Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Outlaw Pro Stocks, Bike Giveaways
At Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...It's been an exciting season at Southern Oregon Speedway so far, and this Saturday night promises to continue that trend. It's Pepsi Kids Bike Night at the speedway. Thanks to several donations from various businesses and individuals, the speedway will be doing bike giveaways for the kids. In addition to that, all kids 12 and under will get in to watch the show for free. Competing divisions will include the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets, Valley Store All Late Model Lites and OTRO Hardtops.
When Southern Oregon Speedway opened back in 1996 one of the original divisions on the roster was the Pro Stock division. In 2012, a few of the competitors, including Arlen Heath of Calculated Comfort Heating and Air Conditioning, formed the Outlaw Pro Stock Association to allow the group to travel to other venues. Heath is a staunch supporter of Pro Stock racing and has been the title sponsor for the group for the past few seasons.
Leading the charge of the Pro Stocks is the man who has won the past two championships, Dr Scott Lenz. Lenz has won well were over 100 Main Events in his impressive career, which dates back to the old Medford Raceway track. He was a champion there and in the early years of Southern Oregon Speedway. Beating him has not been an easy task, and he's already won some big races this year as he leads the standings once again.
The last time we saw the Pro Stocks at Southern Oregon Speedway in early June, Scott Flowers offered Lenz a strong challenge. Flowers is a long time supporter of the group and a fixture in the Top 3 in the standings. He passed Lenz to lead several laps before Lenz overtook him and forced him to settle for second. The Flowers family sometimes competes in as many as four cars on race night with Scott's son James Flowers, wife Ginny Flowers and daughter Julia Flowers also competing. Arlen Garrison, who sometimes drives one of the cars, helps make this possible.
The association is now in their eighth season, and a good turnout of competitors is anticipated this week, including such notables as longtime Pro Stock front-runner John David Duffie, Matt Harlow, Bryan Hammond, Jeff Haudenshild, Dean Hackworth, Kenneth LaPlant Jr and Colby Hammond. At press time, there was the possibility of 2015 champion Jeffrey Hudson getting behind the wheel of one of the cars, and two-time series champion Ken Irving is anticipated as well.
As the car count has increased, the racing in the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks has gotten much more intense. Reigning champion and division all time winner David Steele isn't finding the road to victory as easy this year. Though he did win his third race of the season last week, his closest championship rival, Ashtin Hedges, finished a strong second after winning a heat race earlier in the evening. It's still very close between these two drivers as Hedges will be looking for his second win.
Another driver looking for his second victory this week will be Hunter Magnan, who finished third in the previous race. Other hard chargers to cheer for this week include 2017 champion Kristopher Mix, 2013 champion Steve Goetz, 2014 champion Gary Anderson, Michael McLeod, Andrew Hall and rookies Dylan Irving and Brandyn Wonsyld.
Last week, the fans saw something they hadn't seen all season. Somebody finally beat Dylan Sauer to win a JOAT Labs Hornets Main Event. Sauer has been practically unbeatable, but 2016 champion Tim Hedges accomplished that goal last week. Hedges had blown a motor in the previous race, but his new power plant helped get him wins in all three races in which he started. Hedges is still second to Sauer in a close championship battle. Tim's wife, Jenna Hedges, picked up another third place finish to stay in the title hunt. Other drivers to watch for this week include rookie Quinton Tritchler, Zach Nelson, Ryan Nelson, Chris Boynton and Shawn Nelson.
There's something going on with the Old Time Racers of Oregon Hardtop Association. Car count numbers have gone up just a little bit, and the racing has become more interesting as a result. The drivers race their old time Coupe and Sedan race cars on the track with slick tires and v6 power plants and put on a show for the fans. The first two races have resulted in victory for Dean Cast, while perennial front-runner Mark Minter brushed the back wall last time out to end his race early. Minter is the only driver in the group to have won a Main Event with this group in each of the previous three seasons at Southern Oregon Speedway. He'll be out to make that four this week, and other drivers to watch for our include Bill Trotter, Jay Smith, Chris Mehrer, Matt Butler, Eric DeRamus and Darryl Haugh, who recently came out of a 15 year retirement to join the group.
The Valley Store All Late Model Lites will probably be the fastest race cars on the track, and the three wins so far have gone to three different competitors. Point leader Charlie Eaton, championship rival Greg Arnold and Ross Payant are the winners so far and likely lead the charge this week. Others to watch for include Dusty Aos, Eric Aos and Jim Cunningham.
