Friday, August 25, 2017

Sprint Car Race Part Of Fan Friendly Night At Southern Oregon Speedway Plus Pit Stops

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Sprint Car Race Part Of Fan Friendly Night 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...Saturday night is a big night at Southern Oregon Speedway.  The headliner for this event is the Cascade Wingless 360 Sprint Car Challenge, which is a $3,000 to win race.  Herz Precision Parts came on board to sponsor the big race.  Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites, Mini Stocks and JOAT Labs Hornets are also racing that night.  As if that's not enough, it's also Hays Oil and KBOY Night, and that means there will be lots of fan giveaways.

The money will draw some top Sprint Car teams to the White City track for a shot at the first prize.  Perhaps leading the way is a California leadfoot named Geoff Ensign.  Ensign has been nicknamed "The Human Highlight Reel" as one of the more exciting drivers to watch at tracks in Petaluma and Watsonville, California.  Ensign runs Winged Sprint Cars at both tracks and leads the point standings there.  However, Geoff has won several wingless races as well.  Saturday night, he will be teaming up with car owner Ted Finkenbinder.  The two have won several races together.

Two top Northwest Wingless Sprint racers to watch are Tim Alberding and Lance Hallmark.  Both are feature winners with the NWWT Sprint Car Series, and Alberding is currently second in the standings.  Alberding was second in points last season and the champion the year before.  Hallmark recently won his second Main Event of the season in Willamette and he was also a two time feature winner and Top 5 point competitor last season.  Both figure to be contenders for the win this week.

Kyler Barraza has clinched the track's Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car championship.  He'll be taking his wing off and putting in his ASCS motor in to make a run at the prize money.  Barraza recently won a Wingless Sprint Trophy Dash at Willamette, but it had been a couple of years prior to that since he had raced without the wing.  Considering his knack for winning at his home track, the competition will have to take him seriously this week.

Rising young star Ariel Biggs and teammate Jake Gillman are coming.  Gillman is a past Top 5 point competitor with the NWWT Series, and Biggs is a past Focus Midget Star and Sprint Car feature winner with the Young Guns Series this year in Perris, CA.  Mark Herz is both the sponsor of this race and a past Top 5 NWWT point runner.  The Johnson Racing Team from Corning, CA will be fielding multiple cars, and USAC competitor Steve Hix is on a list of nearly 20 drivers already confirmed.  it's going to be an exciting night of open wheel racing.

After winning the Mini Stock championship last season, rookie Bob Burkett finds himself leading the Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites championship battle by 10 points over Charlie Eaton.  Burkett is a feature winner this season with three Trophy Dash wins, while Eaton hasn't missed a Top 3 finish yet this year.  Lee Doty has had rear end problems and a heat race rollover end his last two races early, but the reigning champion will be out to win his second feature this week.  Recent winner Randy Hansen, Eric Aos, Bill Spencer and Danny Prewitt are other drivers to look for this week.

After winning the Trophy Dash and finishing second in last week's Main Event, 15 year old Michael Johnson moved into the Mini Stock point lead.  Johnson leads 16 year old Dillen Lausen and Kritopher Mix by just one point.  While Johnson has a feature win this year, Mix and Lausen are still looking for their first wins.  Steve Goetz is still in the hunt, 13 points out of the lead, while David Steele will be back to try for his fourth win of the season.

The JOAT Labs Hornets race is a battle between Jason Stoutenburg and reigning champion Tim Hedges.  Both have won two Main Events this season, and Stoutenburgh leads T. Hedges by just eight points.  Jenna Hedges is still in the hunt as she trails the leader by 21 points.  She'll be out to try for her first feature win this week, and other stars to watch for include Dylan Irving, Ashtin Hedges, Brandon Wonsyld and Derrel Nelson Jr.

