Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Monster Trucks Invade Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...It's been a while since people have been able to enjoy a good Monster Truck Show in an outdoor environment in the Medford area. On Saturday night, Southern Oregon Speedway will be delivering the goods when the Malicious Monster Truck Insanity Tour comes to town. It will be a night of car crunching, adrenaline pumping excitement when the the Monster Trucks pull onto the speedway to entertain the crowd. Joining them in support will be the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars.
Monster Truck shows have entertained fans for many years. The only thing keeping the Medford area fans from seeing a truly entertaining show has been the proper outdoor venue. Southern Oregon Speedway will offer these gargantuan vehicles plenty of room to do their thing.
Five of these beasts will be on hand as they compete in various competitions, including the jaw-dropping Best Trick competition, Full Throttle Racing and the No Rules Freestyle Throwdown.
Trucks that are scheduled to appear include Rockstar, Beast Mode California Kid, Identity Theft and Pound Hound. In addition to the five competitive vehicles, the Deogee and Skeletor trucks will be on hand to offer rides for the fans. It promises to be an enjoyable evening from start to finish.
As if the Monster Truck show wasn't enough, the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars will be on hand as the support class. The record shows that in five events, there have been four different Main Event winners in the series. Reigning champion Brock Peters won impressively last week, joining Guy Tow, two time champion Josh King and two time winner Camden Robustelli on the list of drivers who have recorded a victory so far this season. A good field of cars is anticipated for the Dwarf Car portion of the program, including Chad Cardoza, Ryan Smith, Fred Hay, Randy Slater and Cody Peters.
For the fans looking for a little bit more racing action, the little Southern Oregon Speedway track will have a full Outlaw Kart program on Friday night, including the 500 Open, 250, Box Stock, Beginners Box Stock and UAS Speedway Kart classes. Admission is $10 for that show.
The gates for the Monster Truck show on Saturday night open at 5 p.m., and the pit party starts at 5:30 p.m. Show time is 7 p.m. VIP Adult tickets are $30. Adult tickets are $20, Senior tickets are $18, Juniors 7 to 11 are $8 and children 6 and under are $5. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
Outlaw Kart Pit Stops
With the big track at Southern Oregon Speedway hosting a Monster Truck event with Dwarf Cars in support, we're going to hold off on the Roger Haudenshild Tribute notes and talk a little bit about Little Southern Oregon Speedway. This is the 1/8 mile track on the facility that trains some of the future stars that make it up to the big track.
During the past four or five years, the Kart program has fallen on challenging times. There are many factors that contribute to this as Kart racing in Oregon and Northern California isn't what it once was. The cost factor in keeping 500 Open Karts running has led to a steep decline in kart count. Drivers don't want to bring their karts to the track unless they're running for a big purse. Big purses are not going to come unless you can get big crowds to come watch.
What you're left with is anywhere from a dozen to 16 500 Open Karts in the Medford area, but people won't even take advantage of the track running on Friday night to get some laps. You also have drivers in the 250 Kart class looking for a move up beyond the 500 Open Karts. They're already looking over at the big track. Several drivers have made that move into the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car division.
When you look at the other classes, the biggest support seems to be coming in the Beginners Box Stock division. Lots of young drivers are now taking their first laps at Little Southern Oregon Speedway. It's a family affair. The Henson family has young Carson Henson in a Beginners Box Stock. Carson is already a champion at Yreka Indoors this past offseason. He is a fast learner, and we just may see him racing with his older sister on the big track when he's old enough.
Mike Wheeler is a name that everybody knows. When there's a big 500 Open show, you better believe he's going to be there, oftentimes picking up the win. Mike Wheeler Jr becomes the third generation of his family to go racing. Young Mike has won three races in a row in Yreka and is hoping to get his first win at his home track.
You also have the DeBenedetti family represented. Jayme DeBenedetti just got started in the Beginners Box Stock class last year at Yreka Indoors, and she won one of her heat races in the Medford season opener. Older brother Vinny DeBenedetti has come through the ranks from Beginners Box Stocks to Box Stocks and is now running a 250 Kart. We just saw where young Albert Gill made his Beginners Box Stock debut in Yreka last week. His father is a two-time champion in IMCA Modifieds and has raced at Southern Oregon Speedway for some 20 years.
