Monday, March 27, 2017

IMCA Modified And Sport Modified Previews, OTRO Hardtops And More

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
The latest edition of the show can be heard HERE

IMCA Sport Modifieds Preparing For Best Year Yet 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...The IMCA Sport Modifieds are back for their sixth season at Southern Oregon Speedway, and good things are anticipated for the division.  Their arrival in 2012 was a bit controversial as an attempt was made to merge the track's Pro Stock class into the Sport Modifieds, which hadn't gone with IMCA just yet.  Three Pro Stock stars, Mike Medel, Rob Fitzsimmons and Bob Nelsen were on the first roster, joined by Modified racer Dwayne Melvin.  All but Nelsen are back this year.  Nelsen has sold his car to Fitzsimmons.

The whole reason for Sport Modifeds was the idea that there is a plethora of Modified chassis out there that may not quite have what it takes in the Modifieds, but they can be competitive with the Sport Modifieds.  As some Modified drivers may get a bit discouraged or feel they don't have the budget to be as competitive as they might like, they decide to park. The Sport Modified division gives them a chance to get back out there and be competitive.  It also offers drivers looking to compete a less expensive path to go Modified racing.  The fourth year under IMCA sanctioning gives the drivers a national set of rules as well as track, state and national points.

As luck would have it, Southern Oregon Speedway is the home track of Oregon State champions Jorddon Braaten and Mike Medel.  Braaten was the IMCA State champion last season and won over a dozen races on the circuit.  In fact, he also won the Pacific Sport Modified Series championship.  Some people consider Braaten to be the best Sport Modified racer in the state, and he is definitely hard to beat on race night.  Even if he could be the favorite to win it this year, the competition level is at an all time high for this class headed into this season.

2015 IMCA State champion Mike Medel is the defending track champion.  Mike is looking to not only repeat as champion but win more often.  To achieve that goal, he has a new car this season.  Like Braaten, Medel is a dedicated racer who likes to test his skills against the best drivers on the circuit, and he also won on the road last season.  You might be looking for a Braaten-Medell battle up front, but these two drivers won't be alone.

David Marble was a force in the Mini Stock division with a championship and many feature wins to show for it.  In his rookie season in Sport Modifieds last year, Marble battled for Main Event wins and picked up three Trophy Dash victories.  However, David isn't content to finish near the front of the pack in the Main Event.  He earned several feature wins in the Mini Stocks, and he will be a good bet to win his first Sport Mod feature this season.

Rob Fitzsimmons is no stranger to winning races.  He has won in both the Pro Stock and Sport Modified ranks and finished second in the Sport Modified standings back in 2012.  Bob Nelsen picked up a pair of victories in the car last season, and Fitzsimmons has the skill to get to the Winner's Circle again this year.  Another driver with a win last year was 2012-2013 division champion Dwayne Melvin.  Whether or not he puts himself in the point battle this season, Melvin will be a threat to win any time he comes to race.

Toby Judd was a welcome addition back in the Sport Modifieds last season.  Like Marble, Judd is a one time Mini Stock champion (2012) with several feature wins to show for it, and you have to believe he will make his presence known this year.  Yet another past Mini Stock champion (1998), Rich McCoy was fast last season after debuting the "Lightning McQueen" paint job with a feature win that night.  He is also a past Modified feature winner, and will be as fast as anybody out there.  Another driver that will be a threat is multi time Top 5 Dwarf Car point competitor Kalvin Morton, who had a feature win in one of his few starts last season. 

The talent level is higher than it's ever been in Sport Modifieds, which is good news for the fans.  Coming off of their Top 5 point seasons, A.J. Parker and Willie McFall will be back to try to get to the winner's circle this year.  Parker was rumored to be in a new car this year.  His teammate, Tony Bartell, who is a past Late Model Lites feature winner, will be back as well.  Shane Everson, Bob  Thomas and Randy Fernandes are among the others to watch for this season.  Plus, some top notch talent from elsewhere will be paying the track a visit or two during the season.

