weekend cut short as he junked a car Friday night causing the team to sit out Saturday night. They will head east soon for the second time in 2020...Placerville had a regular show Saturday night and Kalib Henry drove the McColloch RV sprinter to the win ahead of Shane Hopkins and Ryan Robinson...Due to no fans and lack of sponsorship Placerville announced the purse would only be half but nonetheless still had 25 sprint cars check in...In national news Washington driver Jason Solwold was behind the Trone Outdoor sprinter last weekend in Pennsylvania and struggled as he finished 20th (Williams Grove), 21st (Lincoln) and DNQ (Port Royal). Nobody is sure how long this deal will last but Solwold has said he is still the driver of the Shaylen Raye Motorsports sprinter at this point and that this is just something to fill in the schedule in these weird times...Kyle Larson now has 18 410 sprint wins in 2020 are you kidding me?...Silver Dollar Speedway has announced it will race July 26 (Sunday) featuring 360 sprints and a full purse. Not sure how many races Silver Dollar plans but even one race is better than nothing.

 

            This week California drivers have many options as they can race at Marysville Wednesday, Ocean Friday, Placerville Saturday and Silver Dollar Sunday for the second unofficial California speedweek of the summer.

 

            I will be tuned in to Skagit Thursday night for the rain delayed Independence open featuring 360s ($2000 to win) and modifieds ($1200 to win). Per 2020 standards I will be covering the race from my porch - the new normal.

 

Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The last week and a half have been a tough one for the west coast sprint car scene. It started early last week when Calistoga speedway announced they were shutting down for 2020 effectively cancelling the Louie Vermeil Classic. From there the hits just kept coming as the World of Outlaws west coast swing was cancelled, NARC series was effectively cancelled, Dirt Cup was cancelled (after the Summer Nationals had been cancelled to reschedule Dirt Cup), the Brownfield Classic was cancelled and then finally Trophy Cup was cancelled (Tulare Raceway will not host a single event in 2020). In just a few days what many had feared had become reality as just about every prominent race on the west coast was cancelled. It wasn't a surprise given that the west coast states (California, Oregon and Washington) have all moved slowly in re-opening and that each state has effectively banned any sort of crowds for the foreseeable future. So where does this leave west sprint car racing in 2020?

 

            Well first some good news. In the ray of all the darkness last week Ocean Speedway announced that they will still be hosting the NARC sanctioned Kaeding Classic this weekend featuring a full payout Saturday night with top prize being $5,000. As tradition Friday night will feature 360 sprints. The Kaeding Classic could truly be the only big show on the west coast this year and will surely be the only major show during the summer with all the other cancellations. Sponsors have helped make it so the Kaeding Classic can be a full purse show despite the current ban on fans in California. I would expect strong support for this event and solid car counts each night. I also wouldn’t be surprised if after this race some California teams head east in search of more races and better paying shows.

 

            Now back to the reality of what the rest of the season looks like for sprint car racing. In California 410 racing looked like it was set for a big year but now faces the truth that Saturday’s Kaeding classic could be the second and last race of the year. The ban on fans makes it hard for tracks to come up with the purse to support a NARC show and unless something changes in that area I wouldn’t expect another NARC show this year unless they can make something happen with Kings Speedway in the fall.  Although NARC speed week is still on the schedule for late August, something tells me it's just a matter of time before speed week falls victim to cancellation. On the 360 side weekly shows continue but the purses are often reduced. Marysville has moved to racing to Wednesday night which has eliminated conflicts of dates as Ocean runs Friday and then Petaluma, Placerville or even Antioch run Saturday. Placerville has been very transparent with its purses while other tracks not as much but is common knowledge a lot of these weekly races are with reduced purses.

 

            The non winged scene in California has been hit even harder as USAC/CRA and USAC West Coast are cancelled through the summer.  For non winged racing the headline event of the year is the Oval Nationals at Perris and given the situation specifically in southern California it is hard to imagine a scene where the Oval Nationals take place this year. Much like NARC USAC guys will probably be lucky to get just a few shows this year.

 

            In Northwest things are similar with Skagit Speedway being the one bright spot. Cottage Grove and Grays Harbor have effectively postponed all 360 races until fans are in the stands. Both tracks seem to be more inclined to just not race 360s until fans can come back and full purses can be offered. Skagit has seemingly made the best of the situation with their successful run of Thursday Night Thunder shows which featured full purses each night with help from sponsorship partners. They will take this week off but then have six straight Thursday nights scheduled through the end of August. Classes are TBA but I would expect the 360 sprints will run at least four of the six events. Skagit though has been hit hard by cancellations as all their traditional headline events have been cancelled showing even a track doing well has still been devastated by cancellations.

 

            What this leaves us with is a sprint car season out west that is active but does not have the pizzaz. No big summer races in the northwest, late fall classics in California and no Outlaw swing. While other parts of the country have seen racing come back to normal almost ( I emphasize almost), the west coast is still very much in a pandemic like race schedule which is highlighted by cancellations, reduced purses and few big events.

 

MORE STUFF: Big news coming out the last few days was Washington driver Jason Sowold being tabbed to fill the seat in John Trone Pennsylvania based sprinter. The deal goes through the Capitani Classic for now. No exact schedule has been released but it sounds like Solwold will continue to also drive the Shaylen-Raye Motorsports sprinter that he normally occupies. At this point the Trone ride is to fill in the schedule during this slow time….California had three sprint cars races last weekend… Wednesday night in Marysville it was Tanner Carrick picking up his first sprint win of 2020. He was followed to the checkered by Shane Golobic and Andy Forsberg...The next night at Ocean Speedway Sean Becker drove the Van Lare sprinter to his third win of 2020 ahead of Golobic and Tanner Carrick...Chase Madjic closed out the weekend Saturday at Petaluma as he drove the MIttry Motorsports sprinter to the win ahead of Forsberg and Bradley Terrell...It was Madjic’s second win of 2020 as he drove to a win in May at Antioch...Becker, Forsberg and Golobic have dominated California to date. Golobic has been especially lethal with four wins and 11 podiums in 12 starts...Michael Faccinto and the Harley Van Dyke race team have packed up and are headed to the midwest for the next few weeks to race a variety of 360/410 shows...Skagit regular Chase Goetz showed his versatility last weekend. After finishing third in Skagit’s Sportsman Sprint Showdown Thursday night he won the Granite Super Sprint feature at Evergreen Saturday night on pavement....Skagit Speedway will return to action next Thursday with the rescheduled independence open. The card will feature a $2000 to win for 360 sprints...Jesse Love who currently leads ARCA West points with two wins when he is not racing sprints or midgets, will make his second ARCA Menards Series start this Saturday at Iowa Speedway. Love has been super impressive this year in both Super Late Models and Stock Cars and he is still only 15...Fellow California star Gio Scelzi sits sixth in ARCA West points and will also race at Iowa. He will then head up the road and compete at Knoxville Saturday night in 410 action.

 

            As mentioned earlier this weekend will feature the Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway Friday and Saturday. In addition Placerville will run 360 sprints Saturday. And while the northwest is idle as far as 360 sprints, Deming Speedway will be hosting its annual Clay Cup Thursday thru Saturday and will be paying a full purse which features a $10,000 Super 600 main event Saturday Night.

 

            Email at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim where I tweet about west coast and national sprint car racing and occasionally go to the darkside of dirt model racing and pavement racing.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...The face mask has proven to be the hot button issue when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. First it was no need to wear it unless you're sick but that idea has morphed over the last few months to the point where a lot of states are either requiring face masks or highly recommending them in any social gathering. The face mask is meant to prevent the spread of the disease and in theory if everybody is wearing one then transmission of the disease can be mitigated. This column is not meant to be political but instead make it known that if we want to see racing with fans on the west coast there might need to be a change of thinking.

 

            It has been no secret that the dirt track scene is resistant to face masks. To be honest the dirt track scene is resistant to any sort of control and even more resistant to change. For years racers and fans have fought with promoters over rule books,  regulations, admission prices and much more while promoters have fought with local governments over many of the same issues. The dirt track racing world likes to think they are outlaws living by their own rules but history shows more often than not conformity is inevitable. Whether it be curfews, environmental regulations or anything else tracks have conformed time and time again to keep running. On the west coast curfews have been the kryptonite of many tracks but that is a battle that cannot be won so tracks able to survive have made the adjustments to ensure drivers and fans get races while the government gets what they have mandated. The mask is no different. If tracks don’t follow ordinances they will get shut down (see Hagerstown Speedway) and that is much worse than wearing a face mask.

 

            If fans want to see racing on the west coast this year in person they better be prepared to wear a mask. As of right now fans are a no-go on the west coast with empty grandstands greeting drivers wherever they go. With the spike in numbers and how contagious the disease is the west coast has paused its opening. Washington and California are looking like fanless events through the summer and I would assume Oregon is probably in the same boat. And if and when re-openings continue I just cannot imagine all of sudden the mask requirements (which all three states have) will be eliminated. Wearing a mask is not just ending tomorrow just like COVID-19 isn’t ending tomorrow. The sheer fact is this disease is very deadly for some and until we have a vaccine or herd immunity if we are going to have some sort of normal (like going to races) a mask is going to be key.

 

            Ask any promoter and they will tell you fans in the stands are key. As much as we have enjoyed PPV promoters need people in the bleachers to have a long term business model. Tracks cannot survive like this and promoters surely fear the longer fans are away the greater the chance they don’t return. If we don’t have tracks because they cannot survive....well it goes without saying we don’t have races. This should be reason enough for anybody that loves racing to wear a mask and help prevent the spread of a disease that is affecting the very livelihood of the sport we love. I would rather go to a race with a mask than keep watching on TV. TV is great and all but as I have mentioned before it is really no substitute for being at the track.

 

            This is just the reality for now. Face masks will not be a forever thing. We all hope they are just a 2020 thing and 2021 is back to normal but that may not be the case so as fans and as an industry dirt track people need to commit to wearing face masks if we hope to enjoy the sport we love in the immediate future. This isn’t a restriction of freedom and some hoax, COVID-19 is real and disrupted life like none of us imagined. In April it looked like racing would be cancelled for the rest of 2020 but progress has been made and we have made it back to having cars on the track. The next step is going to be getting actual fans in the stands (maybe 25-50% capacity) on the west coast  and for that to happen the mask will not be an option. It will be a mandate here on the west coast.

 

MORE STUFF: Skagit Speedway suffered its first rainout of 2020 last Thursday night. Twenty plus 360 sprints were registered for the $2000 to win event which will now be run July 23...With Skagit’s rain out Placerville Speedway played host to the only 360 race on the west coast with its annual July 4 show and it was Colby Copeland getting his first win of 2020 aboard the Canales family sprinter...Copeland has been electric up on the hill with a win and three seconds in the four Placerville 360 shows. Copeland was to be a full time contender with the NARC series but to date they have only conducted one race...Following Copeland to the line at Placerville was Shane Golobic and the improving Michael Faccinto. Faccinto now has two thirds at Placerville in four starts as he continues to steer the Harley Van Dyke sprinter, while Golobic continues to be the epitome of consistency...In nine starts in California Golobic has been on the podium nine times. Not bad...California drivers will have a chance to run three races in four nights this week as Marysville Raceway will be running Wednesday night this week, Ocean Speedway Friday  and Saturday will feature Placerville and Petaluma...The Petaluma race was originally a NARC show but with no fans allowed the decision  was made to change direction. NARC’s next race is now July 18 at Ocean...The next scheduled 360 race in the northwest is July 18 at Grays Harbor but I would say that is very tentative at best. The next race at Skagit is Thursday featuring a $1000 to win Sportsmen sprint feature...Cottage Grove opened its season Saturday with a six division show featuring Limited Sprints and Modifieds. No word on when 360 sprints might be on the card...Finally before Saturday night I was vaguely familiar with Jade Avedisian but like everybody else that has changed. WIth a $20,000 Outlaw Mini Sprint win Saturday night the young 13 year old from California has become a household name garnering admiration from amongst others legendary midget owner Keith Kunz. New California star is born...Californians were four of the top five finishers in mini sprint racings best paying event.

