Check Out These Other Pages At Hoseheads

Hoseheads Sprint Car News

Bill W's Knoxville News Bill Wright

From the Grandstand Ron Rodda

Tri-State Outlook Duane Hancock

Hoosier Race Report Danny Burton

Dirt Divas Camisha Miller

Hoseheads Forum

Links

Hoseheads Classifieds

Race Results

Press Releases

All Stars

USCS

World of Outlaws

ASCS

USAC

Central PA

IRA

 

    HosheadsNew.jpg (27139 bytes)

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda


    Trophy Cup To Reach Three Million

    By Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA...Since the 1995 Trophy Cup race at San Jose Speedway to the 2024 event at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, the race has donated money to a Make-A-Wish Foundation branch. It was the second Cup when it started and an impressive level will be reached this coming October.

    The total money donated by the race to Make-A-Wish will reach three million dollars.

    Dave Pusateri, the founder and leader of the Trophy Cup, called around eight charities in 1995 to find out which one had the least amount of donated funds used for administrative costs. It was the Bay Area Made-A-Wish Foundation that had the lowest administrative costs and later that year the Trophy Cup began raising and donating money to Make-A-Wish.

    Through 2009 each year a check was given to Make-A-Wish at the San Francisco branch even though the event had moved to the Central Valley. In those years much of the donated funds came from the Bay Area sources but over time the Central Valley became the major source. The recipient starting in 2010 became the Fresno branch, now known as the Central Valley Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    Reaching the $3,000,000 level is the result of many people supporting the Trophy Cup in different ways.

    Sponsors, events at the Trophy Cup, an auction of donated merchandise, shirts, and programs all raise money towards the yearly donation. All these years every dollar from entry fees has gone to Make-A-Wish.

    All this support has made the Trophy Cup the largest non-corporation donor in the Central Valley to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

     

     

    Trophy Cup Payout Sets Another Record

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…Next October when the Abreu Vineyards 30th Annual Trophy Cup Presented By Rudeen Racing takes place at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, a big increase in the purse will occur thanks to the support of Kevin and Monika Rudeen.

    A total of $300,000 will be paid to the winged 360 sprint field, an increase of $75,000 over last year’s purse.

    The payout will be different in that the 2024 point champion will receive $30,000 from the point fund plus whatever was earned over the three days of racing. The main events purse is also being increased and are now $5,000 to win on Thursday and Friday and $7,500 on Saturday.

    Saturday’s A main for the top 24 cars in points has two payouts, $27,900 for the race with $7,500 to win, and $184,500 in the point fund. That means the fifty lap finale pays a total of $212,400.

    An additional $7,400 has been added to the purse for both Thursday and Friday nights.

    This year the lineup for Saturday’s A main will return to the 24 car inversion, putting the high point car outside row twelve. Tim Kaeding is the only driver that has won the Saturday main from last starting

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Time For California Weather To Improve

    Lincoln, CA…March has brought weather tough on race tracks and travelers but the forecast is finally showing some sun. But not just yet.

    Rain in some areas will be a factor the next day or two and Chico is one of those still facing some precipitation. The Silver Dollar Speedway two day event this coming weekend will happen according to Brad Sweet. The promotion trio of Brad Sweet, Colby Copeland, and Kyle Larson have already lost a two day show at the beginning of March.

    The first weekend of March brought a huge snow storm in the mountains and the valley got heavy rain in some areas. From Bakersfield to Chico tracks canceled races or practice sessions while Interstate 80 was closed nearly three days over a 105 mile stretch due to many feet of snow. It took longer than usual to plow at least one lane as over half of Caltrans equipment was broken, partly due to the huge amount of snow overwhelming the plows.

    Last weekend was better but Hanford, Watsonville and Antioch still canceled races due to a soft track surface and residual water.

    Marysville has been lucky and has raced both scheduled nights. The pit area and parking lot has had plenty of standing water, but it was very nice to have racing and the crowd size showed fan appreciation.

    Tanner Carrick won the first night and Colby Copeland matched Carrick’s effort last Saturday. Both wins were scored by drivers who dominated the field on a very fast track.

    Crate winged sprints have been on hand both of the Marysville nights and wins went to Misty Castleberry and Koa Crane. The 602 powered division is led in points by Crane.

    Two years ago Marysville turned on their new LED lighting which made a huge difference in viewing. This year the track unveiled a scoreboad which is mounted above turn three so everyone can get a good look. It took over 50 years for the quarter mile to have a scoreboard, but promoter Dennis Gage was able to round up enough support to make it happen.

    Silver Dollar Speedway had a tough season last year when nine race nights were canceled. Seven were due to rain and two more because of extreme heat. Only ten races were held out of the nineteen scheduled and the track is already zero for two this year. The quarter mile oval’s luck is overdue to change and maybe this week will be the start.

    Micro sprint racing last weekend was successful at Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia on Friday and Lemoore Jet Bowl raced Saturday. Plaza Park has been updated and two significant names in racing are now running the city park located track.

    Jason Meyers, the 2010 and 2011 World of Outlaws champion, and Jake Hagopian, a well known name in micro sprint racing, are now running Plaza Park. An aggressive schedule includes a huge event this month when the Keith Kunz Motorsports Challenge takes place over a four night stretch.

    Micro sprint racing to the north starts later this month but now there is only one track in the greater Sacramento area. Delta Speedway occupies a piece of the fairgrounds in Stockton and is now the primary northern track.

    A five race series is planned for Hills Ferry Raceway in Newman to add to the micro action. Dixon Speedway no longer exists is the information I was told.

     

     

    McCarl Collects ASCS Win

    by Ron Rodda

    Casa Grande AZ... Central Arizona Raceway presented the Third Annual Keith Bryan Memorial opening night Friday with winged ASCS sprints as the top division. Pure stocks and the combined hobby stocks/bombers completed the night's action.

    The top eight in passing and finishing points redrew for the first four rows of the $2000 to win ASCS main. Brekton Crouch and Terry McCarl redrew the front row.

    Two yellows and a red delayed a lap being scored. McCarl won the race into turn one on each start and quickly established a several car length lead.

    With ten laps remaining McCarl hit traffic and suddenly Logan Forler and eighth starting Dominic Scelzi were in a tight group with McCarl. . Scelzi took second when Forler made a small bobble in turn four but ran out of laps in chasing McCarl.

    McCarl took the win over Scelzi and Forler in a quickly run 25 laps once the race finally started.

    Tony Martin led the pure stock main for a dozen laps until mechanical gremlins ended his run. Sixth starting Steven Ashcraft inherited the lead and collected the win over Marty Hussak and Jake Jurado.

    Ashcraft didn't pass tech nor did Hussak due to illegal transmission and Jurado was named the winner.

    Hobby stocks saw Joe Peterson lead half the main before getting tangled with a lapped car putting Zack Tate in the lead.

    Tate built a large lead and got the win ahead of Charles McDaniel Sr. and Jason Knueppel.

    Saturday pays $4000 to the ASCS winner and Speed Sport.tv will have the action from affiliate IMCA.tv.

    ASCS Winged Sprints

    A Feature 1 (25 Laps): 1. 01-Terry McCarl[2]; 2. 41X-Dominic Scelzi[9]; 3. 2L-Logan Forler[6]; 4. 2-Brekton Crouch[1]; 5. 7OH-Tye Mihocko[3]; 6. X-Dylan Harris[13]; 7. 75-Chris Bonneau[8]; 8. 22-Garen Linder[11]; 9. 88-Austin Torgerson[10]; 10. 49-Cameron La Rose[12]; 11. 75X-JT Imperial[19]; 12. 6C-Travis Coelho[16]; 13. 02-Ashton Torgerson[4]; 14. 57-Stevie Sussex III[5]; 15. 8-Jake Helsel[17]; 16. 61-Chaz Baca[18]; 17. 7BG-Joshua Shipley[15]; 18. 5H-Patrick Krob[14]; 19. 14T-Tim Estenson[7]

    Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 02-Ashton Torgerson[1]; 2. 75-Chris Bonneau[2]; 3. 2-Brekton Crouch[6]; 4. 22-Garen Linder[4]; 5. 6C-Travis Coelho[3]; 6. 7BG-Joshua Shipley[7]; 7. 61-Chaz Baca[5]

    Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 7OH-Tye Mihocko[2]; 2. 14T-Tim Estenson[1]; 3. 2L-Logan Forler[5]; 4. 41X-Dominic Scelzi[6]; 5. 5H-Patrick Krob[4]; 6. 8-Jake Helsel[3]

    Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 01-Terry McCarl[1]; 2. 57-Stevie Sussex III[2]; 3. 88-Austin Torgerson[3]; 4. 49-Cameron La Rose[4]; 5. X-Dylan Harris[5]; 6. (DNS) 75X-JT Imperial

     

     

     

    Trophy Cup Payout Released

    by Ron Rodda

    The 29th version of the Trophy Cup paid a record $223,015 which includes $47, 470 that was added to the top 24 payout to meet the guaranteed purse. The added amount varies based on what the 24 drivers earned from the standard purse of $178,835.

    The Trophy Cup champion, Corey Day, had $7750 added to his earnings from the purse to reach the $29,000 guarantee as 18 of the 24 drivers had additional earnings added to the guarantee. The least a driver could earn as a result of making it to the Saturday A main was $6000 for the three days combined.

    Payout
    1. Corey Day $29,000
    2. Buddy Kofoid 11,650
    3. Shane Golobic 13,350
    4. Dominic Scelzi 10,850
    5. Landon Brooks 8750
    6. Rico Abreu 9850
    7. Ryan Timms 6300

    The following drivers earned the $6000 guarantee: Justin Peck, Aaron Reutzel, Justyn Cox, D. J. Netto, Hunter Scheurenberg, Tyler Courtney, Cole Macedo, Justin Sanders, Colby Copeland, Bud Kaeding, Jake Andreotti, Chase Johnson, Chase Randall, Zeb Wise, Grant Duinkerken, Logan Seavey, Willie Croft

    An additional eight drivers earned over $1000 each.

     

    Cup Title Goes To Corey Day

     by Ron Rodda

    Tulare CA...Logan Seavey won the main event but it was seventeen year old Corey Day who came out of the final night's action with the most points and collected the $29,000 payout for being the champion of the Abreu Vineyard 29th Trophy Cup Presented By Rudeen Racing.

    The evening started with the top 48 in points from the preliminary nights split into six heat races, fully inverted by points. These very tough heat races offer 36 points to win with a three point drop per position and the top twenty in points after the heats go directly to the A main. Those twenty are fully invented by points in the 50-lap A main.

    Cars 21st to 40th in points move to the B main while the remaining cars are joined by D main transfers to create a C main. The four B main transfer cars earn no points and fill rows 11 and 12 of the A main field.

    All drivers that qualify for the A main are guaranteed $6000 minimum for their three days of competition.

    Corey Day started the evening as the high point driver, looking to break Michael Kofoid's record by two years for youngest champion. Ronnie Day, Corey's father, was the champion of the first Trophy Cup at San Jose Speedway in 1994.

    Of the top six in points in the heats, Ryan Timms had the best finish with a third while Day took a fourth. Rico Abreu was a DNF following a lap one, turn one tangle to dampen the chances of what was the second place car

    The main is 150 points to win with a three drop per position. Day led Timms by six points, Buddy Kofoid and Shane Golobic by 11, and Colby Copeland by 12 heading to the invert twenty main.

    Justyn Cox used a front row assignment to lead with little pressure until just before the fuel break when Logan Seavey used a turn four slider to take the lead.

    Corey Day was in the 15th spot at the break but those ahead of him in points were close to the front and running out of passing opportunities.

    Dominic Scelzi took third on the restart and two laps later a red halted action. Day passed five cars in two laps and the two were now tied in points.

    When a lap 33 yellow flew, Day was in 7th and just needed to finish to win the Trophy Cup. Seavey was in control of the lead with Cox and Scelzi in pursuit.

    Day stayed with the bottom groove and continued moving forward, taking third on lap 37 and second six laps later

    Day moved to the top and closed on Seavey but wisely accepted second and the Cup. Cox was third. Scelzi took fourth, and Michael Kofoid was fifth

    The Day family now joins the Kaeding family with father and son Trophy Cup titles.


    This year $200,000 was raised for Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Trophy Cup has now raised a total of $2,875.000 for the Foundation.

     

    It's Golobic At The Trophy Cup

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA...The second night of the Abreu Vineyards 29th Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing returned 65 teams to the Thunderbowl Raceway with each driver looking to improve their point total over opening night. The better of the two nights points will be carried into Saturday, a night when there is no qualifying.

    Friday switched the two groups for qualifying and the order within each group was inverted from Thursday. Points for qualifying, heat races, and the main event were the same as opening night.

    B group was first and a 14.078 lap by Logan Seavey earned the 150 points for fast time while Ryan Timms and Grant Duinkerken followed Seavey in the order.

    The A group fastest was Michael Kofoid at 14.189 putting him ahead of Tyler Courtney and Justin Sanders.

    The invert six heats moved the eight winners and the eight top point cars to the A main, inverting twelve by points. Tyler Courtney was high point and the invert 12 put him outside row six for the thirty lap main.

    Three time Cup champion, Shane Golobic, was on the pole and stormed into a large lead which dissolved on lap 15 when a red was needed.

    Justin Peck was following in second and Ryan Timms was third after using a turn four slider to pass Dominic Scelzi.

    A ten lap stretch of green let Golobic continue with a large lead while a furious battle for the rest of the podium featured Peck, Corey Day, and Ryan Timms.

    Running the wall and throwing sliders finally led to Day taking second over Peck and Timms moved into third out of turn four.

    The final five laps featured Day closing on Golobic, looking like a slider might be coming, but Golobic stretched his lead over the last two laps a bit and took the win over Day, Timms, Dominic Scelzi, and Peck.

    The top 48 cars in points will race six fully inverted heats tomorrow. These loaded heats are critical as the opportunity to add points can improve a driver's standing. The top 20 in points go to the 50-lap championship main.

     

     

    Ninety Entries For Trophy Cup

    by Ron Rodda

     

    The Abreu Vineyards 29th Annual Trophy Cup Presented By Rudeen Racing has it’s usual lengthy entry list for this coming October’s record purse at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.  The ninety entered cars have fourteen showing TBA for driver name which makes it interesting with the usual speculation of who will fill those seats.

     

    This being the 29th year of the unique event, the champion will be earn $29,000 for accumulation the most points over the three day period.  A record purse of $225,000 will be paid out this year over the three days of racing.  The Saturday main event pays $6,000 guaranteed to start.

     

    The $6000 guarantee is the total over the three day event.  Last year $25,200 was added to the payout for the Saturday main event to reach the 2022 guarantee of $5000 as fifteen of twenty-four teams had not reached $5000 total.

     

    Also increased this year is the payout for both B and C mains on Saturday.

     

    Entered this year are six prior Trophy Cup champions with TIm Kaeding being the veteran of the group.  TK’s wins came in 2002, 2006, and 2009 and one more would tie his father, Brent, with BK’s wins coming in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2005. 

     

    Another driver that could reach the four championship level is Shane Golobic.  The wins for the Fremont driver were in 2016. 2017, and last year.  One time champions entered this year include Jonathan Allard, Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding and 2019 winner, Rico Abreu. 

     

    Four years ago Abreu accomplished something that was considered impossible when he won all three main events.  One feat that will never be matched was champion Tim Kaeding winning the Saturday main event from 24th starting.  Now the Saturday main inverts the top 20 in points so matching TK’s amazing drive is not possible.

     

    One driver who is not yet entered but likely will be on hand owns two Trophy Cup records which are the most difficult to match.  Buddy Kofoid is the youngest to win a Cup main event, accomplishing the remarkable win at age 14.  Then five years later he became the youngest Trophy Cup champion, winning the point battle at age 19.  Kofoid may wind up driving one of the TBA cars.

     

     

     

     

    Some NorCal Tracks Are Lucky

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA….It can be difficult for race tracks to fill one particular staff position with a person who has the proper approach to doing their job. Tracks that have found the appropriate person for the task should consider themselves lucky and don’t let them get away.

    I’m referring to the track announcer.

    Two announcers whose talent cannot be questioned and do a superb job are Gary Thomas and Troy Hennig. When he replaced the now promoter of Marysville Raceway and former promoter of Silver Dollar Speedway, Dennis Gage, Hennig was replacing a legend in the announcing world. But Hennig was good from the start and has maintained the quality.

    And it was Hennig who helped create two top level announcers, Gary Thomas who now announces at Placerville Speedway weekly, Ocean Speedway upon occasion, Kings Speedway regularly, and the Sprint Car Challenge Tour, became an announcer after working with Hennig. At around age ten, Drake York started his training in the Silver Dollar Speedway booth thanks to Hennig and today is the infield announcer for USAC races.

    Silver Dollar Speedway was also the starting pont for SPEED SPORT’S Ralph Sheheen. Sheheen was a Chico State student and Dennis Gage gave him a press pass for the Gold Cup. Gage said that experience got him hooked on racing and he was offered a backup announcing spot at Chico, but Cycleland Speedway owner, Lowell Moural, grabbed him for the announcing task at his track south of Chico. After a season Sheheen was off to bigger and better but that press pass likely was the start of his exceptional career.

    Northern California is currently without one of the top shelf announcers as Bobby Gerould is taking the year off to pursue other activities.

    Thomas recalled, “My first announcing was in Chico, helping out Troy, and my first official night was in Watsonville in 2010. I just went when sprint cars were involved and Tony Karas handled the other nights. I started out doing PR work, I originally was just a fan, and then Troy Hennig and George Hague said why don’t they get me in the booth?

    “Back then I was really shy and could never imagine I could do it. So I started getting in the booth with Troy and George would get me in the booth every now and then at places like Tulare. It seemed like I was good at it and people liked it and I actually enjoyed it. I wasn’t as shy on the microphone as I was in person.”

    His career was born at Silver Dollar Speedway primarily when Hennig had him cover some of the infield work and would let Thomas call a heat race until it was time for a main event. Hennig was also a help with the PR work that Thomas was doing. His career in PR also had help when starting that effort.

    “I was just a race fan,” explained Thomas, “and I started writing a blog in 2005 and that led to getting some PR work with some of the race teams. Jonathan Allard was the first official team I did the work for. I also started doing the PR for the Golden State Challenge Series. Robbie Padjen gave me the opportunity.”

    Things for Thomas changed dramatically when, with support from Hennig, became an announcer in 2010. The majority of the work from that first year was done at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville and Thomas recalls how enjoyable that was.

    “That first year of announcing was when Kyle Larson drove for Kaeding Performance,” Thomas remembered. “My Mom and I, Janet, Mike, and Kyle would ride to the races together at Watsonville on Friday. Kyle ended up second in points and it was a fun and memorable year for me.”

    Since the 2010 initial year, announcing has changed quite a bit with so many tracks now being streamed. It is no longer announcing to a few hundred in the stands but thousands watching live.

    Regarding stream announcing, Thomas said, “At the start I wouldn’t say it was more nerve wracking but made you more aware of things. The more I’ve done it the more it’s second nature for me. There is the monitor, live timing and scoring, and the track so it’s three different things you are focusing on. Some people don’t watch the monitor, some prefer to watch the monitor, but I kind of bounce back and forth. It kind of helps me with the flow of the race.

    “When racing starts I am more focused on the stream because when the races are on it is hard to hear the announcer in the stands. Some tracks like Perris have an amazing sound system but once the racing starts you are really talking to the people on the live stream. I probably focus on the monitor 85% and the track the other 15% so I don’t lose the leader.’

    Some announcers would benefit from listening to Troy Hennig and Gary Thomas on Speed Sport TV when they are at Marysville Raceway or Placerville Speedway to hear how a professional does the job. Thomas is in his 14th year and Hennig has even more experience.

    “I would say find a good mix between humor and professionalism plus not talking too much,” suggested Thomas. “I kind of molded myself to what I enjoyed as a fan. I have always tried to not talk too much because I thought as a fan there were some announcers that seem to like hearing their own voice. Find a good mix between the amount of talking, playing music, and being entertaining since the fans are there to have a good time.

    “Things to not do are talk nonstop all night, keep their opinion limited and mostly to themselves, maintain professionalism, and don’t build up something that is not there. We’re supposed to always be enthusiastic and exciting but knowledgeable fans can see through that. When announcing, it is not about you but about the product that is on the track. When Troy Hennig went into the Hall of Fame a couple years ago that was something that stuck with me from his speech.”

    Thomas felt more pressure when streaming started because for years he knew when during racing nobody in the stands could really hear him anyway. Now someone watching a stream not only increases the “audience” but can hear every word, making it wise to be careful about what you say.

    Thomas was lucky to have two veteran announcers to help him get started in George Hague and Troy Hennig and it led to a benefit that fans have today. It is nice to go to Placerville, Marysville, or Chico tracks and know the announcing will be very good.

    To quote IMCA Western Regional Director, Paul Vetter, “It is hard to be a good announcer, but it is not hard to be OK.”


     

    Four Generations Is Rare by Ron Rodda

    Being a second generation race car driver is very common. Less frequent but not rare is the third generation racer. But when it is a fourth generation driver it now becomes quite unusual.

    One of those fourth generation racers is Brinton Marvel. It is also unusual in that a racer from Indiana now lives in Northern California as most of the movement is the opposite direction.

    His great grandfather, Bill Marvel, was a legendary auto racing supporter in many ways and was inducted several times into a hall of fame. He occasionally raced mostly for fun. Bill passed away in December of 2020. Brinton’s grandfather, Brad Marvel, raced throughout Midwest is many USAC events as well as in California in Ascot days. Then his father, Justin Marvel, also raced is a wide variety of sanctions, midgets as well as wing and nonwing sprints.

    Brinton did not get that early start in racing that many Californians do, starting as early as five years old in the junior sprint micros or beginner box stock in outlaw karts.

    “I tested in a 305 sprint car when I was 15,” explained Brinton, “at Bloomington Speedway. Hunter Schuerenberg helped me, kind of took my under his wing, helped me build a car alongside him as he was getting into wing racing himself.”

    “He taught me the ins and outs of how to put one together and the quality of work he showed me I still use to this day. So we put a 305 together and raced with the RaceSaver series when I was 16 and 17.”

    After a couple years in a 305 along with two wins, at age 18 Brinton moved into a winged 410, his first race being at Granite City, Illinois. He recalled one of his favorite memories from his first few 410 race nights.

    “My third night in a 410, still one of my coolest memories to date,” remembered Brinton, “Danny Smith brought out a backup car and let me run at Atomic Speedway.”

    Moving to California, Brinton became aware of something not nearly as common around Indiana, the proliferation of younger sprint car drivers.

    “I was talking to Michael Faccinto at a driver’s meeting,” Brinton recalled, “and I said I’m 22 years old and I feel old. And he said, I’m like the third oldest one here (age 33). It’s crazy because you have all these kids who are sprint car drivers and this is something I had not seen in the Midwest.”

    There is a star filled list of drivers who have left California to race what is considered “back east” in the Golden State. Drivers don’t leave “back east” to come race in California normally, but Brinton did exactly that although racing was not the primary reason for the relocation.

    Brinton said, “My girl friend is Morgan Sandhagen and she was living in Florida at the time and I was in Indiana. We met at the 2019 Knoxville Nationals. She had a great job opportunity here in Red Bluff, California, and I was kind of tired of doing the long distance deal, so we agreed to both pack up and move.”

    “I got to talking with Harley Van Dyke (car owner) and one day luckily he called and said bring your seat and we’ll give you a shot. I couldn’t thank him more for the opportunity.”

    Morgan is also a racing veteran as she raced over ten years in winged go karts at the Red Bluff fairgrounds where a huge winter season makes racing an outlaw kart a year round option. She grew up in the Red Bluff area and was in Florida to finish college. Brinton works at QRC in Red Bluff where Championship Outlaw Karts have been built since 1985.

     

    From The Grandstand

     by Ron Rodda

    Placerville Wins Over Weather

    The last few years it was concerns over drought that dominated the winter season in the Golden State. Thousands of acres of farm land laid dormant since there was not enough water available to grow anything but hardy weeds.
    Cities regulated watering of landscaping to make the decimated water supply last as long as possible. People went to synthetic lawns or stopped watering and let vegetation fade.

    Then there is the winter of 2022-23.

    California has a water year, running from October 1st to September 30th of the following year. Normally, little or no rain occurs from April to the October/November months. That makes the rainy season of November through March critical as reservoirs need filling, a substantial snow pack in the mountains helps feed reservoirs into spring, and ground water is slowly replenished by hours of rain.

    But this season seems to be making up for the dry years all at once as this area is 150 to 200% above normal and the rain is showing no signs of quitting. Now California has to deal with the overabundance of precipitation which has washed out roads, demolished homes and businesses, and led to huge expenditures that will be needed to repair the damage.

    Last year there was some rumbling about dirt tracks might be unable to water sufficiently to have an event. Now it’s become more of a guessing game as to what day this or that track will cancel their next race because of too much rain.

    Merced was first as they had races scheduled the first two weekends in February. When they canceled on January 10th, it seemed way too early until a photo was posted that showed how Merced Speedway had become Merced Lake. An updated video on March 17 showed progress to the point that two weeks later the first race may happen.

    Last weekend the cancellations ran from Bakersfield to Chico but one that beat the odds was Placerville Speedway. At its 1867 feet above sea level location, Placerville is prone to more rain than the Sacramento Valley with even some snow thrown in occasionally. Promoters Scott Russell and Kami Arnold worked many hours last week to make it possible to have their season opener March 18 and made it happen.

    The track was helped by a couple of sunny days leading up to Saturday and it was amazing how dry the pits and track were except for a couple of low areas. Days of pumping the track paid off and the evening ended with a classic duel for the winged 360 win.

    When the front two rows consist of Colby Copeland, Tanner Carrick, Shane Golobic, and Justin Sanders, two things can be safely assumed to happen. One of those four will win, and it will be a great race to see who leads lap 25.

    Twenty-five laps of excellent racing for the win ended in dramatic fashion when Sanders dove towards the bottom our of turn four on the final lap and got to the finish line about two feet before Golobic. Sanders led just the last few feet for the win. Sanders won five times last year at Placerville and does not race there regularly.

    That was the first race for the newly created CaliDirt streaming, also an affiliate to SPEEDSPORT.tv for all Placerville races plus the Sprint Car Challenge Tour.

    Marysville Raceway also raced Saturday night, pushing their race total to an amazing twice this year. Dawson Hammes won the winged 360 main. Hammes, like so many sprint car drivers in Northern California, worked his way into a sprint car by racing outlaw karts. Marysville is streamed on NorCal Speed, also a SPEEDSPORT.tv affiliate.

     

     

    Be Thankful For Support Divisions

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A significant portion of a short track’s income on a race night is from pit passes. Lots of race cars in the pit area helps offset a shortage of income in other areas, such as the weather being unfriendly and a smaller than expected front gate.

    There are tracks that probably overdo the number of support divisions, but if the total number of classes is four or perhaps five, then a properly run show will not be unacceptably lengthy.

    Northern California dirt tracks are mostly sprint car tracks. Placerville, Marysville, Petaluma, and Watsonville have winged 360 sprints as the featured division and there is no doubt they are responsible for drawing more fans than any other division.

    But all the tracks include some support divisions, the number of which are sometimes determined by how big the sprint car portion of the evening will be. Placerville usually has three support divisions except if it is a Sprint Car Challenge Tour night or NARC winged 410s are scheduled. Then it is wisely one support division only.

    One excellent support division is hobby stocks, whether IMCA sanctioned or not. These drivers race for a much smaller purse than top divisions, pay the same price for a pit pass, and tend to enjoy far less sponsor support. Because of the size of the payout, a hobby stock division is almost a guaranteed money maker for the track.

    But the hobby stock drivers are paid relatively little and still support their division and tracks that book them.

    One example of a driver who is in this category is Yuma, Arizona IMCA hobby stock driver Scott Tenney. An off and on racing history was the result of a career in the Navy and the accompanying relocation that often is part of the deal.

    Tenney was age 16 when he first raced a Ford Pinto mini stock but grew up around racing.

    “My father raced in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s”, Tenney recalled, “and ran a race track in Colorado when I was four years old. I remember riding with him either hauling stuff or watering the track. He ran Delta Motor Speedway in Delta, Colorado which has not existed for about 35 years. He ran the whole show for about a season and a half.”

    Joining the Navy meant relocating several times. Boot camp was in Chicago, then he was in Florida, and eventually San Diego for a large part of his career. After 23 years Tenney retired from the Navy but now does the same work at the Marine Corps base in Yuma as a government contractor.

    With a race schedule based on where he was stationed, Tenney raced Barona Speedway with a street stock and then moved to Fallon, Nevada and raced at the local track, Rattlesnake Raceway. Eventually he sold the street stock, bought it back a year and a half later, and turned it into an IMCA hobby stock.

    His current car was purchased as a bare chassis in October of 2021, was built in his garage, and raced for the first time in July of 2022.

    “It came with no firewall or floorboard,” explained Tenney, “and I made the seat, firewall and floorboard, hung the body, put all the suspension under it, drive train, everything but painting the car and lettering. It was a bare, rusty chassis I got out of a buddy’s backyard, sandblasted it, got it painted and went from there. The engine is now a borrowed crate that I am purchasing from my buddy.”

    Even with an off and on racing career Tenney still has accumulated 20 wins in four states at five different tracks. The idea of moving up to sport mods has been considered, but the increased financial burden makes it unlikely.

    Tenney said, “If I had more funding and time I would move up but the group we race with is just a blast. We race each other hard then after the race it’s high fiving each other and let’s do that again.”

    His mechanical skills play a large part in being able to race an IMCA hobby stock. The accumulation of knowledge goes back years when he was involved with pavement racing.

    Tenney stated, “I was learning as I went, I crewed on asphalt cars for about five years so I learned a lot of setup and fabrication. The rest of it I learned as I grew up. I look at basic maintenance as similar to what it would cost me to go out to dinner and a movie. But I get paid at the end of the night.”

    “I’ve seen tracks pay as low as $100 to win, our average here is about $250, and the Winter Nationals paid $100 to start. Out of pocket, on the low end, if I don’t tear a lot of stuff up, at least five to ten thousand to race a full season which is about thirty nights.”

    “Racing a hobby stock is kind of the middle of the road, it’s not the bottom, it’s not the top, but it’s great competition and to me it’s a big part of my life. Luckily my wife puts up with it and we’re able to race and have fun with it and not be like we have to buy a new car every year. Take care of your equipment and it’ll take care of you. We have fun, make friends along the way and create memories which is the biggest thing.”

    Scott Tenney is enjoying what he is doing at this level of racing and at the same time, along with all the support division racers, is playing a big part in keeping short track racing alive.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

     

    Arizona Loses Another Track

     

    Last year is was Arizona Speedway that was permanently closed following the November 27th race which was the second night of the Copper Classic.  Brock Zearfoss won the last ever main event at the track located south of Apache Junction.

     

    This year it is Canyon Speedway Park that is now permanently closed with the first weekend of December two day event not happening.  That means the last ever race at the track just outside of Peoria was October 1 and Zachary Madrid won the final main event in the IMCA stock car division.

     

    Both tracks were closed for the same reason.  The tracks were on land owned by the state of Arizona and operated by leasing the property.  Also in both cases, the state declined a lease renewal due to expected future construction in the general area and the tracks were doomed.

     

    Manzanita Speedway closed in 2009 but selling the property was the reason for that track coming to an end.

     

    Jonah Trussel built and ran Arizona Speedway with some clay and stands coming from Manzanita.  He built the track’s prestige over time and the third mile oval hosted major events for years. 

     

    Doug Gabbard was the last owner of Canyon Speedway Park and built the bridge that turned access to the track from a rocky and rough experience to a smooth ride.  Over the years he ran the track himself some of the years and had someone else promote other years.  The track once hosted live televised sprint car races as well as the Western Worlds.

     

    Both tracks also had adjacent motorcycle facilities and they also were shut down for the same reason. 

     

    At one point there was hope that a track would be built at Wild Horse Motorsports Park located at the south edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area but now it is closing following the final event in March of 2023.  A drag strip, road course, and other facilities are on the 400+ acre parcel but an oval track was never part of the complex.  It will see a massive construction project following closure and no type of racing will be included.

     

    The dirt track in Tucson opened and closed on a regular basis it seemed, but that property was sold for another purpose and the track is gone.

     

    While operative oval race tracks in Arizona have dwindled, there are still active facilities that do not face such an uncertain future.  The Tucson fairgrounds has a paved track that races a full schedule with 26 events planned in 2023 and Lake Havasu City is home to Havasu 95 Speedway with a ten race schedule at the paved quarter mile, running from October to April.  Summer heat leads to tracks taking time off.  Avondale is home to the one mile paved Phoenix Raceway.

     

    Mohave Valley Raceway is owned and operated by Ron, Bill, and Misti Meyer and the track is on 40 acres of land controlled by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe.  Seventeen events are schedule for 2023 with the obligatory summer break avoiding that July average of 110 degrees.  The third mile track is IMCA sanctioned and those classes provide the majority of their cars.  USAC/CRA made an appearance this year.

     

    The busiest track in Arizona next year will showcase 41 events at Adobe Mountain Speedway, located on property owned by the Flood Control District of Maricopa County in the Adobe Dam Regional Park. Ted Williams is the promoter and managing partner and Aaron Miller is facility manager. 

     

    Months were spent rebuilding the property following a July 2019 acquisition with a 25 year lease.  This coming January will be the beginning of their official third year running the fifth mile oval with a tenth mile on the infield.  Separately is an R/C track which is not included in the 41 race schedule.

     

    The track features micro sprints, flat track motorcycles, and the Western Midget Racing cars on the fifth mile while the tenth gets used by numerous kart classes, including the outlaw kart divisions that are very big in Northern California.

     

    The other two active dirt tracks in the state are both promoted by Brad Whitfield.  Cocopah Speedway, a large 3/8, and Central Arizona Raceway, also a 3/8, will keep him very busy with big events at both facilities filling the January calendar. 

     

    Cocopah will have the huge Winter Nationals for two weeks featuring IMCA divisions followed by the rebirth of Early Thaw for late models and other classes at Casa Grande.  Ernie Mincy created Early Thaw years ago at the Central Arizona Raceway high banks and that developed into what is now called the Wild West Shootout, held the first two weeks in January at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico, a move necessitated by the closure of Arizona Speedway.  It was Mincy’s efforts that started the late model winter racing in the state with an event that has now become nationally recognized.

     

    Both of Whitfield’s tracks seem on solid ground as Cocopah Speedway is on land controlled by the Cocopah Indian Tribe and Central Arizona Raceway is at the fairgrounds east of Casa Grande.

     

    Arizona dirt track teams and fans have taken a hit for consecutive years but none of the remaining tracks are on leased state controlled land.  That should bring stability to the Grand Canyon state.

     

     

    History Of The Trophy Cup by Ron Rodda

     

                In 1994 Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an race that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race.  The event was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 28th annual race.

     

                It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country.  The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion due to the final night main that puts the highest point cars close to the rear of the 24 car field.  From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup.  There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally. 

     

                Over the years the format has been adjusted.  To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers are split into groups A and B.  Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers will earn 150 points for fast time.  Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own heats and likewise with B group.  Once main events start, the groups are now combined for determining lineups, based on heat finishes and point totals.

     

                On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed.  The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday.  A driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night.  Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap, invert 20 main event.

     

                The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization.  The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.

     

                San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day.  A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale.  Kevin Pylant and Brent Kaeding won the next two years. The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.  Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.

     

                In 1997 Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN.  Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 and the following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded with another BK title.  Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile oval.

     

                Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion and  the following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship.  In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title and the 2003 version was one of the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins. 

     

                The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily.  Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total. 

     

                Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors.  Brent Kaeding won the title the first year the Cup was in Tulare and his son, Tim, won the following year.  Jason Meyers won the event the next year by a large margin after a 20th to 3rd run in the Saturday finale. 

     

                In 2008 Brad Sweet went from 24th to 3rd on Saturday to edge Sammy Swindell for the championship and a year later TK won his 3rd title, the 7th for the Kaeding racing family.  Kaeding was also the one and only driver to ever win the Saturday main from 24th starting, using the Thunderbowl cushion and sometimes the wall to accomplish the feat.

     

     

                In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup.  Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown.  The 2011 finale produced a great duel between Jac Haudenschild and Allard with Haud prevailing for the championship. 

     

    Jason Meyers won another title in 2012 with a 23rd to 2nd run on Saturday and the following year produced a finish that is still talked about.   Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the first 20 years of Cup action.  Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall.  Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish.  Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.

     

                2014 was the first for the new three day format and Willie Croft won the title from 6th starting.  The following year rain ended Thursday racing during qualifying so two shows were run on Friday.  Bud Kaeding was the champion for the unusual two day format

     

                In 2016 the format was adjusted to 8 heat races on the first two nights with the winner and high point car making the A main.  Those 16 cars are supplemented by the top 4 finishers from a pair of B mains to create the usual 24 car field.  The youngest main event winner ever at the Cup came on Friday night when Buddy Kofoid, age 14. took the checkers first.  Shane Golobic won his first of two titles in a row with a consistent performance.  When he won the title the following year he joined BK as the only drivers to win back to back years.

     

    Jac Haudenschild won his third title the next year at age 60 and the following year something never considered possible happened when Rico Abreu won all three main events starting in 5th, 10th, and 17th.  The following year there was no event, but when resuming in 2021 another event record was set when Buddy Kofoid became the youngest Cup champion ever.  His smooth driving style coupled with expected contenders not able to finish the 50 laps led to a ninteen year old champion.

     

                The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause.  Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause.  The Trophy Cup has reached a total of $1,350,000 in funds awarded to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

     The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.

     

     

    New Promoter At Central Arizona Raceway

     by Ron Rodda

    Casa Grande, AZ…A new era of racing will begin at the Pinal County Fairgrounds on November 5th when the first race with Brad Whitfield as the promoter of Central Arizona Raceway will occur. Whitfield recently signed a five year lease to run the track when the prior promoter opted to not renew the contract.

    Whitfield has experience as a promoter as he also holds that title at Cocopah Speedway, located at the south edge of Yuma, Arizona. He has built the program at Cocopah with the huge Winter Nationals in January being an example, and looks to have similar growth with the 3/8 mile track located east of Casa Grande.

    Whitfield explains, “I wanted Casa Grande because I didn’t want the race track to close down. It is my home town, it holds a special place in my heart, and we renamed it back to Central Arizona Raceway. It’s home for me, Cocopah Speedway is not going anywhere as I have a long term deal, and I’m not leaving Yuma. We will run both tracks with a schedule that does not conflict, the left hand will know what the right hand is doing, and hopefully we wind up getting a national champion from IMCA in Arizona.”

    It’s not just the name that is returning to the days of the past, the track will also receive some adjustments to bring back the characteristics of 30+ years ago.

    “We’re reshaping the race track,” Whitfield noted, “to be what it was in the 1990s and the early 2000s by putting the banking back into it, widen the race track back up, and I’m putting a wall around it in December. Then we are going to put billboards around it like we have at Cocopah so there’s a lot of work to be done, but I have a team that is willing and ready. I’m excited about the wall and billboards as it’s going to help with dust control and track preparation, it’s going to help with noise and we want to be a good neighbor.”

    Negotiating with a fair board can be an issue, but in the case it has been the opposite.

    Whitfield explained, “The Pinal County Fair Board Association has been absolutely amazing to work with.”

    Those words are not often heard from a track promoter, but Brad Whitfield is happy to have his hometown track to promote and is excited about the changes and future of the oval upon which he used to race himself. His five year lease with a five year option will offer the time for him to put his mark on the fairgrounds track.

    Drivers and fans can expect a busy schedule for Central Arizona Raceway with a wide variety of classes appearing on a regular basis. Winged and nonwing sprint cars as well as other open wheel divisions will be a significant part of the program.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Are The Fairgrounds In Placerville At Risk?

    Placerville, CA…The El Dorado County fairgrounds are located in Placerville, just off of highway 50 at the west edge of the city. The fairgrounds is used for a large number of activities, in fact the official name is El Dorado County Fair And Event Center. A wide variety of activities take place at the facility such as gun shows, animal events, meetings for various groups, trade shows, concerts, etc making it a very busy facility. Approximately 235 events take place in a year.

    It is also home to the high-banked quarter-mile Placerville Speedway, a dirt track that has been active since 1965 and, currently promoted by Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, is one of the top tier facilities in California.

    But a major construction project adjacent to the fairgrounds could lead to problems for all the activities that have taken place for years.

    Scott Russell was recently asked if the proposed low income housing project is a significant threat to the fairgrounds.

    “We feel it is,” said Russell, “with the fairgrounds as a whole, not just the race track. It’s literally going to be right on top of the fairgrounds and the corner of one building is going to be about 300 feet from the top of turn four. All the livestock people from the fair, 4-H, FFA, Grange, all these people are concerned and we’ve seen this happen at other fairgrounds.”

    “We’re not against building low income housing, we feel we need some of that around here, we just think there is a better location that being right there. And they’re kind of cowboying this thing in. We have plenty of property within our county that is eligible for this and there’s got to be a better location.”

    “They’re not doing any EIR (environmental impact report) stuff, they are bypassing that, CEQA is another process you have to go through when proposing a project, but that’s being bypassed. All these things you or I would have to do, all the hoops we’d have to jump through, are all being bypassed by our governor.”

    Local politicians, both city officials and county supervisors, seem to be in favor of the project but Russell feels they are not fully informed as to what is really going on but more focused on the monetary value of the project. Further, he believes they are not looking at the negative that would come of being in the currently planned location, but just seeing the potential amount of money given to Placerville.

    Meetings with community leaders from the city have been held to work on a game plan to understand the potential problems of building a housing project so close to an active fairgrounds.

    It also seems as if games are being played regarding the project. Russell explained how when the rules are in the way, then the rules are changed to favor the plans.

    “Our state put out SB 35 which states you cannot build projects like this in a high fire danger area,” explained Russell. “The fairgrounds is level one, highest on the list for fire danger. This whole area up here is level one. They just shut down a project in Cameron Park that was to be a 170 unit apartment complex because of SB 35 and it being a high fire danger area. So there are already some shenanigans going on with this project and recently the California State Fire Marshall took that piece of property next to the fairgrounds out of the high fire danger area.”

    Placerville has not allowed buildings over three stories because there isn’t a city fire department ladder truck that will reach over three stories. There is one building that is four stories. The Cary House Hotel is four stories, is an historical landmark, and is the only building in the city over three stories.

    Russell noted, “This planned building is four stories, but what they did to try and sneak it through was measure from where the ground is going to be to bottom of the top floor, not the roof line. But Red Hawk Casino is building their hotel, but they are on a reservation and they can do whatever they want. But they donated $600,000 to the El Dorado County fire district to buy a ladder truck to assist them at the casino. That kind of shot us in the foot because now they can claim the county has a ladder truck that can go to the fourth floor.”

    ‘They are putting 83 units on 2.5 acres with 96 parking spots. I don’t even know how it is going to fit. We are trying to come up with a game plan, get people to write letters about what the fairgrounds means to them, and how this project would be better built in a different location.”

    Russell stressed the fairgrounds is for the project, but not in the current proposed location overlooking a facility that has numerous activities drawing large crowds that sometimes create noise, dust, and congested traffic. The fairgrounds is concerned that building 83 housing units in the currently planned location could lead to problems in the future that could put the fairgrounds and its variety of events at risk.

    Currently no date for the beginning of construction has been announced.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    The Wiesz Family Races Together

     

    Colfax, CA…Colby and Jenny Wiesz have built their own family racing group as the first three of four children became racers.  The youngest is waiting to reach age 16 to make it four for four.  When asked how racing has impacted her family, Jenny credited the sport with helping to keep it together.

     

    Jenny explained, “I wouldn’t give all the credit to the races, but decisions we made early on to do everything as a family as much as possible.  But the racing definitely gave us the opportunity to put into practice what we said we were going to do.  It gave us regular opportunities to go together and to be together.” 

     

    “The kids learned to make long hauls, to take vacations at the race track, and definitely helped us to be more patient, and they just developed a love for it.  They look forward to racing, they are in the shop several nights a week, and racing is where they spend their money and time and they just love it.  It definitely kept us together as a family.”

