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The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

MITCHELL FACCINTO…LIKE CREAM HE RISES

 BY Joseph Terrell

 Sweet Home Olympia, Wa….After Friday nights rubber down finish their was no doubt Brian Crockett and his crew would get the The Grove put to its normal condition Saturday night. And they did. Fans were greeted to a great A main with twists and turns and everything in between.

                       

                        Oregon sensation Tyler Thompson flipped landed on his wheels and retained his spot because the red had came out before his flip. He finished 7th. Another Oregon star and Grove veteran Kyle Miller had the faithful on their feet as he drove from sixth to second…but his efforts were wasted as he spun late in the race as he challenged for the lead. His spin was dramatic as he spun in turn two, hopped a huge cushion, did a 360 and kept going. That was just the beginning.

           

            Colby Copeland who had fought tough breaks the previous two nights seemed to be on his way to a $3500 payday as he took the white flag then craziness broke loose. As he took the white flag he slowed which caused second running Kyle Hirst to slow and then…

           

            Like cream Mitchell Faccinto rose to the top and leaving no doubt during northwest speedweek he was the driver to beat. In his fourth tour of northwest speedweek Faccinto and his Stan Greenberg owned #37 KPC left their mark winning on all three tracks that were raced in on in the five nights and never finishing worst than fourth all week. Overall it was Faccinto now has seven 360 main event wins on the year and has clearly established himself as the driver to beat in the 360 ranks on the west coast. Faccinto capitalized on Hirst delay to storm by and pick up the win after starting 9th. The last two nights Faccinto overcame poor starting spots in the main to finish third and first. To say this driver has come to age would be an understatement…Look out Shane Geologic, Kyle Hirst, Justin Sanders a new king is looking to take the west coast throne.

 

            Hirst who looked like he might win his second race of the weekend but settled for third abroad the THE #94. The commotion of Copeland slowing caused the second place running Hirst to slow and leading to his eventual third place finish. The Tiner-Hirst team ended with three straight podiums to end the week.

 

            One of the big winners of the late race shuffle was Seth Bergman as he was able to get second after spending most of the race out of the top five. Bergman struggled all week but was able capitalize on Copeland breaking and fourth running Justyn Cox flipping on the last lap to go from fifth to second on the last lap aboard his Bergman Racing SHARK powered XXX.

            Right behind him was Skagit Speedway and STSS champion Colton Heath. Heath continued to his trend of being inconsistent on weekend shows. After a lackluster Friday night after a good qualifying run Heath rebound Saturday and was able to be near the front and capitalize on the late race drama to go from seventh to fourth on the last lap aboard his LAW Racing SHARK powered XXX.

 

            Justin Sander was another driver able to make up ground on the last lap as he went from ninth to fifth aboard his families Rider powered XXX. Like Faccinto Sanders struggled both nights in preliminaries and had to rebound from bad starting spots. Sanders fifth place run was his fourth top five during the five night speedweek. Sanders struggled each night in qualifying at the The Grove and never was able to be much of a factor over the weekend after winning Wednesday nights show.

 

            Kudos to all that put of Northwest speedweek. It has been going more than 20 years in varying fashions and continues to be a must see event on the west coast. You never know who is going to show up as over the years many drivers such as Brent Kaeding and Jason Solwold among others have only raced some of the week while plenty others have attempted the whole week. One thing has remained the same and that is the uncertainty of who will win. Drivers like Brad Furr swept all five nights before he was even a big name, while luminaries such as Solwold have struggled to find victory lane. Although Faccinto may have won three races… this year was no different as each night was a crap shoot.

 

Speedweek News and Notes: California drivers truly dominated this edition of speedweek taking 12 of the 15 podium positions…Two went Washington native but Oklahoma resident Bergman who managed two runner up finishes…Speaking of Bergman look for him to be in Montana this weekend and back at Skagit the following for the Summer Nationals…Rising Oregon star Tanner Holmes aboard his families Bailey Bros. powered KPC looked to be in place for another strong finish on Saturday but he slowed mid race after while running in the top five…Speaking of young Oregon stars Tyler Thompson continues to impress aboard his families KPC. He had two top fives including the only podium finishes amongst northwest drivers as he contested the whole week…On the theme of Oregon stars Garen Linder returned to the track for the first time since Dirt Cup in the Seth Nunes Rodgers powered KPC. He made the main both nights…Skagit speedway regular Greg Hamilton shocked many Saturday night as he was fast time and won the dash. After starting on the pole he ran second for about half the race before fading to 6th in the final tally aboard his GHR SHARK powered XXX…Doug Rutz teammates Justyn Cox and Tony Gualda were fast all week but never landed on the podium in their Richmond powered sprinters. Very much a surprise…Only one Washington driver contested all five nights - teenage sensation Devon Borden…Like many California drivers Ryan Robinson has been in many different rides this year. He spent the week aboard the Morrison Racing Ott powered ART with his best finish second Friday night at The Grove…Washington star JJ  Hickle continues to have a tough summer as he was pulling out of the track before the B main Saturday…Copeland looked to be on the verge of victory Friday and Saturday aboard the Van Lare SHARK powered ART before tires and axles proved to be nemesis. He blew a tire Friday night and broke an axle Saturday night…Silver Dollar regular Chelsea Belvins was on Friday night but did not return Saturday…Raquel Ivy showed up Saturday night and was leading her heat before her motor let go…By my count 14 drivers contested the whole week - 10 from Califronia, 3 from Oregon and 1 from Washington.

