Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Sprint Cars Return
To Southern Oregon Speedway Saturday Night
White City, Oregon...The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars return to Southern Oregon Speedway this Saturday night. They've had two races with exciting conclusions so far this year. Also on the card will be the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets, the Valley Store All Late Model Lites and OTRO Hardtops.
Family is an important part of the racing community. This is seen in the pits among the various teams in all divisions, and it's seen in the grandstands where parents bring their children to enjoy a night at the races. One prominent family in the Sprint Car class is the Wheeler family. It was two weeks ago when Mike Wheeler became the latest member of his family to win a Sprint Car race at the speedway.
Mike's father, Vern Wheeler Sr, raced Stock Cars and Sprint Cars throughout his career. He has been memorialized in recent years in an Outlaw Kart race that has happened at both the little Southern Oregon Speedway track and the Roseburg indoor track. Vern's other son, Vern Wheeler Jr, has won several Main Events at Southern Oregon Speedway in his career. When the current Sprint Car effort was rebooted in 2016, Vern won the first two races before retiring and turning over the wheel to son Jake Wheeler.
Jake Wheeler went on to win the championship that year and has won Main Events here and at other race tracks in the seasons that followed. Having pretty much won everything there is to win in Outlaw Kart racing throughout a very successful career, Jake's uncle Mike Wheeler decided to turn his attention to the Winged Sprint Car effort and has seen some impressive results so far.
Mike led all but the final lap of last season's finale, when he was passed by rising young star Tanner Holmes in the final turn. However, Mike learned a valuable lesson about using the outside groove when necessary. It served him well as he passed both Bailey Hibbard and then another Outlaw Kart graduate, Blaine Cory, in winning the most recent race. In fact, Mike has the lead over TJ Winningham in the championship battle. Mike isn't the last member of his family who has gone racing. Son Mikey Jr is racing Box Stock Karts and is already a feature winner like his father.
Wheeler will be going for his second win in a row, but he knows the competition will be tough. The Father and son team of David Hibbard and Bailey Hibbard will be there to present a challenge. Past division champions TJ Winningham and Charlie Thompson have been fast so far this season, and new competitors such as David Marble, Anissa Curtice and Jared Hood also make the field that much more competitive.
David Steele has been racing Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks for over a decade and is the all-time winner and current champion in the class. However, he's been getting a serious challenge from young Ashtin Hedges. Hedges has a feature win this season and is only a few points behind Steele in the title chase. These two drivers have been at the head of the pack, but 2017 champion Kristopher Mix, Hunter Magnan, Michael McLeod and Andrew Hall are among the drivers to watch in the battle for victory this week.
The victories have all belonged to Dylan Sauer so far in the JOAT Labs Hornets class. He has won all three Main Events as the husband-wife team of Tim Hedges and Jenna Hedges have taken turns finishing second to him. In keeping with the family theme, Jenna and Tim are the parents of Ashtin. It's a close point battle at the top between Sauer and Tim Hedges so far. However, Derrel Nelson Jr, rookie Quinton Tritchler, Chris Boynton and reigning champion Bree Tritchler are among those to watch this week in the quest to evict Sauer from the winner's circle.
The Nelson family has gotten the opportunity to race together this year. Brothers Zach and Ryan Nelson are enjoying their opportunity to race with their father Derrel. Younger brother Gabe is a part of the safety crew at the speedway and hopes to get a chance to race in the future. Zach may be the first member of the family to move up to the IMCA Sport Modified division as he has a car in the works.
Reigning champion Charlie Eaton won the season opener for The Valley Store All Late Model Lites. Chief rival Greg Arnold hopes to make a challenge on him this week. Jim Cunningham is a newcomer to the class with hopes of getting the win this week. Ross Payant and the father-son duo of Eric and Dusty Aos are other drivers to watch in what should be a spirited battle for victory.
A solid turn out of 10 OTRO Hardtop competitors were on hand two weeks ago for their race, which was won by Dean Cast. Mark Minter is the only driver to win features with the group in each of the three seasons prior to this one. He seemed to be headed for a win last time when mechanical issues sent him to the pits. He'll be out to get the win this week. The Minter family is at the heart of the association, which was founded in the 1980s in part by his grandfather, the late Harold Minter. All of Harold's sons drove the pink #33 car at one time or another through the years, and Mark is the latest driver.
