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Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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There have certainly been some interesting things to talk about in the Jefferson area throughout the 2019 season. It all started back in January with the race at Orland Raceway. After the devastating fires they had in Paradise in 2018, people got together to make a fundraising race for the fire victims. It had been hoped that something might come to pass before 2019, but the date was set in January. Everything was paid for, and that meant that all of the proceeds would go to the fire victims.
There was just one problem. Rain hit, and it hit hard. Promoter Rich Hood hoped to give the fans a show, but it was obvious that the race track would be in no condition. Still, Hood did not pull the plug on this event. They meant to raise funds, and that's exactly what they did. Some of the teams that might have come out to support a race opted to stay home. It was raining the day of the scheduled race, and they did indeed put cars on the track. They didn't race them, but the announcer talked about the drivers as they were on the track.
It was interesting in itself to watch these drivers trying to negotiate the soaked racing surface. Over $4,000 was raised from this event, but there was a negative backlash that came from it. People were contending that they should have postponed it so that an actual race could be held. However, there were other things that factored into this decision. When you've got everything paid for on a particular date and it might cost you to postpone it, you do what you feel is best. The other alternative might have been to cancel the idea completely, So Hood tried to make the best of a difficult situation.
What's interesting is that Hood has continued to oversee much progress at the 1/5 mile Glenn County Fairgrounds-based racing facility since taking over in April of 2016. At that point, the program might have been dead, but Hood kept with the basics. He didn't deviate from the divisions people have come to expect from Orland through the years, and as things have gotten better, he has continued to add to that. There were no Wingless Spec Sprints in his first year, though the division had a history there. He added the division in 2017. He added visits from the B Modifieds, Dwarf Cars and Crate Sprints in the years that followed and established some big events.
Orland Raceway has a solid Pure Stock division, and there are some very fast competitors that call this track their home. Though Wes Smock and Kevin Pendergrass seemed to be the drivers to beat during the second half of the season, it was a battle between Phil Spencer and multi-time Mini Truck champion Keith Ross for that title throughout the season. Spencer did just a little bit better when it counted down the stretch and would beat Ross for the title by a very slim margin. Past champions Steve Martin and Paul Stephens also represented well in the Top 5.
Though the biggest car count of the season took place in the Pure Stocks, Orland saw a growth spurt in the Wingless Spec Sprint class as well. Perhaps this was aided by the surprising decision by Silver Dollar Speedway to discontinue their own class. Past Chico and Orland champion Tony Richards returned to his home track and promptly dominated things. There was just one problem. Richards had mechanical issues at the season opener and failed to start. The consistent Denny McNary finished in the Top 5 in almost every Main Event. Though Richards won most of the Main Events, McNary still held him off for the championship. 2018 point runner-up RJ Baker, rookie Jeremy Langenderfer and Cort Marchuk also performed well this season. With 10 to a dozen cars at most races, this proved to be a very entertaining show as well.
The Mini Truck division has a lineage at Orland going back to the 1990s, and it's often very exciting and full of contact. Dan Webster has managed to hang around the scene for several years as most of the other top stars have moved on. Not surprisingly, the 2016 champion won multiple Main Events as did his son Zack Webster. However, the battle turned out to be between Kalvin Kvalvik and William Fogle. Kvalvik showed much improvement this season and won multiple Main Events. Fogle surprised by skipping a race to go to Hayfork, where he picked up his first feature win. His absence from that event could very well have cost him in the Orland championship chase as he settled for second behind Kvalvik.
Tom Davis carried such a big experience advantage over the rest of the competition in the Mini Stocks that he dominated the show. Only twice did he get beat on the track for Main Event glory, and he won the championship by over 100 points. Davis also won multiple Main Events at Susanville and was a winner in Hayfork as well. Past champion John Kirkpatrick, Jason Libbee and Barbara Crain were there to try to evict Davis from the winner's circle. It was particularly nice to see Crain back behind the wheel after her husband, future Orland Raceway Hall of Famer Olin Crain, passed away.
Orland Raceway continues to offer Micro Sprint racing. With the 250 class, they ran half a season with wings and the other half without, while the 600 class ran wings all season. Though car count did pop a little bit at times, generally three or four cars showed up in either class. Both divisions were started at the track back in 2013 by then Promoter Mike McCann and offer the track a more affordable way to give the fans more open wheel racing. Tyler Rockwell drove one of the Michelet cars to the 600 championship over past champion Jeromie Crismon, while Mike McCarthy held off Ronnie Heyer for the 250 title despite a wicked crash in the point finale.
Though they didn't have a bunch of Dwarf Cars for the group's first visit in years, they did get enough cars to give the fans a good show. The drivers gave the track high marks, and it's hoped that there could be a full-fledged NorCal Dwarf Car Association race on the schedule next year. The track offered two visits from the B Modified class as well as the Crate Sprints this year. This was the second year of B Modified visits, and there has been some speculation about whether Orland could try to run a four-race series and go for an IMCA sanctioning. Four races is the minimum that IMCA would need to make it an official point race in their eyes.
The annual County Fair race, the Thomas Schmitke Memorial race, Kids Bike Night, Fan Appreciation Night and the season-ending Battle Of The Axles highlighted a very entertaining schedule at the track. The Battle Of The Axles this year saw perhaps the most attended race of the season, which is a good indication that Hood is on the right track as he enters his fifth year as promoter.