The Grimes family has been supporting the speedway pretty well during the past few years. Trevor Grimes is now the reigning 250 Kart champion, and he won the season opener last time out. The night really looked like it was going to belong to 2016 champion Bodee Weiser, but traffic slowed him down just enough for Grimes to make his move. Bodee doesn't come alone. Brother Braden Weiser is out there running, and the two finished second and third behind Grimes in the season opener. Step brother Dillen Lausen did a good job finishing third in the 500 Open Kart class. For father Mike Weiser, it's about having fun and bonding with his boys at the race track.
The Grimes family has two other members out there racing. Kiley Grimes won the 2016 Beginner Box Stock championship and came within a whisker of winning it again last year as she settled for second. She has made her move up to the Box Stock class, leaving Isaac Grimes as the latest family member to compete in the Beginners Box Stock division. You have to start somewhere. Isaac was just getting comfortable in his kart at the opener and ran at the back of the pack. As he gets more seat time, he'll get faster.
That's the thing about the Beginners Box Stock class. It can be intimidating for these kids to get behind the wheel, and sometimes their kart is at the track and they don't drive. When they do get behind the wheel, some will run the bottom line at their own speed. This is the place to learn, and every one of those kids can be proud of how they've done.
Malachi Johnson had a little bit of swagger about him when he started racing at the speedway in 2016. You could tell this kid had confidence in what he was doing. Last season, even a blown motor that put him out for a week didn't stop him. He made a charge and won the last three races to win the Beginners Box Stock championship. He is out to repeat this year, but he'll find the competition just a little bit tougher this time around. Malachi had a difficult time during the heat races at the opener, but he rebounded quite nicely, coming from the back of the pack to a third place finish.
Finishing second in the Beginners class was Shailene Horn. Shailene had a second place finish back in 2016 and ranked second in the standings. We hadn't seen her too much this past season, but she did a good job in finishing second In the Main Event again. She also had a second place finish recently in Yreka behind Wheeler.
Chayce Smith has just been going everywhere he can go to get more seat time. The kid is only 5 years old, and he Is driving like he's been around for years. Coming from Hayfork, he's made most of the Yreka races during the past two seasons. He won every race he started at the Medford season opener.
Once you get comfortable behind the wheel of your kart and get a little bit older, the Box Stock division awaits you. Kiley Grimes was just a bit nervous about driving, and she thought about not even racing. However, she went out there and gave it a good run and took checkered flags in all of her events.
Another driver moving up from the Beginner class this year is Jacob James. James won a pair of Main Events last season before dropping out of the scene for a while. He won his heat race and finished fourth in the Main Event this time out. It won't be a surprise to see him pick up a win in this class as the kid seems to possess the skills and the patience it takes.
Of course, Taylor Fuller will be very tough to beat. Fuller has already won championships in the Beginners and Box Stock divisions at Yreka. This year, he's not only running the Box Stock division, he's also making his first laps in a 250 Kart. In the Box Stock division, he won a heat race, and he also won the Main Event. He also made what was probably the move of the night in the Bragging Rights Dash when he made two passes on the last lap to get the victory. His mother informs us that he wasn't even going to run that race. He had to be talked into it.
Keaton Augustine was fast at the opener, but it seemed to be an eventful weekend for him. When it was all said and done, he still put it together for a second place feature finish. Keaton drives perhaps the nicest looking kart in the field with a beautiful baby blue paint job. He is the fourth generation of his family to go racing, and his father is the reigning Late Model champion on the bigger track. Racing is in the Augustine family's blood.
When last we saw Ryan Hirschback, he was crashing his black #11 kart and might have been out of racing at that point. But the Hirschback family has been racing for quite some time as well. They got Ryan a new kart, and he looked good all weekend in finishing second in both of his heat races and capping it off with a third in the Main Event. We've heard that they're only doing this part time, but if Ryan can make the schedule, he could be a contender for the championship.