     

    The family is not all racing as Jenny likes to garden and work around the house.  Colby has coached all the kids soccer teams and family trips of a non-racing variety are also part of their busy schedule.

     

    Jenny met Colby when her family moved to Colfax.  She was 13 and Colby almost 16 when they met in church.  That was also the year when Colby started racing a sprint car at Grass Valley after a few races in a quarter midget eleven years earlier .  Not suprisingly, racing played a part in their eventual marriage.

     

    “He proposed to me in December of 1997,” Jenny recalled, “ and he gave me two dates for 1998, two dates that we could be married.  It was either the very first weekend he wasn’t racing in November or there was one race he was willing to miss in July.”

     

    Over time Jenny became a race fan and not just when someone from her family was on the track.  Two sons are very active, a daughter races when she is available to do so, and the younger daughter says she wants to race when 16.  Ben is the oldest at 22, Josh is 19, Hailey is 16, and Natalie is 12. 

     

    Dwarf cars have been the family starting point and Ben began driving one at age 13.  He drove around the track for what seemed a long time before eventually becoming a contender for wins. As his mother said, “for two years he was last in everything.”  Ben has now collected wins at six tracks, fifteen wins total, with Placerville being the site of six of those trophies. 

     

    Ben built his midget and gets to race that only occasionally and is taking his time learning it just as he did in the dwarf car.  Josh won two races at the Dwarf Car Nationals in Medford, OR and a third win at Stockton Dirt Track.  Ben is now spending some time in a sprint car and the family often goes to tracks that are running both 360 sprints and dwarf cars.

     

    The Wiesz family owns three dwarf cars, two sprints cars, and Ben’s midget which completely fill two garages on the property in Colfax.  Consider the large hauler and the investment total is large.  With not much in sponsorship. The Wiesz Family Racing is mostly funded by Colby’s side business on their property.

     

    Jenny said, “Colby builds motors for people, all kinds of boat motors, car motors, he builds motors for some of his competitors, and he worked under Tony Borello for a long time, and nights, weekends, when they are not racing somewhere, he is building a motor for somebody.”

     

    Jenny summarized racing and her family by saying, “It has brought so much value to our family and I hope it does the same for each of our kids.  I hope they have some of the same benefits we have.”

     

    Colby Wiesz has approximately 80 sprint car wins, 59 of which came at Marysville Raceway, making him the all-time winningest driver at that track.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Thank You Joseph Poliakoff

    Lincoln, CA…Access to a pair of streaming services has proved to be very useful, providing the opportunity to sample races from different tracks over a wide area. Without Speed Sport TV I never would have known Oyster Bed Speedway existed. The paved high banked oval located on Prince Edward Island is a racy third mile oval and provides plenty of side by side racing.

    But along with the capability to explore and discover, there is often a downside to exploratory streaming viewing. All too often, the announcing is terrible. Having two announcers is a recipe to doubling the irritation and seemingly creating a “who can be the most irritating” contest.

    There are nationally known streaming announcers that are excellent, Bryan Hulbert who handles ASCS events, and Chet Christner who is often heard on USAC races but does many other types of stream announcing such as snowmobile racing. Both of these announcers talk a lot, but unlike some of the untrained ones, everything they say is useful and informative.

    Lately too many tracks are being presented on a streaming service by announcers who think screaming and sounding overly excited is the doorway to success. To that add nonstop chatter which is often about as useful as announcing what day of the week it is. I don’t think viewers need to hear the top 10 running order repeatedly, nor is making a race for sixth place sound like the most exciting thing since the concept of sliced bread at all necessary.

    However, Joseph Poliakoff created the defensive tool for lousy streaming announcers a very long time before steaming was born. Poliakoff invented the volume control.

    Stream announcers have access on Flo Racing to a pair of excellent announcers who know exactly how to do the job. All the screamers and overly excited bunch should be required to listen to the stream from July 4 from Silver Dollar Speedway and Placerville Speedway. Maybe they would learn something about how a professional does the job.

    Troy Hennig (Silver Dollar Speedway), and Gary Thomas (Placerville Speedway), are two announcers that are veterans with the knowledge and common sense required to be a successful and top notch announcer. No screaming, no phony hype, and certainly no trying to draw attention to themselves.

    Watching those two tracks from their July 4 event will absolutely not require use of the Poliakoff invention.

    Both tracks had something more in common last Monday. For years both Chico and Placerville have raced on July 4th. Both tracks featured winged 360s with two stock car type support divisions with the obligatory fireworks after racing was complete. They both had huge crowds that got to see good sprint car main events.

    Placerville had a driver win for the fourth time this year. Justin Sanders and the 4sa car have been an unbeatable pair this year at the foothill quarter mile oval. Chico had the excitement of a first time ever sprint car winner when Casey Schmitz took the checkers after an entertaining thirty laps at the high-banked quarter mile.

    Huge crowds, nice fields of winged 360s, exciting main events, and quality announcing means Chico and Placerville had all the parts in place on July 4th.

     

     

    From The Grandstand 

    Ron Rodda

    Thanks To All The Car Owners

    The car owners are a special group. They are willing to spend money, lots of it too, and in many cases they don’t even get to drive it themselves. When it gets damaged, which is always just a matter of time before the next costly repair, car owners spend more money to get their expensive toy back on the track.

    Many of these car owners are like Alan Bradway and Steve Tuccelli and can be labeled Saturday Night Warriors. Alan and Steve are brother-in-laws and have owned a sprint car for years, racing regularly at Placerville Speedway and occasionally other venues. Alan was spokesman for the team.

    “My father raced a lot,” recalled Bradway, “and he drove a 320 cubic inch, four barrel carburetor, modified and we could race at Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, Chico, West Capitol, and my dad won championships at all those race tracks. All were multiple championships other than Chico.”

    Bradway’s racing career started in a hobby stock type car at age 16 but it was not a long lasting effort in that division. His first race was on the asphalt at Roseville in 1977 where he finished 7th in a full field of cars. He only ran seven races in a hobby stock before moving up to a modified.

    Bradway explained, “My dad had a modified and I drove it on Friday and he drove on Saturday so we split the thing. It was Chico on Friday night and then my dad drove it Saturday at West Capitol. I ran his car for one year then I had my own car the next year. I ran that car until 1982 and then started racing sprint cars in 1983. I drove until 1999. I was kind of the average guy.”

    Bradway estimates he collected 20 wins with Placerville being the site of the majority of them. Upon retiring from driving, he became crew chief on a Mike Sala owned car, driven by David Robinson Jr. Then in 2002 he and Steve Tuccelli became car owners with the team name that continues today, F and F Racing. They have always raced the car as X1 because that was the number his father ran at the time he retired from racing.

    Bradway described how he became a car owner by recalling, “There was a meeting with me, David Robinson Jr., and Terry Buss, one of my crew guys today. We decided to give Steve Tuccelli, my brother-in-law. a call since he had a car and engine also. We had a couple sponsors and the four of us put Steve and me together as car owners. I had a truck and trailer and David Robinson Jr. drove our car until 2006.”

    Drivers of the F and F car in order have been Robinson, Colby Wiesz, Andy Forsberg, Mason Moore, a second stint with Forsberg, Kaleb Montgomery, and now Michael Faccinto. That is over a twenty year span of being a car owner.

    “As a car owner we tend to not have as much of a voice as you might think we would have.” Bradway said. “I call myself an average team, a middle of the road team, we come to the big races and seem to get run over by better financed teams. I think there are changes that can be made that will make things better. The biggest problem we are having today is the cost of tires, the cost of shocks, the cost of engines, the cost of the whole thing across the board. It’s a hard thing to go out and try to have fun when you need to find another sponsor to help with your tire bill. Tires and engines are just so incredibly expensive today.”

    “There needs to be a bigger gap between a 410 and a 360. Instead of running a fifteen hundred dollar inboard rotor that’s titanium and has all the bells and whistles on it, go with a cast iron rotor which you can buy two of them and run the same brake pads for almost the whole season. The overall car is just getting so expensive. You buy an expensive wheel and then spend another $200 for titanium bolts? That’s crazy. Steel bolts cost next to nothing.”

    “The first rule I’d come out with if I had any control would be for 360 stuff to eliminate titanium bolts. I’ve got bolts on my car that are ten dollars and you can go to the hardware store and get two or three of them for less than a dollar. Steel bolts are almost free. We’re trying to keep up with the Joneses and not every one of my wheels has titanium in it. Parts are getting so much more expensive. Used to buy a set of pistons for six or seven hundred, now it’s over a thousand.”

    “Where’s our next generation going to come from? Are we running them out? There’s not going to be a Bradway type family that has raced since 1960. We do this because we love it. I lost my brother (Dave Bradway Jr.), my best friend, my big brother who you could tell him any problem you had and he would fix it or tell you how to fix it. I hope the sport does not lose the family aspect. We all love dirt track racing, we all love motorsports.”

    The importance of that statement is shown by the race team name. It has been F and F Racing from the beginning, standing for Family and Friends Racing. The name came about in his garage when David Robinson Jr., Terry Buss, and Steve Tuccelli came up with the name. Bradway wasn’t particularly impressed with their idea.

    “I thought the guys were crazy,” Bradway remembers, “as I’m old school. I was just shaking my head, thinking you guys are nuts. But I’m part of F and F Racing and I’m proud to be part of it. And still to this day David Robinson Jr. Is one of my best friends. I truly appreciate the guy.”

    “I love this sport and the competition. I get as much out of being a crew guy or an owner as I did as a driver for those years that I raced. Maybe more so as I will always be a better mechanic than I was a driver. If my brother’s accident had never happened somehow I would have probably gone on the road with him, being a crew guy and learn the ways of the road. That is a sad part that I was never able to go on the road with him.”

    This is the 62nd year of the Bradway family being involved with open wheel racing and the 23rd year for F and F Racing. Making this possible are the sponsors: Geico Local Office, Bushey Financial Service, Lucas Oil, Econo Lube, CRV Carbon Solutions, and SC Fuels.

    F and F Racing has won eleven championships with drivers David Robinson Jr., Mason Moore, and Andy Forsberg.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand By Ron Rodda

    When Forsberg Talks, People Should Listen

    The veteran sprint car driver, Andy Forsberg, can always be counted on for an opinion, an idea, or an observation. But there is something special about what he says.

    He is usually right.

    The 45-year-old Auburn, CA resident has been in the sport since age 16 and has the credentials to show he has learned a few things along the way. With a current lifetime win total of 198 and plenty of championships, he has earned the nickname of Mr. Excitement. Track titles show four at Silver Dollar Speedway, eight at Placerville, ten in the now gone Civil War series, one at Marysville, and one at Petaluma.

    One thing never missing from Forsberg’s comments is being candid, such as his comment on the 2021 Petaluma title.

    “He (promoter Rick Faeth) kept track of every race that was there,” said Forsberg, “ so basically if you went to every race you were the champion. But I got a jacket, a trophy, and a check.”

    TIres continue to be a major issue in racing although it seems that Northern California is handling that problem. The Forsberg 92 Racing Team is currently comfortable with their tire supply, partly by putting an in an order early.

    “We’ve always stretched our tires as much as possible,” noted Forsberg, “so we kind of run tires longer than most do. I’d like to see the 360s on a different tire, like a total spec-ee hard, narrow tire. We have a moderate stack of tires in Auburn, enough to go a while.”

    “We’ve made three orders that are big to me, we had to wait for them. We killed five tires at Merced in one night, but even although Placerville is dry, it’s not hard on tires and we can run the same tires there a handful of nights. It’s all in the track prep.”

    “I like tracks juiced up, that’s how I like to drive, but the newer generation, the kart kids and the micro kids, they’re not accustomed to that and they like it slick. But if you don’t hit that track prep just right, you will kill tires. There’s a huge difference between a good dry, slick track and one that’s destroying your tires. That’s a fine line and they ask these track prep guys to walk that line and it’s tough When the dust starts to disappear, then you know it’s starting to rubber up.”

    Forsberg feels the way to increase the life of a tire is to have a track that is “juiced up”, but he thinks most of the drivers would be against that. He also believes California will not face canceling races over tire availability, especially if the current tire rules that allow more flexibility, are maintained.

    Formats are often a topic of discussion and something that everyone seems to have an opinion about. “Modern” formats seems to shy away from inverting very much compared to the ways years ago. Forsberg compared the old with the newer.

    “The format I was basically raised on,” Forsberg recalled, “was a 24 car qualifying invert, six invert in the heats, and transfer four. Then they pulled a zero to a ten pill and that is what I raced on basically my entire career up until SCCT (Sprint Car Challenge Tour) came out. They kind of adapted the All-Star format.”

    “For whatever reason, I don’t like it, I don’t enjoy it, but it’s absolutely the fairest thing to do. I dig that portion of it where you only qualify against your heat and I do believe it’s the best format, but for whatever reason, I don’t like it. I’d like to see fast time start last in the heat and you get qualifying points, you get passing and finishing points and take the top eight in points and pull pills. I think it would be entertaining.”

    “I do enjoy qualifying but maybe it’s past its day. Do people really want to sit and watch 35 cars go around by themselves? The draw thing is very intriguing to me and qualifying may be irrelevant in 2022.”

    No matter what division of racing or what level of the sport, it is expensive to do and the purse cannot keep up in growth with the expenses. Sponsors are just as important as having a track to race on because without one there would not be the other. Forsberg has very good sponsor support to keep his family operation racing regularly.

    Forsberg figured, “It’s probably three grand a night to go to the track. This guy buys a tire, this guy buys some fuel, but for us to do our little hobby that we think is so cool we easily spend three grand a night as an average. Fortunately we do OK at the track sometimes so that helps since we do make money at the track.”

    “I do depend on a $2000 win or a $1500 second every now and then. I’ve got one guy who owns the truck and trailer, one guy who owns a couple motors, things like that I don’t even have to worry about. We’ve got five motors in the shop but only two of them are mine. Typically the three motors I do run are not mine so that helps with out of pocket costs.”

    When it comes to sponsorship, Forsberg has strong support from Pacific Highway Rentals, and there is a story behind how he came to receive the level of support that he does. It began with a restored sprint car his father, RIchard, owns.

    Forsberg explained, “That car is a 1984 Lloyd chassis, came from Pennsylvania. The father of Paul Indelicato, the Pacific Highway Rentals owner, bought that car for my dad. So fast forward 30+ years and his son, Paul, calls me and says he doesn’t know if I remember him but his dad sponsored my dad. He asked what it would take to get his name on my car. That was in 2015 so fast forward to 2022 and he’s spent a small fortune on me. He told me he’s always had a dream of having his own race team.”

    Besides Pacific Highway Rentals, Paul Indelicato also owns PATG (Parking and Transportation Group), Meridian Camera, and 1st Vanguard.

    Forsberg’s initial race was not the sign of things to come, making the main due to car count but getting lapped twice.

    “My 16th birthday fell on June 20, 1992 and my first race was at Grass Valley, having never raced anything before,” recalled Forsberg. “Nothing spectacular the first night, Mark Hall won his first of many races with a V-6 even though I spun out if front of him both times he came around to pass me. Ended up running nine races in 1992 and never bent one part the entire year. Dad was still driving so we took turns for two years.”

    This year is a return for Forsberg to running his own team. He has raced for car owners with much success, but felt it was time to return to his own deal. All those wins for other owners could have led to a considerable income stream, but Forsberg saw it a different way.

    “I’ve been a volunteer for every car I’ve driven,” Forsberg stated. “That was my sponsorship to the team. We went to these teams and I said I’m going to make you some money, and my sponsorship to you is I’m not taking any of it. I want it all back into the race car. Sometimes I thought if I was getting a percentage I’d be doing pretty good.”

    Andy Forsberg has been around long enough that he has experienced how things were thirty years ago compared to now. Speeds have increased which creates an increase in costs. The difference between 410 and 360 sprints is smaller as the rules have changed, leading to cost growth. When he started drivers were almost entirely older, now Northern California is gradually becoming dominated by teenagers.

    One day Mr. Excitement will retire, and when that happens the Northern California sprint car scene will never quite be the same again.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    I Can Do That!

    If a person thinks about it, there may be a moment in their life that a decision changed their future, hopefully in a positive way. It’s like turning from one road to another with the result being a different route that reaches a different destination.

    For streaming announcer Chet Christner, it was those four words, “ I can do that”, that eventually led to a different career and life.

    His first announcing was in Alabama when he was going to college working on his masters degree. A Wednesday night amateur boxing event used equipment for a sound company Christner worked for and he volunteered to run the equipment since it was close to where he lived.

    “One Wednesday night the regular announcer for the boxing didn’t show”, explained Christner, “and I was like, it’s not that hard and I can do it. They liked me better than the regular announcer so that turned into a regular Wednesday night gig.”

    “That’s what got me into announcing on that level, but the comfort level of doing stuff in front of a crowd comes from the fact that as I grew up, my uncle had an auction business, and I grew up working auctions. I literally grew up in front of crowd. I was used to a lot of people looking at me and being in front of a crowd.”

    Like many people involved with racing on some level, Christner’s father was a racer. His name was Orville, but everyone called him Speedy. He raced motorcycles on the highways of Pennsylvania, owning a record from one certain town to another. Chet was involved with drag racing as a competitor and was about 15 years old before going to his first dirt track race.

    When Christner moved to Las Vegas he went to dirt track races in Pahrump NV with Jerry Miracle, a neighbor of Jason Thompson who was a long time friend. It was one of those nights at Pahrump Valley Speedway that led to a major change in Christner’s future.

    Christner recalled, “The announcer made an announcement that he was moving to California and they needed an announcer. I said to Jerry, and I was kind of joking, that I could do that. Jerry laughed and told me I needed to go up and tell them that.”

    “In a split second I made the decision to go up and talk to them. I started announcing for them, Joe Rogers, Jr. was the promoter at the time, and he hired me and I was there for a couple years. The pay I asked for was that Jerry and I could get in free and we each get a cheeseburger.”

    “When Joe was moving to California, they thought the lease would be up and the track would be shut down. So the last race I announced for Joe I held a microphone and a little tape recorder in my hand and recorded it. Then I burned it onto a CD, dropped it off at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway front desk. I dropped it off at 9 am at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and had a job by 11 am. I started that night and it was the Duel In The Desert.”

    Christner announced the dirt track and the paved Bullring at the Las Vegas complex as well as working on the track crew at the drag strip. He was a certified NHRA tech inspector, worked as a starter, worked the water box, and staging, Eventually he also did the drag strip announcing and became a full time announcer at the facility. The drag strip was far busier than the oval tracks, keeping Christner busy on the microphone all while still teaching in a Henderson school.

    When an opportunity came along to become a streaming announcer, Christner left the teaching career in late 2012. Darren Shanley and Christner were on the road doing streaming races and they decided to work with Toby Kruse to start their own company. He knew Kruse because his very first announcing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was at the dirt track with Kruse and Chris Stepan.

    May 25, 2014 was the first official broadcast of Speed Shift TV, created by the trio of Kruse, Shanley, and Christner. Shanley was the one who got Speed Shift TV off the ground as Christner worked that year as the general manager of 141 Speedway in Maribel, WI. When the 2014 Midwest racing season ended, Christner went full time with Speed Shift TV.

    Announcing for a streamed event is a bit different that if it was just for an in person crowd.

    Christner explained by saying, “The big thing if you announce streaming you have to keep in the back of your mind that there are cameras that are trying to follow what you are talking about. It has to make logical sense where you take people’s attention because if you’re swinging around the field too violently, the camera can’t keep up with what you are doing. You have to think what is happening with the cameras while you are announcing. That’s the big thing if you want it to look and sound good.”

    “The way I do it is the camera follows me, but that is not true for every announcer. Rob Klepper likes to work out of the production van and he is announcing what the camera is showing him. He is very good at that. I’m not. I announce using my peripheral vision and I recognize cars more with color as opposed to numbers. My announcing style is very fast and I think that comes from growing up in the auction business and I need to ID cars quickly.”

    As to the future of streaming, Christner expects some changes for the better.

    “Streaming will keep getting better.” Christner noted, “because technology improves. If you look at the broadcast quality now verses just three years ago everything is in HD and you couldn’t do that everywhere three years ago. It will become better and more consistent. It used to be a stream would quit and we’d start it back up again. Now it’s a rare occurrence if that happens.”

    There are ways a promoter can use streaming for more than just presenting a race program to subscribers. Christner described what a New Jersey track has done to increase the benefits of being streamed.

    “Bridgeport Motorsports Park is promoted by Doug Rose (does the Action Track also) and he figured it our real fast,” Christner said. “If you watch a broadcast from Bridgeport they have great racing, they run a fast show, but look at the advertising he runs on his broadcast. It’s all upcoming events and his sponsors at the track. He’s using it the way he should use it. It’s free advertising.”

    If is clear that Christner really enjoys what he is doing. Had he not been sitting with Jerry Miracle years ago at Pahrump’s track and would not have had the encouragement to back up his “I can do that” claim, he might still be working in a classroom in Henderson, NV instead of doing something that is such a great experience for the former teacher.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    The First Quarter

    Lincoln, CA…The first three months of 2022 provided thirty racing programs, mostly in Arizona where we spent the first seven weeks of the year. The beginning of the year is a great time to be in the Grand Canyon State and seeing racing at, I believe, every active dirt track in the state was easier than it may sound.

    Mojave Valley Raceway, Cocopah Speedway, Central Arizona Speedway, Canyon Speedway Park, and Adobe Mountain Speedway offered all but one of the race programs with the Havasu 95 Speedway paved track starting the year with a January 1st afternoon show.

    Tracks in Show Low and Prescott apparently will spend another year silent, a status that now includes the former Arizona Speedway. Last November was the last race at Arizona Speedway as the property is controlled by the state and encroaching construction spelled its finish.

    And it seems the state may not be through with this shutting down dirt tracks by not continuing the lease.

    Canyon Speedway Park faces a similar situation this coming October as the lease for the land expires and apparently the state officials have indicated a new lease will not happen. The road into the track used to have a RV park and little airport used for gliders, but both are gone and they were also on state property.

    While the potential of a delay in any planned projects might buy the track another lease for at least a little while, across the valley where Arizona Speedway used to be shows what can happen when the state makes a decision.

    Jonah Trussel, the former Arizona Speedway promoter, is looking for land to build another track probably in the greater Phoenix area but that search has not yet resulted in any deal.

    A visit to Mohave Valley Raceway for a December 31st race obviously ended the 2021 season with stock car divisions providing a well run show that was over a bit past 9pm. It had been over 20 years since visiting the Arizona track that is just a few miles from Needles, CA. With California’s robust state tax on gas compared to Arizona, a five minute drive from Needles offered gas for about $2.50 a gallon less.

    While Mojave Valley is predominately an IMCA track, April 23rd will bring a USAC/CRA show to the third mile in an adventurous promotional plan. Nonwing micros will join for another open wheel division in what is the first USAC race ever at the track.

    Mojave Valley races a schedule from January 1st to November 5th this year, skipping the months of June, July, and August, and for a very good reason. July averages 111 degrees for a high temperature and the August cooling trend of 110 is still a “bit” toasty for racing.

    Next stop was at Havasu 95 Speedway, located south of Lake Havasu City, where the quarter mile slightly banked paved quarter mile seems to enjoy improved car counts compared to a couple years ago. There is some open wheel activity at Havasu with focus midgets, outlaw karts, and vintage sprints and midgets.

    The schedule covers two years with their approximate twice a month shows starting in October and finishing in late April. Being just 52 miles apart, Mohave Valley and Havasu 95 share the same climate.

    After a couple days off it was time to enjoy Cocopah Speedway south of Yuma for the Winter Nationals, an eight race series for IMCA divisions. Drawing over 200 cars during the first week, the racing was the best I’ve ever seen at Cocopah and after a post-midnight finish for the first race, the rest of the series had more fan friendly finish times.

    The last weekend of January at Cocopah brought in a three day USAC/CRA event, superbly run by USAC officials and delivering a trio of trophies to Damion Gardner by sweeping the series. Just making the Thursday show due to having relocated to Phoenix after the Winter Nationals at least offered a taste of nonwing sprint car racing at the big 3/8 mile.

    It was as good as the Winter Nationals had been and the success of the three race nights at Cocopah led to the track becoming the host of the Western World Championships in late October. This National USAC event was at the former Arizona Speedway the last few years.

    Cocopah Speedway’s former general manager was Brad Whitfield, and is still in the hands of Whitfield but with a title change to promoter. Whitfield has brought Cocopah Speedway back to life after a period of time being idle and runs a far more aggressive schedule than when the Cocopah Tribal Council was more directly involved with running the track.

    Late January and into February also offered racing at Canyon Speedway Park and Central Arizona Speedway. Second year promoters at Canyon, Dave and Penny Craft, also promote Lincoln County Raceway in North Platte, NE. They are in the final year of the current contract with both tracks and the Nebraska track does not face the uncertainty of Canyon.

    The Crafts continued the long running tradition of running the Winter Challenge on weekend afternoons, featuring the IMCA divisions for the four race series. As usual, the IMCA stock cars stood out each race.

    Dave Ellis is in his 5th year at Central Arizona Speedway and is seeing large car counts so far this year. Ellis is a chassis builder in Phoenix and his Casa Grande fairgrounds track is the highest banked in the state. Open wheel racing is more frequent at CAS than the other tracks between winged and nonwing sprints plus the infield track races divisions of micro sprints.

    Taking in the nonwing sprint races at Casa Grande it became a sweep for R. J. Johnson from Laveen, mostly dominating the action of the high banks. Many of the racers from the closed Arizona Speedway seemed to have found Casa Grande for their Saturday night thrills.

    An opportunity to visit Adobe Mountain Speedway was on a night with more cars and people than usual on a comfortable late January evening. Several micro sprint classes plus the Western Midget Racing Series filled the pit area to challenge the sixth mile or so sized oval.

    Racing was good and the small track does allow for side by side racing with very well organized programs. Only some decent stands are missing from the busy track. The schedule alternates between karts and micros and motorcycles.

    With one track shut down and another somewhat in limbo, there is one place that is potentially going the opposite direction. The plan is to build a 3/8 high-banked track in Salome, AZ, about a hour and a half west of Phoenix on a 123 acre plot. An important ingredient in the deal is three wells on the land.

    Called Desert West Speedway and having driven through Salome a couple times this year, the area seems a place where the problems that have surfaced for other tracks will not be a factor. In fact, Salome may welcome the track with open arms because I sure didn’t see anything to do when driving through the small city.

    Talking with Chris Kearns, now residing in Kentucky, he explained the Wild West Shootout will be in Vado, New Mexico next year and beyond that it is a wait and see. The understanding with the track is when a new facility in the Phoenix area is built, the Shootout will return to Arizona. What would also likely return is the Wild Wing Shootout once an Arizona track is built.

    Kearns seems to very much enjoy his new home in the country in Northern Kentucky. The area has some horse farms, something Kearns admits he knows nothing about, but he does have a couple of longhorn cattle in his plans.

    Returning to California mid-February saw a significant slowing of adding to the racing diary, but still Marysville opened the last Saturday of the month. Three shows have been enjoyed at the best lit track in the state after the LED update. All three would have had Andy Forsberg wins had his engine not gotten ill with a couple laps left when he was in the lead on the third of the trio of events.

    Forsberg passed Tanner Carrick coming out of turn 4 on the last lap to settle the first race of the season at Marysville. Carrick ran a line that put a slower car in front of him, showing again how it is often better to be in 2nd when a close battle is in play. The second race was a rare nonstop main with Forsberg leading all the way. Next was the Forsberg misfortune on a night that he was in Marysville because Placerville was rained out.

    Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico raced the week after the Marysville opener and a Friday afternoon rain threat became real at about the worst time. Credit goes to Colby Copeland, the “C” in the SLC promotion team that now runs Chico, for not giving up easily and after lengthy packing and hot laps the races were able to happen. Justin Sanders and Mitchell Faccinto collected wins for the special event labeled the John Padjen Classic.

    Placerville opened a week later than planned to close the first three months of the year with a packed pit area due to having SCCT, USAC Western midgets and BCRA co-sanctioned, and lightning sprints all on hand. Another Justin Sanders win settled the SCCT main, Jake Andreotti won the midget main, and A. J. Bender was the winner in BCRA lightning sprints.

    The second quarter will be much quieter until mid-June when racing in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota will consume numerous diary pages, assuming my looking for loose change on the ground provides the funding needed for fuel stops.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    USAC National Midgets and Placerville Pit Stands Big Winners

    Lincoln CA…November’s series of USAC National MIdget shows in the Golden State showed just how talented their drivers are with nonstop mains, excellent racing, track records and if not nonstop few delays occurring night after night. The series is very well run by the officials and is able to get by with no rule stating two stops and you are done. In the six races I was at only one instance when a driver was involved two times in a race, further showing the talent of the group of drivers.

    Attending six of the seven races in the series, the Bakersfield, Placerville, and Merced tracks showed how they are perfect for the series. Buddy Kofoid’s Bakersfield win came on a very fast surface and his speed in the turns was amazing. Back in the 1990s Bakersfield hosted Turkey Night five times and it woud be nice to see the event return to the high-banked quarter mile. It is almost like it was designed for midgets.

    Placerville had to cancel their part of the California series last year when a ruling was made by the health department that competitors were not allowed from more than 120 miles away. This year the gates were open and USAC midgets had lightning sprints as support, sans their usual wing. Too many accidents occured in the support class, perhaps spiked upwards by the nonwing aspect.

    Ryan Timms, Kyle Larson, and Justin Grant won mains with Grant’s win being the 100 lapper on the final night. The Saturday finale drew one of the largest crowds in track history, making the debut of the best pit seating in California, and perhaps the country, very successful. More on that later.

    Grant grew up in Ione, 31 miles from Placerville, home of the track that his father introduced him to racing. It was where he decided to become a race car driver. Grant’s victory lane interview was a classic as he expressed what it meant to win this race and at Placerville too.

    Merced Speedway finished the north of Grapevine portion of the series, leaving only the further south Turkey Night at Ventura remaining. Grant made it two in a row on Tuesday before Kofoid won Wdnesday’s main. Winged 360s were the support group and only Colby Copeland had anything to keep Kyle Larson on his toes both nights. Copeland made it to 2nd on Tuesday but needed more laps to make a challenge and on Wednesday was moving forward and looked to be ready to challenge Larson before being the victim of contact on the backstretch.

    Kofoid was so smooth every time on the various tracks and added to his October championship at the Trophy Cup by collecting the USAC National Midget Championship. Nineteen years old and Kofoid has accomplished two huge championships just a month apart. Winning a Trophy Cup preliminary main at age 14 was just a sign of things to come for Kofoid.

    Logan Seavey saved the best for last, winning Turkey Night to join a long list of accomplished drivers to claim the win. At Placerville, John Taylor built a lightning sprint, in fact it was finished the morning of the first race, and Seavey drove it to win two of three mains. Seavey started his career driving a Taylor mini-sprint as it was called in those days, and returned to his roots in a successful fashion.

    The late part of Placerville’s season was cancelled when wildfire equipment and personnel needed a place to camp and the pit and infield of the foothill quarter mile became home. Losing a handful of races made it disappointing for the promoter team of Scott Russell and Kami Arnold. However, it also led to a big project in the pit area being completed in the weeks between the facility becoming a race track again and the November USAC shows.

    Russell said, “We’ve had visions of improvements and things we wanted to do and a lot of it comes down to time and money. Out of the fire situation and with us not racing, they(Cal Fire) hired us to do dust control at the track during the fire camp and I made a fair chunk of money because they were short of equipment for the fire. So they asked if I would use my water truck and do dust control throughout the fire camp.”

    “I saw the opportunity to take the money and reinvest in the track and my vision for building a wall, putting a fence of top of it, and purchasing the grandstands for the pit area. These are the grandstands we used to rent for the Outlaw race.”

    Doing most of the labor themselves saved a lot of money on the project, but it still cost a lot more than the Cal Fire income, but the timing was right to do the upgrade.

    “All this kind of came about,” explained Russell, “where I had this money and once the grandstands became available all the stars kind of aligned so we decided to try to get this done before the Hangtown 100. and that was a lot of work. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I really like how it came out with the wall and fence.”

    “There are so many little things I want to do to make it a better experience for fans and racers. Putting those grandstands in is going to allow us to have these bigger shows and accommodate people.”

    The pit area now has seating for around 1700, counting the original small stands that are still available, and the two new sets of tall stands combined with the elevated pit area already overlooking the track offers a dramatic view. I have been to 392 tracks according to the Trackchaser list and the pit view at Placerville is immensely better than any other track I’ve seen.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda


    Lincoln, CA Having missed a year of Trophy Cup racing led to a greater amount of anticipation compared to past years. As the phrase goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

    The 85 car turn out may seem low considering there were 107 entries but that is not the case. Some of those entries had no intention of racing but are entering and therefore making a donation to Make-A-Wish. Other entries were sent in case a spot was needed and some entered cars lacked a driver.

    In 2019 there were 89 cars that appeared so this year was right in the same area. Three drivers who were going to race changed plans due to a rescheduled event.

    It seemed as if a group of 15-year-old drivers in the field might have been enough to have their own heat race.

    One of those 15-year-olds was Corey day, son of the Trophy Cup champion from 1994, the very first year of the event. Ronnie Day, winner that year at San Jose Speedway now gets to watch his son in the same event.

    Ronnie Day did not climb into a sprint car until age 25 because he was a motorcycle racer up until that point. His son will have 12 years experience by that age. In Ronnie's era, as a 25-year-old rookie he was considered young. Now it takes 15 or even less for an age to be considered a young driver.

    Comparing the Trophy Cup from that 1994 championship year for Ronnie to what it is today is almost like comparing a cabin to a high-rise hotel. The level of competition today is much tougher and along with the higher speeds created in the last 27years, the number of drivers entered who are capable of being a champion has soared.

    Buddy Kofoid holds the record that will almost certainly never be broken and that is being the youngest driver to win a Trophy Cup main event. He was just 14 when he took advantage of a leader’s mistake late in the race to win the main event.

    Drivers like Chase Arnold, Ryan Timms, Corey Day, and many others will absolutely be candidates to become a Trophy Cup champion. If drivers of that age keep coming back to race the event one of them will win the title. The three mentioned here all made the Saturday main event, and Timms and Day placed in the top ten in points. Arnold was impressive coming out of the B main to run the finale as he and Timms had never raced Tulare before.

    This year's race was missing a key person who played an important role for the first 26 years. Mike Andretta was the race director since the first year and ran the event like it needed to be done. With the huge purse that the Cup has there is greater need for quality officiating and Mike provided that. He missed this year as he is recovering from a medical situation.

    While there was concern over Mike's absence, Dan Belton stepped up and kept the show moving just like Mike would have. Dan has been in charge of staging in the pit area for years, usually seeing very few laps himself. This year as the head official he had to see every lap and the show was been kept on track literally and figuratively.

    Belton is the Northern Auto Racing Club winged 410 series race director so he has experience, but serving as a race director at a Trophy Cup is a more intense situation. The event was fortunate to have a qualified person able to fill the race director position.

    Thursday heat races followed a trend seen each year with the high point transfer car to the main event being the fast qualifier starting 6th. Eight heat races and eight times the fastest qualifier wound up being the high point car and getting a main event transfer.

    Each heat winner also transferred and seven out of eight came from the normal front row start. Shane Golobic was the only second row starter to win a heat race with a last lap pass in turn two.

    Friday heats were much different largely due to the track being wet at the bottom of turn four and also somewhat in turn one. The initial start of the heat saw the front row slip through turn four while the outside row 2starter quickly moved up the track and use the top line in turn one to fly into the lead. That allowed a row two starter to win the first two heats until the bottom of turn four became more usable. The final heat also had a row two winner but that was due to attrition.

    Three times out of 8 the fastest qualifier was not the high point car, a never before seen result that many times. In one case the high point car was a DNF and the other two cases the fifth starting car got the necessary two spots ahead of the fastest qualifier at the checkers.

    Both preliminary nights the mains were entertaining as the Thunderbowl surface was good all three nights. When drivers are able to race multi-groove and throw those big sliders, the place becomes very special. Some of that success is due to the work of Scott Woodhouse with his track prep skills, used in many states the past few years. And sometimes a track prep person does the right thing by doing nothing. Thursday after the B mains he was asked about track prep, and said the right thing by saying leave it as it is.

    Friday a hole out of turn three led to some carnage. Woodhouse said the problem is the clay is too thin in the area and the dirt underneath does not mix with the clay. Off season will likely include new clay. Saturday the problem was much less a factor.

    As usual, most of the carnage was strictly driver induced. Many times a car got into the wall, turn 1 and 2 especially, and good things never happen from that. The fast way around Tulare often gets right up to the wall and a tiny mistake carries expensive results.

    Buddy Kofoid’s win on Thursday was a classic example of being in control of a sprint car and going exactly where it needs to go. Friday he was only one spot short of another win and again very smooth driving was displayed.

    That led to being high point on Saturday and Kofoid got a break in his heat when two cars dropped out and he was able to finish 2nd from the outside row four start in the fully inverted heats.

    Saturday heats for the top 48 in points present a chance to stretch leads in points or shrink the gaps between drivers. Kofoid and Colby Copeland had good heats and Kofoid added three points to his lead over Rico Abreu and Copeland moved up in the standings.

    It took 27 years to happen but the 50 lap finale had no drama for high point champion once lap 7 was complete. Everyone who had a realistic chance to overtake Kofoid in the points fell by the wayside as a threat. Abreu and Kyle Hirst, 2nd and 3rd in points, had contact and both did not come back. Anthony Macri was 4th in points starting the main and pitted twice for two flats. Cory Eliason was 5th and was towed off eventually, and Colby Copeland was tied for 5th and made the most of his place to finish 2nd in points.

    As for the front of the main, another racy display of big sliders and great competition had Ryan Timms and Tanner Carrick dueling for much of the race. Copeland raced from 12th to 2nd and Timms looked like a veteran on the tricky Tulare oval, building a large lead like he had tons of experience on the track, not just in his 3rd night ever.

    Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway came through as did the many event supporters, leading to a record $250,000 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That puts the total donated by the Trophy Cup to the Foundation as an amazing $2,350,000.

    Trophy Cup 28 is set for October 20-22 next year and don’t be surprised if one of those now 16 year olds collects the champion’s $28,000 check.

     

     

     

    Justin Peck Celebrates A Williams Grove Win (photo by Ashlee Book)

      Justin Peck To Return To Trophy Cup

    by Ron Rodda

     

    Lincoln, CA…One of several cars entered for the Abreu Vineyards 27th Trophy Cup Presented By Rudeen Racing that was lacking a driver has named Justin Peck as the choice to chase the $200,000 purse next month.

     Peck’s appearance at the three day event on October 21-23 will be his second time in Tulare, driving the F and F Racing X1 winged 360 sprint this time after a less than successful venture in 2018.

     In 2018 Peck drove the Clayton Snow car and he summarized that year’s effort by noting, “We didn’t do worth a crap.  I got upside down two nights in a row, we blew a motor, so it didn’t go good.”

     Having difficulties the first time at a Trophy Cup is not unusual as numerous drivers, particularly ones from out of state who may never had tested the high banks in Tulare, find it a challenging time at the fairgrounds 3/8 mile.  Eventually each night will see the fastest line become the top where an unforgiving wall is waiting for those who jump the cushion.

     Peck appreciates the tough format by saying, “It’s pretty cool, it’s a unique deal.  I thought it was a cool experience, first of all it’s all for charity, and the format makes you race every time you are on the track.  If you want to win, you have to race hard.”

     Racing for a team he has never met is not a concern for Peck. 

     “Everything I have heard about the team is that they are good people, they have really good equipment, and treat their guys well and I thought that was huge.  It doesn’t hurt to see they win all the time with Forsberg and I know he is a good driver.  When someone like that is in it, you know its got to be good stuff.”

     This year Peck has been racing the All-Star Circuit of Champions full time and is second in wins to Tyler Courtney and is second in owner points.  Other than All-Stars the team is racing all the big events and Peck has collected another trio of wins in those races.  Despite numerous cancellations, the team is still in the mid-80s for number of races this year.

      Justin Peck Runs The Top At Waynesfield Raceway Park  (photo by Chad Warner)

     Peck is in racing because his father and uncle raced,   When he was old enough, he raced quarter midgets, some engines built by his grandfather.  Lots of wins in quarter midgets led to racing micros, then midgets, some pavement racing, and eventually he decided to concentrate on winged sprint cars. 

     At age 21 Peck became a full-time sprint car driver.  Besides talent, it takes a car owner and Peck notes he was lucky to have that.  “I was fortunate enough to drive for good car owners,” Peck explained.  “This year I got hooked up with John Buch in the 13 car and we set out to go for an All-Star championship this year.”

     Having raced only 410s this year, an adjustment is in order at the Trophy Cup when its a 360 providing the power.  Peck figures it takes longer in a 360 to get momentum built back up after a mistake.

     He is looking forward to the trip to California and fans can expect to see a much different result for the 23-year-old driver from Monrovia, IN than was experienced in 2018.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The first weekend of September was presenting a difficult decision when both Silver Dollar Speedway and Placerville Speedway had two day specials on Saturday and Sunday. Each track had a winged and nonwinged division with 410s in Chico and 360s in Placerville. One day at each or do just one track two nights options were changed by a wildfire east of Placerville.

    When the fairgrounds became home to firefighters and the supporting equipment, Placerville was canceled and it was off to the Louie Vermeil Classic in Chico.

    Labor Day weekend is the only time the southern California based USAC CRA series does the long tow to compete in the race often referred to as “The Vermeil”. Louie Vermeil is credited with co-starting the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) and was the force behind the organization for many years.

    This was the 13th edition of the Classic and was not at its usual home of Calistoga Speedway because of the uncertainty revolving around the city purchasing the fairgrounds from the county. Reportedly negotiations are still continuing, leaving the potential of the Classic returning to Calistoga a possibility.

    On the first night attending the USAC CRA driver meeting was an example of exactly how a meeting should be run. Race director, Tony Jones, did an excellent job of presenting the rules and procedures and made it very clear how, when, and why things were to be done as they were.

    Running the show since 2019, Jones seems to have solved the issue with restarts being called back, or often not called back when they should. He uses a plan that takes away all the all too often officiating decision that looks questionable at best. No more calling back a start then letting the next attempt stay green when it was worse.

    Jones explained at the meeting that the pole car can go once it is “near the cone”. The outside front row car had better be ready and be “elbows up” when the pole car takes off. As long as the pole car does not go too early and does get the honor of going first, it is a good start. No trying to decide if the front two cars are even at the line, if the pole car goes first it is good.

    Car count was up considerably from 2019 with 35 on Friday and 32 on Saturday. USAC CRA does not mess around as a large group of drivers found out when they were all considered late to staging on Saturday and received only one lap with a 10th best the most they could do. USAC does not wait, and I have lost count of how many times I have heard the “we don’t wait” at a driver meeting and then during the evening they do wait.

    Friday’s USAC CRA main was not as racy as Saturday, nor was it close to the controversy that came on day two. Carson Short led all 30 laps to win opening night with some pressure along the way creating some drama. But night one was light drama compared to Saturday.

    Damion Gardner won night two, leading only 3/4 of the final lap for the victory. He drove low into turn 1 on the final lap and sped under Brody Roa, making plenty of contact in the process, and creating a very unhappy Roa in victory lane. Call it overly aggressive driving and you would be correct.

    Sunday finished the trio of events at Petaluma Speedway where the car count was way down, possibly due to distance between Chico and Petaluma as compared the the just over 30 miles from Calistoga to Petaluma.

    The track was excellent as was the main event and Austin Williams made it three different winners for the weekend.

    Petaluma promoter, Rick Faeth, has raced USAC CRA for the last nine years on Labor Day and and much appreciates the series.

    Faeth stated, “I just love the USAC CRA series and will keep booking them since they don’t complain about me or my track on social media.”

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    There’s Still Hope In California

    Golden State short tracks are facing a variety of issues from the yearly wildfires to the uncertainty of the future of some fairgrounds. Every year there are wildfires, the only questions are how large and where. The future plan for some fairgrounds carries a different form of uncertainty. The wildfires will eventually be put out and a form of normalcy will return, but the other issue is not as simple to solve.