It's a challenge to promote any race track these days, but to undertake that task with two tracks is even more challenging. Dennis Gage took the helm of Marysville Raceway a few years back when the track was rocked by some controversy that could have closed its gates for good. What he's attempting to do is bring some stability back to the venue while trying to add more attractions for the fans. He's also trying to maintain Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, a place that has been known to host some of the biggest Sprint Car events through the years. Chico just held its 27th Annual Fall Classic event in late September with over 50 cars both nights and wins going to Justyn Cox and Tim Kaeding, respectively.
It's no big surprise to see Winged 360 Sprint Cars featured at both tracks, and they both did pretty well throughout the season. At times, Chico even entered the 30s in car count last season. Championship honors went to Sean Becker for the fifth time at Silver Dollar Speedway, while Michael Ing was this year's Marysville title winner. Becker only won the Chico title by just four points ahead of Kyle Offill. After the season concluded, it was announced that Becker and car owner Dan Menne had parted ways. Undaunted, Becker has continued to run well in another ride in recent weeks and was among the Top 5 drivers on the Sprint Car Challenge Tour
There has been an effort to establish a more entry-level Sprint Car class at both tracks in recent years, and the chosen division was originally the Wingless Spec Sprints. Gage was the one who introduced the concept of the Winged Crate Sprint class. It's introduction about a half dozen years ago resulted in a division of the drivers between the Spec Sprint and Crate Sprint classes. Looking at both divisions only delivering him about a half-dozen cars, Gage made the decision to drop the Spec Sprints at both tracks before this season even began. It was hoped that the Crate Sprint class could reach double-digits by now. Though there were multiple nights in which 10 competitors showed up, the numbers dwindled just a little bit in the closing weeks. Brett Youngman, one of the Spec Sprint drivers in recent seasons, won this year's championship at Marysville.
Hoping to strengthen his IMCA Sport Modified class, Gage introduced the Peachtree Nationals to Marysville in September. They ran for a purse of $1,250 to win on the second night of that event, but conflicting dates at other tracks kept the numbers from being as big as this race truly deserved. Gage knows that the IMCA Sport Modified class is growing each year, and he's hoping to strengthen the numbers in this class in the future. The Chico and Marysville area does have some top caliber drivers in this class, and championship honors went to Todd Cooper in the David Pierce car at Marysville and Matt Micheli at Chico. Scott Savell settled for second in points at both tracks.
Micheli has been a busy man this year as he also fielded a Super Stock/Limited Late Model. He picked up the honors in the Super Stock class at both Marysville and Chico this year. Matt's father, ageless veteran Ken Micheli, managed to hold off Gary Newman for second at Chico. Multi-time Marysville champion George Magenheimer managed to hold off Richard Vander Ploeg for second at Marysville. The biggest challenge they had at Marysville was trying to build some sort of consensus for what this class is. Prior to the season two years ago, Gage elected to remove the wings from these cars. It was hoped that it would promote more visitation from other drivers, and it did. Unfortunately, numbers rarely entered double digits at Marysville or Chico, for that matter. This has caused speculation that this class could be on the chopping block at both tracks if something can't be figured out to reverse the trend.
It's interesting to note that Gage has not hesitated to remove divisions from the roster when he felt it was necessary. For example, Mini Stocks were once a part of both tracks and have since been removed. Chico also had Placerville style Limited Late Models and Dirt Modifieds in recent years, but both classes have also been dropped as well.
Hobby Stock fans can rejoice in the fact that this class has been very strong at Marysville. There were nights during the season when there were 30 cars in the pits for this class alone. There were always double digits with some fast racers in the field. Chico didn't do quite as well, but they continued to field a respectable car count. It was Kyle Allen winning the title at Chico, while Jesse Van Roekel was the Marysville champion after a close battle with Devin Ryan. This division seems to have the best chance at car count increase in the near future.
Weather put a damper on some of the big races at both tracks. In fact, Marysville had to reschedule the season-opening Sherm and Loree Toller Memorial race that was booked for February when rain wiped it out. Even the rescheduled race was run under threatening skies. This was also a Civil War Series Sprint Car race, and when only six cars showed up, it looked like bad news ahead for the Civil War Series. There was some speculation about whether the series still existed, but recent press releases have shed some light on that.
When the Mel Hall Memorial race was rained out at Marysville on Memorial Day, Gage tried to find the right date to reschedule. There was still an interest in keeping this a Civil War race, and the agreed-upon date was this Saturday. Civil War Series Promoter John Prentice seemed to be mum on the whole idea that the 29th season for this group would even crown a champion. In fact, prior to a race that was set to happen at Watsonville, the points were wiped out from the web page. When that race was held, the rescheduled Mel Hall Memorial race was not listed on the Civil War web page. These things were finally cleared up within the last week, and the series will continue. Koen Shaw leads the standings with Kurt Nelson the only driver within striking distance going into the Saturday finale.
There has been some speculation about the future of the Civil War Series, which would enter its 30th season next year. However, based on comments in the recent press release, Dennis Gage remains a supporter of the series. With two tracks to offer dates for this series in 2020, Gage becomes the biggest ally that Prentice has in trying to keep it alive. Furthermore, Marysville also hosted one of Prentice's All Star IMCA Modified Series races, which was won by Ryan McDaniel. Marysville fans don't get to see the full on Modifieds very often, and it's likely that Gage will continue to keep a date on his schedule.
