Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
Can Be Heard HERE
R Charles Snyder Salute $5000 To Win IMCA Modified Race Flier September 1-2 HERE
Cascade Wingless 360 Sprint Car Challenge $3,500 To Win Race, Presented By Herz Precision Parts August 25 Flier HERE
$3,500 To Win Wingless Sprint Car Race Saturday Night
At Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...It's been an exciting month of August at Southern Oregon Speedway, and Saturday night's racing will bring it to a close. Fans have seen two big Dwarf Car shows, a big Winged Sprint Car event and five Southern Oregon racing legends get inducted into the Hall of Fame. On Saturday night, it's the Second Annual Cascade Wingless 360 Sprint Car Challenge Race, presented by Herz Precision Parts. Joining the Sprint Cars on the bill will be the Late Models, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks and JOAT Labs Hornets.
The lure of the $3,500 first prize is going to bring out some big name talent for this special Wingless Sprint Car race. It takes a different breed of driver to wheel these cars around the track without a wing, and in Geoff Ensign you have a driver who is just as fast with a wing as without. Last season, he won the Winged Sprint Car championships at both Petaluma and Watsonville in California. He came up to Southern Oregon Speedway and drove the Ted Finkenbinder entry to the win in last year's Wingless Sprint Car race. Ensign and Finkenbinder will be back to defend the honors.
Last Saturday night, second-ranked Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car competitor Jeffrey Hudson was making laps without a wing. The talented 18 year old leadfoot is excited about making his first Wingless start, and he looked good in practice. Last year, 2016 Winged Sprint Car champion Jake Wheeler was a surprise entrant, and he ended up finishing fifth in the Main Event. He too will be removing his wing and making a run at the big money.
Past Northwest Wingless Tour and Oregon Double Shot Series champion Tim Alberding will be coming down to make a run at the money as well. Three-time Oregon Double Shot Series champion Guy Weedman will also be competing in this year's race. He will be joined by two-time Orland Raceway Wingless champion Bill Hopper and 2015 Antioch Speedway Sprint Car champion Shawn Arriaga.
Young Ariel Biggs is making a name for herself at various races up and down the West Coast. She's not afraid to get behind the wheel of a Sprint Car or a Midget, and she's won races in both divisions. She competed in the Northwest Focus Midget Race at Southern Oregon Speedway earlier this year, and she will be back this Saturday along with such other notables as Mark Herz, Kevin Pendergrass and Lance Hallmark. A field of roughly 16-20 competitors is anticipated for the big money race.
The Late Model point battle is anything but over. After picking up three second place finishes this year, John Dees finally scored his first ever victory in the most recent race after passing leader Nathan Augustine. The win enabled Dees to overtake rookie Miles Deubert for second in the standings, and he only trails Augustine by 20 points. Deubert has been struggling just a little bit lately, and he only leads Dave Foote by 16 points in the battle for third. Foote won his heat race and the Trophy Dash last time out. Other drivers to watch for this week include Bob Dees, John Dees and Mike Linder.
People might have been wondering why point leader David Steele did his "Polish Victory Lap" after winning his seventh Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock Main Event of the season. This was his 27th career win at Southern Oregon Speedway, making him the all-time Mini Stock Main Event win leader. Steele is well on his way to the championship, leaving the battle between reigning champion Kristopher Mix and Hunter Magnan for second. Mix finished third in the Main Event last week, moving him to within 12 points of Magnan. Steve Goetz looked good in his third second place finish of the season, and 2014 champion Gary Anderson was back finishing fourth after a hard crash into the front wall a few week earlier left the rest of his season in doubt. Word is we may see Yreka stars Marilyn Yawnick and Mike Whitaker for a second straight race, and other drivers to watch for include Garrett Fredrickson, Ashtin Hedges and Michael McLeod.
Bree Tritchler had her worst finish in six races, and that's the bad news. The good news is she finished third and continues to lead 2016 champion Tim Hedges by 13 points in a close JOAT Labs Hornets championship race. Bree's teammate Chris Boynton won his second Main Event of the season last week and leads a very close battle with two-time winner Brandon Wonsyld and Dylan Irving for third. Wonsyld is only seven points back. Other drivers to watch for this week include Zach Nelson, Jenna Hedges and Dylan Sauer.