There's plenty of excitement on tap this Saturday night with great open wheel racing and fan giveaways as part of the schedule.  Gates open at 5:00 PM with the first race starting at 7:00 PM.  General Admission is $15.00 with Juniors (6-12), Seniors and Veterans $10.00 and Children 5 and under free.  For further information, go to

Editor's Note: Thanks to efforts by Travis Snyder, additional sponsorship West Coast Pipe, Pay Roll Specialties, Best Home Storage Dusty's Transmission, JJ Kramer, G Fab and Big Daddy BBQ has increased the IMCA Modified Preliminary Main Event on Saturday and the IMCA Sport Modified on Sunday.  Both races now pay $1,000 to win with increases on down too.  More details to come.

IMCA Modified drivers who have declared that they are racing include Bobby Hogge IV, Robert Miller, Nick Trenchard, Mark Wauge, Albert Gill, Chester Kniss, Todd Hermosillo, Jake Mayden, Anthony Slaney and more.

R. Charles Snyder Salute To Pay $5,000 
To IMCA Modified Winner

White City, Oregon...The R. Charles Snyder Salute is the biggest IMCA Modified race of the year on the West Coast, and it's happening at Southern Oregon Speedway on September 2nd and 3rd.  The Labor Day Weekend event was created to pay tribute to the long time announcer at Medford Speedway and Southern Oregon Speedway, R. Charles Snyder.  Snyder passed away in 2015.

Charles was one of the most popular radio DJ's in the Medford area for over 40 years.  He had a hand in  promoting rock concerts in the area and would lend his voice to help various causes through the years.  It was in 1976 when he went to Medford Speedway to see how racing announcers do their job.  Little did he know that the regular announcer would not show up that night, and he was called into action to announce the races.  Thus began Snyder's love of auto racing.

He announced at Medford Speedway until the track closed in 1989.  When Southern Oregon Speedway opened, he started announcing there and continued to announce for over a decade.  He even announced at Yreka.  Charles was a big fan of Dale Earnhardt and followed the news on him very closely.  He was also a big James Bond fan.  He had one of the largest collections of Bond memorabilia in North America and even attended three different movie premieres in England.

The community mourned his passing, but nothing was ever officially done for him at the track.  Speedway management contacted Snyder's family about the possibility of having this race, and they were happy to see the track add it to the 2017 schedule.  His son Travis has even brought in some sponsorship to guarantee that the winner of the IMCA Modified Main Event will receive a $5,000 payday.  More importantly, the event will honor the beloved announcer.  The scoring tower will be dedicated to him as the R. Charles Snyder Memorial Race Tower.

The IMCA Modifieds have had a big race on the schedule since the track opened in 1996, and that will continue to be the case this year.  The money at the top for Sunday's finale will entice some of the best drivers on the West Coast to come race.  It's $5,000 to win, $2,500 for second, $1,500 for third and $1,000 for fourth.  Drivers get a minimum of $200 to start the Main Event, and entry for car and driver is only $100.

Saturday's qualifying format gives each racer two heat races, and they will earn points in those races to determine who qualifies for the big race.  The remaining drivers will be in the B and C Main Events.  Saturday will have an invitational Main Event for the track's regular weekly purse.  The Top 3 finishers in the first round of heat races qualify for that race, which will close Saturday night's program.

IMCA Sport Modifieds will be racing both nights as well.  Their heat races on Saturday night will determine who makes Sunday's $650 to win race.  Top heat finishers also qualify for Saturday's invitational race, which pays a regular purse.  The SODCA Dwarf Cars will run both nights, and their Sunday Main Event will offer a $1,000 payday to the winner.

Local IMCA Modified stars will be lining up at the gate to take on the visitors coming to town for a shot at the big money.  Point leader Jesse Bailey and his closest rival Albert Gill are anticipated along with seven time champion Mark Wauge, Matt Duste, Ray Kniffen Jr., Preston Jones, James Welshonse and Duane Orsburn.  The Sunday race will also be an IMCA points paying race, and the increase in car count will make things more challenging for the leaders.

Likewise, the IMCA Sport Modifieds have a good battle between reigning champion Mike Medel and Willie McFall, and just a few points separate the two going into the big Sunday race.  After back to back wins, Rich McCoy is closing in fast, and the anticipated car count increase gives him a good shot at closing in on the lead duo.  Two time champions Jorddon Braaten and Dwayne Melvin are anticipated along with other top locals such as Justin McCreadie, A.J. Parker and Jesse Merriman.

