Thursday, December 19, 2019

Southern Oregon Speedway Awards Banquet, Pit Stops

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
Can Be Heard HERE

Southern Oregon Speedway Awards Banquet
January 25, 2020
Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant
Sage Road in Medford
Bring a dish or dessert

Doors Open at 5:00 PM
Food Served at 6:00 PM
Trophy Presentation at 7:00 PM

Kendall Oil Sprint Cars
1    Mike Wheeler
2    Bailey Hibbard
3    Charlie Thompson
4    Enrique Jaime
5    David Hibbard
6    Johnny Burke
7    TJ Winningham
8    Anissa Curtice
9    David Marble
10    Jake Wheeler

Rookie Of The Year - Johnny Burke

Late Models
1    Trent Elliott
2    Dave Everson
3    Darren Coffell
4    Dave Foote
5    Miles Deubert
6    Mark Wauge
7    Bob Dees
8    Nathan Augustine
9    Chris Biggs
10    Eric Massey

Rookie Of The Year - Chris Biggs

IMCA Modifieds
1    Zach Fe∆ętinger
2    Jimmy Lipke
3    Ray Kniffen Jr
4    Jesse Bailey
5    Justin Foux
6    Duane Orsburn
7    Albert Gill
8    David Satterfield
9    Nick Trenchard
10    Jeremy Ohlde

Rookie Of The Year - Jimmy Lipke

IMCA Sport Modifieds
1    Jorddon Braaten
2    Mike Medel
3    Branden Wilson
4    Isaac Sanders
5    Matt Sanders
6    Steve Lysinger
7    Joby Shields
8    Brian Knorr
9    Austin Petrey
10    Willie McFall

Rookie Of The Year - Austin Petrey

Valley Store All Late Model Lites
1    Greg Arnold
2    Charlie Eaton
3    Ross Payant
4    Krista Hadley
5    Dusty Aos
6    Eric Aos
7    Terry Hadley
8    Pete Bowne
9    Jim Cunningham
10    Mike Cloud

Rookie Of The Year - Pete Bowne

Bobbio’s Pizza Mini Stocks
1    David Steele
2    Ashtin Hedges
3    Kristopher Mix
4    Hunter Magnan
5    Dylan Irving
6    Steve Goetz
7    Michael McLeod
8    Brandyn Wonsyld
9    Andrew Hall
10    Gary Anderson

Rookie Of The Year - Dylan Irving

Hornet Class Trophies Pick Up at Miles Deubert's JOAT Labs after January 28th

JOAT Labs Hornets
1    Dylan Sauer
2    Jenna Hedges
3    Tim Hedges
4    Quentin Tritchler
5    Chris Boynton
6    Shawn Nelson
7    Lacey Sauer
8    Ryan Nelson
9    Derrel Nelson
10    Zach Nelson

Rookie Of The Year - Quentin Tritchler

Pit Stops

The rumor is that Southern Oregon Speedway will have their banquet on January 25th. Who gets what trophies was the subject of some debate during the last month. In reporting the IMCA Modified finish in the season finale, the name of Jesse Bailey was included. There seemed to be a gray area in what Bailey had done. He took a green flag in an IMCA Modified Trophy Dash, but to the letter of the IMCA rule book, that doesn't count for anything. He broke in that race and didn't take a green flag in his heat race. Had he taken a green flag in his heat race, though he scratched from the Main Event, he still would have received his minimum 11 points. IMCA rendered its verdict, and Bailey was dropped from his podium point position as Jimmy Lipke will wrap up top rookie honors in second. Ray Kniffen Jr will enjoy his best career effort in third.

Interestingly enough, Zach Fettinger wasn't leaving anything to chance at the last race. Knowing he could break in his heat race, Fettinger asked track officials if he could save his car for the Main Event and start last. As there weren't enough cars to offer a B Main, he was perfectly within his rights to start last on the Main Event grid, thereby ensuring that he would at least get last place points. With Bailey breaking in the Trophy Dash, Zach had nothing to worry about. He is the 2019 IMCA Modified champion at Southern Oregon Speedway.