 

                        Another weekend at home watching races on TV for me. Might tune in Thursday night for Skagit and then will probably spend the weekend surfing my computer for whatever is interesting that night - USAC, Williams Grove, Outlaws or maybe watch some dirt late models (Summer Nationals and Southern Nationals both get going).

 

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim as I tweet about west coast sprint car racing and national 410 racing. A lot of stats, numbers and opinions that are mine.

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...Last night Skagit Speedway ran for the fourth straight Thursday as they continued their run of Thursday NIght Thunder productions. Again Skagit featured a strong field of 360 sprints as well two solid support divisions (sportsmen and limited midgets) and provided great action for the viewing fans on TV. Three things came to light Thursday night and into Friday morning that I want to follow up on.

Unlike previous weeks where Skagit has waited until after the night's show to announce the next week’s agenda, Skagit announced Thursday it will be running Thursday July 2. 360 sprints racing for $2000 to start and $400 to win. Immediately speculation has begun if any new drivers might make the tow to Skagit for the Independence Open. As of now 33 different drivers have competed in the first four weeks with a still few drivers yet to make their debut. - most notably perennial northwest regular Lance Sargent. I would be surprised if the car count tops 30 but another solid 25 car field would be just fine. Probably not enough money on the line to draw any California travellers but a full field of locals should produce a great show and provide an opportunity for a little bigger check if you land in victory lane.

The only thing that could affect car count in a negative way is I cannot remember the last time 360 sprints ran five straight weeks Skagit. They have generally been a every other week division the last 8-10 years as a way to preserve car count and not compete when Grays Harbor was running. But with Grays Harbor not running 360 sprints as of yet Skagit has been rewarded with 25, 16, 25 and 21 cars during the four weeks and with limited wrecks and damage it would seem most teams will be able to make it a fifth week in a row.

The second big thing was the winners Saturday night and how the future of sprint car racing in Washington has arrived. Devon Borden won the 360 main for his first win of the year. While it was not Borden’s first win by any means it is still important to remember he is under 18 and this is only his third year in a sprint car. The Sportsmen Sprint main was won by 14 (maybe 15) year old Jesse Schlotfeldt who made a bonsai move on the last turn of the last lap on Kelsey Carpenter to score his first career Sportsmen win. Schlotfeldt - who has a nice micro sprint resume - has struggled at times over the last year in the sportsmen but showed Thursday why many in Washington expect big things from him. These two drives combined with 13 year old Colby Thornhill (who struggled in the 360 main Thursday after a bad qualifying effort) give Washington fans plenty of reason to be excited for the future. Borden is the most advanced in the sprints, but Schlotfeldt and Thornhill have impressive micro resumes and are starting to get better in sprints as they get lap time.

And lastly: Dirt Cup. The grand daddy of all racing in the northwest and probably only second to Trophy Cup on the west coast is starting to haze a buzz. Doing a little bench racing Friday morning and a lot of potential names popped up - from committed to the wait and see. Pushed back a month because of COVID, Dirt Cup is garnering a lot of interest from drivers as they seek big money shows especially on the west coast. Seemingly every big west coast sprint show (410 or 360) is getting cancelled or greatly reduced and drivers are looking for an opportunity to race for big money and Dirt Cup with $2000 to win features Thursday and Friday and the big $15,000 paycheck Saturday would be the place to do that. At the beginning of the season drivers like Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Justin Sanders and Justyn Cox seemed to be committed to deals that would keep them from the Dirt Cup but then COVID changed everything. Hafertepe, Jr. decided not to chase All Star points, Sanders decided to chase ASCS points and with the unpredictable nature of what is next in California Cox might have an open date. These are just a few drivers that could be at Dirt Cup that may not have been if it had not been postponed and the racing scene changed for much.

Now a lot can change in a month and the first thing is to actually have a Dirt Cup which at this point cannot be guaranteed. Second is what teams and their funds look like and third it seems like at the end of the day a lot of drivers will talk about coming to the Dirt Cup only to not show for some reason. Nonetheless the buzz of the Dirt Cup is always a fun time of year.

MORE STUFF: Borden’s win Thursday was his first of 2020. After struggling the first few weeks Borden had his Borden Auto Parts sprinter back on track as he roared from sixth for the win...Following Borden was Eric Fisher in his SHARK powered sprinter and Corbyn Fauver. Fauver led the first 22 laps before settling for third - it was his first laps led in 360 action...California ran the first two nights of their unofficial speed week Wednesday and Thursday at Marysville and Ocean. 39 different drivers competed with only one racing both nights - Shane Golobic. After an extended stay in the Midwest Golobic returned him and won both races in his familiar Matt Wood sprinter...At Marysville Golobic was followed by Shane Hopkins and Andy Forsberg. Kaleb Montgomery and Kurt Nelson chased Golobic to the line at Ocean...Unofficial speed week continues at Placerville the next two nights (Friday and Saturday). Kings Speedway will give 360 drivers a second option Saturday night...Ryan Bernal made his first appearance since March in the Keith Day Trucking sprinter Thursday night at Ocean. He finished 14th...Silver Dollar Speedway has pushed their opener back to July 17... After this weekend's doubleheader Placerville will run next Saturday July 4. As of now that is the only scheduled 360 race in California next weekend.

That’s all for now. About time to turn on some Dirt Vision for the rest of the weekend and enjoy some racing PPV style.

E-mail me wcsprincarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim for National 410 stats and all the west coast sprint car news and stats.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...I have commented more than once on PPV and how important it is right now for tracks to survive - especially here on the west coast where most tracks are operating with no fans. These PPV streams have become a revenue source that combined with the back date has allowed tracks to operate during these unprecedented times and has given fans a chance to scratch that racing itch. But just like when fans are in the stands promoters need to make sure they are putting on a quality product that their customers (fans) will want to purchase.

 

            I am a big supporter of local tracks and understand it is important for fans to purchase PPV to keep their local tracks going. Organizations like the Outlaws (with dirtvision), the All Stars (flo) and USAC (flo) will be fine. They have revenue streams through PPV and many instances are operating in areas where fans are allowed in some sort of capacity. Also these organizations have corporate sponsors that will help them navigate during these times. The question is more about the regional series and local tracks who really operate year to year and rely on fans to help flip the bill. How are they going to survive? This question is very relevant on the west coast as most tracks are operating without fans and in reality will probably continue to do so well into the summer. How do these tracks survive? The key is putting on a good show.

 

            Just like actually going to the races if fans are going to spend their hard earned money they want a quality product. This simple fact does not change in these complicated times. Put together a solid product and fans will support. On the other hand put out a poor product and fans will seek other options - whether that be racing or non racing. This dilemma is playing out here in the northwest as I write as the major dirt tracks in Washington show how different offerings can influence a fans choice.

 

            Both Skagit Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway have restarted the 2020 season with no fans and by offering PPV so fans can watch from home. In my opinion Skagit has been smart. The first three weeks have featured 360 sprints as the headliner while running on Thursday night so there is less competition for fans. While tracks never release numbers (this is universal as tracks keep attendance numbers and revenue streams hidden like a dark secret) Skagit has enjoyed a good amount of support on PPV and that is because they have given the fans what they want - a full field of sprints and a great track surface leading to three fantastic shows. Skagit was going to run this Thursday without the 360s but reversed course and added 360s as fans had made it clear that is what they wanted. Yes it is a cost benefit analysis for Skagit - running the 360s means paying a lot more in purse money but not running 360s could potentially mean less PPV viewers and less revenue. Skagit Speedway promoter Steve Beitler isn't new  to the game so he understands the importance of having a show fans want. Beitler also knows that Skagit is a sprint car track and that is what the fans want to see on a regular basis.

 

            Grays Harbor Raceway has seemingly taken the opposite approach. At GHR the headliner often is the modifieds. With dwindling sprint cars teams in the area (most are based north of Seattle and much closer to Skagit) the modifieds have in many ways become the headline division over the years. Last year saw a resurgence of sorts for 360s at GHR with the dual track challenge but that series died after one year for reasons that are I am sure political. Nonetheless without the dual track challenge GHR has often struggled to draw 10 360s. With this in mind I was very surprised that GHR has only had the mods on the card once in its first three weeks ( and that week was rained out). Why I mention because as a fan I more than likely would not go out to GHR when they have a card like they had last week - a second tier wingless sprint class and super stocks. So with that in mind I did not buy the PPV option. If I am going to spend my money I want it to be on a show that I want to watch (and I assume any fans feel the same). Like I said I understand the reason behind not having 360s but not having the mods on a more normal basis, which is the headline division, is not giving the fans what they want. This week GHR’s show is more intriguing as it features the mods and Limited Sprints. If the Limited can get a solid car count to compliment the mods fans will be more inclined to purchase the GHR PPV option and see what is going on. The Limiteds are a new division at GHR so it is still determined what type of count they will have and what the quality of the field will be but as a fan I find a mod/limited sprint card more intriguing than a non winged/super stock field.

 

            This is not meant to bash on any track but just point out how it is more important than ever that tracks offer up programming that fans want. With so many PPV options available a fan at home can pick and choose what they want and are not bound to support their local track. It is up to local tracks to peak the interest of their fans so they will tune in.

MORE STUFF: Last weekend saw four winged sprint car races on the west coast as Skagit hosted its Thursday Night Thunder and California offered a three race weekend...Up at Skagit Thursday it was Colton Heath continuing his amazing start as he scored the victory aboard the LAW Motorsports XXX ahead of Trey Starks in his families sprinter and Cam Smith in the Dave Smith sprinter. The first 15 laps saw the top three exchange the lead seemingly each lap. After a lap 15 caution Heath took control and fended off a late challenge from Starks to best the 25 car field....Heath suffered severe burns in November during a USAC National Midget race and has started this season on a tear with two seconds and a win...13 year old Colby Thornhill continues to impress as he has scored three top tens to start the season at Skagit against stout fields...Down in California action kicked off Friday night as Ocean Speedway opened its season and it was youngster Blake Carrick scoring his first 360 win over two of the best in the Golden State: Bud Kaeding and Sean Becker. Many California observers have said Carrick is the most improved driver in Cali and his win over a stout 33 car field at Ocean backed that up...Saturday saw NARC open up its season at Kings Speedway and it was Indiana native Spencer Bayston getting the job done over the 29 car field  in the Tarlton Motorsports KPC ahead of brother Bud Kaeding and Tim Kaeding. Bud was his dad’s Al’s Roofing/Alviso Rock Maxim, while Tim was wheeling the Bates-Hamilton Maxim...Bayston who struggled in his first two races in California this year showed at Kings that he will be a contender in California and as he gets acclimated to the west coast...Kaleb Montgomery won the non winged 360 undercard at Kings after a fourth place run the previous night at Ocean...The California tripleheader concluded Sunday at Petaluma and Sean Becker was the class of the car field. He drove the Dan Monhoff sprinter to his first win of the year over Andy Forsberg and Shane Hopkins...The win gave Becker a state high six podiums in California action. His previous five podiums had been in the Van Lare sprinter...NARCs 29 car field Saturday night was missing some heavy hitters such as Shane Golobic, Chase Johnson and Justin Sanders...Sanders and  his Antaya Motorsports team is basing itself out of Texas for the time being...Golobic and Johnson were back in Indiana taking on the difficult Indiana midget week. For Golobic this was nothing new as he won the midget week championship in 2017. Golobic made all six main events and had two top tens. Johnson made three of six main with his best finish being eighth Thursday at Lincoln Park… With USAC/CRA out of commission a couple of their stars also competed in midget week. Roa drove Iron Dome/Moonshine midget during the week and made one main event Saturday night at Lawrenceburg and was credited with 20th. Swanson competing the California based Ford motorsports midget and attended the first five events with best finish being an 11th in the B Thursday night at Lincoln Park...Swanson will continue to compete in the midwest aboard his normal USAC/CRA Team Arizona team as they wait west coast non winged racing to start again.

