Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Two Nights Of Racing At Southern Oregon Speedway

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Two Nights Of Racing At Southern Oregon Speedway

As the weather heats up and signals the beginning of summer, the racing will be heating up at Southern Oregon Speedway as well.  There will be two nights of racing this week, and it starts on Friday night with another night of Outlaw Kart racing on the fast one-eighth mile dirt oval.  On Saturday, it will be six divisions of racing on the big track.

The Kart track is creating our next generation of stars, and Tanner Holmes was the star who shined the brightest last time out.  The reigning 250 Kart champ won that division's Main Event and then made his first start in the 500 Karts a winning performance. The skill in which he handled his Karts would suggest that this young man could be a future Sprint Car star in the making.

Another youngster by the name of Trevor Grimes got his Box Stock title defense started off right with an impressive feature win of his own.  The Box Stock division is a class filled with some talented girls in the field, including 2014 champion Carley Holmes, Natalie Richard and Emma Rodgers.  Isabella Jaime also impressed with her heat race victory on opening night.

A field of about three dozen Karts is anticipated Friday night, which will include the youngsters of the Beginners Box Stocks.  These are the kids ages 5-8 who are just getting started.  The show will get started at 7:00 p.m.  Gates will open 5:00 with a general admission of $10.  Children six and under are $5.

On Saturday night, the three-tenths mile clay oval will play host to a six division program that will include Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks, OTRO Hardtops, Super 4's and Hornets.  The Hornets were added to the program this week in part because of the light schedule they have.  Also, the six car field produced last time was the highest car count in the three seasons the class has been running.

Promoter Mike McCann has sent as message to the racers that the four cylinder divisions are just as important to the track as the other classes, and the Hornets play a vital role in the growth of the program.  They bring new racers to the speedway with an affordable set of rules.  Last week, Heather Menzel and Joby Shields made their first starts of the year, and Shields won the Main Event.

Tim Hedges won a heat race a week earlier.  His Main Event didn't go so well.  "I went the wrong way on tire pressure, " Tim explained.  "I added when I should have subtracted.  That made a big difference."

There aren't too many setup secrets in the Hornet class, but tire pressure does have an impact on the speed and handling of these cars. Hedges won the Trophy Dash last week before placing third in the Main Event.  Only a few points separate the Top 3 of Hedges, John Hoult and Darrel Nelson Jr. in a close point battle.

Also in the field last week in her season debut was Heather Menzel.  Heather had one start last season, and she was in a different car for what would be a fourth place finish.  "This is his (Devon Weiser's) car from last year, " said Heather.  "This is a neat class.  It's easy, and it's fun.  It's not like you're done if you wreck it."

One selling point for this class is the affordability as most of the racers have gotten into it for less than $1000. The Hornets just graduated their fourth driver into the Mini Stocks, Garrett Fredrickson.  Unfortunately, Garrett crashed in hot laps last week, ending the night for both he and title contender Gary Anderson.  Gary was trying to rebound from a bad night a week earlier.  Handling was a bit of an issue after he spun early in that race before charging back to fourth.  "The car was a bit loose, " Anderson admitted.  "I didn't want to sit there and draw a yellow after I spun.  I don't do that unless the car dies.  I was just a bit upset after that, so I didn't help myself."

The door was open for Andrew Hall to move into second in the standings, and he made it happen with a fourth place finish.  Hall was coming off of a career best second place finish in his Pinto Wagon a week earlier.  He finished behind point leader Bob Burkett that night.  "The car was good, " He admitted.  "I was watching him (Burkett).  We weren't gaining on him, but he wasn't pulling away either.  We're getting things fixed on the car and we're getting closer."

Hall had to do some rear end repair and had some help from sponsor Medford Radiator in fixing his radiator for this race.  Burkett snatched a Trophy dash win from Hall last week with a last turn pass, but his bid for a third feature win was thwarted by David Steele.  Steel has been racing Mini Stocks for nearly as long as Burkett and is a past top 5 competitor at the speedway.  He won the championship at Yreka last season.