Saturday nights Sprint's Car show will offer plenty of excitement for the fans. Wingless racing isn't something we get to see here very often, and the money will draw some top-notch talent. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race starting at 7 p.m. General Admission is $15. Veterans, Seniors and Juniors (7 to 12) are $10 and Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com or check out the track's Facebook page.
Last Saturday night was Hall of Fame Night at Southern Oregon Speedway. It was another opportunity for the track to honor the heritage of Southern Oregon racing by inducting five new members into the Hall of Fame. This year, the Southern Oregon Racing Hall of Fame welcomed Bruce Rayburn, Dane Smith, Dick Wallace, Dave Duste Sr and Rick Hunsley. All five were well-received by the crowd in attendance.
Rayburn and Smith we're both Late Model stars at the old Medford Speedway in the 1980s. At one point, Rayburn had won 3 championships in a row, and Smith was a champion as well. Wallace won multiple Stock Car championships in the 1970s. Sadly, he has since passed on and was represented by his son and daughter to accept his award.
For the 1990s, Dave Duste Sr was honored for his three championships in Yreka and his three runner-up seasons and more than 20 Main Event wins at Southern Oregon Speedway, among other accomplishments. Rick Hunsley was the final point leader at Medford Speedway in Late Models back in 1989. He was responsible for opening the Yreka race track and giving Southern Oregon racers a place to go racing while John Skinner built Southern Oregon Speedway.
The heritage of racing at any track or within any racing community is important. Those stars of the past are the ones who inspired the stars of today, just as the stars of today are are inspiring the stars of tomorrow. As a final touch, Hall of Fame Night included four display boards with clippings from throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Fans were enjoying the displays all night as they read about the past stars.
The IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds both got their final tune-up before the Big R Charles Snyder Salute race that is coming up on September 1st and 2nd. Extra money is coming in, and in fact we're still waiting on the official word. Already known is the $5,000 to win prize for the IMCA Modified winner on September 2nd. Also, the IMCA Modified and IMCA Sport Modified divisions will compete for lap money. If you lead a lap in the Main Event, you receive $10. All laps in both Main Events have been paid for.
Late word as this column is being written has the IMCA Sport Modified purse being increased to $2,000 to win and $1,000 for second and a minimum of $150 to start. Travis Hoppes has been hard at work bringing in sponsorship, and Claudia Linker is the one responsible for bringing in most of the lap money and landing some sponsorship for additional money in the purse itself. Word is that over 40 Sport Modified competitors have committed to this show and over 30 Modified drivers. It's sure to be a show you won't want to miss.
Having recently won the Beads Shipwreck Nationals at Grays Harbor Speedway in Washington, Nick Trenchard was on the fence about whether he was even going to race Saturday night. However, at the last minute, he decided to go racing to check out his setup. If Saturday's show is any indication, Trenchard could very well be the man to beat this year. It seems that in recent years he's come up big in the big money situations. On Saturday night, Trenchard only took a few laps to get the lead in the Main Event. Once he got there, not even Albert Gill could take it away as Trenchard rolled to his second Main Event win of the season.
Gill, meanwhile, grabbed his third Trophy Dash win to start the evening. The second place finish he earned was his third of the season to go with two third place finishes. He's still looking for his first win of the season. After a crash at the Shipwreck Nationals, Gill had quite a bit of damage to repair on his car, but it looked like things were back to normal again. He maintains the point lead over Zach Fettinger. However, the R Charles Snyder Salute will be the final test.
The Sunday portion of the big event is for IMCA points, and there will be top drivers coming from California and Northern Oregon for a shot at the big money. Just making the Main Event is the key, and Gill's disappointing heat race efforts last season left him in the B Main, which he was unable to transfer up from. If he makes it through everything this year, it may be difficult for anyone to beat Gill for the championship going into the September 22nd finale. It's all riding on the R Charles Snyder Salute. But even more than that, Albert is looking to score his biggest win ever that night.
Likewise, Zach Fettinger would have to be considered a player in the R Charles Snyder Salute. He's a three-time winner this season and currently holds second in the standings. He drove a solid race on Saturday and ended up third at the checkered flag ahead of Jesse Bailey. We haven't seen Bailey as much this year after winning last season's championship, but he drove a good race in holding off Dave Duste Jr for fourth. Duste was the first driver out of the previous race, so fifth was much better as he tries to dial things in for a shot at the big money win.