Continuing the family theme, father Bill Trotter and son Dusty Trotter have fielded multiple cars in the class. Both Bill and Dusty have won races. In fact, they could win again this week. Other drivers to watch for include Jay Smith, Chris Mehrer and Eric DeRamus.
It will be a good night for some racing this Saturday night. This five-division lineup offers a little something for everybody. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with the first race at 7 pm. General Admission will be $13 with Seniors, Veterans and Juniors 7 to 12 $7. Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
It really is an amazing thing. It seems like though there isn't a lot of fanfare, everybody knows when the IMCA Modified Wild West Speedweek Tour is about to begin. Some time between late December and early January, a schedule is released highlighting the dates for the year. Then, there's almost silence at that point. About a week and a half to two weeks before it's set to go, Ben Deatherage begins his publicity blitz, and then it happens.
There's not a lot of talk between those two time periods. There are no real big announcements of drivers who are coming out this year. No real discussions at all. At least ways, it doesn't come from the Tour itself. You might see racers announce that they are going to be supporting the Tour via their own social media pages, but you don't see much from the Tour itself.
Perhaps that's a testament to how big this has become since it launched in 2011. The drivers already know the drill. The format is set, the purse is set and they know what the Tour point fund pays in the end. You either show up and run it, or you don't. One way of looking at it is there is a built-in roster of racers who will support it. You know that you're going to generally get somewhere between 35 and 45 racers. On the other hand, one can't help but wonder how much bigger it could be if there was more energy put into it.
At Southern Oregon Speedway, there are usually two storylines at play. Obviously, the Tour regulars are vying to get good finishes and get off to a good start as they compete for a championship. You know they are going to be fast, and many of them are going to claim starting spots in the 20 car Main Event. This is what affects the other ongoing storyline. Not only is there a Tour championship at stake, the local track point race is also hanging in the balance.
For the real heavy hitters of the group, one might look at the Speedweek race and the upcoming R Charles Snyder Salute as two opportunities to make up ground in the local point race, should they miss two other races during the year to run big events elsewhere. When the locals are struggling to make it into these two big events, you can make up many of the points that you lose from skipping two of the races. It also kind of puts the local racers in a lesser light. It's as if it's already a foregone conclusion that they aren't making it into these two big shows.
Jesse Williamson is coming to town. Colin Winebarger, John Campos, Kellen Chadwick. All of these drivers are fast, and it's quite remarkable to think that Winebarger is the only one of these four who's never won a Speedweek title. From further down in California, multi-time Santa Maria Speedway champion Danny Lauer is coming, and there's always a question of who else might show up. This year, Bakersfield racer Jerry Flippo made this trip. Shane DeVolder came up. This young gun is the reigning State of California champion. Gray Fernando, Mark Carroll, Matthew Drager, Lawrence O'Connor. It's understood that the competition level will be high.
The Speedweek Tour is the real deal, and it's a hot ticket for Modified fans. Some fans will try to make most or all of the dates. In this case, it's eight races in nine days. It kicks off at Siskiyou Golden Speedway on Friday, heads to Southern Oregon Speedway the next day. Coos Bay gets the Sunday date, and then it's off to everybody's favorite track, it seems, Cottage Grove Speedway. After two dates there, they hit Sunset Speedway, and then it's off to the Thursday party. An off-day to fix the cars. The big finale is two events at Willamette Speedway. If you're not there in person, you're tuning in via Speed Shift TV to catch every night of the drama. Either way, people want to see how it's going to go.
It's with this backdrop that the Southern Oregon Speedway stars nervously pull into the pits. In fact, a few competitors opted to just skip the show entirely. If you're one of those drivers hoping to win a championship, you can't skip it. You need to show up and do the best that you can. This year, Zach Fettinger decided that he must show up if he intends to make a serious championship bid. He skipped the show last year, and that may have been the difference between first and second in points. 2017 champion Jesse Bailey showed up. Not that it's much of a surprise, but three-time reigning champion Albert Gill showed up as well. Ray Kniffen Jr, Duane Orsburn and Dave Duste Jr were there to give it a go, along with rookies Justin Foux and Jimmy Lipke. Of the last five names, all but Kniffen have been making the effort to run the whole Tour as this is being written on a Thursday morning.