The IMCA rules package will keep the class competitive, and the fans will be treated to an exciting 11 race season.  After playdays scheduled for April 15th and 22nd, the season kicks off on April 29th and continues with visits all the way through the point finale on September 9th.  Will Medel, Braaten or Melvin win another championship, or will a new driver join them on the champion's podium this season?  Come out to the track this season and find out.  For further information, go to

2017 Southern Oregon Speedway IMCA Modified Schedule

April 15 Playday
April 22 Rain Out Make Up Playday
April 29
May 13
June 3 - Roger Haudenshild Tribute
June 17
June 24 - Wild West Speedweek
July 8
August 12
September 2 Lon Skinner Memorial
September 3 Lon Skinner Memorial
September 16

Past IMCA Sport Modified champions.

2012  Dwayne Melvin
2013  Dwayne Melvin
2014  Jorddon Braaten
2015  Jorddon Braaten
2016  Mike Medel

Previous Feature IMCA Sport Mod Winners 2014-1016

May 2, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
May 9, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
May 22, 2014:  Bob Nelsen
May 30, 2014:  Matt Duste
June 20, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
June 29, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
August 1, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
August 29, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
September 5, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
September 6, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
September 19, 2014:  Jorddon Braaten
September 26, 2014:  Glen Severson
May 3, 2015:  Bob Nelsen
May 17, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
May 31, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
June 7, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
June 14, 2015:  Rob Fitzsimmons
June 21, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
June 28, 2015:  Rob Fitzsimmons
July 3, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
July 26, 2015:  Matt Duste
August 2, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
August 9, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
August 23, 2015:  Bob Nelsen
August 30, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
August 31, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
September 6, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
September 27, 2015:  Jorddon Braaten
May 7, 2016:  Jorddon Braaten
May 28, 2016:  Todd Cooper
June 11, 2016:  Fred Ryland
June 18, 2016:  Jorddon Braaten
June 25, 2016:  Bob Nelsen
July 4, 2016:  Jorddon Braaten
July 30, 2016:  Jorddon Braaten
August 27, 2016:  Rich McCoy
September 3, 2016:  Bob Nelsen
September 4, 2016:  Howard Law
September 10, 2016:  Mike Medel
September 17, 2016:  Dwayne Melvin

IMCA Modifieds Back For 22nd Season 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...IMCA Modifieds are back once again for ten races at Southern Oregon Speedway.  The IMCA sanctioning returns in both the Modified and Sport Modified classes.  The racers prefer this because it keeps the class running under a universal set of rules that are used throughout the country.  Plus, the point structure allows them to compete not just for a track championship, but Oregon State, Western Region and National championships as well.

When Southern Oregon Speedway opened back in 1996, the track featured the Modified class.  For a while, they ran with wings on the top.  As time went on, the track tried other sanctioning bodies before settling on IMCA sanctioning in recent years.  The Modifieds also became the chosen division for the track's marquee race, the Lon Skinner Memorial race.  This race has been a featured event every year since the track opened.

Some of the very best racers in Oregon and Northern California Modified racing hail from the Medford area.  The fans have been entertained by such hard chargers as Don Estremado, Tom Glover, Dave Duste, Bruce Rayburn, Jon DeBenedetti, Brian Poppa and Mark Wauge through the years.  The fact that the field was so stacked with talent that you never knew who would win from week to week made Southern Oregon Speedway the place to be on Saturday night.

It's an exciting time for the IMCA Modified division as new stars have been emerging in recent years, led by Albert Gill.  Gill isn't exactly a new racer.  He has come up from the Pro Stock ranks to win back to back Modified championships in 2014-2015.  Gill has been one of the strongest supporters of the track and IMCA in recent years.   Though he fell back a couple spots in the Top 5 last season, his impressive feature win and Trophy Dash victory in the same night serves as a reminder that he is still a force to be reckoned with.   He is also a two time Yreka champion in recent years.  As good as he is, the best may be yet to come for Gill.

James Welshonse was a star of Street Stocks and Mini Stocks before a brief foray into Sport Modifieds.  In his rookie season last year, he had a knack for winning Trophy Dashes as he competed for "Rookie Of The Year" honors.  In the finale, James made a big statement by riding the outside groove all the way to first place, and he only lost the track championship by two points to Mark Wauge in the end.  He is certainly a driver you can't ignore in the battle this season.

Another driver to keep an eye on is Jesse Bailey.  He's certainly been one of the front runners during the previous four seasons with multiple Main Event wins and four consecutive Top 5 seasons.  Jesse missed some races last year in his fifth place effort, but he still scored two third place finishes and one second, along with a Trophy Dash win.  If he goes all in with the schedule, he could just be the driver to beat in the championship race. 