There's been lots of talk in the Late Model ranks lately. There's a persistent rumor that two-time Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stock champion Dr Scott Lenz will finally be moving up to take on the challenge of racing with the Late Model stars. If this is true, it's certainly welcome news. The rumors that Pete Bowne purchased the Joey Tanner championship #111 Late Model were true. He put second-generation star Bruce Rayburn Jr behind the wheel at Yreka, and this resulted in victory. Rayburn gives us another star to watch in Late Models next year.

It's been rather interesting watching the development of Late Model racing at Southern Oregon Speedway. For years, management didn't give this division a second thought. The season might end with a special show, and there might even be a special show during the year, but there appeared to be no interest in having a regular championship race for this class, as was done back at the old Posse Grounds. When Mike McCann entered the picture, that changed. Three of the first people to jump on board to help build this class were 2016 champion Bob Dees, 2017 champion Nathan Augustine and longtime racer Mike Linder, who has since retired. All three can be proud that if the Late Model division has a fighting chance at Southern Oregon Speedway, they were on the ground floor in making it happen.

With a little more notoriety and money on the line, however, it was Trent Elliott taking the glory this year. He won most of the Main Events, picked up the $4,000 victory in the Cottonwood Classic and can call himself the champion this year. Elliott wasn't really challenged, and that left an interesting battle for second between past Pro Stock champion Dave Everson and Darren Coffell. However, Everson grabbed a podium finish in the finale, and that insured  him runner-up status in this year's chase ahead of Coffell. From the rumors we are hearing, car count is going to continue to grow next season.

Obviously, the division growing by leaps and bounds this year was the IMCA Sport Modified class. Frequently, their numbers reached into the twenties, and we're still hearing about drivers looking to join the ranks next year. The cream of the crop in Oregon seems to be three-time champion Jorddon Braaten, who again won State championship honors as well. Having clinched the track championship, Braaten has indicated that he's interested in testing his skills against some of the top drivers out of state, meaning we may not see him at Southern Oregon Speedway very often next year.

We're likely to see two-time champion Mike Medel. Mike didn't really have a banner year this season, but he was still a consistent Top 10 finisher. It seemed like the brakes started to go his way as the season came to a close, and then came the surprising absence of feature winner Isaac Sanders in the final race. Medel saved his best for last with a Top 5 effort that netted him second in the standings ahead of Branden Wilson. Wilson turned a few heads as he brought his Limited Sprint to that division's final race to make hot laps. It looks like he'll be doing more racing in that class next year, though no announcements have been made to suggest that he won't be competing in IMCA Sport Modifieds as well.

The competition level is at an all-time high in IMCA Sport Modifieds at Southern Oregon Speedway, as evidenced by the winner of the final feature. Past Outlaw Kart champion Bartley Foster shocked the field with a feature victory in that final race. This came just a couple of weeks after Merissa Henson won the $2,000 prize in the Sport Modified portion of the R Charles Snyder Salute. Like Foster, Henson got her start at the little track. This has many people looking at the division and thinking that they can shock the field next year as well.

There has been some Mini Stock activity as well, which has possibly been hastened by the discontinuation of the Hornet class. Two drivers responsible for giving the Hornet division the jump-start it needed, Tim Hedges and Derrel Nelson Jr, both have Mini Stocks for next season. We would not be surprised to see word that Jenna Hedges will join her husband and her son Ashtin to make it three family members in the class next year. Greg McDaniels showed up at the end of the season race and is likely to be seen more often next year. It's been sort of a transitional year for the Mini Stocks with newer drivers in the field, which has led to the dominance of seasoned veteran David Steele in winning his second-straight championship ahead of Ashtin Hedges and Kristopher Mix. However, it's expected that things are going to become even more competitive in the track's entry-level class next year.