    Currently Placerville has canceled next Wednesday and Saturday races and tracks in Susanville and Quincy have also ceased racing due to wildfires. Fairgrounds are used as a temporary home for the firefighters and equipment so all events planned for the facility are canceled. Placerville Speedway, for example, now has large tents in the infield and the pit area is full of fire equipment.

    Any rescheduling of events is yet to be determined.

    Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico raced August 20 only because the firefighters and equipment relocated in Susanville. The fire moved in the direction of Susanville so it was closer to camp there as opposed to Chico.

    But these tracks are dealing with nature related situations, in time they will be handled, and the tracks will be able to resume racing. Other tracks are facing a different situation, one that isn’t resolved with water and fire retardant.

    Santa Maria Speedway, citing an “ongoing legal battle” with county officials, is no longer active. Those three quoted words can be interpreted as a long, drawn out period of time before getting settled.

    Stockton, the racingest city in the country, is facing the possibility of losing that title if two of the city’s three race tracks (really four if you count the road course called Little 99) are closed due to a low income housing project that would cover a large portion of the fairgrounds. The San Joaquin County Fairgrounds is home to the Stockton Dirt track 3/8 mile dirt oval, the 1/7 mile Delta Speedway for micro sprints, and even LIttle 99 which is adjacent to Delta.

    But there is still hope for the fairgrounds tracks. Tiffanie Panella of the C and P Promotions team that runs Delta has explained the current status, one that applies to all three fairgrounds tracks.

    “We have been told that if it happens it would still be a ways off”, noted Panella. “You know how long development can take. We have been told that the map/line drawing was just an example/suggestion and the developers would negotiate with the State to determine how and where the development would take place on the Fairgrounds.”

    “They are only in the qualifications stage for developers now and potential developers have until the end of the month to submit questions and request clarifications on the RFQ (request for quote). The State will then respond by 9/7. Developers will then have until 9/17 to submit their RFQ. Interviews will be the week of 10/4 and they will award the week of 10/18.”

    Further factors in the development project are of an historical nature.

    Panella said, “Soil samples were taken and at this time the results are unknown, there are huge infrastructure issues, and the Fairgrounds is a State Landmark and a Federal Historic Site due to it being a former Japanese Internment camp ("Stockton Assembly Center"). Delta Speedway is smack dab in the middle of the original camp. The ag storage shed is an original building - it was the hospital, and the "horse barns" were originally barracks.”

    The future of the fairgrounds tracks does not seem like something that will be settled very quickly and complicated issues with the proposed development could result in moving it elsewhere or dropping the idea entirely.

    Calistoga Speedway has been idle due to two factors, COVID-19 and ongoing negotiations between the city and county over the potential change of ownership.

    Tommy Hunt addressed the current situation and said, “We remain optimistic. The city has renewed their negotiation with the county. The city has also been talking to bond market representatives about financing options. If the city ends up with the fairgrounds property, it’s likely that we will have an opportunity at some point to run at Calistoga.”

    The Louie Vermeil Classic, normally held in Calistoga on Labor Day weekend, took last year off due to COVID-19. This year the ownership of the fairgrounds was not going to be settled in time, so the event has moved to Silver Dollar Speedway, an opportunity that Hunt is very happy to have.

    Hunt stated, “We are excited about running the event at Silver Dollar this year and regardless of what happens at Calistoga we will continue to run special events there too.”

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Whitfield And Cocopah Speedway Work Well Together

    Lincoln, CA…Brad Whitfield and Cocopah Speedway are proving to be an excellent combination. He has brought the track back from a period of being closed and the short half-mile located south of Yuma, AZ has provided him with a task he truly enjoys doing.

    As general manager of the Cocopah Indian Tribe owned facility, Whitfield has enjoyed record car counts, tremendous community support, and a larger schedule of events featuring just about every class of race car.

    At age 17 Whitfield first got into a race car, his brother Gene’s factory stock, just to see what it was like. A few laps around Central Arizona Speedway and he was hooked on the sport. In 27 years of racing he has driven everything from factory stock, street stock, modifieds, late models, and bombers with the only thing he hasn’t driven is a dwarf car and sprint car, stating, “I’m afraid of both of them.”

    He summarized his racing career by saying, “I was fortunate enough that we won in every class we ever participated in and I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve won over 100 and that is racing over Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, and a New Mexico trip.”

    Brad can also claim to never having lost a race on pavement. Well, he only raced pavement once, but he did win that one from last starting.

    Whitfield recalled that race. “A buddy of mine took me to Tucson to the pavement track and put me in a pro stock and I remember there were 15 pro stocks that night. I was a rookie so they made me start in the back. On the start the outside line was up against the wall and the inside line was down to the curb. They threw the green flag and I drove right through the middle of them. I dirt tracked it through one and two and had the lead coming off of two. We won on our first try on asphalt. About three laps to go I thought I had a flat tire so I eased up, they were catching me but we won the race. I got out and the right rear tire was showing cords. It was a one and done pavement career.”

    Whitfield lived 8 miles from Central Arizona Speedway and did well there, but always seemed to struggle at Manzanita.

    “We would go to Manzanita,” Whitfield noted, “and it was the race track I was afraid of the most just because it had so much history. I felt like so many eyes of legends were on that place, it was just a very intimidating race track for me. I never felt like I was worthy enough or good enough to race there. I raced a late model at the last race at Manzanita.”

    “There is so much history there with Ken Schrader, Tony Stewart, Leland McSpadden, the Madrid family, they are legends of Manzanita Speedway. Growing up I watched Carl Trimmer, Mike Buckner, Terry Belcher, those guys are all legends of the sport.”

    A career in racing changed paths in 2017 after Whitfield’s brother with whom he had raced for years passed away. Losing Gene made his racing interest just not the same.

    “I started racing with Gene and we raced together,” Whitfield recalled. “I raced more than he did. If I was racing, Gene was there. It didn’t matter if we were racing Tucson or Prescott or El Centro, Gene was there. I went and raced after he had passed away and I pulled into staging and thought what am I doing. This just isn’t fun. My big brother was my confidence factor and he was my biggest cheerleader.”

    After some time away from racing, an opportunity was presented to Whitfield that has proven to the right option at the right time.

    As to becoming Cocopah Speedway general manager, Whitfield said, “I am very content, I love the promoting side of things, I love the relationships I have built with racers, sponsors, the people nationwide I have met, there’s not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for what I am doing. Losing my older brother and mother in the same year, I needed to be in a positive environment Being general manager of Cocopah Speedway is not a job to me. I eat, sleep, and breathe it.”

    The track was closed the last half of 2018 and all of 2019 before reopening last year. The rebuilding process culminated in all time record car counts in January of this year when the Winter Nationals was held with IMCA sanctioning. Various clubs have worked the concession stands and that has been very successful, raising the concession part of the track to what was described as a whole new level.

    Sponsorship is at an all time high for the track, something that took time to build, but now has led to a need for more billboard space to accommodate the interest.

    Whitfield plans on increasing the number of sprint car events, starting with the third weekend in November hosting a two day ASCS event. After the January Winter Nationals are concluded, the track will showcase 360 sprints, racing Thursday through Saturday the last two weekends of the month.

    Whitfield summarized the atmosphere at Cocopah Speedway by saying, “Our community, our people, our staff, and fans are just amazing people. You see them, they know who you are, you know who they are, it’s a pretty unique dynamic we have. I come to Yuma and it’s a small town atmosphere and I want to keep it going.”

    “I do want to bring back the driver-fan interaction. We’re going to work really hard on that for years to come. I think that has been lost through the years with the hustle and bustle of life. There are 9 class race nights instead of 3 or 4 and we’ve lost our way, we’ve lost our touch. We’re going to have a vendor row at next year’s Winter Nationals so drivers can sell their t-shirts and get involved with the fans.”

    Just 22 feet short of a half-mile measured in the middle, Cocopah Speedway will continue to receive the benefit of having Brad Whitfield in charge, and he will be able to continue enjoying being connected with the track and the city of Yuma.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    Lincoln, CA…Extreme heat will again visit California on July’s 2nd weekend, matching or surpassing the temperatures that hit the Golden State on the 3rd weekend in June.  In some cases, the show will go on, in others cancellation will rule.

     

    In June, tracks that canceled due to heat included Plaza Park, Lemoore, Bakersfield, Madera, and Kings Speedway and at this point, Marysville, Roseville, and again Bakersfield have decided to not race on July 10th.  Some tracks are not scheduled to race this weekend.

     

    Placerville and Merced both have USAC shows and will persevere despite temperatures now forecast to be 108 and 110 respectively.  If there’s any plus side, it is very dry and I would take 100 degrees and low humidity compared to 90 and humid any day.

     

    Even Petaluma will be unusually hot this Saturday with 93 predicted for a track that usually requires warm gear before the first heat.  Their night will feature winged 410s and nonwing 360s, an attractive offering along with what will be considered mild temperatures when compared with others.

     

    Last weekend was a rare opportunity to take in three races in one weekend.  Marysville Raceway ran on an unusual Friday with 31 winged 360s featured in the Fast Cars and Freedom show. Tanner Carrick led the last 21 laps for the win, taking the lead from Jodie Robinson.  Andy Forsberg chased Carrick the last nineteen laps, got closer to the rural Lincoln teenager, but settled for 2nd.

     

    Six days earlier, a similar scenario played out at Placerville when Carrick drove underneath Robinson on the last set of turns to win what became the first of three over a nine day stretch.

     

    Saturday the Sprint Car Challenge Tour plus Hunt Magnetos Wingless Series teams provided a 50 car field at Stockton Dirt Track.  Colby Copeland appeared to be heading for the win until a last turn decision to stay low on the track with traffic creating issues while D. J. Netto chose the high side and used that decision to barely beat Copeland to the checkers.

     

    It was another case of showing that when coming up to traffic, the driver in second often has an advantage as long as only a few car lengths separate the pair.  A disappointed Copeland finished 2nd and Shane Golobic was 3rd.  The tour is next in action on July 31 at Merced Speedway, the track that saw Jodie Robinson become the first female SCCT winner in 2019.  Her brother, Ryan Robinson, currently leads SCCT points in what is appearing to be a tight chase as the season continues in Merced.

     

    Shawn Jones dominated the nonwing sprint main event, something that is not rare for the San Jose based driver who has had much success in dwarf cars also. 

     

    Sunday being the 4th meant both Chico and Placerville would race, something that has been happening for years.  Racing 360 sprints against each other proved to be a draw as both tracks had 32 teams on hand.  Back when John Padjen promoted both tracks, he would race against himself on July 4th although in those days Chico was a 410 track.

     

    While Chase Madjic was winning in Chico, Placerville had one of the best sprint car mains in a long time.  That was because the track was so racy, leading to the memorable battle between Tanner Carrick and anyone who planned on taking the lead from him.

     

    While there was more dust in the air than usual, that was easily forgiven because the slider filled racing for the night’s trophy was very good.  Carrick made the right moves to win the third time in nine days with Shane Golobic and Sean Becker completing the podium.

     

    But maybe even more special than the on track entertaining racing was the crowd size.  While the 2020 crowd size usually was zero, that scenario was changed in June and the largest crowd at the foothill quarter mile in a very long time saw a good show plus the traditional fireworks. Since the fairgrounds also had a holiday activity going on, the number of people on the grounds was incredible.

     

    Things could not have been much better for the three nights of open wheel racing and, with the 4th on a Monday next year, maybe it will become four nights of equally good race programs.  Assuming tradition continues, Placerville and Chico will race on a Monday in 2022 and a weekend four race series would be neat.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    What A Difference A Year Makes

    Lincoln, CA…Memorial Day weekend had several Northern California tracks taking the weekend off. There were two that not only raced, but also ran special events, easily the highest paying races the pair of ovals will have this year.

    Plus, these two facilities brought back memories from a year ago when the same pair of ovals broke the ice that had frozen racing all over the country.

    Marysville Raceway and Dixon Speedway both raced on May 9 last year, the shows that ended the seven-week period of no racing. Both tracks were apprehensive about being able to comply with all the restrictions, and both went on to have as normal a season as one could expect.

    With Ventura racing next Saturday for the first time since late 2019, it can now be stated that no California tracks are still unable to have events. Antioch raced a lot last year, but most tracks were putting on events when able but not regularly. Several depended on income from streaming, but local restrictions kept a bunch idle for all of 2020.

    This year brought a vaccine and gradual lifting of restrictions, although some counties were more generous than others. The difference between last year and this year is very dramatic, Plans are firm, not a hope, and race schedules are being followed, not fluid and unstable like last year.

    Dixon had a two-day event for nonwing micro 600s with an incredible purse for the all to often overlooked division that leads the state in car count. Four micro sprint tracks, Dixon, just south of the city with the same name, Delta at the Stockton fairgrounds, Plaza Park located in that park in Visalia, and Lemoore Raceway at the corner of highways 198 and 41, all race the four divisions that often push to car counts close to or over 100.

    Junior sprints, restricted, and both wing and nonwing 600s serve as the training ground for many current sprint car drivers, such as the trio of brothers named Scelzi, Faccinto, and Macedo. Ryan Timms, age 14, became the youngest ever to win an ASCS National main event, learning the skills needed for that feat by racing micro sprints in Oklahoma.

    The purse paid at Dixon was incredible, over $20,000 was shared by the 65-car field or micros for the one division special. Saturday had qualifying and dual heats for points with the top 12 moving directly to Sunday’s main with the highest six in points redrawing for the first three rows.

    The $5000 winner’s pay went to a many time micro sprint winner, Mitchel Moles, while second place money was claimed by Brian Gilbert, a very healthy $3,000 reward, and Caden Sarale took 3rd and the $1500 prize. Promoter Jeremy Prince notes the huge purse was made possible by, “Lots of great sponsors.”

    Sunday had the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour at Marysville Raceway’s quarter mile on a slightly over 100-degree day. Not to use the pathetic phrase, “the weather was hot but so was the racing”, but that would be accurate for the $3,500 to win winged 360 sprint main.

    Andy Forsberg spent the 35 laps racing with someone, either leader Colby Copeland, or trying to not spend too much time in 3rd by dealing with Sean Becker. It took 33 3/4 of the 35 laps to make it a successful effort for the Auburn resident. Copeland allowed some space underneath his 5V ride going into turn 3 on lap 34 and Forsberg filled the opening with his X1.

    Forsberg completed the pass leaving turn 4 and Copeland’s last lap effort at putting things back the way they were fell a few feet short. The event was the Mel and Marlyn Memorial race to honor two people who did so much for the track during their years of promoting the quarter mile. This was the fifth time Forsberg has won the special event.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    Petaluma Speedway Has Faeth

     

    Lincoln, CA…Rick Faeth might have been put into promoter mode at an early age when he was legendary promoter Bob Barkhimer’s paperboy.  During his life, Barkhimer went from midget racer to Senior Vice President of NASCAR and promoter of 21 tracks in the Western United States. 

     

    “I was always into racing,” recalled Faeth, “and got involved with Dave Thurston and BCRA midgets and became a mud scraper, mechanic, crew guy, and he gave me the opportunity to race in 1996.  I raced for 15 years, BCRA and USAC midgets, wasn’t very good, but somebody’s got to finish tenth.  I was Mr. Tenth Place.”

     

    “I was eight years on the BCRA Board of Directors and developed relationships with promoters and became friends with Bob and Nadine Strauss of Lakeport Speedway.  We would race there and then I would ask questions and one time Nadine said that Bob and she thought I would make a good promoter.”

     

    When asked why she thought that, Nadine replied, “Because you’re not a very good racer.”

     

    Eventually Faeth moved from the Bay Area to Anderson, raced at that paved track, and met George Wade who was the general manager but planned to leave.  With the track going up for bid, despite being told by Wade that he would never get it, Faeth became a rookie promoter when he won the bid despite others with experience seeking to take over.

     

    From 2007 through 2011, Faeth ran the Anderson track, putting on 99 races during that period.

     

    “I became a promoter at the worse possible time, said Faeth, “when the recession hit in 2008.  It was difficult, a struggle, and I wasn’t really making it.  I became a promoter at age 39, a relatively young age.”

     

    “I knew the Soares family from racing in Petaluma, Jim Soares told me he wanted out and I could have it.  I took over as general manager in 2012 and became the promoter in 2014.  I’ve got this year and next year and then we don’t know after that.”

     

    Past years has seen some rumbling about the track closing with ideas such as a minor league baseball stadium being built, but the track has always continued.  After the 2022 season, a different and more significant challenge faces the entire fairgrounds.

     

    Faeth said, “The unique thing about this is that the city owns the property and the fair board pays $1 lease per year to the city.  That lease was signed in 1973.  There are seven businesses here and I’m one of seven lessees.  There is a charter school, paint ball, doggie day care, etc. and we’re all lame ducks now.”

     

    “The city has gone on record as wanting to develop it.  In 2017 the 60.5 acres here were valued at $284,000 per acre and that was 4 years ago.  Right now the city is refusing to negotiate with the state for an extension.  So we’re all sitting here like it’s a doomsday clock.  The city holds all the cards.  I’d say it’s 50/50 (closing the fairgrounds).  The significant wheels in bureaucracy turn very slowly.  I believe the city wants to develop it, but at what rate?” 

     

    Things are moving very slowly in Petaluma, if at all.  Knowing if next year is the last may be an unknown until the 2022 season is almost over.  It makes it all the more difficult for the seven businesses on the property.

     

    As the well known surface of tacky Petaluma Speedway faces uncertainty for the future, promoter Faeth is determined to keep the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Event Center continuing to host weekly racing.

     

    Rick Faeth will do whatever he can to keep the track going, but the Petaluma city council will be the one waving the flags, either green or red.

     

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    Iowa’s Mr. Excitement by Ron Rodda

    Northern California has its own Mr. Excitement, now Iowa can match. Andy Forsberg races winged sprint cars and Mr. Excitement is his nickname, earned during a career that now shows 187 main event wins at Golden State ovals.

    Iowa’s Mr. Excitement has never raced, but makes a big impact on Friday and Saturday during the Midwest racing season. Jerry Vansickel is not on a crew, not a promoter or track owner, does not own a race car, but uses his talent to make each race night special.

    Vansickel is the track announcer at Marshalltown Speedway and Boone Speedway, two of the most highly respected tracks in the Midwest.

    His parents took him to Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, IA from the age of six months. That became the location of his early years in working in some capacity at a race track.

    “I got involved because for many years my dad videotaped the races at Webster City,” explained Vansickel, “and I always had the hopes and dreams of being a flag man. I was selling programs and the local newspapers around age ten. At that time you could not be under age 14 and be in the pits. Once I turned 14 I was able to go into the pits and do small things. It wasn’t really a job, but being a kid who wanted to work in racing I did not care.”

    “Eventually I became a corner worker and got paid a whole $20 a night at age 16. In 1993 I was able to pick up a microphone for the first time when the current announcer said he wasn’t going to do this forever and would need someone to fill his spot. He asked if I wanted to do it. I said I’ll give it a shot, don’t know if I’ll be any good at it.”

    Vansickel was 17 that first night he announced, working with the regular guy, and recalls how the late model feature provided a special memory.

    “The late model feature came down to two guys I had looked up to as race car drivers, Mike Smith and Craig Jacobs,” Vansickel recalled, “and I had the call on the last handful of laps. It was exciting as these were the guys I had watched as a kid growing up. I got to say their name and tell the people what’s going on.”

    Vansickel thinks his style in his early announcing career was the same as now because he was just that fan talking and telling you the action. He also candidly rated his early efforts.

    “It was very terrible,” admitted Vansickel, “I remember that I was told I was yelling and it was hard to hear me and hard to understand. I talked louder so I could hear myself. My dad was still filming at that time and I was plugged into that so I listened to it and it did sound bad. It was like, that guy sounds like an idiot.”

    He did one year at Webster City, then a new promoter came on board with his own announcer, so Vansickel returned to being a corner worker or helping in staging. Eventually he was contacted to announce at another track and it wasn’t long until he was doing four nights a week either as an announcer, or flag man, or something else at each track.

    Besides all the track work, Vansickel has been in the car business 25 years. He is currently the recondition manager and shop foreman at a Des Moines dealership and has kept his promise to cut down to two nights announcing when reaching the age of 40.

    After flagging three years at Marshalltown, he moved into the announcing spot when the previous one moved to another location. Working at Boone came at the same time and he has seven years of announcing at both tracks, a job he states is often easy.

    Vansickel said, “If the racing is great, then my job is easy. If the racing is not great, then my job becomes more difficult because you have to get creative to sell what the people are seeing, that it’s not a terrible race, it’s not a bad show. We have those nights. No matter if it’s raining, or it it’s cold or hot, if it’s windy or the track is dusty, or it’s muddy, those are the elephants in the room. We don’t need to talk about that because the people can see it. You have to sell it not only to people in the grandstands but also the people at home.”

    Describing his announcing style, Vansickel said, “Unorthodox. I don’t have a style, it just happens. People ask me how do I come up with the one-liners. I don’t know how I do it, it just happens. I don’t show prep, I don’t have the stats. I am by nature a pretty high strung individual. When things get crazy like five wide racing, I get amped up. I love racing and have a passion for it. I’m just a race fan and someone thought it was a good idea to put a microphone in my hand.”

    If a race is exciting, listening to Jerry Vansickel makes it even more exciting. It a race is not entertaining, then hearing his announcing will improve that experience. His enthusiasm and humor makes a good thing even better.

    Vansickel is definitely Iowa’s Mr. Excitement.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    The Man Who Built Tulare Thunderbowl by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…There are few race tracks where it can be said that one man made the facility possible. Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway is one of those tracks created by one man.

    The well-known 3/8 mile track exists because of the efforts of Steve Faria.

    Faria was first involved in racing with dune buggies, did some sand racing, and then switched to asphalt racing, all being drag strip type action. During the early 90’s the Tulare track was for sale. Faria got his father and uncle involved, they took over the fairgrounds track, and raced mini-sprints from 1993 until the late 90’s.

    “I like drag racing,” noted Faira, “it’s my forte. I also like sprint cars on dirt. I guess I got the racing bug from my dad as he used to race drag boats. I have a top fuel car which I race now and then. It’s in the three second range, about 315 mph, as we only race 1,000 feet.”

    As Faria moved into higher speed divisions he built the necessary skills to handle the forces and said he is belted in so well that he becomes part of the car. Just having turned the age of 71, Faria hasn’t raced his top fuel car for a while due to Covid-19.

    “I still like to do it, but I am near the end of my driving career,” said Faria. “I’m not young, but I think young.”

    Always a person to have several things going on, Faria also started a company to build oil filters for drag cars and then added an air filter business for the same clientele. He also has a magneto shop and builds many for sprint cars. As if that wasn’t enough to keep busy, he is a partner with a brother and cousins in owning Tulare Golf Course, and he also is part of Faria Land and Cattle which farms 5,000 acres, and the group owns four dairies.

    The original Tulare track was much smaller that the current version. Drivers such as Jason Meyers and Tommy Tarlton won championships on the smaller oval, located inside what is now the rebuilt track.

    “My uncle’s boys, Danny and Mike, wanted to run sprint cars,” Faria recalled, “so in the late 90’s we decided to build a sprint car track. We built walls, brought in the clay, and I tore down the new track three or four times to make changes.”

    “When we first built the track it was too small for sprint cars, so the fair manager let me tear out some trees and stuff, and the result was 2000 feet on the wall and 1700 feet on the pole. I moved the north end of the track about 100 feet to make what we have today.”

    Everything about the track, the recently rebuilt walls, and complete replacement of the front stretch wall which was $35,000 alone, the ongoing project to switch all the track lights to LED, is paid for by Faria. The one light pole that is already done at the end of the frontstretch was $11,000. He owns the walls, etc, so if he ever leaves the walls go with him per the contract.

    K-rail, a California term for Jersey barrier, is now in place at the bottom of both ends of the oval. Faria explained the change by saying, “I got a lot of complaints about the tires that were there. Now I will raise the bottom of the track so the rails are only about a foot tall. To me it looks cleaner.”

    As to this October’s Trophy Cup and how many fans need to be allowed for it to work, Faria said, “The Trophy Cup, to put it on, costs me $230,000. Honestly, we need a full house because this is expensive to put on. This thing is going to open up. I’ll do what I need to do.”

    Doing what needs to be done describes what Steve Faria has done since taking over the racing in Tulare in 1993. Thunderbowl Raceway is in good hands and will continue to be improved with his effort and dedication.

     

    From The Grandstand

    California To Open Gates

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It took the influence of Major League Baseball to make it happen, but April 1st the landscape for racing in California will take a big turn for the better.

    Tracks that haven’t had fans in the stands since the end of the 2019 season will have a chance to break that drought once April arrives. According to the governor, he worked “very closely” with MLB teams in the state to create a plan to allow fans starting April 1st, which happens to be the day the season starts with three of the five California teams playing home games.

    The new regulation will apply to “outdoor spectator sports” which should include race tracks. The number of fans will be determined by the county’s tier, which is based on Covid-19 trends within the particular county. The four levels of tiers will allow just 100 fans at the worst level, then increasing to 20%, 33%, and 67% capacity for tiers with increasingly improved statistics.

    Other limitations regarding concessions and geographical location of fans are eased as the allowed fan count increases.

    In 2020, just two tracks in the state were able to have fans for part of their season, and one of those tracks was allowed just 100 spectators after the local college summer league baseball team received that same offer. Several tracks never had a race car on their oval all season.

    Will counties play along with the MLB regulations for other outdoor spectator sports? Late last year the San Francisco 49ers NFL team was given permission to have a few thousand fans for home games. Their stadium is in Santa Clara County and county officials told the team that the procedures on how to implement the fan count were not in place and overruled the option, so the 49ers packed up and played their last two home games in Phoenix, AZ.

    Placerville Speedway promoters, Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, have faced the same issues as every California promoter, and can finally see better times on the horizon.

    Russell stated, “My personal feelings going forward is the vaccines are rolling out, and looking at the oversight of everything, it looks like things are finally trending in the right direction. Come April 1st with what the state has announced, our goal here is to try and run on a weekly basis. If the track can pay for itself again until we get back to full stands then I can keep the speedway going so people don’t forget about us.”

    “We need to keep the track out there in front of people and fresh in their minds and hopefully they will come and support the speedway if they are comfortable in doing so with the Covid-19 guidelines. I don’t have much concern about being considered an outdoor spectator sport based on the conversations I’ve had with county officials.”

    “When this started we were only allowing 6 people per race car and you had to show up with the car. With fans in the stands my rent will go up substantially each night so I’m not sure the math will work out even with 20%. There will be more payroll on the spectator side and I still want to run a regular purse. There is a fine line between this paying for itself or not until we can get more people.”

    “Placerville has always had great support from the racers, no matter what division it is, and also great support from the fans. That’s why things have worked here and it has lasted so long. You try to do this without fans and it’s a whole different ball game.”

    While there is a long way to go in California for race tracks as well as other small businesses, the April 1st changes will at least be a move in a positive direction. Continued success in counties at shrinking the Covid-19 case count must continue to avoid going backwards.

    This weekend is the one year anniversary of racing being dominated by Covid-19 in California, as well as every state. But it was March 13 last year when Chico ran what became the last area sprint car race for seven weeks. That Friday race was limited to 250 fans, the Saturday portion of the Silver Cup was rained out, and the following week the gathering limits went first to 50 and downhill from there.

    May 9 was the next race when Chico promoter, Dennis Gage, raced at his other track in Marysville, the same night when Dixon raced their first micro sprint show. Procedures were strict, many unknowns were in place, and a year late there is finally improvement.

    This year’s Silver Cup at Chico was looking like a replay from 2020 when overnight rain following the Friday opener made the always tentative pit area a mess. Better weather on Saturday plus some mud work allowed night two to play out.

    This year’s two day event presented some of the best run races I have ever seen at Chico, and that includes many races since becoming a mid-2002 regular at the Butte County fairgrounds. Officials were efficient, the drivers were ready when needed, and relatively few yellows and almost no reds led to a 2 hour show on Friday and just a few minutes longer on Saturday when the only sprint red in two days stopped the main with a lap to go.

    Both nights the support division main was last, a very wise decision on Friday due to forecast rain by 10 pm, and on Saturday because the idea makes sense. Friday was a good race, Saturday was excellent, and Justin Sanders won both times. Sanders won two weeks prior at Central Arizona Speedway.

    The hope that Tulare could race this Friday went away because their proposal to the county health department as to protocol for the race was never given a response. Luckily nearby Kings Speedway added Friday for a two day 360 event. Different counties and therefore different health departments explains that even though the tracks are 27 miles apart.

    It is ironic that the often heard joke about baseball and racing about how baseball only takes one ball, and now is it MLB that opens the door for California race tracks to have fans.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Is Silver Dollar Speedway On Track To Recovery?

    Chico, CA…Last year the famed quarter mile oval in Chico raced only two times, one being on a Friday in early March when 250 fans were allowed in the stands. The following week, the 250 limitation became zero fans.

    The second race was a trial balloon in July, a test to see how things would work financially when no fans were allowed. The fact that it was not tried again answers that question. That night became the end of their season.

    Promoter Dennis Gage faces the same obstacles that all the other California tracks do: an unnecessarily strict approach by politicians towards outdoor activities.

    The 2021 season will start March 5 and 6 with the Silver Cup featuring winged 360 sprints. Unless things change significantly in Butte County, the early March event could play the same role as the July race in 2020. The Silver Cup is possible due to sponsorship, a reduced purse, and projected back gate income. Gage hopes those things will get him at least close to a break-even weekend.

    Gage noted, “If you get right down to it, the numbers and forecast are actually worse than they were a year ago, but they are declining which is good news. The basic thing I’m being told is we’ve got to get to the orange tier to have any people in Chico (the purple, red, orange, and yellow tiers for counties indicate trends in new cases). Orange tier is not for sure and it would be up to the county health department as to what percent of stands could be used.”

    “There are no state guidelines that govern auto race tracks. They do have a guideline for horse tracks, and most areas have used that guideline, but it doesn’t apply very well. When we get to yellow, we are going to be allowed to have somewhere between 25% and 50%. With the slow rollout of the vaccine and the fact the numbers are still pretty high, we built a schedule based on that.”

    The early March race without fans will let people know they “are still around”, then the track will be idle until the end of April, although Gage says, “That might be overly optimistic.” The fairboard wants to have some degree of a county fair. Gage is thinking with the push to have that happen, local interest will grow and it is the end of May that he is targeting for a better outlook for the track.

    “Chico is a little different,” Gage said. “The fairground wants to follow whatever rules they have to follow because they are tied at the hip to both the federal government and the state of California. Chico benefits from fire camps as the state transfers large amounts of money to the fairgrounds for hosting firefighters. FEMA has moved a small camp back into the fairgrounds so the federal government also subsidizes the fairgrounds.”

    Another item that faces promoters in California is the use permit. According to Gage, “The majority of use permits for these facilities is based on continuous operation and it is very clear. If you quit doing whatever operations you have been doing every year, you are then in jeopardy of losing that use permit. Nobody is putting out use permits now that match the conditions years ago when we got the initial use permit.”

    “Now the new use permits can have city noise ordinances and all of these new limits that we currently don’t have on our use permits and they are contrary to auto racing. Butte County has given us approval to race all we want, but without fans. Everything we do has seen increased costs to the point where racing without fans is not a practical thing.”

    Silver Dollar Speedway will run the Silver Cup, that is set, but following that weekend things are far from certain. Gage clarified what he is facing by saying, “I don’t think there is a single race after Silver Cup that I can hold, there may be one or two Fridays that I might be able to, but they are all specials.”

    “For example, one of them is the Bill Brownell Memorial, one is the Tyler Wolf Memorial, and there will be a bunch of people who will sponsor and give money and support those races that they are not going to be able to see if no fans are allowed. We need to have some kind of attendance. We are fortunate that Chico sits quite a few people so if we can get to 50% we can talk about holding these events. Less than 50% is pretty tough.”

    “At 50% we can handle most of the events except the Vermeil and Gold Cup. Those require 100% grandstands. But that is September, and if we are not done with this by September then we are all in trouble.”

    Gage also promotes Marysville Raceway, located 45 minutes south of Chico. Located on private property, that track avoids some of the issues facing fairgrounds facilities. But one source of funding that allowed the track to race many times least year won’t be there in 2021. Another source of support that allowed some California tracks to race as much as they did last year were streaming services. As far as FloRacing is concerned, that is changing this year.

    Gage explained, “The TV thing has changed. We don’t have the big checks coming from TV this year because Flo has taken a different direction. They are not doing as much local but instead they have contracts with the big series. If we don’t get some people, we aren’t going to be able to do races like we did last year.”

    Cutting the purse is one way a track can make racing with fans somewhat more acceptable and Gage surveyed drivers to get their thoughts on that. He refunded the membership money from last year since he did not get a season in. Drivers were asked which of the three options they prefer: raise pit fees, cut the purse, or just don’t race. The majority of the answers were to cut the purse.

    Giving hope to this year, Gage said, “I think everybody is worn out. Even the people who have been regulating this are worn out. So, if everybody is worn out, there is going to be a lot more emphasis on fixing it. I think there is a chance we will get pretty well back to normal this year, but when that is going to happen is the big question.”

    Golden State race fans are hoping Dennis Gage is correct, and back to normal happens a lot sooner than later.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Kearns Runs Wild In Arizona

    San Tan Valley, AZ…Chris Kearns had a very busy January. Promoting the Wild West Shootout, which covered a ten-day span, then jumping right into the initial Wild Wing Shootout event, Kearns literally lived at Arizona Speedway for much of the month.

    While preparation for the Wild West Shootout started shortly after the 2020 version was completed, the on site work can only be started as the opening day nears. As team leader of both events, Kearns is the person who lives and breathes Wild West racing once the calendar is turned to a new year.

    The super late model featured Wild West Shootout is promoted by Kearns, Michael Rigsby, and Matt Curl while the first time Wild Wing Shootout was under the promotion of Kearns, Jonah Trussel (Arizona Speedway promoter), Michael Rigsby and Matt Curl.

    Two other people who play a major role in the events are Jolene Kearns (Chris’ wife) and Jason Babyak, taking care of a myriad of things before, during, and after each race day. One of those tasks is getting every driver and employee paid after each racing event, nine times in a 16-day stretch. The Wild West portion also has Ben Shelton playing a large role in event preparation.

    This year’s Wild West event was record setting with the car count obliterating the old record. The 4th of six races drew 187 entries in just the three divisions, super late models, modifieds, and xmods. This year’s average was 172, a large increase over last year’s average of 120.

    There also seemed to be better super late main events than before with mods and x mods certainly holding up their end of things also. It is generally thought that one super late model main was the best ever in this series.

    You might think the team leader would be thrilled with the big car count increase, but not necessarily so with Kearns.

    Kearns summed up this year’s Wild West by saying, “All in all I think it was a success. The car count was a little overwhelming. I don’t need that many cars to put on a great event but I appreciate how that many racers wanted to come and race for us. If you take the percentage of keeping that many teams happy for six nights, I think we did pretty damn well. I got pretty much only compliments from the fans, so I think it was a success.”

    “I think this year was a fluke with car count,” Kearns explained. “No one got to race a lot last year, no one knows how much they are going to race this year. I think it’s a 140-car event and I’m totally fine with that. I don’t see this year’s turnout happening again, I really don’t. We try to pay these guys well, but it has to be expensive for them. They are not only out here spending money, they aren’t home making money.”

    The crowd size was in line with previous years despite the question of how would the Covid situation play out with fans. Two days before opening night’s practice session, the county’s wishes were met when a mandatory mask rule was installed and numerous hand sanitizers placed around the facility. Temperatures were checked before fans could enter with three EMTs on site. Compliance by fans and teams on the mask rule was very well supported, as everyone understood what was needed to not create issues with the county.

    Only a three day break following the Wild West event gave Kearns a chance to catch his breath, and then Wild Wing began its initial year with a Thursday night practice before three nights of racing for winged 410s and IMCA modifieds.

    Kearns offered his thoughts on this new event by saying, “I was a little disappointed with the sprint car count, but I was happy with the caliber and we had a pretty good main event for Arizona at that time of year. We had some phenomenal hitters, I was happy with the support, the crowd, not the weather on Sunday. For the first year, it was good.”

    “The late model and modified people have learned that I do whatever it takes to get a show in and I needed the sprint car people to see that. Travelers like Dewease, the TSR team out of Indiana, I don’t want people to look at the weather and think there is a chance I will cancel so they don’t go. I knew racing Sunday was a bad idea, but in the big picture of building the event, it was worth the hit to race on Sunday. We rushed it through which took away the pizzazz of the final race. I don’t want a race to just be a race, I want it to be an event.”

    As to growth of the Wild Wing, Kearns noted that, “The sponsorship on the Wild West is amazing which allows us to keep putting back into it. That’s how you build an event. That’s how we made the Wild West so big, but I think since we are in January many are looking at us and we give back which helped us with sponsorship on the Wild West. I’m hoping it happens on the Wild Wing side.”

    Kearns works very hard to make January special and some of the seemingly little things he does show his determination. The track has no running water, so it is portable time. A nicer facility on wheels is available for women, and Kearns spent $200 on decorations for the inside. He spent $1600 on large, heavy duty trash bags and paid a guy to replace trash bags inside the barrels all around the property before they overflowed. Drivers were given nice looking western style face masks for their post race interview instead of wearing some generic looking thing, something that was important to Kearns.

    The 2022 dates for Wild West Shootout are set for January 7 through 16 and the Wild Wing Shootout will be on the following weekend. And one guarantee you can take to the bank: with Chris Kearns serving as the leader of the group, both events will continue to grow and be very well presented.

     

     

    Canyon Speedway Park Races With New Promoters

    by Ron Rodda

    Yuma, AZ…It took until nearly the end of December so time was running out for the Peoria, AZ quarter mile dirt track to find a promoter. The question of would Canyon race at all in 2021 can now be answered, and it is yes.

    Dave and Penny Craft live just 25 minutes from the desert oval and will serve as promoters for the next two years. Doug Gabbard owns the facility and will be the operator of the complex while the Crafts will run the oval.

    The reason for just two years is that Gabbard has two years left on his current ten year lease of the property. The Crafts are taking over the track while Gabbard still owns the lease.

    Craft is a project manager for Swisslog Logistics based in Virginia and his wife is a full partner in the promotional duties. Dave credits Penny with handling the social media aspect of thier ventures, something he realizes the importance of and has no time to address.

    There won’t be much time to get ready as in about three weeks the Winter Challenge will be held two consecutive weekends at Canyon with practice on Friday and Saturday and Sunday afternoon racing.

    While one might think that new promoters would be overwhelmed at needing to get the track ready in such short time, the Crafts are not new at this thing.

    Dave Craft moved to Arizona at age 20 to chase a racing career, picking the Grand Canyon state due to climate and the diversity of racing in the state. He ran a modified throughout Arizona and, in his words, “I did that for way too long.” and eventually got married, had kids, and became a promoter.

    Craft stated, “It was 2019 when I went to help a racing friend who had always helped me, and he was located in Nebraska. When I was there they were talking about the track in North Platte closing. Our family talked it over and I can work remotely, so we threw our names in the hat and we were able to win the promoter lease agreement.”

    The Crafts were back in Arizona when they heard that Doug was looking for some help at Canyon. An agreement was reached and Canyon will continue racing with Nebraska promoters, at least part time in the Midwest.

    “My heavy racing in Nebraska is May through August” said Craft, “and here in the valley it is September through March.. My wife and a son are full time with this.”

    Considering his schedule plans, Craft said, “It will be more of a philosophy that less is more. I’ll put together more two-day shows but less of them. It will be a weekend event that I’ll do more than weekly local racing. I want to build a key core of racing events that people will put on their calendar.”

    The new promotional team is heading into a very busy year, but the enthusiasm for racing and with enough experience to understand what needs to be done, Canyon Speedway Park will join Lincoln County Speedway in the Craft portfolio.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Merced Speedway Rises To The Occasion

    Lincoln, CA…When the 2nd year USAC National midget three day event at Placerville Speedway was not able to be held, Merced Speedway saved the day by becoming the host track for the non-points event. Shortened by one day, the remaining pair of events had excellent racing on opening night, and followed that up with a memorable show the next night.

    Placerville’s event, called the Hangtown 100, uses a format much different than the USAC National standard plan. leading to the show up points only deal. Merced used the normal USAC format instead, but since it was already determined to be just appearance points, that plan was kept.

    With no Turkey Night the following week, Merced hosted the final two USAC National midget shows for 2020. Opening night had four lead changes in the first ten laps and it was Thomas Meseraull taking the lead on lap ten and going on to win the well-raced 30 laps around the Merced quarter mile.

    Saturday night was even better for 30 laps on nonstop racing that, simply put, was frantic. Five official lead changes, numerous unofficial ones, and no slowing after the first start drew a red made for an amazing main event. Tanner Thorson was the leader over the four laps for the win, edging Buddy Kofoid at the line.

    Merced Speedway was not exactly a nationally known track but that has changed with the shows USAC National midgets had the week before Thanksgiving. With 54 and 52 midgets plus support divisions in the pits, the overflow pit area was in use, something that was rarely seen for years at the Central Valley fairgrounds oval.

    Merced has been racing since 1946 with a five year break in the late 50’s. When things were going well, it was a place to be, when they weren’t, getting cars and fans was a challenge. Promoter changes, race night changes, and track remodels during more those times were not an answer.

    In December of 2018, the beginning of an answer took form when S and S Promotions took control of the track. Chris Shannon and Paul Stone are S and S, two local men who made an excellent decision right away, that being hiring Doug Lockwood as general manager.

    Lockwood, an All-American soccer player at one time, he raced online back then, but when the weekend came could not go to races because he was always playing soccer. When Chowchilla Speedway opened and raced on Friday nights, he contacted the track and asked if they had anything for him to do. That led to become the staging guy.

    His future in racing took shape during his senior year in high school in 2001when he and his racing friend, Steven Williams, hustled from graduation to the track to race while Lockwood did his job for the track.

    After Chowchilla, Lockwood raced karts for a bit then helped SCRA the first year they had switched to 360s with that leading into becoming race director at Kings Speedway in Hanford. After that period, he worked for Chris Kearns and the USAC West Coast nonwing sprint series.

    In 2015 Lockwood left the West Coast to work for the World of Outlaws as a corner worker, then became race director the following year. He eventually tired of being on the road and came back to California and took over the West Coast sprint series and Western Midgets for USAC.

    At the end of 2018 Lockwood left USAC to work full-time at Merced Speedway as S and S Promotions had signed a five year contract to promote the track. He also became part owner of USAC West Coast sprint series with Chris Kearns and USAC brought him back to run the Western State midget program. Lockwood’s days of working as a glazer are in the past as he has been full-time in the racing industry since 2015.

    The huge change that came with S and S Promotions taking over Merced was the reshaping of the track.

    Lockwood explains, “We took over the track in December of 2018. it’s when we got the contract. We got moved in come January and it literally rained the first three months of 2019. We got to the middle of March and we had already lost two practices and the first race and we hadn’t done anything to the race track itself. Outside we remodeled several things but we could not do anything to the track since it just kept raining.”

    “Finally it let up and we reshaped the track. We lowered the infield three and a half feet, using that dirt to build up the banking. We brought in 102 loads of clay, built the shape that we wanted, and Paul (Stone) brought his car out to make sure it was what he wanted. Following that we had a little private test session, and the opening came a week later.”

    “We lowered the infield as much as we could without getting into water and power lines. The infield at Merced used to be a football field so when we lowered everything we hit a lot of galvanized pipe used to water the field but no longer in use so we took it out.”

    The resulting track boasts an impressive 23 degree banking and the width was increased from 38 feet to 52 feet at the most narrow point. Our times there since the reshaping shows how it races like never before.

    It took numerous phone calls to Levi Jones to get the USAC National show in Merced, but it was a huge success. Next November Merced is planning on another two day event with the second night being particularly special.

    Opening the season with another ASCS National event, a Sprint Car Challenge Tour race mid-season, and USAC West Coast sprints and Western States Midgets together a couple times at Merced, and perhaps a CRA race will likely be the open wheel part of Merced’s 2021 schedule.

