Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Southern Oregon Speedway Banquet Announcement And Other Observations

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Southern Oregon Speedway Banquet Announcement 
And Other Observations

White City, Oregon...We're a couple of months into the offseason, and it won't be long before the 2019 season will be upon us. But before we get there, there will be an awards banquet celebrating the 2018 season. This will happen at Los Arcos Restaurant in Medford on January 26th.

Once again, the Top 10 drivers in all of the track's regular divisions will receive trophies, and "Rookie Of The Year" winners will also be honored.

All in all, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the 23 year old racing facility. When it was built, the people and the racers flocked to the speedway be a part of the excitement. Huge numbers of fans spectated some great racing excitement, and seeing more than 100 cars in the pits was common when things really got going during the first 10 year period.

By the time KJE Enterprises entered the picture to begin promoting in 2016, the speedway was far from those glory days. The previous half dozen years weren't anything to brag about, but at least racing was still continuing on the 3/10 mile clay oval. Promoter Mike McCann set about adding new attractions to the schedule and new divisions to give the fans more variety to enjoy. In these past three seasons, we've seen an increase in attendance and car count. Though it's not on par with those early years, it's certainly better than what the fans were seeing in the immediate years leading up to McCann taking over.

There were a few occasions when long time fans even had to admit that they hadn't seen numbers like this in years. The Roger Haudenshild Tribute race had nearly 100 cars. The R Charles Snyder Salute had well over 100 race cars in the pits as the biggest car count the track had seen in over a decade. The season finale tipped in at 80 competitors, prompting some people to wish the season could go on for just a few more weeks.

There were certainly some moments to be proud of. A future column will review the season itself, but we can take a look at some good moments we had at the speedway in 2018. It may not seem like much to some, but Albert Gill winning his third IMCA Modified championship was quite an accomplishment. Gill was faced with the pressure of needing to make the Main Event in the star-studded R Charles Snyder Salute. He did so by impressively winning his B Main, thereby punching his ticket into the show. He has won all three of his championships in the last five years.

David Hibbard blazed a trail in the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car Series by winning five Main Events in the first six races. By the time the season finale came along, he didn't have to be there to win the championship. David has been a leader in the revival of Sprint Car racing in the area, and he is the first to admit that it's great seeing so many young, up-and-coming racers on a roster that continues to grow.

Another David who has the respect of his peers is Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock champion David Steele. David carried a nice experience advantage over his fellow competitors as he was on a quest to win his first local track championship and take his seat atop the track's all time Mini Stock Main Event winner's list. He accomplished both tasks. To show you how impressive he was, Steele won nine Main Events, and his two worst finishes were second place.

It's not often you miss a race and are still able to win a championship. It becomes even more of a challenge when you're trying to dethrone the reigning champion. Second-generation competitor John Dees was a model of consistency with five second-place feature finishes during the season and one win. When John again picked up a second place finish in the finale, he accomplished his Late Model championship winning goal.

Rookies usually spend the season learning, and we get a sign of what they can do with a couple of nice moments during the season. However, Bree Tritchler accomplished something some drivers race their whole careers and don't get done. She won the JOAT Labs Hornets division championship on the strength of five second place finishes and one victory. She needed her second place finish in the season finale to close the deal.

The SODCA Dwarf Car division, which had their banquet back in October, fielded some of the biggest car counts at the speedway all year. A nice mixture of veteran competitors and newcomers gave them full fields most of the time. The competition was so tough that there were roughly a half-dozen drivers with a shot at the championship going into the finale. However, it was third generation racer Josh King using a second place finish in the final race to hold off Chad Cardoza to reclaim his position at the top of the point list. Young Michael Johnson was the top rookie of the season and won his first heat race late in the year as one of the track's rising young stars.

Another division putting some of their best car counts ever on the track this year was the IMCA Sport Modifieds. It seemed like everybody was getting a car to run this class, and it was a wide-open battle. Past Mini Stock champion David Marble kicked things off with his first win in the division and backed it up with several Top 5 finishes. By the time the season finale came along, he had secured the championship over the rookie Branden Wilson. Marble now has a Sprint Car as he looks forward to his next challenge.

Since the Valley Store All Late Model Lites were brought back to the roster in 2016, Charlie Eaton has been one of the most consistent drivers. It seemed like usually he was finishing second or third, but this year, he took it up a notch with a division leading three wins to write his name into the record books as a Southern Oregon Speedway champion.

The R Charles Snyder Salute stands head and shoulders above the other races as the marquee event of the season. The community seemed to band together to help make this show even bigger. Sponsorship grew the IMCA Modified winner's prize money to $5,000, while the IMCA Sport Modifieds were racing for $2,000 to win. In fact, the Sport Modifieds fielded over 50 cars for the two-day event. The Modifieds checked in at over 40. Guy Ahlwardt came from Antioch, California and surprised the Sport Modified competitors by holding off local ace Jorddon Braaten for the impressive win. Bobby Hogge IV won the Modified race.

The track hosted one of the biggest races of the year for the Winged Sprint Car class in Oregon. Roughly 20 competitors checked in to run the Ironhead Nationals, and Summer Thunder Series competitor Garen Linder returned to his hometown to score an impressive $2,000 victory.

When you're talking about impressive victories, the race of the season for the Sprint Car class happened in the season finale. Outlaw Kart star Tanner Holmes was running fifth on lap 18 when the teen leadfoot noticed the groove on the outside was faster. He moved up. A series of passes put him in a position to make a last-lap pass on the front stretch to take the win away from race long leader Mike Wheeler. Holmes won the last two Main Events for the class.