           

This week has a huge slate of action on the west coast. As mentioned earlier Skagit will be running their fourth edition of Thursday Night Thunder featuring the 360s. California will have itself a mini-speedweek as 360 races will be held Wednesday at Marysville, Thursday at Ocean and Placerville will host a modified version of the Posse Shootout Friday and Saturday.  As of now only Marysville (100 fan limit Wednesday night) will have fans in the stands this week.

 

That is all for now. Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim as I tweet information on west coast racing as well national sprint car facts on a daily basis. E-mail wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Well one thing the COVID pandemic has taught me is to watch dirt racing on TV. Before the pandemic broke out I just didn’t do it. I went to dirt track racing even if that meant travelling up and down the I-5 trying to find the best race to go to. Sometimes it was a late model race at Sunset, a modified race at Grays Harbor and or Friday night sprint car race at Yakima that maybe 20 fans attended. Heck I would head down to South Sound to catch a pavement late model race if nothing was going on. The point is I am a race track junkie and I would rather go to just about any race in person than watch the best on TV. To me racing is being at the track and hearing the cars and watching the drivers maneuver. COVID forced me to change my thinking and now I have become a  PPV junkie because that is what I can get and it has not been all bad especially the first two weeks from Skagit which I have tried to cover as if I was their keeping detailed notes and tweeting throughout the night about everything that was happening and then writing this column about it. First the good of PPV.

 

The second edition of Thursday Night Thunder at Skagit Speedway again delivered the goods.  Watching and covering the race from my porch for the second straight week was not what I desired but the action during the first two races has been everything I want and more. In classic Skagit fashion both 360 main events have featured great battles for the lead while also featuring limited cautions. In two weeks there has been one caution which for sprint car racing is the key to a great race as it allows drivers to settle in, work different grooves and ultimately navigate traffic. In the end it was Brock Lemley, aboard the Billy Lemley sprinter out dueling Colton Heath who was driving his familiar LAW Motorsports XXX. Much like the previous week Heath looked like he was going to make a late race move to snag the prize but in the end he was denied by inches as Lemley roared to the checkered flag to score the win. Three time Summer Nationals Champion Travis Jacobson finished third in the Cook Family Sprinter as he rebounded from ninth place opening night. Jacobson was chased the whole race by Jason Solwold in the Shaylen Raye Motorsports sprinter. Rounding out the top five was young teenager Colby Thornhill who started on the pole and faded early before settling and finishing fifth.

 

Although the car count  of 16 was nine less than the week before it still featured at least 10 drivers that were legitimate contenders to win. First week winner Eric Fisher was mired midpack and barely registered a top 10 finish, while opening week quick qualifier Cam Smith failed to make the heat inversion before rallying for a sixth place finish. Furthermore last season's dominant Northwest driver Devon Borden set fast time but again struggled in the talented field and came home seventh. Greg Hamilton who was second in 2020 points came home eighth. The point is a solid field of 16 360s for a weekly show at Skagit Speedway is plenty capable of putting on a top notch show because of the deep talent level.

 

A couple of really good things that have come out of the last few weeks from a fan standpoint: Last Thursday because of time they ran two eight lap heat races featuring eight cars and the racing was much more exciting as more cars on the track created more racing especially in the early laps. I hope this is something the team at Skagit considers doing in the future. In the past Skagit has run three heat races with a 16 car field and field would get strung out much quicker. I also like how they are releasing confirmed drivers the day before. This standard in Australia and the asphalt late model world and hopefully becomes standard in dirt racing. It helps somebody like me get ready ahead of time and know who is racing and if there are any surprises. It also creates excitement amongst fans.

 

Now the bad. Not myself (I cannot wait to get back to the track and ditch watching on TV) but I fear many may realize they can buy PPV and watch from home. And with PPV fans can watch whatever they want which means they don’t have to watch their local track. A lot like how for years NASCAR has been criticized for running Saturday night races that takes fans aways from weekly short tracks PPV has the same potential effect. Instead of heading out to their local Saturday night track, fans may choose to stay home and watch their choice of PPV for the night. No gas money to drive to the track and no money spent on concessions and you can pick the race of your choice. This is a reality promoters are going to have to deal with in the next few years as streaming becomes more demanded and popular. Fans are the backbone of short track racing as they buy tickets, food, beer and shirts to help keep the train rolling. Hopefully the fans don’t forget that no race on PPV can beat a race in person where you can experience all the thrills of short track racing.

 

MORE STUFF: California had a two race weekend with Placerville running Saturday  and Marysville on Sunday...At Placerville Justyn Cox outran a stout 46 field aboard the C&M Motorsports sprinter. He was followed by Colby Copeland in the Canalas sprinter and Michael Faccinto who was steering the Harley Van Dyke sprinter...Indiana native Spencer Bayston made his long awaited debut aboard the Tarlton and Sons KPC and had a rough heat race which lead to an uphill challenge for the rest of the night. Starting at the back of the C, Bayston nearly raced into the A, finishing fifth in the B after starting 15th...Washington driver Devon Borden made the tow to California for the weekend and had a fast time Saturday night at Placerville. He ultimately finished 18th at Placerville while one later he snagged a 10th at Marysville...Speaking of Marysville John Michael Bunch picked up the win over the 31 car field.. Bunch had been out of racing the last few years before reappearing at Marysville this year. After a few solid runs Bunch scored his first win since 2015 according to sources...Bunch was chased to the flag by quickly improving Blake Carrick and Washington star JJ Hickle...It was Hickle’s first podium in 2020 aboard the Worden Family sprinter. It was his 12th start of 2020 in the Worden ride...Washington’s Michael Millard who has made limited starts in a 360 made the tow to California for the weekend doubleheader. Miilard was in the B both nights and failed to qualify. Interestingly Millard has not travelled to Skagit this year...To date California has held 15 360 sprint races with 10 different winners. Washington has held two with two different winners.

 

            Finally NARC will open its season this Saturday at Kings Speedway.  I don’t expect the car count that Placerville had but I do think this might be the toughest field of the year in California since the ASCS appearance in March. Drivers expected are Bud Kaeding, Bayston, DJ Netto, Kyle HIrst, Mitchell Faccinto, Justin Sanders, Dominic Scelzi (in Roth sprinter), Kyle Offill, Willie Croft, Colby Copeland and Tim Kaeding. Many of these drivers have spent a lot of the time in the midwest and we will have to see if these extra races gave them an advantage over drivers who have just a few starts.

 

            That is all for now. It is great to write about west coast racing without having to venture anywhere else for content. I will be covering Thursday Night Thunder from Skagit Speedway from my porch again. Also this weekend will feature Friday night 360s at Ocean, Saturday night NARC at Kings and Sunday night 360s at Petaluma for California drivers.

 

terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Well oh boy northwest sprint car season kicked off in epic fashion last Thursday night as the 360 sprints put on a caution free 25 lap main event of perfection that saw the top three under a blanket during the last five laps. In the end Eric Fisher, who went winless in 2019, returned to victory lane as he outlasted Colton Heath and 2019 track champion Cam Smith.

 

            Returning to action for the first time since Labor Day of last year, Skagit was in prime form as it opened its Thursday Night Thunder run. Slicked up perfectly by main event time the track featured multiple grooves and ever changing conditions that led to the fierce action for the lead. Fisher was fast early until Heath came on in the middle of the 25 lap main and grabbed the lead on a couple of occasions before seemingly getting it for good with a few laps remaining. The last five laps saw Smith hustle around the upper groove and  into contention,  almost making it three wide a few different times before Fisher killed his momentum and moved up a groove and drove by Heath on the last lap winning by inches in what was an instant classic. Amazingly, considering it was opening night, the race had no cautions and was run flawlessly by all the drivers involved.

 

            One thing that helped aid the caution free main event was the fact that the track only started 18 cars for the main event. For a local show this is the perfect amount and especially this last Thursday when at least 10 drivers could have won the main and at least 14 could have competed for a top five. The main featured few drivers who were not competitive which made the main that much better as it wasn’t slowed down by unnecessary cautions. I  believe the big shows should feature 24 starters but also think all local and one night Summer Thunder shows at Skagit should only start 18 cars.

 

            How deep was the 25 car field at Skagit? National star Trey Starks could only muster an 11th place finish. Washington star and Skagit icon Jason Solwold couldn’t do better than 13th. Hot shot teenage superstar Devon Borden managed a seventh. Travis Jacobson was mired in ninth. These are drivers that consistently are in the contention for victories and not just top 10s. But that was what made the night so great - a lot of great northwest drivers were on display and they delivered the goods.

            While some name drivers struggled mini sprint and focus midget ace Chance Crum made the most of his start aboard the second Lemly family sprinter and qualified fourth before finishing fifth in main right behind teammate Brock Lemley. Tanner Holmes, star in the Outlaw Kart series,  made the trip from Oregon and his efforts resulted in eighth place finish after starting the night by qualifying outside the top 10. There are a handful of drivers that dominate the northwest scene so it was always nice to see new blood in the mix and hopefully Crum and Holmes can start to contend. Another new driver to the mix was super young Colby Thornhill who made his debut at Skagit Thursday. Already a seasoned vet in the mini sprint ranks Thornhill was not overwhelming Thursday at Skagit but made consistent laps. Look for him to get faster as the weeks go by.

 

            After a successful first night run Skagit announced they will again be on PPV this Thursday for the second edition of Thursday Night Thunder. Also on the card will be sportsman sprints and focus midgets. Grays Harbor again will try to open their season this Saturday with Limited Sprints again the headline division. Each press release that comes out of GHR indicates more and more the track is moving towards featuring the Limited Sprints and phasing out the 360s as a regular class. The biggest reason as I can tell is the purse difference between the divisions make the Limited Sprints much easier to run in these uncertain economic times.

 

            After a quiet weekend California will feature two options for 360 drivers as both Placerville and Marysville will host shows. In addition Ocean Speedway has announced tentatively to open June 19 and NARC has announced it will return to action on June 20 at Kings Speedway. All these races will be run without fans but more tracks racing cannot be a bad sign on the west coast. Chances for a good late summer and fall season still exist so hopefully each week brings more good news and more racing. On the other hand the west coast USAC series have cancelled through July so that was a sobering reminder amongst the good news that things are still very much week to week.