The 250 Kart division saw an increase to nine karts for the opener. The Weiser brothers have been taking their show on the road and doing well wherever they go. They had a couple of podium finishes in Yreka and actually brought home the victory in the season opener. Bodee Weiser is the 2016 champion, as mentioned above. He was the only driver other than Tanner Holmes to get a feature win that year in the division.
Bodee found the fast way around the little track and Illustrated that beautifully by winning both of his heat races and the Bragging Rights Dash. It appeared as if nobody was going to touch him in the Main Event. His undoing was traffic that ran the high line that he was running through Turns 3 and 4. That enabled Trevor Grimes to make the pass underneath and steal the victory away. When Grimes caught traffic in the same turn later, he was able to make the move and keep Weiser behind him. Running as well as he was, Bodee had to be a little disappointed, but he still did a good job. Brother Braden also had a strong night as he won one of his heat races and finished third in the Main Event.
Grimes really did a great job last season in running two karts, but the team knew that there was room for improvement in the 250 ranks. They got a new Kart for the season, and hopes were set a little bit higher. Trevor's preliminary effort yielded him one heat race win, but he saved the best for last by picking up his most impressive feature win yet. Trevor means to defend the championship that he won last year, but he knows he'll have to go out there and earn it. With nine races left to go, anything can happen.
Brionna Fuller has driven pretty much everything on the kart level and even a 600 Micro. She has won a UAS Speedway Kart championship and a Box Stock title in Yreka. She was wheeling her 250 Kart on this occasion, which may have been the first time that she and younger brother Taylor were on the track racing in the same division. As Brionna returns, you'll have to keep an eye on her. She is definitely a threat to win a Main Event.
Vinny DeBenedetti has climbed through the ranks at the kart track. Because he's a big kid, he had to move up from the Box Stock division rather than run another season there. He showed his toughness when he flipped his Box Stock last season and returned to make his debut in the 250 division. He did well in the opener in fifth
You might have assumed that Mike Wheeler had everything well in hand in the 500 Open division. Wheeler kicked things off with a heat race win, which did nothing to dissuade those thoughts. It was in the second heat race where 2016 champion Johnny Burke surprise him by scoring the victory. Burke wasn't done. He was leading the Bragging Rights Dash when motor issues reared their ugly head and took him out of the game. He appeared to have something for Wheeler, but the Main Event battle they could have had was not to be. Wheeler won the Bragging Rights Dash and picked up the Main Event win in comfortable fashion.
Kenny Boardman was busy all weekend trying to get his son's kart ready for his Beginners Box Stock debut. On Sunday, he pulled out his 500 Open and made a pair of passes to finish second in the Main Event. Kenny also did the track preparation in the days leading up to the race. Dillen Lausen was behind the wheel of the former Merissa Henson kart and finished third in the Main Event. Henson has another kart already and she finished fourth. Hopes are high that maybe there could be a couple more karts coming out next week. Unfortunately, Colby Bergquist had work to do on his kart after flipping in his heat race to end his night.
Speedway Karts put on a pair of good shows in their visits last season, and they are now a part of the roster this year. Steve Rambo Is enjoying his time in these open cockpit racers. Rambo picked up a win in the 4 Cycle class Main Event and also scored a $200 second in the KT100 race. He had second for a while in the UAS Speedway Kart race, but he lost that to Daniel Kravitz. These two drivers and Speedway Kart feature winner Jeremy Brown ran both the UAS and KT100 races.
Unfortunately for Larry Fuller, he never quite could get his UAS Speedway Kart to the finish line. He was fast, but he watched the Main Event finish from the sidelines in sixth. Past Yreka champion Ed Grubb also seemed to have a few difficulties in getting a fourth place finish ahead of Trey Hornbrook.
Due to the fact that there was another Speedway Kart race running further down in California, kart count was down just a bit. The one thing about the UAS Speedway Karts is they go around that track pretty quickly and you have to be up on your game when you're behind the wheel.