Also part of the Marysville show this weekend will be the Hunt Wingless Spec Sprint Series. They are wrapping up their 10th championship season, and it looks like Jake Morgan will hold on for the championship at this point behind the wheel of the Barry Pries Jr car. He has a 99 point lead over Bryan Sperry owned entry, which is currently driven by Terry Schank Jr. Schank is a three-time champion of the group and only leads Cody Spencer by six points and Scott Chapeta by 15 in a closer race for second. Fans of Wingless Spec Sprint racing know that this is the premiere Spec Sprint effort in Northern California, and a field of anywhere from 15 to 20 cars is anticipated.
While you might not look at what's going on at Marysville or Chico and say they are on some sort of roll or an all-time high, the show continues on at both places. Fans are still getting to see races, and an effort is being made to make both programs better in the years to come. There's much optimism at both venues entering the 2020 season.
When you talk about Mel Hall, you're talking about the man who promoted Ernie Purcell Memorial Speedway for several seasons prior to taking over Marysville Raceway. When he died, one of the more respected promoters in Northern California was lost. It was some 25 years ago when we last saw racing at the Grass Valley track, and there weren't too many people expecting to see a race there again.
Patrick Weger, a member of the NorCal Dwarf Car Association, walked into a fair meeting, made a proposal for a new concept of racing within the arena and left with a unanimous vote by the board to put a race on in October. The arena would host one-on-one Dwarf Car races in an elimination style, though they also had four cars on the track at one point. A good crowd was on hand to watch 14 Dwarf Car competitors. The media was behind this effort and there were lots of members of the community sponsoring the show. Considering the success, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see another arena race held in Grass Valley next year. While we are reluctant to call this race track Ernie Purcell Memorial as it's not the full track, it's still some sort of racing at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley. That's better than nothing.
Siskiyou Golden Speedway had racing in the month of October. The championships had long been decided as the final point race was the annual Rod Restad Memorial race. The IMCA Modifieds rebounded from a dismal showing of three cars the year before. They hit double-digits for the final race with Nick Trenchard scoring the big victory. The two-time track champion had won the Speedweek visit earlier in the year. It's interesting to note that three of the four IMCA Modified races on the Yreka schedule this year were big, special events.
Going into the season, Promoter Kevin Barba had announced that he was planning to hold races through the end of October, so the postseason schedule was no big surprise. However, as the Rod Restad show produced over 60 total cars, it might have seemed like the September 21st race was the perfect night to go out on. It was further highlighted by the fact that there were only 20 cars for the first postseason race.
As for the season, the guy racking up the most points in the IMCA Modifieds was Duane Orsburn. Orsburn would win his first IMCA Modified championship, which goes with the impressive feature victory he had at Southern Oregon Speedway to close their season on September 14th. The IMCA Sport Modified championship was a nip-and-tuck battle between the Boswell brothers and Ethan Killingsworth throughout the season. Killingsworth at one point saw a penalty cost him several points, but he kept his poise and would go on to be a three-time winner and the champion over last year's runner-up, Ryder Boswell. Colt Boswell finished third in the standings and was also a postseason feature winner. Sport Modifieds were the strongest supported regular show at the speedway, and drivers like Rich McCoy, Matt Sanders, Randy Wright and impressive rookie Merissa Henson were multi-time winners throughout the season.
Getting information on the Mini Stock division point battle was a struggle, but the young guns of the class, Zak McMurry and Darek Alford, were seen at the front of this battle along with veteran Mike Whitaker. Unfortunately, both Alford and McMurry had their issues during the course of the season, and Whitaker put the matter to rest by winning the final two point races of the season. There was more parody in this class this season with more different winners than the year before. This list included past Yreka champions David Steele and Terry Kendrick, Kassidy Wilkinson, Terry Alford and McMurry. However, once the championship season was done, nobody seemed interested in running the non-point events.
The Jefferson State Jalopies have been sort of an added attraction to be put on the schedule as needed. Karl Bernstein and JJ Smith had a vision for what they would like to see at the speedway and built these four race cars during the past few years. They had their first races at the track at the end of the 2018 season, but management elected to give them a point race this year. Smith was a feature winner, and Michael Colson won three times. When she won the final point race of the season, her third-straight, Marilyn Yawnick was crowned the first Jefferson State Jalopy champion. Smith and Bernstein have a fifth car that will hopefully be ready for debut in 2020.
The Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock Association travels, but most of their dates take place in Yreka. Unlike the other classes by the time the track hit October, these drivers were still competing for points. After winning the first four Yreka races along with a win in Coos Bay, two at Southern Oregon Speedway and one in the Gordon Russell Sr Memorial in Cedarville, Dr Scott Lenz looked like he was on track to win his third-straight championship. The wheels came off his run when he was issued a penalty at the second-to-last Yreka race. As it was, Lenz had been evicted from the winner's circle in back-to-back races by 2016 champions Steve Borror at Yreka.