 

 

                        That is it for an amazing weekend of racing. I will be at GHR this weekend posting up dates all night long on twitter for the sprint cars. The following weekend I am going on a a special road trip to the California coast (Ocean and Santa Maria).

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com            follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

THE GROVE BABY - COTTAGE GROVE

 BY Joseph Terrell

  

Cottage Grove, Or…On the east coast The Grove would be Williams Grove but here on the west coast it can only mean the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Or. A pillar of the central Oregon racing scene The Grove is widely regarded as putting on some of the best shows on all of the west coast. While it is a only a quarter mile it is wide and has multiple groves creating room for plenty passing and action.  And because of this The Grove hosts the final two nights of northwest speedweek.

 

                        We rolled into Cottage Grove about one yesterday afternoon and immediately headed to the pits to see what was going on. Generally this time of the year  at The Grove the temp is the mid 90’s and with lack of shade in the pits it can get uncomfortable during the day. This year temps are much more reasonable in the mid 80’s. The pits were already starting fill up and almost all the cars from the night before had made the trip down to Cottage Grove. In addition five regulars from the Washington scene had showed for the weekend. Their was definitely a buzz in the pits not to see Jason Solwold as he his always a contender at The Grove.

 

                        The Washington drivers making the tow for the weekend were Colton Heath in the LAW 33, JJ Hickle in his own 3, Greg Hamilton in the GHR 96, John Stuart in his 17 and Chris Bullock in his 17c. With such strong car counts in Washington this year I was little surprised to see only six cars from the state at the The Grove (Devon Borden has been running the whole week and Corbyn Fauver ran Wednesday and Thursday). But with the amount of races a driver can run just racing the dual track bonus and Summer Thunder it may have kept some drivers at home as they enjoy the off week. Don't forget the Summer Thunder Series will back at The Grove in a few weeks.

 

                        A strong 29 cars filled up the Cottage Grove pits as in addition to the five cars from Washington Garen Linder, Matt Hein, Don Waddell, young Idaho driver Tyler Drievers and chico star Chelsea Blevins had joined the field. Linder was driving the Seth Nunes 5n car. After destroying his car at Dirt Cup Linder as been MIA. It was nice to see the talented Southern Oregon driver back on the track. Drievers races out of Idaho and gets limited track time do to the lack of any dirt tracks in Idaho. This makes it hard for a young driver to improve as they don't get valuable seat time. They do have plans to run all ISCS limited sprint sprint week next month. That will help this driver develop as he definitely is very green in a sprint car.

 

                        The big word in the pits yesterday was that Steven Tiner was indeed going to step out of THE 94 for the weekend after running the first three nights and his business partner Kyle Hirst was hopping in. This paid dividends as the California star turned part time driver Hirst won the dash and main event leading every lap in each race. Hirst who has ran probably only 10-12 times this year is just one of those drivers that doesn't get rusty. This writer is hoping he has a ride for Gold Cup this year.

 

 

                        As I wrote Thursday night this speedweek is dominated by California drivers as they have dominated the car count and the results. Last night was no different as all six dash cars were from California and the top four finishers were from California. It was interesting night as stars such as Mitchell Faccinto and Justin Sanders qualified outside the top 20. Faccinto was able to rebound after starting 14th in the main worked his way to third. The first half of the main was racy especially at times up front as Hirst and Copeland raced each other through traffic. On two occasions Copeland had gotten pass HIrst but just couldn't hold the lead. But then about lap 18 Seth Bergman - who had worked his way to fourth blew - a right rear and the rubber started smelling. The track got one lane quickly. Copeland would shred his right rear on lap 27 as Hirst held on for the win over Ryan Robinson in the Morrison Concrete 97 and Faccinto in the Greenberg 37.