    The northern tracks in California have lacked an injected nonwing series and Lockwood is hoping to change that in 2021. With the combination of USAC West Coast sprints and Western states midgets, a plan is taking shape to change things.

    He stated, “What I’m trying to do is, say we get 14 to 16 races, we’re going to do a north and a south with half the races in each section. There will be a points championship for both but the points fund will still be in the overall.”

    Pairing the two USAC divisions and having some northern tracks involved will be great, if only the coronavirus would go away. The fact that California has had as much racing this year as we did was only possible due to support from numerous sources.

    Lockwood summarized the circumstances by saying, “The reality is, without the sponsors and without the broadcasters kicking in extra money, we wouldn’t be able to have races. We’re not getting rich with fans, we surely not doing it without fans. We just happened to have good people in our corner that are able to help make it happen.”

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…After managing to get to 99 races, the 2020 notebook is closed with more blank pages than expected. About 25 races below average, it was fortunate to see 99 shows in 8 states at 32 tracks. An eight-week stretch from early March to early May was a particularly difficult time to see a race and being in California meant there were none.

    Almost half of the total, 48 to be exact, were out of state during two trips. January/February in Arizona and all of August and the first week in September in a six state journey in the Midwest. It turned out well with zero rainouts and usually pleasant weather.

    Visiting tracks for the first time has become relatively rare after traveling to the same states for many years, but stops at Holyoke, CO and Rock Springs, WY on the way home lengthened the track list a little.

    Phillips County Speedway in Holyoke might have set a personal all-time record for car count when the four-division show drew 18 entries. Credit goes to the track by racing what they had and two of the four mains were surprisingly good. The track has drawn much better for some of their races but the Friday shows seem to be a struggle.

    Several times before Sweetwater Speedway in Rock Springs, WY was on the tentative schedule but it was September 5, 2020 before it worked out. Green River is just a few miles west of Rock Springs but any other city/town is far away. The track still draws plenty of cars and 86 entrants in five divisions provided some excellent racing on a high-banked and wide 3/8.

    This was the 2nd of a two night show, which is how Sweetwater schedules their season, a wise move as two races for one tow makes long travel for teams rewarded. This was the 6th and final two-race weekend of their 12-race season and eleven ASCS Frontier division sprints were part of the show.

    Teams from Utah, Colorado, and Montana as well as Wyoming drove winged 360s at a ferocious pace around the high speed oval and it was a nearby driver who claimed the win to sweep the weekend. Zac Taylor of Green River took the finale over Colorado driver, Zack Merritt, and Montana based Damon McCune. Taylor’s Friday win came with McCune 2nd and Merritt 3rd.

    The stands are arranged differently as they start about the flag stand at the front stretch middle and extend into turn one for a ways. This apparently is to offset the west wind that makes steady appearances and the stands have backing above the seating to held block the breezes.

    Sweetwater Speedway had some excellent racing but needs to tighten up the show’s pacing. If I understand correctly, volunteers mostly run the track and profits over the years have gone back into improving the facility.

    California car owner Harley Van Dyke told me it was a fast track and he was certainly correct. It races very wide and the curve in the front stretch creates some unique lines heading into turn one to add to the uniqueness of the oval. A return in June next year is already on the schedule.

    With 99 races with anywhere from 2 to 6 divisions each show, an estimation of 400+ main events is logical. Picking the best main event of 2020 would have been very difficult, but the fact that it occurred last week, the task is simple.

    The notebook’s last three entries of the year were last week when the usual trip to Arizona was replaced by three USAC National midget races along highway 99 in the Golden State. Tuesday’s main at Bakersfield Speedway was exceptional when Michael Kofoid and Kyle Larson must have traded the lead at least 20 times over the last 12 laps.

    It was slider and crossover action lap after lap with three lead changes in a lap common during the run. When it seemed as if Larson got a bit slowed by a late race run through the bottom of turn 4, Kofoid was able to collect the win to cap a great main, the best of the year at that point.

    Two days off led to a pair of shows at Merced Speedway, the result of Placerville Speedway having to not race their Hangtown 100 for USAC National midgets due to the usual covid thing. Moving to Merced was possible for teams with one less day of racing resulting. Merced remained show up points only since they inherited the Placerville dates and it was show up only at PV due to the unique format that was to be used.

    Merced ran the USAC format but the show up points procedure remained, probably eliminating a dramatic point chase but not denting the field. After Bakersfield drew 46, over 50 midgets raced each night at Merced with a very good Friday main and one to remember on Saturday.

    Friday was heavy on qualifying with 49 winged 360s also on hand, a class that saw Kyle Larson win from 8th. Thomas Meseraull won the midget 30 lap test, a good race, but overshadowed by Saturday’s version of National midget racing.

    The last main event of the season for this Lincoln, CA resident became the best main event of the year. According to comments, the midgets had their only non-stop main of the season and also the most lead changes with five. But the five only counts official lead changes at the line, there were more that were unofficial.

    The word that comes to mind about this race is frantic. National drivers racing for the lead for 30 nonstop laps with multiple grooves created a race easily worthy of being number one in the notebook. Tanner Thorson edged Kofoid at the line to win, but in my view, every driver was a winner for putting on such a fantastic main event.

    It is obviously a nobody knows situation, but one can only plan 2021 with hope and optimism that everyone has a racing season that will make 2020 a forgotten thorn.

     

     

    It Will Be Wild Times In Arizona Come January

    by Ron Rodda

    San Tan Valley, AZ…When the Wild West Shootout for super late models, modifieds, and X mods moved from Tucson to FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, the third mile became the focus of teams and fans for 10 days in January. The event has grown each year to now offering in excess of a quarter million dollars in guaranteed purse for six nights of racing. Bonus opportunities add additional income potential led by a $250,000 bonus to sweep the six late model mains.

    Next year, things will be even more wild at the Jonah Trussel promoted track when the weekend following the Wild West Shootout will see the inaugural edition of the Wild Wing Shootout for 410 sprints. Another large purse will make January in the desert seem like an even better idea.

    Sprint mains pay $7000 to win on opening night and $10,000 the next two nights. IMCA modifieds are the only other division and their $1000 to win for each of three nights will capture the attention of those teams also.

    The Wild West Shootout is promoted by Chris Kearns while the Wild Wing Shootout is a cooperative effort among four people. Trussel, Kearns, Michael Grigsby, and Matt Curl formed an equal share partnership for the sprint weekend.

    As of now, there is no concern over the ability to have sufficient fan numbers allowed for the January events.

    When approached about the idea of having a big 410 January event, Trussel said, “When I was asked if I was interested, I drug my feet for a couple of months trying to decide if we really wanted to do something of that size or not. We finally decided it could be a really good event, we have a good relationship working together on other events, so we decided it was something we should do. Then enter covid-19.”

    “We drug our feet a little longer until we figured we could get some good support by getting a good turnout of cars and having fans in the stands. It’s a great time of the year to do this in Arizona. People always want to see that level of talent that we’ll have, they will enjoy watching out here, but it is a big risk for all four of us.”

    “I think it’s a good fit, it’s a good fit for our race track, the team that is doing it is a good set as well, and it will complement the Wild West Shootout. That’s a great event, I’ve watched those guys do it the last few years, and I think it will carry over to the Wild Wing Shootout.”

    Since there may not another sprint car race in the country the fourth weekend in January, perhaps the purse does not need to be particularly large. That was not accurate according to Trussel.

    “The days of a huge group of talent showing up to an event for a purse a promoter can actually afford, those days are over,” stated Trussel. “Sponsorship is more difficult to get than three years ago, so many people are switching to digital ads and social media campaigns. The dollars that an average decent size race pays, you have to be competitive or better than that if it is a first year event to get teams to show up.”

    “The purse was always my hesitation on whether or not I wanted to be part of it, the purse is so high. But you see the people who have already committed and it takes a lot to get that caliber of race team to commit this early to a first year show, so that’s why we offered what we did.”

    FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway was already the focus for a large group of race fans in January. In 2021 that group will be larger than ever.

    The Wild West Shootout takes place starting with a practice night of January 8. Racing is set for January 9, 10, 13, 15 to 17 with a second practice night on the 12th. The event web site is wildwestshootout.net.

    The Wild Wing Shootout has a practice night on January 21 with racing on tap for the 22nd to 24th. The web site for this event is at wildwingshootout.com. Tickets are now available for both events through the web sites.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    The first Saturday of October saw the largest turnout of winged 360 sprints this year in California when 58 teams towed to Placerville for the Tribute to Mac Tiner Sr.

     

    Passing away earlier this year, Mac Tiner was very involved in open wheel racing for many years.  He and his brother, Johnny, formed Tiner Brothers Racing and many drivers, both retired and still active, got involved in racing through the racing family.

     

    Racers Steven, Rod, Rich. and Randy Tiner were all nephews of Mac and his sons, Jeremy and Mac Jr. had their turn racing.  Tiner built karts were an important part of the early  career for Bryan Clauson, Kyle Hirst, Steven Tiner, Brad Sweet, and Little Mac.  The Tiner group partnered with Placerville promoters, Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, to create a nearly $30,000 payout for the Tribute's sprint main.

     

    Track sponsorship and close to $21,000 raised by the Tiners in just two weeks showed tremendous support from a huge list of sponsors.

     

    The result was the largest field and payout this year in California for 360s with $5094 to win and a purse structure that didn't drop quickly.  A 7th place finish still paid $1094 with $394 to start.  The recurring "94" in the payout is from years of Tiners racing that number, something Steven Tiner still does.

     

    With 36 additional entries in the three support divisions, a crowded pit area put pressure on officials to finish everything before the state’s 11 pm curfew for fairgrounds located tracks.  Dropping the dash in favor of a redraw plus cutting some laps from an overly long C main as well as efficient racing from support divisions led to a 10:59 finish. 

     

    The redraw worked well for Shane Golobic and he used a front row start to lead the entire 30-lap distance with relatively little pressure.  The Carrick brothers, Blake and Tanner, raced each other for 2nd for a bunch of laps before Tanner faded and Blake ran in the runner-up spot.

     

    It was 11th starting Colby Copeland that became the show over the last part of the event.  Rolling around the racy quarter in fifth with 8 laps remaining, Copeland charged up to 2nd when he used the top line in turns 3 and 4.  He was definitely the fastest on the track at the time, but with three laps remaining no time to close on Golobic remained.

     

    The Golobic, Copeland, and Blake Carrick podium finished the evening with the wish for ten more main event laps to see what would have happened getting saved for another time.  Hunter Kinney in BCRA midget lites, Dan Jinkerson in limited late models, and pure stock’s Ryan Peter captured support division mains.

     

    A very scary incident with 8 laps remaining occurred when Kaleb Montgomery’s ride caught fire.  He drove off turn 3 onto a flat area, jumped out of the car as quickly as he could, and rolled in the dirt as his lower body was showing flames.  Fire extinguishers finished the task and it was several anxious minutes while he remained lying on the ground.  When he was helped up, thankfully was able to walk to the ambulance where he received a ride back to his pit area and was uninjured. 

     

    Placerville races next Saturday with USAC divisions making a rare appearance at the foothill quarter.  West Coast midgets, West Coast sprints, and a return of the BCRA midget lites, this time shedding the wing, will serve as a tune-up for the big November three day show called the Hangtown One Hundred.  The Thursday to Saturday plan on the 19th to 21st will very likely remain a no grandstands event.

     

    Peter Murphy’s Keller Auto Speedway At Kings Fairgrounds is busy next weekend with a two-day effort with three types of sprints on hand.  Winged 410s, 360s, and RaceSavers all get to play on Hanford clay at least one night.  Three weeks later another Hanford race on Friday night is scheduled, and a November 14th date will end the season.  Murphy is looking at more October dates but next weekend is the primary focus for now.

     

    And of course the weekend after Hanford would have been the 27th Annual Trophy Cup, but that is postponed until some future date.  The third weekend of October will currently have a lot of sprint cars doing nothing in California unless someone puts together something in the very near future.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    Lincoln, CA…Normally the Golden State would be well into the special event portion of the season, but nothing has been normal in the state since early March.  This weekend would have been the 28th Annual Fall Nationals for winged 360s at Silver Dollar Speedway, an event won by Tim Kaeding last year.

     

    If any race had no chance of happening, it was the Fall Nationals as trying to race an event at Chico with no fans is just not feasible.  Racing just one time since March 13, the quarter mile basically lost the entire season except for one event post-March 13.  The biggest deal of the year, the Gold Cup was scratched earlier this year, giving the grass a head start in coating the track with the usual off-season decor.

     

    The Trophy Cup was erased from Tulare Thunderbowl’s schedule weeks ago as was the entire season for the 3/8 oval.  Perris dropped the Oval Nationals along with the rest of the season, and Bakersfield Speedway will not be racing the largest car count event in the Western US this year.  This would have been the 35th Annual Bud Nationals in Bakersfield, a stock car show that usually draws upwards of 150 cars over its two day run.

     

    Petaluma did run the 9th Annual Adobe Cup for winged 360s along with 4th Annual Bob McCoy Super Stock special this weekend.  The $2000 to win sprint division ran a special format with dual heats for finishing/passing points leading to a two lap qualifying run for the top 6 in points.

     

    Another neat wrinkle was counting both laps and the total time was used to start the top 6 point cars straight up in the 30 lap main.  Andy Forsberg made up for a mediocre round one heat result by racing from 6th to 2nd in round two to come in 5th in points.

     

    He then was 2nd quick to multi-time track champion Bradley Terrell in qualifying to start alongside Terrell on the front row.  Leading all 30 laps on a very fast surface was assisted by both Terrell and another strong contender, Willie Croft, taking a DNF after flips, and Forsberg’s usual battle with Sean Becker did not happen after a mechanical failure for Becker.

     

    After a very ugly first few laps with two reds and a yellow, things smoothed out mostly and Forsberg avoided any traffic issues to collect the win as he took another step in reaching the 200 victory level.

     

    Richard Brace Jr. used to race stock car classes, then spent much time in sprints, mostly 410s in recent years, and now drives a pro stock.  He wheeled the aptly named 401K ride to the $1000 win, dominating the overly long 40 lap test of man and machine.  With only 15 cars in the field and just 13 starting, the failure to shorten the 40 lap plan saw just two cars finish.

     

    Petaluma has been close to something labeled normal in terms of number of shows.  In July some Sunday events had the benefit of streaming and the track has been almost weekly since, at least in terms of a schedule.  Bad air quality interfered with plans during the time when massive wild fires dominated the California news.  Antioch Speedway has raced the most of any track in the state with some sprint action sprinkled among the IMCA shows.

     

    Placerville has received much support for next Saturday to the point that a great payout, especially by 2020 standards will go to the winged 360 field when the Tribute to Mac Tiner Sr. takes place.  The Tiner family along with track sponsors have really stepped up for this race as it will pay $5,094 to win, $394 to start, and the $994 for 8th shows how gradual the drop off is at the pay window.

     

    Spending 36 days on the road starting August 2nd turned into an excellent trip, especially being able to get out of the Golden State with its rules and regulations than defy logic.  Going to races in states of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, only one track had any significant sign of covid adjustments.

     

    Outagamie Speedway in Seymour, WI taped off half the rows, cutting the capacity from 3500 to 1750 and that was the result of their proposal to the county offering to do that as a step towards continuing to race.

     

    At the 24 races maybe 50 people total were seen wearing a mask and it was only groceries and big box stores that we were in that required masks.  Tracks had plenty of fans and I have yet to read of any county we were in that has had a substantial increase of cases in the last two months. 

     

    One thing about Midwest tracks….they get it.  Every track ran their shows efficiently, logically, and professionally.  No five car, 20 lap main events, no letting a yellow filled race spoil the program, and no waiting for drivers who are not ready.

     

    Statistics tell the story.  Eagle Raceway on August 29th had 145 cars in five classes and the show was run in three hours, 46 minutes.  August 21 at Marshalltown Speedway there were 117 cars and it was a two hour, 39 minute evening.  Wisconsin’s 141 Speedway on August 15th had 188 cars and presented a show completed in four hours, four minutes.  These examples were repeated at every race.

     

    All tracks can produce shows with this level of efficiency; they just have to want to.

     

     

     

    Drueke Takes Checkers,. Gullion Earns Title

    by Ron Rodda

    Eagle NE...The third mile high-banked Eagle Raceway drew 145 cars in five divisions for the final point race, leading into next week's RaceSaver Nationals.

    The IMCA sanctioned classes were led by RaceSaver winged sprint cars with Adam Gullion bringing a 23 point lead to the track.

    Things did not go well for the point leader. Finishing 6th in his heat, Gullion moved to 6th starting on the take four B main. He came up two feet short of the final transfer spot to end title hopes.

    But a substantial lead plus points from the B main proved to be enough to claim the championship.

    Four heats moved the top four directly to the main with an additional four from the B main filling the field for a 25 lap finale.

    Point average determines the lineup of the top 3 from each heat, inverting 12 by point average.

    Toby Chapman led 22 of 25 laps, efficiently using the bottom line to enjoy a large lead. Tyler Drueke was running the top and reached 2nd still well behind Chapman.

    Drueke made some progress but when Chapman switched lines to the top, Drueke dropped to the low line and overtook Champman in turn two and led the final three laps for a win. Chapman was 2nd while
    Brandon Horton completed the podium.

    Sport mods ran an 18 lap main and Bobby Draper was cruising to a win when a restart with four laps remaining bunched the field. Trevor Noonan used the opportunity to use the bottom of turn four to take the lead and win. Cole Wayman was track champion.

    Hobby stocks were led by Brad Schreiner for 5 laps but his right front collapsed elevating Michael Wade to the top spot. Don Hall Jr. drove under Wade in turn 4 and led the last 10 laps to win. Jeff Ware was track titleist.

    Modified racing saw Shane Hiatt use the top to win the main and Jordan Grabouski was named track champion. Grabouski won 69 mains in 2019 racing a modified and a stock car.

    Tenth starting Cole Krichau won the sport compact main and RJ Mass collected the track championship.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    The Busiest Man In Racing?

    Maribel WI…Toby Kruse is a very busy man. The well-respected promoter, flagman, announcer, race director, and whatever else he has going on Boone, Iowa resident admits to not doing well when he has free time

    So, he makes certain there is not much free time on his schedule.

    One tradition he has with his Marshalltown Speedway is an extremely efficiently run program. According to Kruse, “Several years back I was watching different races and I came up with a theory. If a show is done right, for every 50 cars that should take an hour and fifteen minutes, so if you have 100 cars that should be a 2 1/2 hour show.”

    Last Friday Marshalltown had 120 cars and ran the show in 2 hours, 52 minutes. Using the Kruse formula, 120 cars would be three hours, so he beat the clock by 8 minutes.

    As to watching streaming racing, Kruse notes that, “It’s hard for me to sit there and watch that if they don’t run the show right. I don’t have the attention span to watch all the dead air.”

    Kruse got started with racing when his family went to Boone and started working as an assistant flagman at age 18 at the track. After fulfilling that task at Boone, Des Moines, and Jefferson, he got his first job as regular flagman at Buena Vista Raceway in Alta at age 19.

    The following year the announcer at Boone was moving on and somebody said to promoter Robert Lawton that Toby could do it and he should be given a chance.

    Lawton promoted Marshalltown at the time and Kruse started a 20-year career announcing at Boone. During this time he also worked in a body shop, writing estimates, ordering parts, etc. He was very bust as he was announcing or flagging about 130 races a year.

    When Lawton told Kruse that he was in his last 5 years of running Marshalltown, Toby started saving all the money he could to bid on the contract when the time came. He got Marshalltown in 2006 and states he will be done in 2026 at the end of his current contract.

    Kruse stated the plan right now is to leave Marshalltown after those 21 years, but not to leave racing.

    He notes that, “I like to do special events and help out other race tracks, like an advisory position for example, I’d love to do something like that at other race tracks instead of being locked down at one.”

    The most important things in promoting?

    Kruse says, “Track prep. That’s your product You have to spend whatever time, effort, and money to make sure you have a good surface. Consistency on the calls is important, the racers know how we’re going to run the show, Treating the drivers with respect is also important. Everyone has to work together to reach a goal.”

    Marshalltown has been streamed weekly for years, does not lower the crowd, and brings attention to Marshalltown. Kruse commented that recently modified driver Collen Winebarger from Oregon was at his track, stating he watched the stream and that put the track on his bucket list.

    As to streaming costing tracks fans, Kruse says, “There are people who want to be there, they want to feel it, smell it, they want to hear it, and I don’t think the broadcast effects your audience at all. It’s been proven that less than 1% who are watching a stream are within a 60 mile radius of the track.”

    Kruse also owns Toby’s Hideaway in Boone, a place his family always enjoyed and not far from his home. The previous owners quit doing food and let it go downhill. He saw potential and bought it in 2010 and it has been successful, something he credits to the employees.

    As to his business success, Kruse says, “I give all the credit to my parents. They were very blue collar, hard working, they gave me work ethic. I’ve never been afraid to work hard.”

    Toby also bought an event center in Boone in 2015 at the urging of friends. It was a bit of a quick decision, not in his normal manner, and now it is the site of weddings, concerts, graduations, plays, and a little bit of everything. There is a big motorcycle rally also.

    Speed Shift came about in 2013 after conversations with Darren Shanley and Chet Christner over the course of a year. To start, Kruse said, “We literally went to any race track we could to broadcast an event and we went from begging to broadcast to six years later doing over 300 races per year, literally all over the country and Australia.”

    Kruse recently sold Speed Shift to FloRacing and he mentioned that “the longest part of the negotiations was making certain the employees were well taken care of.”

    Toby is also part owner of 141 Speedway near Maribel, WI. The track was asphalt for years then the promoters but dirt on it. After a few years Kruse was told he should go to 141.

    “I went there as a fan for 2 or 3 years,” recalled Kruse, “and the current owner said I ought to buy this place. I now own 50% of it along with Scott and Dan Ratajczak, purchased in 2013. In 2019 we averaged 159 cars per night. Last night we had 151 cars, started at 6 pm and were finished at 9:20. It’s an absolute mirror of Marshalltown.”

    Days off? Not for Kruse. He notes that is something happening every day.

    Kruse said, “There are times when I think, man, I need a day or two off. Then I have 2 hours of idle time and I start going crazy, I think that’s just the way I’m wired.”

    Making the 7-hour drive from Boone to 141 Speedway and back each racing weekend should help fill him time.

    Unfortunately, 24 hours after the interview, done as Kruse drove back from 141, winds measured at 99 mph hit Marshalltown Speedway. Damage was severe and the future of this season is in doubt.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    VIPs Of California Racing

    Lincoln, CA…In the past, racing in the Golden State was made possible by promoters, sponsors, race teams, and fans. That is only three fourths correct this year since fans are generally not allowed in the grandstands.

    The track in Susanville has been able to have fans for a while, but getting any information out of that place has proved fruitless to the point it may as well be on located on the moon. Marysville’s quarter mile has recently been allowed a huge 100 fans, and only that because the local collegiate baseball team was successful in receiving permission for that many, so the track sought and got the same deal.

    No other track in the state, to our knowledge, can have fans which leads us to recognize the VIP of racing in our state, the videographers.

    Without streaming, a group of tracks that have been racing with some degree of regularity very likely would have been dark the entire season. And whom do streaming companies rely on for their product? The videographers, and California is home to the person with the longest running career in that field; Dean Mills.

    Mills first started going to Placerville Speedway when his father, Don, first helped with and then raced stock cars. His father was the 1981 Rookie Of The Year at Placerville, but a couple years later stopped racing due to the cost. By age 11 he had his first job in motor sports, running the old scoreboard that was outside turn 1. He turned on the one to go light for then flagman, Kenny Urton, whose son became long time successful sprint car racer, Kevin Urton.

    His mother, Beverly, was scorekeeper at Placerville and Chico, a task she fulfilled for twenty years. Part of his father’s stock car team was an attorney who started shooting video, Mills took interest, and on May 5, 1984 at age 14, made his debut with the video camera on the turn four hill at Placerville. Now 36 years later, he continues to document racing, stating he has 14 years left in his career.

    Mills noted that, “I thought I was really good right away, but I was really terrible and it took many years to get good at it. We would take the video (VHS) to a pizza parlor, play it, everybody watched with racers gathering there, and that’s what we did with it.”

    “You have to be willing to be very critical of your work, you have to love the racing, and you have to love the process of documenting races. Thirty-six years later, my moment in life is when it’s my camera, 24 race cars, and my love of shooting video. There’s no gold pot at the end of the rainbow, you’re never going to make any real money doing this, you just have to have a passion for it, and I still do.”

    “It took me 8 to 10 years to realize the your job is to follow the best race on the track at any given moment. I’m watching the driver in 2nd place and rooting for a good race. If he passes the leader, then I’m still watching the driver in 2nd. I’m rooting for a good race, not who wins.”

    Mills realizes he is benefiting from the up tick in streaming this year, but he worries that when fans are finally allowed in the stands, they won’t come back. When fans are able to come back, he wants to start a campaign of some sort to help get fans back to the track. Recognizing fans are needed to make it all work, Mills is concerned how the transition to opening the front gate will work.

    His resume as a videographer is impressive having done 11 seasons with USAC, 9 years with SCRA, a lot of World Of Outlaw races, and All-Star events. Video became his full-time job on February 2, 1991 due to an unplanned career change.

    “I lost my job for going to the final race at Ascot”, admitted Mills. “I took the Friday after Thanksgiving off when it was not approved. They let me stay on while I trained my replacement. I filmed the final Ascot race, Stan Fox won the Turkey Night Grand Prix, I chose to call in sick for the next day and take the rap for that. I lost the last job I ever had that did not involve cameras.”

    “I’m proud that I was at the final race at Ascot and sacrificed a job for it. It sent me on my life path although my mother, to this day, said she never should have introduced me to racing. But she’s my biggest fan.”

    His career highlights include the stint working with USAC and getting to see Dave Darland set the record for USAC National wins. In 2014 he was living in California but still followed USAC all season to shoot video when Darland set the record. Another special time was being the videographer for SCRA since Ron Shuman was a childhood hero for Mills.

    Dean explained, “I got to cover Ron’s final season, his improbable championship night when he came from two spots back on the final corner of a race at Perris Auto Speedway to take the final championship by two points over Richard Griffin. That was a highlight I will never forget. Shuman won and retired on the spot. I also won the North American Sprint Car Poll media member of the year and that’s a highlight.”

    “My ultimate goal is to follow my mentor, Greg Stephens, into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame one day. I’m in my 36th year, I’m going to cap it at 50, and there won’t be a 51st year. I still love what I do, and I still want to do it.”

    Mills was part of what he believes was the first ever streamed event, the Belleville Midget Nationals in 2008. It was the company that became the Cushion and they hired him to do the event. In 2009 he streamed USAC races with his camera, computer, and a hot spot.

    Mills recalled, “In 2009 we tried to do the Turkey Night Grand Prix and we crashed servers since it had something like a 10,000 person limit. It was a free stream. But streaming is not what my primary function is. What I do this for is to document races. Every race I shoot I am documenting history. What matters most to me is making sure the races get documented.”

    When time is available, Mills works on creating a database of his entire career and some day every race he has shot will be on a web site. He will include the work of now retired, Grove Hill, who shot video for 20 years. Mills is determined to make certain that, “Grove’s work is remembered and is preserved for future generations.”

    Showing his love for his work, Mills said, “I take great pride in the work that we’ve done over the years and there is great honor in what we do. Myself and people like me who do this over the country, there is a tremendous honor in what we do as a collective whole, documenting the history of our sport.”

    Using his timeline, Dean Mills has 14 more years to add to his immense collection of video. Wherever he shoots for these years you can be certain it will be done with professionalism and heart.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    The Long Reach of Don Lamberti

    Lincoln, CA…In Des Moines, Iowa in 1959 Donald Lamberti leased a service station from his father which he converted to a convenience store. Eight years later a friend and business partner, Kurvin C. Fish, suggested Lamberti buy a service station in Boone, Iowa, which he did and converted that one also, renaming it “Casey’s” after his friend.

    Since the Boone store did well, another was converted to a Casey’s in Creston and then Waukee became the first built from scratch location. Despite the small population base in Waukee at the time, it was the most successful of the first three and small towns became the home for many of the stores as it steadily added locations.

    Napa, California sprint car driver, Chris Masters notes that, “Don first became interested in racing as a child when he moved down the street from Gil Sonner. They became lifelong friends.”




    The relocation on the same street as the late Gil Sonner sparked an interest in racing for Lamberti that eventually led to becoming a well known sponsor for many drivers as well as the Casey’s logo being on race cars. The pair built their first race car when still teenagers, building cars that raced througout Iowa and continued their efforts even more after Casey’s was established.

    Most of the time there has been a mix of Lamberti and corporate sponsorship. Many drivers raced with sponsorship from Lamberti and, although Don retired from Casey’s in 2003, the decal of Casey’s can still be regularly seen on race cars.

    One of those drivers benefiting from Lamberti sponsorship was initially Dave Masters and now his son, Chris. That came about because, as Chris puts is, Don is “a distant relative and a family friend. My great grandmother and his mother were sisters, or you could say my grandmother and Don were cousins. My mother’s side of the family came from the Des Moines and Ankeny area.”

    Explaining when they first met Lamberti, Masters said, “Don came out for some sort of family function after my folks had been married a few years, they met and were both big into racing, they hit it off and have been friends ever since. That is one thing about our sport, people from different walks of life are pretty tight.”

    “When we visit, it’s understood we stay with him and his wife, Charlene, and the hospitality is second to none. Don is someone we are very lucky to know and my father talks with him on the phone every week or two.”

    Chris’s father got into racing in the Vallejo hardtop days, helping Darrell Dudley, Phil Pedlar, and some of the others. Dave Masters got his own hardtop in the mid-70s and raced with them. He eventually moved to supermodifieds, racing West Capital and a lot at Placerville, and in the 80s Don sent him a sprint car chassis and they’ve been running a sprint car ever since, supported by Don Lamberti all these years.

    In 2004 Chris was completed with school and starting racing, stepping into a sprint car with no previous experience in any kind of race car. Masters came back home after being on the outlaw tour with Gil Sonner and his rookie driver, Daryn Pittman, and bought a car from Brooke Tatnell.

    The car got to sit in the garage until his schooling was over before his first race was at Placerville in a Civil War show, which meant lots of cars and very experienced drivers in the pits.

    Masters recalls, “It was the first night I ever wheel packed a car or raced a car, and you think you’re hauling the mail and they just fly by on both sides. It was a little tough. And I thought, oh my, we’re in trouble, what did I get myself into. It was definitely a humbling experience.”

    “Don Lamberti has been a help every year after supporting my dad, without which I would not be racing now. Often something almost magically arrives in the mail; we never know when something might appear. That is Don’s style, he’s not looking for any recognition he just wants to help someone out.’

    Chris displays the Casey’s General Store logo on his sprint car although his sponsorship is not corporate, but from Lamberti. Out of respect for Don, Masters uses the Casey’s logo that has become so recognizable in racing.

    It is not only the racing genre that has enjoyed the support of Lamberti. Some very significant donations went to recipients such as Buena Vista University, Balance Autism, and many others. He is a former recipient of the Hometown Pride Vision Award for helping to improve and enhance the quality of Iowa

    Don Lamberti will be inducted into the Knoxville Hall of Fame this year in the series sponsors category. He has been in the Masters family hall of fame for nearly 40 years.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Speed Shift TV Saves Northern California

    Lincoln, CA…A trio of first time winners recently creates a podium of contenders for the Driver Of The Month In Northern California honor. Blake Carrick won his first sprint car main at Ocean Speedway last Friday, bringing a trophy back to Lincoln. That was not exactly a surprise considering how well he ran the last race at Marysville, putting on a show running 2nd.

    June 21 Petaluma Speedway held a Sunday afternoon/evening event, moved from Saturday, and Anthony Slaney survived the IMCA modified main for his first win in that division. Numerous late race restarts gave his competition opportunities, but Slaney was able to pull away over the last two laps to secure the win.

    As noteworthy as those two wins were, the award must go to a driver than won his first ever main, then the next night won his 2nd ever main, and if that wasn’t enough, tacked on his 3rd ever win the following race all in an eight day stretch.

    Joey Lingron, a 14 year old from the Santa Rosa area, has some racing experience in karts and has won three consecutive races in his dwarf car, and running old equipment too. A Nationals level event at Petaluma Speedway drew 37 entries is his sportsman division and the young driver won mains both nights.

    The following Friday at Ocean Speedway he was part of a 16-car field but raced against much more experienced drivers and collected his third in a row. Winning that first main event is certainly an accomplishment, but turning that into a tro of trophies easily nabs the award.

    Racing in Northern California is taking off, from a number of events tally, that is. Stands remain empty except for this coming Wednesday when Marysville is the first in the area to allow fans, albeit a relatively paltry limit of 100. There is no evidence of any online ticket purchasing option, so I would not want to be the ticket seller having to face number 101 in the line. Maybe whoever is counting will lose track.

    This Wednesday Marysville race featuring winged 360 sprints at least gets to open the door for a bit for fans and hopefully the allowed number increases soon. A Wednesday race in California is practically unheard of, and this one would be nothing more than a thought if it weren’t for one thing: Speed Shift TV.

    A bunch of the Northern California tracks that are able to race are only doing so because of the support and streaming of Speed Shift. There is no doubt, without the streaming service Marysville, Placerville, Petaluma, and Ocean Speedways almost certainly would not be racing. Ocean had their first night last Friday, Petaluma has raced three nights although the dwarf car nationals were on their own, Placerville has a single night, and Marysville leads the pack with six races, one of which occurred before the virus arrived in force.

    Speed Shift’s support has now led to an unheard of deal this week, the Accidental Almost Speed Week with five races in five nights at four tracks. Assuming Ocean Speedway includes winged 360s, the five nights would all feature 360 powered sprint cars with Petaluma racing nonwing carbureted sprints but not anything winged.

    Wednesday is Marysville, Ocean goes Thursday, Placerville has a two day Posse Shootout the next two nights, and Petaluma completes the quintet on Sunday. Of course, all races are available on Speed Shift TV for a series that would not be happening if things were normal.

    Tracks in this general area have been rearranging their schedule to facilitate being streamed by Speed Shift TV, proving that without the service there would only be quiet tracks.

    Maybe the proper name for the five race series is Speed Shift TV Saves NorCal.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Tough Times For Promoters

    Lincoln, CA…Promoting a short track is never easy, but when a show is a big success the rewards for a promoter aren’t just financial. Knowing that you did this, you made it happen and it worked, gives a sense of accomplishment.

    Those days are difficult to come by in 2020.

    It is important to realize the level of frustration promoters face this season. One person, in many cases, makes a decision that is the difference between having a chance for success or being towed toward increasingly overwhelming hardships. And in many cases, that person has no concept of how short track racing operates and how distancing in the stands is relatively easy for weekly shows.

    Situations resulting from one person’s decisions, or perhaps a small group at most, create questionable decisions. In Wisconsin, Red Cedar Speedway in Menominee was ordered to cancel the season while other tracks in the state but in different counties race with large crowds despite having a higher per capita number of confirmed virus cases.

    How can that possibly be explained logically?

    Things should never be decided with the “who makes the decision” being more important than the statistics and facts.

    Placerville Speedway was able to open their season last Saturday with promoters Scott Russell and Kami Arnold finally racing after one practice day a few weeks prior. Reaching the point where June 13 was opening night, more than 3 months after the scheduled first race, was an arduous journey.

    Russell said, “We were in constant contact with our fairgrounds and county supervisors, county CAO, and health director which led to having this first race. We had to wait for the guidelines from them, we gave them our ideas, and we stayed in touch with what the orders are and how we can work within them.”

    After all the work getting to the point of having a race, Friday night weather came very close to creating a postponement.

    “When I got there Saturday morning there was a foot of water standing in the bottom of turn one,” explained Russell. “There was about a foot and a half of water behind turns one and two I had to pump out, and at 9:30 that morning I almost cancelled the race because I knew it’d be hard to get this thing in the order I wanted it to be.”

    “It’s hard enough on a good day to get the track where you have a top and a bottom and I couldn’t get on the track until 1 pm with the blade. The rain had come down the turn four hill and created ruts across the track so I had to get the blade out there to fix it. I think the race turned out OK but definitely not the surface I was shooting for.”

    The track had some problem areas after sprint qualifying but when stock cars hot lapped and more laps were turned in heats, the track seemed to get better and better. A very good show resulted and, despite empty stands, a 93-car turnout and plenty of people in the pit area made it seem as if things were all good again.

    Of course, they weren’t since had it not been for sponsors coming to the rescue, the race would likely not have happened. Scott and Kami don’t want to race for lower purses than a regular payout which makes the challenge all the greater to race and not lose money on top of everything else that makes promoting such a grind this year.

    As if the first race of the season usual worries wasn’t enough, Russell said he was wondering what to do when everyone is anxious to race and we get this rainstorm Friday night in the middle of June.

    “The next morning I had knots in my stomach wondering just what to do, just try to make the best of the situation and go for it or cancel it. I was on the fence on which direction to go and I finally decided that everyone’s been waiting for so long, I’ll just go for it and make the best of the situation and hope everybody understands.”

    “We’re taking it week by week, I’ve had a lot of anxiety and stress leading up to last weekend, not about doing the race, but I just lay in bed at night and think how do we sustain this? You can only go to sponsors so many times, that’s the part that is stressing me out. I raced, I had a team, I know how expensive it is to get these cars to the track, and I feel we already don’t race for enough Saturday night.”

    “For me to come out and say I have no fans, we need to race for a modified purse, is not what I want to do. We are going to have to decide down the road if we don’t get to where we can have fans, what is the next step? Do we run for a modified purse or do we just close our doors until we can have fans? I don’t know what the answer is.”

    As to how many times Placerville can race this year with a full purse but no fans, the answer was “a handful”, and after that there is a decision what to do.

    Streaming helps some with the bottom line, but that does not make up for the lack of fans. A promoter’s expenses are mostly set whether 60 or 90 cars race, but with empty grandstands the hope of making a profit are slim.

    It is up to the state of California as to racing’s future and it is safe to say the people making those decisions have never been to a race.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Streaming Companies Needed More Than Ever

    Lincoln, CA…In mid-March when racing was generally shut down, streaming companies provided some entertainment with virtual racing. It was certainly better than nothing, and for people who did not have much knowledge about sim racing it became an entertaining and intriguing way to see racing, even in a simulated form.

    When tracks began to race but had to do so without fans, it has been streaming companies to the rescue, providing an income source that is many cases made it possible for tracks to offer programs. Streaming sim racing has gone back to companies specializing in that genre, such as LSRTV (live sim racing TV), and streaming companies have gone back to “real” racing.

    California has had four tracks race since March 14 with a fifth oval running their season opener this Sunday. Dixon and Cycleland do not depend on financial support from a streaming company, but Marysville and Antioch have enjoyed the support of Speed Shift TV, perhaps not racing at all without their presence. Stockton 99 Speedway, a quarter mile paved oval in a city that has three race tracks, will be streamed by the same company this coming Sunday to open their season. The other two Stockton tracks are unfortunately located at the fairgrounds.

    Antioch raced a two-day IMCA event last weekend, drew an amazing 150 cars for three divisions, and had somehow gotten approval for the race despite being a fairgrounds track. Other tracks located on state owned fairgrounds in other counties have had a very difficult time getting anywhere towards presenting a racing program.

    A regional streaming company, Race On Texas, is meeting the demand for more live streaming in the Texas/Louisiana market by creating what other companies have, a monthly subscription option as well as keeping their on demand only membership available.

    Moving from an occasional live stream to multiple races streamed each weekend isn’t the simple change one might think. It was a significant cost to increase their live presentations so much with purchasing the streaming and networking equipment as all the tracks they go to don’t have hard line internet. They had to expand their cell service data and hot spots, purchase the equipment that encodes at the track, and supply a live set of equipment to all their videographers.

    Co-owner Chris David said, “The goal with SpeedPass is to have a way to offer live video for one price while continuing to support the track. A lot of other broadcasters have live packages where everything you get is one price and we wanted to do that where our partner tracks would be able to have a revenue stream.”

    The unique part of the SpeedPass is half of the $40 per month cost is given to a track of the subscriber’s choice. David noted that, “It’s our way of becoming more of a partner with the tracks. The fans that purchased the pass seemed to be very happy and it’s a way for people to support the track and get lots of excellent content.”

    “We have all 14 of our tracks available to pick from for a subscriber’s home track. If they don’t feel they have a home track then their half of the monthly fee goes into a general fund which will be used to sponsor big races, give out awards at the end of the season, and we’re going to do some fun things in the off-season to give back to the drivers.”

    Some of the 14 tracks don’t have the capability of having a live stream due to location, too far out in the boondocks and little or no cell service. Those tracks are still part of the monthly payments based on the number of subscribers that select them as their home track. Those tracks as well as all live races go into their on demand option which is still available for members.

    The current handful of active California tracks are, except for Cycleland, unable to have the grandstands open, making it critical in most cases to stream the event. Tracks in other states have been in a similar bind, with next week bringing some changes elsewhere that are drastically needed in California.

    As of June 1st, Iowa tracks will be able to use 50% of grandstand capacity while Nebraska will allow 25%. According to U. S. 30 Speedway owner and promoter, Bobby Lincoln, Nebraska’s governor is allowing 25% but it will still be up to counties to make a final decision. A similar situation where counties can choose a race track’s position is Wisconsin. That makes it very confusing and California has the same issue.

    For some states, there is movement in the direction of racing once again being allowed to the extent that tracks can operate with a reasonable chance of being successful. In other states tracks are in a much less positive situation.

    How much state leadership plays a part is dramatically shown by comparing Iowa and California. Looking at the number of confirmed virus cases per million residents, Iowa has over double the number than does California. Yet the Hawkeye state will start allowing grandstands to be half full next week and California won’t even allow a track to have a minimal practice session in many cases.

    It’s a big year for streaming services so far; let’s just hope all the race tracks are active next year for both the streaming companies and the fans.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A three race weekend? A month ago a one race weekend was not possible, but things have changed a bit in California. Four tracks in the state have now raced since March 14 and all of them are in the northern part of the state.

    Cycleland Speedway located a bit south of Chico opened their season on Saturday with the first of a weekly set of events that last until October 10th, not taking any weeks off. This outlaw kart facility is well known for producing sprint car drivers and is the only track in the state currently operating with no crowd restrictions other than the usual precautions in place.

    Owned and promoted by Lowell Moural Sr., the track usually draws around 125 outlaw karts spread over six divisions. Even Lowell seem surprised when 222 entries appeared coming, as he put it, “from all over!”

    Moural runs an efficient show and takes pride in track conditions, but even his crew was challenged with the huge turnout. Cycleland’s pit area status was a reflection of what happens when you are the only show around for a particular style of racing.

    The next two nights had more of the same, numbers of teams that took advantage of the opportunity to race despite some very long tows.

    Dixon Speedway raced their second and third events since reopening with their two day Memorial Day weekend show for micro sprints. Over 100 entries each night for the four divisions, again an example of being the only micro track in the state able to race producing travelers.

    Non-wing 600s generally have the largest turnout and 40 entries on Sunday plus 32 in Super 600s meant the majority of cars came from the two top classes. May 9th was the track’s first race back and was limited to 4 people per car and no spectators. Last weekend, promoter Jeremy Prince was able to get the per car number increased to 6 but still without spectators.

    With significantly more cars than a regular turnout, Dixon ran late as did Cycleland but when a track is able to race in these times, late running shows becomes a minor thing. Sunday’s top two classes produced wins for Devon Courtnier in winged 600s and Brandon Shaw in nonwing.

    The trio of race nights ended on Monday with the largest version of open wheel race cars for the weekend being winged 360 sprints at Marysville Raceway. This race was moved to Monday to accommodate having Speed Shift TV continue to be a critical part of the track being able to race without fans.

    This was the 3rd of 4 races this month for the quarter mile, made possible by the PPV connection. May 16th Marysville Raceway set an all time record for viewers on Speed Shift TV when Jackson Motorplex rained out and viewers shifted their attention to Marysville.