 

MORE STUFF: The big announcement over the weekend was the inevitable postponement of the Brownfield Classic and Super Dirt Cup to late July. The races will still be sanctioned by ASCS. All indicators say these races will only be run if fans are allowed. Too much purse money on the line to do it anyway else in my opinion...Skagit Speedway’s PPV production was spot on...Oregon’s Garen Linder has had nothing less than terrible luck at Skagit Speedway. Thursday was a new low as Linder's bad luck struck before he hit the truck as he broke down in Oregon and was unable to make the race...The 25 360s checked in at Skagit featured about five sportsmen sprints so it will be interesting see what the car count is this Thursday...The track Thursday at Skagit was super fast in hot laps but slowed as the night went on and by main time had the slickness that has made Skagit so great the last five or six years...Skagit has also announced they will be race Thursday June 18. No classes have been announced but having the 360s will be key to keeping a sizable PPV audience...Switching gears it was pretty big news when both Placerville and NARC announced races in California. Placerville is arguably the premier track in California and NARC is the premier series out west so having these two get started should be huge for California drivers...One California driver expecting to compete full time on the NARC series is Justin Sanders who has been travelling the plains competing against the All Stars. Sanders is a great driver but has undoubtedly struggled some as he gets his first exposure east of the Rocky Mountains...Another NARC championship contender and defending series champion DJ Netto is also chasing the All Stars through the plains. Like Sanders, Netto has found the sledding rough...Another to be NARC regular filling in the void is Tim Kaeding. Expected to compete on the Joshua Bates sprinter in California, Kaeding has spent the last month racing against the outlaws and All Stars in his former ride - Lunstra Motorsports - the plains. Kaeding will hop aboard a second Sides sprinter this weekend at Knoxville for the Outlaw show... Back to Placerville. I expect Justyn Cox, Kalib Henry and Andy Forsberg to be the class of the field at the hill in 2020...At Knoxville Saturday Californians Rico Abreu and Shane Golobic ran in the 410 division while youngster Kyle Offill continued his midwest tour competing in the 360 division. Abreu finished second in the A while Golobic settled for 16th after a great preliminary run. Offill finished sixth in the 360 A main...One last tangent thought: Tyler Courtney is a really good sprint car driver. Against a stacked 32 car field at Knoxville Courtney finished third to Brian Brown and Abreu. Next night at I-55 against the USAC stars Courtney came fourth. That's easier said than done.

 

            This week I will again be watching Thursday Night Thunder from Skagit Speedway on the computer as I patiently wait to go my first race of 2020. I will provide coverage through the night's action on my twitter account and provide as much insight as I can from my porch 130 miles from the track. I will also be watching the Saturday World Outlaw show on Dirt Vision. Until next time - Stay Safe!

 

            Email wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

by Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...In what seemed like a pretty quick turnaround the sprint car racing scene in Washington went from life support to seeing a race scheduled. In early May the state of Washington was in a place where the racing season seemed like it would be cancelled as the governor’s office said race tracks were under large gatherings and large gatherings would be banned until September. But things changed during the last month as track promoters in Washington have worked with the state to understand what they had to do to go racing. And racing we go.

 

            Last Friday mini sprint track Deming Speedway held its first race with no fans and this Thursday Skagit Speedway returns to action with what it is dubbing “Thursday Night Thunder”. Yes the name is not original and plays off those great Thursday Night USAC shows that ESPN televised but I digress. The point is this Thursday Skagit Speedway will return featuring the 360 Sprints as the headline division. The speedway has set up its own PPV broadcast via skagitspeedway.tv for fans to watch as Skagit Speedway looks to cover the lost revenue of no ticket sales with a different revenue stream. In announcing it would return, Skagit Speedway promoter Steve Beitler announced he intends to keep paying the full purse with the supplemental PPV revenue allowing him to do this.

 

            Farther down south near my neck of the woods Grays Harbor Raceway will kick off its season Saturday evening featuring the Limited Sprints. As of now GHR has no PPV option and I have heard nothing on what type of purses are going to be paid out. One thing I do know is that the press release did state the Limited Sprints will be a big part of the 2020 season and beyond. Reading between the lines this seems like 360 sprints are going to be phased out (the Limited Sprint has been expanded since the initial schedule was released). With the end of the dual track challenge and the lack of local 360 cars it seems reasonable to believe that GHR will look to the Limited Sprints to fill the void. With a strong base of limited sprints in Oregon and near Skagit, GHR would be a middle ground that could draw from both areas.

 

            That is the good of the story - racing is returning to the northwest. The reality is that this as of now is just a one time experiment so we do not know what will come of it. Many questions loom such how long will tracks run without fans? Will local laws change mid-stride (see Pennsylvania and Illinois)? How will nationwide protest affect the “curve” and therefore the Pandemic? As of now Skagit has announced one Thursday night race but the press release clearly states if successful there will be more which leads to another question - will local drivers who work for a living support multiple Thursday night shows? Can GHR continue with no PPV option and will Skagit make enough off PPV to pay full purses? I don’t ask these questions because I want failure. I ask them because 2020 has changed the world like no year before in my time so I am careful to take anything for granted.

 

MORE STUFF:Amid a lot of rumors the ASCS National Tour northwest swing has been moved to late July. GHR will play host July 24 and 25 to the Brownfield Classic and the Dirt Cup will play out at Skagit July 30, 31 and August 1...The 25 drivers pre-entered for Saturday night are pretty impressive. Amongst the entries are former Outlaw winners (Travis Jacobson and Jason Solwold), seven Skagit Speedway Summer Nationals trophies (Jacobson and Solwold), 2019 Knoxville Preliminary winner (Trey Starks),  two Dirt Cup champions (Solwold and Brock Lemley) and the youngest winner in ASCS National Tour history (Devon Borden)...Another driver entered is one of the best at Skagit. Former track champion Colton Heath will be steering his usual LAW Motorsports sprinter in his first race since suffering severe burns in a USAC National midget race last November...Washington driver Tristan Thomas headed out on the road with the Rudeen Racing midget over the last two weekends to challenge the POWRI midgets and struggled to say the least. In three starts the team made only one A. Expect them to reappear this Saturday in Petaluma for an USAC western states midget race...California featured two 360 races last week. Andy Forsberg picked up the win at Marysville for his second overall of the year. At Antioch Chase Madjic won ahead of Colby Johnson and Sean Becker…Becker now has four podiums finishes in the Van Lare sprinter this year...Washington native turned California regular JJ Hickle ran sixth at Antioch as he continues his first full year competing in California...California superstar Justin Sanders won a ASCS Gulf South region Saturday night in Texas aboard the Larry Antaya Motorsports sprinter. Expect the team to compete with the All Stars during their tour through the plains...Kyle Offill continues to chase races and last week was at Jefferson Park, South Dakota taking on the All Stars. He made the main both nights finishing 16th and 18th. He will be in Knoxville Saturday night...Offill was joined by fellow California Tim Kaeding in South Dakota. Kaeding, who continues to steer the South Dakota based Lunstra Motorsports sprinter as he waits for the NARC season to start in California, finished in the top 10 both nights...Starks was also in South Dakota and had an up and down weekend finishing fifth Friday and 19th Saturday...California drivers Dominic Scelzi and Rico Abreu continue to chase the Outlaws. Last weekend at Lake Ozark both drivers failed to qualify Friday, while Saturday Abreu finished 15th in the A and Scelzi 17th…Look for Scelzi and his brother Gio to hope on the All Star tour this week as they race through the plains. Gio will also make his debut for Guy Forbrook this Saturday at Knoxville....Not sure what Abreu’s next step will be but wouldn’t surprised to see him also chase the All Stars the next few weeks...Another driver branching out is Canaidian native and Washington based driver Chris Schmelzle. After spending the previous weekend in South Dakota Schmelzle headed south to take on the ASCS Sooner series in Oklahoma. He did not qualify Friday Night at Creek County but rebounded to run ninth Saturday Night at Tri-State...The Friday Night race at Creek County was won by Washington native turned ASCS national star Seth Bergman...Although the west coast continues to open it is still very spotty and that reminder came again when the annual California Speed Week featuring micro sprints in late June was cancelled. Overall most of California, all of Oregon and most of Wasington tracks remain silent.

 

            That is all for now. This week I will cover the Thursday night race from Skagit from my porch - definitely will be a different experience. As of now this will be the only 410/360 Sprint Car race on the West Coast this weekend.

 

E-mail wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...It seems like racing season is now in full gear in some parts of the country. Yes there is still a virus wreaking havoc through our country and the area of the country I live in is still pretty restricted but thanks to dirt vision, dirtondirt and NASCAR I am able to watch racing almost every day of the week and almost forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic. This last weekend was one of the most active for sprint car racing yet as Pennsylvania and Ohio have held their first races and tracks throughout the plans ran weekly and regionals series races. But  where I am I can still only watch racing on TV so we have a ways to go before there will be dirt in my notebook.

 

            On the west coast we have had minimal activity. In California Marysville Raceway has now held three races, Antioch held a Memorial Day Modified double header and Dixon Speedway has held a couple events.  Santa Maria Raceway in California had announced a practice session but was cancelled and since then nothing from the central coast speedplant. In Oregon nothing has really happened to think racing is near even as the state opens up in other areas. My home state of Washington is starting to allow practices and it was just announced that Deming Speedway will hold a PPV event this Friday after a successful practice last weekend.  All in all west coast racing is seeing a little light but it seems likely we are still at least a month away from racing at a majority of west coast facilities.

 

            Which leads me to the month of June which has some big sprint car shows on the docket on the west coast and one has already been cancelled.  The first week of June was to see the annual NARC/SCCT shootout at Placerville but that show was recently cancelled. The last weekend of June Placerville is scheduled to host the Posse Shootout and as the weeks tick by the status of that race comes more into question. In the northwest June might be the biggest racing month of the year. June is when the ASCS National tour makes its annual trek to Washington to challenge the best of the northwest for two weekends at two challenging tracks, Grays Harbor Raceway and Skagit Speedway.

 

The headliner of this swing is the Super Dirt Cup at Skagit which pays $15,000 to the winner. Scheduled to take place the last weekend of June this date seems more unlikely by the day. Best case scenario in Washington is spectator free races in June and the Dirt Cup cannot be run without fans. Skagit promoter Steve Beitler has become more open to the idea of spectator free weekly races but a spectator free Dirt Cup does not seem like an option. At this point it seems more likely that the Dirt Cup will be postponed until July replacing the annual 360 Summer Nationals according to sources. Whether the race carries an ASCS sanction if it happens in July is to be determined but Beitler seems determined to have Dirt Cup 2020 at some point in the season. As far as the event at Grays Harbor (the Brownfield Classic  - and also a  very prestigious race)  it is still scheduled with no rumblings of a makeup date. Like the Dirt Cup it is hard to see this event taking place as scheduled in what is just three weeks from now.

 

            Interestingly the ASCS tour has the northwest swing as their next races scheduled. Given the current situation I am surprised they have not postponed their northwest swing and instead scheduled races closer to home base where many tracks are opening. Amazingly the All Star Circuit of Champions has beaten the ASCS tour in their own region scheduling races in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.  The reason I am surprised has to do with the fact is Washingron is just entering phase two of its reopening which still prevents crowds of more than five people and explicitly states no spectators at events. So while tracks may have races without no fans, having big shows with no fans is a much different scenario that I just don't see playing out. This is why Eldora just cancelled the dream. Mega events with no fans is a no go because fans are key to making those events what they are.

