Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Whoops - It's Chris Sine one of the organizers of the Iron Giant Series (Sorry Chris)
Focus Midgets, Sprint Cars Headline
Open Wheel Showcase Saturday Night
White City, Oregon...Southern Oregon Speedway has an exciting night of open-wheel racing on tap for this Saturday night. It is the Open Wheel Showcase, and the Northwest Focus Midgets will be coming down from Washington with a strong field of competitors. Also on the card will be the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars and OTRO Hardtops.
The biggest and most competitive field of Focus Midgets on the West Coast can be found competing in the Pacific Northwest. On any given weekend, you'll usually find the drivers racing at Grays Harbor, Deming or Skagit Speedways in Washington. They have also put together the Summer Series, which takes the group to six different tracks for a 10 race schedule. In addition to the three aforementioned venues, the Summer Series also visits Sunset Speedway, Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California and Southern Oregon Speedway.
Southern Oregon Speedway was voted the most popular track of the NW Focus Midget drivers last season. They brought 22 cars to the show and ran a race that didn't have a yellow flag until late. The racing was intense at the front of the pack as the leaders battled through slower traffic. It was 2017 Series champion Tristan Thomas picking up the win ahead of Michael Vollbrecht and Chance Crum. Crum ended up second in the standings last year ahead of 2016 champion Nick Evans.
The Focus Midgets are running a Salute To Indy this weekend, complete with a three-wide salute to the fans and a jug of milk to the winner, as is Indy tradition. All about Metal of Medford and Winningham Racing has come on board to sponsor the Big Show. Series officials report that 30 competitors are committed to coming to the speedway, and this includes such noteworthy competitors as Grays Harbor Speedway champion Garrett Thomas, Top 5 ranked Ryan Cully Jonathan Jorgenson, recent Grays Harbor winner Evan Margeson, Nik Larson, Guy Tow, Hannah Lindquist, Glenn Bittrolf and recent Kern Raceway winner Ariel Biggs.
As if watching 30 of these fast Wingless Midget race cars flying around the Jim Rodgers prepared 3/10 mile clay oval isn't enough, the track's Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car Series will be competing as well. In fact, Ryan Cully and Eric Turner are bringing cars for this division as well as their Focus Midgets.
The last time out, David Hibbard scored an impressive Main Event victory, leaving the battle for second. Hibbard was spotted recently in Cottage Grove picking up another second place finish. He comes into the event as the driver to beat. Enrique Jaime enjoyed his best finish to date last time as the second-year competitor finished third, followed by Jeffrey Hudson.
With some support from Hays Oil and Dave's Carpet & Vinyl, track management has made its strongest commitment ever to building up a Sprint Car class. The roster boasts some talented young drivers with a half dozen of them still in their teens, including Hudson, Jaime, last year's top rookie Merissa Henson, Tanner Holmes, Bailey Hibbard and Theron Smith. All but Holmes are anticipated this week along with Camden Robustelli, Blaine Cory, Aaron Miller and the season debut of reigning track champion Kyler Barraza.
With roughly 50 cars anticipated between the top two classes, having the Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association on the roster is icing on the cake. Last week, two-time series champion Josh King drove the Jerry Hauck car to what would be a $1,000 victory thanks to the sponsorship of Jim Nelson. To get the win, he had to battle fiercely with 2017 point runner-up Chad Cardoza, who settled for second. These two may be at the head of the pack, but they can anticipate some stiff competition from two-time reigning champion Brock Peters, Cody Peters, Randy Slater, Camden Robustelli and Kalvin Morton, among others.
The Old Time Racers of Oregon will be bringing their V6 powered Coupe and Sedan Hardtops to the speedway. These cars are a flashback to what was the main show at venues throughout the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Recently, Jamie Britton picked up a win at Cottage Grove Speedway ahead of Mark Minter. Minter won the race on Open Wheel Showcase night last season. The Minter family is part of the foundation that formed the group in the 1980s. Other drivers to watch for this week include Bill Trotter, Dusty Trotter, Jeff Krossman and Jimmy Del Castille.