    Being the first day of a heat wave, a work day the next day for those lucky to still have a job, the car count was a surprising success when 45 teams appeared for a regular Marysville purse, made possible by support from Speed Shift TV. IMCA Northern sport mods added 17 to the pit turnout, all enjoying the nearly 100 degree day.

    This was the best main of the month’s trio of efforts with three leaders stumbling in different ways, leading to D.J. Netto winning for the 2nd time in three events at Marysville. Cycleland Speedway graduate, Alec Justeson, led until leaving too much space underneath his ride heading into turn 3 and Andy Forsberg pounced on the opening to make the pass to lead.

    Forsberg controlled the race until bumping into a car, spinning, but kept going to and dropped only to 4th at the time. Mitchell Faccinto then led until getting behind traffic due to staying on the bottom. Netto move up the track and raced around Faccinto to lead the last few laps for the entertaining win. Faccinto and Forsberg completed the podium

    I am very lucky to be within a 70 minute drive of three of the four tracks that have raced since March 14. The 4th is Antioch Speedway, which had a huge turnout for the two day event run by new promoter, Chad Chadwick. With 150 entries in three IMCA divisions, Antioch was a beneficiary of being the only stock car track in the state able to race.

    Cycleland will race weekly, Dixon has about a twice a month plan, Marysville will race without stands as long as Speed Shift TV has their back, and Antioch is remodeling their schedule so it is a wait and see.

    Four tracks and the rest of the state continues to deal with local and state authorities in a very frustrating attempt to run a business.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    California Races Despite Empty Stands

    Lincoln, CA…The leadership of California is finally showing some sense by allowing seven counties to reopen their businesses to some degree. While protective procedures are wisely required, the fact that some counties that have had zero virus cases yet have been shut down for 2 months is ludicrous.

    It is very clear that state and local officials have, in most cases, little knowledge of short track racing. This results in decisions that make absolutely no sense. A few tracks have been allowed to hold practice sessions, and two tracks raced last Saturday, but restrictions that remain in place display a complete lack of logic.

    Dixon had 82 race cars and, by agreement between promoter Jeremy Prince and county officials, each car was allowed 4 people to be in the pit area. That is a maximum of 328 people not counting any officials that could be on the property but no spectators were allowed. Their stands could have held a group of people with distancing equal to or greater than the pit area.

    Marysville estimated 300 in their pit area with the teams, just as in Dixon, spread apart as required. But Marysville could not use their grandstands where several hundred people could have sat and easily maintained the state guidelines on distancing.

    Lumping all sporting events together as to potential crowds is faulty thinking. Short track racing certainly isn’t like NFL, MLB, etc. Short track’s percentage of seats occupied on an average race night is not very high. Merced Speedway can hold 5,000 reportedly so having 1,000 in the stands would allow plenty of spacing.

    Bottom line, people could be safer sitting in short track grandstands than shopping in a Walmart.

    The closest Walmart to our home is a large store and it is apparently square footage of a store that determines the allowed number of shoppers. An employee is at the single open entrance to count. I asked how many people are allowed and was told this store is 1,114!! That has been verified in subsequent visits to that location.

    It has been made particularly difficult in California on race tracks that are on fairgrounds property, which is the majority of tracks. Petaluma Speedway promoter, Rick Faeth, mentioned last Saturday that the Sonoma-Marin fairgrounds officials have told him the state mandated no mass gatherings before Labor Day. Do the math on fairgrounds tracks potential of racing this year.

    And what comprises a mass gathering? Back in March Chico raced when the crowd limit was 250, then the limit became 50, and then 10 where it is still is now. Does that mean in March 250 was safe but 251 would not be? A more logical way to limit crowd size at a race track is to allow a percent of capacity.

    Many counties north of Sacramento have relatively few recorded cases of virus patients, many with six or less in the entire county. Yet they faced the same restrictions as Los Angeles County, which has the most, by far, number of cases per thousand residents in the state.

    After two months, things are beginning to change in favor of the counties that have significantly better scores. While Los Angeles County is now facing the stay at home rule until the end of July, other counties will be opening restaurants and other businesses.

    But short track racing continues to be hampered by uninformed decision makers.

    Recently three counties, on their own, did some reopening of things as they had relatively few cases considering their population. Yuba County, which happens to have Marysville Raceway within its borders was one of them. Just like March when promoter Dennis Gage was the first track in the state to race with the 250 fan limit in Chico, last Saturday he, along with Prince at Dixon Speedway, were the first promoters in state history to race with no fans allowed. Of course, both tracks are on private property or there would have been no way they could have raced.

    Gage had been allowing some limited practice sessions at Marysville Raceway but his thinking changed one day when he crossed the highway 70 bridge driving into Marysville. That bridge offers an excellent view of a motocross track.

    Gage said, “I drove over the bridge one day and there were cars, RVs, trucks, and motorcycles and I went down to talk to the track owner, asking how he was doing this. The owner had met with the Yuba County under sheriff, found out the health department limitations, and implemented all the things he was asked to do.”

    “They came down and inspected things and said he was doing a good job. So I took his plan to the race track and opened it up to rentals, keeping the limit to 10 people. We did that for 2 or 3 weeks and one time a deputy sheriff came by and I showed him what we were doing. He said we were doing all the right stuff.”

    The health officer for Yuba and Sutter counties has plenty of experience in dealing with diseases that spread, and took a progressive approach to the pair of counties. Her plan on reopening Yuba and Sutter counties was ahead of any other county in the state, and a checklist of how to reopen was followed by Gage for his track.

    Looking at having actual racing, Gage noted, “It was announced last week that any of the enforcement people were there to help with understanding the rules. We followed the procedures, put the signs up, trained staff, bought infrared thermometers, and all the tools necessary to follow the guidelines.”

    He explained how, “The many types of business were put into 4 categories of risk. In the low category, and there are many options in that category, was athletic events and the congregate equivalents, which I have no idea what that means. But I figured that’s good enough for me.”

    “They got used to this in Yuba County because the motorcross track was running in March. One of those Sundays he had 500 riders down there. It’s a big deal and you drive over the E Street bridge and you can see it all. He was the trendsetter because he took on the responsibility and he’s real aggressive, having people on 4 wheelers going around yelling at people to separate.”

    As to racing with closed stands, Gage noted, “If everyone opens up we’re going to delete the market pretty quick, Speed Shift is not going to need to pay, and racing numbers are going to diminish and we’re going to be back to where it is not financially feasible to race without a crowd. Maybe we can do this for a month or two, depending on who gets opened up; we’re in a tenuous spot.”

    Marysville Raceway is set to race the next two Saturdays after which it is a wait and see situation to see what is going on elsewhere.

    Dixon Speedway is a micro sprint track located in the country south of town. Also on private property, it is promoted by Jeremy Prince and he took a slightly different route that did Marysville.

    “We’re fortunate we are in Solano County, and I used the argument that they are allowing 4 people in a group to play golf,” said Prince. “My argument was why couldn’t we have 4 people in a pit spot so we can go racing. Once I explained how we do things at the track, the county officials were more open to it."

    “Ultimately the health department agreed although we were stuck with 4 people per pit spot. It was a bit of a battle to get hold of the right people and get an answer out of somebody. They were concerned about how many cars are on the track, but I explained they have helmets, gloves, etc. When I talked to enough people that they understood what we were doing they couldn’t argue it too much.”

    “We had gotten the OK from the county and health department to race ongoing but until the restrictions are lifted I can’t do anything differently. I was scared on race day that some people would be out there poking around to see if we were abiding by the rules, so it was kind of a stressful situation that everybody would respect what we were trying to do.”

    All the effort and concern Prince faced became worthwhile when he had a smooth race Saturday and he noted how pleased everyone seemed to be to once again race at Dixon Speedway.

    Gage and Prince put in the work and time needed to make a race happen, and both were awarded with a good car count and successful evening, even without grandstands being open. Dixon will race again on May 23/24 for a special event.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Silver Dollar Saves The Weekend

    Lincoln, CA…Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico raced March 13 when California tracks were canceling faster than a virus can spread.

    Ocean Speedway called off their Friday show while tracks in Madera, Bakersfield, Hanford, Tulare and Placerville canceled this weekend’s practice. Some tracks have canceled races as far in the future as early April, and nobody knows how long this trend will last. Being in different counties and dealing with different fair boards can make a difference.

    Our governor has changed what was a recommendation to mandatory by calling for the canceling or postponing an event that would create a gathering of 250 or more people. Apparently 249 or fewer people are safe gathering for an event, but 251 people are not. This will be the law at the least until the end of March.

    Kern County Raceway Park still raced on Saturday but without the planned NARC winged 410 opener as part of the paved/dirt track dual show.

    Dennis Gage, promoter of Silver Dollar Speedway as well as Marysville Raceway, saw no problem with the political decision on crowd size, as he raced the Friday night show with a limit of 250 fans in the stands.

    Ones first reaction might be that decision would guarantee a big losing night when the accounting was completed. Gage noted that, “I think I have a good chance of breaking even. Whether good or bad, the track will get a lot of publicity.”

    His contract with the fair board is structured in such a way that his costs were significant ally lower with a small turnout plus there was a back gate strong enough to offset the front gate to some degree.

    Gage was locked into racing earlier in the week with promises made he intended to keep so when the fairboard approached him about canceling, a compromise was struck that March 13 he would race, but not the following two Fridays.

    Nobody was turned away at the front gate and over 230 were in the stands. The governor’s number is logical for a crowd in a confined space, but the stands could hold twice that many with everyone still observing social distancing.

    Yes, that is the new buzz phrase, social distancing. Keeping 6 feet away from anyone else is expected to safeguard from getting any virus. A more logical crowd limitation number for grandstands would be a percent of the capacity. A gathering of 250 in the Merced Speedway stands would be about 5% of capacity, but much closer to 20% at Marysville.

    Chico had a chilly and windy night, but officials were on their A game and the show was complete by a very nice 9:20. A field of 33 winged 360s along with 23 dwarf cars supported what could be the last chance to race for a while.

    After much enjoying the ASCS National format last weekend, it was back to “thrilling” invert 4, take 4 heats where the fastest qualifier in each 8 lap race did not need to pass anyone, just don’t go backwards.

    Heat winners plus the 4 fastest qualifiers to finish top 4 went to a redraw to set the first four rows of the 40 lap main. Justyn Indiana Cox, and yes, that is his middle name, redrew the first row and led all 40 laps for the win.

    With the first yellow coming after 21 laps, traffic had several opportunities to throw Cox off his game, but other that some closing by Sean Becker, Cox was able to again stretch his lead once clear of the traffic.

    Becker occupied 2nd for the last 32 laps with every potential opportunity to apply pressure negated by Cox stretching his lead when needed. Shane Golobic was 3rd ahead of Chase Madjic and Blake Carrick.

    The dwarf car main was taken by Ryan Winter. Bringing a 23-car field to Chico on a Friday shows how well the division can draw competitors. Last Sunday at Petaluma there were 42 dwarf cars of which 32 were from the Redwood group.

    The division seems to have grown as opposed to the opposite that so many divisions have done over the years. Maybe the dwarf car world has some ideas about keeping the car count strong that other divisions should consider.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Losing Placerville Speedway’s show on Saturday to rain was very disappointing, but the other two nights featuring the return to the Golden State for ASCS National series proved they have the most entertaining format in racing.

    Replace usually boring time trials with draw heats using passing/finishing points, then basically run another set of heats called qualifiers using the top point cars but inverting 6 and again using passing/finishing points and that provides plenty of true racing.

    Add to that an on time start to the program, less wear and tear on the track prior to heats, an excellent series announcer, and very efficiently run program and the only problem with ASCS National is not racing in California more.

    It had been 8 years since the series appeared in the Golden State and Merced Speedway on Friday had the honor of hosting the return. Merced is a quarter mile than years ago was a big deal stock car track, then things faded with a series of promoters unsuccessfully trying to bring it back to its former state.

    Doug Lockwood is now the general manager and his background in open wheel racing reflects the track’s increase in sprint car racing. Last year’s initial Sprint Car Challenge Tour appearance was a big success, especially for Jodie Robinson when she became the first female to win a series main event.

    Then in September Lockwood’s ties to nonwing racing showed when the USAC/CRA series came to Merced for an Austin Leggett win. USAC midgets and Western RaceSaver sprints also made appearances to bolster the open wheel part of Merced’s schedule.

    A 51-car field matched the turnout the week before in Peoria, AZ when Canyon Raceway Park ran a two-day event for ASCS National. Justyn Cox was high point after heats but got involved in a tangle at the beginning of his qualifier. Cox got repairs made in the work area, but pushed out on the track after the yellow had gone out, so restarting was not allowed.

    I absolutely applaud the ASCS format that strictly enforces the rules on starts and does not give courtesy laps for work area activities. When the lineup is correct, lights are out and no waiting for anything.

    A win in his heat and a 6th to 4th qualifier for Andy Forsberg was enough to be top point driver heading to the 30 lap main. The straight up start I can accept because drivers raced twice to accumulate points to earn their spot.

    Based on his championship last year, the best sprint car driver in the country lined up alongside Forsberg, Placerville resident Brad Sweet. It became a flag to flag win for Sweet, chased across the line by Shane Golobic a few car lengths back. Golobic had a chance with six left on a restart but Sweet pulled away enough to cement the win. Blake Hahn was 3rd then Carson Macedo and Forsberg next in line allowing California drivers to take 4 of the top 5, surrounding Oklahoma based Hahn with Golden State talent.

    Sunday’s finale of the planned three race stretch drew 42 entries to Petaluma Speedway. Besides the format and efficiency, one more thing mirrored the Merced show when Forsberg again was high point driver.

    An 8th to 4th heat race performance was assisted in the qualifier when the outside front row driver jumped the start, and Forsberg was moved up to that spot. He won from 2nd starting but the rules state passing points are based on the initial pace lap when he was still lined up fourth. The extra 10 passing points pushed the X1 entry to 6 points more then multi-time series champion Sam Hafertepe Jr.

    A dramatic main on the Petaluma clay successfully capped the ASCS appearance, starting with Hafertepe leading 15 laps while Forsberg recovered from dropping back on lap one. With the first 25 laps nonstop, traffic came into play early for Hafertepe, helping Forsberg race back into 2nd.

    Lap 16 Forsberg used an outside pass in turn 2 to take the lead and 5th starting Sean Becker was soon right behind. When the first yellow appeared with 25 complete, Forsberg bicycled slightly in turn 2 on the restart, enough to lose momentum and Becker grabbed the lead.

    Another break came Forsberg’s way when the yellow flew before the lap was complete and the lead was his on the restart. He handled the last 5 laps to win over Golobic, who passed Becker on the back side during lap 27, then Becker, Hafertepe, with Justyn Cox making it another California driver four out of top 5 finishing spots.

    The only downside of the weekend was now having to adjust to California’s much less entertain version of a format for sprint car racing.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The Northern California sprint car season has had 5 races to date, but really gets kick started this coming weekend when the ASCS National series returns to the Golden State after years of absence. It was 2012 when Mason Moore won the series race at Placerville Speedway and I have missed seeing the Oklahoma based winged 360 series in California since that July date.

    Following the Placerville show that year was a cancellation at Chico, Brady Bacon winning at Hanford, and Brad Loyet ended the planned 4-race swing by taking Santa Maria checkers. Car count was 35 at Placerville, 31 at Hanford, and 25 in Santa Maria.

    Based on having 51 last weekend at Canyon, expectations are for a similar car count for the 3 races upcoming as some Arizona cars will be lost but more California drivers figure to keep the total similar to the Peoria, AZ weekend.

    So far this year, Shane Golobic and Ryan Robinson have wins at Stockton Dirt Track, Mitchell Faccinto and Keith Day Jr. Won at Hanford, and Robinson became a repeat winner last Saturday at Marysville.

    Day was one bobble from a sweep at the two Hanford shows, both big successes under the promotion of Peter Murphy, and Robinson was a beneficiary of a Tim Kaeding wheel failure to inherit the win at Stockton. Marysville was a different story for the son of two-time Civil War champion, David Robinson Jr., when Ryan held off Andy Forsberg for most of the 25 laps.

    As to the Civil War series, I was told that it is in hibernation for 2020 but might reappear some day.

    With 14 winged 360s, 8 nonwing spec sprints, and 5 crate sprints, Marysville wasted no time and luckily so as rain arrived about 2 minutes after the final lap was scored. One yellow during the main and it would have been wait out the rain, repack and hot lap the track, and finish much later or it would have been called before 25 laps were scored.

    Robinson had intense pressure from Forsberg most of those 25 tours around the quarter with a lead never more than a car length or two. The tiniest of mistakes would have meant a lead change, but it did not happen and Forsberg was 2nd ahead of Jesse Love. Finishing 3rd, Love made an impressive showing, driving the Justyn Cox owned car as about 30 races this year will find the former 31C sprint being shown a lot of Love.

    David Robinson’s daughter, Jodie, will be busy this year racing the NARC series. Last year Jodie made history when she became the first female driver to win a SCCT race, this one coming at Merced Speedway when the series made a first time appearance.

    Starting with a Friday race at Merced Speedway, the ASCS National weekend continues Saturday at Placerville and concludes at Petaluma Speedway on Sunday. February in the Sacramento area was the first time since records were kept that not one drop of rain fell for the month, and a 171 year stretch of raining at least once in February came to an end. Hoping there is no payback for that in March.

    One huge benefit of ASCS National shows is no qualifying. Draw heat race results with passing/finishing points will lead into qualifiers, sort of a 2nd set of heats, with points used to align the top 40 with 6 inverted by points.

    Add qualifier points to heat points and the top 16 go to the A main while the remainder are in one of two B mains. That means passing cars is paramount to success, and that is the ultimate definition of racing.

    Talking to 21-time champion Andy Forsberg at Marysville the question of ASCS legal engines competing with California’s more open rules was settled with the Auburn veteran pointing out that he holds the Chico track record and Andy Gregg has the Placerville track record. Both records were set with an ASCS legal engine.

    As to why numerous drivers in Northern California have ASCS engines, Forsberg stated that a few years ago that was expected to be the direction that NorCal would go and teams acquired those engines. While the rules change did not happen, the ASCS legal engine can still obviously compete, and do so quite well.

    With three nights of racing where passing is critical every time a car is on the dirt, it almost seems like a Trophy Cup being held at three different tracks.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Anthem, AZ…The first day of February brought the first sprint car race of 2020 during a six-week stay in the Grand Canyon State. Central Arizona Speedway ran a five-division show featuring the ASCS San Tan Ford Desert nonwing sprints and including wing and nonwing micro sprints on an inner oval.

    Located east of Casa Grande at the Pinal County Fairgrounds, the high-banked 3/8 mile with sweeping turns seems to be the highest speed oval in Arizona. Even pure stocks carry plenty of speed around the banks and nonwing sprints are really moving.

    A 21-car field of sprints ran 3 heats with passing/finishing points determining the top 8 for redraw purposes. One of the 21 cars was being driven by 15-year-old Hayden Reinbold, son of veteran sprint car driver, Andy.

    This was Hayden’s 2nd time is a sprint car, having run some laps at last November’s post-Thanksgiving two-day at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway. Previous racing experience was only a single year in a flat kart but at Central Arizona Speedway the young man ran all laps, got in nobody’s way, and drove the high banks smoothly with a pretty good pace.

    The 25-lap main event started with a jump start call on Joshua Shipley, starting outside row 3 but pulling up the track and taking off obviously too soon. A while later Shipley took a huge tumble on the front stretch and was able to walk away.

    The rule for jumping is strict, a trip to the back. Another driver met the same penalty during the main. Tracks or organizations that have no penalty for jumping a start is something I just don’t understand. Letting a driver jump once with no penalty is an invitation to try and get away it.

    Dennis Gile led the first 18 1/2 laps of the time-shortened race with reds and yellows leading to a five-lap reduction. Stevie Sussex had been putting some heavy pressure on Gile and when the leader used the back stretch exit lane to take a DNF after suddenly slowing, Sussex led the rest of lap 19 and one more for the win.

    Micro sprint racing on the inner oval offered a dozen winged cars with restricted power for the lesser experienced drivers and 17 nonwing micros. Tuesday Calderwood won the restricted main before Josh Castro won the overly lengthy nonwing main.

    Despite officials stating the nonwing main was 20 minutes over the time limit, the race was allowed to continue. If a time limit is going to be ignored, then why is there a time limit to begin with? Castro’s win on Saturday did not transfer to a successful Sunday afternoon at Canyon Speedway Park when he took a high flier in turn 1 during that main.

    Sprint cars will make 8 more appearances at the Casa Grande track during a season that runs 9 months, including the “warm” summer months except for August. Six of the 8 are nonwing dates, either 410 or 360.

    In his 3rd year of a long term deal, promoter Dave Ellis has fine tuned the divisions he is offering. He summarized his first two years as enjoying running a race track, but wishing he was younger so he could do more.

    Ellis still builds race cars, concentrating on sprint cars and micro sprints. Like many race track promoters, he seems like a person who would not necessarily welcome retirement.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Micro Sprints Produce Stars

    Lincoln, CA…The four tracks in California dedicated solely to micro sprint racing continue to develop talented drivers, and some have moved to full size sprint car programs.

    Examples of talented open wheel drivers who started in micro sprints include four sets of brothers. Dominic and Gio Scelzi, Carson and Cole Macedo, as well as Mitchell and Michael Faccinto started their open wheel racing at Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia and Lemoore Raceway located 25 miles west.

    Tim and Bud Kaeding raced micro sprints further north as did Ryan Bernal, Justin Sanders, and Justyn Cox. D. J. Netto, Tony Gualda, and Koen Shaw plus many more now race full size sprint cars after starting in micro sprints. While not in the Golden State, Christopher Bell first race micro sprints in Oklahoma.

    Outlaw karts have produced numerous sprint car drivers with Kyle Larson and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid being two examples of going from beginner box stock outlaw karts to national prominence in their careers.

    But it seems that micro sprints have become the primary route in California to reach 360 or 410 sprint car racing. Having successful micro programs at 4 tracks and the quartet of ovals scheduling cooperatively allows plenty of race nights each year.

    Northern-based tracks are Delta Speedway in Stockton and Dixon Speedway, a few miles south of the city of Dixon off of Interstate 80. Plaza races Friday, Lemoore on Saturday, but both northern tracks predominately race Saturday. The northern pair show 33 race nights on their schedules with no conflicting dates for 2020.

    The most recently built track is Dixon, constructed in 2004 after the track in Vallejo closed. The Campbell Ranch brothers were big into motorcycle racing and had built a practice track on the ranch. When Vallejo closed, a club group built the track as it is now where the motorcycle track had been.

    The initial name was CORA Speedway, which stood for California Outlaw Racing Association. It is part of a multi-track complex on land owned by Campbell Ranch and was initially an outlaw kart track. It was struggling to stay open when Jeremy Prince took over 9 years ago and he added micro sprints to the schedule.

    For a while both type of race cars shared the pit area, but eventually the micro sprint teams convinced Prince that more micros would race Dixon if it became solely a micro track.

    Prince’s background in racing started at Antioch Speedway in the pure stock class. He won a title in 2000 then raced street stocks, limited late model and eventually modifieds until changing from racer to car owner in 2004. A friend of his daughter raced outlaw karts so Prince bought one from them for his child. She raced beginner box stock, box stock, and 250 before her interest shifted to cheerleading. By that time Prince was running Dixon as well as continuing a full time job in construction.

    A big step forward for Dixon Speedway was investing in becoming a MyRacePass track. The significant investment means purchasing transponders, loop, computer support and software, and decoder. Prince feels this was money well spent as it raises the visibility of his track and enhances the running of a race program.

    All four tracks see their highest car count class being the nonwing group. Prince believes lower costs are a significant factor in the numbers. The winged super 600 class needs top level equipment but remove the down force and lower cost engines become more competitive. Some drivers use the same car in both divisions. Not buying top wings is also a big part of the cost difference.

    Delta Speedway is the leader in car count, drawing mid-80s and higher for weekly shows, but all four tracks are usually 60+ minimum. Each track has multi-day specials and the yearly Speedweek runs one night at each track with drivers from many states participating, pushing the count to well over 100.

    It is a big plus for racing in California to have a successful micro sprint program, one that has stood the test of time and continued to develop talent. With a junior sprint program starting at age 5, micro sprints have been able to create their own talent for the higher-level divisions.

     

     

    Trophy Cup Points and Payout

    by Ron Rodda

     

    Rico Abreu 454 $26,000 Shane Golobic 439 $13,650 Kyle Hirst 434 $10,640 Cory Eliason 431 $9,950 Jac Haudenschild 429 $9,300 Tim Kaeding 425 $7,450 Jonathan Allard 416 $6,350 Aaron Reutzel 413 $7,000 Justin Sanders 412 $5,100 all drivers following Sanders received $5,000 Mitchell Faccinto 411 Jason Solwold 408 Ryan Bernal 401 Colby Copeland 394 Willie Croft 387 Colton Heath 382 Buddy Kofoid 379 Chase Johnson 377 Randy Hannagan 387 Kalib Henry 369 Dominic Scelzi 369 Paul McMahan 366 Mitch Moles 360 Jason Statler 337

    For the 15 drivers that received the guaranteed $5000 if making the Saturday night main, a total of $28,550 was added to the the purse to meet that guarantee.

    The total paid for the three days was $195,565. The total will vary depending on how much is added to meet the $5000 guarantee.

    The Trophy Cup presented a check for $200,000 to Make-A-Wish Foundation and has now reached the $2,000,000 mark.

     

     

    Abreu Sweeps Trophy Cup by Ron Rodda

     

    Tulare, CA…Rico Abreu did it all at the Trophy Cup when he won the Saturday night 50 lap main event along with the event championship, earning $26,000 for the three days of dominating sprint car racing.

     

    The final night of the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing assigns the top 48 point cars to a heat race.  These very tough 10 lap races feature a complete inversion by points.  The standard 36 points to win with a 3 point drop is used.

     

    The Saturday payout is listed at $109,505 but it will be considerably more.  The Cup champion is guaranteed $26,000 and money will be added to the amount won to reach that level..

     

    Each A main Saturday starter is automatically part of the point fund and will receive a minimum of $5000 for the three days of racing.  About half of the A main field will be paid additionally above the standard purse amount to reach the $5000 total earned.

     

    Between the normal payout and the thousands of dollars in added payout, the total paid is approximately $200,000.

     

    After the 6 heats, the top 20 in points go directly to the main event regardless of finishing position.  The next 20 in points earn a B main starting spot, and the final 8 go to the C main, joined by transfers from D main racing.

     

    With the top 48 in points assigned to a heat, the remainder of the 78 cars on hand were split into a trio of D mains.  The evening started with these mains, moving the top 4 from each to the C main.

     

    Six heats followed offering an opportunity to earn more points to improve main event positioning.  Rico Abreu had a larger than usual point lead starting the evening, 6 points over Shane Golobic and 7 ahead of Jac Haudenschild.

     

    Abreu's lead evaporated after 2 heats when Golobic finished 4th to Abreu's 6th to tie in points at 304.

     

    Third in points, Jac Haudenschild, was caught up in a nowhere to go situation in his heat and lost ground with a DNF and fewer points.

     

    Kyle Hirst was high point car in heat 4 and finished 2nd from 8th to take the point lead at 305.  Willie Croft's win from 7th put him near the top at 300.

     

    Heat 5 was Jonathan Allard' s heat and he helped himself with a 4th leaving him 6 points behind Hirst.

     

     

     

    The final heat continued the trend when Cory Eliason won from 8th to tie Hirst for the point lead, creating a cluster of drivers at or very near the top.

     

    With only one B main the field was even stronger.  When Bud Kaeding blew on lap 24, Tim Shaffer and D. J. Netto got caught in the smoke and oil.  Shaffer had a flat and Netto hit the wall hard and 3-5 in the order lost their transfer chance.

     

    Finishing the last 2 laps sent Mitch Moles, Buddy Kofoid, RAndy Hannagan, and Jason Statler to the A main.  Statler transferred out of the C main and ran the entire 50 lap finale to finish 16th after 95 laps of main event racing.

     

    With a 20 invert by points, Kyle Hirst and Cory Eliason filled row 10 while Abreu and Shane Golobic started in row 9.  With one point separating the two rows, the champion would likely be one of these four.  The A main pays 150 points with a three point drop.

     

    Aaron Reutzel led from his pole start with Jason Solwold and Chase Johnson in pursuit.  Johnson took 2nd on lap 3 with a low line drive into turn 1 and contender Willie Croft got spun and hit, ending his night.

     

    Tim Kaeding moved into 3rd on lap 11 driving the high side out of turn 4 on the same lap that Rico Abreu used the low line into turn 1 to pass Shane Golobic and take the point lead.

     

    The last 39 laps had Abreu in front of his three main challengers and he was in the point lead during that period.  Abreu kept 2 cars between himself and Golobic and a yellow on lap 32 led to the planned fuel stop.

     

    Lap 35 was tough for Johnson when he flipped in turn 2 after running 33 laps in 2nd.  The restart had Reutzel continuing to lead with Solwold now 2nd and Jac Haudenschild 3rd

     

    The question became would Abreu collect his 3rd win and after some slider trading, Abreu was up to 2nd on lap 39 with T. Kaeding 3rd.  Abreu closed on Reutzel, eliminating a substantial lead in 6 laps, and Reutzel bounced off of the turn 2 wall on lap 44 to open the door for Abreu.

     

    Reutzel recovered in time to hold onto 2nd but Abreu was gone and led the last 7 laps for the sweep.  Reutzel finished 2nd, T. Kaeding was 3rd, Solwold took 4th, and Haudenschild completed the top 5.

     

    Abreu’s history making Trophy Cup performance had never been accomplished before. He won main events from starting 5th, 10th, and 17th.

     

    The 2020 Trophy Cup will take place at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on October 15-17.

     

    A main--Rico Abrue, Aaron Reutzel, Tim Kaeding, Jason Solwold, Jac Haudenschild, Shane Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto, Kyle Hirst, Cory Eliason, Justin Sanders, Ryan Bernal, Jonathan Allard, Buddy Kofoid, Colby Copeland, Randy Hannagan, Jason Statler, Mitch Moles, Chase Johnson, Justyn Cox, Dominic Scelzi, Kalib Henry, Willie Croft, Colton Heath, Paul McMahan

     

    Points results to follow.

     

     

    Another Abreu Cup Win

    By Ron Rodda

     

    Tulare, CA…Night two of the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing offered a 2nd $29,630 purse with $4000 to the winner.  Friday’s 30 lap main was won by Rico Abreu, becoming the first to win two preliminary mains.

     

    The format was the same as Thursday’s except group B qualified first and the order within the 2 groups was reversed.  An 86 car field returned, losing 3 from openng nght.

     

    Heat racing was frantic as usual since the first two rows must win to transfer directly to the A main since row 3 almost always provides the top point car after 8 laps.

     

    Six out of 8 fastest time cars in the heats took high point transfer, very unusual to have two miss.  Willie Croft and Justin Sanders accomplished the unlikely high point finish from 5th starting.

     

    Very tough B mains moved four from each to the finale.  The 12 inverted cars in the pair of B mains have claimed numerous wins but the very strong field and demanding format means loaded B mains.

     

    The first B main had sliders galore with Cole Macedo winning over Colton Heath, 18th starting Bud Kaeding, and J.J. Ringo survived a last turn slider fron micro sprint star Mitch Moles for the final transfer.

     

    The second B main went to Buddy Kofoid ahead of two time Cup champion Shane Golobic. Chase Johnson with wing and nonwing wins this year, and veteran Randy Hannagan.

     

    Inverting 12 by points put Cole Macedo and Golobic on the front row while the top 2 point cars of Justyn Cox and Tim Kaeding filled row 6.

     

    Golobic quickly established a lead while Cory Eliason and Cole Macedo chased.  Justin Sanders took 3rd on lap 10 with Thursday winner Rico Abreu closing.

     

    Abreu took 3rd on lap 14 as Golobic successfully maneuvered through traffic.  Two laps a red flew for a tangle involving Dominic Scelzi, D. J. Netto and Chase Johnson.

     

    As the green reappeared, it was let the sliders begin.  Eliason and Abreu traded lap 17 sliders before Abreu made a turn 4 slid work on lap 18 for 2nd.

     

    Another red was needed after Tim Crawley found how treacherous Tulare's turn 4 wall can be.

     

    The top 3 ran the cushion in turns 1 and 2 and the wall in 3 and 4.  Neither line is forgiving of any mistake.

     

    A lap 20 restart led to a battle of sliders between Golobic and Abreu until Golobic established a larger lead.

     

    Lap 26 had Abreu right behind Golobic and when the leader went up the track a bit in turn 2, Abreu drove underneath and won the race down the backstretch. Abreu led the final 4 laps for the $4000 win over Golobic, Eliason, Jonathan Allard, and Justin Sanders.

     

    Points...Rico Abreu 283. Shane Golobic 277, Jac Haudenschild 276, Kyle Hirst 272, Jonathan Allard 269, Cory Eliason  267, Colby Copeland  265, Justyn Sanders 265

     

     

     

    Abreu Takes Cup Opener

    by  Ron Rodda

     

    Tulare, CA…The Abreu Vineyards 26thth Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing opened the 3 day event at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on Thursday and Rico Abreu captured the 30 lap main event for winged 360 sprints. 

     

    Abreu took the lead on the last corner to earn the $4000 winner’s pay as well as 100 points. The purse for Thursday night was $29,630.

     

    A 89 car field jammed the pit area and was split into two groups for qualifying.  Each group had a fast time, therefore two drivers earned 150 points in qualifying with a one point drop per position.  

     

    Four invert 6 heats for the fastest 40 qualifiers in each group were held sending the heat winner plus the highest point car directly to the night’s A main.  Winning a heat earned 36 points with a 3 point drop per position.

     

    After the 8 heats moved 16 cars to the A main grid, all remaining cars were assigned to a main event with the top 40 in points filling the front 10 rows of two B mains.  The pair of B mains inverted 6 by points and moved the top 4 to the night’s 30 lap A main.

     

    The A main lineup inverted 12  by points with 100 points going to the winner with a two point drop per position.  

     

    Justyn Cox led group A qualifiers with a 13.672 to edge Aaron Reutzel's 13.694.

    Willie Croft, Colby Copeland and Kyle Hirst completed the top 5.

     

     

    Group B qualifying fastest was two time event champion, Shane Golobic, with a 13.789 lap.  Jonathan Allard was .014 behind followed by Cory Eliason, Cole Macedo, and Jason Solwold.

     

    Heat race action was frantic at times as drivers dueled for the win and A main transfer.  The fastest qualifier was the high point transfer from each heat and Rico Abreu won his heat plus was high point.

               

    C main racing put 2 drivers at the rear of each B main creating tough 22 car fields.  Each B main transfer lines up in the A main based on point totals.

     

    Invert 6 B mains moved 4 onward and Justin Sanders won the first B followed by Chase Johnson, Paul McMahan, and Kyle Hirst.

     

    The 2nd B completed the 24 car A main field with Colton Hardy taking the win with a smooth drive.  Jason Solwold, Mitchell Faccinto from 16th starting and Dominic Scelzi with a last turn pass finished the transfer list.

     

    The top 12 in points were inverted to fill the first 6 rows with just 10 points separating those dozen drivers.

     

    The 30 lapper started with a narrow track but as laps were scored a racier surface developed.

     

    Paul McMahan led from outside front row  with Kyle Hirst and Ryan Bernal in pursuit.  Freddie Rahmer found the turn 1 wall as did Justin Sanders 3 laps later.

     

    Cox  dropped out by lap 11 and McMahan's lead ended on lap 15 when Hirst used a topside drive out of turn 4 to take over.

     

    A furious 3 car race for the win made for a few exciting laps before Jac Haudenschild used turn 4 sliders to move from 4th to the lead on lap 24.  When Rico Abreu took 2nd from Hirst with a low line drive into turn 1, team cars were set to duel for the win.

     

    It came down the last corner when Abreu slid Haudenschild in turn 4 and won the race to the finish line by 3 feet.  Hirst was 3rd ahead of Shane Golobic and Cory Eliason.

     

    Abreu added 100 points to his total to take the lead in the race for the Cup title.

     

    Top 10 in points:  Rico Abreu 283, Shane Golobic  277, Jac Haudenschild 276, Kyle Hirst  272, Cory Eliason  267, Colby Copeland  265, Willie Croft 264, Paul McMahan 264, Ryan Bernal 257, Tim Kaeding 254

               

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    Lincoln, CA…The post-season series of winged 360 sprint specials reached the 4-weekend stage with this week climbing the pinnacle with the 26th Annual Trophy Cup.

     

    A record 110 entrants, the maximum allowed, will see some not make it to Tulare, but likely 90 or so will jam the pit area for 3 nights.  A $200,000 purse coupled with a demanding format on an unforgiving track plus the support the event gives to Make-A-Wish makes the Cup very special.

     

    But specials have been going on for four weeks, starting with the NorCal Posse Shootout at Placerville Speedway the 3rd weekend in September.  Over 40 sprints plus 20+ midget lites put on two entertaining nights of racing with Justyn Cox and Rico Abreu taking the wins.  As most of the year has been, track conditions were very good at the foothill quarter.

     

    The next weekend Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico offered a two day Fall Nationals with 50 car fields for the one division special.  Again Justyn Cox won the opening night and Tim Kaeding took the finale, with track conditions that were conducive to good action.

     

    One day shows took care of the next two weekends when Petaluma Speedway paying $5000 to win with a tick under 30 cars making the tow.  The format was different with a pair of heats using passing/finishing points to form the top 6 in combined heat points.  These top 6 then qualified in the traditional way to set the first 3 rows of the main, and it was Sean Becker winning and collecting the big check.

     

    That brings the calendar to October 12 when a can’t miss doubleheader drew a large crowd to Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford, or simply Kings Speedway to those of us still tied to the old name.

     

    The King of the West-NARC series brought 21 winged 410s while the Sprint Car Challenge Tour had 33 winged 360s for a pit full of open wheel stars.  There were some drivers in both camps and the two Abreu Vineyards entries did not disappoint.

     

    Jac Haudenschild, in California for the Trophy Cup, did his thing in the SCCT main on the top shelf while racing from 14th to 3rd and Rico Abreu used the same area of clay to win the 410 main in dominant fashion.

     

    While Abreu sailed, Cory Eliason, Bud Kaeding, Chase Johnson, and Dominic Scelzi made it interesting in their position trading action for the other two podium spots.  It was Kaeding then Eliason at the checkers to join Abreu on the Kings podium.

     

    The SCCT main had its ugly moments with two reds and six yellows, but the intense battle for the lead never stopped.  Justyn Cox led the first 14 before, on a lap 15 restart, Cole Macedo won the race to turn 1 and used the bottom for what became the winning pass.

     

    Cox faded to 3rd but charged back as the lap count reached 30 to pressure Macedo.  A yellow with 2 left led to a jumbled restart that saw Cox loose ground, but he closed the gap by the end of that lap when another yellow flew.  The checkers were thrown also and the race was complete one lap early with Macedo, Cox, and Haudenschild forming the podium.

     

    How can the time not be taken to restart and run the final lap to complete the intense battle for the win after everyone waited an additional 5 minutes before the start of the race to give 1 car more time than the legal 8 minutes to get to staging?

     

    Later this week it is a guarantee that all rules will be followed to the letter when $200,000 is on the line at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.  The number of people who make the Trophy Cup possible is huge and the vast majority are volunteers.  Then there are people like Kevin Rudeen and David Abreu without whose support the event would not be the same.

     

    The crew of track officials will be on their A game, the push trucks and safety crew will professionally handle their part, and one person who most everyone in the stands will not even be aware of will perform a critical job.  That would be Lisa Becker, the scorer.

     

    Lisa’s husband, Sean, has raced for years and when they started dating she had never been to a race.  Lisa lived in Chico and did not even know there was a track in town.  Sean’s sister was doing the points and lineups just for fun at the outlaw kart races and became Lisa’s tutor.

     

    Taught how to hand score, Lisa then would score the races for herself to help calm her nerves when Sean was racing, by this time in sprint cars.  She started this activity in 2002 but it was 2013 before a call from Chico promoter, Dennis Gage, led to her first job, scoring an enduro fair race.

     

    Chico scorer, Aron Jones, taught her how to use computer scoring prior to the debut but then her 2nd time as head scorer technical issues led to a hand scoring night.  It was at Calistoga and now she was serving as the scorer for a race that Sean was entered. 

     

    With stopwatch scoring used for qualifying, Lisa did not want to handle that task with Sean also racing, so other officials handled that chore while Lisa hand scored all the racing action for her first open wheel night. 

     

    As to her first sprint car scoring, Lisa notes that, “I was scared to death, no computer I have to hand score this, I remember they went out there and I wasn’t thinking how Calistoga is a half mile track.  I thought there is so much pressure, this is my first time, and I don’t know what I’m doing.  But when they got strung out pretty quickly, I thought I can hand score this track.”

     

    From there she was called upon occasion to substitute score until her first full time deal came at Placerville Speedway when Scott Russell and Kami Arnold took over the promotional duties in 2016.  Lisa recalls how the first race of the season the track had a new scorer, new announcer and new promoters.

     

    Lisa has also served as a backup hand scorer for World Of Outlaw events and calls the outlaws “probably the best people in the world to work with.  They are very trusting and accepting of any help I can provide.  Eloy, the Outlaws scorer, has been a huge support for me.”

     

    After scoring at Placerville 2 years she is now working when a track needs someone to score as well as being the scorer for the biggest winged 360 race in the world, the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing.  This will be her 3rd year of the pressure of scoring a $200,000 race.

     

    Preparation for the Trophy Cup consumes time and if there was a format change it would take 3 weeks to rebuild all the spreadsheets.  There is no change this year so preparation takes less time but still around 15-20 hours of checking and rechecking and entering this year’s data.

     

    Lisa’s workday on Thursday and Friday of Trophy Cup lasts from noon until about 3 am but Saturday takes less time. If the system crashes, then hand scoring can still handle the show, but it is certainly nice to have Lisa and Stephanie up in the scoring booth providing professional scoring for such a major event.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     

    Lincoln, CA…Rachel Jacobs was not a race fan at all.  Despite living within hearing distance of Placerville Speedway, she did not have any interest in the races.

     

    Yet it was through the races that Rachel met Brad Sweet and they were eventually married.

     

    Her mom would try to get her to go to the races but to Rachel they were “too dirty and dust gets in our eyes and it’s loud” so her mom and grandfather would go.

     

    Rachel noted that, “In 2003 he (grandfather) passed away and Jimmy Trulli did a memorial lap for him at Placerville.  My entire family was there and Brad’s family was sitting behind us.”  Rachel and Brad’s sister, Katelyn, became friends and 3 years later she and Brad started dating.

     

    Now Rachel says “At first I did not understand why people would like this stuff, you are getting dirty, mud in your hair, but when I met Brad I got to see a different side to it. Now I get it.  These people are so passionate no matter where you go. There is no being a casual fan, you either like it or you don’t.”

     

    Brad had moved to Indiana for a season and upon his return he started racing for Gary Perkins and began dating Rachel.  But Brad was not around very long as a Keith Kunz call saw him return to the Midwest to race a midget. 

     

    During this time Rachel recalls, “All my friends at that time had boyfriends and they were all going to movies and other teenage things.  I told them I had a boyfriend but for a while my friends were like, yeah right, because he was never around.   Brad would be gone much of the summer and then when winter arrived he was off to Australia.”

     

    That was how their relationship was until the call from Kasey and Willie Kahne.  That led to Brad moving to North Carolina, getting him even further away from home.  Rachel made trips to North Carolina and she recalled, “The entire group was so welcoming. I knew from Brad’s reaction that this was his big break.”

     

    For a period of time Brad was racing NASCAR and sprint cars but eventually went the open wheel route.  Brad and Rachel bought a motorhome and traveled the circuit.

     

    During this time Rachel learned how “mentally and physically exhausting it is.  The drivers, crew, wives, and everyone involved don’t get the credit for what they do.  The Pittmans kind of took us under their wings and they were a huge blessing our 3 years on the road.”