 

MORE STUFF: As mentioned before Marysville Raceway held a race for the third straight weekend and it was DJ Netto taking the top prize ahead of Mitchell Faccinto and Andy Forsberg. It is Netto’s second win of the year at Marysville...With no other show to compete against Marysville drew another stout field with 45 cars checking in….Surprisingly           Ryan Robinson who has been nothing less than spectacular in California this year was not in attendance...Washington driver JJ Hickle continues to improve aboard the Worden Family sprinter. On Monday at Marysville the defending 360 Summer Nationals champion qualified fourth in his group, finished second in his heat and seventh in the main….Oregon drivers and members of the Oregon Posse Tyler Thompson and Jake Wheeler made the tow to Marysville, Each saw their night end in the B. Wheeler finished fifth missing a transfer by one spot….Willie Croft seems to have found a home in Mike Phulps sprinter for the 360 action as once again he was steering the wheel Monday....Some west coast drivers continue to tour the plains searching for races with only one option on the west coast as of now...Kyle Olfill scored a 360 win Sunday night at 34 Raceway in Iowa after running sixth in a 360 at Park Jefferson. He will take on the All Stars this weekend at Park Jefferson...After a tough two nights versus the Outlaws Dominic Scelzi was spotted winning a ASCS regional show at Lake Ozark Sunday night...Dominic’s brother Gio spent the weekend in a pavement Late Model in Tucson, Arizona. His best run was Saturday when he finished fifth...Canadian now American resident  Chris Schmelzle has also hit the road as he was spotted finishing 15th in Park Jefferson, South Dakota Saturday. Monday night’s show was rained out. He heads to Oklahoma this weekend for ASCS regional action...Another Canadian and defending Super Dirt Cup champion Robbie Price finished seventh in Park Jefferson Saturday and then headed to Lake Ozark where he finished fourth in the B...A little surprised Washington native Kasey Kahne has ran the last few weekends and is entered for this weekends Outlaws race at Lake Ozark after announcing earlier he wasn't going to race much, if at all, this year. But with regular driver for the nine car James McFadden stuck in Australia it seems Kasey has decided to fill the void by driving himself. While not a threat to win Kahne brings prestige to any race he enters...With the recent reshuffling of the All Star schedule Josh Baughman has announced he will now be a full time member which leads to my question? Earlier in the year it was mentioned that Seth Bergman would be running selected 410 events in a second car to primary driver Aaron Reutzel. With Baughman now back, is Bergman out of a 410 ride?Time will tell as nothing official has been announced...Shane Golobic is undoubtedly one of the best drivers on the west coast but he has struggled at times in the plains racing against stout competition and last weekend was one of those times. The two time Outlaw winner failed to make the main both nights at I-55 last weekend with Outlaws….Joining Golobic in I-55 were fellow Californians Rico Abreu and Dominic Scelzi. After missing the feature Friday Abreu and Scelzi were able to get in the show Saturday. Rico finished 13th and Dom 25th...Abreu and Scelzi are pre-entered for this weekend's Outlaw show at Lake Ozark...In a season where almost two months of the season has been lost Pennsylvania driver Mark Smith has won 10 races - which would be amazing if the season had not been interrupted. He had won nine races with the USCS sprints and decided to to tack on a 410 race at St. Francois in MIssouri to get his 10th. Amazing.

 

            That is all for now. Until next time support racing anyway you can and stay safe. We all will be back at the track in the future, lets just be patient and smart getting there. Pay attention to what is happening in Pennsylvania as tracks and the government battle. This is not the way to success as the government will win. We need to be prudent, follow guidelines and open when the green light has been given.

 

            wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...Well slowly but surely the west coast sprint car scene is making a little noise amid the COVID-19 situation. After the month of April when it looked like the earliest we would see racing on the West Coast was the fall things have progressed some - not much but some. May has been kinder with news regarding racing on the west coast and hope is bubbling that we get to racing in a semi-normal way sometime during the summer with hit and miss shows until then.

In the last few weeks Marysville Raceway in California north of Sacraneento has held two events. Kern County in Bakersfield held a pavement event on Saturday night and has made noise about hosting a two day 360 race but nothing has finalized. DIxon Speedway has raced and Cycleand will race this Saturday. Yes this isn’t much but it is progress. Marysville is the only track to host sprint car races out west and the two events have now drawn 28 and 32 cars respectively. Different mix of cars have shown up each week as first week winner DJ Netto and Texas hard charger TJ Michael did not return for week two but Sean Becker came out for night two as did Justyn Cox. Marysville has struggled at times to draw name drivers and large car counts as its shadowed by Silver Dollar to the north and Placerville to the south but is getting a lot of recognition and attention because they are the only show in town, Marysville will run Monday this weekend for a Memorial Day special.

In Oregon and Washington the situation has made some ground although no races have been announced in either state to my knowledge. Cottage Grove in Oregon seems to be moving toward a situation where they can race without fans. Will this happen? We will have to see but Owner Heather Boyce seems to be very anxious to get back to racing any way she can so I can see her taking the chance if given the green light. In Washington race tracks have been given the green light to open for practices but actual racing is still a no go for the time. Grays Harbor Raceway is in Grays Harbor County which has been allowed to move a little faster in opening than other parts of the states. Up north Skagit County, which is home to Skagit Speedway, has not been given the okay to proceed faster than the rest of the state. Nonetheless given the nature of each track's press release it seems GHR is being cautious as they have done nothing more than announce the possibility of a practice session. Skagit has already announced its first practice date for this weekend May 23. It has listed rules and expectations on its website as it looks to find a way to open up for regular racing. Skagit promoter Steve Beitler has been skeptical of races without fans in previous interviews he has given but as time ticks by the winds might be changing. Beitler seems eager to show the state they can run a safe event and the next logical step is a race with no fans with a PPV option. It seems highly unlikely the ASCS national tour will make its June trip west, but nothing has been released concerning the last two weekends in June.

Nationwide it has become obvious the new “hotbeds” of sprint car racing will be the plains and the south. All Stars, traditionally midwest based, will soon hit the road for a journey to South Dakota before a trip to the plains and eventually ending up in Louisiana. 360 races are being held in Texas and Florida. Most of the traditional meccas of sprint car racing - Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and California - are reopening at a much slower pace than the plains and the south and therefore drivers are going where the races are.

With all the major spots shutdown teams are migrating to places they normally wouldn't. Scelzi brothers in Florida. Shane Golobic in Minnesota. This week Pennsylvania drivers such as Freddie Rahmer, Kyle Reinhardt and Logan Wagner (none of whom race much out of the Pennsylvania area) are headed to Missouri. California youngster Kyle Olfill continues to hang out in the plains. In what was supposed to be his rookie season with NARC has instead turned into nightly battles with stacked fields in which making the A is a chore in itself. Which leads to what could be a negative of all this competition. As teams fail to make mains and therefore any money what happens? Sprint Car racing survives when drivers have chances to make money some nights so they can keep it going . Constantly running the B main is bad for a driver's confidence and an owners wallet which is a lethal combination. Hopefully drivers start to get more options and therefore the spoils can be split between more teams which is key to the overall health of the sport. The recent car counts have been amazing and this week I-55 is capped at 62 entries for their Outlaw event..but that means 38 drivers will not make A main money both nights which cannot happen too long before teams start to reconsider their plans.

MORE STUFF: Ryan Robinson won Saturday night at Marysville continuing an amazing start to 2020. The former Keith Kunz driver now has three wins and two seconds in five 2020 starts driving for car owner Todd Weiher...FInishing second to Robinson was Becker. Becker has also had a solid 2020 start in Van Lare sprinter. Becker now has three podiums at three tracks in four starts for the team...Tanner Carrick made the trip back from West Texas Raceway to Marysville and collected fast time and a top five. The Vana Lare team also made the long trek back after competing in Texas with Colby Copeland...Washington native JJ Hickle ran fifth at Marysville as settles into his first full season in the Worden family sprinter...Another Washington driver made the trip to as Bailey Jean Sucich saw the track for the first team. She struggled during the night but she, like so many drivers, is just itching to get laps in...Washington’s Tristan Thomas will head to MIssouri this weekend to compete with the POWRI Midget Series at Valley Speedway, Missouri. Thomas, who cut his teeth racing ford focus midgets and micro sprints, will be making his first laps in the newly formed Kevin Rudeen Racing midget team...Justyn Cox who has played car owner for Jesse Love the last few weeks hopped in the Rich Rosser sprinter at Marysville with mixed results. Cox will be back in the C&M Motorsports sprinter Monday night at Marysville...With the cancellation of the Murphy Classic last week to be held at Tulare it was the second big west coast race to fall after the Bradway Memorial. Next up are the aforementioned Brownfield Memorial at GHR and the Dirt Cup at Skagit as well as the Posse Shootout in Placerville at the end of June. All seem unlikely at this time.

I'll be watching the Outlaws this weekend on dirt vision as they try to tame I-55. After a few weeks of watching fender racing time to get back to my roots and catch some sprint car action. Until next time stay safe and keep supporting racing in any way you can.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter at @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Olympia...Wa. Well slowly but surely racing is coming alive across the United States. It started with a spark in South Dakota and it has taken off and while plenty are still being cancelled, racing is happening again. Friday night the World of Outlaws returned to action at Knoxville and the next night 410 sprint cars raced in Missouri at St. Francois. Marysville out in California got a 360 race as did Monarch Speedway in Texas.
This week Josh Baughman is having his midweek 360 special in Lubbock, Texas and Jackson Motorplex is having its first race of the season as it hosts an IRA sanctioned two night show Friday and Saturday. The entry list for both of these shows is star studded as drivers seek out races. Over the first few weeks of the COVID-19 sprint car season this has been the theme - each field is a hodgepodge of drivers from throughout the country. This is like the Outlaw series when it first started. You look back at those times and a fan never knew who would show up where. This is true right now. Drivers like Shane Golobic, Rico Abreu and Scelzi brothers have left the west coast, while Brock Zeafross and Anthony Macri have left the east coast as they converge on mid-America to chase their racing dream.
Last weekend was a great example of that as 48 cars were at Knoxville Friday and another 55 St. Francois. St. Francois was only paying $1500 to win but with nothing better to do, drivers from all over converged on the Missouri oval. Non-winged stars Tyler Courtney and Carson Short were on hand in Missouri as were west coast stars Golbic and Rico Abreu. 2020 All Star Rookie of the Year contender and midget standout Zeb Wise was in the house. Midwest standouts Parker Price-Miller and Hunter Scheurenburg were also present. It is unusual to have that kind of field in Missouri on Saturday night for $1500 to win but these are unusual times.
The Knoxville field was being billed as the best one day field ever in sprint car racing ever (it was a true invitational) and it may have been as it was a who's who of racing. Many stars such as Aaron Reutzel, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Price-Miller, Brent Marks and Paul McMahon were watching the A from the pits. The Scelzi brothers joined them as did Trey Starks. Heck Wisconsin star Bill Balog and Pennsylvania standout Lucas Wolfe were in street clothes before the B. You get the point, it was a stout field.
Not to be topped the entry list for Jackson which pays $5000 to win Friday and $7000 to win Saturday now stands at 68. It rivals any field I have seen in years for a race that is not a major (Nationals, Kings Royal, National Open). Outlaws Donny Schatz, Daryn Pittman, Sheldon Haudenschild, Carson Macedo and Mason Daniels are registered. So is Kyle Larson. All Star regulars Reutzel, Cory Eliason and Wise will be in the field as well as west coast stars Golobic, Tim Kaeding, Abreu and the Scelzi’s. You will have the best of Knoxville in house with drivers such as Brian Brown, Terry McCarl and the Madsen brothers (Ian and Kerry) and many more regulars. And don’t forget the Posse as Pennsylvania based Brent Marks and Anthony Macri will be on hand. The midwest will be represented by Price-Miller. And there are more like Balog and Dobmeier. Also some guy named Tony Stewart. I am sure I am still missing some but this an amazing field that could only happen in extraordinary times like now. It will be very interesting which drivers show well in this race and excel against this stout field.
Finally, closer to home it looks at least one state on the west coast is racing. Marysville on Saturday had a race with 28 sprint cars. The race was with a reduced purse which created some waves but some sponsors ultimately brought the purse back up some. The solid field of drivers had California stars Andy Forsberg, DJ Netto and Sean Becker in attendance as all asTexas native TJ Michael was making his maiden voyage in the Clayton Snow sprinter. Also Oregon star Garen Linder, who had a very difficult 2019, was also in attendance. Ocean Speedway champion JJ Ringo also made the tow adding to the diverse field. It has now been announced Kern County in Bakersfield will be running a two night show Memorial Day weekend with Sprint Car Challenge Tour rules. Haven’t seen an official purse but how many teams from around the west coast will make the tow to get a race in. With Washington and Oregon in a holding pattern and California still week to week teams cannot be sure how many races they will get in and might jump on this opportunity.