The night Lenz got his penalty, it was longtime Pro Stock supporter Scott Flowers winning his first race since 2014. In scoring that win, Flowers took the point lead from Lenz. Rather than come back to try to compete for the championship, Lenz bailed on the final race and put his car up for sale. Scott's son, James Flowers, won that final race, but Scott Flowers is the champion of the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock Association. James Flowers, Lenz, Matt Harlow and John David Duffie should rank among the Top 5 in the final standings, though we haven't seen the official list as of press time. Generally speaking, when this division has been on the schedule, they've delivered the biggest car count at Yreka.
Car count is an issue at Yreka, and Barba is aware that he needs to give the fans more cars if he wants more fans to attend. The IMCA Sport Modifieds and Mini Stocks are to be commended for being the most supported divisions at the speedway in recent years, but they need some help. Part of the decision to go into October was for Barba to look at what else might be out there to consider for scheduling in 2020. This move yielded perhaps the biggest surprise and Kevin's biggest moment as promoter for the October 26th finale.
When schedules were announced during October, Kevin made it clear that any division bringing five or six cars would be given a purse. Drivers were declaring an interest at the last minute, which meant the first Late Model visit earlier in October probably didn't help the track as well as it could have. They weren't really able to advertise that adequately to the fans. Though there were five cars in a race won by Eric Massey, people really didn't know the Late Models were going to be there that night. The Sprint Cars were about ready to be in a similar type of situation when Interstate Sprint Car Series leadership stepped in with the offer to sanction the October 26th finale. Adding to the excitement was a Late Model show that would be scheduled that night.
One would have to look back through the records quite a ways to find the last time Yreka hosted a Late Model and Sprint Car show on the same night. This might be something that happens more often in Medford, but it was special in Yreka. Furthermore, the Halloween themed event, which was also a special night for the kids, offered nine Late Models and eight Sprint cayrs for the fans to enjoy, along with the Sport Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Jalopies. Over 40 competitors ran, making this perhaps Kevin's shining moment as promoter so far.
There was a heavy Medford presence in the nine-car Late Model field, which included the return for the first time in several years of second-generation competitor Bruce Rayburn Jr. Driving the former Joey Tanner championship car for Pete Bowne, it was Rayburn scoring Main Event honors ahead of Chris Biggs and Medford Modified legend Mark Wauge. Not to be outdone, 2016 Medford Sprint Car champion Jake Wheeler came from the last row to win the Limited Sprint feature in the Ron Osborne car with past Medford champion TJ Winningham finishing second.
This was a good night to go out on, and it generated lots of buzz about what will happen next year. Barba has been trying to get fans to come out, and that has included doing several free pass giveaways. However, he's also looking to give the fans more divisions to enjoy next year. IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks, Jefferson State Jalopies and Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks are all likely to continue to be in the lineup. However, you can expect an overture towards the IMCA Modified drivers in an effort to get more than four dates, at least one visit from the Limited Sprints and possibly even Late Models. It will be interesting to see what Kevin comes up with when the schedule is released next year. Next on the agenda is a January 18th awards banquet after Kevin is officially announced by the fairgrounds as the promoter at next week's Fair Board meeting.
The rumor is that Southern Oregon Speedway will have their banquet on January 25th, though this has yet to be officially confirmed. Who gets what trophies was the subject of some debate during the last month. In reporting the IMCA Modified finish in the season finale, the name of Jesse Bailey was included. There seemed to be a gray area in what Bailey had done. He took a green flag in an IMCA Modified Trophy Dash, but to the letter of the IMCA rule book, that doesn't count for anything. He broke in that race and didn't take a green flag in his heat race. Had he taken a green flag in his heat race, though he scratched from the Main Event, he still would have received his minimum 11 points. IMCA rendered its verdict, and Bailey was dropped from his podium point position as Jimmy Lipke will wrap up top rookie honors in second. Ray Kniffen Jr will enjoy his best career effort in third.
Interestingly enough, Zach Fettinger wasn't leaving anything to chance at the last race. Knowing he could break in his heat race, Fettinger asked track officials if he could save his car for the Main Event and start last. As there weren't enough cars to offer a B Main, he was perfectly within his rights to start last on the Main Event grid, thereby ensuring that he would at least get last place points. With Bailey breaking in the Trophy Dash, Zach had nothing to worry about. He is the 2019 IMCA Modified champion at Southern Oregon Speedway.
There's been lots of talk in the Late Model ranks lately. There's a persistent rumor that two-time Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock champion Dr Scott Lenz will finally be moving up to take on the challenge of racing with the Late Model stars. If this is true, it's certainly welcome news. The rumors that Pete Bowne purchased the Joey Tanner championship #111 Late Model were true. He put second-generation star Bruce Rayburn Jr behind the wheel at Yreka, and this resulted in victory. Rayburn gives us another star to watch in Late Models next year.
It's been rather interesting watching the development of Late Model racing at Southern Oregon Speedway. For years, management didn't give this division a second thought. The season might end with a special show, and there might even be a special show during the year, but there appeared to be no interest in having a regular championship race for this class, as was done back at the old Posse Grounds. When Mike McCann entered the picture, that changed. Three of the first people to jump on board to help build this class were 2016 champion Bob Dees, 2017 champion Nathan Augustine and longtime racer Mike Linder, who has since retired. All three can be proud that if the Late Model division has a fighting chance at Southern Oregon Speedway, they were on the ground floor in making it happen.
