Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Two Nights Of Racing On Tap For This Weekend
At Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...Racing returns to the Outlaw Kart track at Southern Oregon Speedway on Friday night, and the big track on Saturday night. Friday night will be a special event honoring the late Vern Wheeler Sr. Vern's sons, Mike and Vern Jr., are slated to be in competition in the Open 500 Kart class, and his grandson Jake will be out to protect his point lead in the Pennzoil Winged Sprint Car class on the big track a night later.
Three generations of the Wheeler family have competed at Southern Oregon Speedway. Vern Sr. was a popular member of the community, and people were saddened at the news of his passing. Wanting to keep his father's name in people's minds, Mike Wheeler has organized this event by bringing in big sponsorship. Mike has contacted several of the teams from the tracks in Red Bluff and Chico, California, and a big turnout is anticipated for the 500 Open Kart class.
It is likely that some of these teams will travel with other Karts, which would include the Beginners Box Stock, Box Stock, 250 Karts and 500 Kart classes that are featured regularly on the fast, one-eighth mile clay oval. Among the teams anticipated this week include Chase Hill, Brody Sim, Johnny Burke and young phenom, Tanner Holmes. Tanner won the opener this season in both 250 and 500 Karts, and he recently won the Wild West Shootout in Missoula Montana. In fact, younger sister Carley Holmes won the Box Stock race that same night.
Carley is a past division champion, but the last two Box Stock races have been won impressively by reigning champion Trevor Grimes. Not to be forgotten in the mix are the 250 Karts of the Weiser boys, Bodee and Braden. It was Bodee picking up a win last time ahead of Brenden Bartlett. Much like the Box Stock class, the regular 250 Kart division puts on a great show.
Over on the big track, the Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars will be joined by the Valley Boys Auto Sales Outlaw Pro Stocks, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks, Hornets and the Open Stock division on Saturday night. The Pro Stocks are coming off of the Billy Geyer Memorial Race last week at Yreka, which is the biggest event for this division anywhere on the West Coast. The race paid $2500 to win, and it probably came as no surprise to anybody that point leader Steve Borror won for the fifth time this season. It was the biggest win of his career, and not even reigning champion Jeffrey Hudson could stop him. Hudson was piloting the car Rocky Nash drove to a win earlier this season at Southern Oregon Speedway, and he finished an $800 second.
Though Borror may have the fastest car in the group, he's won just one of the three races held so far at the Medford track. Other wins have gone to Nash and recent winner Miles Deubert. The 2014 Street Stock champion, Deubert had his hands full holding off Scott Flowers for his win. Flowers is currently holding down second in the standings behind Borror and still looking for his first win of the year. There's been lots of speculation about Borror's potent #b40 car, but he brushes it all off. "It's the same car I ran last year, " he claimed. "We just have it figured out this year. I've just been lucky I haven't had many problems with the car so far."
A field of dozen or more cars is anticipated for the Pro Stocks, which should include such hard chargers as James Flowers, John David Duffie, Roy Bain, Rick Lukens and two time champion Ken Irving.
The IMCA Sport Modifieds are back in action this week. Last week might have been the time for point leader Jorddon Braaten and Mike Medel to compete at one of the other tracks. They've been keeping a very busy schedule this year, as indicated by the fact that Braaten leads Medel not just in track points, but the State IMCA point race as well. Both drivers enjoyed a weekend with their families, but they will be back to give it a go again this week.
Medel has two seconds this year, but he's hoping to get his first win. To do it, he'll likely have to go through three time winner Braaten. Braaten has continued to be a force on the cirtcuit with about a dozen wins to his credit this year. With the neighboring Yreka track off this week, there could be a few visitors in town to do battle with these two. Rookie David Marble, Bob Nelsen, Dwayne Melvin, A.J. Parker and Tony Bartell are among the others anticipated.
In the Mini Stock division, point leader Bob Burkett and 2015 Yreka champion David Steele are playing a little game of divide and conquer. In seven races, they each have three wins. Burkett has finished no worse than third. The only other driver too get a win so far this season is 2014 champion Gary Anderson. Anderson holds down the second spot in the standings, while there is a good battle going on for third between three drivers who seem likely to be the next in line for a feature win.
Andrew Hall, Kris Mix and 14 year old leadfoot Merissa Henson are battling for third. Kris is the son of Stock Car veteran Keith Mix. Keith has practically raised his son at the race track, and Kris is proving to be as tough a competitor as his father. A practice day crash in Yreka left him scrambling for another car, and it turned out to be the case of a positive that came from a negative. "This car has turned out to be better, " Mix admitted. "I'm not so sure we'd be doing as well as we are with the other car."
The points will be shaken up further with the recent announcement from the Henson camp that Merissa now has a Sprint car. After a pair of third place finishes and a Trophy Dash win, she is selling her car. Mitch Henson revealed that the team has purchased the Phillip Del Rosa car. "I told her she couldn't have both, " he revealed. "She had to chose one, and she chose the Sprint Car. She's ready for it. It's a Limited Sprint. We may hit a race or two before the end of the season."
If the car hasn't been sold, Merissa may be there this week with a for sale on the car. Her eventual departure will open the door for Eric Hanson to make a move on fifth in the standings as he's been running strong lately. Other drivers to watch for this week include Mike Cloud, Mikey Johnson, Dillen Lausen, Patrick Stringer-Stine and the fast truck of Ethan Killingsworth.
People have been talking about the Open Stock class, which is an attempt to get those Stock Cars that fit into different categories back at the track under an open set of rules. The Open Stock division will reportedly be seeing a few visitors with Late Models this week. The first two races have been won by local Late Model veteran Mike Linder over Bob Dees. These two are anticipated, and Bob's son John Dees continues to prepare his car for his return to racing. Up in Creswell comes word that Steve Lemley's car is ready, but there are reportedly a few Coos Bay competitors planning to visit. Third ranked Kristy Grout is one of those divers.
Word is the Hornet division may be seeing another car count increase this week. Four drivers doing battle at the front of the pack are two time winner Darrel Nelson Jr., John Hoult, Tim Hedges and one time winner Joby Shields. Six cars have competed this year, and over a half dozen other cars are known to be in the area. Nelson is hoping that an increased car count could lead to another date being added before season's end. "I'm just having fun out there, " Nelson admitted. "I'd like to run more races. I want to race as much as I can. I know of a few cars being prepared, so hopefully they will be at the track this week."
With the Vern Wheeler Sr. Memorial on tap for Friday, it will be a special time of reflection for the family. Vern would no doubt be proud of the way his grandson Jake has driven so far. In addition to leading the local Sprint Car points, Jake finished fourth in the competitive Speedweek Series this year and had a third place showing at the Coos Bay race. After having the win in the last regular show slip away, Jake will be back to try to reclaim his spot at the head of the pack this week. "We weren't happy about losing the race that way, " Jake admitted. "We let it get away from us. We had a fast car that night too. We'll just chalk it up as a learning experience and try again."
Just who will show up for the Sprint Car show is unclear. Rookie Jeffrey Hudson is repairing his car following a crash at Cottage Grove. He finished a strong third and won a heat race last time out. Bill Hopper will be making the trip from Rancho Cordova, California, and Todd Whipple, Jeremy Lowe and hard charger Wayne Kniffen are also anticipated for this show.
On Friday and Saturday night, the gates open at 5:00 p.m. with the first race to fire off at 7:00 p.m. General admission on Friday is $10 and gets you into the pits. Children 5 and under are $5.00. The Saturday grandstands admission is $12.00 for adults, Seniors and Juniors $6.00 and children 5 and under are free. For further information, check out www.southernoregonspeedway.com.