With kids getting in free and having the possibility of winning a free bike, this will be at night for families to come and enjoy some great racing. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race at 7 pm. General Admission Adults are $13 and Seniors 62+ and Veterans are $7. Children 12 and under are free this week. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.
Ensign Prepares For Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge Title Defense At Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...Geoff Ensign and Ted Finkenbinder have announced their intention to make a run at a third-straight Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge victory at Southern Oregon Speedway on August 3rd. The event, which is being presented by Herz Precision Parts, will be offering a $3,500 to win prize, and that's already prompted several drivers to make the commitment to come compete on the 3/10th mile clay oval once again.
Throughout his impressive career, Ensign has claimed victories in both Winged and Wingless Sprint Car racing. He won the Winged 360 Sprint Car championships at Petaluma and Watsonville in 2017 and was a winner in Wingless Sprint racing at the Turkey Night Classic in Ventura as well. This year, Ensign has been competing with the NARC/King of the West Series and is a Top 5 point contender so far.
When it comes to Wingless racing, the combination of Ensign and Finkenbinder has proven to be very impressive. They've won several races together, including the first two Cascade Wingless Sprint Car shows at Southern Oregon Speedway. Finkenbinder is well known for maintaining top-notch race cars, and he will also be inducted into the Calistoga Speedway Hall of Fame this September.
Joining Ensign on the trip will be Shayna Sylvia. Sylvia has achieved some impressive credentials of her own. In 2018, she won the Petaluma Speedway PitsStopUSA.com Wingless Spec Sprint championship, and she's won several Main Events at her home track. This will be her first trip to the White City racing facility.
The two drivers who have finished second in the most recent races, Cody Fendley and Jeffrey Hudson, are planning to compete again this year. It was Fendley collecting a $1,500 second place finish back in 2017. Though he took most of last season off, he plans to return and is a Main Event winner with the Wingless Spec Sprint class at Petaluma already this season. Hudson, who ranked second in the track's Winged Sprint Car class in 2016 and 2018, did a good job in picking up the $1,500 second last year. Though he's been running an IMCA Modified for Don Roemer this season, he's looking forward to the Wingless race.
Shawn Arriaga has achieved quite a bit of success running Winged Sprint cars through the years. Racing is in his family's blood as his grandfather was a Hardtop racer at the old Vallejo Speedway and his mother and father both competed in Sprint Cars throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Shawn has won championships at both Petaluma Speedway and Antioch Speedway. He appeared to be headed for a second place finish at last year's Cascade Sprint Car race when he hit the front wall and rolled. Still, Arriaga had fun, and he's looking forward to this show.
Joining him on the trip up will be second generation racer Ricky Brophy. Brophy has raced in both Wingless and Winged Sprint Cars through the years. He crewed for Arriaga last year at the big show, but he's excited about coming up and competing for the first time. The team will be giving away shirts to some of the fans this year as well.
Also confirmed for this race are Jeremy Wilson and Kevin Pendergrass. In 2017, Wilson came close to a Top 5 finish before settling for sixth. Pendergrass would end up ninth in the 20 car field. These are just some of the Stars anticipated for the big Show on August 3rd. more are rumored to be committing, including such Oregon standouts as Lindsay Barney, past Wingless Sprint champion Tim Alberding and Lance Hallmark. Barney finished third in the big show last year is a perennial title contender with the Oregon Wingless Sprint group.
A field of at least 15 to 20 competitors is anticipated for the big event. Entry for car and driver is $80, while pit passes for the crew are $30. Pit sign in is at 4:00 pm. Camping is allowed in the pits, though there are no hookups. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com. Downloadable flier available at http://www.southernoregonspeedway.com/cascade.pdf.
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Fourth of July weekend saw several tracks offering up special events for the fans. At Southern Oregon Speedway, there was a five division program that was billed as Veterans Night at the races. All active and retired military personnel were invited to enjoy the races for free. Track announcer Cory Penfold offered a moving tribute to those who have served this country proudly and have made it possible for us to continue to enjoy a night at the races.
The Late Model division is gaining a foothold at Southern Oregon Speedway. For the second straight week, there were 16 competitors for the program, and everybody's talking about the $4,000 to win Cottonwood classic that's on the schedule for August 24th. Things are happening. Because the Medford area Late Model effort is just developing, racers like Trent Elliott and Darren Coffel, who have been active at other venues in Oregon in more recent years, seem to carry just a bit more of an advantage over the locals.
However, the locals are certainly getting quicker. The best example of that was seven-time IMCA Modified champion Mark Wauge. Wauge looked every bit as fast as the Top 2 point competitors, but while leading his heat race, he suffered a night ending mechanical issue with the rear end of his car. That left Mark wondering what could have been for the night as he watched from the sidelines.