With a little more notoriety and money on the line, however, it was Trent Elliott taking the glory this year. He won most of the Main Events, picked up the $4,000 victory in the Cottonwood Classic and can call himself the champion this year. Elliott wasn't really challenged, and that left an interesting battle for second between past Pro Stock champion Dave Everson and Darren Coffell. However, Everson grabbed a podium finish in the finale, and that insured him runner-up status in this year's chase ahead of Coffell. From the rumors we are hearing, car count is going to continue to grow next season.
Obviously, the division growing by leaps and bounds this year was the IMCA Sport Modified class. Frequently, their numbers reached into the twenties, and we're still hearing about drivers looking to join the ranks next year. The cream of the crop in Oregon seems to be three-time champion Jorddon Braaten, who again won State championship honors as well. Having clinched the track championship, Braaten has indicated that he's interested in testing his skills against some of the top drivers out of state, meaning we may not see him at Southern Oregon Speedway very often next year.
We're likely to see two-time champion Mike Medel. Mike didn't really have a banner year this season, but he was still a consistent Top 10 finisher. It seemed like the brakes started to go his way as the season came to a close, and then came the surprising absence of feature winner Isaac Sanders in the final race. Medel saved his best for last with a Top 5 effort that netted him second in the standings ahead of Branden Wilson. Wilson turned a few heads as he brought his Limited Sprint to that division's final race to make hot laps. It looks like he'll be doing more racing in that class next year, though no announcements have been made to suggest that he won't be competing in IMCA Sport Modifieds as well.
The competition level is at an all-time high in IMCA Sport Modifieds at Southern Oregon Speedway, as evidenced by the winner of the final feature. Past Outlaw Kart champion Bartley Foster shocked the field with a feature victory in that final race. This came just a couple of weeks after Merissa Henson won the $2,000 prize in the Sport Modified portion of the R Charles Snyder Salute. Like Foster, Henson got her start at the little track. This has many people looking at the division and thinking that they can shock the field next year as well.
There has been some Mini Stock activity as well, which has possibly been hastened by the discontinuation of the Hornet class. Two drivers responsible for giving the Hornet division the jump-start it needed, Tim Hedges and Derrel Nelson Jr, both have Mini Stocks for next season. We would not be surprised to see word that Jenna Hedges will join her husband and her son Ashtin to make it three family members in the class next year. Greg McDaniels showed up at the end of the season race and is likely to be seen more often next year. It's been sort of a transitional year for the Mini Stocks with newer drivers in the field, which has led to the dominance of seasoned veteran David Steele in winning his second-straight championship ahead of Ashtin Hedges and Kristopher Mix. However, it's expected that things are going to become even more competitive in the track's entry-level class next year.
People keep pointing to the Late Model Lites class and wondering if Steele would like to take on the next challenge. Lee Doty has been the chief instigator in getting this class fired back up during these past four years. We are also hearing of more drivers getting involved next year. We were happy to see the return of the Hadley family, and Krista Hadley certainly made her presence known with some strong performances. Husband Terry, the division's all-time win leader, had his mechanical problems or might have been tougher to beat. Likewise, longtime class supporter Eric Aos and son Dusty Aos didn't have the best of years.
Greg Arnold seems to be up for a race wherever he can get it. When Late Model Lites weren't competing, he might put a Late Model motor in his car and go out and run with those guys. One night, he had the Late Model motor in his car, but Lee Doty graciously allowed him to drive his car to keep his points up. The Doty car has since been bought by longtime competitor Ross Payant. Arnold did accomplish his championship goal, outrunning last year's title winner, Charlie Eaton. These three drivers are certainly expected to make their presence known next year, but they won't go alone.
Word has it that we will be seeing another member of the Walker family back in action again, the grandson of Hall of Famer Jim Walker and son of Tony Walker. Furthermore, the Narramore family has reportedly purchased the car driven to the 2017 championship by Bob Burkett. Though it seems to be a challenge trying to establish a car count in this division, nobody's giving up on the cause, and a fifth-consecutive season is anticipated.
The speedway has also had its strongest support for the Sprint Car class yet. The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars came off of a very entertaining season, made more entertaining when Mike Wheeler skipped a race to go on a Hawaiian vacation. This opened the door for Wheeler to surrender his point lead to Bailey Hibbard, while past champion Charlie Thompson also set himself up for a shot at the championship in the final race. It was a night filled with drama, but Mike Wheeler didn't miss a beat in that final race as he reclaimed the point lead and the championship. He joins his nephew Jake Wheeler as a Southern Oregon Speedway champion.
Upon winning his second Sprint Car feature of the year at Southern Oregon Speedway, Jake Wheeler made the comment that he might actually run for points again next year. Wheeler was lured back into this class by Ron Osborne, who put him behind the wheel of his fast #42 car. Add in the knowledge of crew chief and longtime Sprint Car racer for Vern Wheeler Jr, and you have a winning combination. Having two Wheeler family members as a part of this class in 2020 will make things that much more interesting.