It's possible that people still haven't grasped how much faster Fettinger is these days. It shouldn't be a surprise. He was a three-time winner last season, and even if he hasn't won yet this year, he has still been one of the most impressive racers in the field. As if perhaps to serve notice to everybody, including himself, Zach made an impressive last lap pass on two-time Antioch Speedway champion Carl Berendsen II in the final turn of the very first heat race to score the victory.
Bottom line, you weren't keeping Fettinger out of the show. As announcer Ben Deatheridge made his way down to the front straightaway for the ceremonial pill draw for the Top 8 point earners from the heat races, both Fettinger and Gill were there to draw numbers. It was a fine showing for two of the top championship contenders. Neither of them would be watching the Main Event. They would be racing. It was a little bit more dramatic for Bailey, who had to earn a second place finish in the Last Chance Qualifier to start last on the grid.
What's interesting is that Fettinger didn't just start the race, he finished fourth and increased his point lead in the process. If he gets tripped up in his bid to win his first career championship it's not happening at Speedweek this time. He might breathe a sigh of relief that he managed to do so well, but Zach also knows that it's time to get back to work. The next race for the IMCA Modifieds at Southern Oregon Speedway is July 20th for Willamette Valley Bank Night, and he intends to be ready for it. Neither Gill nor Bailey earned a finish finish to brag about, but the 15th that Bailey earned and the 18th for Gill were still better than failing to make the transfer. It was still a moral victory for the two.
The battle that has taken place from the start through Thursday as this is being written is between 2016 Speedweek champion Chadwick and Winebarger. Both started at Yreka with Top 10 finishes, and Chadwick proceeded to dominate most of the Southern Oregon Speedway race. At times he held straightaway advantages over second place, but traffic seemed to be his undoing. Whether it was hesitation or just difficulty getting around the group of cars in front of him, Chadwick was slowed just enough for Winebarger to close in on him. Winebarger made a thrilling pass late in the race to get the win, forcing Chadwick to settle for second.
An obviously dejected Chadwick said things that might have resonated in people's minds a couple of days later. When they went to Coos Bay, Winebarger dominated the show in victory with Chadwick once again finishing second. From a point standpoint, Chadwick was doing what he needed to do to make another Speedweek championship bid, but Winebarger was off to his best start yet. When they went to Cottage Grove, Winebarger again led the way with Chadwick in second. There was another traffic scenario, but this time there was contact between second place Chadwick and Winebarger, resulting in a Winebarger spin. This enabled Chadwick to take the win and the point lead.
Chadwick was visibly unhappy with himself in the post race interview, saying that this wasn't the way he wanted to win. For Winebarger, he would brush it off and come back to Cottage Grove the next night with a victory, just ahead of Chadwick. Chadwick still held the point advantage heading into Sunset Speedway, but the rain would postpone the show.
The freak shower drenched the race track, resulting in a couple of hours of intense wheel packing. Drivers sat in the staging area a couple of minutes before 11 that night, anticipating the start of the Main Event. The checkered flag waved at that point, due to curfew. This particular Main Event will have to wait until after Friday's race at Willamette Speedway. This is where the series sits as of this writing.
Four-time Tour champion Jesse Williamson was behind the wheel of one of the Jerry Schram cars for this occasion and was the one grabbing the third place finish at Southern Oregon Speedway ahead of Fettinger. Bakersfield Speedway regular Jerry Flippo also collected a Top 5 finish. It's what highlights one of the cool things about Speedweek. Four of the Top 5 finishers were racers you don't normally see at the Medford area 3/10 mile clay oval.
Jeffrey Hudson picked up a sixth place finish. He was another racer who would be competing throughout the entire Speedweek Tour. Hudson missed the previous race at Southern Oregon Speedway to compete in the two-day show at Cottage Grove, forcing him to surrender the point lead. Word is that he was hoping he could make a run for points, but as he pilots the car for Don Roemer, he will be racing where the car owner chooses to race. You still know that this talented young man will be in the hunt for wins whenever he's behind the wheel.