     

    Before the years on the road, Rachel had graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in health information management.  She went from college to full time travel, which ended after buying a house in Placerville.  They signed the papers for their eventual home while at the Knoxville Nationals in 2016.

     

    Brad and Rachel had gotten married in March of 2016 during the Outlaw swing through California so their friends could attend.  The following year Rachel stayed home to monitor the house being rebuilt and their daughter, Savannah, was born.

     

    Rachel has stayed home coming up on 3 years, but Brad flies home between weekends when there is not a midweek race.  Savannah’s first race was at Knoxville when Brad won on a preliminary Nationals night.  The 8 month old at that time also got to see Brad’s championship win on Saturday.

     

    As to the Knoxville championship, Rachel recalls “Brad is someone who works so hard and he is so focused so to see him win that it was like all his hard work paid off.”

     

    She has noticed that Brad is recognized when among the public more that before, something that may be due to DIRTVision and other streaming services.  Brad has younger fans than she has seen in the past, important because the lack of youth at races is a growing concern.  NAPA stores having posters with Brad on them also increases being recognized.

     

    As Savannah gets older then she and Rachel may travel with Brad more to lessen the time apart.  This year has been better since there are fewer midweek races to keep Brad from being able to fly home for a few days.

     

    As to nervousness, Rachel said, “I try not to get too nervous.  I know Brad is in control and he is doing what he wants to do.  Now Eldora, that’s a different animal.  I learned this at Manzanita, do not sit on the front stretch.  It shows you how fast they  are going.”

     

    “I remember sitting next to Patty Haudenschild one night at Eldora and Jac and Sheldon were both racing.  I asked her how she does it and she said that she trusts Sheldon’s ability and just watches Jac.  I know that Tony Stewart has done all he can to make that place as safe as he can.”

     

    As to being the wife of a World of Outlaw driver, Mrs. Sweet says, “You have to understand and appreciate the lifestyle.  If you can’t do that, it’s not made for you.  They are doing their career and their passion.  I tell Brad that he is so lucky he found something he is good at that he is passionate about that can be his career.”

     

    It seems that Brad is also lucky for having an understanding and supportive wife.

     

     

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     History Of The Trophy Cup

               

                In 1994 Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an race that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race.  The event was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 26th annual race.

     

                It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country.  The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion on the final night main that puts the highest point cars close to the rear of the 24 car field.  From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup.  There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally. 

     

                Over the years the format has been adjusted.  To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers are split into groups A and B.  Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers will earn 150 points for fast time.  Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own heats and likewise with B group.  Once main events start, the groups are now combined for determining lineups, based on results from the heat races.

     

                On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed.  The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday.  A driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night.  Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap, invert 20 main event.

     

                The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization.  The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.

     

                San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day.  A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale.  His 7th place finish in the 2nd main was enough to garner the top point total for the night and the championship.  The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.

     

                Kevin Pylant won in 1995 after running 4th in each main while the following year Brent Kaeding won his first of 4 titles in what was the last year as a 410 event and also the last year as a one day Cup.  Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.

     

                In 1997, drivers were in the pit area from 9 states and Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN.  Kinser, making his only appearance in the event, was 6th quick and won his heat and the opening night main.  He backed up that performance with a 2nd in the second night’s heat and finished 2nd in the main, coming from 24th.

     

                Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 despite being only 11th in points after the first night.  His 2nd place finish in the final night’s main continued a trend of the champion finishing runner-up.   The following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded.  Brent Kaeding was champion again, finishing the popular 2nd in the final fully inverted main after starting 18th.  Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile clay.

     

                Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion, again seeing a Cup title going to the 2nd place finisher in the final main.  Tarlton started 16th as he was only 9th in points as the final 30 laps unfolded.  The following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship, coming from 21st to 2nd in the final main.  In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title, collecting the Friday main and finishing 2nd in the Saturday main, coming from 23rd.  It was the 6th consecutive year that the champion finished 2nd in the final main, having to come from the back rows each year to claim the title.

     

                The 2003 version was one of the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins.  Ricci Faria passed Tim Kaeding in the last turn, lessening Kaeding’s point total by five and allowing Kent to win the point battle by 2 points.  Ronnie Day also came so close to winning, needing to pass only one more car for the title.

     

                The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily.  Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total.  The Ohio driver known as the Wild Child passed 34 cars over the two day span to earn the honor.

     

                Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors.  An unusual Saturday main developed when Brent Kaeding and Mike Faria were ahead enough in points before the 40 laps started that whoever finished in front of the other would win the title.  BK went from 24th to 4th, passing 5 drivers in one six lap stretch to edge Faria for his 4th title.  His son, Tim, won the main on Saturday.

     

                The 2006 show saw Tim Kaeding win his 2nd title to total six Cup wins for the well-known racing family.  TK started 19th and finished the seemingly magical 2nd in the Saturday main to capture the Cup.  Then in 2007 it was Jason Meyers from nearby Clovis who won the title, finishing 3rd from 20th on Saturday to establish the 2nd largest margin of victory in the 14 years.

     

                In 2008 the first ever three day event drew 59 teams to Tulare and most who have seen every Cup version agree it was one of the most exciting years.  Superb track conditions led to equally fantastic racing, especially for Brad Sweet.  Finishing 3rd in the final night’s main event after starting 24th, Sweet collected $11,000 after edging Sammy Swindell by six points.

     

                In 2009 the idea of a three day winged show was dropped to help lessen expenses for teams.  To control the car count, only 65 cars were allowed to enter and a flurry of entrants on the last postmark date allowed, built the field to 72.  Keeping the car count to a manageable level was necessary as the fairgrounds has a state imposed curfew.

     

                History was made in that year when Tim Kaeding won his 3rd title and 7th for the famous racing family.  The Saturday night main event winner had never come from last starting (24th).  TK accomplished that feat in 2009 when he used every inch of the Thunderbowl clay to collect a thrilling main event win on the 2nd night and capture the Cup.

     

                In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup.  Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown.  That changed in 2010 when Allard raced from 24th starting to 4th on Saturday to become the champion by a larger than usual 14 point margin.

     

                In 2011 Stevie Smith won the Friday main event over a 70 car field despite never racing on the Tulare Thunderbowl clay before.  The second night produced a dominating main event win for Kyle Larson while the race for Cup champion reached new heights.

     

    A lap 48 yellow set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Cup history. Jonathan Allard was 3rd, Jac Haudenschild was 4th, and they were nose to tail on the restart as they raced each other for the title.  Haudenschild passed Allard on the bottom in turn 1 of the 49th lap, Allard came back in turn 2 and they crossed the line to end lap 49 in a near tie.  Had their not been one more lap, a photo finish would have settled the Cup.

     

                The duo entered turn 2 on the final lap side by side, Haudenschild on the top, and he used that ground to get a good push off of the turn to lead Allard down the backstretch, adding a pass on Roger Crockett to finish his final lap.  Allard dropped to 4th at the line and Haudenschild had won the Cup title over Allard and Brad Sweet.

     

                In 2012 an 85 car field of winged sprints tested the Thunderbowl clay, and unfortunately, all too often the Thunderbowl wall.  Rico Abreu won the Friday main after Roger Crockett’s lead was erased by a car flipping off the wall in front of him.  Jason Meyers won his 2nd Cup title on Saturday by finishing in the popular 2nd place spot, coming from 23rd to establish a larger than usual point gap after the 50 laps were scored.

     

                Just when Cup fans thought they had seen it all, 2013 reached new heights for drama and excitement.  A 74 car field created a pair of amazing finishes in A main racing.  Friday night a photo finish between Tim Kaeding and David Gravel saw Kaeding get the win despite being 6 car lengths behind Gravel as they raced into turn 3 for the final time.  TK started 10th in the 30 lap main.

     

                As if that was not enough drama, Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the 20 years of Cup action.  Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall.  Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish.  Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.

     

                2014 was the first for the new three day format and 84 teams jammed the Thunderbowl pit area.  Kyle Hirst and David Gravel were fastest Thursday qualifiers and Hirst won the C, B, and A mains on opening night.  The second night saw Gravel again set fast time and Justyn Cox was fastest in the other group.  A close finish in the A main showed Colby Copeland winning by a couple feet over Roger Crockett.

     

                Saturday preliminary events determined the top 24 point cars for the 50 lap finale and it was a record setting race.  Willie Croft became the closest to the front champion in Cup history when the 6th starting veteran won the main and title.  Mason Moore and Crockett trailed Croft in the final point list.

     

                In 2015 rain ended Thursday night action during qualifying and the amazing feat of running two complete Trophy Cup shows on Friday was successfully done.  A 68 car field ran a Friday afternoon show leading to a big slider into turn 4 on lap 9 by Rico Abreu, allowing him to lead the last 22 laps for the win.

     

                The 2nd show followed track prep and included qualifying as well as the complete show.  This time it was Bud Kaeding finishing one spot better than in the afternoon show to win after leading the last 14 laps.  Bud then finished the event with a 4th on Saturday to become Cup champion and collect the $20,000 guaranteed prize.

     

                In 2016 the format was adjusted to 8 heat races on the first two nights with the winner and high point car making the A main.  Those 16 cars are supplemented by the top 4 finishers from a pair of B mains to create the usual 24 car field.

     

                When Thunderbowl Raceway was widened about 15 feet by pushing the bottom in, a rejuvenated track offered the return of multiple groove racing and brought back the slider. The 59 car field put on a display of racing that showcased the benefits of track widening.   It was on an area of the track that did not exist a month earlier that settled the Thursday main.

     

                Jason Meyers came from 16th starting to take the lead with 4 laps remaining, using the bottom groove in turn 4 that existed due to the widened track.  On Friday Terry McCarl got sideways with 5 laps left to hand the win to Michael Kofoid, only 14 years old at that time..

     

                Saturday’s main event saw Mr. Consistency, Shane Golobic, continue his string of strong finishes with a 4th.  Golobic had a 3rd and a 4th in preliminary mains and earned the points necessary to become the Cup champion.  Willie Croft won the main while Golobic, Kyle Hirst, and D. J. Netto were the top three in points. 

     

     The 24th Annual Trophy Cup offered the largest purse ever for winged 360 sprints with the $200,000 payout included a guaranteed $20,000 to the champion.

     

                Again, it was Shane Golobic winning the title with the required steady performance.  Willie Croft and Joey Saldana were right behind Golobic in points.  Golobic joined Brent Kaeding as the only two in a row champions in Cup history. 

     

    The 25th annual event last year presented $25,000 to the champion, an amount that will increase by $1000 each year.  With a title in 2004 and 2011, sixty year old Jac Haudenschild won his 3rd Cup, continuing the every 7 years victory.  If that pattern continues, Haud will win the 2025 event at age 67!

     

    Eighty-eight cars appeared for the landmark 25th version of the race last year with the winner’s check increased to $25,000.  Mitchell Faccinto led all 30 laps to win the Thursday main over the Selzi brothers, Gio and Dominic.  Friday’s main was taken by Haudenschild, running the often treacherous top line at Thunderbowl Raceway.

     

    Saturday’s finale was won by Willie Croft while Haudenschild was able to stay in front of Gio Scelzi for his 3rd title.  Had Scelzi been able to pass Haud on what became a rubber down surface, the teenager would have been the champion.

     

    An all time entry record was set this year when the 110 spots were filled months ago.  The 110 entries for the 2019 Cup breaks a 22 year old record when San Jose Speedway drew 104 entries in 1997

               

                The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause.  Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause. 

     

    This year’s check to Make-A-Wish will push the total given to the organization to $2,000,000.  The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl.

     

                 

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Living A Sweet Life

    Lincoln, CA…It began 25 years ago in a box stock kart at Prairie City’s dirt track. At age 8, Brad Sweet strapped into Rod Tiner’s kart and started a racing career on dirt that 20 years later reached the pinnacle of sprint car racing, the World of Outlaws.

    Tiner had built the kart for his son, but when completed it was Sweet who decided to try racing and see if it was of interest to him. As many current sprint car drivers have done, Sweet’s kart career proved to be a training ground for the next six years.

    At age 15 moving on to something else was a wish, but age restrictions back then made moving up difficult. He did race a few midget lite events until finally being told he could not race at that age.

    A year later it was a full season in Harley VanDyke’s midget lite and wins started accumulating, including the championship at the 2002 Mini Sprint Nationals in Benton, MO. Finally at age 17 at a time when today’s young drivers might be in their 3rd year of sprint car racing, Sweet first climbed into a winged sprint.

    Duane Scott put him in his car with that very first race coming at Petaluma Speedway where Sweet believes he finished 4th. Later that year Scott “made my dad a really good deal on a mini 360 sprint operation we really could not afford more than a local 360”.

    He raced about 20 times and he figures only one win, that coming at Marysville. The following year, now at age 18, Sweet got a ride from Dave and Debbie Vertullo and started to make significant advances with his results.

    Racing about 40 times that year Sweet felt he was “getting pretty competitive” and won a Civil War race at Placerville at a time when car counts for the series were very large.

    Sweet’s big move came after graduating from high school when he took off for Indiana. He noted that, “I felt I could be a really great California racer but everybody out here wasn’t necessarily making a living doing it. I had the dream to make a living racing.”

    During the year racing for the Vertullos, Sweet was building up their family little operation, adding a part here and there. Joined by Heavy D (Darin Smith) they drove to Indiana to run USAC, which “seemed the place to be at that point.” They did not have the money to race World of Outlaws, but Indiana offered the chance to race 3 or 4 nights a week in nonwing sprints.

    Sweet said “We bounced around running for different owners but the year did the job, making a bit of a name for myself. The next year Jack Yeley called and I brought my stuff home and drove for Yeley all of 2006.”

    By the end of 2006 Sweet felt burned out since he was not really going anywhere but racing a lot of local shows. He came home on weekends when he could and raced a winged sprint for owners such as Mark Flachman or Rod Tiner. He decided to come back west in 2007 and that proved to be a game changer when he got connected with Gary Perkins.

    “I got back into winged racing which is what I grew up doing and was very passionate about and had watched my whole life,” explained Sweet. Forming a team with Perkins along with Kyle Hirst also driving put the Grass Valley driver on a new path.

    When Jeff Walker asked Sweet to return to the Midwest for a while, Perkins felt the timing was good, as a break for the winged team was needed. While racing for Walker a call came from Keith Kunz to drive a midget.

    Sweet had never raced a midget but his 3rd race ever in one was the Belleville Nationals where he broke right after getting passed for the lead by Jerry Coons Jr. The midget seemed to fit his driving style so he spent the rest of 2007 driving for Kunz and Perkins. He finished 2007 strong and the phone rang and things changed dramatically.

    Willie and Kasey Kahne called because they needed a driver for 2008 to race the entire USAC program, dirt and pavement midgets and sprints. Sweet had no pavement experience but that call led to a relationship that continues today.

    Sweet summarizes the history by saying, “They gave me a chance and I’ve been with Kasey ever since. We kind of transitioned through USAC into more winged stuff and NASCAR stuff along the way and I kind of found my home with the World of Outlaws.”

    A series regular since 2014, Sweet claimed his first Outlaw win in 2012 at Spencer, IA as he ran about 60 Outlaw shows prior to becoming full time.

    Recognizing the number of years to be a professional sprint car driver is limited. Sweet is giving some thought to what he would do eventually. Retirement in the usual sense would not be likely as he described himself as “too much of a busybody to just retire. I’ll need to do something whether promoting races or whatever.”

    No matter what he decides to do after his racing career has ended, it will likely be successful as Sweet describes himself as “relentless” and he has always been interested in being an entrepreneur.

    It was a long road from the homemade kart debut to battling for the title in the World of Outlaws, but Brad Sweet has used his passion for racing and the willingness to take a chance to get where he is today.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Mr. Excitement Still Has It

    Lincoln, CA…Auburn sprint car driver, Andy Forsberg, has Mr. Excitement emblazoned on the trailer when he runs his own equipment. Despite being a older man for this sport at age 43, Forsberg still has championship skills and an occasional dose of excitement to justify the trailer markings.

    Saturday night Placerville Speedway closed their point season with a four division show that drew a strong 34 car field of winged 360s. Forsberg started the night 12 points ahead of 19 year old Kaleb Henry in the race for the track title. When the night was over, Forsberg had his 6th Placerville win this season, 65th career win at the foothill quarter, and his 7th title.

    Seven titles anywhere is impressive but Forsberg’s total is now 21 championships, between tracks and the Civil War sprint series.

    He regularly has to compete with drivers less than half his age and Kaleb Henry’s strong season put the driver with less than half the candles on his cake compared to Forsberg in a position to take the title.

    But things started to not work for the younger championship hopeful when Forsberg set quick time, adding 5 points to his lead, and tacked on one more in heat race action. Heading into the point season ending 25 lap main, Henry winning would mean Forsberg needed at least a 9th to win the title.

    Driving the F and F Racing Alan Bradway and Steve Tuccelli owned X1, Forsberg left no doubt as to the point outcome, passing 16 year old Jodie Robinson on lap 19 for the win and track title number 7.

    As if that wasn’t enough, Forsberg strapped into a mini-truck for the first time ever and won that main, racing clockwise for the first time in his career. The mini-truck class at Placerville brought 11 trucks, probably the most ever, and that class is always entertaining. Racing in the reverse direction adds to the fun and the number of entrants seems just right to have a quickly run support class.

    The youth element in Northern California sprint car racing is more apparent than ever. With micro sprints and outlaw karts producing teenagers with talent, the list of young sprint car drivers grows yearly. While California watches some of that youthful skill relocate to points east, it seems the departures are replaced by new teenage talent.

    Placerville had a good season and missed the early season rainouts, making it possible to run every race. Last week’s World of Outlaw show was rescheduled from March, keeping the track from losing any shows.

    It comes to an end for 2019 this coming Friday and Saturday when the two night NorCal Posse Shootout takes place with winged 360s and BCRA midget lites. Last year over 40 sprints and more than 30 midget lites raced for substantially increased purses. The weather outlook is excellent and the Shootout will be a wonderful way to close the season at the popular foothill quarter.

    Last year sprint car wins at the Shootout went to Kyle Hirst and Sean Becker.

    And neither one is a teenager!

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    A Tale Of Two Drivers

    Lincoln, CA…Fifteen months ago Steven Tiner and Kyle Hirst joined forces to open a racer-oriented shop in Chico, CA. The 2100 sq. ft. location, named Tiner Hirst Enterprises, resulted from over three years of discussion between the sprint car drivers.

    Kyle Hirst is a 3rd generation racer following his grandfather, Joe Hill, and father, Rick Hirst into the world of open wheel racing. He first raced a quarter midget at age 4 at Prairie City, but quickly moved on after a half season because passing on the outside was not allowed. A nearby dirt track raced outlaw karts and Hirst had found his training ground.

    Discovering Red Bluff and Cycleland, Hirst continued racing outlaw karts until turning 16, a point at which strapping into a sprint car was done for the first time. He recalls his debut was at Chico in a 410 and hitting an infield tire in hot laps. That moment is credited with causing his father’s hair to start turning gray.

    Now age 31, Kyle figures he had around 80-100 outlaw kart wins and approximately 100 sprint car wins. He only ran for a track title once as a rookie and thinks he finished 3rd in points, earning the rookie of the year award.

    His first win came as a 17 year old at Santa Maria and since has won four NARC titles plus he has collected the championship for the first two years of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour. Hirst has the current point lead in the SCCT series with two race remaining.

    With the new business being only 5+ months old, Hirst, wife Amy, and daughter Emma had their lives turned upside down when the disastrous Camp Fire destroyed most of their hometown of Paradise. November 8, 2018 at approximately 6:30 am the Camp Fire started and became the deadliest in California history with at least 51 fatalities from Paradise and destroyed the majority of structures in the city.

    The Hirst family was out of their home for 9 months, just returning to Paradise in August. They stayed in the shop at first, then with a brother in Placerville, before being able to rent a place in Chico, conveniently owned by a co-worker of Amy.

    A house on one side of the Hirst home as well as his were not burned, but all others in the neighborhood were destroyed. He did lose his shop just ten feet from their home but suffered no damage to their house, a vivid example of how wildfires defy any explanation of their behavior.

    Hirst noted that, “If we can get through this we can do anything.” When they were able to return to their home with a 6-month-old son, Klayton, it meant they rushed out of Paradise a family of three and returned as a family of four.

    Hirst thanks everyone who supported them during the 9 months away from their home, including the racing community and overseas support from New Zealand when he raced there in the winter.

    Steven Tiner has a similar background as Hirst, lifelong involvement in racing and learning the skills along the way to fabricate and fix race car parts. Tiner is a 4th generation driver, coming from an extended family of racing relatives and is married to Paige.

    His great-grandfather was Johnny Tiner, his grandfather was Johnny Tiner Jr., and his father Rich Tiner, a two time Marysville champion, formed the first 3 generations of drivers. Steven first raced an outlaw kart in the box stock but after an 8 race career that ended due to financial issues. Instead, Tiner learned how to build and work on race cars until age 16 when he strapped into his Uncle Rod’s sprint car.

    His uncle Randy won many races around Northern California while Rod became well known as a car owner, collecting multiple Trophy Cup championships, as well as being someone who could work his magic on a sprint car.

    After a few years racing Rod’s car. Steven moved east, first to Missouri and then Benton, Arkansas. This was when Hooker Hood’s daughter put him in touch with the late Shorty Chambliss, a car owner who provided Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with his first ride. Tim Crawley hired Tiner to work on his cars, which was done during the week and Tiner raced a Chambliss car on the weekend.

    Tiner also worked for Danny Lasoski during this period of Midwestern living before returning to California in 2008 to work at BR Motorsports. When on the road with Lasoski he got into buying and selling used parts, cleaning and fixing as needed to provide a quality used product. His time at BR Motorsports led to meeting Bob Wyman, someone who Tiner credits with being very supportive and a big influence in his life.

    Tiner also worked for Wright Process, which does stainless welding in the food industry and prepared the sprint cars owned by the company. His racing career was not as busy as Hirst but he figures he has 30+ wins with one title at Placerville and two at Hanford, one coming in a shortened season at Kings Speedway.

    Tiner’s years of learning the nuts and bolts of building and working on sprint cars led to the car he races occasionally now, one that he designed and built, including the sheet metal. He became friends with Kyle Hirst and that eventually led to the next phase in racing for both of them.

    Three years of talking about opening a shop led to a June 1, 2018 opening of Tiner Hirst Enterprises in Chico, a 2100 sq. ft. location close to Silver Dollar Speedway. There they provide such things as used and new parts, rear end repair, plumbing engines, building bodies, frame repair, and new and repaired wings.

    Tiner always raced on a tight budget and sees the benefit or turning used parts into usable items and repairing a wing at a fraction of the cost of a new one. Hirst races more than Tiner but both have a significantly reduced schedule as the business comes first.

    Their driver development program provides a car for Coalinga driver, Ben Worth, which is a ride identical to the house car driven mostly by Hirst.

    It has been a busy 15 months for Tiner Hirst Enterprises but the high level of work ethic shown by these two men have their efforts off to a good start.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Placerville Speedway only raced 3 times in August and Kalib Henry left no doubt about his abilities by winning the two races in which he was entered. It is very difficult to win back to back at the foothill quarter mile, but the teenager did it on August 10 and 17.

    His victory on the 10th was a flag to flag drive with traffic and yellows providing no problems. As good as he was that night, the following Saturday was, to me, a more impressive win when he led just the last quarter of lap.

    As far back as 5th in the early going, Henry took 2nd on lap 10 and chased leading Andy Gregg for 14 3/4 laps before using a perfectly executed slider in turn 4 to win the race to the line and earn the two in a row honor.

    Further impressive was the fact he won in different cars. I noted last year that Henry was due for a breakout year; this is beginning to look like it is the year. He is the son of Mike Henry, a two-time Civil War Sprint Car Series champion in 2002 and 2003.

    Last week Placerville raced their 3rd time for the month by opening the four race NARC-KWS series, a trio of $5000 to win events before the finale on Saturday paid twice as much. Kyle Larson threw a slider on Shane Golobic in about the same spot as Henry did five days earlier to win the opener. Larson also decimated the 15-car POWRi-BCRA midget field to sweep the show.

    The next night was Chico’s turn for the winged 410 invasion and Tim Kaeding inherited the lead on lap 7 when leading Golobic lost an engine. TK won, matched that finish on Saturday at Stockton Dirt Track, and was the mini-series champion for an additional $2000 bonus. Two wins and two 3rds plus a lucrative 4th in the Knoxville Nationals finale meant an impressive month for him as well as a nice income stream for August.

    Larson spun at Chico, a 360 off of turn 3 and well away from traffic, but NARC-KWS still has the 360 rule, so a mandatory and unnecessary yellow was thrown. That meant Larson was sent to the rear instead of being around mid-pack if the recalcitrant yellow was not required. Instead of the fans getting the potential of a charge from a mid-pack location for the NASCAR driver, an antiquated rule led to much less drama.

    The next night Chico ran their final point race and Sean Becker started 9th and steadily moved forward before passing Chase Majdic on lap 16 to record the win 9 laps later. Along with the night’s winning check, Becker also scored the track championship. Finishing 2nd with another strong effort was Kalib Henry.

    Saturday was time to return to the closest dirt track to home, Marysville Raceway, where another thrilling finish went into the August section of the diary. Caden Sarale, just 15 years old and a sprint car rookie, ran a nearly perfect race as the leader. Working through traffic as if he had been driving a sprint car for 15 years, Sarale looked locked in for his first win.

    That was, until Andy Forsberg moved into 2nd on lap 6 and pursued the 15 year old around the quarter mile for the rest of the 25 laps. Forsberg went into the night with 17 career wins at Marysville, 178 career wins, and was right behind Sarale as lap 24 was finished.

    It was the last turn, last lap when Sarale seemed to give too much room on the bottom of turn 4 and Forsberg drove under the leader and won the race to the finish line in a photo finish. Sarale was 2nd by .019 seconds. Two weeks earlier Sarale led 20 of the first 21 laps before becoming a DNF.

    One thing is clear, another teenager is ready to start winning sprint car races in Northern California. Winning many races in micro sprints, Caden Sarale is a driver that will be collecting sprint car trophies in the very near future.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…After a 29-day trip provided 21 races in 5 states it is back to the Golden State for a Silver Dollar Speedway Friday race and the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour event at Merced on Saturday.

    It is hard to believe there are just 3 more point races at Chico as the schedule had numerous Fridays off plus early season rain shortened the season quite a bit. Kyle Offill has made all the point races and leads Sean Becker and Andy Forsberg in points. Both Becker and Forsberg missed one point race.

    Two events decided I had to return by July 29, a three-day softball tournament starting the next day, and the SCCT race at Merced. The Merced quarter mile will be neutral ground as sprint cars on the oval are a rarity and many of the expected entrants probably have never raced there.

    Kyle Hirst was the SCCT champion in its first two years and now trails Tim Kaeding by a mere 3 points in year 3. Three of the top ten in points will not be in Merced so the standings will be shuffled.

    This was our 24th trip to the Midwest is 25 years, one year being a Northwest outing instead, probably due to high fuel prices that year. Besides the many miles to get to that first race, there are two other factors that might make this the final Midwest trip.

    1. Weather….while this year only one rainout was suffered and one storm that rocked the boat, it is always a challenge to not only keep updated on forecast but to then make the right decision if scattered storms do appear. After a Friday night at Jackson Motorplex, we stayed put until 3 pm Saturday by which all 7 options for that night were rained out. Forecasts change, as evidenced by the final week with all sun forecast yet Algona, IA received rain on a Thursday so we headed to Nebraska for U. S. 30 Speedway.

    2. The 2nd issue is this….no kettle corn!!! Not one of the 20 tracks we visited offered the taste treat. Silver Dollar and Marysville Raceway in Northern California have the best kettle corn anywhere. Ma and Pa Kettle Corn offer their product at those two tracks, maybe they can expand their business to introduce Midwest fans to the excellent treat.

    I did take the risk and sample the popcorn at, I believe, 19 of the 20 tracks and, after much deliberation, will award the best popcorn trophy. In a close battle, the winner is Plymouth Dirt Track in Plymouth, WI. Some tracks were quickly eliminated since they seemed to think salt was a food group.

    For the most part announcing was fine although most every track announcer either did not understand the format or thought it is not necessary to tell the crowd what it is. When it is a passing/finishing point show this is all the more important, but getting this information from anyone is like trying to find the hidden treasure.

    Every track was efficient at running the show and only a very few flagmen were guilty of being too quick with the yellow. That is a sure way of messing up a race and getting the crowd unhappy when a yellow is thrown immediately and not giving the car a chance to continue.

    Crowds were all pretty good or better even with the midweek races. Wednesday night may work well in Iowa but would be a hopeless cause in California. Iowa has three Wednesday tracks, a Thursday track, and two Sunday tracks with a third one not having raced this year yet due to being rebuilt. California has zero on those three nights.

    Only one first time visit occurred, at Mississippi Thunder Speedway outside Fountain City, WI. While getting to new tracks is always a bonus, it is harder to do when the same states are visited each year. Mississippi Thunder was a very good show and looked very much like Eagle Raceway in Nebraska.

    Every show was entertaining with good car counts and good racing. There was never any doubt based on prior years, but again the IMCA stock cars proved they are the best fendered division in racing.

    While Midwest racing will be missed the rest of this season, at least the continual weather forecast watching can be forgotten. In California this time of year, sunny weather is a given, its just how warm will it be that is a question.

     

     

    Dover Smooth Sailing At Rock Rapids

    by Ron Rodda

    Rock Rapids, IA..The annual Lyon County Fair meant a Tuesday night race at Rapid Speedway. For Jack Dover it meant an opportunity for a midweek win.

    A 27 car field of Midwest Sprint Touring Series winged 360 sprints ran four draw heats. Passing/finishing points were used to align the main event with no dash or B main part of the evening.

    Dover started from the pole and immediately established a substantial lead, hitting traffic by lap 7 when a yellow flew to create an open track on the restart. Hometown driver, Jody Rosenboom, used the top line in turns 1 and 2 on the restart to jump from 4th to 2nd and a lap 15 yellow gave him an opportunity to test Dover.

    But is was Terry McCarl that made some noise when he dove under Rosenboom on the bottom of turn 1 to take 2nd on lap 16. Further yellows put McCarl on Dover’s rear nerf for restarts, but each time Dover was able to pull away.

    As the lap count closed on 25, the track took rubber to the point that it would take a Dover mistake to open the door for McCarl. That did not happen and Dover took the $2000 winning check with McCarl finishing 2nd and Kaleb Johnson 3rd. Eric Lutz was 4th ahead of Rosenboom.

    Support action came from a dozen Tri-State Late Models and 14 USRA modifieds. The late model main had an exciting finish when Rock Rapids driver, Nate Beyenhof, used the bottom out of turn four to make his winning pass on the final turn, pushing race long leader, Jordan Heiman to a 2nd place finish.

    The modified main was won by another Rock Rapids driver, Don Gerritsen, Jr., collecting the win from 3rd starting.

     

     

    From The Grandstands by Ron Rodda

    Track Savers

    Maribel, WI…The first segment of our annual Midwest racing trip happened to visit a group of tracks that fell into one general category.

    Each track was either saved by someone or built to keep a city from having no track.

    The first stop was in Norfolk, NE for a visit to Off Road Speedway. This facility was built on the property of Off Road Ranch and much of the work was done over the winter, thereby avoiding a large break in local racing.

    Racing since 1965, Riviera Raceway closed after a long run following the 2014 season. Off Road Speedway replaced it the following spring and Norfolk was not without a track. Some of the dirt from Riviera was used in the construction of Off Road, a track that is now in its 5th season.

    Off Road is a very nice facility with something that is too often lacking in short track grandstands….legroom. They are an IMCA sanctioned track running primarily on Saturday with late models as their top class. Sprints make an occasional appearance and a strong car count makes for a full evening.

    The following night was spent at U. S. 30 Speedway just west of Columbus, NE. This facility did not close only because it was saved by the present owner. When he found out it was going to be closed, he negotiated with the owner to buy it, and strangely enough, the seller was his sister.

    U. S. 30 was built in 1985 by Abe Lincoln and his family. The track has been run within the family since and Abe’s son, Bobby, will keep that going. It was Bobby getting his change in a Texas diner that helped keep the track open and a family operation.

    Abe passed away August 24, 1997 and one of Bobby’s daughters was born two days later. In the following years, when they found a penny they would use it to talk to grandpa. Pennies would play a part many years later.

    The track was going to be closed following the 2017 season and become soybeans. Land value had risen and a race track was not considered a good use of the property. Bobby got the news of this sitting in a diner in Texas, the result of his weekly trucking run to that area.

    The waitress brought his change and apologized about having to give him 15 pennies. When Abe raced he ran the number 15. Fifteen coins with the picture of Abraham Lincoln on them had Bobby thinking, “OK Dad, you got my attention. Speak to me.”

    Bobby was part of the effort to build the track and “it was everything to me when I was in high school.” He bought it and with the help of two daughters and a son-in-law U. S. 30 remains a family track.

    Now in his 2nd year, Bobby noted that car count is up with accompanying growth in the crowd size. Columbus has 4 large manufacturing plants that have a 4 day, 10 hours a day work schedule, so Thursday night is like a Friday night. U. S. 30 has raced regularly on Thursday for years and will continue that plan.

    Abe’s son is putting every penny earned back into improving the facility. His only regret is not taking it over sooner. He is doing what he is in memory of his father as well as his love of the sport.

    Sunset Speedway, located on the NW outskirts of Omaha, was appropriately named when considering the west facing grandstands. Housing was encroaching on the track and October of 2000 ended a history of racing going back to 1957.

    The track now known as I-80 Speedway already existed, having opened in 1994 and it served as a facility to replace a venue lost closer to Omaha. One of the widest tracks in the Midwest, I-80 regularly offers five wide racing for its mostly stock car and late model focused schedule.

    One of our memories of I-80 goes back to when they raced Sunday nights, starting at the memorable time of 5:55. A guarantee was in place that everyone could get in free the next show if the final race of the night started after 9 pm.

    This particular night a traveling late model series was on hand and listed as the last main of the show. As 9 pm approached the series, dragging their feet getting into staging, were completely at cause for the main starting about five minutes past 9.

    In a decision for a situation that was not their own cause, the track still announced that everyone could get in free the following week.

    Now a Friday track the time guarantee or else offer is not needed. Several changes had been made since our last visit, but one thing that did not change was the efficient program they run as well as plenty of multiple-groove racing.

    I-80 Speedway no longer needs the early finish guarantee but could replace that with a five wide offer. This track races so wide that guaranteeing five wide offers no risk, and their efficiency added makes it a Nebraska must see.

    The following night we were a few miles south at Eagle Raceway, an IMCA track that features sprint cars as their top division. Eagle was saved from potentially being closed after the 2005 season when it was put up for sale.

    Roger Hadan leased the track for a year and bought it at the end of that initial season. If Hadan had not stepped up in late 2005 that track may only be a memory today. Instead it is one of the top tier dirt tracks in the country.

    Sunday following another great Eagle show, we went to Fort Dodge, Iowa for a weekly race at Sports Park. This half mile track, located in a former gypsum quarry, has closed twice since its 2005 creation. Jason Vansickle is the 5th promoter and, with the help of IMCA sanctioning, is having success for the track owners.

    In his 3rd year, Vansickle is pleased with the increase in front and back gate as well as repairs and updates that have been done. Future projects include parking lot lighting, new access road, and new bleachers.

    A hill overlooking turn 1 is set to become a camping area and Vansickle is looking at scheduling some special events. Sports Park was initially an off road facility. It starts early and gets done early, a necessary plan being a Sunday track.

    Mike Van Genderen has done it all, he races as well as acting as a track manager and race director. When Stuart, Iowa’s quarter mile was heading for closing, MVG did something he is used to doing. He took a risk and bought the track.

    Instead of being perhaps another track gone, it is thriving in the Van Genderen era. For years a Sunday track, it was moved to Friday and did no better, if not worse. MVG chose Wednesday as his race night and the results have been startling.

    In a half season nearly 300 drivers have raced Stuart who had never done before. He notes the car count increase is partly due to reshaping the track and eliminating the ledge on the top of turns 3 and 4.

    That dirt was moved to reshape the turn entries and fill holes, resulting in a surface that is no longer a tire eater and offers 3 and 4 wide racing. He estimates it takes 120 man hours a week to prep the oval.

    MVG’s purchase of Stuart Speedway has resulted in a car count record for the track’s modern era. He claims he got lucky moving dirt to the right places and watering parts of the track differently, but being a part-time professional gambler, Van Genderen seems to have drawn 4 aces for his Stuart investment.

    These six tracks have all flourished due to someone taking on the huge task of making it happen. Fans and racers should be thankful that these people were willing to make a difference.

     

     

    Walter Wins Special Night In :Plymouth

    by Ron Rodda

    Plymouth, WI…It was Remembering Randy Tracy night at Plymouth Dirt Track on July 13. A former sprint car driver, family and friends raised over $6000 to be added to the sprint purse in memory of Randy..

    Normally a $700 to win, $175 to start purse, the winged 360 sprints had an added $442 for 1st, $342 for 2nd, $242 for3rd through 6th, and $142 for every other sprint car on hand. Randy Tracy had raced the number 42.

    The 36 car field of sprints ran a quartet of draw heats using passing/finishing points to determine the top 16 to become A main transfers. A pair of B mains moved 6 additional starters to the grid for a 30 lap race on the quarter mile.

    Josh Walter had the pole spot after the top 8 in points were inverted. He jumped to the lead using the cushion around the racy track and his lead was erased with a lap 12 yellow, the only slowdown the entire 30 laps.

    With 19 laps going nonstop traffic came into play, working for Travis Arenz when he took 2nd with an outside pass on lap 26. Arenz closed quickly on Walter, nearly taking the lead on a 29th lap low into turn 1 effort.

    A final lap showdown was looming but Walter got a strong run out of turn 2 and squeezed beneath a lapped car on the bottom of turn 4 to keep Arenz in 2nd at the checkers.

    Ben Schmidt, Will Gerrits, and point leader Kurt Davis competed the top 5. Walter’s win paid $1142 as part of the Remembering Randy Tracy bonus.

    In other divisions, Taylor Scheffler used traffic to make his winning pass in a nonstop late model main and Jj Pagel captured the Grand National finale. Jeff Steenbergen raced a borrowed car to win the B mod main.

    Ninety cars were in the pit area with Lake Michigan cooling the air making for a very pleasant evening.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Omaha, NE…Ever imagine enjoying a race night where the track did everything correctly? A show after which any attempt to think of something that could have been done better is just a waste of time?

    Then just imagine being at Eagle Raceway.

    The third mile high-banked wonder is located two miles east of Eagle, Nebraska. Planning the yearly trip to the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms of the Midwest has one must…..make a stop at Eagle Raceway.

    While California has the heat, it does not have the accompanying humidity and always looming threat of thunderstorms. In fact, a thunderstorm around our Lincoln, CA base is big news, not a nearly daily topic.

    But most importantly, California has nothing that comes close to Eagle Raceway. Probably not many states do, although Marshalltown Speedway in Iowa comes to mind as a similarly excellent track and program.

    The first Saturday in July Eagle put on a show that was as close to perfect as one could expect. A program of five IMCA divisions and 127 cars raced 15 heats, some B mains, and 5 A mains in three hours, eleven minutes.

    That included a 20-minute break for track prep and a $1000 coin toss for fans age 12 and under. Yes, $1000 and on a night when 12 and under got in free. A fleet footed youngster could collect enough coins to pay for their parent’s tickets!

    And tickets? A bargain at $10 for the rights to occupy a seat from the over 8,000 available including the massive turn 1 stands that offer a unique view of the entire track.

    Eagle starting on time? No, they started 12 minutes early and ran 15 heats in 76 minutes. This timing was helped by drivers who drew few yellows, partly due to the wonderful IMCA rule that if involved in one yellow in a heat and that car is done. One and done is better than even the tasty Midwest pork tenderloin.

    The excellent flagging threw the yellow as a last resort. That item alone is something that most tracks could improve their program by following that idea. When a race is finished the next one comes out so fast that checking other race results on my phone was nearly impossible.

    Now, there’s a complaint! Eagle runs their show so efficiently I had little time to use my phone!

    The top class is RaceSaver sprints and 25 were on hand for a trio of draw heats. IMCA format for 3 heats moves the top 5 to the A main with the first 4 in each heat, 12 total, inverted by point average.

    Trevor Grossenbacher entered the night as point leader with just under a half point ahead of Mike Boston in point average. Both of them missed the top 4 and started 14th and 15th. Making only his 3rd start this year was former California driver, Monty Ferriera.

    Moving from Fresno to Lincoln, NE, Ferriera ran RaceSavers in California before deciding to relocate. His business in online sales of dialysis products and when he found a shop he could rent in Lincoln a one-year lease was signed.

    Ferriera is out living his dream and at age 49 with no obligations is able to be flexible as to his plans. He described this year as one of trying what he is doing and deciding after this period what to do next.

    Due to point average, Ferriera started his heat last but came out of the B main to run the 25-lap finale. He has also gotten into 360 racing and noted that while not planning on any 410 action, he also did not plan on 360 racing either.

    Every main on July 6th had a group racing for the lead. It is uncommon to see a crowd get into a sport compact main, but at Eagle everything seems to be a good race. The sprints were mostly a two-car show, but it was a good one.

    While some four wide action was displayed throughout the evening, the sprint main was mostly a top and bottom line. Chad Koch was dedicated to the low line while Shayle Bade preferred the top of Eagle’s third mile.

    A few laps into the nonstop main Bade closed on Koch but got sideways a bit in turn two, at the top of course, and lost valuable ground. Koch seemed in command but his dedication to the bottom may have worked against him.

    Bade worked her way back into contention, never leaving the top, and drew even with 4 laps left. Leaving turn 2 a lap later Bade had the momentum to take the lead from Koch and used that pass for the win. It was a dramatic display of two drivers running as different a line as they could, with topside prevailing over the low line.

    Following Bade and Koch across the line were Ryan King, Ryan Kitchen, and Tyler Drueke. Bade was 24th in points coming into the night while Koch was 19th. The IMCA format is a factor in not always seemingly having the same drivers start up front.

    I guess there is a complaint about Eagle Raceway. They run the show so efficiently that it’s over and I still wanted more racing!!

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Bucket List Includes Trophy Cup

    Wayne Johnson and car owners Todd and Kelly Carlile changed their approach to their race schedule this year. They created a bucket list of events they most wanted to race.

    At the top of the list is the Trophy Cup.

    This week their entry became official and Johnson is the 103rd car to enter the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing. The Tulare Thunderbowl hosted event offers a purse of $200,000+ for winged 360 sprint cars and runs a format that requires passing to do well. To be exact, lots of passing.

    The Carlile’s were a sponsor on the Wayne Johnson ride in 2012 and started their own team in 2016. Johnson has been their driver since creating the 2C team. That included a new way this season of looking at a race schedule.

    They decided to make it fun again by not chasing points. They race where and when they want without having the need to be at a point race being a factor. They wanted to come to the Trophy Cup in the past, but a point race conflict made the trip west out of the question.

    Johnson raced full time ASCS National in 2012 and again from 2014 to 2018. As Johnson noted, “I’m getting older and just wanted to go race and have fun.”

    He estimates having raced at Tulare about five times, once with the Dan Main 35a team in the Trophy Cup around 2008 and the other times with the World of Outlaws. Johnson loves Tulare and felt he got around the demanding 3/8 pretty well with the Outlaws.

    At age 47 Johnson has completed 32 years of sprint car racing. Racing to him is everything and he says, “All I’ve ever done is eat and breathe racing. As to going to the lake on a weekend, I think, why?”

    He has over 200 lifetime sprint wins and he recalled his first year racing a sprint at age 15, competing at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City. He won 4 main events that initial year and finished 3rd (or so) in points. His first win came on his 4th night of racing.

    Go karts at age 6 on a paved road course provided his career start. From there it was motorcycles, bicycles, Honda Odyssey racing, stock cars and basically anything he could race he would.

    As Johnson put it, “I grew up in a junk yard. We built an enduro car when I wasn’t even old enough to get into the pits from a car out of the junk yard.”