MORE STUFF: Speaking of Twin Cities NARC Champion DJ Netto was the man of the hour as he won the A and then immediately donated his winnings. Netto, aboard his familiar Netto Ag KPC, was the benefactor of late race heartbreak Andy Forsberg who flipped while leading...Running behind Netto were Ryan Robinson and John Michael Bunch. For Robinson it was third top two of the year, while Bunch is returning to racing after being away for an extended period...The Outlaw race Friday night was truly historic but it some ways reinforced what we already we knew - Gravel is fast at Knoxville; Schuchart is championship contender; and it does not matter how bad it may seem for Schatz and Sweet they find the top 10 every night and that is why they are so good...Californians Eliason and Golobic showed well. Golobic started third in the A after a great dash and heat race but ultimately was a DNF. Eliason overcame a blown motor in the dash to finish fifth in the final rundown. Eliason just continues to impress...Ian Madsen was second at Knoxville and continued the momentum he had in February when he was fast in Florida...The race Saturday at St. Francois saw Tyler Courtney score the win. Courtney, who was aboard his normal Clauson-Marshall ride, is venturing into the winged territory this year while still chasing USAC midget points and hitting all the major non winged sprint events. Courtney has had previous winged starts so he is not a complete rookie but it was still an impressive win as he outran Golobic and Short...Channin Tankersly took the win in Texas. Tankersly races selectively but is tough to beat in Texas and showed that again at Monarch Saturday.

It is obviously an unique time and things are uncertain but it is kind of fun to see some of these races unfold and the names that show up and race against each other. Pay Per View has really been key to this and will continue to be. More important than a revenue sharing agreement an individual track may have is going to be keeping the fans engaged and PPV offers just that. I will admit it is not the same but it is better than nothing and allows race fans to stay connected. In a normal year I go to enough races to get my fix that I have never done the PPV thing, or thought it was relevant but now it has become an ever important outlet to keep fans connected and interested until they can come back to the track.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...Wow what a difference a few weeks make in the sprint car racing scene. A couple weeks ago it seemed like racing at any venue was months away and then Terry McCarl and the team at Park Jefferson Speedway, South Dakota with speedshift videoing gave us a reason to hope on April 25. But as soon as the excitement ended on that Saturday night there was an eerie silence on what was next for sprint cars and the question was what would happen next. We have a now a little glimmer of hope for the next month.

Yes it still looks like most of the racing will be fanless and only available through some sort of pay per view option and while almost all involved in dirt track sprint car racing will say this is not a sustainable solution it at least gives us sprint car junkies something to talk about and look forward to. The World of Outlaws will roar back to action Friday night at the famed Knoxville Raceway. Saturday night will see a few shows spread out across the country as Selinsgrove will run 410 special in posse country (no fans), St. Francois will run a 410 race in Missouri (limited fans as of now), sprint bandits will run a non wing show in Texas and just announced Marysville Raceway will run a 360m show in California with no fans.

Following the weekend Josh Baughman is putting on a two day midweek 360 ASCS special at West Texas Raceway that will be without spectators. The race will feature ASCS rules and All Star format. The first night will pay $4000 to win and the second night $6000 to win. A stellar field is already committed including a heavy California presence as Justin Sanders, Shane Golobic, Gio and Dominic Scelzi, Colby Copeland, Kyle Olfill and tennager Joel Myers all plan to make the trip. The next weekend Jackson Speedway in Minnesota will run a two night 410 show on May 15 and 16. In addition the Outlaws have confirmed dates for May 22-23 at I-55, Missouri (limited fans), May 29-30 at Lake Ozark, Missouri (limited fans) and June 12-13 at Knoxville (no fans). June 5 at River Cities, North Dakota and June 6 in Granite City, Minnesota are on the Outlaw schedule but have not been confirmed. I expect more tracks will try to open in some fashion in the next few weeks as the weather gets nicer and we all itch to get back to normal. But what does all this mean?

The landscape can change very quickly right now and I wouldn’t count on anything past this weeked. The environment in some states could be much different next week and a show that was scheduled could become “postponed” in an instant. But with that said if we do get going and get these scheduled races and more sprinkle in it will be interesting to see what the races are like. It seems like with few options a lot of tracks will have an opportunity to have drivers come that would not come in any other time. Looking at the entry list for West Texas Raceway and this is exactly what is happening because there is nowhere else to race. Will we see Outlaw teams next week in Minnesota since they have nothing scheduled? Pennsylvania Posse regular Danny Dietrich has been sniffing for sponsorship as he looks to chase races as things are very light in Pennsylvania - the feeling from Pennsylvania seems to be the Selinsgrove show will be a true one off and the likelihood of more than a few of these is unlikely at this time. All Star regulars Aaron Reutzel, Cory Eliason, Brock Zeafross and Sam Hafertepe, Jr. seem like they are chasing whatever race is available. Will west coast drivers stay in the midwest and hop from track to track wherever opportunity presents itself. This will definitely make for interesting fields and bring a true “outlaw” feel to some of these shows.

Back closer to home on the west coast I am surprised to see Marysville Raceway open up albeit it is with no fans. California has a strict stay at home order but along with other West Coast states (Oregon and Washington) are contemplating opening up different parts of the state at different times. Marysville is the only track I know of in California considering any races at this time - there was a test session sometime in the last week at Kern County featuring Dominic Scelzi and Rico Abreu amongst others. As far as Oregon and Washington I have been in minor contact with Cottage Grove Speedway and have heard a few different interviews with Skagit promoter Steve Beitler and I would say both tracks as far as I can tell seem hesitant to run events without fans at this time. Grays Harbor Raceway would likely be in the same boat.

Ultimately that will be the question. How long can tracks, promoters and series go without fans. Right now most US states are still pretty locked down. Yes there are re-openings happening; they are small steps and most states phases would not allow racing with fans until their final phase which seems a long time away in almost all regions. For now I am going to watch races on TV as if I was there and just enjoy seeing sprint cars do sprint car things and ride this wave while it lasts.

MORE STUFF: The World of Outlaws have opened their arms to Kyle Larson and he will be competing on Friday night at Knoxville less than a month removed from his insensitive remark during an irace. I think the Outlaws would have looked more professional suspending him for a set time (at least 30 day) but Larson excites sprints like few others so I am sure a few extra Dirt Vision subscriptions will be sold. No word on exactly how many outlaw races we will see Larson at as of now... A lot like some of the upcoming national races it will be interesting what kind of car count Marysville will get with nothing else on the horizon for west coast sprint car teams. Placerville is running a practice day Saturday so this might affect the car count but we will have to wait and see...Amongst the drivers competing at Knoxville Friday will be Washington’s Trey Starks. Starks has a reputation for coming out of the gate fast and qualifying good - could he pull off the upset Friday? He won a preliminary night last year at the Nationals...California superstar Justin Sanders will make his first 2020 start for car owner Larry Antaya of all places in Lubbock, Texas Tuesday and Wednesday. Sanders' only other starts this year were in his family car against the ASCS national in Arizona and California...Another driver slated for competition in Texas is Colby Copeland. Copeland will hop aboard the Van Lare sprinter that he has driven off and on for the last six to seven years with a lot of success...A surprise entrant for the Texas show is young teenager Joel Myers. Myers spent last year running some at Petaluma and Ocean while also spinning wrenches for other teams. This will be Myers first road trip...Golobic and the Scelzi brothers will race Knoxville Friday before heading south to Texas. Abreu will head to St. Francois after he competes at Knoxville...Kyle Olfill and his family team were the only California based team in Park Jefferson returned home and now are back on the road as they head West Texas Raceway.

This weekend I will be watching super late models this Thursday and Saturday on dirtondirt.com. I hope to catch the outlaws Friday night at Knoxville on Dirt Vision but work commitments may get in the way. Either way it is nice to have sprint car news to discuss. I was running out of content; all I had left was my column looking at the major races (Nationals, Kings Royal, Gold Cup, National Open) and the drivers that have dominated them. I still plan to do that column but for now I have real sprint car news to write about and I couldn’t be happier.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...This column was going to be a look a back at the major sprint car races (Knoxville, KIngs Royal, National Open and Gold Cup) since the late 70s and deep dive the dominant figures in sprint car racings major shows but then a few developments came up this week as tracks and organizations scramble to figure out when they will race again which has caused me to change directions.

First came the news that sprint car racing and spectator sports in general are on life support in Washington (and by extension I would also say California and Oregon). I had been informed late Tuesday night that racing was not getting a warm welcome from the state legislature in Washington as the state threw heavy shade at the idea of racing opening up any time soon. Skagit Speedway promoter Steve Beitler along with other Washington promoters are desperately trying to put together a plan to present to the state that would allow them to re-open in June. But they may be fighting a losing cause as rumour has it that Whatcom County has already suggested to Deming Speedway that they will not be hosting events this year although there is no official word concerning. What is worrying about the potential Whatcom County decision is the only thing spreading faster than the virus is regulation. It seems once one government entity shuts something down the domino effect happens quickly as other entities follow suit.

In Skagit Speedway’s official press release Beitler was cautious of a June reopening and for the first time publicly admitted the Dirt Cup is very much in question as far as the June date goes. Beitler mentioned the possibility of rescheduling as he tries to keep the hope alive but the northwest race season is short and Beitler knows that time is ticking quickly on the race window in Washington. The Governor in Washington is going to open slowly (he has said as much) so the question is how slow and will it leave enough time for Beitler and the rest of the state’s promoters to actually get racing in this year we will just have to wait and see. Although not much has come out of Oregon concerning race season I would expect they will be on the same (slow) trajectory as Washington.

Third part of the west coast trio is California and much like Washington the Governor in this state seems to prefer a slow opening. Even more precarious for West Coast promoters and tracks is as Jim Allen of NARC has pointed out, most California dirt tracks are located on Fairground property. The theory is a state can exert a heavier hand of control over Fairgrounds than tracks on private property but in these times I am not sure that is true. The current stay at home acts on the west coast have shut down all racing and if these acts keep getting extended then things get dicey. What is true the California State Fair which was set to start on July 17 in Sacramento has been cancelled showing fair boards may be hesitant for any activity on their grounds even if measures were relaxed. Obviously each fair board is different but it just becomes an extra complication in very complicated times. The advantage California has is that they can run longer into the fall than Oregon and Washington, realistically able to hold races all the way through November. Oregon and Washington are hard pressed to race much past September leaving which gives California a two month advantage on the back side of the season. What does this mean? Who knows as truly everything is in the air as of now with a very real possibility of no racing for the rest of 2020 on the west coast.

With all that is important to point out that not all states and regions are the same as some states will return to racing in some fashion this year I am convinced (Park Jefferson, South Dakota is an example). The World Racing Group, which owns the World of Outlaws and DirtCar, issued its own COVID-19 guidelines for its tracks (and really all tracks) and promoters for running races in 2020. The guidelines have different scenarios for the number attendees and whether fans would be on premise or not. The WRG provided a model letter that a track or promoter could send to the appropriate officials in their locale should they choose to go racing. The WRG provides in my opinion some great resources for tracks and promoters to get back racing as they outline social distancing and other sanitation measures to ensure all attendees could enjoy the racing while staying safe. When tracks around the country begin to reopen it is important they understand it cannot be business as usual. Face masks, ample hand washing stations and fast, efficient shows that limit the time of the gathering will be key to conducting safe, successful races.

Finally the last issue that has gained a lot of interest is the idea of racing with no fans in the stands. Park Jefferson was going to have 700 but made the decision during the week to not have fans in the stands for their race. They are working with SpeedShiftTV to stream the race and maybe some sort of revenue sharing but promoter Terry McCarl has admitted it will be hard to make any money this way - at best break even but that seems like a stretch even. NASCAR can do it with fans conceivably (but it will be a big hit for even them) because their TV contracts would help them get through the year but short track racing does not have that option. Yes we have seen a rise in short track streaming platforms and promoters are no doubt looking into how they can work together to create revenue but it will definitely be an uphill battle for tracks and promoters to just break even this way. Beitler in an interview with Ralph Shaheen admitted that for Skagit to hold a race without fans or tight restriction (say 250) would be very difficult - not impossible but very difficult due to the lack of revenue stream. Also it has been mentioned, most notably by Jeremy Elliott, that if tracks start racing without fans, drivers and owners alike but might start asking for a little more money when the fans do come back.