Hudson had a frustrating moment prior to the pill draw. He seemed to have a good heat race effort, which included a second place finish in the first heat race and a third in the second heat. He was initially listed as one of the Top 8 racers, but as he made it to the infield, he was informed that he was ninth, and Williamson was one of the eight instead. This put Hudson into the first 15 lap B Main, which he won ahead of defending Tour champion Campos and Berendsen. It was still a good night, but Hudson had to be wondering what could have been if he'd have made the pill draw and been fortunate enough to get a low number.
The back half of the Top 10 was still stacked with talent. Behind Hudson in seventh was reigning Willamette Speedway champion Gray Ferrando. Ferrando is currently running second in a close battle with reigning Oregon State champion Bricen James at his home track this year. Finishing eighth at the checkered flag was Campos, followed by Drager and DeVolder. Drager was forced to win the Last Chance Qualifier to get into the show.
DeVolder has been a fascinating racer to watch as he's rapidly risen through the ranks in California. He's the son of past Petaluma Speedway Street Stock champion Dean DeVolder, and Dean got Shane into an IMCA Sport Modified. Shane ran a mixture of sanctioned and unsanctioned races in 2016 and was among the Top 5 at Antioch Speedway. A year later, he won the California State IMCA Sport Modified championship, and last year he surprised some people by winning the IMCA Modified State championship along with the All Star Series Modified title. Having racked up so many accomplishments so quickly, Shane decided it was time to tackle Speedweek.
The IMCA Sport Modifieds were running in support of Speedweek, and there's been quite a bit of chatter among the drivers in the group. They want to be a part of Speedweek at every show. A half-hearted attempt was made to include them in 2017, but unfortunately every track was not included on the schedule. The importance of the inclusion of all of the tracks cannot be understated. There are drivers from California who are very keen on running the Tour, but the exclusion of Cottage Grove on the 2017 attempt to have a Sport Modified Speedweek resulted in lukewarm response at best. It was deemed to be a failure, but the powers-that-be didn't take into account how much of an impact the lack of Cottage Grove had on those numbers. Speak to any of the drivers who wanted to go and didn't that year, and they'll tell you that the lack of those dates was the determining factor in their decision not to race.
It's also important to note that Southern Oregon Speedway has included the IMCA Sport Modifieds for the past four years now in this big event. Prior to Promoter Mike McCann coming to town, the Sport Modifieds were not part of this particular show. Something is happening with the Sport Modified division, and it's a good thing. When the division exploded on the scene in California in 2011, it seemed like just about every track got on board with this class. Oregon is just a few years behind them in those regards, but the same thing is starting to happen here now.
23 competitors showed up to race on the bigger stage in front of the Speedweek crowd. However, Super Dave again showed up to lead the technical inspection of the race cars once again. Every racer knows that he's going to go over each car with a magnifying glass, and if there's something he doesn't like, you'll have the IMCA rule book thrown at you. Racers are prepared for that, and in fact, many racers were looking forward to it. One driver who bore the brunt of the inspection this year was Jantzen Knips.
Knips had earned a Top 5 ranking at Southern Oregon Speedway last season in the IMCA Modified division. Seeing how well the IMCA Sport Modified division has been growing and thinking that he might be better off detuning his race car to compete in that class, Knips made the move. He had been off to a good start after three events and could be considered one of the legitimate championship contenders. After Saturday's pre-race technical inspection, it was decided that Knips would not be allowed to run with the Sport Modifieds. This left the second-year competitor scrambling to get a membership form that would enable him to race with the IMCA Modifieds that night instead.
Still in the field for the fourth event of the season was two-time champion Jorddon Braaten. Braaten himself didn't have fond memories of a previous time in which he ran a Speedweek race at Southern Oregon Speedway. It seemed he had a good night with another victory, but he was on the other end of the Super Dave magnifying glass.
Though there are critics who have attempted to throw that in Jorddon's face, he's won several races and a few championships since then and made it through tech every time. He was hungry to get another win and make another statement in tech this time. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it any further from his ninth starting position than third, but that forced him to head to tech, which he again passed with flying colors.
The Main Event had a bumpy start with no less than three restarts. It seemed like they couldn't get it going. When they finally got a lap in the books, another yellow flag waved. This would lead to a little bit of controversy a few laps into the race. Championship hopeful Branden Wilson managed to lead some laps before being overtaken by eventual winner Isaac Sanders. At one point, however, Wilson spun into the infield behind one of the big tires. Officials determined that he was safely out of the way and allowed the race to continue, causing an uproar with some of the safety crew. As they rushed one of the safety vehicles towards Wilson, he fired up his car and drove into the infield.
