Thursday, April 26, 2018

We'll Get The Season Started Yet?

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
Can Be Heard HERE

We'll Get The Season Started Yet?

White City, Oregon...We're in a holding pattern right now. I'm sure you're looking out your window on a beautiful sunny day. It's Thursday. We've gone over a lot of stuff at Southern Oregon Speedway during these past couple of weeks. The effort has intensified. As I look out the window, we could go racing right now if the weather holds.

There are many things that go through the mind of a promoter as they prepare for a week's race. So many things that need to be taken care of. Is it all ready to go? Then, you look at the weather. Now, this is a controversial subject. It's touchy to some people. If you happen to cancel a race and it looks the least bit like you could have gotten away with racing, you're going to be criticized for canceling the race.

You want ideal conditions. What I would like to see is the kind of weather I'm looking at out my window right now. Sunny skies, mild temperatures. Perfect for opening the season. We had this back in 2016, and it was one of the best nights that we've had in terms of crowd response. When you have gloomy skies, unless you're a die-hard fan, you're less inclined to come even if the race is happening.

This matters to the business model. I don't want to get into all of those details, but you want as many people to come out and watch the races as you can because it pays the bills and keeps things going. Bottom Line. Now, last year, we wanted to go racing. What we had on opening day was cloudy and gloomy skies and the possibility of rain. Because it didn't rain, we went ahead with it. It was not a banner night for the track in terms of attendance.

So, you proceed with the thought that you're opening the race track. Jim Rodgers has been out there working hard to work that new clay in and give us a great racing surface. I can see him stressing on different things, because the man takes what he does very seriously. He wants to give the racers a good racing surface. He's doing everything he can, even today he's working on it.

Mike has been going over his list. So many other things have to be taken care of to get us going. You want a nice grandstand area, and our power wash guy went over the entire grandstands and concession area. It looks nicer than it has for a long time. The concession stands are cleaned and ready to go. The souvenir stand, all of it. We're ready to go racing. Things are lined up. All we need is good racing weather and we can go.

The grass on The Grassy Knoll and the pit area was pretty tall, as you can imagine. It was a wet winter. I don't claim to be an expert in mowing, but the job needed to be done. With Uncle Rich having left us for California, somebody needed to get out there and do it. I volunteered. I definitely feel beat up from all the bouncing around on the mower that I was doing, but I think I did okay for the most part. Probably could have done better, but I've learned a few things to apply to next time. It's still a nicer looking pit area than it was a week ago.

So, the schedule is booked and we have a really great lineup planned. IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Late Models and Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars. Everybody is just excited to go out and race again. I like what I'm hearing. Our Sport Mod group is looking at bigger numbers this year than ever before, and that translates into a great season for the class. Mike Medel, Jorddon Braaten, Willie McFall, Jesse Merriman, Dwayne Melvin, David Marble and Joby Shields are just a few of the names I'm hearing.

The Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars have already raced a couple of times. In fact, last Saturday they raced, and on Sunday they were doing a car show in Central Point with a meet and greet for the fans. They've got $1,000 lined up for the winner of their first race here. I know the Dwarf Car guys are chomping at the bit to go racing, and we've got some great competitors in the field, like Brock Peters, Josh King, Chad Cardoza, Ryan Smith, Fred Hay, Cody Peters and Randy Slater.

A lot of great competitors still have IMCA Modifieds. Who may race with us is still in the big question. But, names you are familiar with, such as Mark Wauge, CJ Putnam, Albert Gill, James Welshonse, Ray Kniffen Jr,  Preston Jones, Jon DeBenedetti, Zach Fettinger and reigning champion Jesse Bailey are some we are expecting. I believe if the drivers truly get behind the effort, we will have one of the best IMCA Modified shows on the West Coast. I know we have that in our three signature races for the class, the Roger Haudenshild Tribute, IMCA Wild West Speedweek race and the R Charles Snyder Salute. But, there's no reason we can't have strong support for our other shows as well. At least I hope so.

Late Models are lined up and ready to go. This is the second full season for this class since we brought it back. It never really had as much of a chance as we've been giving it, because we believe in Late Model racing. To know that Nathan Augustine will be back to defend his title is great news. Bob Dees and Mike Linder are staunch supporters of Late Model racing, and the Dees boys, Garrett and John, will be out there giving them hell. Dave Foote, Chris Biggs & Miles Deubert are others I'm looking forward to watching.