Another local area leadfoot looking impressive was past Pro Stock champion Dave Everson. We've noted the steady improvement of Everson this year, but he certainly took it up a notch by outrunning Coffell to win his heat race. Everson would even lead some of the early Main Event laps before Coffell went racing by. At that point, nobody was going to touch Coffell as he sped to the win and strengthened his status as the second-ranked driver in the standings.
Everson, meanwhile, was determined to hold onto second. Making that a challenge with the fact that point leader Trent Elliott was equally determined to make the pass. Elliott looked very impressive in winning both his heat race and the Trophy Dash, but the Main Event win was just out of his grasp. Everson presented a big enough challenge for Elliott, and it wasn't until a slight bobble with two laps to go that Elliott seized the opportunity to grab the second-place finish. This was perhaps the battle of the race.
For Everson, it's another clear indication that his #40 car is getting dialed in. We've witnessed him winning his share of Pro Stock Main Events through the years, and seeing him get a Late Model win won't be a surprise. As it was, his third place finish was his best effort to date. it came ahead of Cottage Grove championship contender Paul Culp, who finished fourth. Culp has a pair of wins at his home track and figured he'd come test the waters at Southern Oregon Speedway for a possible return in August.
Rich McCoy has been having some success in his IMCA Sport Modified at Siskiyou Speedway this year. He's already picked up a pair of wins there. He showed up on Saturday to turn some wrenches for Jason Schultz in the #33 Late Model. Schultz got his car from the Rapp Racing shop last year, and he's been getting it dialed in week by week. Jason had high hopes of a good night, but a twisted ankle prior to the races put at end to that. He wanted to race, but he realized there was no way it would happen.
McCoy was in the right place at the right time when Wauge headed for the pits as he picked up the heat race victory. He was in the mix in the battle for a Top 5 position with the rapidly improving Eric Massey and two-time Petaluma Speedway champion Paul Guglielmoni. Massey is another racer who got a car through Rapp Racing, and he had his best performance yet as he ended up with a fifth place finish.
After hitting the wall in his heat race and doing a little bit of damage, Guglielmoni was just happy to get out of the place with a sixth place finish, but he looks forward to returning in August. Behind him in seventh was McCoy. Not a bad effort for the past Southern Oregon Speedway Mini Stock champion and winner of several Modified races through the years, especially considering he had no idea he would be driving the car until just before the show was going to start.
The Late Model division at Southern Oregon Speedway has people talking, and there is much anticipation for the release of the flier that will give more details on the August 24th Cottonwood Classic. The Winged Sprint Cars will be running the Ironhead Nationals event on August 10th, which is slated to pay $2,000 to win. This is a week after Southern Oregon Speedway hosts the biggest Wingless 360 Sprint Car race in the state, the Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge. It's thanks to sponsorship from Herz Precision Parts that this race came into being three years ago.
Meanwhile, the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars were back for their fourth event of the season. As far as car count is concerned, it wasn't their strongest showing of the year. Two of the competitors headed up north to be a part of the three-race series happening there. Blaine Cory discovered a motor problem during the week that would take him out of the running. A motor problem also got reigning champion David Hibbard after hot laps, forcing him to scratch for the rest of the show.
It's suddenly looking like it's Mike Wheeler's year to shine. However, the Outlaw 500 Kart star is taking nothing for granted. With his brother, long time Sprint Car racer Vern Wheeler Jr, as his crew chief, the #1w car is looking faster than anybody these days. Still, Mike knows that he has to drive it to the victory. A heat race reminded him that he hasn't won anything just yet.
It was the second heat of the night, and Eureka, California based rookie Anissa Curtice showed everybody just how much she is improving. Anissa has spent the past several seasons racing Outlaw Karts, and she's been enjoying the move up to Sprint Cars. With Wheeler giving here all kinds of pressure, Curtice scored a very popular first heat race win in the class.
Wheeler again finished second in the Scramble, which was won by Bailey Hibbard. Bailey has had a mixed bag of results so far this year, but Saturday was a reminder that he is somebody to be taken seriously in the battle. After all, he has won five Main Events at the speedway in the past three years, and he's hungry to get his sixth. To do that, the younger Hibbard knew that he had to beat Wheeler. With his outside front row start in the Main Event, however, Wheeler bolted into the lead at the waving of the green flag.