People keep pointing to the Late Model Lites class and wondering if Steele would like to take on the next challenge. Lee Doty has been the chief instigator in getting this class fired back up during these past four years. We are also hearing of more drivers getting involved next year. We were happy to see the return of the Hadley family, and Krista Hadley certainly made her presence known with some strong performances. Husband Terry, the division's all-time win leader, had his mechanical problems or might have been tougher to beat. Likewise, longtime class supporter Eric Aos and son Dusty Aos didn't have the best of years.

Greg Arnold seems to be up for a race wherever he can get it. When Late Model Lites weren't competing, he might put a Late Model motor in his car and go out and run with those guys. One night, he had the Late Model motor in his car, but Lee Doty graciously allowed him to drive his car to keep his points up. The Doty car has since been bought by longtime competitor Ross Payant. Arnold did accomplish his championship goal, outrunning last year's title winner, Charlie Eaton. These three drivers are certainly expected to make their presence known next year, but they won't go alone.

Word has it that we will be seeing another member of the Walker family back in action again, the grandson of Hall of Famer Jim Walker and son of Tony Walker. Furthermore, the Narramore family has reportedly purchased the car driven to the 2017 championship by Bob Burkett. Though it seems to be a challenge trying to establish a car count in this division, nobody's giving up on the cause, and a fifth-consecutive season is anticipated.

The speedway has also had its strongest support for the Sprint Car class yet. The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars came off of a very entertaining season, made more entertaining when Mike Wheeler skipped a race to go on a Hawaiian vacation. This opened the door for Wheeler to surrender his point lead to Bailey Hibbard, while past champion Charlie Thompson also set himself up for a shot at the championship in the final race. It was a night filled with drama, but Mike Wheeler didn't miss a beat in that final race as he reclaimed the point lead and the championship. He joins his nephew Jake Wheeler as a Southern Oregon Speedway champion.

Upon winning his second Sprint Car feature of the year at Southern Oregon Speedway, Jake Wheeler made the comment that he might actually run for points again next year. Wheeler was lured back into this class by Ron Osborne, who put him behind the wheel of his fast #42 car. Add in the knowledge of crew chief and longtime Sprint Car racer for Vern Wheeler Jr, and you have a winning combination. Having two Wheeler family members as a part of this class in 2020 will make things that much more interesting.

Chief instigator of the Limited Sprint movement, 2018 champion David Hibbard, is anticipated. He and his son Bailey have been strong supporters of the class for the past three seasons, and David could certainly not be accused of ignoring his race track when it needed his help. He's an example of somebody who has risen above and beyond to help keep the momentum that is being established here going. Drivers like Enrique Jaime, Aaron Miller and Blaine Cory still support this division. With new stars such as David Marble, Anissa Curtice and top rookie Johnny Burke, Sprint Car racing will continue at Southern Oregon Speedway going into 2020.

Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars have continued to be a reliable class at the speedway on any night in which they are booked. Frequently, they were bringing two dozen competitors, which produced some of the more entertaining action you would see on the 3/10th mile clay oval. It's a combination of drivers who have experience, such as reigning champion Josh King, two-time champion Brock Peters, Chad Cardoza, Ryan Smith and ageless veteran Fred Hay, and newer competitors such as Ashleigh Strain, Michael Johnson, Sean Trujillo, Shane Hines and Trevor Davis. When the Dwarf Cars come to Southern Oregon Speedway, they bring the speed and the excitement. They recently held their awards banquet, and King was crowned champion over Camden Robustelli, Cardoza and Hay.

Management is carefully looking at the things that happened this past season to figure out what adjustments might be needed or what additions might be added. Southern Oregon Speedway had its Third Annual Hall of Fame night, which has served as a way to get some of the old family names back to the track again. Thus, you're seeing names like Walker and Rayburn returning to the racing action. This is also a special night, because it honors the great heritage that is Southern Oregon racing.

The R Charles Snyder Salute is the marquee event of the season, but this year's Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge, presented by Herz Precision Parts, was one that had everybody talking. Some are even referring to this as the race of the year. The Cottonwood Classic showed that Southern Oregon Speedway can still host a marquee Late Model show and had a good turnout. The IMCA Modified Wild West Speedweek race and the Seventh Annual Roger Haudenshild Tribute race were also very special nights. There's lots of things to talk about for what was accomplished in 2019, but there is much work to be done to make it even better in 2020. Rest assured, the planning stages have begun.