We also saw a rare appearance from Jon DeBenedetti. DeBenedetti was wheeling the Brian Bowman car and kicked his night off with a heat race win. Unfortunately, all wasn't right in the Main Event and he was out early. As a past John Skinner Memorial winner, beating Bobby Hogge IV that night, you would have to consider DeBenedetti a threat to win the R Charles Snyder Salute. After being a victim of a crash on the one lap shootout restart last time out, Jantzen Knips was back in a new car. He led three laps of the Main Event, but his race didn't go much longer before he retired.
We've been hearing rumblings for a few years now about how the IMCA Sport Modified division's car count was really going to grow This year, they have been delivering the cars. On Saturday night, there were 23 competitors looking for that final tune-up before the big $2,000 to win show. This puts the division right on the borderline of needing a Semi Main, which means it's a very competitive class. David Marble entered the night with a 30 point lead and was running as high as fifth in the feature when he spun out late in the race. This was his first non Top 5 finish of the season, and Branden Wilson managed to gain a little ground on him with a sixth place finish.
One of the young stars from the Yreka area is Ethan Killingsworth. For the past few years, he's been a Top 5 competitor in his pickup truck in the Mini Stock division in Yreka, but this is his first season in the Sport Modified class. Ethan seemed to be getting around the track pretty well on the outside and led a few laps of the Main Event before Matt Sanders went racing by.
Matt Sanders has been traveling to various different venues this season and has been fast, but this was only the second time that we've seen him this year. He was joined by teammates Isaac Sanders and Steven Sanders, the latter of who ended up a respectable 10th in the Main Event. Matt was enjoying a good side-by-side battle with Ethan Killingsworth for a few laps before moving ahead. Once he got the lead, he still had to hold off Rich McCoy. McCoy has had some really good moments at the speedway through the years, including some Modified feature wins and a Mini Stock championship, and he was pressuring Sanders before Sanders forced him to settle for second.
Chico Silver Dollar Speedway competitor Tyler Rogers was back after winning the Main Event the previous race. He kicked things off with the Trophy Dash win, and then found his way to the front, making a late pass on Killingsworth for third in the feature. Killingsworth wasn't the only Yreka driver representing in the Top 5. Randy Wright, who ranked third in points in Yreka in 2017, ended up finishing fifth.
If the IMCA Modified battle at the R Charles Snyder Salute is going to be tough, the Sport Modifieds promise to be even more intense. With that kind of competition coming to Southern Oregon Speedway, the stars in the championship battle will be under quite a bit of pressure just to make the big Main Event. Tony Duste, who is in a battle with Wilson, Willie McFall and Tony Bartell for second, managed to finish 9th in the Main Event. McFall had the worst luck of the bunch as he was out early in the evening and ended up last. It hasn't been a very good run for the past few races for 2017 point runner-up McFall, and he'll be hoping to turn his luck around at the big race.
We probably haven't been looking at John Dees as much as we should be. His father, Bob Dees, is the 2016 Late Model champion. This year, John seems to have stepped his game up quite a bit and had three second place Main Event finishes going into Saturday night. During the first half of the Main Event, it looked like second might be where he would finish again, but things suddenly took a positive turn in his direction.
Incoming point leader Nathan Augustine had two feature wins coming into the night and led nine laps of the Main Event before getting just a bit out of shape and being passed by Dees. Moments later, Augustine's luck went from bad to worse when he spun. Dees simply motored ahead at the front of the pack and added the Main Event win to his heat race win from earlier in the evening. Augustine battled all the way back to second, but he was called on a jump start infraction and dropped two positions on a late restart. He ended up third, and he now leads John Dees by 20 points in a close championship race.
We hadn't seen long time competitor Mike Linder in the field in several races. There might have been some question as to how well he would do or if there would be a little bit of rust, but the old man still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Linder ran a good race. Augustine may have passed him once, but in the waning laps, Linder forced him to settle for third and punched his ticket into this Saturday night's Trophy Dash in the process. Looking as good as he did, you can't count him out in the battle for a Main Event win this week.
In fourth, you had a battle between Bob Dees and his son Garrett Dees. Bob would get it to the finish line in fourth and will also be in the next Trophy Dash. Garrett was just happy to be back again. About a month ago, he was at Sunset Speedway with brother John, who won the Main Event that night. Garrett's luck didn't go quite as well as he crashed. He was making his return in the former Matt Micheli car and looked better than he has in some time.