Ray Kniffen Jr. is ready to race this season.  The Kniffen family has been a part of racing in Medford for years, and Ray redid his car to be more competitive last year.  He nearly won a Main Event, settling for a close second.  Then, he suffered an injury at the Lon Skinner Memorial and brought in Pro Stock champion Scott Lenz to drive.  Unfortunately, Lenz saw a win slip away in the finale when the second place driver went for an opening that wasn't there.  Kniffen is back this year and will be a threat to win when he's there.

After a Top 10 point effort in 2015 and a Top 3 season in Street Stocks before that, Brett Provost sat out the 2016 season, but he's coming back this year.  Past Top 3 point runner Jeremy Ohlde was prepared to make a run at the championship before a work related injury sidelined him prematurely last year.  He's also planning to comeback this season.  The last time we saw Andy Freeman race, he was picking up a win in  September off 2015.  He's also a past Pro Stock feature winner, and he has a new car this season.

The reality is that the talent pool is loaded in the IMCA Modifieds as there are some big stars to watch for from time to time, if not regularly.  Nick Trenchard, Brian Poppa and Mark Wauge are all champions.  Wauge is the most decorated Modified champion in speedway history with seven titles and about 50 feature wins, while Poppa bears the distinction of winning Modified and Pro Stock championships in the same season.  Poppa was the inaugural Wild West Speedweek champion.  Trenchard is a Lon Skinner Memorial winner and Yreka champion.

Monte Bischoff, C.J. Putnam, Matt Duste, Brian Bowman, Zach Fettinger, Bo Shields, Duane Orsburn, Jay Poppa, Lloyd Speer and Kyle Casson are all threats to win on any given race day.  The fact is that it's difficult to even predict who might be the driver to beat in this year's championship battle.

Point racing kicks off on May 6th.  The ten race schedule has some big dates, including the Roger Haudenshild Tribute on June 3rd, the Wild West Speedweek race on June 24th and the Lon Skinner Memorial Race on September 2nd and 3rd.  Last season was a wide open affair with eight different winners in nine races.  Who will lay claim to the first IMCA Modified victory of the season?  We'll find out on May 6th.  For further information on the IMCA Modified division and other happenings at the track, go to

2017 Southern Oregon Speedway IMCA Modified Schedule

April 15 Playday
April 22 Rain Out Make Up Playday
May 6
May 20
June 3 - Roger Haudenshild Tribute
June 17
June 24 - Wild West Speedweek
July 22
August 12
September 2 Lon Skinner Memorial
September 3 Lon Skinner Memorial
September 16

Most Recent IMCA Modified Feature Winners

1996  Tom Glover
1997  Dennis Silva
1998  Tom Glover
1999  Don Estramado
2000  Mark Wauge
2001  Jay Hinton Jr.
2002  Jon DeBenedetti
2003  Jeremy Richey
2004  Brad Alfrey
2005  Mark Wauge
2006  Brian Poppa
2007  Mark Wauge
2008  Justin Holt
2009  Mark Wauge
2010  Travis Peery
2011  Mark Wauge
2012  Mark Wauge
2013  Dustin Knight
2014  Albert Gill
2015  Albert Gill
2016  Mark Wauge

Past Southern Oregon IMCA Modified Feature Winners

May 3, 2014:  Albert Gill
May 10, 2014:  Tom Berry Jr.
May 31, 2014:  Jesse Bailey
June 7, 2014:  Kevin Hewitt
June 21, 2014:  Albert Gill
July 3, 2014:  Nick Trenchard
July 26, 2014:  Albert Gill
August 16, 2014:  Collen Winebarger
August 30, 2014:  Nick Trenchard
August 3, 2014:  Nick Trenchard
September 6, 2014:  Jeremy Richey
September 27, 2014:  B.J. Wild
April 18, 2015:  Jesse Bailey
April 25, 2015:  Albert Gill
May 2. 2015:  Albert Gill
May 9, 2015:  Scott Lenz
May 30, 2015:  Nick Trenchard
June 13. 2015:  Jesse Williamson
July 4, 2015:  Mark Wauge
July 18, 2015:  Brian Poppa
August 1, 2015:  Mark Wauge
August 15, 2015:  Jon DeBenedetti
August 22, 2015:  Mark Wauge
September 5, 2015:  Kellen Chadwick
Septeber 6, 2015:  Bobby Hogge IV
September 19, 2015:  Andy Freeman
September 26, 2015:  Nick Trenchard
May 7, 2016:  Mark Wauge
May 28, 2016:  Mark Wauge
June 4, 2016:  Duane Orsburn
June 11, 2016:  Ryan Scott Gaylord
July 16, 2016:  Albert Gill
August 27, 2016:  Monte Bischoff
September 3, 2016:  Jeremy Richey
September 4, 2016:  Bobby Hogge IV
September  17, 2016:  James Welshonse   