From My Point Of View

It's been quiet here on the Southern Oregon Speedway racing blog, which was my intention. For one thing, once the season came to a conclusion, I was on a train back to my old home track in Antioch, California. I spent a month down there helping out and visiting old friends. Also, I tend to shut everything down on my end for a couple of months after the season is up. I'm usually pretty worn out at that time. I always intend to do a little bit more, but for one reason or another, I shut down until a month or so before the new season begins.

Normally, you're not going to see my opinion shared on this blog. On my DCRR Racing Media sites, I tend to be more vocal in my observations. When it comes to this blog and Southern Oregon Speedway, I tend to just want to put the news out there so everybody knows what's going on. In my opinion, the state of Southern Oregon Speedway is pretty darn good right now. It's not as good as it could be, but it's better than it was before KJE Enterprises came along prior to the 2016 season. It's a work-in-progress.

Our promoter, Mike McCann, will deliver his annual State of the Race Track Address at the banquet, which will take place on January 25th at Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant in Medford. I know Mike will look around and see where we've made progress this year and where there's work to be done. Overall, however, numbers are up once again.

The business of trying to make a race track better isn't easy. It becomes a full-time effort. You stress on things quite a bit, and even when you pull off a good night, it's not always easy to stand back and enjoy it. We do work pretty hard at what we do. However, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that we couldn't do what we do without all of the great support of the drivers and their crews, the awesome fans and the sponsors of the speedway. Sponsorship certainly helps make what we do possible.

It's been an education for me. Though I've long since had an understanding of what goes into making a race track work, I've been educated in ways that I never imagined. Moving up to Oregon wasn't an easy decision for a lifelong Californian such as myself. However, there were two things that swayed my decision. Firstly, Mike McCann has built a reputation of going to race tracks that have been on the down slide and turning them around. I've respected his work from afar for years, so being offered the opportunity to come in here and do what I do was certainly very tempting. I was interested in being a part of this. 

Secondly, I'm somebody who believes in racing tradition. That means great racers, champions and all of that means something to me. Racing history matters. We may be where we are now, but it was the people who came along before us who helped make it all possible. I was very well aware of the history of Medford racing before coming up here, so being a part of the effort to help bring things back to respectability was something I was keenly interested in. I wanted to make people proud to be a part of the racing program at Southern Oregon Speedway again.

Southern Oregon Speedway has some of the most passionate fans and racers. They believe in this race track. They are always watching what we are doing. They will certainly let you know what you are doing wrong, but they are also willing to support you if you make a sincere effort. There were many skeptical racers when we came into the picture, and I honestly don't blame them. They had the last 10 years to look back on in frustration. Plus, they've heard it all before. You're going to make things better, just like the last guy, the guy before that and so on. Show me. 

The biggest issue we were dealing with when we came into the picture was dwindling car counts. Other than the traveling Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars and Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks, numbers weren't looking so good in the other classes unless there were special events being held. We knew we had work to do to convince the racers in the established classes that they needed to be a part of this. We also knew that we needed more on the card so that we could strengthen the car counts in whatever divisions we booked on any given night.

IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modifieds are staple classes at the speedway. The fans enjoy them, and nights in which these classes are booked tend to get some of the best crowd support. In their eighth season on the roster, the Sport Modifieds had their best car counts yet. I don't know if we saw a night in which this division didn't deliver at least 20 cars. The competition level is tough, and if you win in this class, you certainly earned it. Anybody can win, not just the established names you might expect. This was proven twice late in the season with the huge victory of Merissa Henson and the season finale triumph of Bartley Foster. 

I personally feel like the IMCA Modified car count could be a little bit stronger. However, I also want to point out that I don't think we've had a car count with less than 10 entries in the last three years. This may not seem huge, but in the three or four years prior to our arrival, seeing double digits in the IMCA Modified class at any non special event was not the norm. You don't get yourself to the numbers you'd like to see overnight. I personally believe this division should be in the 16 to 20 car range, but we are still a work-in-progress. I'm happy to take the 12 cars per race we get now as there are some tracks that wish they had that. 