The Open Wheel showcase is sure to be an event that you won't want to miss as a roster into the seventies is anticipated between the four scheduled classes. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race at 7 p.m. General Admission is $15 with Seniors, Veterans and Juniors (6 to 12) $10. Children 5 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
Northwest Focus Midget Roster Of Committed Drivers
00 Alden Ostrom
2a Renee Angel
2j Jonathan Jorgenson
3h Hannah Lindquist
04 Matt Loving
5 AJ fugitt
7s Ross Rankine
9s Sawyer Lind
9t Tristin Thomas
11 Evan Margeson
11t Ray Stebbins
11r Aerial Biggs
12 Jesse Conway
14 Garrett Thomas
16 Nik Larson
17 Chris Bullock
18 Breanna Brostrom
21j Ryan Cully
24 Nick Evans
29t Eric Turner
31 Shane Biles
41 Ashley Thompson
44 Shane Smith
46 Guy Tow Sr
73 Keoni Texeira
75l Chris Greene
82 Greg Thornhill
88 Riley Vaillant
92 Katie Jackson
98 Glenn Bittrolf
2017 Northwest Focus Midgets
9t Tristin Thomas 383
83c Chance Crum 362
24 Nick Evans 354
2J Jonathan Jorgenson 349
21J Ryan Cully 339
4 Michael Vollbrecht 338
N8 Nate Vaughn 329
3h Hannah Lindquist 314
14 Garrett Thomas 292
11 Evan Margeson 249
Southern Oregon Speedway fans found out that Street Stock racing is still alive and well in Oregon last Saturday night. The Iron Giant Street Stock Series kicked off the first of an eight race tour of eight different tracks with their stop at the White City race track. They brought a field of 21 race cars for the show.
The Street Stock Series was the brainchild of James Whitehouse and past Cottage Grove Speedway champion Chris Sine. Both drivers still don't have their cars ready yet, so they were working behind the scenes to make sure things went smoothly for opening day. The idea of pitting the best Street Stock drivers against each other at eight different race tracks was a good one. The fact that they will be ending their point season on Labor Day Weekend with the big Iron Giant Race at Willamette is icing on the cake.
Last season, Donald Schott picked up the win at Southern Oregon Speedway. He was back to defend his race win, but the competition was twice as fierce this time around. In addition to two of last season's Top 5 point competitors, Erik Jarnport and Jessie Yankee, the field was bolstered by such top-caliber competitors as past Willamette champion David Cronk, past Coos Bay Speedway champion Daniel Land and current Cottage Grove Speedway point leader and past champion Andrew Langan.
Drivers came from all over Oregon to make this an exciting show from start to finish. After picking up wins in both his heat race and the six lap Scramble, Yankee may have been the driver to beat going into the Main Event. Langan, however, had other ideas. The Langan family has been competing at Cottage Grove Speedway and other venues for many years, and Andrew brought his A game for the Main Event.
With 50 laps of racing to do, there was plenty of time for a racer to make their move. However, it was Langan leading every lap for the $1,000 victory. Lest you think it was easy for him, he had his hands full with heat race winners Shannon Horn and Brian Cronk running closely behind in second and third. Cronk was wheeling the car of past Willamette Speedway champion Jody Tanner as his own racer wasn't quite ready.
Throughout the pack, the fans were treated to some close racing. Street Stock racing isn't something you get to see very often at Southern Oregon Speedway, and these drivers definitely entertained. Langan was just a little bit quicker to the checkered flag, though Horn was a close $500 second. Cronk grabbed the final position on the podium as Schott and Land made up the remainder of the Top 5.
Josh Heller ran in the Top 5 for a while before falling back to sixth. Making up the balance of the Top 10 at the finish was long time Sunset Speedway competitor Bob "Smitty" Smith, Yankee, Joey Tardio and Doug Scott. The tour is off to Madras Speedway to do a little head-to-head racing with the track's Sportsman class, but they are looking forward to the opportunity to come back for their third visit to Southern Oregon Speedway next year.