The biggest Wingless Sprint Car race in the state also happened at Southern Oregon Speedway. Defending Herz Precision Parts Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge race winner Geoff Ensign left little doubt when he battled Shawn Arriaga early on before pulling away to the $3,500 victory. Another talented up-and-comer, Jeffrey Hudson, won a three-car battle late to finish a $1,500 second.

Nick Trenchard has a knack for winning when the money is on the line. The Sixth Annual Rodger Haudenshild Tribute race was paying $2,000 to win for the Modifieds. Trenchard defended his win in the previous race with another triumph. In the companion Sport Modified class, it was Californian Fred Ryland winning the prize, which was over $1,000. Dr. Scott Lenz left with more money when he won the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock portion of the show.

Dwarf Cars took center stage to kickoff August as nearly 60 competitors showed up for the annual WSDCA Dwarf Car Nationals race. Ryan Diatte was the star of the weekend in the Pro class as he won both the Preliminary and final Main Events. It was 2016 race winner Tim Fitzpatrick coming back to win the Veteran Main Event finale. Another local star, Brett James, won the Sportsman Main Event. Southern Oregon Speedway also got to be part of the Dwarf Car Speedweek as the opening race win went to Camden Robustelli. Several members of the PHRA came to town, giving them a field of roughly 40 competitors.

The Northwestern Focus Midgets made their second appearance at the Speedway for a Memorial Day Weekend visit.  A well run program saw 30 competitors come down, mostly from Washington and Canada, to entertain the crowd.  Jonathon Jorgenson won the Little Indy special in what was a fast race with close battles throughout the pack.  The Iron Giant Street Stock Series was back with a field of over 20 competitors a couple of weeks earlier.  This series is proof that Street Stock racing is still alive and well in Oregon.  Andrew Langan won the 50 lap race.

A small but dedicated group of Pro 4 Mini Stocks came from the Salem area and had some good racing with Rick Wagner winning in their lone appearance.  The OTRO Hardtops brought their beautiful six-cylinder cars to the track for six appearances, and among the notable moments were Mark Minter's three wins in the oldest car in the group and a pair of wins by Bill Trotter.  There were many good battles for victory throughout the season.  One of the most notable wins was scored by Preston Jones in the IMCA Modified finale after a good battle with CJ Putnam.  It was the first career win for Jones in this division.

Southern Oregon Speedway also proudly hosted the second annual Southern Oregon racing Hall Of Fame. This event was created to pay homage to some of the all-time greats of Southern Oregon racing. This year, Bruce Rayburn, Dave Duste Sr, Dane Smith, Dick Wallace and Rick Hunsley where all inducted at the August event.

These are just some of the things to be proud of from 2018. It was a team effort. Of course, numbers wouldn't be up if it wasn't for the great support of the fans and all of the competitors who came out to be a part of the show. Numbers were looking particularly good in Dwarf Cars and Sport Modifieds, and the Modifieds had their best season in four years. With a boost from several Outlaw Kart competitors, the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car division had its best year since the class was restarted in 2016.

There's still much work to be done to get things where everybody really wants to see them, but plans are underway to make 2019 the best season in years at Southern Oregon Speedway. The first order of business will be the awards banquet, which again will take place at Los Arcos Restaurant in Medford on January 26th.

2018 Southern Oregon Speedway Point Standings

2018 IMCA Modifieds
1    Albert Gill
2    Zach Fettinger
3    David Satterfield
4    Nick Trenchard
5    Jantzen Knips
6    Mark Wauge
7    Duane Orsburn
8    Dave Duste Jr.
9    Jesse Bailey
10    Jeremy Ohlde

Rookie Of The Year - David Satterfield

2018 IMCA Sport Modifieds
1    David Marble
2    Branden Wilson
3    Tony Duste
4    Willie McFall
5    Tony Bartell
6    Jimmy Lipke
7    Mike Medel
8    Danny Rule
9    Billy Richey
10    Braxton Possinger

Rookie Of The Year - Branden Wilson

2018 Kendall Oil Sprint Cars
1    David Hibbard
2    Jeffrey Hudson
3    Bailey Hibbard
4    Blaine Cory
5    Tanner Holmes
6    Aaron Miller
7    Enrique Jaime
8    Merissa Henson
9    Charlie Thompson
10    Todd Whipple

Rookie Of The Year - Blaine Cory

2018 Late Models
1    John Dees
2`    Nathan Augustine
3    Miles Deubert
4    Dave Foote
5    Bob Dees
6    Mike Linder
7    Don Garrett
8    Garrett Dees
9    Eric Massey
10    Dave Everson

Rookie Of The Year - Miles Deubert

2018 Valley Store All Late Model Lites
1    Charlie Eaton
2    Greg Arnold
3    Eric Aos
4    Dusty Aos
5    Lee Doty
6    Bob Burkett
7    Danny Prewitt
8    Jim Cunningham
9    Terry Hadley
10    Krista Hadley

2018 Bobbio’s Pizza Mini Stocks
1    David Steele
2    Hunter Magnan
3    Steve Goetz
4    Kristopher Mix
5    Garrett Fredrickson
6    Michael McLeod
7    Ashtin Hedges
8    Gary Anderson
9    David Marble
10    Marilyn Yawnick

Rookie Of The Year - Michael McLeod

1018 JOAT Labs Hornets
1    Bree Tritchler
2    Tim Hedges
3    Brandyn Wonsyld
4    Chris Boynton
5    Dylan Irving
6    Jenna Hedges
7    Dylan Sauer
8    Ashtin Hedges
9    Zach Nelson
10    Jason Stoutenburgh

Rookie Of The Year - Bree Tritchler