Southern Oregon Speedway also remains committed to IMCA sanctioning. Prior to last season, we were honored for five consecutive years under the banner of the oldest sanctioning body for auto racing in the United States. Next year will actually be our eighth season. Racers like the IMCA sanctioning because they know there's a consistent set of rules that most of the tracks run. Therefore, when we do big events under the sanctioning, drivers are more interested in coming out to support them. Also, if drivers have concerns over something that's going on in their division, they can always contact IMCA. Southern Oregon Speedway remains committed to maintaining this sanctioning for our two Modified classes.

In 2016, Mike made the commitment that race tracks rarely make these days. He decided to add both a Sprint Car and Late Model division to the rotation. This didn't just mean special races, but rather championship divisions. Not knowing exactly who was willing to do what, Mike took an open rule approach to both divisions. Our Late Model division came from the Open Stock class, while Sprint Cars running a limited rules package came from an open rules effort. Both divisions required investment on the track's part to make them fly. Southern Oregon Speedway has never made a serious commitment to establishing Late Model racing here, and there hasn't been that great of an effort behind establishing Sprint Cars either, despite the fact that we've had over a decade worth of championship seasons  prior to our arrival, the last being in 2010.

With the Sprint Car division, we've managed to build something thanks to several young drivers who have graduated from Outlaw Kart racing. This is good reason to be optimistic. Not only because we've got a Sprint Car division for the fans to enjoy, but given the age of the drivers on this roster, it bodes well for this division to continue to get stronger in the years ahead. However, we're not taking anything for granted. We will remain committed to running this class. Much like the IMCA Modifieds, we will continue to have special Sprint Car races during the season. 

Mike assessed the progress of the Late Model division as it entered its fourth season and decided it was time to give them a special race. With the August 24th Cottonwood Classic, Southern Oregon Speedway again became a track that showcased a big race for the popular class. Fans got to enjoy 24 of these high speed machines competing for a $4,000 for prize. We had approaching 40 different drivers come out for at least one appearance in this class, and new drivers are joining. Next season looks to be even bigger and better for Late Model racing in Medford.

It's important that we have Sprint Cars, Late Models and IMCA Modifieds for another reason. On almost every occasion in which we have a race scheduled, you will see at least one of these divisions competing. Fans like a nice variety of racing, but they also like the speed. These three divisions certainly bring the speed. By giving them nights off and rotating the classes, it helps keep the local drivers ready for any night in which they are booked. Personally, I wish we could book these divisions on a heavier schedule, but doing such would put the car count in jeopardy again and be a reason for fans to question whether they want to come out to be with us on a Saturday night.

 I couldn't discuss this year without mentioning something that turned out to be a big disappointment. After the rough-and-tumble way our second to last scheduled Hornets race went, the division was dropped from the season finale and subsequently isn't being considered for the 2020 schedule. I don't really want to get into the particulars of what happened that night or even attempt to point any fingers of blame. There's really no point to that.

When I was making my plans to come up here prior to 2016, I tried to get myself up to speed on what was happening at the track. I noticed the Hornet division was there, but it was almost an afterthought. In speaking with Mike, I suggested we needed to do what we could to grow this division. It's the most affordable way to get into the world of racing, and I saw much potential. What was neat was that it didn't take long before Miles Deubert of JOAT Labs saw the same potential, started building cages for these cars and came on board as the title sponsor. We made an effort to grow this class, and the numbers increased early on.

There were some good people who were involved in this class, and they are why the class did start to grow and was putting on some good races. My disappointment is that we were only getting started. I saw so much more potential with this class, but there were problems holding it back as well. Being the booster that I was, I'd like to have looked over at Mike and said that he got this one wrong, but I really can't. It was the only course of action that could be taken. 