Though the car count wasn't big, the racing at the front of the pack between these two drivers was close. They even caught slower traffic, which might have made things interesting had it not been for the lone yellow flag slowing the pace. Wheeler took charge from there, and though Hibbard wasn't far behind him, he was in no position to stop Wheeler from his third consecutive feature triumph. Wheeler managed to increase his point advantage even more over Enrique Jaime, who was able to get a fourth place finish behind a career-best third for Curtice.
Charlie Thompson, who is a past champion and somebody who is still in title contention this year, managed to win a heat race to start his night, but he pitted during the one yellow flag period in the Main Event from his third place position. The division will be back on July 20th, and hopefully some of the teams will have their mechanical issues sorted out as they come back for their fifth event of the season in what is surely a stacked program.
The Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stock division is getting more interesting by the week. There's also word of a potential new team joining the class in the weeks ahead. Leading the pack these days is still the man with over 30 career feature wins at the speedway, David Steele. However, he has two young guns chasing him. There's Ashtin Hedges not too many points behind him, and 2018 runner up Hunter Magnan is trying to make up for a bad start.
Saturday night was just one of those nights where you weren't going to stop Steele. He had a good week, which started with his fourth of July victory in Yreka. As with Yreka, the feature win at Southern Oregon Speedway would be David's third win, giving him six total so far this season. He wasn't seriously threatened, but it was heat race winner Hedges taking the second place finish and keeping the point damage to a minimum. Steele won everything he was in, making it a clean sweep, while Magnan made more point progress with his third place effort.
Incoming third-ranked competitor Kristopher Mix was coming off of a night to brag about in Yreka. He looked good in winning the Trophy Dash and ending up second in the Main Event after the original second place finisher was disqualified for not going to tech. He was thinking that Saturday might be his night, but like 2013 Mini Stock champion Steve Goetz, Mix headed to the pits with a flat tire during the first half of the race. There is a rumor of the possibility of Mix making a move up in divisions in 2020, though it doesn't mean he would not be running Mini Stocks. The guy chasing Mix for third in the standings didn't fare that much better. Rookie Dylan Irving started his Main Event by rolling off of the back straightaway. The damage wasn't so bad, and he still managed to finish the race.
The best battle on the track seemed to be between the Pinto of Andrew Hall and Michael McLeod. Hall held fourth for much of the race, which would be good enough to put him in the Trophy Dash for the next event. McLeod, however, was tenacious and made a last turn pass to grab the position. With his fifth place finish, Hall looked better in his effort than he has all year. He's definitely somebody not afraid to get on the pedal, so once he's got the handling sorted, he'll be somebody to watch.
Tim Hedges is always somebody to watch in the JOAT Labs Hornets. The 2016 champion was licking his wounds after blowing a motor while running third at the previous race. He came back very strong on this occasion as he won both his heat race and the Trophy Dash. Dylan Sauer, meanwhile, had indication that this might not be his night when he received a black flag while leading the other heat. Sauer had neglected to put his window net up, drawing the attention of officials due to the safety concern. This would put him 11th on the grid in the Main Event.
With Hedges lining up on the front row, getting past him would be a tall order. Sauer has been very fast this year, and it wasn't too many laps before he found his way up to third. Impressive rookie Quinton Tritchler was holding second, but Sauer found his way past him. This left only Tim Hedges in his path. The leaders caught slower traffic, and one of the cars pulled down into Hedges' path, possibly in an attempt to get out of the way of Sauer as the race was close. Hedges ended up in the infield, but he quickly corrected his course and had the lead by the time they exited the second turn.
Hedges has been fast from the start of the season, but Sauer has been that much quicker. The clean sweep effort was particularly gratifying as he cut some of the points off of the advantage Sauer carried into the night. Tim's wife, Jenna Hedges, did another good job of getting her car back to the line for a third place finish, while Tritchler maintained his top rookie status in fourth.
Ryan Nelson had a solid effort in fifth. This was certainly much needed after the way his season had gone to this point. He managed to hold off heat race winner Chris Boynton for the fifth place finish, while brother Zach Nelson took a checkered flag in seventh. Zach has been having problems getting his own car to run up to speed, and it was his father Darrel Nelson Jr who suggested he drive his #8g car while they figure out what to do with the #26 car. Zach was particularly grateful and said that he wouldn't even be racing if it wasn't for his father.
The Valley Store All Late Model Lites haven't brought a huge car count to the track this year, but one thing you can say is the racing has been unpredictable. In three events, there have been three different winners. It was reigning champion and current point leader Charlie Eaton winning the opener, while championship contender Greg Arnold won the second event. The second event was the inauspicious return to the sport of long-time Stock Car competitor to Ross Payant.