    His father and two brothers also raced. Johnson said his brother, Mike, was an excellent driver, winning 19 of 21 main events one year at Sapulpa. But his brother always had other things he wanted to do so racing was when it fit into his schedule.

    His car owners have been around racing for a long time and they won a NCRA championship with Dennis Parks driving. They have a paving business and work on many state highways from their Liberal, Kansas home. They also own the J and R Sand Co, Inc.

    As July nears, the 2C team expects to race more around Knoxville to get ready for the Nationals in August.

    Johnson mentioned a 12 year old driver who he sees as someone who shows much promise as an open wheel driver. Ryan Timms is from Wheatland Oklahoma and strapped his 92 pound body into a 305 sprint for a test session.

    Not only did he look good, but Johnson said he lapped the prior race’s main event winner his first time in a sprint. Johnson claims that Timms in on the fast track for advancement and figures he has already won 15-20 times this year in a micro sprint.

    Like so many racers, Johnson has spent much of his 2019 season dodging rain while trying to find a place to race. The Trophy Cup is very pleased that Wayne Johnson has chosen to enter their event this year.

    The Cup meets Johnson’s criteria by being a race that is special and supports such an important organization as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Two excellent winged 360 main events filled the mid-June weekend at tracks 288 miles apart. Both were special events for both Silver Dollar Speedway and Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds, that 2nd title explaining why people just say Hanford.

    Also in common is the fact they are both valley tracks. Chico’s SDS is towards the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley while Hanford lies well south in the San Joaquin Valley. Both get very hot in the summer and upper 90’s both days resulted from the current streak of above average temperatures.

    Silver Dollar ran the 7th Annual David Tarter Memorial with a $3500 to win payout going to the driver that led lap 35. For the amazing 5th time in 7 years it was Kyle Hirst winning after an excellent main.

    Switching to winged 360s for weekly racing has increased the car count and the 24 on hand represented plenty of potential winners. Chico is using the Cycleland Speedway format that puts the fastest 6 qualifiers into a heat, or dash it you wish, to set rows 3 to 5. Heat winners plus enough 2nd place cars to total 4 get the first two rows.

    How this will work out is not yet clear since relatively few point races have been held due to rainouts. Three of five race nights have had a winner from the front two rows of non-dash cars. Chase Majdic won his first career winged sprint car race last week from 6th and Shane Golobic collected the winner’s share from 8th.

    Hirst started 4th and watched Kyle Offil use the bottom of turn 1 to pass Chelsea Blevins on lap 1. Blevins used the low line out of turn 4 on lap 6 to take the lead from Offil but 3 laps later Offil answered with a top shelf drive through turns 1 and 2.

    Kyle Hirst moved into 2nd on lap 18 and it was 10 laps later that Hirst made his winning pass, running the top of turn 2 and driving past Offil on the backstretch. With 5 laps remaining Blevins had dropped to 5th but did some excellent driving, particularly gaining spots using the bottom of turn 4.

    Using the bottom of four on lap 30, Blevins jumped from 4th to 2nd and pressured Hirst the last five laps before finishing 2nd to the five-time Tarter Memorial winner. Colby Copeland was 3rd and Offil 4th after the frantic 35 lapper. The racing by Blevins and Offil was particularly impressive for the pair of teenagers.

    Saturday brought one of the more anticipated Southern San Joaquin Valley races of the season when the Sprint Car Challenge Tour raced their only time this season at Hanford on the 2nd year since the oval was widened. When the checkers flew for the D.J. Netto win, it was certainly clear why this race belongs on the must see list.

    The 29-car field did not include 3 of the top 10 in points. Geoff Ensign and Justyn Cox were 9th and 10th in points before Hanford, and now they are not. Ensign was in Petaluma and Cox was running 5th at Antioch in an 11-car field in a race won by Ryan Robinson.

    But the biggest absence was point leader Shane Golobic’s. His point lead was 14 over Kyle Hirst but now he is more than likely 9th or lower. There is a $10,000 check for the series champion, but his brother-in-law’s wedding meant no Golobic.

    Starting 8th, Netto threw a turn 4 slider on leader, Justin Sanders, on lap 23 but a crossover move kept Sanders in the lead. A lap later Netto used a slider across the track in turn 2 and this one worked to take the lead.

    Once in front, the Hanford based Netto drove to the $2500 win while racing behind him was heated in more ways than one. Tim Kaeding used the turn 2 slider site on Sanders and contact resulted. More sliders were thrown in the 2nd turn, not all faultless, and during a lap 27 yellow Kaeding and Sanders traded paint, continuing after the checkers as they may have thought they were in a bump to pass race as offered at Evergreen Speedway in Washington state.

    A frantic pace, a track with character, and numerous charges and retreats all made for a very entertaining main event. Unfortunately several cars were heavily damaged when reds fell after 8 laps and twice after 9 tours of the 3/8.

    The track had ruts in areas mixed in with speed and some slick areas to offer something for everyone. Sure could have done without the ruts, but plenty of tracks get them at times.

    Between Chico and Hanford’s dramatic mains events, it was easily the best weekend of sprint car viewing this year.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The growth of pay per view and streaming of short track races has been rapid. One of the major companies in streaming is Speed Shift TV.

    Speed Shift has gone from 57 streamed events a few years ago to 351 in 2019. Since its beginning in 2014, Speed Shift has grown dramatically and now has 26 people working for the company.

    Their needs have grown to where having dedicated servers is necessary to prevent crashing, a problem when servers were shared. The Speed Shift business model changed from a Pay Per View approach to monthly subscriptions where fans have access to almost every race streamed by the group.

    There will still be a few events that will be ppv, but a day or two later the race will be archived and available to subscribers. Speed Shift has branched out to broadcasting races in Australia and New Zealand that resulted in nearly 20% of their subscribers living in one of those countries.

    Speed Shift pays tracks an agreed upon amount for the rights to broadcast their race while the larger events that are initially pay per view result in the track getting a percent of the sales. If it is a national sanctioning group then both the sanction and the track receive a percentage.

    Building archived races is key to drawing subscribers and 4 or 5 are added each week to the on-demand list. As an example, the 3rd weekend of May Speed Shift has 9 live events scheduled and another four for on-demand.

    Three Pennsylvania tracks, Kutztown, Port Royal, and Lincoln Speedways are broadcast weekly while Anderson, Indiana and Marshalltown, Iowa are nearly weekly.

    Promoters seem to be strongly for or against streaming. Promoter of Silver Dollar Speedway and Marysville Raceway, Dennis Gage is taking a look at streaming. The first weekend of May had the first ever point race streamed at Silver Dollar and the success of that weekend has led to considering additional streaming.

    Gage noted, “When promoters get together and discuss ppv there are two positions. I love it, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread or I hate it and I’ll never have it at my race track. That’s always where we end up and some pretty prominent people in the business end up taking one of those two sides.”

    At age 71, Gage admits to being an old school promoter. He had a set price per night to stream a race for a couple years and Dean Mills was the one to give it a try. Mills Video Productions in concert with Speed Shift broadcast both nights and all parties were satisfied with the outcome.

    Placerville promoter and creator of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour, Scott Russell is taking the growth of streaming one step further. Russell and Dean Mills are taking a look at starting a production company for Northern California tracks.

    Russell voiced a concern common among promoters when he said, “It’s kind of a double edged sword. It does give exposure for the facility over the country and beyond which is a good thing and makes lot of sense in streaming. The con is local people may choose to stay home and coming to an event is what is going to keep these tracks alive, people coming and spending money for food and beverage.”

    Last Saturday’s point race at Placerville was the first try at streaming under the Russell/Mills partnership. In thinking towards starting a production company, Russell said, “This is the year to see if this is something we really want to tackle and at the end of the year we will decide if we want out have our own company.”

    As to the issue of fans staying home and watching the race being streamed, statistics gathered by Speed Shift TV address that topic. Asked to guess the percent of viewers within a two hour radius of a given track, Gage guessed 50%. Sprint car driver Andy Forsberg estimated 60% were two hours or less from the track.

    Forsberg went on to voice a concern that when most people stay home and watch the stream, there is a loss of income not only to the promoter but the fairgrounds, creating the possibility of tracks closing.

    The data regarding the two hour radius is very surprising. Speed Shift TV has done in depth analysis on that topic and the average is just 3 to 4 percent of viewers are within that radius. It might jump to 9 percent in a more densely populated area but for an entire season the number of viewers within a two hour radius hit that 3-4% average.

    Chet Christner is one of three partners who are the foundation of Speed Shift TV. Asked how streaming can make a difference for a track, Christner answered “We are not a streaming company, we are a marketing company. Prime example is Marshalltown Speedway. Look at how many people know about the racing there as a result of the broadcast.”

    “Every week Toby (promoter Toby Kruse) has people who tell him they saw the racing on line and wanted to come see the track and the racing. He gets a lot of visitors away from the area to watch the racing. We market the track, the event, the series, and the racing. That’s what we are really doing and the streaming is how we do it.”

    Christner also addressed the concern with fans choosing stream over being at the track by saying, “If a nearby race fan is watching a stream instead of attending the event, it is extremely likely it’s because they are either at work, going to work or got home from work too late to attend.”

    There is no doubt that live streaming will continue to grow in the future. Tracks that make it work for them make it possible to gain from the relationship with this newer industry.

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Finally, Silver Dollar Speedway got to run a point race. After the first five nights for winged 360 sprints were canceled due to rain or its aftereffects, the point season began at what may have been the latest date ever.

    Promoter Dennis Gage could not confirm the 5 cancellations to start the point season represented the worst year ever, but he did state that one year the track suffered 9 weather-associated cancellations. That may not seem unusual for some areas, but Northern California’s Central Valley setting for Chico makes it hard to imagine.

    A new format greeted the 28 sprint car teams on hand, one that was not particularly well received but time will tell as to its viability. A major part of the track management team is Lowell Moural who also owns Cycleland Speedway a few miles south of Chico. A very successful outlaw kart oval, Cycleland runs a different flavor format and it is now in use at Silver Dollar.

    The fastest 6 qualifiers do not run a heat, but instead it is called a dash. Redrawing for starting spots in the dash, the fastest 6 finish will set rows 3, 4, and 5 for the main event. Yes that is right, the fastest qualifier could start 10th in the finale. That part sounds like it could be interesting, bringing passing back into the picture.

    Heat races are straight up and the winner plus 2nd place if needed will fill the first two rows of the main event. Three heats were held so the fastest qualifier from the trio of 2nd place cars got the nod to join the heat winners.

    The result was Tanner Carrick started on the pole and led all 25 laps for the win, with significant help from the yellow flag. While leading all laps often signals a less than entertaining main event, not so in this case as the pressure on Carrick lasted all 25 times around the well prepared quarter mile.

    It was Tony Gualda, seeking his 2nd lifetime winged sprint win after a February victory earlier this year at Stockton, who provided much of the pressure on Carrick. Driving a Doug Rutz owned car, Gualda took the lead on lap 2 when Carrick went high in turn 4, but a yellow eliminated that pass.

    Eight laps later Gualda raced past Carrick on the backstretch for the lead, only to have another yellow spoil that effort. Shane Golobic joined the battle for the lead to create a very entertaining set of laps with the trio racing each other, but Carrick held the lead for the remaining laps to win a very good main.

    Golobic got past Gualda on lap 23 on the low side of turn two and it was Carrick, Golobic, and Gualda forming the podium. With a scheduled week off next Friday, then a 410 weekend, it is May 10 before the 2nd point race for 360s.

    After a perfect evening of weather at Chico, Placerville was breezy and chilly the next night for their 2nd point race. For the 3rd time in the track’s 3 races this year, Gualda was fast time. He redrew 8 for his 25 lap main starting spot and took the lead from Kalib Henry on lap 13. Gualda was running the top and he used momentum through turns 1 and 2 to make the pass along the backstretch.

    Five laps later Sean Becker used the bottom of turn 4 to take the lead. Heading into turn 1, Gualda went for a low line effort but got the left front up on the berm and that pulled him into a spin, a 360 to be exact.

    Luckily for Gualda, the unnecessary 360 spin rule was dropped since the last point race, he kept on going and lost several spots but at least was not at the rear. The pace truck driver did not get the memo and pulled out of the infield, expecting a yellow which was then needed. Gualda was properly put into the spot he would have be in had the errant yellow not been required.

    Becker went on to take the win over Kalib Henry and Andy Forsberg while Gualda had his 2nd night of having a potential win slip away and finished 9th. Henry, son of retired former two time Civil War champion, Mike, also ran strong at Chico and is a driver ready for a break out season.

    Despite a couple of time consuming incidents to handle, Placerville finished shortly after 9:30, much appreciated on a night that was so chilly. A focus this year is to finish earlier and Saturday night was a prime example why that is an excellent idea.

     

     

     

    Lincoln, CA…At least Northern California tracks don’t have to scrape snow off of their ovals.

    Instead their nemesis so far this season is snow in a different form….rain. Lots of rain, seemingly day after day, regularly arriving in time to nix any hope of getting a race car on the track weekend after weekend.

    At least the TV weather people no longer find it necessary to state the obvious by saying “we need the rain.”

    Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway leads the pack in disappointment with six out of seven scheduled events canceled. These numbers include practice nights, something that also offers tracks the chance to make a dollar. This weekend for Chico looks as dismal as what was seen in March, making 7 of 8 all too likely. This seems to be the worst season start ever at the quarter mile.

    Chico promoter Dennis Gage has had better luck 45 miles south where Marysville Raceway has only lost 2 of 5 nights with one of those following a late afternoon storm that, despite the efforts of track personnel, created a facility that just could not be made raceable.

    The ongoing problem with Silver Dollar Speedway is not so much the track being too wet but the pit area. Lower than the track, the pits quickly become unusable with substantial rain and apparently Chico had 3 inches of rain in 3 hours Tuesday, causing flooding around the city.

    Petaluma, Ocean, and Merced Speedways have not had a car on their track yet with this weekend’s forecast leading to Ocean already canceling. Petaluma has lost all 4 chances to put a car on the clay and Merced matches that frustration level.

    Home to perhaps the most impressive dirt track grandstands in the state, Merced has done a makeover on their quarter mile and hopes to open this coming Saturday following a Thursday practice session. RaceSaver sprints are part of their season opening plan, the first of a pair of 305 visits, and August 3 is the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour event in Merced.

    In between all these weather caused losses, Placerville Speedway has lost none, not if a rescheduled event is not counted. That race will still occur, just nearly 6 months later. Last week’s forecast made the Saturday opener for SCCT teams looking to be another lost event, but forecast rain amounts overstated the actual accumulation and a large crowd took advantage of the opportunity.

    The evening got off to a very good start with a driver’s meeting announcement that the 360 rule was gone. The worst rule in sprint car racing, the 360 rule requires a yellow flag when a driver does a complete spin, no matter if the car continues.

    Too many times we have watched the yellow fly for a 360 and ruin a good race on the track. That will no longer happen in a SCCT race and, while I did not hear it specifically stated, hopefully no 360 rule for Placerville point shows either.

    Another much appreciated focus for SCCT and Placerville Speedway will be the emphasis on quicker run shows. Last Saturday was finished just past 9:30, most appreciated on a night that was getting chilly once sunset passed.

    The 32 car field of winged 360s received assistance from 11 BCRA mini-sprints, or midget lites to use their terminology, with Scott Kinney capturing the BCRA main. The sprint main saw tough luck strike a couple of teams and some good luck for Andy Forsberg. His first SCCT win logically came at a track that has seen 60 wins for the Auburn CA driver.

    The only place I have seen the proper call by an official when a sprint car intentionally draws a yellow by stopping is at a SCCT race. The black flag is called for after such behavior, and Forsberg looked to become the 2nd ever to receive that punishment in his heat.

    Getting out shape in turn 2 on the opening lap, Forsberg slowed to a crawl but did not stop, thereby avoiding the DQ call. Perfectly legitimate, but obviously the rule needs to be tweaked. Always a trendsetter, Forsberg’s move preceded another car doing the same thing later, also avoiding a DQ but getting the desired yellow.

    Tanner Carrick was very fast in the dash, earning the win easily and starting on the pole as a result. Obviously the fastest car on the track, Carrick led 14 laps before sliding off of turn 2, gathering it back up, and dropping to 19th in the final tally.

    Dj Netto, having come out ahead of Forsberg in a duel for 2nd, inherited the lead but suffered a flat right rear after only a single lap in front. That put Forsberg in the lead and he held off a charging Sean Becker for the $4500 win, his 2nd of the year.

    An entertaining and smoothly run race night came about because Placerville Speedway was overlooked by rain clouds much of the preceding days. With winged 360s and the C and H Veteran Enterprises Hunt Magneto spec sprint tour on hand this Saturday, hopefully the foothill facility will be mostly ignored by the projected heavy rains on Friday.

     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Marysville Raceway ran their 2nd race of the season last Saturday with much better weather than the opener the week prior. Promoter Dennis Gage refused to give up on racing March 9th, and while it was far from a financial positive night for the track, his willingness to race in the face of atmospheric adversity was appreciated.

    All day long their appeared to be no way the track could race, in fact the forecast for several days was dire. It rained hard just a couple miles west during the show but nothing more than some sprinkles found the speedway.

    The crowd was tiny, the car count was small, but the sub-2 hour show was appreciated because a promoter threw caution to the wind (or rain) and raced. The Civil War winged 360 portion drew five cars and Andy Forsberg won the main event. In another impressive move by Gage, the purse was not cut despite the car count.

    Support classes were 7 crate sprints and 18 IMCA Northern Sport Mods so the 30 car turnout was not that much less then the front gate count.

    Seven days later things were much different with 17 winged 360s joined by 10 crates, 14 sport mods, and 8 mixed limited late models and super stocks. A smooth track, much larger crowd, and far better weather made things work out better for Gage this time.

    When the 25 lap main was over, it was a first time winner, Michael Ing, who excitedly worked on his wing dance routine. The $1500 to win event drew a dozen more cars that the week prior but there was zero chance of rain this week.

    It is always nice to watch a driver win his first main event. That also occured last month when Tony Gualda won a winged 360 main at Stockton Dirt Track. He has many racing wins but this was the first winged sprint car victory.

    First racing at age 5, Gualda started competing because he had family with a racing background. His great uncle, Ed Amador, was a three time NCMA (Northern California Modified Association) champion, racing what were similar to sprint cars but with a more coupe like body.

    Tony grew up going to race tracks as his father was a crewman and growing up in Hollister made Chowchilla the closest option for a five year old to race a go kart. His debut in the Barnburner series in a beginner box stock resulted, he believes, in a win to start a six year career in karts.

    At age 11 Gualda moved to micro sprints in the restricted class after earning 54 wins in karts including 6 track titles between Chowchilla and Tulare kart ovals. Three consecutive West Coast Shootout championships at Tulare.

    His relatively short micro sprint career saw him race regularly at Delta Speedway in Stockton with 10 podiums his first year and in 2013 his first win at Lemoore Raceway. At this point moving to nonwing micro sprints was considered but instead moved to nonwing spec sprints at Ocean Speedway.

    Gualda figured that with the increased travel and costs needed to run a nonwing micro sprint he could instead go with a full size nonwing sprint at much closer to home Watsonville. Two wins came his way in 2014 and jumping to a winged 360 came to fruition over the winter.

    A big step for Gualda was connecting with Darin Smith to be his crew chief but engine troubles dominated his 2015 season, racing only handful of times. The following season was not much better as the now Roseville based car saw action about a dozen times at Ocean Speedway and the Civil War series.

    Gualda destroyed the car at Petaluma Speedway in mid-June of 2016 and suffered a concussion in the mishap. He sat out the rest of his season as his sprint car career continued to be more stop than start.

    Everything changed for Tony when he met Cody Geaney and Mandi Davis. The duo had been doing his shocks on his sprint and at the end of his 2016 season he heard that Cody and Mandi are thinking of putting him in their car.

    January he got the call from Geaney stating they want to put him in their car for 14 or so races in 2017. Gualda’s first race for them was at his all time favorite track, Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, and it was the very competitive Sprint Car Challenge Tour event.

    Gualda set quick time in his heat race group, won his heat, and finished 10th in his debut for the new team. He raced that car a few more times until it became available in June for a full time ride.

    His best 2017 finish was a 2nd at Marysville, working is way closer to the first win. He did have a life long thrill that year when he got to run his first Trophy Cup. He missed the main on Thursday, but qualified for the Friday feature and finished 12th.

    Saturday he moved forward in his heat and was 17th in points, earning him the outside row starting spot in the 50 lap finale. He noted that while running 3rd in the main he was excited watching Bud Kaeding and Ryan Bernal battling each other in front of him, two racers he grew up watching. He eventually finished 15th after getting involved in a tangle, but still had a memorable first Trophy Cup experience.

    The following season was a full time effort with the team and came close to that first win, finishing 2nd to Jason Solwold at Stockton and having many good runs at Placerville Speedway. Racing a winged 360 in 2018 for a full season provided experience and helped prepare him for his 2019 debut.

    February 23rd his day started with a morning video live appearance at the track for a Sacramento TV station. During those TV laps Gulada noted the car felt very good and nothing was done to it as the afternoon race time approached.

    Two sets of heats used passing/finishing points to select the top 6 for the redraw. Tony did well in the heats and Mandi Davis drew the front row for the main. Gualda drove past Andy Forsberg on a lap 4 restart and led the final 26 times around the 3/8 mile oval for the memorable first winged 360 win.

    This season Gualda will drive the same car in Sprint Car Challenge Tour events as well as race for the Placerville track title. If sponsorship comes along, something Gualda is working on now, he hopes to do some 410 racing.

    He wheels an KPC (Kent Performance Center) chassis with Don Ott power. The very valuable sponsors include Moorfield Construction, Swartz Diesel, Hollister Auto Parts, Autoworks Repair, and Alturas Tires. He gives special thanks to Cody and Mandi, Lincoln, CA residents, for continuing to provide a ride.

    As he has gained experience, Gualda offered this assessment of how things have changed for him.

    “As I gained experience things slowed down which makes things easier. When you start you feel you are going 200 when you are really doing 80 or 90. With more laps things slow and you can make better decisions which ultimately makes you faster and a better race car driver.”

    Tony Gualda will next be in action March 22/23 at Chico and Marysville, driving the car owned by Doug Rutz of Langley, British Columbia. The following weekend it will be back in his regular ride for the SCCT opener at Placerville.

    Maybe win number two will occur later this month, but if not then it won’t be long after.


     

     

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Seven weeks in Arizona to start the year led to plenty of races, only one of which had sprint cars as part of the program. Modified racing was the entree of the trip and between the Wild West Shootout to start the trip and the IMCA AZ Mod Tour to end it, lots of very good modified racing was enjoyed.

    Track drama was part of the trip as Canyon Speedway Park put racing on hold, then announced a restart March 8th and 9th when the USAC/CRA teams are in town. USA Raceway in Tucson reopened after two quiet years with a two day Mod Tour event and Saturday’s crowd showed us that the future holds hope.

    To top it off, Cocopah Speedway reopened last weekend with a decent car count and from all reports, a good front gate despite cooler than normal weather. Cocopah was shut down by the Tribal Council last fall and for a long time not racing at all was a concern.

    We exited Arizona about the right time as three days after arriving home record rain and snow totals dotted the state. Tucson, cool but not uncomfortable the weekend prior, collected 4 inches of snow. Traversing Tehachapi Pass on Monday worked out well as it was closed later in the week as was Grapevine, connecting the LA basin to Bakersfield. With I-80 connecting Reno and Sacramento seemingly closed due to snow more often than not, no way from the Grand Canyon State to the Golden State existed for a number of hours.

    While being home meant cooler and wetter weather, as least Stockton Dirt Track was able to hold their 3rd race of the year on Saturday, an efficiently run event that was the beneficiary of a smoother track and better driving that what we saw January 1st.

    We missed a late January show at Stockton when a dozen sprint cars joined good fields of modifieds and sport mods. Mitchell Faccinto bested Rico Abreu by almost a second to win the January show, but Faccinto raced in Hanford last Saturday and Abreu missed his heats with issues.

    The 16 winged 360s on hand ran what was described as an ASCS format, yet did not use the ASCS procedure for determining when lineups are set for passing point purposes. At Stockton the lineup on the board at the driver’s meeting was used for passing point math while ASCS uses the on track lineup when the race is set to go green.

    That is a significant difference when scratches occur and both Abreu and Garen Linder who missed round two of heats were in the same group. This skewed passing/finishing point totals, particularly important when the top 6 in points redrew for the first three rows.

    Having two sets of heats was good as it added to the show with round two inverting the round one grid. I had Tony Gualda at the top spot in points and he was joined by Ryan Bernal, Andy Forsberg, Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, and Kyle Offill in the redraw. Gualda redrew the pole, Forsberg outside, and the field was set for 30 laps with $2000 waiting for the winner.

    Forsberg led three times around the rut free oval with the 2nd of two yellows appearing after the opening trio of laps. On the double file restart, Gualda used his outside spot to establish momentum along the front stretch and drove around the outside of Forsberg through turns 1 and 2 and took the lead.

    Gualda has won two nonwing spec sprint races and 27 nonstop laps later the had his first winged win. He was dominant during the run and handled traffic smoothly to get that thrilling first time winged victory.

    Forsberg ran 2nd and battled with Bernal for a while until losing power the last lap, assisting Bernal’s 2nd while Forsberg limped to a 3rd over Abreu and Offill. Abreu started in spot 15 and worked his way forward, sliding up the top of turn 1 several times to lose ground, but always coming back towards the front.

    It appears these early season events are being considered for next year as promoter Tony Noceti mentioned at the driver’s meeting about having a point fund for these winter shows next year.

    This coming weekend things could really get busy with Chico planning on running a two day winged 360 season opener, paying $2000 to win on Friday and $3500 for a Saturday win. Stockton Dirt Track is right back at it on Saturday with the opener for KWS-NARC winged 410s, offering $5000 to win and $600 to start. Plus, it is my first of five softball tournaments this month, playing in Yuba City, located between Chico and Stockton.

    However, the rainy season apparently is far from over and the week’s forecast is not friendly towards racing or softball. Chico’s northern location is particularly rain threatened and Stockton not quite as much for a total for the week.

    With some luck, both tracks will get their shows in as Chico has yet to see a car hit the quarter mile this year.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Apache Junction, AZ…Perhaps it is proper than my first sprint car race of 2019 would occur at my first “regular” Arizona track. For over 20 years seeing several races annually at the high-banked 3/8 oval located at the fairgrounds east of Casa Grande has helped fill the January page in the notebook.

    Some November page notations have also taken place at the Pinal County fairgrounds the last few years. For climatic reasons, the summer notebook section is devoid of anything in Arizona as the yearly stretch of 100+ degree days is only for the brave.

    Racing first took place at the fairgrounds in 1939 and over the years has been home to dirt tracks of 5/8, 1/5, 1/2, 1/4, and the current 3/8. A quarter mile paved drag strip lasted one year and a new inner oval of perhaps 1/6 mile races regularly along with the 3/8.

    Dave Ellis, the well known car builder from Phoenix, is running the track for his 2nd year at the helm of Central Arizona Speedway. A builder of micro sprints, it makes sense that Ellis built the inner oval and races the division. A restricted class for newer participants along with an open division produced 25 cars on the first Saturday of February and used the racy inner oval.

    Sprint car changes occurred in Arizona for 2019 when the nonwing 360 class went to 410 power. The San Tan Ford Desert nonwing steel block group joined the ASCS sanctioning body and February 2nd was their first race, both of the year and as an ASCS division.

    A 19 car turnout was very good for the early season effort and with rain in the forecast for the latter part of the evening, officials ran an efficient show. It was great to see the next race come on the track as the prior field stragglers left turn 2. The show was completed with a few sprinkles offering no charge dust control. The track itself was mostly dust free but spinning off the unfenced high banks led to clouds of dust.

    Three draw heats using the wonderful passing/finishing points method led to the top 6 in points being inverted at the front of the field as they approached their 25 lap main. It may have been my first time ever to hear a race director correctly refer to the format as using passing and finishing points. It is not just passing points. He also was in rare territory when he also explained when the field was set for passing point purposes.

    The group races at 4 Arizona tracks as Arizona Speedway, Canyon Speedway Park, and the soon to be reopened USA Raceway in Tucson host the series. USA officially returns to action on February 14, a special Valentines Day treat to Pima County race fans. That night is practice time for the IMCA Arizona Mod Tour and racing follows the next two nights. We’ve been in Arizona for five weeks and that 10 day series will complete the trip.

    Last year’s champion in the San Tan Ford series was Zack Madrid and one race into the 2019 slate he is on top of the points again. Winning the opener did that after he took over on lap 12 with a strong drive through turns 3 and 4.

    As the high point car, Madrid started 6th and was in control once in the lead. Second went to Aaron Jones and Dennis Gile completed the podium. Last year 51 drivers made at least one appearance in the series.

    While some rain has been felt over the last 5 weeks, it was little compared to Northern California’s output. The “D” word (drought) should not appear this year in NorCal and hopefully the trio of winged 360 races set for this month all get to occur. Marysville opens on the 16th while both Stockton Dirt Track and Hanford’s 3/8 race the following Saturday.

    The Sprint Car Challenge Tour is set for year 3 and a first time appearance at Merced will be very interesting. Merced has massive grandstands, which are pretty steep and provide outstanding viewing angles. Just climbing 2/3 of the way to the top provides a cardio experience and quad workout. Some combo shows with SCCT and KWS-NARC winged 410s are absolute must see events.



     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Apache Junction, AZ…The first race of the year occurred on New Year’s Day afternoon at Stockton Dirt Track when 4 divisions brought 81 cars to the fairgrounds four-tenths oval. At 3:28 pm the first heat went green to give Stockton the honor of being California’s first race of 2019.

    Two factors led to Stockton hosting a New Year’s Day race, one being their expanded schedule this year. Running additional dates is not particularly easy when Saturday is the preferred day in the state and finding available places to put a race becomes challenging.

    Stockton has addressed this issue to some degree by racing twice in January and one race in February, two months that are normally devoid of outdoor racing in the Golden State. The January 26 race will be the first sprint car event in the state when an unsanctioned $2,000 to win show will feature winged 360 sprints.

    February’s race also has winged 360s on the 23rd and a week later the opening KWS-NARC winged 410 event races their season opener at Stockton. That makes four races before most tracks in the state have even had a practice day.

    Stockton has also added some stock car events during the season that opened January 1 and closes on November 2nd. Many of us were surprised how many cars showed for the January 1st race, but prior years a race on that day was held at Antioch Speedway.

    It was unusual circumstances that made the date available this year. Antioch, being a fairgrounds track, has specific procedures to follow when the prior year’s promoter’s contract is expiring. Aspiring promoters submit proposals and a bid was awarded for Antioch, making it a done deal. But it didn’t stay done.

    A protest was filed over the fairboard’s actions, the state got involved, and the New Year arrives with no promoter at Antioch. The people who were awarded the contract had to submit detailed plans to the state and an answer is to be known by January 21. One option might be to do the bidding process all over, delaying the decision for weeks. At some point it could become too late to put together a schedule for the year.

    Josh Cross captured the honor of winning the first 2019 main event in California when he drove his 4-cylinder car to the win in the 20-lap test. The IMCA modifieds raced unsanctioned as the top division and it was Ryan McDaniel who took the $1500 first place payout.

    While some tracks and series have their schedules out, others are still being finalized. We were told that Chico was offered both Sprint Car Challenge Tour and Civil War winged 360 dates and said no to both. Chico’s usual USAC/CRA date in September is gone, moving to Merced Speedway. Also the Hunt Magneto Spec Sprint series will also not be racing at Chico this year, according to sources at the Stockton race.

    The 14 race series for winged 360s between Hanford and Tulare is a superb deal, something that has been needed for a long time. With the two tracks being only 27 miles apart and a growing number of Central Valley 360 sprint teams, the time was right for creating the Kings of Thunder series. Micro sprint racing at Visalia and Lemoore tracks serve as training for future sprint car drivers.

    Placerville Speedway has made a good move by naming Gary Thomas as the full time announcer at the quarter mile. Now if tracks could just find a race director with the skill set of Mike Andretta they would really be set for a 2019 season. We’ve only seen one race so far this year and we are already tired of unnecessary yellows and other time wasting moves.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…One final Northern California sprint car race started the first weekend of November, an open comp winged 360 race at Stockton Dirt Track, paying the Sprint Car Challenge tour purse and using the Civil War series format.

    The race opened the GP Classic weekend with the following night being a SCCT race as well as NARC, the final for both series for the season. Another commitment made it a one night Stockton deal for me. Saturday was a big day for Kyle Hirst as he clinched both the 360 and 410 series titles.

    Friday also presented the final Hunt Magneto Series race for nonwing spec sprints. The 24-car field had numerous drivers get upside down, but Michael Faccinto survived to win their drawn out main event. His brother, Mitchell, runs winged sprints and was 9th on Friday.

    The wing main on Friday was good despite Jason Solwold leading all 25 laps. Tony Gualda almost made the pass for the lead a couple times before taking 2nd and D. J. Netto was 3rd after coming out ahead following a series of laps racing Justyn Cox.

    The track was in good shape with Placerville Speedway promoter, Scott Russell, working hard on the oval. The exit from turn 4 was improved and I wish the lights could also receive a tune up. The poles are not particularly tall and are well into the infield so the angle puts bright lights shining into the stands and hampers seeing the track from turns 2 to 3.

    A very rare city, Stockton has 3 operating race tracks with the very successful micro sprint track a short walk from the dirt track and the quarter mile paved oval just a couple miles away. Next year the word is that dirt track will be busier with an slightly expanded schedule of races compared to the list since opening in 2013.

    Checking with Tony Gualda, he noted his car has not been changed all season and always made weight. His opening night Trophy Cup 2nd quick qualifying effort was washed away by an 11 pound shortage at the scales. That is believed to be the first car in Cup history to weight light. That put a damper on his Thursday effort and less than stellar luck continued for the Hollister native. One thing for certain, Gualda was fast all three days.

    With a total of $230,000 donated to Make-A-Wish Foundation this year, the new total from the Trophy Cup stands at $1,800,000. That is amazing that a short track event has done so well at supporting the Foundation and next year will see the total reach two million.

    For some reason a rumor persisted at Tulare Thunderbowl this year about the Trophy Cup moving. It is an absolute fact that there is zero consideration being given to any move. With the tremendous support of promoter Steve Faria, the race will be held in Tulare as long as the track is racing.

    This year in the northern part of California a couple of track made changes that made dramatic improvements in the racing. Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico moved the berm in a ways, got rid of the big tires, and built a tall berm to replace the front end eating tires. The racing was improved with the wider surface and, along with switching to winged 360s for the regular Friday night division, saw a much better car count.

    Also going the wider route was Kings Speedway in Hanford. Three trips to the newly reshaped oval produced three nights of excellent racing. The final time was for the Cotton Classic last month and some outstanding multiple groove and slider filled racing made it one of the year’s best.

    Tulare was made wider a couple years ago, Stockton Dirt Track looked wider than ever last Friday, and the success of Hanford and Chico with wider tracks shows that wider is better.

     

     

    Trophy Cup Payout by Ron Rodda

    The 24 cars that raced in Saturday’s A main automatically receive the point fund. They are guaranteed $5000 for the three days combined and the top point car is guaranteed $25,000 ($26,000 next year).

    Twenty-seven drivers earned $1000+ and 17 additional drivers received between $500 and $1000.

    The 24 Saturday A main drivers total payout: Jac Haudenschild $25,000 Giovanni Scelzi $13,200 Cory Eliason $11,750 Justyn Cox $8350 Willie Croft $10,050 Colby Copeland $7790 Shane Golobic $5900 Ryan Bernal $6500 Michael Kofoid $5800 Tim Shaffer $6400 Dominic Scelzi $5000 Mitchell Faccinto $6100 The following drivers each received $5000: Terry McCarl, Carson Macedo, Bud Kaeding, Colton Heath, D. J. Netto, Jason Solwold, Aaron Reutzel, Rico Abreu, Craig Stidham, Kalib Henry, Tanner Thorson, Blake Hahn

    The total paid was $197,975. The total is the result of how much additional is needed to pay the three day guarantee to the Saturday A main drivers above the standard three day purse. The standard purse is $167,515 and $30,460 was added to that to make the guarantees of $25,000 to win the title and $5000 in total payout to start the final main.

     

     

    Haudenschild Takes Third Cup Title

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…Jac Haudenschild accomplished an amazing task for the 60-year-old driver. At an age where many drivers have long retired, Haudenschild took his 3rd Trophy Cup title with 7 years between each championship.

    Entering the 50 lap main event that closes the three-day show, Haudenschild was 7th in points. With 6 laps remaining following a red. Haudenschild was one spot ahead of a driver less than a third his age, Gio Scelzi. Whichever driver finished ahead of the other would win the Cup title unless Cory Eliason could mount a charge from 9th.

    With a rubber down track, Haudenschild easily kept Scelzi at bay and won the crowd pleasing championship by two points over Scelzi. Eliason was 3rd in points, two back of Scelzi, and Justyn Cox tied Willie Croft for 4th, another two point gap behind Scelzi. With the faster qualifying time used for tie breaker, Cox claimed 4th in points.

    The evening opened with a trio of D mains which moved cars up to the C main. Six completely inverted by points heat races followed, after which the top 20 in points went directly to the A main. The heats offered the usual 36 points to win with a 3 point drop.

    A stacked B main moved 4 additional cars to the 24 car grid with the top 20 in points inverted. The 50 lap main includes a fuel stop around the halfway point.

    Willie Croft and Aaron Reutzel shared the front row after Reutzel had the best heat run of the evening to just make the 20 car cutoff. Croft led 10 laps before Reutzel drove around the leader in turn 2 to take over the top spot.

    Blake Hahn ran 3rd for the first 2 laps before flipping off of the turn 4 wall and Colby Copeland inherited the spot. Lap 24 was tough for Reutzel when he brushed the turn 4 wall and stopped in turn 1 with a flat right front.

    Croft was back in the lead and led the final 27 laps to win over Copeland and Ryan Bernal. Michael Kofoid was 4th followed by 14th starting Haudenschild and 16th starting Gio Scelzi. Rico Abreu had to restart at the rear on lap 24 when a crew member worked on a jacobs ladder during an air only stop.

    Haudenschild’s title paid a Trophy Cup record $25,000 and Croft collected $4000 for the win plus additional point fund money. All main event starters will receive a minimum of $5000 for the three days total. The detailed payout will be released next week.

    The 2019 Trophy Cup will be October 17-19 at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway with another $200,000 purse paying $26,000 to win the championship.

    A main…Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, Ryan Bernal, Michael Kofoid, Jac Haudenschild, Giovanni Scelzi, Shane Golobic, Justyn Cox, Cory Eliason, Carson Macedo, Tim Shaffer, Bud Kaeding, Dominic Scelzi, Mitchell Faccinto, Terry McCarl, Kalib Henry, Aaron Reutzel, Colton Heath, Jason Solwold, Tanner Thorson, D. J. Netto, Rico Abreu, Craig Stidham, Blake Hahn

     

     

    Haudenschild Wins One For The Old Guys

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, Ca…The main event was like a three act play Friday at the Trophy Cuo.

    Act one..Tanner Thorson spins while leading.

    Act two…Kyle Hirst breaks while leading.

    Act three…Jac Haudenschild pounds the top of the track and wins night two of the 25th Annual Trophy Cup.

    An 85-car field returned to Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway for the 2nd preliminary night of the $200,000 event. At the evening’s conclusion, drivers would take the better of the two prelim point totals into Saturday’s final night. For many it was now or never after some disappointing results on Thursday.

    Opening night winner, Mitchell Faccinto, had engine trouble and could not even complete a qualifying lap. Group B was first out and fast time went to Cory Eliason (13.928) and Colton Heath led group A (14.216).

    Eight heats again moved the winner and top point car to the A before two loaded B mains elevated the top 4 from each to create a 24 car field, inverting 12 by points.

    Tanner Thorson and Kyle Hirst shared the front row while Terry McCarl and Tim Shaffer filled row two. Thorson ran the bottom from the beginning while Hirst chose upstairs. Shaffer was 3rd initially, choosing the bottom, while Haudenschild was soon in 4th, running the top.

    By lap 6 Haudenschild was turning the fastest laps and closed on Shaffer while Hirst pursued Thorson. Disaster struck the leader on lap 12 when Thorson spun in turn 2 and Hirst led on the restart.

    The top 3 ran unchanged and created excitement when they came out of turn 4 on lap 20 three wide as a yellow flew. On the restart, Hirst broke an axle and coasted to a frustrated stop in turn 2. That moved Shaffer into the lead on the restart, but Haudenschild used the top line out of turn 4 to lead lap 21.

    Once ahead, Haudenschild quickly established a substantial lead over Shaffer who finished 2nd ahead of Cory Eliason. Champion the last two years, Shane Golobic again had suspension issues. Third last night, Dominic Scelzi qualified 26th in his group and was a C main DNF. The elder Scelzi still leads in points after his Thursday performance.

    A main..Jac Haudenschild, Tim Shaffer, Cory Eliason, Craig Stidham, Michael Kofoid, Gio Scelzi, Terry McCarl, D.J. Netto, Ryan Bernal, Carson Macedo, Blake Hahn, Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, Colton Heath, Tanner Thorson, Aaron Reutzel, Kasey Kahne, Austin McCarl, Justin Sanders, Kyle HIrst, Chase Johnson, Shane Golobic, Cole Macedo, Andy Gregg

    Top ten in points,…Dominic Scelzi 275, Jac Haudenschild 274, Gio Scelzi 272, Mitchell Faccinto 272, Cory Eliason 270, Tim Shaffer 270, Justyn Cox 268, Craig Stidham 268, Jason Solwold 263, Shane Golobic 262

    Ties broken by faster qualifying time

     

     

    Faccinto Takes Cup Opener

     by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…Mitchell Faccinto led all 30 laps Thursday to take the $4000 winner’s check, but perhaps more importantly, earn 100 points towards his quest for a Trophy Cup title.

    Faccinto started on the pole in the 24-car grid after transferring from a B main with a fourth, the final transfer position. The A main inverted 12 by points which worked well for the former micro sprint racer.

    An 88 car field of winged 360s jammed the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway pit area and were split into two qualifying groups. Each group has a fast qualifier so tied at 150 points after qualifying were Shane Golobic (13.613) and Tim Shaffer (13.921).

    Heats were for the fastest 40 in each group, inverting six by time. The heat winner plus the highest point car from each heat advanced to the A main. Heats offered 36 points for a win with a 3 point drop.

    Preliminary mains followed 8 heats and a last chance qualifier for 81st and higher in qualifying. The C main was straight up by points and moved the top 4 to one of a pair of B mains. The B mains inverted 6 by points and moved the top 4 from each to join the 16 heat race cars that qualified for the A main. Accumulated points determined the A main lineup, inverting 12 by points.

    The 3/8 mile track offered a top and bottom line and Faccinto stuck to the bottom throughout the race. Gio Scelzi ran 2nd with Jac Haudenschild 3rd until a car bounced off of the turn 4 berm on lap 15 and Haudenschild pitted with a flat right rear following the skirmish.

    The elevated Justyn Cox to 3rd and G. Scelzi began throwing sliders at Faccinto into turn 3. Several times Scelzi completed the pass but a crossover move by Faccinto allowed him to retain the lead at the line.

    Dominic Scelzi used the same turn 3 slider maneuver to take 3rd on lap 25 and follow his younger brother to the line for an all micro sprint graduate podium. Gio started 5th and Dominic 10th and used the top line to join Faccinto for the top 3..

    Several drivers battled issues during the evening as Kasey Kahne’s ride had engine woes during qualifying. Shane Golobic drove most of the main with chassis problems, Blake Hahn broke an axle after 7 laps of the main, and Haudenschild’s flat ruined a promising run.

    Friday will repeat the opening night format except the two qualifying groups are switched and the order within each group is reversed.