In the end, it was decided that what was going on in the division could have a negative impact on the effort to turn this racing program around. The only other thing I can say is I'm sorry for the people who were not involved in what caused the decision to be made. Had there been enough support from these people all season long, another decision might have been possible, and Hornets could have been on the schedule for 2020. This is just my observation. For now, at least, it looks like the division has been put on hiatus.

What I do see is that the Mini Stock division continues to move forward, and it looks like there will be some new drivers joining the class next year. When we came here, we saw the car count grow to as many as 17 cars on one night in 2016. Everything looked to be going pretty well, but numbers went down a little bit after that. It was suggested to me by a few people that maybe the Hornet division being on the roster negatively impacted the Mini Stocks. Is that the case? I don't know. What I do know is the Mini Stocks put on a good show and we saw some new drivers on the roster that got much better during the year. Racing will only get better in this class in 2020, and I think we're going to have a bigger field as well.

Late Model Lites gave us three 4 Cylinder classes, though this division is a bit pricier than the Mini Stock class. They get around the track very quickly and do put on a good show when we have enough competitors in the field. As the season came to a close, we were seeing more drivers at the track. It is a good division, and there are people behind the scenes trying to get more drivers out there. From what I hear, numbers will be bigger next year. I also have nothing but respect for Lee Doty of Valley Store All, who was a big booster in getting the division back on the roster and has gone above and beyond as a title sponsor to give this division a fighting chance for the last three seasons.

The biggest car count was witnessed in the Southern Oregon Dwarf Cars. The association booked the majority of their races in Medford, and they again seemed to be a part of many of the big events we had throughout the season. They've got an impressive group of championship-caliber racers, but they've also attracted some good up-and-coming stars as well. What's good to see is that car count has risen to the point where we're in need of B Mains to help make the races go smoother and make for a better show. In terms of car count, Dwarf Cars and Sport Modifieds were certainly the MVP classes at the track.

If there was a class I could add to the roster, it would be a Street Stock or Hobby Stock division. When I say Street Stock, I mean more in line with the Oregon Street Stock than the California class. In California, you would probably call them Hobby Stocks. Technology is changing in such a way that this beloved division is fading away as cars are getting harder to find. What has been gaining some momentum is the IMCA Stock Car, which uses the metric race car, rather than the Camaros and Firebirds that have been widely popular in this division.

I can clearly look at the speedway and say that it's not necessary to have an IMCA Stock Car or Street Stock division. The Mini Stock class handles things okay. However, there are people who like their fendered Stock Car divisions with a little more horsepower. Southern Oregon Speedway has certainly not done much in its lifetime to build this type of class, and it would be nice to see. I couldn't tell you that this division will be added to the roster next year, because there's been no particular talk. However, it's possible we could see a race or two booked during the season. 

We did have an Iron Giant race scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend this year, but rain had other plans. This was particularly disappointing to me as the touring group delivered over 20 competitors in their visit the year before. From everything I was hearing, those numbers might have increased just a little bit this year, and I was greatly looking forward to their visit. Unfortunately, after the rain out, we were unable to schedule a makeup date that worked for both parties. As for next year, we'll see what comes.

The division that's been there when we need them is the Calculated Comfort Outlaw Pro Stocks. In my mind, we certainly haven't seen enough races for them in the past couple of seasons. The speedway was built in part on the strength of Pro Stock racing, which in the early days delivered such a car count that C Mains were needed. Some talented drivers have been a part of this class through the years, and they still have a good roster. When they come to town, we can see car count in the low twenties. We booked them three times this season, and the highlight was certainly the night they headlined in July.

The biggest problem with the Pro Stocks that I can see on the schedule is that they might not be needed for the R Charles Snyder Salute. We need to speed up a couple of programs we have during the year that are special races. That's one of those nights. The show certainly hasn't gone well for them in their two appearances at this race, and that's led to yellow-checkered finishes on both occasions. I've certainly got other ideas on where they could fit in, but I won't say much. I'd just like to see them more, and we'll see how things work out on the schedule. They put on a good show in general. I know some people will say they have their rough spots, but I see rough spots in other divisions too. It happens.