Prior to the season, 2016 champion Lee Doty made the decision to retire, but he didn't want to give up on the division. As the owner of multiple cars, he thought of somebody who could wheel his fast #7 car to victory. Payant was his choice, given his success in the past. However, a crash in the Trophy Dash at the second event put Ross on the trailer for the rest of the night. This time around, he showed what he was capable of by holding off Eaton to win the heat race and then doing the same in the feature to become the third different winner of the season. Arnold kept the point situation close with a third place finish.
It's known that Eric Aos is capable of getting a win. He won last year, and he's won in the past. Unfortunately for Eric, mechanical issues earlier in the evening forced him to put his car on the trailer before the Main Event ever started. Likewise, Jim Cunningham, who finally had his car ready, was a scratch after the heat race. Cunningham made his first start in the class in a Lee Doty owned car last season. This was the car wheeled by Bill Spencer during the first two seasons. Pete Bowne drove that car once this year.
The Little Southern Oregon Speedway track had a race on Friday night. It's possible that the timing could have been off on this event. The track has been having a race on the second week of July for the past couple of years, but it was moved up to Fourth of July weekend for this year. It is possible that some of the teams that might have come in from the various divisions scheduled to compete had other plans such as camping and family getaways. In any case, the show went on.
One family that did come in to support the show was the Taylor family. The Taylor family has been competing in all four different classes of Flat Track Bikes, which includes the Small Bikes, 250cc, 450cc and Open Bikes. They've also left with most of the hardware for the past two events. The Small Bike win once again went to Brody Taylor, giving him three wins in a row. On this occasion, he had Jeremiah Pruitt chasing him across the finish line while younger brother Jax finished third. Jax is the youngest competitor in the bikes at seven years old.
Trevor Taylor might have thought it was business as usual when he picked up his third consecutive 250cc Bike win ahead Theo Lount. However, he was about to meet his match in the 450cc and Open Bike classes. Brenden Weller was making his first appearance on the 1/8 mile dirt oval, and these two riders had some great side-by-side laps all night, starting in the heat races. The two Main Events went in similar fashion. They started out with Trevor Taylor leading the first four laps before Weller made his way past him. Weller went on to pick up the wins, making it three different riders in the four Open Bike events to claim the victory. Could there be another new winner when the Bikes return on July 19th?
Mya Maffei could certainly be one of the potential winners. She has done a good job in her previous two starts. She happened to be in Montana for an event this past weekend, causing her to miss this race. The Quads were not represented on this occasion, but there were some Trikes. Again, Mike Burson Sr supported the show. He has been at all four events held so far and has been having fun. Last time out, he got his daughter MiKayla and son Mike Jr involved. MiKayla returned to run the Small Trike class against her father. Mike has been known to do wheelies at the end of events, but in this case, he did a wheelie at the start-finish line and stalled, giving his daughter a big head start. He wasn't quite able to overtake her as she picked up the win. However, he returned to win the Big Trike race ahead of first-time visitors Brent Hagen and Kristian Smart.
The Kart division that took center stage on this occasion was clearly the Beginners Box Stock class. Jayme DeBenedetti is the point leader and is showing no signs of slowing down. She scored a clean sweep of the two heat races and the Main Event, but the Main Event wasn't as easy as that. Caleb Ranney would probably have to be considered the most improved driver in the field. When the Main Event green flag waved, Caleb got on the gas and was not too far behind DeBenedetti as she closed in on the slower Karts. When they worked traffic, it got closer, but a yellow flag bunched up the field. DeBenedetti continued to lead and picked up the win, but Ranney stayed with her on the lead lap for another second place finish. As that little boy gets more seat time, he's gaining more confidence and having more fun.
All five of the young competitors who raced did a good job. Isaac Grimes managed to finish third as he maintains second in the standings. It was Talia Colley and Saige King completing the finishing order, and all drivers took the checkered flag.
The 250 Kart division saw the point battle broken wide open. The reason for his retirement from second with two laps to go last time out was a blown motor in the Vinny DeBenedetti Kart. DeBenedetti was unable to get another motor in time to compete. Second-ranked Jacob James was only nine points behind Trevor Grimes coming into this event, but he suffered mechanical issues early on and scratched for the evening. This opened the door for 2017 champion and current point leader Grimes to pick up his third win of the season and stretch his lead over James as Cadyn Smith took over third in the standings with his third-straight podium finish in third. It was Emma Rodgers having her best finish yet in the class in second.
The holiday season probably did have an impact on the turnout, and it's hoped that the numbers increase next time around. There are only three events remaining on the schedule. The next event is July 19th.