Top rookie Miles Deubert continues to struggle as he's been trying different setup things on his car. He struggled back in eighth at the finish. Meanwhile, Dave Foote had the best preliminary effort of anybody with wins in both his heat race and the Trophy Dash. His Main Event ended in sixth, which was probably just a bit disappointing for the one-time feature winner as he looks to make a move into third in the standings.
David Steele wins again. That seems to be the headline for just about every Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock Main Event. The runaway point leader could very well clinch his first Southern Oregon Speedway championship after Saturday night. Helping make that possible was his seventh win of the season last week, which capped a sweep of heat race and Trophy Dash. Steele was in a celebratory mood and did an Alan Kulwicki Polish Victory Lap that might have had people confused. Just another win? This was David's 27th career win at Southern Oregon Speedway, making him the all time win leader in the history of the class.
Teammate Steve Goetz still hasn't ruled out the possibility of making a move up a position or two in the standings. The 2013 champion currently ranks fourth. He ran a strong second in the Main Event, and this time, Steele didn't get too far ahead of him before the checkered flag waved. Goetz leads the division with four second place finishes as he looks to get his first feature win of the season this week.
Behind Goetz, reigning champion Kristopher Mix and 2014 champion Gary Anderson were having a good battle for third. They traded the position a couple of times before Mix finally took the checkered flag ahead of Anderson. Anderson was another one of those drivers just happy to be back. The last time out, contact with another car sent him head-on into the front wall with severe front-end damage. His season might have been over, but Anderson logged many hours to get it back together. He was rewarded by earning a heat race win earlier in the evening before clinching a Trophy Dash starting spot this week with his fourth place finish.
The Trophy Dash was where Ashtin Hedges was this week. The young up-and-coming star led the race for three laps before spinning coming out of Turn 2. Hedges was right behind the trio of Goetz, Mix and Anderson at the checkered flag for a respectable fifth place finish. Mike Whitaker and Marilyn Yawnick were both battling for Top 5 finishes. These two drivers are battling for the Yreka championship this season, which would be the third for either of them. Unfortunately, Whitaker had motor problems in the Main Event, and Yawnick also had problems force her to retire. Both drivers enjoyed their visit, and we may see them back this week to try again.
The JOAT Labs Hornets division continues to have a battle between Bree Tritchler and 2016 champion Tim Hedges for the point lead. However, Hedges seems to be driving a car that's motor is just a bit tired. He ran second in the Main Event for several laps, but in the last few circuits, he faded back to fourth as Brandon Wonsyld raced by for his fourth second place finish, while Tritchler ended up third. She now holds a 13 point lead over Hedges.
Wonsyld and Tritchler now each have four second place finishes. Had he not missed a pair of races, it's likely that two-time feature winner Wonsyld would be leading the standings. As it is, he's not too far behind Chris Boynton in the race for third. Boynton helped his cause by winning his heat race and his second Main Event of the season last Saturday. With Wonsyld and Dylan Irving chasing him, he knew he needed a win.
It seems as if the season has taken a toll on the car count. While there were as many as 14 cars earlier this season, the number had dwindled down to six last Saturday night. A few drivers, including Zach Nelson and reigning champion Jason Stoutenburgh, are out with motor problems. Though this division is seen as an economical entry-level class, it is still expensive at times to keep the cars going.
The Old Time Racers of Oregon Hardtops were back, and Mark Minter continues to be the driver to beat. It started in the heat race for him as he held off Trophy Dash winner Bill Trotter for the victory. Minter led Trotter throughout the entire distance in the rapidly run Main Event with Dean Cast a solid third. The win was the third straight for Minter.
John Butler was making his Hardtop debut in the former Brian Crouch car, and he led two laps of the Trophy Dash before doing a solo spin on the back straightaway. He spent the Main Event battling Jay Smith for the fourth place finish. Earlier in the evening, Chris Mehrer was hoping the new blue paint job on his car would change his luck. Unfortunately, he needed a tow truck to lift his car off the track and load it up after hot laps. Not the kind of night he was looking for.