I can't talk about the Pro Stocks without mentioning the passing of Bryan Hammond. This was a night that was very emotional for me as I stood in the pits watching things unfold. Bryan was a staunch supporter of Pro Stock racing and was in the midst of his best season in points with the group as a Top 5 driver. Moments after taking the checkered flag, he suffered a heart attack in the pits. Depending on what the family might have in mind, I wouldn't mind seeing a night that paid tribute to Bryan. Not only was he a good racing supporter, he also sponsored the group on multiple occasions to help keep it going.

During the course of the season, we did different things to give the fans a nice variety of things to enjoy. I mentioned the rain out of what should have been a big Street Stock race. We did have a two-day Monster Truck event that went pretty well in June. A rare August rainout wiped out the $2,000 to win Ironhead Nationals for the Winged Sprint Car class.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to find a makeup date for them, but that race should be back next year.

Another race that I could make a case for being the most exciting race of the season was the Herz Precision Parts Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge. This year, several local drivers took their wings off to challenge themselves, and Jake Wheeler clearly demonstrated that he is one of the top Sprint Car drivers in Southern Oregon. He nearly pulled off the upset victory over Geoff Ensign before settling for a still respectable second. They exchanged the lead back and forth on multiple occasions. It didn't take long after the checkered flag waved before this race's title sponsor, Mark Herz, signed on to support this race for another season. 

What was nice to see was how the locals embraced wingless racing just a little bit more. There was a better turnout in the stands as well. I heard more than a few people talk about how the Wingless Sprint Cars put on a good show. This was what Mike had in mind when he added this event. It was never about changing things over to wingless racing, though he did feature wingless racing at Sunset Speedway back in the day. It was about giving the fans different Sprint Car attractions. Given the fact that Wingless Sprint Series champion Rob Lindsay showed up and had a good finish in third, I would love to see that group come in for a visit or two next year. Then again, I enjoy Wingless Sprint Car racing as well as winged. Different disciplines, but both entertain the fans.

I'd love to put together a list of my 10 favorite moments, which would be the subject for another column. However, I'm very proud of the event we put on in June honoring Roger Haudenshild. We even cut a division from last year because we wanted to make the show go quicker. However, car count increased in the other divisions. We might be looking at a night that only needs IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Pro Stocks. Though we went late, the racing was good and the fans were still entertained. Going late and just accepting that as an "oh well" type of thing is not an option for us. We'll make it better. However, I do remain very proud that we've turned this race into something I know Roger would be proud of.

Our goal on any given week is to give the fans a good show that doesn't drag on. One of the reasons we scheduled as many divisions as we did on any given week is because we were growing the car count. At the time, we needed to do that to give fans 40 or 50 cars so they knew they were getting a respectable turn out. Car count in all divisions has grown to the point where we can actually run less divisions on any given week. This will all be stuff that Mike will factor in when he puts the new schedule together. You want to give the fans a good show so they'll be there to watch next week. It's not just about how many cars you have in the pits or what happens on the track, but you want to end at a decent hour.

I've heard other promoters even talk about the two and a half to three hour show. We're starting at 7 and it would be nice to end at 9:30 to 10. Obviously, you're going to have nights where things get a little bit out of control, but that's not the norm. The other thing I would like to see is getting back to Trophy Dash presentations after the Trophy Dashes. We were doing that during the first couple of years, but after we brought in the new clay and track conditions became more challenging, we started pushing the presentations off until the end of the evening in order to keep the show going. I think we can do better here. 

When I talk about track conditions, I have to mention how hard Jim Rodgers works to make things right. He's out there every week doing what needs to be done. He knows Southern Oregon Speedway pretty damn well, so generally speaking, he delivers exactly the kind of track he's going after. You can't control when rain happens the night before or certain things like that, but he does his best with what he works with. Though the clay has proven to be a challenge for him at times, I think he delivered some great racing surfaces throughout the year.