OTRO Hardtops Are Returning To 
Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...The Old Time Racers of Oregon are coming back to Southern Oregon Speedway.  OTRO President Vic Bridges and Promoter Mike McCann have set a schedule that will have the group visiting eight times this year.  The OTRO has raced primarily on the pavement through the years, but they have been more willing recently to give dirt track racing a try.  Last season, Bridges and McCann made an agreement to run some races in Medford and see how it went.  The group had fun and supported the track five times.

The OTRO is bringing old time Hardtop racing to a new generation of fans.  It's all about fun.  The group isn't worried about points or crowning champions.  Everybody is a winner for bringing their beautiful vintage race cars to the track.  The cars all run bodies generally from the 1930's.  They are mostly Sedan and Coupe bodies and run on V-6 powered motors.  Since everybody ran on slicks on the pavement and they have a good tire deal, slick tires are what they use.

This makes for an interesting night early on as the track is still coming in.  The show always starts with a Trophy Dash, and during the course of last season, OTRO made sure everybody got a chance to run one.  The first race was the liveliest as Chris Mehrer piloted the unique red pickup of Bill Trotter.  After an early spin, he came back and won that race.   The track was still tricky in the heat race, and Mehrer found that out the hard way as he clobbered the wall exciting Turn 4.

The group generally fielded a half dozen cars last season, and the Trotter family accounted for three of them.  In addition the the pickup truck, Bill Trotter drove his red 1936 Plymouth Coupe.  Dusty Trotter fielded another 1936 Plymouth Coupe with Wylie Prowell behind the wheel.  Between these three cars, they had four Trophy Dash wins, and Mark Minter drove Bill Trotter's Coupe to a dash and feature win in the same night.  Minter will have his own pink 1929 Model A Ford Coupe at the track this year.

Vic & Louise Bridges have a couple of cars on the roster, and we saw their beautiful 1933 Dodge Coupe last season with Trevor Thomason behind the wheel.  Trevor accounted for four feature wins, but he had his hands full with Trotter and Prowell in last year's finale.

Brian Crouch supported the show last year in his 1935 Chevy Sedan, and Jimmy Del Castille finished as high as second last season in his 1934 Ford Sedan.  Gary Barber supported the first couple of races in his 1936 Chevy Coupe.  He has sold the car, but we will reportedly see it this year along with others, including Rhett Lange, Dean Cast and Stanley Garboden.  Word was that the Augustine Racing Team has a car of their own in the works.

Hardtop racing is alive and well in Oregon, and Southern Oregon Speedway is excited about hosting eight races for OTRO this season, starting with their first visit on May 13th.  For further updates on the happenings at the speedway, go to

2017 Southern Oregon Speedway OTRO Hardtop Schedule

April 15 - Playday
April 22 - Rain Out Make Up Playday
May 13
May 27
June 10
June 17
July 1
July 22
August 5
August 19

Southern Oregon Speedway Is The Second Chance 
For Medford Racing

White City, Oregon...It was 1996.  There was anticipation in the air in the Medford area.  The fans wanted to watch a race without making a long trip down the road.  The racers wanted to go racing without worrying about a long trip home after the races.  Then, it happened.  The gates opened and everybody flocked to Southern Oregon Speedway.  The community had racing once again, and those early years were the golden years.

Many people probably don't know the great heritage of racing we've had in Medford.  In the late 1940's, not too far down the road in Ashland, there was racing for 14 years.  About four years after Ashland opened, Medford Speedway opened in 1951, and it remained in operation for almost 40 years.  There was even a second Medford Raceway, and the remnants of that track can still be seen behind the over grown black berry bushes.  The racing community was saddened when the property owner pulled the plug on Medford Speedway in late July of 1989, two months before the season was scheduled to close.