The R. Charles Snyder Salute is shaping up to be a huge event that you won't want to miss.  Gates will open at 5 PM and the first race will be at 7 PM both nights.  Ticket prices will be made available on the website.  For further information, go to

Pit Stops

The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars were back in action last Saturday night at Southern Oregon Speedway.  It's no surprise to see that Kyler Barraza had put himself into a position to clinch the track championship that night.  He won three Main Events out of six Top 3 finishes.  The night he didn't finish in the Top 3, he was second and going for first in the final turn.  He ended up spinning rather than taking out the leader.  Last week, Barraza was in a battle with Hedge Carter for the lead when the two bumped wheels.  Carter spun off the back stretch.  Officials put Barraza to the back for the restart.  He charged back to a third place finish, and this resulted in him clinching the championship.

The battle is for second, and the season finale for this division will take place on September 9th.  David Hibbard and Bailey Hibbard have both had their moments this year, but they've also had some bad luck.  Son Bailey has two wins while father David had three seconds going into last week.  The question was would David be able to get a win.  With rookie Merissa Henson only a few points behind him, he needed a big night, and that's what he got.  Sometimes it's all about being in the right place at the right time.  After Carter and Barraza got together on the back stretch, Cottage Grove point leader Ricky Ashley had the lead.  It might have been his time to shine, but he lost a wheel on the restart, putting Camden Robustelli in the lead.  D. Hibbard seized the moment and took the lead on the restart.  After that, nothing was going to stop him from winning.

Henson was having a good run in third at the time.  Barraza managed to take that spot, but Hensen was not about to let B. Hibbard take fourth from her.  This shows how much more confidence she has with all the seat time she's had in the car this year.  She held her line and maintained fourth.  This was a battle not just for position but for points.  Merissa has been smooth and consistent all season long.  She will be the top rookie in the division this season, and she is still within 12 points of D. Hibbard for second in points.  She leads B. Hibbard by eight.  More importantly, these three drivers are a big reason why the Sprint Car effort is gaining traction at Southern Oregon Speedway once again.  They've been there for  every race.

The division continues to grow, and this bodes well for the future of Sprint Car racing in Oregon.  It's been on the decline in recent years, and new racers are needed.  Camden Robustelli started running select races two years ago and was a feature winner in Cottage Grove that year.  He won again last year.  Camden had a third place finish at his home track a couple races ago, and he was on the verge of victory last week.  He ended up second, but he looked good out there.  It won't be a surprise to see him in the winner's circle at the finale or some time next season.

For Hedge Carter, the incident that saw him spin into the infield from the lead had to be disappointing.  The 1998 Cottage Grove champion hadn't raced for eight years, and he has looked like he hasn't been away at all.  He had fourth and third place finishes in his two previous starts.  He won his heat race last week before leading 18 laps of the Main Event.  Having a competitor of his caliber in the group has been a positive for this division.  Carter managed to take sixth from Enrique Jaime before the finish.  Jaime continues to maintain fifth in the standings.  Newcomer Jeremy Gargurevich was there to make his first appearance.  He's made a couple starts at Cottage Grove this year, and the rookie was just looking for more seat time.

One of the Late Model drivers the fans like to watch on the track is Dustin Knight in the white #77 car.  Knight entered last week as the point leader after his second feature win, but he was just a bit concerned about his remaining schedule.  The final two Late Model dates conflict with Super 4 races in Roseburg.  Knight and the Rapp Racing Team has been trying to maintain that division on the pavement track, and he is planning to run both races.  He admitted that there was a possibility that he could miss one or both Late Model races.  After winning his heat race, Knight led the opening lap of the Main Event.  Unfortunately, he hit the back wall to end his night with an 11th place finish.  Dustin was heard saying that he may not be back, but this will hopefully not be the case.  He's only 11 points out of the lead in his quest to win his third Southern Oregon Speedway championship in a third different division, which is uncharted territory.  Also, the fans always get a show when Dustin is on the track.