On the track, Isaac Sanders was giving a good demonstration of why Matt isn't the only Sanders people should take seriously as a threat to win. Isaac, like his brother, has won at Yreka this year. When Matt got into second, Isaac did an excellent job of holding him off for the victory. The Sanders brothers are both very much in championship contention as Braaten leads the way. There's been some speculation as to whether Jorddon really wants to win the championship here after spending a few seasons avoiding the point race in Medford, but the others will have a difficult time bumping him from the lead if he is there every week. The one thing Jorddon isn't is overconfident. He may be fast, but he knows that you take it one race at a time when competing for points.
Californian Brent Curran had an opportunity to make a visit. He's one of those racers very interested in competing in a Speedweek that includes all of the tracks for this class in the future. In fact, Curran made the trip up last year and not only ran Yreka and Medford, he headed to Coos Bay on Sunday and competed with the local Sportsman Late Model class there. After a second place finish in Yreka on Friday, his Medford visit saw him coming from the back of the pack to a fourth place finish. It was another good showing for the second-generation racer, who has four wins and is locked in a close battle with Tommy Fraser for the Antioch title. It's possible that we could see both Fraser and Curran for the R Charles Snyder Salute later this year.
Mike Medel has gotten a little bit of assistance with chassis set-up, and it seems his #30 car has been handling much better lately. He enjoyed a really good battle with Brian Johnsen for the fifth spot before settling for sixth. As his car has come around, Mike has steadily climbed up the point ladder and is fourth in the standings after Saturday. There's still enough time left in the season that some shake-ups could occur. What's still interesting about the IMCA Sport Modified race is that you can see the field is getting faster and more competitive.
In the first few years, it seemed like a few racers have held a little bit of an edge over the rest of the competition, but when you see 21 cars starting the Main Event, you know that at least half of those racers have a legitimate shot at victory. We've seen some improvement out of both Steve Lysinger and Brian Knorr this year. Both drivers have had Top 10 Main Event success as they get better in their second seasons behind the wheel. Knorr took a checkered flag in seventh behind Medel and just ahead of Donald Bandfield. Though Bandfield hasn't competed for a couple of seasons, he looks far from rusty so far. He earned his eighth place finish ahead of Yreka point leader Colt Boswell and Billy Richey.
Sport Modifieds at Southern Oregon Speedway are becoming quite a show. We've seen three different winners in four races, lots of passing and close racing at the front and even a photo finish victory for Matt Sanders at the season opener. We are just four races into the season, and there's plenty of racing left to go. Like the IMCA Modifieds, the IMCA Sport Modifieds will be a part of the big Willamette Valley Bank Night on July 20th. The inclusion of Late Models, Southern Oregon Dwarf and Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars will make that show one that people won't want to miss.
Like the Sport Modifieds, the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars are producing big numbers. Again, the 21 year old group delivered 21 competitors to the field. Josh King seems to be in a winning mode once again. Everywhere he goes, the three-time reigning champion is winning. He headed up to Willamette Speedway and grabbed the victory the week before. He adds that to his winner's trophies collected at Winnemucca, Nevada and Yreka so far this year, but he wanted to get the trophy at his home track.
Actually, King was in a racy mood on Friday and brought his Dwarf Car to the little Southern Oregon Speedway track. The Teddy Bear Racing team provided trophies for all of the Beginners Box Stock racers who showed, and Josh put his Dwarf Car on the track after all of the other competitors had done their practice laps. He didn't get up to full speed, but it was interesting watching him go somewhat fast through the turns. King has had his Dwarf Car at the little track before. He and Ryan Smith both made practice laps on that track about 6 or 7 years ago. Could Dwarf Cars invade the little track some day?
All fun aside, Saturday meant it was time to get down to some serious racing, and King knew he had to be on his game to beat Brock Peters. Peters already has a win at Southern Oregon Speedway and is looking to win his third series championship. Both drivers began the night with heat race wins, joined by the other Southern Oregon Speedway feature winner of this season, Camden Robustelli. It was Peters winning the A Dash. Robustelli was in the catbird seat as he led the opening lap of the Main Event, only to spin. While Camden played catch up, it wasn't long before King and Peters were again battling at the head of the pack. It was King who would prevail on this occasion.