Steele's title defense took a hit earlier this season as he scratched one night after hot lap's.  The issues were starting a week before that.  "The motor was laying down pretty badly the week before that, " Steele explained.  "That was why I didn't come here on the week off.  We didn't run that night because I didn't see any sense in tearing the motor up worse."

David has built a few competitive cars through the years, including the John Derby championship car and the car driven by Gary Anderson.  The #67 car that he wheels is the first car he built, and he's proud of that car.  Kris Mix is in the car he bought after crashing his other car at Yreka's playday.  In fact, that old car will be back eventually with a new driver.

Kris ran better in fifth this week, but things weren't quite right with the #89 car a week earlier.   "We ran a bad clutch last week just to get through the night, " said Mix, who is fifth in the standings.  "It had about three-quarters throttle.  The car handled way better than last time.  I could drive it and point it where I wanted it to go.  The problem was the clutch was slipping." 

While Bob Burkett has been beat, the Wheeler family remains undefeated in Winged Sprint Cars going into this race.  It may fall on Wayne Kniffen to do something about it, and he's ready to give it his best.  "I think we're getting the car figured out, " said Kniffen.  "We were hooked up out there last time, and I think we can beat him."

Who will show up for a shot at victory is still unclear, but Todd Whipple and Bill Hopper are both anticipated from California.  Reports out of Creswell are that 2015 Cottage Grove Limited Sprint champion Patrick Dills has marked this race on his schedule as night to visit.  Another report from earlier this week has past Cottage Grove Limited Sprint Car champion David Hibbard and a couple other drivers planning to visit.  David is from the area, is a past Top 5 ranked driver and has three wins in the last 28 races.

Jorddon Braaten is now a two time winner in IMCA Sport Modifieds following his win last week over Mike Medel.  The two drivers seem to do battle wherever they race.  Medel won the Trophy Dash earlier in the evening.  Mike had a good showing the week prior with a fourth place finish.  A night later at Yreka, he won his heat race before his night took a turn in the wrong direction,  "The car handled great, " Medel admitted.  "I adjusted the car too much.  "I look some drive out.  I didn't expect the track to get better.  They were passing me left and right."
 Meanwhile, rookie A.J. Parker is climbing the point ladder and sits fourth in the standings.  He is just excited to be racing.  "This is my first car, " he explained.  I've raced Go Karts before this.  My wife and I built this car, and I love it.  We are considering putting another car together for next year."

Another rookie, David Marble, sits third in the standings.  His night was a mixed bag last week.  David won his heat race.  He ran second in the feature until breaking a ball joint to end his race.  He'll be back to try again this week as the 2015 Mini Stock champion continues to learn in his new car.

The Old Time Racers of Oregon will be there with their Hardtops.  The drivers started out on the pavement of Roseburg, but some of the racers wanted branch out to the dirt.  The group has not set a tire rule, and all of the racers ran slick tires on the dirt track last time.  That made for some interesting moments as the cars struggled for grip at times early in the evening.  Chris Mehrer gave the other drives something to look at in the pits.  After winning the Trophy Dash, he put his car into the front wall and knocked the front end out from underneath it.

The Main Event and heat race wins went to Trevor Thomason ahead of Bill Trotter.  The Trotter family fielded three of the cars that competed last time.  These Coupe and Sedan bodied race cars give fans a glimpse of the division that headlined at many race tracks in the 1950's and 1960's.  Word from OTRO leadership is that everybody is ready to come back, including the #16 machine owned by Bill Trotter and driven by Mehrer.  Furthermore, there was word of the possibility of a new car or two coming to play this time.

The Super 4's will be back to try again.  Steve Thompson won the season opener ahead of 2013 champion John Barger.  Lee Doty was a Main Event scratch last time, but he should have things situated this week.  He won the lone Main Event for the group last year.  This group of drivers is not as worried about rules as they are about getting cars back to the track.  "We're just coming out here to race and have fun, " Barger explained.  "It's kind of an open rules thing.  We just want to get the cars back out here again."