So that is the current status of where short track racing is as of now. More questions than answers, more hope than reality especially on the west coast. With that said I have never watched racing much on the various media platforms (I prefer my dirt track up close and personal) but this year I will watch as much racing as I can view media since I may not be able to see any in person this year. While this is not what I would prefer it is the best I can do in these times so I am going to roll with it and continue to support short track racing any way I can.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

The West Coast Sprint Car Scene

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...Late Sunday evening I first started hearing the rumblings on social media that Kyle Larson used a derogatory term during an irace. Just as soon many were saying it wasn’t (maybe they were just hoping) Larson and was somebody else. By Monday morning it was obvious Larson's fall from grace was going to be quick and devastating as one of the most decorated drivers in American racing saw his world crumble. Many will say it is unfair but to the contrary it was appropriate and fair.

The racing world from stock cars to open wheels has fought for years to diversify. Larson himself was part of NASCAR's diversity program that was meant to open the sport to just more than white males. NASCAR has tried to broaden its fan base over the years as it has grown from a southern series to a National series popular in all corners of the United States but even with this growth the series has struggled to break from its Rebel Flag past. This is why the comment Larson made during iracing event created so much backlash. NASCAR is a brand trying to grab appeal from all walks of life and Chip Ganassi is a businessman who understands words have meaning.

I have seen many - especially those from the dirt world - say it was just an honest mistake and everybody should just move on. That is just ignorance. I understand dirt track fans have an allegiance to Larson because we saw him grow and develop into a racing icon. He has won outlaw races, the Chili Bowl, all star races, a Trophy Cup, NARC championship, USAC races, swept the USAC portion of the four crown nationals and won NASCAR races in all three divisions. Heck he even won an ARCA east (formerly K&N) championship. Yes he is ultra talented and at age 27 he is already a sprint car hall of famer but this doesn’t discount his mistake.

Larson's use of the word on Sunday night was not a one time mistake. I am not saying he is a racist or do I believe he is one but the casual way he used the term can only lead me to believe this a word he uses too often when others are not looking. Unfortunately for Larson he is a star in the racing world and his words will be analyzed. When one gets too lackadaisical in private with their word choice that will sooner or later have an impact on their public life which Larson is too well aware of now.
In January another California driver found this lesson out when Michael Faccinto used the same term Larson did as a verb and quickly found himself out of a Chili Bowl ride and a front row starting spot in Saturday’s B main because his sponsor wouldn’t tolerate his driver using a derogatory statement. Faccinto found himself back in a sprint car soon after in California but nonetheless he had lost out on an excellent opportunity with an amazing team because he lacked control of his words. Faccinto like Larson had become casual with using this word and at the wrong time chose to use private vocabulary publicly.

I don’t know what the long term effects for Larson will be. Obviously NASCAR has been put on hold. Will we see him in a sprint car more? Probably as he has always made a living racing but what will it look like. Larson was a brand name who always had funding to help out - will those same supporters be there. Finley Farms and Plan B sales have announced they are staying on board. Chevrolet has moved on and since they are all over the KLR outlaw team, will Carson Macedo be affected. Hard to say because he has such great backing from the Tarlton family nonetheless the world for Kyle Larson and KLR has changed dramatically and who truly knows how this story will play out.

MORE STUFF: Just when I thought all was lost, Park Jefferson Speedway in South Dakota will be hosting a 410 race April 25 as part of a Terry McCarl promotion. $5,000 to win and a limit of 32 cars and a limit on the number of fans. Interested to see how this plays out, if it actually does...South Dakota does not have a stay at home order at this time...The casualties this shutdown will cause in racing is hard to tell at this moment but as the days go by it seems it can’t be good. Small businesses are the backbone of sprint car racing (short track racing in general) and they are the ones hurt the worst in this shutdown...If any series is getting crushed with this shutdown it has to be NARC. With a bevy of great drivers on tap with great teams supporting the series, NARC was set up to have a year for the ages that would harken back to the 90s but now they have to wonder what will be left of 2020.

That’s it for now. My next column will look at the winners of the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal, National Open and Gold Cup since 1977 as I have had plenty of time to freshen up on racing history during the last month.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com follow me on twitter at @idrinkiswim




 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...As I sit in the front yard on a Thursday afternoon the “new normal” seems like it will never end. The feeling that we will remain under some sort of lockdown or shelter in place order for many months seems inevitable and depressing...but then I change my tune when I look at the trends and it slowly but surely looks like things might be getting better. There will be no racing April - the World of Outlaws finally came around and announced Vado in New Mexico at the end of April is now cancelled - and May be slow if not completely quiet but come June as the weather gets nice we might be in store for some good things on the west coast.

Yes I am going to take an optimistic view of things - I am not ignorant of all that could go wrong - but I want to have something to look forward to. It is tough losing these early months of racing on the West Coast and some good races have been lost (the Outlaws sprint tour completely cancelled and the Bradway memorial cancelled) but all in all the heart of the west coast schedule lies in the Summer and Fall months. In June the ASCS National Tour comes to the northwest and Placerville Speedway has its Posse Shootout. July has the Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean and the $10,000 to win Summer Nationals at Skagit. August features the Johnny Key Classic and NARC speed week in California. September the Outlaws come back west. Also in September is the Louie Vermeil Classic at Calistoga. October features Fall Nationals and Trophy Cup and November has the two day show at Stockton featuring the SCCT and NARC. Also don’t forget November is also when the Oval Nationals take place in SoCal. The month of November finishes with a bang when the USAC National Midgets invade Cali for the Hangtown 100 and Turkey Night. I omitted some big mini sprint races including California speed week and Clay Cup Nationals at Deming. So even if the season on the west coast didn’t start until June there would still be plenty of action.

If May is lost that would mean the Murphy Classic and the Marvin Smith Memorial would be lost but who knows maybe they could be rescheduled a little later in the year. The Outlaws have announced they intend to make up the loss races at Tulare and Santa Maria. The only likely time would be September when they are in Cali which would mean an action packed few two to three weeks on the west coast for the outlaws. Also with the late start maybe some teams will be able to be more competitive deeper into the season as they won't have two-three months of wear and tear on their cars when the summer months hit. In addition the delayed start has only made drivers more anxious to get going and racing. Listening to the many different podcasts to fill my time it is evident that drivers are itching to get back at it and make up for lost time.

Yes I am aware that potentially racing won’t start in June and the strict guidelines could still push much later and potentially jeopardize the entire 2020 race season. I am also very aware that the economic fallout of this pandemic could have a much greater toll than any delayed start to the season will. One of the big questions will be do owners have the money to fix broken cars if their business has been shut down for two and half months? We will find it when the time comes. One thing I know is that racing is resilient and owners, drivers and fans will do whatever it takes to get to the race track when the green light is given. It may look a little different for a while and maybe we will still have to follow certain guidelines but I have plenty of hope for a great 2020 season even if the start is still almost two months away.

MORE STUFF: The updated Skagit Speedway schedule has them starting May 9 and racing 360 sprints five times in six weeks so they can get laps before Dirt Cup at the end of June...Grays Harbor Raceway will also start on May 9 and will have three 360 races before the Brownfield Classic in mid-June...Cottage Grove has only cancelled through April 18 with April 24 and 25 their opening weekend - this will get pushed back more than likely...Most California dirt tracks are set to start about the same time - the second weekend of May looks like the soonest possible start on the west coast....Silver Dollar won’t get back at it until June- they already had one race...Placerville and Kings still have April 25 as their season openers but this seems highly unlikely.

Stay safe and let's all do what we can to get back to normal as soon as possible.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkswim

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE
By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa...LIke most Americans and really most of the world since I last wrote a column last week my life has changed drastically. New realities everyday and all of the races I had planned attending the next few months have been cancelled or postponed with no certainty when race season will restart (if it does restart this year). LIfe has been put on hold as my state like so many others is in some form of “lockdown.”

It all happened so quick and seemingly out of nowhere (although medical experts predicted this as Americans seemed to ignore their warnings about the dangers) that it is still hard to grasp. I keep getting on twitter and all other social media outlets expecting to see big new driver announcements or big racing news but all I find are postponements and cancellations and old videos of races from the past. Amazingly a few tracks went forward and ran last week across the country - probably shouldn’t have in hindsight but I am not about to throw stones.

One of the tracks that did run last weekend was Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Only the first 250 fans were allowed in to watch the opening night of the Silver Cup and they saw Justyn Cox roll to his first victory since taking over the reigns of the potent C&M Motorsports 7c. Chico master Sean Becker ran second in Van Lare 5v followed by podium regular Shane Golobic. At that point Golobic had scored four podiums in four starts in California sprint car action and then it was over.

Chico cancelled Saturday for “incoming rain” and as states mandated more strict crowd limits; it was obvious race season was coming to an immediate halt. Marysville Raceway acted like they were going to run this Saturday with no fans but moved Thursday in the right direction and cancelled until at least April 10. Chico had already announced they were cancelling all races thru May 10. The USAC west coast series cancelled officially through March but USAC headquarters released a statement suspending USAC operations for 30 days effective March 16 and asked all series to adhere to local and state laws so it would seem logical that USAC will be shut down into May also. NARC is looking at starting May 16 at the earliest. Tulare new season opener is May 2 and Kings speedway won’t run again until April 25 at earliest. Stockton has cancelled through March. Ocean and Placerville have said they are playing it week to week but that is just delaying reality. My guess is the soonest sprint car racing (or any racing) will take place in California is going to be in mid-May.

Closer to home Cottage Grove Speedway in Oregon cancelled their season opener but didn’t say much past that. Grays Harbor has pushed back their season opener to April 25. Skagit Speedway will not start until May 2. As with the California tracks I don’t expect to see any racing in the northwest until mid-May at the earliest. Hopefully I am wrong and Grays Harbor can open April 25 but I just have a hard time imagining that at this time.

The World of Outlaws have only cancelled through April 9 but I have every reason to believe that they also won’t race until mid-May also. The Outlaws want to be considered a big time racing organization and I believe that will force them to follow the lead of NASCAR and other major organizations as to when it returns. NASCAR has announced its return will be May 10 at Martinsville so if the Outlaws came back that weekend it would be a doubleheader at Eldora. The next weekend is at Williams Grove so a mid-May return wouldn’t be that bad - either track would be a great place to restart the season.

In reality this is all speculation. We will return to normalcy but we don’t when and what it will look like. The economy is being ravaged as I write and how will this affect the many sponsors and businesses that support sprint car racing. Nobody knows. Will fans have money to go to races when it returns? Nobody knows. All I do know is we all need to do our part and hopefully this will lead to us seeing dirt flying sooner than later.

One thing is that with no racing and sports I have had a chance to catch up on all the podcasts that I don’t usually have time to listen to. This is a great avenue for fans that need some sort of dirt fix. Plus their tons of different venues to view old races so not all is lost during this time isolation. Take advantage of this slow time to get all caught up.

Be safe. Until next time that is all for now.

wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa....You just never know when a post on twitter is going to light a fire. This week provided an instance where one tweet where I was thinking out loud seemed to garner emotional responses from many. I had simply wondered why no California drivers come north to race with ASCS national tour when they come through Washington specifically Dirt Cup at Skagit.