Robustelli wasn't playing around. After his his earlier issues, he rapidly worked his way to the front of the pack. He made a move around B Dash winner Fred Hay to get the fourth position. Hey has been off to a good start this year and would take the checkered flag in fifth on this night. People are talking about the elder statesman of the group and speculating that if he continues to run this well, he might be winning a Main Event soon. Robustelli's bid for a podium was thwarted by Ryan Smith. Smith had everybody talking last time when he barrel rolled about seven times in Turns 1 and 2, rejoined the race and finished the sixth that night. This time, there were no such mishaps as he took the checkered flag in third.
Little Southern Oregon Speedway Pits Stops
Little Southern Oregon Speedway matched its biggest total of competitors in the pits in the Mike McCann reign as promoter. There were 54 total entries in the event last Friday night. This included competitors in the 250 Karts, Box Stocks, Beginners Box Stocks and UAS Speedway Karts. However, there was also an abundance of Trikes, Quads and Flat Track Bikes. Fans who came to watch this event definitely got their money's worth.
The 250 Kart division was very competitive. Three different drivers took checkered flags during the night. Current point leader and 2017 champion Trevor Grimes won the first heat race and reigning champion Vinny DeBenedetti won the next heat. However, the Main Event glory went to young Taylor Fuller. Fuller has now won Main Events in Beginners, Box Stocks and 250 Karts at the speedway.
DeBenedetti has been struggling just a little bit in the early goings of the season, but his heat race triumph gave indication that things were coming around. Furthermore, he ran second in the Main Event for most of the distance before mechanical issues sent him to the pits with just a few laps remaining. This opened the door for past Beginners Box Stock champion Cadyn Smith to grab his best finish yet in this class with a second. Jacob James, who is in a close battle with Grimes for the point lead, made an attempt to get around the outside of Smith in the final turn, and that opened the door for Grimes to steal third at the checkered flag. It was a nice battle between those three, but Fuller had checked out on the field.
At this point, Keaton Augustine has the Box Stock division well in hand. Keaton rolled to a clean sweep and his third-straight feature win. Rumors are circulating that Keaton could be moving up to the Junior Street Stock division that competes at Madras at some point in the near future. Malachi Johnson, the 2017 Beginners Box champion, returned after a week's absence and grabbed his best finish in this class in second, followed by Kiley Grimes. Hunter Granger was back, though his feature didn't go so well. Because Granger is locked in a point battle that he's leading in Yreka, it's likely that we may only see him one more time due to the fact that Yreka has booked on top of three of the remaining four races at the little track.
It's quite a remarkable thing to watch the youngest drivers get more confidence. While some of the kids will get on the gas the moment they get their first green flag, others are a bit more tentative and will run the low groove at a very safe speed. Jayme DeBenedetti has apparently overcome any fears she may have had in the past. DeBenedetti is putting her foot to the floor, and it is showing as she again rolled to the Beginners feature victory. In doing so, she maintains her point lead over Isaac Grimes.
Last season, we watched Isaac in the Novice Box Stock class, in which he ranked second. He had a good start to his night this time with a pair of heat race victories, but second place slipped away from him in the feature in the waning laps as he settled for third. The driver beating him is one of those racers who has definitely shown much improvement. Caleb Ranney was one of those young racers we saw get a bit nervous about racing when he first joined the class. At times he was not willing to get into his Kart last year. However, Caleb is getting more confident. He ran in the Top 3 for much of the Main Event and even made a late move around Grimes for his best effort in second.
Teddy Bear Racing, which is the Bret James and Josh King team, donated trophies so that all of the youngsters in the Beginners class would not leave empty-handed. These kids all did a good job, and Talia Colley, Saige King and Bhaltair Edwards would finish fourth through sixth in the Main Event. Colley and King were two others running very tentative speeds when they made their debut at the season opener, and both are gaining more confidence.