The SODCA Dwarf Cars aren't racing this week, but they are a part of the Monday, July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza show and along with the IMCA Sport Modifieds and Valley Boys Auto Sales Outlaw Pro Stocks.  The star of the this last week was Brock Peters, who bounced back from his terrible luck in a big way with a flag to flag romp for victory.  He was never seriously challenged as he won his heat and the and A Dash for a clean sweep. 

Brock might have won the Main Event the time before if not for some bad luck taking him out.  To the spectator's eye, it might have looked like two time reigning champion Josh King took him out, but that simply was not the case.  "I blew a fuse and lost power to the car, " explained Peters, who was Top 5 ranked in points last season.  "The car died, and Josh had nowhere to go.  He never would have hit me.  He had nowhere to go.  I've never had a problem racing with him.  We race each other clean. What happened was I hit a bump; and it sparked and blew a fuse.  The car was running great.  For it to die liked it did was just a tough deal."

The battle behind Brock went to the checkered flag as Ryan Smith won a spirited duel with King to grab the second place finish.  Camden Robustelli and point leader Kalvin Morton rounded out the Top 5.  The Dwarf Cars welcomed Don Gifford back to the field.  Don has been racing for many years and is a past Claimer Car champion in the 1980's.  A health scare took Don out of the action last season .  "I had heart surgery in September, " Gifford explained.  "I didn't race last year.  The year before, I kept racing and getting tired and I couldn't figure out why.  The doctor told me it was a good thing I didn't race last year or I may not have made it.  So, this is my trial run.  We'll see if I can make it."

Gifford appears to have passed the test as he took checkered flags all night in his #87 Dwarf Car and had fun.  The SODCA Dwarf Cars run with another group in Coos Bay this week and hit Yreka on July 3rd before coming back for the July 4th event.  You always know you are in for a good show when the Dwarf Cars come to town.

The six division event this Saturday night will feature Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars,  IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks, OTRO Hardtops, Hornets and Super 4's.  The show should a good one with the variety of divisions being offered. Gates will open at 5:00 p.m. with the first race to fire off at 7:00 p.m.  General admission is $12 with seniors and juniors $6 . Children under five are free.  For further information, check out

Southern Oregon Speedway Points

Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars
21wr     Jake Wheeler     103
21w     Vern Wheeler Jr. 74
84k     Wayne Kniffen     60
25     Camden Robustelli     57
54     Bill Hopper     54
L88    Jeffrey Hudson     53
04     Todd Whipple     46
101    Charlie Thompson 31

IMCA Sport Mod
84     Jorddon Braaten     156
30m     Mike Medel     137
4m     David Marble     126
76     A.J. Parker     125
8n     Bob Nelson      107
4y     Jimmy Lipke     107
27b     Tony Bartell     93
7j     Fred Ryland     77
69     Dwayne Melvin     72
7     Patti Ryland     69

Mini Stock
43     Bob Burkett     146
007     Andrew Hall     117
17h     Marissa Henson     109
0     Gary Anderson     102
89     Kristopher Mix     98
49h     Eric Hanson     64
9c     Mike Cloud     63
7x     Ethan Killingsworth     57
2d     Devon Weiser     56
87     Dillen Lausen     55

14     Tim Hedges     65
67     John Hoult     63
8g     Darrel Nelson Jr.     62
555    Joby Shields    32
77     Garrett Fredrickson     26
2h    Heather Menzel    25
77    Sebastian Burson    23

Super 4's
2    Steve Thompson     34
7b     John Barger     33
99    Bill Spencer     26
7    Lee Doty     6

OTRO Hardtops

Trevor Thomason        35
Bill Trotter        31
Gary Barber         30
Jimmy DelCastille     27
Brian Crouch         26
Wylie Powell        6
Chris Mehrer        6