Chief instigator of the Limited Sprint movement, 2018 champion David Hibbard, is anticipated. He and his son Bailey have been strong supporters of the class for the past three seasons, and David could certainly not be accused of ignoring his race track when it needed his help. He's an example of somebody who has risen above and beyond to help keep the momentum that is being established here going. Drivers like Enrique Jaime, Aaron Miller and Blaine Cory still support this division. With new stars such as David Marble, Anissa Curtice and top rookie Johnny Burke, Sprint Car racing will continue at Southern Oregon Speedway going into 2020.
Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars have continued to be a reliable class at the speedway on any night in which they are booked. Frequently, they were bringing two dozen competitors, which produced some of the more entertaining action you would see on the 3/10th mile clay oval. It's a combination of drivers who have experience, such as reigning champion Josh King, two-time champion Brock Peters, Chad Cardoza, Ryan Smith and ageless veteran Fred Hay, and newer competitors such as Ashleigh Strain, Michael Johnson, Sean Trujillo, Shane Hines and Trevor Davis. When the Dwarf Cars come to Southern Oregon Speedway, they bring the speed and the excitement. They recently held their awards banquet, and King was crowned champion over Camden Robustelli, Cardoza and Hay.
Management is carefully looking at the things that happened this past season to figure out what adjustments might be needed or what additions might be added. Southern Oregon Speedway had its Third Annual Hall of Fame night, which has served as a way to get some of the old family names back to the track again. Thus, you're seeing names like Walker and Rayburn returning to the racing action. This is also a special night, because it honors the great heritage that is Southern Oregon racing.
The R Charles Snyder Salute is the marquee event of the season, but this year's Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge, presented by Herz Precision Parts, was one that had everybody talking. Some are even referring to this as the race of the year. The Cottonwood Classic showed that Southern Oregon Speedway can still host a marquee Late Model show and had a good turnout. The IMCA Modified Wild West Speedweek race and the Seventh Annual Roger Haudenshild Tribute race were also very special nights. There's lots of things to talk about for what was accomplished in 2019, but there is much work to be done to make it even better in 2020. Rest assured, the planning stages have begun.
One of the first award banquets to happen took place at Coos Bay. Coos Bay Speedway enjoy their third season under NASCAR sanctioning and the promotion of Drake Nelson. Drivers competed for thousands of dollars in championship point fund money, and the NASCAR sanctioning seems to be luring more Super Late Model drivers to the speedway than has been seen in recent years. Even the special Lucas Oil Open Show, presented by the Prather family, had a strong turnout of Late Models, Street Stocks and other classes in early October.
Seeing Preston Luckman back in the field in a Late Model was a welcome sight. Luckman had one goal. He was looking to claim NASCAR championship honors and the lucrative point fund money. To get the job done, he had to dethrone reigning champion Brody Montgomery, who sold his old car to Wayne Butler. Montgomery had his moments, but a couple of bad nights was all it took for him to lose the hotly-contested championship battle to the flying Luckman, who will pocket $5,500 in track and State championship money. This division continues to have some top-notch competitors, which also includes 2015 champion Toby McIntyre and Thor Kristensen.
The Sportsman Late Model division holds the #2 status with NASCAR, thereby giving them a $1,000 championship point fund. Unfortunately, some of the teams who could have been regular competitors did not support, causing the class to struggle. Braden Fugate was on point, and the past Hornet competitor won most of the races to secure the championship prize over Mike Taylor. Taylor would occasionally do double division duty in Super Late Models, which was something that both Wayne Butler and Deven Brown did last year. However, those two didn't support the Sportsman Late Model class this year. 2018 champion Dyllan Siewell only raced occasionally. Hopefully, this class can see some momentum re established in 2020.
There was a bit more momentum on the side of the Street Stock division. In the past couple of years, Steve Dubisar seemed to have been the strongest force in the class, but points were not a goal for him. This year, he set his sights on the $700 championship and was never seriously threatened in that endeavor. The division did see several other winners and had a few marquee nights along the way as drivers such as previous champion Ken Fox, Steve Smith, Kelly McIntyre, Charlie Withers and Leroy Rockwell competed.
Nobody could stop Sam Talon from winning his third-straight Mini Outlaw championship. He won the lion's share of the feature races. The division wasn't ranked among the Top 4 NASCAR classes, but it was still interesting to watch at times. This was enhanced by the return of the fast VW Beetle of Rob Lauver. Lauver had issues at the beginning of the season that kept him from starting some races, but he won three races in the later stages of the season. When there's enough cars on the track, this division can deliver the excitement.
The strongest supported division at the speedway was the NASCAR Division #4 Hornets. They again competed for a $500 championship, but the division's top feature win leader, Hannah Robison, was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Drivers like previous champion Tyler Tullos, Trace Fugate, Gabriel Boles and Ray Marshall kept things interesting all season long, and Coos Bay continues to have one of the more entertaining Hornet classes in the state of Oregon.
The training grounds for the Hornet class is the Junior Stinger class, where kids 11 to 14 years old go to get there first laps. Griff Smith dominated the season and won his second-straight championship, but it looks like he's ready to make the move up. The better news is that car count has grown into double-digits this year, which will certainly make the Junior Stinger class more interesting when it returns next year.
Nelson and his staff have put together a very enticing schedule that offers open wheel excitement, big Late Model and IMCA Modified shows, special attractions and more. A night at Coos Bay Speedway is something for the family to enjoy as Nelson has continued those special traditions that were established before he got there and even added to them. You're likely to see all of this and more when the 2020 schedule is announced.