 

            The main myth had been that California was open 360 territory and that ACSC engines were not a thing in California. But as I started to see multiple California drivers and teams announce their intentions to compete in the opening two weekends of the ASCS tour in Arizona and California I realized this myth was exactly that. So I had to wonder out loud why drivers and teams don’t travel to Washington and race to win the $15,000 Dirt Cup top prize. Twitter lit up with the standard responses that Dirt Cup died when it quit being a 410 race, the purse hasn’t changed, the track is crappy and the promoter is a jerk. But like the myth of California being open 360 territory the first three reasons are myths or at best not in context. I will not speak to the last of the myths  - that it is out of my lane.

 

            First Dirt Cup had to quit being a 410 race before the race died completely. The last 410 Dirt Cup in 2014 drew 30 cars and was a shell of what  the event had been. Many reasons contributed to this and Skagit Speedway will need to share some of the blame but the biggest reason was because at the time NARC was a joke of a series and many California’s best slowly moved to 360 racing. Now that NARC has become a premier series again 410 racing is a thing again on the west coast. In 2014 410 racing was evaporating and Skagit had to do something to change the direction of its marquee event. Change direction it has as the event has become relevant and provided a lot of action and intrigue each year. Is it Dirt of early 2000s - no but it is much better than the 2014 version.

 

            Second yes the purse has been stagnant but a few things to consider on this note. Before the 2015 Dirt Cup was a non sanctioned open event - now it is a sanctioned event and tow money is now dealt out to ensure the national teams show up.  Aso the purse remains the same it is still one of the best for all 360 racing and to blame Skagit only on this issue would be ridiculous. The Outlaws, USAC and every other series and track is doing the same when it comes to purses - they are stagnant even though costs go up. These are just the times we live in and a subject much bigger than Skagit.

 

            Lastly Skagit has always taken unfair criticism if you ask me over track conditions. Yes in years past it has been below par at times but I have been to most tracks on the West Coast and they all have moments of being below average. But in the last four years Skagit Speedway has delivered plenty of classics and epic races (2016 Summer Nationals, 2017 Outlaw Saturday night, 2019 Dirt Cup Saturday night to name a few). The track has become the home of slide jobs and side by side racing as it has again become one of the premier tracks on the west coast - if not the premier track.

 

            In the end I contend the biggest reason California drivers don’t come to the Dirt Cup is because it is in the heart of the racing season and there are plenty of options in California in June. California teams can race Friday-Saturday every weekend from March to October so there is no need to drive long miles to chase a race. It is only before March and after November that California teams start to venture out as this is the slow part of the season in California.

 

            Again the whole premise of why don't drivers come to the Dirt Cup was just a fan thinking out loud. Instead it became a chance to dig up old skeletons, issues and blame as to why the 410 stopped being part of the Dirt Cup. I say don't live in the past, be fortunate that a premier west coast race did not die but instead reinvented itself to stay relevant.

 

E-mail wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com  follow on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa...Sprint car season is amping up on the west coast quickly even though spring has not yet started. Before the end of February California will have six scheduled sprint races in the  books. As soon as March hits Friday-Saturday doubleheaders become the norm in California. The west coast USAC series season began in earnest in early March.The northwest season will try to shake off the rain and get going in mid March at Cottage Grove. The Washington tracks will fire off in mid April. Why do I mention all of this? Because it is time for my championship predictions for the four major west coast sprint series: NARC, USAC/CRA, Sprint Car Challenge Tour and Summer Thunder Series.

 

NARC - The northern california winged 410 series has become the  premier sprint car series on the west coast again as it once was. 2020 has only solidified that reputation as drivers such as defending champion DJ Netto, Bud Kaeding. Indiana native Spencer Bayston, Tim Kaeding and superstar Justin Sanders will race for the championship that features 19 races. Other drivers expected to spend a lot time on the NARC tour are California icons Shane Golobic, Rico Abreu, Mitchell Faccinto, Dominic Scelzi, Chase Johnson and Kyle Hirst. If that isn’t enoughTexas Native and Ohio regular TJ Michael will also compete regularly as will young stars Jodie Robinson and Kyle Olfill who will contend for rookie of the year.

 

            With all the big names I am going to stick with Mr. Consistency and that is defending champ DJ Netto. Netto won the championship last year with no wins and while I don’t expect him to win five races, I would say two is reasonable and so is another championship for the central California product. WIth Drew Warner turning the wrenches I don't see any reason to doubt Netto. I think Sanders and Bayston especially will win a lot of races but also expect them  to be erratic when it comes to consistent finishes and eventually the championship. Bud and Tim will be in the hunt but I think Netto is entering his prime and will prevail for the repeat.

 

USAC/CRA - The premier non winged series on the west coast will look a lot like the 2019 season as stalwarts Damion Gardner, Brody Roa, Austin Williams and Jake Swanson fight for supremacy.

 

            Gardner championship pedigree in west coast non winged racing is unmatched in recent times and it would seem dumb to bet against him but in 2020 I am. My 2020 championship pick is Brody Roa and for one reason - in 2020 and Roa and his Roa Motorsports team will focus exclusively on USAC/CRA events. No diversion with USAC Southwest and trips to the midwest in 2020 as Roa and his team put an all out assault on the 2020 USAC/CRA season. Last year Roa got off to a fast start in 2019 but cooled off and hopped in the Dwight Cheney sprinter at one point but ultimately finished back in his family ride to finish the season and focus on 2020. The focus on one series will pay off for Roa in 2020.

 

            The championship won’t be easy as Gardner, Williams and Swanson are very capable of winning a lot of races. Gardner is legendary, WIlliams has really come on the last two years and Swanson already has two wins this season 410 non winged competition. Add in part time competitors such as Richard Vanderweerd, Chase Johnson and the always random drivers that occasionally appear plus the potential random Logan Seavey appearance in Reinbold/Underwood sprinter it will not be an easy task for Roa but 2020 is his year.

 

SCCT - The 13 race 2020 Sprint Car Challenge Tour is wide open. Not a lot of confirmed word on which drivers will actually compete in all 13 races plus the fact many drivers are chasing NARC glory leaves a wide open 2020 field. Or does it?

 

            Not in my opinion as I believe the 2020 championship will be a battle between Justyn Cox as he enters his first year in the C&M Motorsports ride and Kalib Henry who will chase the whole tour for the first time in the McCulloch RV ride. The Sacramento based stars have worked hard and honed their craft the last few years to the point they have become amongst the elite in California 360 ranks.

 

            In 2020 I am taking Justyn Cox to secure his first SCCT championship and continue his progression in the west car sprint car ranks. Cox really stepped up his game the second half of last year and this is the year that the talent he has shown will all come together. Justyn Cox also has a great chance to double as the Placerville Speedway Champion but I am sure Andy Forsberg will have something to say about that.

 

STSS - In 2019 teenage sensation Devon Borden claimed the championship as he outpaced seasoned veterans Colton Heath and Cam Smith to win the championship, Previously Jason Solwold has dominated the series but an August trip to Knoxville cost him the championship in 2019.

 

            In 2020 Devon Broden plans to travel more, Northwest superstar JJ Hickle is racing in California, Colton Heath is recovering from burns incurred during a November USAC National Midget race at Bakersfield and Solwold and his Shaylen Raye Motorsports are always late to announce their intentions so it seems like another wide open championship.

 

            But with a reduced schedule to 12 races and only five paying full points my pick in 2020 is Devon Borden to repeat. While he has announced he plans to travel more in 2020 I don’t see any big west coast races that would cause him to miss a Summer Thunder race and if he doesn't miss a race he will repeat as champion. Solwold will be close and could easily win the championship I just think at this point in their careers Borden is a rising star while Solwold is a fading veteran.

 

            Heath and Smith continue to be northwest stalwarts but I don’t see either over taking Borden or Solwold for supremacy. Oregon stars Tanner Holmes and Garen Linder are intriguing but neither plans on chasing the whole tour as of now.

 

 

MORE STUFF: Mitchell Faccinto scored his first win of 2020 at Kings Speedway over 23 competitors  and now has two podiums in two starts. Faccinto heads to Arizona this weekend to take on the ASCS National tour. In 2019 Faccinto was the driver to beat  on the west coast thru mid July before fading in the second half of the year...Ryan Robinson scored the win Saturday night in Stockton and now also has two podiums in two 2020 starts. Robinson could make some noise on SCCT this year...With Bud Kaeding moving to his Dad’s sprinter in 2020 look for Kyle Hirst to turn the wheel of the legendary Williams Motorsports sprinter in 2020...Ben Worth who spent 2019 in a Tiner-Hirst Enterprise sprinter will team with Mitchel Moles this year in a Moles Family sprinter. Look for Worth to still get some work in midget action this year...Tim Kaeding was in the MIke Phulps sprinter in Stockton Saturday. Cole Macedo had been the previous pilot...Washington star Colby Thornhill was in KIngs on Saturday steering a 305 sprinter. The micro midget ace is slowly migrating to the full sprint ranks as is looking for crew help as he expands his racing horizons...Expect a decent number of California and northwest teams to descend upon Canyon this weekend for the ASCS National Tour opener...Borden, Solwold, Mit. Faccinto, Mic. Faccinto, Netto and Justin Sanders amongst some of the big west coast names expected.

 

E-mail at wcsprintcarscene@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympa, Wa…While the long days of winter continue in the northwest  last weekend saw the California sprint car season kicked off at the Stockton Dirt Track and in a shocker the winner was...Shane Golobic. Golobic was the dominant California driver in 2019 and it looks like 2020 will be more of  the same. Driving the Matt Wood owned Dustin Golobic wrenched sprinter Shane Golobic seems ripe for another huge year as this team enters its second full season together after coming together in the middle of 2017. Last year this team did not chase points and I would expect more of the same this year as this team likes to bounce between 410s, 360s and midget racing.

 

The surprise of the weekend was not that Golobic won but that only 10 cars were on hand for the opening sprint car race on the west coast.  The field was stout for 10 cars (included consistent winners such as Mitchell Faccinto, Andy Forsberg and Justyn Cox) but as I followed the show from afar I was shocked by the low car count. But then I considered that it is the first race of the season, it is still early February, the major traveling series (NARC and SCCT)  have yet to start and the California season lasts all the way to mid-November and I realized there is plenty of time for drivers and owners to get out and race a bunch. Plenty of heavy hitters were not present at Stockton including DJ Netto, Bud Kaeding, Tim Kaeding, Sean Becker, Justin Sanders, Dominic Scelzi, Rico Abreu and many more that we all know will be contending for wins as the season picks up steam.

 

            California fans need not to worry as the state of sprint car racing is solid in the Golden State. Unlike the northwest which I detailed in my last column California has plenty of races, teams and drivers to provide action and many different winners. The NARC 410 series keeps getting stronger and the depth of the 360 ranks is never ending. In addition to NARC California fans have a plethora of 360 options including the  SCCT and competitive weekly shows such as Placerville, Silver Dollar, Ocean and KIngs/Tulare. If that is not enough don’t forget all the big shows such as Silver Cup, Bradway Memorial, Murphy Memorial, Posse Shootout, Key Classic, Platinum Cup, Adobe Cup, Fall Nationals and Trophy Cup.

 

            If that wasn’t enough Peter Murphy has really gone to work at KIngs Speedway in Hanford immediately. He has announced KIngs will host four 410 races in addition to the previously announced schedule of 360 shows. They will race May 9 (prelude to the Murphy Classic), June 27, October 9 (creating Kings Speedway doubleheader weeked before Trophy Cup) and October 30. The big news amongst these four races is the $21,000 to win Tom Tarlton Classic which is the last scheduled 410 race at Kings for 2020. This will be the biggest 410 races on the west coast as far as winner’s total and given it’s date which is after the rest of the nation is done racing could draw an interesting mix of drivers. The All Stars are done by this date as is Pennsylvania and Ohio. It was announced more information o