The Augustine family is three generations strong in racing, and Nathan Augustine's son Keaton makes the fourth generation.  Keaton recently won a Box Stock feature at the Outlaw Kart track.  Nathan won the Coos Bay Late Model championship last year, and he set his sites on Southern Oregon Speedway this season.  Nathan is definitely fast, but you'll also see him employ lots of patience as he makes his move to the front.  The battle between he and Knight never materialized in the Main Event after Knight's misfortune last week.  Nathan led the rest of the way to complete a clean sweep.  This was his second feature win and it went well with his fourth Trophy Dash victory.  He regained the point lead by 11 over Knight, but there are still two races remaining (September 9th and 16th).  It may take another feature victory to get the job done.

John Dees returned last week and ran second throughout the first half of the Main Event.  Antioch Speedway competitor David Newquist made a move into second in what was his first visit to the speedway.  Newquist was joined by fellow Top 5 Antioch racer Joey Olschowka and 2016 Antioch "Rookie Of The Year" Mike Hynes.  J. Dees still held third, but his father Bob Dees made it a family battle for third in the remaining five laps.  Bob made the pass to take third and gain a good hold on third in the standings.  John still finished a respectable fourth ahead of Mike Linder.  Linder is closing in on Dave Foote for fifth in the standings, trailing him by just seven points.  Foote took a checkered flag in sixth.

Much like the Sprint Cars, there's lots of optimism about the future of the Late Models.  Garrett Dees encountered more mechanical gremlins last week to send him to the sidelines early.  It's been a disappointing past few races for the rookie, but he continues to come back and give it his best effort.  Don Garrett also retired early last week.  Hopefully things will go better for both of them next time.  We recently saw the division debut of Chris Biggs, and word is that Jason Shultz will have his car out next month.  Shultz raced big block Modifieds back east.  Rich McCoy will be taking the wheel to help get the car set up for Shultz.  This is a car purchased from the shop of Rapp Racing.

It's been a transitional season for Mini Stocks as a few drivers are taking the year off and others are getting cars ready for next year.  However, the competitors who have been out there are putting on a good show for the fans.  Saturday's race was an added rain makeup point race for the drivers.  The night started with about a dozen points separating Dillen Lausen, Kristopher Mix, Michael Johnson, Steve Goetz and Gary Anderson for the point lead.  Anderson's night ended after his heat race, potentially ending his championship hopes.

David Steele had three consecutive bad nights going into last week.  A blown motor in his heat race one night forced him to scratch from the Main Event.  At this point, David just wanted to know that the motor was running okay in his #67 car, and he got clear indication that is was when he won his heat race last week.  In the Main Event, Steele grabbed the lead from the start and led the entire race for his third win of the season.  He's now 23 points out of the lead, but with two races left, it may be a case of too little too late.  However, this is Steele we're talking about.  You can't count him out just yet.

Michael Johnson is just 15 years old, but he's driving like he's been behind the wheel for years.  After winning the Main Event last time out, Johnson continued that momentum with his first Trophy Dash victory last week.  Johnson had to make a couple of passes to get into second in the Main Event.  Once he did, he found that Steele had built a huge lead.  However, Johnson managed to gain the point lead with his second place finish.  Kristopher Mix also managed to make a move into third before the finish, and the points added up to him being tied with Dillen Lausen, one point out of the lead.  This is the closest championship battle at the track.

Lausen fought Mix hard for third before losing the spot, but he managed to hold off Steve Goetz for fourth.  Goetz had a rough start as his motor wasn't quite running up to standards in preliminaries, but it was a little bit better in the Main Event.  Lausen is another of the division's young guns at 16 years old, and he's been doing a great job all season.  He won his heat race earlier in the evening, and now a first career feature win is the next accomplishment he'll be looking to cross of his list.  Car owner Mike Weiser has indicated that he's looking at getting a Mini Stock for son Bodee Weiser in the near future, but there is a question about the age required to start racing.  Bodee will be 13 next year.  As a 250 Kart champion, Bodee has proven he can handle a car, and he'd be a favorite in the rookie race if allowed to compete next year.  Meanwhile, Hunter Magnan was back continuing his drive towards this year's "Rookie Of The Year" award.