Meanwhile, Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg enjoyed one of their better seasons in years. There were more special events during the course of the season, which was opened and closed with big Enduro races. The final Enduro in October was a good indication of the fact that people are getting back on board with this race track as nearly 40 drivers showed up to compete. In the midst of a sad season when long time PRA leader Roy Harvey passed away, there was still much optimism for the future.
This season, the track introduced the Addcox Outlaw 100 lap races and its own B Modified division. Though unsanctioned, the Modified car count didn't look so bad for the first season. There were 15 different competitors throughout the seven-race series, and Tom Ford ended up winning the championship ahead of Kaleb Watson and John Harvey. The Outlaw 100 Series was very interesting as it would feature cars from several different classifications. In the end, Dale Roth won the championship with Hardtop competitors Harlon Cox and Mike Batman second and third, respectively. Cox won that battle by just one point.
Though there are five different Hardtop groups on the West Coast, clearly the most appreciated by a race track are the PRA Hardtops. This season saw 21 different competitors on the track during the course of the year. Kyran Greene was consistent and used that to outrun 2016 champion Greg Hickman for the title. Harlon Cox missed a race and still had a shot due to his penchant for winning Main Events, but a disqualification in the final race resulted in him settling for third in the final rundown. The Hardtops saw a bit of a rebound from a dismal 2018 season.
The strong suit of the PRA program was the Hornet division with some 40 different drivers during the course of the year. However, Rich Dickenson took the lead early on and won the championship in dominant fashion with Michael Kennerly a comfortable second ahead of Ron Johnson. The Hornet division frequently had car counts in the teens and provided probably the most competitive field at the track all season.
The Street Stock and Mini Stock divisions were both just holding on, and admittedly they have had better car counts in the past. John Dumire battled Dale Roth and April Hillyard to claim the Street Stock championship. Roth didn't race seriously for the Mini Stock championship, and the numbers plummeted as Kieri Smith won the title by a comfortable margin ahead of Roth.
The speedway has some marquee events that still get the attention of the fans, and that includes the July Graffiti/Can-Am Challenge, which is the biggest Hardtop event of the year. The NSRA Rick Brown Super Shoe Sprint Car show had to be rescheduled after a rain out, but it was a success on its October 5th makeup date. The North State Modified Shootout and Northwest Pro 4 Alliance Kitty Potter races highlighted the season along with visits from The Iron Giant Street Stocks, North American Big Rigs and the Northwest Mini Stocks. There was always something exciting happening at the Roseburg race track, and this is a trend that is expected to continue going into the 2020 season.
It seems like there are several tracks trying to get one more race in before winter sets in. After Marysville takes their stab at it with the Mel Hall Memorial race this weekend, there is a two-day event called the Hangtown 100 at Placerville Speedway. It will happen on November 19th and 20th and will feature the USAC Midgets and Northwest Focus Midgets. Not just the USAC Midget stars will be competing in this show, but several Sprint Car stars are anticipated as well. The Northwest Focus Midgets are the lone example of a successful Focus Midgets program on the West Coast, and the stars of Washington and Northern Oregon will invade Placerville for what should truly be an entertaining program.
Since taking over Placerville Speedway a few seasons ago, Promoter Scott Russell continues to maintain a solid regular program that features the Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Limited Late Models and Pure Stocks along with the Mini Trucks and several visiting classes. When everything appeared to be going to hell for the Civil War Sprint Car Series, Russell had a hand in putting together the successful Sprint Car Challenge Tour. Car count was very strong in the first year, but it's leveled off to around 30 cars at most events. Following their point season finale recently in Stockton, Kyle Hirst held off Tim Kaeding by just 16 points to win the championship. Sean Becker ended up third.
Placerville has always been a track that has offered some great open-wheel racing, but they complement it with a good Stock Car program as well. The Sprint Cars are clearly the strength of the show as they frequently have big enough car counts to warrant the need of a B Main. One of the most highly decorated Winged 360 Sprint Car champions in Northern California, Andy Forsberg, won this year's championship once again ahead of Kalib Henry. There's probably not a stronger Winged 360 Sprint Car program in Northern California than the one the fans get to enjoy in Placerville.
The Limited Late Models maybe didn't have the strongest car count of the season, but they certainly had a close championship race. Ray Trimble managed to take the honors by 17 points ahead of Tyler Lightfoot this season, Trimble has also been competing in an IMCA Modified at Petaluma. The third point position went to Dan Brown Jr in what is essentially a Crate Late Model class. What the division might have lacked in a strong car count, it made up for in some close races this year.
Meanwhile, the Pure Stock division maintained respectable car counts for most of the season. When his car was deemed not quite legal according to Antioch Speedway rules, Nick Baldwin headed up to Placerville late in the 2015 season and has become a force on the quarter-mile clay oval. Baldwin would pick up his second track championship this season ahead of Kevin Jinkerson and talented teen leadfoot Jessie Bryant. The action can get a bit wild in the Pure Stocks at Placerville, but it's certainly been entertaining to the fans.