Outlaw Kart Pit Stops
The Outlaw Kart program at Little Southern Oregon Speedway is seven races old, and it's the young kids who seem to be having the closest championship battles. In the Beginner's Box Stock class, Chayce Smith made the trip from Hayfork to come race once again. The last time we saw the six-year-old leadfoot, he was scoring a convincing victory in the season opener. This time, incoming point leader Carson Henson had his eyes on a win. Smith had the lead, but Henson stuck with him like glue. Henson had earlier won a heat race and attempted a last-lap pass at the line, only to fall just short in second.
Austin Bartholomew, who was a Main Event winner the last time we saw him, did a good job of getting his kart to the finish line in third ahead of reigning champion Malachi Johnson. With Uriah Sanders absent from the recent race, Henson is leading Johnson by just six points going into September. As a four-time winner, Johnson may seem like the driver to beat. We'll have to wait until September 7th to find out.
When race day comes, Jayme DeBenedetti will have her eyes on third in the standings. She trails Uriah Sanders by just eight points despite not having the best of nights In seventh behind heat race winner Kellen Hurst last week. It was a very active day for Albert Gill Jr. Gill, who made his debut by sweeping the Novice Box Stock races at the previous event, spun in the first heat race and was hit, forcing him to miss a heat race while his father and Kenny Boardman were making repairs. He came back and finished fifth in the Main Event.
Keaton Augustine has been practically unbeatable in the Box Stock division, and this has forced Ryan Hirschbock to do everything he can every week to keep the point damage to a minimum. Though Hirschbock had a feature win earlier this season, Augustine won three in a row going into Friday night. However, Hirschbock was about to have his most dominant performance of the season. Augustine was denied the Winner's Circle all night as Hirschbock picked up a pair of heat race wins and then won the Main Event.
The Main Event had an interesting start as Hirschbock bolted into the lead. The cars got a little too close for comfort exiting Turn 2, allowing Hirschbock to have a straightaway advantage by the completion of the first lap. When Augustine gained second a lap later, there was just too much distance to make up. He settled for second and maintains a 12 point advantage going into the next race. Three drivers who have been racing at Cottage Grove this year occupied the next three positions as Mason King was third ahead of Willamette point leader Keegan Bounds and Cottage Grove point leader Kasey Simmons. Bounds brought a second Box Stock to the track that he practiced with at the end of the night before heading down to Cycleland Speedway.
The most supportive team over the past two-and-a-half seasons has been the Grimes team, but reigning 250 Kart champion Trevor Grimes was absent on Friday. This broke the race wide open in favor of Vinny DeBenedetti, who emerged with a 31 point advantage despite not having the best of nights. All Vinny needs to do for the rest of the season is keep making starts and get his points, and the championship should be his.
Speaking of championships, Cale Cunial is on his way to the Yreka championship this year. He, twin brother Cole Cunial and Dallin Degata made a surprising visit on Friday. Cale swept both heat races and the Main Event ahead of Cole for the 1-2 finish. With his third-place finish, Taylor Fuller is within two points of Grimes for second. As of two races ago, it appears as if Taylor has made the move up from the Box Stock division completely now and is focusing on the 250s. His older sister Brianna Fuller just had her cast removed. This meant that as per doctor's order, she couldn't run the UAS Speedway Kart this week, but the next time we see her, she may be running both the Speedway Kart and the 250 Kart.
Speaking of the Speedway Karts, Steve Rambo took a big step towards the championship on Friday Night by sweeping his division. Rambo won both of his heat races and set a rapid pace in winning his third straight Main Event. His closest competitor in the standings is now the 4 cycle Kart of Lori Fuller, who trails him by 30 points. Larry Fuller was feeling just a little bit beat up after the previous race and opted not to compete, dropping him to one point ahead of 2016 Yreka champion Ed Grubb in the race for third. Grubb helped his cause on Friday by finishing second in the Main Event ahead of Lori Fuller and Ken Gaines
The youngest of the young drivers were again given the Novice Box Stock race. There were three drivers, but Uriah Boardman was not comfortable with the safety precautions that his father initiated following the youngster's crash into an infield pole last time and decided not to race. The youngest competitor in the field, Caleb Ranney, was just a little bit scared going out there, but in the two races he did start, he did just fine going out there and making his laps at his own pace and taking the checkered flag.
Bhaltair Edwards, meanwhile, has shown noticeable improvement as he won both heat races and the Main Event. He appears to be just about ready to race with the Beginners Box Stock drivers. The Novice class was implemented three races ago as a way to give the newest drivers an opportunity to go racing without being too intimidated by the more experienced beginners.