The Pro Stocks might have had a point lead change as the #15 car was back at the track.  However, car owner Scott Bennett decided it was time to get back behind the wheel again.  Jeffrey Hudson has been driving the car this year, and he was there in support of Bennett.  The Trophy Dash was the only race in doubt for Bennett.  Josh Kralicek led two laps before getting out of shape exiting Turn 2 and driving into the infield.  Rookie Bryan Hammond led until pushing in the final turn as Bennett drove by on the inside.  Bennett swept all three events.  When the points were added, rookie Dean Hackworth moved to within four points of three time winner Dr. Scott Lenz.  It seems a foregone conclusion based on how he's looked all season that Lenz will be the champion, but nothing is certain until the final checkered flag waves.  Hammond was second in all three races last week as he gained valuable seat time.  Kralicek moved into third in the standings with his third place finish.  He's just 15 points behind Hackworth.  The Pro Stocks return on September 9th, and the stars of the Outlaw Pro Stock Association, including Scott Flowers, Johnny Cobb, Matt Harlow, James Flowers and Roy Bain, are anticipated for this race.

The OTRO Hardtops brought nine cars for their season finale.  Much like last year, there were five different Trophy Dash winners this season.  Dean Cast won last week to join Brian Crouch, Jimmy Del Castille, Jamie Britton and Bill Trotter on the Trophy Dash winner's list.  After losing a feature win last time with front end damage, Bruce Wilkerson was hoping to get the win for Vic & Louise Bridges.  He won a heat race, but Winnemucca, Nevada's Rhett Lange also won a heat.  Mark Minter might have been a contender, but his bid for a third win ended when he crashed in his heat race.  Wilkerson led the feature at the start, but Lange found his way into second by lap six.  The lead two set a rapid pace, nose to tail, but Lange made his winning pass on lap 13.  Lange, who finished as high as second in his visits last year, won ahead of Wilkerson.  Loyal OTRO supporter Bill Trotter won a good battle with two time winner Jamie Britton for third.  These old Coupes and Sedans are a throwback to the days in the 1950's and 1960's when Hardtops ruled the racing circuit, and OTRO does a good job of keeping this style of racing alive.

The season came to an end for the Outlaw Kart track last Friday night.  In general, it's been a struggle for not just this track but others to keep a Cage Kart program going.  Escalating costs, especially in 250's and 500 Open Karts, have contributed to dwindling counts.  However, the show went on for the racers who did support the program.  The closest battle was in the Beginners Box Stocks, where Malachi Johnson led reigning champion Kiley Grimes by five points going into the night.  Johnson swept his heats and lapped the field to win his third Main Event.  This earned him the championship ahead of Grimes and Uriah Sanders.

Box Stock count faltered, and Trevor Grimes wrapped up his third straight championship.  After his win in the previous race, Keaton Augustine locked up second, while Taylor Fuller will finish third in points.  Grimes lost the 250 Kart point lead at the previous race when his kart failed to start for the Main Event.  He's had that problem before, so even after winning both heat races last Friday, the question was, would it start for the Main Event?  It did, and he beat fellow rookies Cadyn Smith and Vinny DeBenedetti for the win.  Grimes is the champion ahead of three time winner Carley Holmes and Smith. 

Mike Wheeler had his 500 Open Kart at the track, but nobody was there to race him.  Therefore, he ran a UAS Speedway Kart and focused on his son, Mike Wheeler Jr., in the Beginners class.  A special newcomers race was held, and Carson Henson won that race ahead of the younger Wheeler.  Hensen was all smiles as he won a trophy and $50 donated by flagman Tom Hood and an anonymous fan.

Speed City in Medford and the Speedway Karts were represented by 13 competitors once again.  This could be seen as an audition, but the reality is that these open cockpit karts are on the rise.  Steve Rambo collected his second straight 4 Cycle feature win ahead of heat winners Michael Vickers and Debbie Medeiros.  Mike Wheeler won both UAS Speedway Kart heat races, but he pitted from the lead on lap eight of the Main Event.  Richard Torzilli swooped in and won that race ahead of Brionna Fuller and 2016 Yreka champion Ed Grubb.  The Speedway Karts were a highlight to the show.