In a case of the old promoter crossing paths with the new promoter, the Skinner family moved their scheduled big race that season to Riverside Speedway in Cottage Grove.  Mike McCann was the promoter at that time.  After that, the racers scattered to different tracks or just parked their race cars.  The racing dream was apparently over.  Before walking away a couple years before the track closed, Promoter Dennis Huth was negotiating to put a race track near where Southern Oregon Speedway currently sets.  Huth could see what was coming.

There were people looking to put a race track on the Jackson County Sports Park property, and that idea picked up steam.  John Hughes had been actively looking for people to put in a race track there, and it was Darrell Cooper who came along with a plan.  A deal was struck, but during that time, Cooper had the same idea that had been proposed by McCann.  He wanted to put dirt on Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg.  Cooper was looking to sell.  Fortunately, John Skinner was looking to buy, and Skinner built what became Southern Oregon Speedway.  Medford got a second chance at racing.

Sometimes we in the racing community don't realize how lucky we are that we have a race track in our back yard.  When the earthquake hit Klamath Falls in the early 1990's, that track closed and never reopened.  There's no more racing in Eugene.  Great traditions in California, such as West Capital Speedway in Sacramento, Vallejo Speedway and San Jose Speedway closed with no replacement at another location offered.  Southern Oregon Speedway gave Medford racing a second chance, and it enters its 22nd season of continued racing.

The early years were golden.  Packed grandstands, full pits.  Everything a race fan could want.  Even ten years in, it was strong.  People appreciated what they had.  Racers wanted to race.  Fans wanted to spectate.  The track's signature race was the Lon Skinner Memorial Modified race, but there were other events too.  The track built up a reputation for good racing on one of the nicest facilities in the state of Oregon.  It peaked in 2005, which was a season hit with way too many rainouts.  The next couple of seasons weren't all that bad either.  Then, things started too change. 

Regardless, the show went on, because there was always somebody who cared enough to keep the place going.  You hear the passion in the comments of the people.  They love Southern Oregon Speedway.  It might come out in frustration where there's a misguided comment because something didn't go the way they wanted.  That's the thing about being a racing fan.  It's not just entertainment or a sport, it's a passion.  It's part of who we are.  Where the racer is concerned, they spend the week preparing for those few moments when they get behind the wheel and do what they love.  When it goes well, it's one of the best feelings you can have.  When it goes badly, it's just the opposite.

The track has struggled these past six years, and last year was the first step in turning things around.  There's a lot of things to be done.  You hear the optimism in the comments.  One person lauded an announcement by saying that this would help make Southern Oregon Speedway great again.  Well, that's only part of what will make it great.  A promoter can book a schedule, have a good set of rules, a consistent way of doing things and a guaranteed purse that doesn't change, even if the car count slips a little bit.  We have all of that here and more.

However, the key to making Southern Oregon Speedway great again is the people.  The drivers coming out to compete.  You've got to give the fans a show.  It's about the memories made and having fun regardless of the outcome.  Somebody is going to write their name in the record books as a feature winner or maybe by winning their first heat race.  Somebody is going to add their name to the list of champions.  This is the year we also begin celebrating Medford Racing History with a Hall Of Fame Night (August 12th).  Everybody involved is what gives us a fighting chance to keep the show going.  When we succeed, we do so because of everybody.

The fans are a key to making Southern Oregon Speedway great again.  We can't run a show without them.  We work to make this a show they want to come and watch.  Whether that's the good racing on the track every week, a reasonable ticket price at the gate, good food and quick service at the concession stands, information that keeps them up to date on the happenings or the special events.  We want to make attending a race here something people want to do on a Saturday night.  When we succeed in our goal, things get better from there.

It could have all ended in 1989.  We could be going on 30 years without a race track, but people wouldn't let it end that way.  Medford racing returned.  We got our second chance with Southern Oregon Speedway.  When we open the gates to a program of Late Model, IMCA Sport Modified, Pro Stock, Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites, Mini Stock and SODCA Dwarf Car racing on April 29th, and even before that, the process of rebuilding the racing program into something special again continues.  The beautiful thing about a night of racing is that you never know what will happen.  As long as the gates continue to open at the race track, there's a chance for something special to happen.