Presentation of program is pretty important, and this year we made the change to bring announcer Cory Penfold and Moxie Media on board. Cory was walking into new territory. Though he was familiar with the racers and the happenings at Willamette Speedway, he was learning a whole new roster at Southern Oregon Speedway. However, he and his enthusiastic crew endeavored to learn as much as they could and gave Southern Oregon Speedway the best coverage they could through their Moxie Media platform. Cory is already chomping at the bit to get back on the microphone and help make things even better. He's learned a lot, and he's ready to take things up another notch.

Getting back to the heritage idea, I'm so proud of what we've been able to establish with Hall of Fame night. Seeing people who have meant so much to this racing community through the years being honored with the recognition they deserve was exactly what I had in mind. I want the fans of racing past to know that we honor our heritage. It's helped get us to where we are today. Even better is the fact that we're seeing some of those family names getting back into racing again. 

We've only scratched the surface. I know there are people who wonder why this person or that person hasn't been inducted, but I know one thing for sure. There are many great racers and people behind the scenes who will ultimately be honored as Southern Oregon Racing Hall of Fame members in the years to come. Hall of Fame night will continue to be part of what we do, and I am so honored to have been part of the effort to establish this night on our schedule.

It's with honoring racing tradition in mind that I pushed for a race for R Charles Snyder. The Labor Day show became his night, and it's been wonderful to see the community embrace it. I know what Charles meant to the community, and every time people come up to me and talk to me about him, it's with love and respect for what he did. Again, we had another big car count with over 100 competitors at the second day of the event. The Sport Modifieds again knocked it out of the ballpark with just shy of 50 cars. It was again one of our biggest shows of the year.

There's so many people to thank from the people that I work with on the staff to people in the pits and in the grandstands that I've had the pleasure of interacting with. People who have helped make my job a little bit easier with their help. This is why I say we are a racing family. We are all a part of making this race track better than it's been in years and something we can truly be proud of. I hear other race track's names get thrown out there as the example, and my goal is to see people throwing Southern Oregon Speedway out as the example of how you do things right and make things better. We are a work in progress, but I defy anybody who was here four years ago and here this year to tell me things haven't gotten better.

There's certainly a few areas where we can improve when we're presenting the program on any given night. We're looking into a few of those areas. We know we can do better. I know where I have sort of lagged a little bit compared to previous years. I could do a better job of getting information out in a more timely manner. I know that within 48 hours of a show, all the information should be out there, and it was during the first three years. It's only this last year, as I felt a little bit more of the stress, that I've let things lag more than I should have. Articles should be up quicker, results should be up quicker and we need to do a better job of handling the MyLaps situation. We should be able to have those stats posted before we leave the track that night. 

I've analyzed the way I'm presenting things to see if there are things that I can do better. Obviously, putting the word out there has a direct impact on getting racers motivated to come out and race and fans more motivated to come out and spectate. Have I truly done the best that I can to make this happen? Numbers are better, but are they where they should be? I'm looking at other aspects of what we do on any given week to see what touches I can put in there that I haven't done yet. The souvenir program will get a good looking over as I enter my fifth year of putting those together. There is much room for improvement.

Cory and I recently had a conversation about the presentation of each race and making every event special and a night in which everybody wants to be there. Obviously, every race isn't going to be of the high caliber of an R Charles Snyder Salute or Roger Haudenshild Tribute, but that doesn't mean that every race can't be special in its own right. We do want to showcase every division on the roster. As I said coming in here, every division and every driver matters. I want to continue to do what I can to spread the word about the great racers that we have at Southern Oregon Speedway.

Hopefully I covered everything I wanted to cover here as I don't want to drag this on any longer than I have. It's been my distinct pleasure to be a part of Southern Oregon Speedway, to get to know all the great people in this community and to do what I can to help make things better than they were when I got here. There's more work to be done. After a little bit of a break, it's going to be time to get back to work. I look forward to seeing everybody at the banquet in January. More details will be forthcoming regarding the 2020 schedule, any rule adjustments and those sorts of things. Until then, thank you for reading and thank you for making the 2019 season at Southern Oregon Speedway such a success...