The Late Model division seems to be a bit more equal this year than it was last year. One driver who's been in the hunt for the wins in both races is reigning champion Nathan Augustine. Augustine got a little bit of a reminder that it won't be so easy this year when he was passed by Dave Foote, who ended up winning their heat race. Augustine also got second in the Trophy Dash.
The man winning the Trophy Dash as well as the first heat race was John Dees. Dees has been noticeably faster this season after two events. It looked like he was still figuring out the handle on his car in the opener when he led six laps before doing a solo spin. However, he charged his way back up to make a late pass on Mike Linder for third. This time out, Dees ran with Augustine throughout the Main Event.
What was interesting was watching John make attempts to get around on the outside. The car seemed hooked up out there, but he couldn't quite make the move. Augustine can be a difficult driver to get by when his car is running strong, and that was certainly the case on Saturday night. Nathan took the win with John Dees earning a career-best second.
When the Late Model division got rebooted at Southern Oregon Speedway in 2016, it was long time Medford area competitors Mike Linder and Bob Dees who answered the call. On Saturday night, the two veterans had a good battle going for third in the Main Event. Dees was rebounding from mechanical issues dropping him out of a Top 5 run at the season opener. However, Linder had a few tricks up his sleeve and kept Bob at bay to grab the third place finish at the checkered flag. Both drivers get to run the Trophy Dash the next time the Late Models are on the card as part of the 6th Annual Roger Haudenshild Tribite on June 2nd.
In the weeks leading up to the season opener, there were some inquiries from Pro Stock drivers about the possibility of running with the Late Models this season. Management had an opportunity to get a look at a couple of Pro Stocks competing with the Late Models on short notice this last week. This was allowed in the interest of getting some data to assess the situation.
One of the drivers was Roy Bain, but his race ended with a flat tire on the opening lap. The other driver was last season's Pro Stock champion, Dr. Scott Lenz. What was interesting was Lenz found himself in a battle with season opener winner Miles Deubert for the fifth position. Deubert held the spot for a while, but Lenz made his move and finished fifth.
Deubert still had decent points in sixth, and the battle at the top of the standings is close between he and leader Augustine, John Dees and Linder. It's certainly early in the season, but you don't want to lose ground to the others with a bad night.
The other encouraging sign is that there are other cars in the works for the Late Models. Longtime Southern Oregon Speedway competitor John DeBenedetti made an appearance in the Tom Parry Late Model. Unfortunately, they discovered a crack in the frame earlier in the evening and were forced to scratch from the Main Event. They will return to fight another day. There are rumors abounding of a Pro Stock champion coming out in a Late Model sometime this season, and we're still following this story. Certainly, it's drivers like rookie Eric Massey, Garrett Dees and Don Garrett Jr who are helping make this thing happen this year.
The Mini Stock division is in a bit of a rut. A few drivers are down for the count, and it's showing in the car count department. The heat race crash that happened two weeks ago between Cameron Hall and Steve Goetz didn't just put the #007 car out of commission. It left Goetz with severe front-end damage to his car. Andrew Hall reported that he would like to find another Pinto Wagon to replace the old car, but he's looking for a car to get Cameron Hall back out at the track as soon as possible.
2014 champion Gary Anderson is still missing after blowing a motor in the season opener, and rookie Tim Hedges has been making repairs to his car in the hopes of having a better night the next time he's out there. There are more cars to be seen in future Mini Stock events this season.
The story of the Mini Stock season so far has been how fast David Steele has looked. David gave no indication of slowing down when he opened the night with a Trophy Dash win and followed it up with a victory in his heat race. Hunter Magnan continues his strong start as he finished second in both of those races. With problems to take care of in his #89 car, reigning champion Kristopher Mix didn't start the preliminaries. This put him last on the grid in the Main Event.