The old man of UAS Speedway Karts, Larry Fuller, was back in prime form as the division returned after missing the previous race. Fuller's start at the season opener didn't go so well, but he was fast and led from start to finish in winning Friday's Main Event. Ed Grubb, who is a past Yreka champion, also ran a good race in second, followed by Kenny Boardman. Boardman and Grubb had a good battle for second, which looked like it would go to Boardman.
Steve Rambo was having a heck of a time as he ended up parking his own Kart with mechanical issues. He jumped behind the wheel of the Kart that Sean Fuller was going to drive, but again, Rambo had problems and was out of the Main Event early as six competitors took the green flag, including Lori Fuller and daughter Brionna Fuller.
The Trikes, or Three Wheelers, might be viewed as the redheaded stepchild of the Quad and Flat Track Bike world. It doesn't seem like they get much of an opportunity to run at other places, but these drivers are fast, race very competitively and have lots of fun. On this occasion several racers showed up from Rainier, Washington, and we discovered last Friday night that there are actually Big Trike and Little Trike divisions.
Some of the competitors, such as Ryan Comstock, Garrett Stookey and Michael Burson Sr, ran both classes. Burson and Big Trike competitor Ben Herbert also ran the Quads, making them very busy. It looked as if the night would end before it started for Cassidy Craviotto. After what was about to happen, he may have wished it had. Craviotto had mechanical issues in practice, but Eric Melvin graciously let Craviotto ride his Big Three Wheeler.
In the heat race, Craviotto was in the midst of a good battle for third. These riders aren't afraid to go side by side, deep into the turns, and Craviotto was running a good pace. What he didn't count on, however, was a broken axle, which resulted in him flipping off the back straightaway. He was shaken up in the experience, but fortunately he was okay. The one thing about these riders is they are tough and pretty much fearless. They have a lot of fun at what they do.
Stookey and Comstock had put on a really good battle in the Trikes at the season opener, won by Comstock. The two had so much fun that they knew they would bring both of their Trikes for this occasion. However, Comstock's attempt to win another Main Event was thwarted by Ben Herbert, who was just a little bit faster in the Big Trike class. Stookey would settle for third as Herbert made the move around Comstock for the win.
Herbert wasn't content just to win in Big Trikes, however. He also held off Mike Burson Sr and Robert Hicks in winning the Quad race. Though Burson Sr finished fourth in the Big Trikes, Mike Burson Jr got in on the action along with McKayla Burson in the Little Trikes class. Burson Jr led some laps early on, but Stookey and Comstock continued their night long battle. In this case, it was Stookey getting the job done with an impressive victory. Andrew Wheaton denied Butson Jr the final podium spot as he finished third ahead of Burson.
What one can say about these Three Wheelers and the Quads is that you have to be there to see the action. This type of racing hasn't really been seen at Little Southern Oregon Speedway, but it's breathing new life into the Friday night program. The racers want to be there, and they are wanted there as well. People may not know about Trike racing, but it's certainly something to see. Hopefully, these competitors will continue to come back in force when racing resumes on July 5th as they are most welcome.
The Flat Track Bikes might have been impacted just a little bit by the fact that there was a big MX event happening in Klamath Falls. However, there were enough riders willing to come to the little track to put on a good show. There have been three events for the riders at the little track, and they are getting more comfortable and even a little bit faster out there. They will need to get a little bit faster to bump Trevor Taylor off of the top of the podium. Though Taylor wasn't winning all of the preliminaries, he did take the wins in the feature events.
Taylor brings a bike for the 250cc class and another one that he rides in the 450cc and Open classes. For the 250cc class, Taylor picked up the win with my Mya Maffei and Theo Lount in pursuit. Lount was the one chasing Taylor in the 450cc class. Maffei, however, upped her game a little bit more in the Open class as she finished a close second to Taylor with Theo Lount in third. Trevor's younger brothers, Brody Taylor and Jax Taylor, grabbed the 1-2 finish in the Small Bike class. Jax checks in at 7 years old as he makes his first laps on the bike.
What can be said is that there hasn't been a lot of oval track bike racing in the Medford area in recent years, although it has a history in the area. The opening of the MX track at Southern Oregon Speedway has served notice that bikes are more welcome at the facility. The bike program, which also includes the Quads and the Trikes, has much potential to grow and prosper, and as has been proven already, with more competitors, these races will be more exciting to watch and certainly worth the price of admission.