    A main--Mitchell Faccinto, Giovanni Scelzi, Dominic Scelzi, Cory Eliason, Rico Abreu, Justyn Cox, Tim Shaffer, Jason Solwold, D. J. Netto, Shane Golobic, Tanner Thorson, Bud Kaeding, Ryan Bernal, Matt Peterson, Michael Kofoid, Steven Tiner, Kasey Kahne, Willie Croft, Kalib Henry, Jac Haudenschild, Kaleb Montgomery, Cole Macedo, Colby Johnson, Blake Hahn

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Hanford’s 3/8 mile track closed their season in fine fashion with one of the biggest shows at the fairgrounds oval in years. Labeled the Cotton Classic, three divisions of winged sprint cars brought 72 teams to town, offering racing for all three types of engines. The largest crowd I have seen in Hanford in many years showed their approval of the scheduling effort.

    The Sprint Car Challenge 360 tour drew 32, KWS/NARC had 21 of the 410 variety, and 19 RACEsaver 305 powered sprints appeared. Multiple sets of officials worked well together and by 8:45 just the three A mains remained.

    A combination of unnecessary yellows, extremely questionable driving by the RACEsavers, and too long between mains delayed the finish to the 11pm curfew. It seemed as efficiency was paramount during preliminary races but the flow was not continued to evening’s finish.

    With some drivers running both SCCT and KWS/NARC, it was necessary to run the RACEsavers in the middle of the main event lineup, or a prolonged delay would have occurred as drivers changed cars.

    That meant the SCCT main was the first time in history to go first, but it was also one of if not the best one ever in the two year old series. This 30 lapper was an epic display between Rico Abreu and Shane Golobic as they used the very racy Hanford surface to put on a superb race.

    Abreu led 7 laps before Golobic drove under the leader in turn 2 after Abreu slid up the track a bit. Golobic led until lap 11 when Abreu used the top side exit from turn 4 to again lead.

    Their tremendous battle was put on hold with an unnecessary yellow, something that happened again during the main. Golobic again took over on lap 17 with a low line drive out of turn 4 but Abreu answered with a turn 3 slider two laps later.

    At 4 official lead changes with 11 laps left, the 2nd unnecessary yellow led to Abreu taking a commanding lead on the restart for a race that was tentatively going to be cut short.

    Officials were concerned about fuel and before the last restart decided to throw the checkers after 25 laps if any stoppage occurred due to total laps run. Those extra laps during the ill-advised yellows were causing an issue.

    Luckily, the last 11 were nonstop but lacked the incredible battle between two very talented drivers that had made the first 19 laps so special. I would guess 15-20 unofficial lead changes occurred during those 19 laps. Abreu took the win over Golobic and Dominic Scelzi in the memorable SCCT race.

    The KWS/NARC had its share of drama when Mitchell Faccinto and Kyle Hirst nearly matched the Abreu/Golobic duel. They didn’t pass each other as much, but their finish was a very exciting way to close the night.

    Hirst had been using the bottom while Faccinto was upstairs and it paid off on the last corner when Hirst did not get through turn 4 as well as he had been and Faccinto won over Hirst and Golobic.

    The KWS/NARC race had one unnecessary yellow, required by rule, but it is a rule that I do not understand its value. This would be the 360 spin rule. Any 360 spin requires an automatic yellow.

    The driver finished the 360 and was continuing on his way before the flag made its appearance. All that rule seems to do is create delays that are not needed.

    Separating the two excellent main events was one to forget. The RACEsavers had put on the best race in California I had seen back in September, but last Saturday was the polar opposite.

    Five cars flipped with three reds before a lap was scored, tack on 4 yellows and the race was mercifully called after 5 laps. Zane Blanchard was called the winner in a very unfortunate display of RACEsaver racing.

    That still was better than the shortest main I have ever seen. Many years ago at the San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway a stock car main went 4 laps before Danny Princeau was declared the winner. That track had serious curfew issues and that probably explains the short race.

    Twenty-five miles from last Saturday’s big sprint car event in Hanford is Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. The three day Rico Abreu Racing 25th Annual Trophy Cup presented by Rudeen Racing will offer the largest purse in winged 360 sprint history with $200,000 to be paid. Last year 90 cars appeared and a similar number figures to jam the Tulare pit area this week.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The last action of the year at Silver Dollar Speedway this past weekend was the two-day Fall Nationals featuring winged 360 sprints and the Northwest Focus Midget Series. Titled the Tribute to Stephen Allard, the season finale drew strong fields and did not disappoint the fans.

    Friday had 54 sprints and 30 Focus series long tows with 27 of the Focus teams from Washington and the other three California cars. Straight up heats for sprints moved the top 2 to a dash to set the first four rows. Heats were forgettable, preliminary mains were efficiently run, and the 30 lap main event was an excellent way to conclude the evening.

    Just like their initial appearance last year for this event, the Northwest Focus Midget Series was perfect in their role. Cars were in line ready to come on the track except for the B main, which was only a minute or two wait. Fans could only hope the sprints were as cooperative.

    The Focus main ran 25 laps with just a single yellow and upon completion, there were zero sprints in staging despite the clock showing well past 10 and the 11 pm curfew looming. Enthusiasm for getting to staging was also lacking so a threat from officials to cut laps if a three minute warning was not heeded got things finally moving.

    Chance Crum won the Focus finale with pressure from 2nd finishing Ross Rankine most of the way. Tristin Thomas filled the podium to complete their efficient evening, prodding one official to note both their cooperation and quickly run part of the program.

    The worth the wait sprint main had Shane Golobic lead a lap before Tanner Thorson ran the high side through turns 3 and 4 to pass the defending Trophy Cup champion. Fifteenth starting Sean Becker found a bottom groove to his liking and took 3rd on lap 16, 2nd a lap later with low line passes both times, but then a yellow proved to foil his plans.

    Thorson took the inside on the double file restart, putting Becker in the unwanted outside line, and Golobic got the inside row 2 spot due to running 3rd at the yellow. This all played out to Golobic’s advantage when he got underneath Thorson in turn 2 and made his winning pass.

    Thorson had a last lap challenge with a high side drive out of turn four but came up a car length short to finish 2nd ahead of Dominic Scelzi. This was Scelzi’s first action since a leg injury 4 weeks prior.

    Saturday the winged count was at 56 and Focus total stayed at 30. The Northwest group ran 4 heats, a B main, and a non-stop A main with a total of one yellow. Jonathan Jorgerson withstood many laps of pressure from Chance Crum to win the main and the season championship. Evan Margenson was 3rd in their season ending event.

    The sprint main was dramatic, an entertaining way to close the Silver Dollar season. Mitchell Faccinto led 9 laps before Tony Gualda used the bottom of turn 4 to take over. Lap 16 was especially thrilling when Gualda was flanked by Sean Becker and Kyle Hirst down the backstretch. Becker powered into the lead and back to back Saturday strong paydays loomed for the Dan Menne entry.

    Becker established a good lead but Hirst eventually closed along with an advancing Justyn Cox. Exiting turn 2 on lap 36 contact between Becker and Hirst sent the leader into the infield with brief flames appearing. Hirst now led on the restart and claimed the win over a dynamic Scelzi after a 21st starting to 2nd place finish effort with Cox taking 3rd.

    Although nearly 11:30 finishing Saturday, it was still two excellent nights at the Silver Dollar quarter mile to close the 26th annual Fall National.

    Apparently Tim Kaeding’s ankle injury may not be as severe as originally thought, and he is not yet a scratch for the Trophy Cup. The plans seems to be to take a test ride in Hanford the Saturday prior to see if his quest for a 4th championship, matching Brent Kaeding’s total, will be possible this year.



     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA… Placerville Speedway closed their season in fine fashion, hosting two nights of Sprint Car Challenge Tour racing plus mini-sprints. Winged 360s totaled 41 and 44 for the two shows while the mini-sprints shocked me with 34 entrants.

    Four races this year were designated Civil War shows for the two California mini-sprint groups. The southern-based California Lightning Sprints scheduled home turf races at Bakersfield, Ventura, Santa Maria, Barona, and Perris. An impressive 17 teams made long tows to Placerville for the weekend.

    Similarly impressive were an additional 5 teams from Washington where they compete at Deming Speedway. Not so impressive was the 12 mini-sprints turnout from the Northern California BCRA midget lite division.

    The total turnout of 75 on Friday and 77 on Saturday made for concern over curfew but both nights were efficiently run and the magic 11 pm hour was a close call on Saturday. Friday’s first heat to last lap of the night took 2 minutes less than 3 hours and night two edged the curfew by 7 minutes.

    Seth Hespe won on Friday and Doug Nunes took Saturday’s finale for the mini-sprints. Hespe hails from Washington while Nunes has multiple titles with BCRA. It was great to have such a turnout with so many committed drivers willing to tow a long distance.

    Friday’s sprint show was a win for Kyle Hirst, the incoming point leader and defending champion for SCCT. Sidelined with a broken ankle, Tim Kaeding was just one point behind Hirst but is now sidelined for an extended time.

    Unfortunately, TK’s recovery time will mean missing this year’s Trophy Cup. Justyn Cox stepped out of his car and into the Kaeding ride for Placerville with his ride choice for Trophy Cup not yet settled.

    Mitchell Faccinto led 14 laps on Friday before Hirst slid the Fresno based driver in turn 2 on lap 15 to take the lead. Justyn Cox drove under Faccinto coming out of turn 4 on lap 20 and finished 2nd while Faccinto settled for 3rd. Friday’s track took rubber and restarts became single file for the final 14 laps.

    Saturday a planned track prep session right before the sprint main was a bit of a gamble time-wise, but it all worked with a racier surface for the entire distance. This one was settled on lap 13 when Sean Becker drove under Hirst in turn 4 for the lead and eventual win.

    Tanner Thorson put tremendous pressure on Becker over the last 14 laps with Cox and Hirst just a bit behind the lead duo. The main turned into one of the best of the year, obviously the result of track prep preceding the 35 lapper.

    Saturday’s podium was Becker, Tanner Thorson, and Cox so the “substitute” driver for TK was the only person to make the podium both nights. Becker’s win kept a steak going of winning a main event at Placerville for 12 consecutive years. It took until the last race of 2018 to continue the streak, but it was worth it when he won $7,600 when contingencies were included.

    It’s hard to realize the quarter mile up in the foothills is done for the year, but finishing with a pair of specials really puts the icing on the cake.

    Next weekend it is Silver Dollar Speedway’s turn when the Fall Nationals takes the stage on Friday and Saturday. Winged 360s will be joined by the Northwest Focus Midget Series. Racing both nights, the Focus series will present shows as part of their Summer Challenge Series.

    A large field of Focus Midgets will make long tows as most of the teams are based in Washington. Last year their support of the Fall Nationals was excellent and the drivers did a great job, ready when needed, and racing with minimal delays.

    Weather forecast is excellent, strong fields of both divisions are certain, and Silver Dollar Speedway will have the opportunity to close their season and match the racing from this weekend’s Placerville SCCT shows.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Use whatever measuring tool you wish, there is no question the 49er Gold Rush Classic was a complete success. The Wednesday night show at Placerville Speedway had great weather, a huge crowd, the right number of sprint cars for a timely midweek show, and a very good main to top the evening.

    Postponed from March due to weather, the September date seems wiser as March in Northern California is iffy on rain at best. Nearly 1900 feet above sea level, the foothill location is even more prone to rain in March than is the Sacramento Valley.

    Additional seating is moved into the pit area to accommodate additional fans that lack the valuable main grandstands ticket. Last’s year event had so many people that seating ran out and standing or sitting on the ground was the option. The section I was in nearly had a fight break out over seating space.

    Moving around was hampered by a crowd that made it feel like being on a jammed New York City subway car. That was very nicely addressed this year with much more seating in the elevated pit with additional temporary grandstands.

    Placerville Speedway’s elevated pit area makes the area between turns 3 and 4 a great viewing spot and the temporary stands took full advantage of that terrain. Last year by mid-afternoon finding a seating spot in the pit area was a challenge, but this time there was plenty to choose from.

    The event is a co-sanctioning effort between Brad Sweet and the World of Outlaws. It has been a big success each year with such large crowds that the one could wonder how a two day event would pan out.

    Andy Forsberg continued his successful September racing in the Golden State by earning $2000 for fast time, double the payout over a traveling regular being quickest. That added drama to qualifying and the Auburn veteran’s mid-pack pill draw worked well.

    Set at 49 laps on the quarter mile, the main paid $20,000 to win, $6000 for 2nd, and $3750 to fill the podium. The green flew at 9:34 and 27 minutes later Sweet had won his own event with Sheldon Haudenschild and Forsberg completing the top three.

    Rico Abreu was very strong from the start but a turn 4 bobble up by the cushion allowed Sweet to take a lead he would not relinquish. Abreu’s luck went further south when his steering failed later and he salvaged an 18th place finish.

    With Abreu out of the picture, Sheldon Haudenschild took up the chase, putting intense pressure on Sweet but not quite able to grab the lead.

    It was exactly the type of main event one would hope to see on the Placerville clay. Sweet had to deal with lots of traffic and being a Grass Valley native makes him a local favorite. I’m sure fans went home happy with the show and that is the most important result of the 49er Gold Rush Classic.

    Sweet was the 2nd driver to win his own event this month in California. Can you name the other driver and event?

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Enjoying the first two nights of Chico’s Gold Cup event showcased the best main event I have seen in one division and the inaugural Platinum Cup. Three varieties of sprint cars over the two evenings preceded the two nights of WoO racing, which were dominated by California cars like never before.

    Wednesday was Civil War night for winged 360s and also a point race for the nonwing spec sprints following the Hunt Magneto Series. Fields of 46 wings and 19 nonwing with everyone qualifying helped push the finish close to curfew.

    Tenth starting Casey McClain took the win after an exciting finish for the best spec sprint main I have ever seen. Usually the Chico surface is still tacky for weekly spec sprint racing, but this time it was perfect for the nonwing series.

    Sliders, passing, and 9 lead changes over the 25 laps made this one very difficult to match. Geoff Ensign, Jake Morgan, Shawn Jones, Nick Larson, and finally Casey McClain all has turns in the lead, some with multiple turns. McClain used the bottom of turn 4 on lap 24 to squeeze past for the lead and win to settle the very competitive main. Ensign and Jones filled the podium.

    The Civil War 30 lapper followed but quickly created a tire eating track, so much that a yellow with 16 remaining showed tire wear to the point that a parade of flats could have easily followed.

    Luckily, such was not the case and Tim Kaeding led all 30 laps for the win. Tanner Thorson was right on Kaeding’s tail for 27 laps but a yellow with 3 left gave TK a chance to peek at his left rear. He noted it was in decent shape, so he turned up the wick on the restart and pulled away from Thorson. Following Kaeding across the line were Thorson and Mason Moore.

    Thursday saw 45 winged 360s and 24 nonwing USAC/CRA sprints with the wings competing in the first ever Platinum Cup. Using the format from the outlaw kart track, Cycleland Speedway located just south of Chico, it made for an interesting evening.

    The fastest six qualifiers ran a dash, no heat race for them, to set rows 3-5 in the main event. Heats were straight up by time and moved the four winners to the first two rows of the main.

    Cory Eliason took the lead on lap 14 and went on to collect the win over Tim Kaeding and Bud Kaeding, who started 10th. The track the winged drivers saw was much racier than the night before. Extra hot laps led to a 8 pm first heat, but everyone was on the ball and the night ended just before curfew.

    USAC/CRA ran on a track that needed to be a bit drier, but had an eventful main anyway. Chase Johnson led a pair before Damion Gardner took over. One would expect that to settle the matter, but Gardner flipped on lap 10 and Colby Copeland inherited the lead.

    Coming out of turn 4 to complete lap 29, Copeland got slightly out of shape to allow Johnson to regain the lead and take the win. Brody Roa made it a bit worse for Copeland by making a last lap pass to finish 2nd. An interesting main but one lacking in sliders, something that makes any race more fun to watch.

    With Saturday a must trip to Hanford for the final USAC/CRA race of the series, Friday was spent watching micro sprints at Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia, just a short drive east of Hanford.

    It was a King of California weekend with Saturday racing at Lemoore Raceway. This series pays a bit more and has separate points totals with champions being named after the 16 race schedule. Four races at each track with Delta and Dixon to the north joining Visalia and Lemoore to the south.

    The restricted main was the best with Corey Day winning after Brandt Twitty led the first 19 laps. A smooth night of racing was over before 10 pm on a warm night at the Plaza Park facility.

    Saturday saw another best ever main I have seen when the RACEsaver sprints put on an excellent main at Kings Speedway in Hanford. Their 21 car field had Blake Robertson starting 5th. Whenever I see a RACEsaver main with BR involved, it is usually not will he win but what lap will he take over the race.

    This time it was just two turns after the green fell as he led out of turn 2 on lap one. However, a yellow flew and it was do it again, changing what might have been a runaway win for Robertson to a very competitive main.

    Robertson did win, but it took until lap 22 to get the lead. Position battles, sliders, and some very good racing on a perfect surface for the 305 cubic inch engines made it easily the best RACEsaver main I have seen in California. It was good enough to rival Eagle Raceway for top tier RACEsaver racing.

    Jerome Warmerdam led 21 laps, putting on a show with his battling Robertson, before fading to 4th while Grant Duinkerken and Zane Blanchard shared the podium. Blanchard started 13th.

    The USAC/CRA main was a somewhat dusty but turn 4 delivered its usual supply of sliders and passing. The top edge leaving turn 2 played a huge part in the outcome, getting in the way of two drivers plans for the win.

    Brody Roa led the first five laps before getting up into the cushion leaving turn 2 to allow eventual winner, Jace Vander Weerd to take the lead. Damion Gardner hit the same piece of clay on lap 27 to slow his charge to a possible pass to take the lead.

    Vander Weerd’s win came after leading Gardner and Danny Faria, Jr. to the line while Roa, the speedweek high point car, settled for 4th.

    Hanford was so good that it is already on my schedule for next year’s September USAC/CRA return. The newly reshaped track over off-season again proved to be ticket to excellent racing at the fairgrounds oval.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Last Saturday Marysville Raceway ran their last point show with 18 winged 360s on hand plus 3 other divisions. The smooth evening went particularly well for two drivers, Colby Weisz and Mike Monahan.

    Weisz redrew the front row and used that spot to lead the entire 25 laps, collecting his almost 60th career win. Even his pit area differed on the total Marysville win number, but closing in on 60 covers it.

    Monahan won the track title, besting Kenny Allen by 7 points while Jeremy Hawes settled for 3rd. Marysville had 3 race nights before sprints return on the last Saturday in October.

    Sunday was off to Stockton for the finals of a two day micro sprint show at Delta Speedway. The fairgrounds oval drew 85 cars in 4 divisions as micro sprint racing in California is strong. Dixon and Delta in the Sacramento area along with Plaza Park and Lemoore to the south run cooperative schedules.

    The restricted main went to Caeden Steele and Nikko Panella won a career first super 600 main event. The nonwing group had an excellent main with several drivers racing for the win together. TJ Smith won after sliders and lead changes showcased the nonwing micro sprint division.

    Monday a trip to Petaluma offered USAC/CRA nonwing sprints with 21 cars along with enough super stocks and modifieds to put on a show without drawing out the event. A strict curfew at the fairgrounds 3/8 made the chilly evening end before 10 pm.

    Ryan Bernal held off Austin Williams over the last few laps to record the win. Williams had worked hard to get past Danny Faria Jr., the eventual 3rd place car, to reach Bernal.

    Petaluma had 3 races left, two featuring nonwing racing with the spec sprints. October 6 is a winged 360 special, the Adobe Cup, along with the Bob McCoy Memorial open show for super stocks. Three of the group of winged 360 sprint cars that are entered in the 25th Annual Trophy Cup without an assigned driver have now reached an agreement with nationally known stars.

    Alan Bradway and Steve Tuccelli own two cars entered in the $200,000 event and have named Parker Price-Miller as driver of the X1 entry. No decision as yet on their X1jr ride, but it is expected to be decided soon.

    Price-Miller raced in the Trophy Cup in 2015 and states he is “really excited to come to the Trophy Cup. Can’t thank F and F Racing enough for giving me an opportunity. With not having a full time ride I am open to any races and luckily I had that weekend open.”

    Willie Kahne’s driver is also making a 2nd appearance in the Cup. It will be an Enumclaw, Washington and Clute, Texas team when Aaron Reutzel straps into the number 51 ride at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway in October. Reutzel is currently the point leader in the All-Star series with 8 wins in that

    Tim Shaffer will join Freddie Rahmer Jr in representing the Keystone State for this year’s event. Shaffer will wheel the Larry Moles Racing 01 car to add yet another top tier driver from the All-Star series. Currently Shaffer has four All-Star wins, matching 2nd in points Carson Macedo, another Trophy Cup entrant.

    I have yet to talk with anyone who thinks the 360 sprint rule is a good idea.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…If winning two track titles on consecutive nights makes for a good weekend, then Andy Forsberg had just that. His 4th title at Chico on Friday also meant he is the first winged 360 track champion, and he was also last year’s champion. That makes him the last 410 track champion.

    As if that was not enough, he won the main event at Placerville on Saturday, escaping with side panel damage on his top wing after a mid-race meeting with a flipping lapper in turn 2.

    Although there is one point race left at Placerville, Forsbeg’s once small lead in points has expanded to where he has already clinched that title. That makes 20 championships between tracks and traveling series.

    Not qualifying particularly well both nights, Forsberg missed the Chico redraw but so did his title competition, Mason Moore. Forsberg went from 10th starting to 5th to finishing ahead of Moore for the initial 360 sprint season.

    Tanner Carrick made a power move with 3 laps to go, driving past Shane Golobic on the high side to win his first ever sprint main on Friday. The next night he chased Forsberg for half the race until getting caught in the mess that did a number on Forsberg’s wing.

    Claiming the Placerville win meant the weekend scoreboard shows two titles, one win, and a 5th. As a bonus the Moore family left another trophy in bottled form in Forsberg’s truck to congratulate his success. That was a classy gesture by the Moore team.

    A couple of 10 pm finishes, great weather, and some good racing at both tracks made for a successful weekend.

    Both tracks are off next weekend, Placerville continues staying dark the following weekend also. Chico will be getting ready for Gold Cup with four nights of racing starting September 5th while Placerville resumes on the 12th with the rescheduled WoO race.

    Three days following that Placerville runs one more point show before the 21st and 22nd of September offer back to back Sprint Car Challenge Tour events at the foothill quarter. That two night deal will close their season.

    Marysville Raceway is back in action this coming Saturday with their featured winged sprint division continuing probably a two man battle. Mike Monahan leads Kenny Allen by 13 points as their season nears conclusion.

    At Petaluma Jake Haulot leads Brett Rollag by a single point in their winged 360 division. Colby Johnson is also within reach if that door should open. Labor Day is special for Petaluma as they have the USAC-CRA sprint cars as their first of the final four events.

    Petaluma promoter, Rick Faeth, recently received a four year extension on his contract. That is particularly good news as the track has had more than its share of talk of being closed. The shopping center across the street may not be thrilled, but the track was there many years before any store.

    There are few things you can absolutely count on but here is one. The Trophy Cup will never adopt that 360 spin rule.



     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It was a big three days for Tanner Thorson, and it not for running into a spun car at Placerville, it could have been bigger.

    Thursday at Bristol he raced a truck, somehow got to Chico by Friday afternoon, and led the last 15 laps to win the Tyler Wolf Memorial. A rare appearance by winged 410s at Chico drew a 16-car field for the special race. Thorson took the lead when Kyle Hirst slid off the turn 4 exit to win over Sean Becker and Bud Kaeding.

    A slim 7-car field of nonwing spec sprints was still able to present an entertaining main, especially due to the work of Casey McClain. The Palo Cedro driver used outside and inside passes to get the lead and win. His Palo Cedro home is 3 miles from where one of the wildfires was raging in July.

    Tony Richards claimed the track nonwing spec sprint title. Richards formerly lived in San Jose and was a regular in the winged 360 division at San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway.

    A possible $5000 win at Placerville eluded Thorson after just 5 laps of the 25 lapper when a car spun between turns 3 and 4 and Thorson turned into turn 3 and had no time to avoid. He restarted at the back and raced to a 3rd, putting on an interesting duel with Hirst for 2nd as laps reached 25.

    Justyn Cox raced to the win from 7th starting on one of the raciest tracks of the year in Placerville. Earlier dust issues during the evening lessened for the sprint main and the dry, slick surface provided some excellent action.

    This was the Mark Forni Classic and the largest paying point race of the season with the $5000 to win sprint offer. A mostly clean sprint race finished 4 minutes before curfew, a situation that did not need to happen.

    It would have been very disappointing if the race had been cut short, although continuing a few minutes past curfew might have been an option. With 28 sprints, 27 dwarf cars, 14 limited late models, and 12 pure stocks there were plenty of cars on hand plus needed track tune-ups also ate some time.

    But unnecessary yellows and letting four dwarf heats start the night with a yellow filled mess consuming 35 minutes did plenty of time management damage. Yes, dwarf car drivers pay to race also, but those heats begged for a yellow/checker. A quickly run pure stock main might have saved the night.

    On the plus side, the sprint main had what turned into an excellent surface to run on and watching groups of cars throw sliders on each other made for a very fun race to watch. Placerville’s quarter is not a particularly wide track, but it raced wide last Saturday.

    Chico has its final point show next Friday followed by special event racing in September. The Gold Cup fills 4 nights from the 5th to the 8th and the long running Fall Nationals ends the season on the 28th and 29th.

    Placerville has a pair of point shows remaining, next Saturday and the 15th of next month. Their special event list shows the rescheduled from March Brad Sweet Outlaw race on the 12th and a two day Sprint Car Challenge tour event on the 21st and 22nd in September.

    Tanner Thorson driving the Clyde Lamar 3C this year makes this pairing a contender to win the Trophy Cup championship in two months. The 25th Annual has 101 entrants and as strong a field as any prior year.

    Chasing $200,000 over the three day period will likely draw some interesting names to compete in one of the 19 entered cars with the driver TBA. Every car that raced last year and earned an entry to this year’s event has officially entered the race.

    Additional cars to reach the 101 total come from allowing entries from drivers that would have raced last year except for injury or dealing with the huge Santa Rosa fire. Three promoter options then completed the list.

    Next year the entry cap will be 110 with all those who race this year getting a priority invitation to race in 2019. Once the deadline to submit the entry has passed, then waiting list teams will be used to reach the 110 figure.

    This year is $25,000 to win the Cup title, next year will be $26,000, then $27,000 and continuing. To make the Saturday A main this year will guarantee the 24 drivers at least $5000 total payout for the three days. Many will earn well above that figure.

    Support from Kevin Rudeen, Rico Abreu Racing, and the continued exceptional support from track promoter Steve Faria, have helped lead to the increased purse, up $65,000 from last year. In turn, the Trophy Cup will continue to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation as the total amount donated by the Cup is approaching the $2 million.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A four week trip resulted in a stretch of 22 races in 24 days spread over six states. During that time several 360 sprint car sanctions were part of the evening’s menu. They were KOW (King of the Wing), URSS (United Rebel Sprint Series), MSTS (Midwest Sprint Touring Series), UMSS (Upper Midwest Sprint Series), ASCS (American Sprint Car Series), Sprint Invaders, and IMCA (International Motor Contest Association). The IMCA sprints are Racesaver 305 powered as are the URSS entries. The correct spelling of Racesaver remains a mystery as it can be found as RaceSaver in the same paragraph on their web site.

    KOW was first at Colorado National Speedway on the trip opener. A 19 car field on the 3/8 paved oval were led to the line by Chowchilla, CA driver, Eric Humphries. Speeds were impressive and a good main with entertaining racing among the top 3 were enjoyed.

    CNS is one of the tracks that understands they are in the entertainment business. The intermission was enjoyable as a variety of street vehicles ran a series of two at a time side by side races. Fans really were into the intermission activity.

    Next up the following night was at North Platte, NE for the URSS 18 car turnout for a series based in Oberlin, KS. The evening started with 5 makeup mains for IMCA track divisions, plus a complete show after that. By the time the URSS main took the green, the track was a one groove deal for the Tyler Knight win.

    A few days later a Thursday race at Sioux Speedway in Sioux Center, IA drew 21 MSTS winged 360s for a race night that is apparently the last one for the half mile. The city only allowed the track to race twice a year and when they sold the land outside turns 3 and 4, the needed buffer zone separating the track and an athletic complex was eliminated. Greg Bakker won the last race ever in Sioux Center.

    Two days later an UMSS race at Cedar Lake Speedway in western Wisconsin had an exceptional main event for the winged group. Sanctioning both wing and nonwing, UMSS drew 19 winged and 24 nonwing at the quarter mile. The nonwing main was taken by Brad Peterson before the winged teams put on a great show.

    Running the wall, the low groove, or in between the UMSS drivers presented one of the most exciting mains I’ve seen in a long time. Jamey Ogston took the trophy home with him to Duluth, MN following 25 laps of dramatic racing. Ogston’s winning pass was the 4th lead change after he used the top line in turns 3 and 4 to lead the last six laps.

    A rare Monday opportunity at Aberdeen, SD came when the track ran both Lucas Oil series on back to back nights. The ASCS national race preceded the late models the next night. Some good action preceded the track taking rubber and Matt Covington took the win. A 17 car field was on hand for the unusual Monday event.

    The next night MSTS provided the top division at the Rapids Speedway fair race. The 3/8 located in Rock Rapids, IA is very wide and the 22 car field used much of the space. Lee Grosz held off Jack Dover for the win with only 2 Iowa cars in the South Dakota dominated field.

    It was a few days before another dose of winged 360 racing was viewed, this time the Sprint Invaders at Dubuque. The race was free with admission to the fair and marked our return to the eastern edge of Iowa track after around 20 years.

    California was represented by Dominic Scelzi and car owner Harley Van Dyke's 5H entry with Sammy Walsh at the wheel. Those two had some sterling laps in the main before Scelzi took over following a low turn 4 pass on Bill Balog. Scelzi has now won this race on consecutive years and was obviously the fastest car on the very race 3/8.

    The final race that featured sprints was the obligatory return to Eagle Raceway, east of Lincoln NE. Track promoter and owner, Roger Hadan, was very unhappy with his race surface this night after overnight rain made track prep an issue. The show was still better than 90% of what I see elsewhere.

    A 139 car turnout in five IMCA divisions had 28 Racesavers. One of the most efficicient tracks I have ever visited, the races started 10 minutes early and finished before 10 pm to beat the approaching rain. There was a low line and an upper one, but in between was roughness and a challenging surface.

    Nick Bryan was pressured by 15th starting Tyler Drueke but collected the $700 win. Racesavers pay $250 to start as their purse is spread more evenly down the line than many series offer.

    Back home in Northern California after 4 weeks and still adjusting to two time zones difference, August opened with a return to Chico and Placerville for weekly shows. Both tracks finished shortly after 9:30 and both wins went to Andy Forsberg.

    Chico saw a good battle between Forsberg and Tanner Thorson with the latter finishing 2nd ahead of Mason Moore. Moore trails Forsberg by just 3 points with Kalib Henry still within distance. Chico drew 17 winged 360s.

    Placerville had a 24 car field and Billy Wallace led until Forsberg threw a big slider in turn 3, sliding up to and banging the cushion in turn 4, before driving down the front stretch with the lead and eventual win. Forsberg also leads Placerville points by a bigger margin than Chico with Tony Gualda and Jimmy Trulli the major contenders.

    Jake Morgan took care of business in the 10 car nonwing spec sprint field to record the win. The division returns next Saturday, hopefully with a few more cars.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A pair of special winged 360 nights filled June’s 3rd weekend nicely, accompanied by warm, but not overly so, evenings. A heat wave will dominate the next 10 days, peaking at a predicted 106 Saturday in Lincoln. At least it is a dry heat, for what that is worth.

    Friday Silver Dollar Speedway presented the 6th Annual David Tarter Memorial with a strong 24-car field on hand, assisted by 10 spec sprints plus two fendered divisions. Excellent track conditions continued the trend of the Chico track as the wider oval makes for significantly better action.

    The 35 lap main, the distance matching the nuber of the car that David Tarter drove, went south for Willie Croft after 13 laps in the lead. Contact as he raced towards turn 1 ended his night and elevated Sean Becker into the lead.

    That only lasted a lap before Becker got just a little sideways at the top of turn 4, scrubbed off speed, and Kyle Hirst pounced on the opportunity to take over. Eighth starting Hirst led the rest of the way for the $3500 win.

    Hirst is somewhat of a specialist at this race, now having won 4 of the 6 mains. Colby Copeland and Andy Forsberg had an entertaining battle for 2nd, a spot Copeland took with a late race pass. The largest point race crowd I have seen in a very long time enjoyed the action.

    The following night was special in that it was the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour event at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford, CA. How good a show did the 43-car turnout of winged 360s put on? Let’s just say after the heats I was checking for the next time I would make it to Hanford.

    The track was dramatically widened for this season, and with a somewhat dry surface for heats, it was sliders and passing like I have not seen in heat races for many years. The crowd was cheering and very obviously enjoying the superb heat race action, not to mention the 4 and a time or two 5 wide racing coming out of turn 4.

    Hanford’s crowd was also very large but they will not have many chances to enjoy more of the newly shaped track as hot weather coming means fewer events. One upcoming special is in October when SCCT is back along with KWS-NARC winged 410s and RaceSAvers also. Every winged sprint car flavor is on the menu come October 13.

    Support classes were just the right size with mini stocks and IMCA stock cars doing their thing without undo delays. The track staff was on their A game running the support races and the head SCCT official is my hero of the week.

    Kevin Urton has been the director of competition the 1.5 seasons of the SCCT existence. He made two calls at Hanford that I have never seen made before that were absolutely the right decision.

    The first was when a car did not go to the work area directly but chose to make a lap around the 3/8 instead. The result was no courtesy lap was allowed once the car did find the work area. Delay of game, if you will, or of race in this case.

    The 2nd ruling was even more appreciated. How many times have fans watched a car slide off the track, drive back onto the oval, and proceed to stop in order to draw a yellow? A very frustrating maneuver for all concerned and it was so neat to have an official not let it go.

    My vote for best official decision of 2018 resulted from Urton giving the driver a DQ for intentionally delaying the race! I have seen that call not made hundreds of times over the years and Urton gets the honor of being the first I have seen to make what is a much needed decision.

    After some great heat racing, the track began to show some wear and tear, particularly holes and ruts in places. The 30 lap main was mostly a dive to the bottom of turns 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 were very racy with three grooves available.

    A dash win put D. J. Netto on the pole alongside Willie Croft. Netto, a Hanford resident, certainly was the crowd favorite and led 14 laps before 4th starting Colby Copeland got under Netto coming out of turn 4 to lead.

    Copeland’s time as leader lasted until there were 6 laps left when Netto returned the mid-track turn 4 favor and led the remaining laps. Second was not settled until Justyn Cox used a low line turn 4 pass to take the runner-up spot on lap 26 with Copeland settling for 3rd.

    The point standings will be remodeled after the Hanford race as incoming leader Kyle Hirst was a DNF and 21st, 2nd place Shane Golobic was not on hand, 3rd place Tim Kaeding finished 10th, 4th place Willie Croft was 23rd and a DNF, and 5th place Andy Forsberg was 24th and an early DNF with ignition issues.
    That leaves incoming 6th place Copeland as one who stands to jump forward in the point standings with his podium night.

    The next SCCT race is a huge deal, at Placerville Speedway with the KWS-NARC series also racing at the foothill oval. June 30th is the date for one of the biggest shows in Placerville history. One night later, July is introduced with the SCCT teams traveling to Petaluma Speedway, making for a big Northern California weekend.

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Andy Forsberg had a very successful 2nd weekend of June, winning a pair of winged 360 mains. Friday at Silver Dollar Speedway he set his career 40th quick time and later collected a 52nd career win in Chico. The following night it was a career 55th win at Placerville to close on the point lead, an honor he already holds in Chico.

    Placerville has only run four point shows for winged 360s as two rainouts, nights without the division, and off nights have all played a part. Jimmy Trulli was in the point lead before June 9 action, partly due to his win the week prior.

    Forsberg had to deal with a recent high school graduate, Tony Gualda, on the Placerville racy quarter mile for much of the 25 lap distance. Gualda drove under Forsberg on lap 14 as they entered turn 3, but lost the lead back on the backstretch following a lap 15 restart.

    Leading the last 11 laps, Forsberg put some space between himself and 2nd to win over Gualda and Sean Becker. A flock of yellows with a red added in the earlier part of the main led to a rare fuel stop. Gualda’s ride is housed here in Lincoln and the Hollister resident in considering a move here.

    Placerville’s four point races for winged 360s have averaged a fraction under 21 cars with a weekly strong field making every race a very competitive night. The track is idle next week while the track’s promoters, Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, will be in Hanford along with their Sprint Car Challenge Tour.

    The North American 360 Sprint Car Poll named Scott and Kami Promoter of the Year after their efforts at creating the Sprint Car Challenge Tour last year. Considering they had no promotion experience before taking over Placerville, the honor is even more special.

    Chico’s Friday win for the Auburn based veteran saw him facing some serious pressure from Sean Becker as the laps ticked off. A yellow with four laps remaining came when traffic and a closing Becker threatened that 52nd career win. A clear track and restart advantage led to a Forsberg, Becker, and Jake Wheeler finish.

    Silver Dollar Speedway switched from winged 410s to 360s this year for their point show top division. It has been a remarkable success with an average of just over 28 cars a night after some weeks of single digit 410 turnouts in prior years.

    Another change that is working very well is cutting the berm over 10 feet in and getting rid of the large tires. The tall berm takes care of any thought of putting the left front into the infield and racing seems to have improved with the wider track.

    Chico and Marysville, just 45 minutes south, make for a busy weekend for promoter Dennis Gage. Some weekends a bonus is paid at Marysville on Saturday if that driver was at Chico on Friday. Marysville draws fewer cars but still gets a full main event number most of the time.

    What has not worked is the RaceSaver sprint car class, new this year at Marysville with a limited schedule. Unfortunately, the turnout has been very limited with three being the largest crowd to date. Marysville does still pay $600 to win and $300 for 2nd, remarkable payout for such a low turnout.

    Gage has been told that 7 RaceSaver engines have been sold to buyers north of Sacramento, so hopefully the future will see an increase. The track is committed to giving it time and at this point Gage notes he has no plans to drop RaceSavers.

    These three Sacramento area tracks plus successful winged 360 programs at Ocean Speedway and Petaluma Speedway offer teams options for both their Friday and Saturday racing adventures.

     

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A recent column written by well-traveled announcer, Ben Shelton, absolutely hit the nail on the head. His take on short track racing woes is that the lack of time management leads to a track being its own worst enemy.

    Along with overly long shows and how much tracks violate their own time schedule, matters are often made worse by running the top division last, sometimes after midnight.

    Although the Southeast part of the county has not been visited by us, reading the reports on the trackchaser website (roamingtheraceways.com) about some of the tracks from that area are mind-boggling. Some of them suffer from complete lack of organization and time management such that they could be prime examples of how not to do it.

    Our thinking eventually turned to the thought, what track has stood out as a prime example of how to do it right? While many tracks that we have not been to may qualify, one that has been attended on multiple occasions stands out as a perfect example of how a weekly short track racing program should be presented.

    Eagle Raceway.

    The third mile dirt track located just east of Eagle, Nebraska (population just over 1,000) has been the site of 5 or so enjoyable visits for us over the years, but one stands out in particular. July 16, 2016 we saw the perfect Saturday night weekly racing program at Eagle.

    The visit prior to 2016 was also excellent, except for a night ending decision that left us with less than a warm glow towards Eagle, although briefly. The night’s final main, the RaceSaver sprints, was getting really good when a yellow with 5 or so laps to go was needed.

    The problem? That was followed by the checkered flag! It was only 10:35 and they threw a yellow checker? The reason was every race at Eagle is on the clock and when time has expired, it is over at the next stoppage. Our respect for having and enforcing that rule erased the frustration of the shortened race. How much we wish all tracks used such a simple rule, each race gets a certain number of minutes and when time is up, the next yellow ends the race.

    Eagle has a policy that any main that goes nonstop, the drivers get in free the next time. At the drivers’ meeting on that 2016 night, it was stated that nine times it had occurred that season. That number jumped by evening’s end when 3 of 5 divisions had nonstop main events.

    A cluster of cars in all five divisions raced at the front for the win, creating a wonderfully entertaining night. Start time is listed as 6:30, but this is Eagle and they started 5 minutes early. A field of 139 cars ran heats in 78 minutes and cars that cause contact pay the price.

    Eagle’s officiating is exceptional, no hint of rough driving is tolerated, and the flagman is outstanding, throwing a yellow only as a last resort. The IMCA rule of cause a yellow in a heat race and you are done is one of the best rules in racing. Eagle makes it even better by enforcing the rough driving rule.

    The entire show took 3:16 with 16 minutes of that used for an intermission. This was done even with each main having a trophy presentation before the next race came on the track. A $100 bonus went to the driver with the best winning celebration, a clever and inexpensive way to add entertainment to the evening.

    Eagle uses two announcers, often a recipe for audio disaster, but not so at this track. The pair stick to being informative with a touch of humor, without any trite chatter. They were entertaining without trying to be so and it works very well.

    Not insignificant is the concession setup. Many tracks have long lines due to a lack of windows. Eagle has multiple locations with additional satellite booths that serve a limited number of items. Obviously some thought went into their concession arrangement to serve the fans efficiently.

    The track understands that they are in the entertainment business. Owner Roger Haden has assembled a staff that makes the very nice facility into a showcase for short track racing.

    When is comes to efficiency, Northern California has a very on target race director in Mike Andretta. Listening to him on a scanner reveals how Andretta is always thinking ahead to avoid delays between races. When he is running the show, a no time wasted policy is in effect. There is a reason why Andretta is the only race director the Trophy Cup has ever had.

    While Ben Shelton’s comments are unfortunately accurate, we hope he can some day spend a Saturday evening at Eagle Raceway and enjoy a track that does it right!

     

     

    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Gunslingers Debut In Stockton

    Lincoln, CA…The new winged sprint pavement series made its initial appearance at Stockton 99 Speedway on May 12, the first of four events at the high-banked quarter mile. Track promoter Tony Noceti offers a once a month Gunslinger Sprint Cars show plus a special two-day season ending event for the traveling King of the Wing series.

    AJ Russell is one of the people behind the formation of the Gunslingers with his extensive background in pavement racing prompting the effort. He wanted California have a pavement sprint series so a sanctioning body was formed.

    The opening race had 11 entries as some hopefuls were not ready, and Eric Humphries took the win. Part of each show is the Man of Steele Dash, a tribute to the memory of David Steele. Engines are a mix of 360s and restricted 410s with about 20 drivers expected to compete this year.

    Russell has been a pavement racer since age 6 in a quarter midget other than a three-year stretch on dirt at Plaza Park Raceway in a micro sprint. The 35 year old Fresno resident ran trucks at Madera Speedway at age 16, a super modified at Mesa Marin near Bakersfield at age 19, and an Indy Light race at Homestead, FL at age 25.

    Spending time as part of an Indy car team allowed him to become familiar with the genre while his driving time was with supermodifieds, including a big win in North Carolina. Racing in the east led to his first sprint car race at the ultra high speed Salem Speedway in Indiana.

    That race led to moving towards sprint cars as he realized not only were supermodifieds dropping in numbers, but the sprint cars were easier to work on than a super. Sprint car parts could be purchased and bolted on while supermodifieds required fabrication in most cases.

    Russell eventually returned to California and thought about racing sprints on dirt, but felt it carried a higher risk of tearing things up. He traded a Kasey Kahne dirt sprint for a Tony Hunt paved version and eventually put in the hours necessary to create the Gunslingers.

    Noceti is fully behind the series and a unique arrangement where the sprint car purse is a percent of the front gate makes it a safer promotional decision. An October set of races in California for King of the Wing will give the Gunslinger teams additional races at Irwindale, Kern County, and Stockton.

    Russell has accumulated a large number of contingency sponsors and expects this first conservative season to serve as a platform for expansion of the schedule next year. A year-end banquet is planned, something he felt important to close their initial season.

    Working in the field of home automation, Russell helps build smart homes. Smart could also describe the approach he has taken with the Gunslinger series.

     

     



A Hosehead Production

Copyright © 2023 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers, writers or webmaster.

Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042