This was also the third season for the Mini Trucks, and at times the count reached into double-digits. There was also a close championship battle with Ryan Murphy beating John Littlejohn by just 17 points. When the trucks weren't a part of the program, the speedway frequently offered the NorCal Dwarf Car and the BCRA Midget Lites as part of the show. Russell is careful to offer the fans plenty of variety, and there are big events throughout the season. There are visits from the World of Outlaws, King Of The West Series and Sprint Car Challenge Tour, along with marquee events such as the Al Hinds Tribute race, the Tilford Tribute and the upcoming Hangtown 100. Placerville Speedway offers one of the strongest programs anywhere in Northern California on a Saturday night.
The people at Mountain Valley Raceway in Hayfork have high hopes of the track becoming a venue that can host big time racing events. Considering that the previous management team nearly caused the track to close, it's a miracle that the gates were even able to open this year. There were no points being offered for the track's core divisions, which included Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Enduro cars. However, there were special promotional events that centered around family, community and good times. The Clyde Cordell Memorial race, held during the Trinity County Fair, continues to be the signature event on the 3/8 mile oval.
Bakersfield area promoter Jerm Smith has recently relocated to Hayfork and will take on a role in helping build up this program for the future. Smith happened to come to one of the bigger shows in Hayfork this year and saw the potential. Just this past weekend, they held a special get-together of racers, which offered good food, live music and some discussion about potential plans for 2020. In addition to the core classes and B Modifieds, other divisions are being considered for the future. Mountain Valley Raceway is poised to have one of their best seasons next year.
Much like Rich Hood At Orland four years ago, Jeff Olschowka entered the picture at Diamond Mountain Speedway in Susanville under dire conditions. The 2019 season itself appeared to be lost, but Jeff announced a schedule in March and pulled off what some might have considered to be a miracle. Not only did they have a full season of IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks, car count was up, especially in the Modified classes. In fact, they had an IMCA Modified division that rivaled that of several of the tracks in California and even Oregon.
Jeff even offered a big, extra money event to wrap up the season in September, and again they produced a strong car count. The season didn't end with anybody worrying about whether there will be a 2020 at the speedway or not. It ended with people talking about potentially bigger and better things to come. Word is that Jeff is talking to traveling groups about making special visits. Champions this season included Chris Nieman in IMCA Modifieds, Richard Longacre in IMCA Sport Modifieds, Jacob Hutson in Hobby Stocks and Larry Whitebird in Mini Stocks.
We were unable to get consistent information on the happenings at Shasta Speedway this season. Since Dave Twyman rescued the track from being dormant, getting results hasn't been easy. However, we can tell you they've offered several different forms of Stock Car racing and open wheel racing throughout the season, most races have happened on schedule and there's a bigger feeling of optimism surrounding the pavement oval track. Word is they will even try to get more information on results out to the public in a timely manner in 2020. As we often say, as long as the gates continue to open at the race track, there's a chance for good things to happen.
We've been keeping an eye on the scene at Ukiah and Lakeport this year. Prior to the season, there was a divorce between the NCRA and David Furia, who had been promoting Lakeport. This resulted in the return of longtime Lakeport Promoter Nadine Strauss to keep the show going on an even keel at Lakeport. The season was a bit smaller, but it still happened. The one big notable change was the creation of the Upstate Bomber Series. Lakeport was to get one of those dates, but after Furia and Lakeport parted ways, that date ended up going to Ukiah.
Anytime you change management at a race track so close to the beginning of the season, you have challenges making sure everything is prepared and ready to go smoothly. Having Strauss on board certainly helped the situation. Car count has been a struggle at Lakeport in recent seasons, but the Taco Bell Bomber and NCRA Modified classes both served to bring enough cars to put on a show. The track continues to work towards building up their Jammer, Bandolero and Legend Car classes.
In the Bomber division you, Lauren Snider won a close battle with Mike Sullivan for the championship. Only 15 points separated the two by season's end as Rick Jelton settled for third. In the Modified class, Eric Johnson won the title by a more comfortable margin ahead of Michael Snider. Not too far behind Snider was Darrin Sullivan in third. With these two divisions at the forefront, the track has something to build on going into the 2020 season, and the main thing is the show will continue to go on at Lakeport Speedway.
Furia Motorsports didn't miss a beat and they had a full season scheduled for Ukiah Speedway. Like Lakeport, the track had solid Bomber and Modified classes to offer the fans, but they also had a Jammer class and the Jalopy division that runs on an infield track on the dirt. By all accounts, it was another good season at Ukiah Speedway as they have been building up momentum and trying different things over the past few seasons.
The Upstate Bomber Series competed between three different tracks and offered a $2,000 championship prize, which was won by Ukiah champion Mikey Lovell. Dustin Kuhl was a distant second at Ukiah, only holding off Brandon Smith by 14 points for second. The Lovell family took home all of the hardware as Mike Lovell held off Mike Doss to win the Modified championship. Sierra Furia ended up third in the standings. Lovell won five of the seven races for the class.
The Jalopy class offers some interesting racing in tighter confines, which can be comparable to some of the races held in Rodeo Arenas at different venues across the country. Loren Powers Jr won this championship by a mere seven points ahead of Jack Schlief. Chris Hunt ended up third. David Rogers was the Jammer champion by a wide margin ahead of Ron Portlock and Raymond Taylor Jr. The Ukiah track has some momentum headed into the 2020 season, and the show should be as entertaining as ever.