A New Era in Sprint Car Racing Begins
At Southern Oregon Speedway
There's a hint of newness in the air at Southern Oregon Speedway. It isn't just that Mike McCann has become the new promoter of the twenty year old racing facility. It isn't even because the Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars, presented by Hays Oil, are once again a regular division at the track.
Some of the names people are familiar with, such as Nutter, Menne and Rogers, may not be a part of the Sprint Car class this year. Some of the names people may be more familiar with in Oregon Sprint Car racing these days may only be occasional visitors at best.
However, this new era of Winged Sprint Car racing at Southern Oregon Speedway will introduce some new Sprint Car stars to the fans. Regular fans at the speedway already know how good of a race car driver young Jeffrey Hudson is. He may get it from his father, Jeff Hudson, who has been a star of Pro Stock Racing for many years in Oregon.
Coming up from the ranks of the Go Karts, Jeffrey got behind the wheel of an Outlaw Pro Stock at the age of 14. Racing with the likes of longtime veterans like Dave Everson and Ken Irving, Jeffrey won the championship in his first year last year. Even more impressive was the fact that despite the pressure of the season finale and having to overtake the point leader, Jeffrey made his best move and won that championship on the final night.
People are already talking about the youngster Hudson, and they're saying he's the real deal. This year, he's ready for his next challenge and wheeling a Winged Sprint Car. Last Saturday night, he made his first laps in the division in practice at Yreka.
Hudson won't be the only "Young Gun" in the Winged Sprint Car class. He will be joined by Dwarf Car sensation Camden Robustelli. Robustelli has been rising fast in the Dwarf Car ranks after winning Kart championships before that. After his fourth place ranking in Dwarf Cars and a big win in the National event at Santa Maria back in 2014, Camden came within a whisker of winning the Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association Championship before settling for a very close second last year.
The youngster has already gotten some seat time in the Sprint Car with a couple of select starts last season. However, that was just a tune up. The team will be putting more attention into the Sprint Car effort this year. It could just be that the first championship of the Sprint Car revival could be won by one of these two young drivers.
Todd Whipple had been running IMCA Modifieds in recent seasons and was a top five driver at Yreka last year. Periodically, Todd has made select starts in Sprint Car events. The 10 race schedule at Southern Oregon Speedway may offer Todd the opportunity to get much more seat time and progress as a Sprint Car driver.
At every race track, you have the low buck racer who helps make up the field. You won't find a more dedicated low buck racer at Southern Oregon Speedway then Wayne Kniffen. Through the years, Wayne has ranked top 10 in Mini Stocks and top 20 in IMCA Modifieds. With the bigger car counts back in those days, he struggled to make the Main Events. However, he managed to win two B Main championships in the Modified and Mini Stock classes. He also ran a few races one season and was Top 10 ranked in a Sprint Car. Wayne is looking forward to coming back to Southern Oregon Speedway and giving it a go.
The new era could make stars out of these four racers, but there are already some drivers with Sprint Cup championships under their belts who will be part of the field. This includes 2010 Southern Oregon Speedway Sprint Car champion Chadd Noland, two time Orland Wingless Sprint Car champion Bill Hopper and 2015 Cottage Grove Sprint Car Champion Patrick Dills.
Several other drivers are rumored to be a part of the division this year, and we're waiting to hear confirmation on who may also join the field.
It could very well be that some drivers won't declare their intent to race regularly at the speedway until opening day. One driver getting some attention is Garen Linder, who recently went down to California and picked up a top five finish at Chico Silver Dollar Speedway. The popular Linder would be a welcome addition to the roster.
One thing is for sure, the Pennzoil Winged Sprint Car class will be a regular division at Southern Oregon Speedway this year and in the years to come. For further information on this division and the other classes at the speedway, check out the official website at www.southernoregonspeedway.com.