We've been asking when Mix would get his first win, and the answer was Saturday night. Mix surprised Steele by making the pass and taking the lead. Steele then had his hands full with Magnan in a good battle for second. It looked like there might have been something wrong with the #67 car, but Steele made another rally to attempt to pass on Mix late in the race. However, Mix was up to that challenge and scored his first career win. Though the field was low on cars, this team had to work hard making sure their car was just right, and there was plenty of deserved satisfaction for this victory.
Steele continued to add to his point lead as he finished second, and the third place finish earned by Magnan means that he's still very much in this championship battle. In fact, he's currently second in a close race with Mix. Michael McLeod is making an early claim on top rookie honors this year and continues to get better with each turn behind the wheel. Garrett Fredrickson also managed to bring his car home to a checkered flag that will put him in the next Trophy Dash as he finished fourth.
There is also some concern over the slow start for the Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites. A few drivers anticipated for this season have yet to show. As Dusty Aos still doesn't have his car ready, he's been wheeling the #99 car that Bill Spencer drove last season. We've heard that Greg Arnold's old car will turn up with a new driver this year, and we've also heard that 2014 champion John Barger will be seen this season. Danny Prewitt had enough damage on his #29 car that it isn't ready, and 2016 champion Lee Doty's car was up in Portland getting repaired.
When the Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites show up on June 16th, it's anticipated that there will be at least a couple new cars in the field that we haven't seen this year. The four who have been showing up have been battling hard on the race track. Some have said that Charlie Eaton was due to have a big season. At the season opener, motor problems in preliminaries made it look like he might not even get through the night. He salvaged things pretty well with a late pass on Dusty Aos to gain second in that race, which was won by Eric Aos. Unfortunately for Eric, mechanical issues early in the most recent Main Event ended that race early for him.
Meanwhile, Eaton was on fire. After winning the Trophy Dash and the heat race, he took the lead from Greg Arnold midway through the race and proceeded to hold him off for the victory. Arnold settled for second ahead of Dusty Aos.
The Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association got to make their first appearance of the season at their home track. They were scheduled to run a few weeks earlier before rain came. They were also scheduled to run for $1,000 to win that night courtesy of Jim Nelson, who is known for putting up money once or twice a year for the drivers of his favorite division. That money was still good, and it brought an 18 car field on Saturday night.
After picking up a big win at Cottage Grove Speedway in a shootout race that brought together the three Dwarf Car groups of Oregon, Kalvin Morton had his eyes on another big prize. It certainly looked like he would be difficult to beat when he won both his heat race in the A Dash. Unfortunately, he could not have anticipated the back straightaway crash on the opening lap that ended the race for himself, Fred Hay, Mason Lewman and newcomer Ashleigh Strain. Strain, who has raced for the past several seasons in Outlaw Karts, was making her first Dwarf Car start at Southern Oregon Speedway.
At the front of the pack, Chad Cardoza was looking like a sure winner. Josh King didn't have his car ready for the night, but Jerry Hauck graciously gave him the keys to the #4us car. Hauck watched proudly as King battled it out with Cardoza and Randy Slater in the early goings of the race. Looking the way he did early on, you have to believe that a win is in the future for Slater this year. King made the move around Slater. With four laps to go, he charged past Cardoza and became $1,000 richer as a result.
Cardoza managed to take the checkered in second ahead of Ryan Smith. Cody Peters made a late move around Slater for a fourth place finish. It was a great group of Dwarf Car competitors who put on a show for the fans. Two time reigning champion Brock Peters, who finished second at Cottage Grove the week before, was mired in mid pack for the Main Event. He salvaged a sixth place finish to go with his earlier heat race win as Joe Sanders, Michael Johnson, Mark Neilson and Bill Winter made up the remainder of the Top 10.
One encouraging sign for the Dwarf Cars this year is that several newcomers have joined the field. After his strong second place season in Mini Stocks last year, Michael Johnson is now in the former Anthony Pope Dwarf Car. We also have Mini Stock graduate Andrew Hall, Dan Halbert and Ashleigh Strain on the roster this year.