This really is a nice lineup for the season opener, but now we watch the weather patterns in disappointment. Is it going to rain out? It doesn't look good. What will the weather do? Will it rain? How much will it rain? Will it be gloomy and miserable the way it was for our season opener last year? These are all things that we have to worry about. You want the best conditions possible to open, but if you can race, you want to race too. It's better for the track overall to have ideal conditions. We will get there. It can't rain forever, can it? Look at the weather now. Man, why does there have to be any rain in the forecast at all?

So, I'm looking at the schedule for next week, and we've got our IMCA Modified and IMCA Sport Modified classes back. It's also the season opener for the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, presented by Hays Oil. JOAT Labs Hornets and Mini Stocks are also on the card. This is a really good lineup.

There's been a lot of talk around the Sprint Car division. More cars coming and we should be looking at an increased turnout this season. The goal was to build this class up to a level it's really never been at before. Yes, we've had Sprint Car racing throughout the history of this track, but when you think about it, the local Sprint Car effort has never really gotten the kind of promotion it deserved.

David Hibbard is somebody who believes strongly in the class and the rules package as a way to get more young drivers out here. He has stepped in with Dave's Carpet And Vinyl Liquidators to help with the purse. He also will be out there racing along with his son Bailey Hibbard. Both are great racers, and it's really exciting to see the caliber of young talent we have lined up this year. Drivers like our top rookie last year, Merissa Henson, and let's not forget Enrique Jaime and Tanner Holmes. I'm hearing of returning Sprint Car champion Charlie Thompson. Aaron Miller is back with us this year as is Todd Whipple. Hedge Carter and his son Colby Carter. Point is, Sprint Cars are looking good from everything I've heard.

I'm hearing more buzz with Sprint Cars and IMCA Sport Modifieds than any of the other classes, and it's always nice to hear that more cars are coming. The JOAT Labs Hornets should do pretty well this year. The Hedges family will be well represented with 2016 champion Tim Hedges, 2017 Rookie of the Year Jenna Hedges and Ashtin Hedges. The Nelson family will be represented with Darrel Nelson Jr, joined by his sons Zach Nelson and Ryan Nelson. Reigning champion Jason Stoutenburgh, and a couple of young competitors, Dylan Irving and Brandon Wonsyld, will be back. Bree Tritchler and Kelli Burton are part of the field. Again, this class is looking good. It's the gateway into racing on the big track.

This leaves the Mini Stocks, and we have some good racers in this field. We've got reigning champion Kristopher Mix out to see if he can repeat. 2014 champion Gary Anderson is back. 2015 champion David Marble has a car again. Not sure what his schedule is, but we know he's already raced and looks really good in this car. 2015 Yreka champion David Steele may be the hottest driver in the area. Hunter Magnan is out to improve on his Rookie Of The Year and 8th place season from last year. Andrew Hall and Mike Cloud are on the roster. Tim Hedges is going to be running a Mini Stock. I've heard rumors of other cars that I don't have names for, but let's not forget another championship-winning name, Steve Goetz.

The point is, we want to see this season start just as much as everybody else does. Things are lined up. I think we've got all the I's dotted and crossed all the t's. We need Mother Nature to cooperate with us. I know that if we pull the plug on this race, there will be people wondering what if. We'll have critics as we always do. But, Mike is going to make the best decision for the good of this race track, and there will be racing this year. There will be lots of racing.

I've often wondered if you could cover a quarter mile race track somewhere in Oregon. Have a covered track and covered pit area. Then, you're not dealing with rainouts as much anymore. I bet that track would be a big winner. Of course, it would probably cost a lot to build the whole thing. Generally speaking, we have a five-month window to get our racing season in, and even then, rain wants to intrude on us.

But be ready, because some big races are around the corner. The Iron Giant Street Stock Series Disorder At The Border happens on May 19th with the Open Wheel Showcase a week later. Then, the Roger Haudenshild Tribute on June 2nd, followed by Monster Truck Mayhem on June 9th. That's just a sample.

Let us not forget the little Southern Oregon Speedway track, because Karts will be racing on May 18th and 19th. I know rain has claimed quite a few of those races in the last couple of years, but I feel very strongly that we will have our biggest season yet. Judging from the names I am hearing, it should be a good Kart season as well.

The point is, keep the faith everybody. We have a great schedule set for this season, and I strongly believe this is going to be the best year the track has seen in recent memory. And the key to making it that way is all the great competitors who come out and support us at each race. We're here to put on a show for the fans, and I think they will be happy with what they see. Stay tuned!