 

                        Much like Steve Beitler and the crew at Skagit, Brian Crockett and his track prep crew at The Grove were not going to stand for that. As soon as the races ended Crockett ands crew were on the track tilling and grading getting to work to make sure the drivers get The Grove surface they are used to Saturday night. I expect a much better surface tonight although I kind of expect the same winner.

 

A few quick notes: As mentioned Kyle Hirst will run the last two nights of speedweek in the THE 94…Jesse Love will miss tonight as he returns to California to race midgets in Madera…Tony Gualda will also return home tonight to his normal ride in Placerville…Seth Bergman who blew both of his engines last month has been running a SHARK ASCS this week as his get fixed…On Thursday at Sunset Tanner Holmes was excited to get to The Grove - it is easy to see why as he qualified third and finished fifth…Robinson was solid in the A and as others such as Copeland, Bergman and Faccinto were drawing attention Robinson was putting in solid work running smooth and was rewarded with a second…Faccinto is the only driver with a top five each night…Sanders had finished on the podium the first three nights but he struggled most of the night and finished mid pack after getting as high as sixth in the main.

 

                        Well that is it for now. The crickets are chirping and sun is coming out. Going to try to ride out to Lake Dorena this morning before filling the rest of my day walking the pits and watching races. I will be posting updates and news all afternoon and night on twitter.

 

            terrelljosseph@hotmail.com  and follow on twitter @idrinkiswim

                       

 

 

SUNSET SPEEDWAY SHOCKS US ALL

 The Tales of The Northwest Nomad

 by Joseph Terrell

  

Banks,Or….After making the two hour plus hour drive down mostly on the I-5 before snaking west out to Portland I landed in Banks, Oregon and the home of Sunset Speedway. Sunset Speedway is generously listed as a quarter mile when reality it is a fifth mile. The track is narrow and small and traditionally sprint cars have struggled to put on a decent show here. But it is sprint racing and after 10 days way from dirt track I was ready to go. Awaiting was round three of Northwest Sprint Week.

 

                        As I pulled into the grassy parking hour I encountered two die hard Northwest fans who along with myself agreed it is better to be at a race than at home but are expectations were low for this evening. We held onto the one time it was decent and every time hope it repeats itself…and it doesn’t. It is usually one lane around the bottom where the race is over as they come out of turn two. With that said I was still very excited because of the strong contenders among the 20 entries on this beautiful Oregon night.

                       

                        Justin Sanders who had won the previous night was aboard his family’s potent 17. Colby Copeland was in the Van Lare 5v. Steven Tiner in the THE 94. Justyn Cox and Tony Gualda in Rutz Sprinters. Monday night winner in Yreka Mitch Faccinto in the Greenberg 37. National star Seth Bergman in his 23. The always inconsistent but fast Jake Wheeler in WR 21w. Throw in rising stars Tanner Holmes, Tyler Thompson and Jess Love. Also recent ASCS national tour winner Devon Borden in family 8. And oh yeah former USAC national midget driver Ryan Robinson was aboard the Moxley 97. Nice field.

 

                        And then after the track record was lowered by over second by Devon Borden heat one rolled and took the green and we knew immediately tonight was going to be different. The action was fierce and especially impressive was Colby Copeland batting by Borden and Thompson in a spirited run that featured some of the best 360 action ever seen at Sunset. The action was side by side and multiple grooves were available. The second and third heats were not quite as good but is was evident that Sunset Speedway was different tonight. The racing was spirited, side by side and fans were loving it.

 

                        After a dash the 30 lap main delivered. Even though Faccinto and Tiner ran 1-2 all race long that doesn't tell the story. The battle for third between Wheeler and Gaulda and then Sanders and Wheeler was epic. Sanders finally won the battle when Wheeler clipped a small infield tire and spun late in the race. Borden faded early and then rebounded as the track got slicker and came home fourth ahead of Thompson who had started 12th but was smooth in the late going as he worked by drivers by like Bergman, Robinson and the Gualda to come home an impressive fifth at the checkered.

 

            Throughout the main the action was all over. From third back everybody was in a race for position. The cushion off turn two was at the wall. The bottom was fast even as the top worked in. Tiner stayed on the bottom exclusively while Sanders seemed prefer to be up the track a little more. Faccinto…well was just fast and was really developed into an elite driver. And rubber was not an issue as it had been in the past.

 

            Well that is why we go to the races…you never know when you will see an unexpected great race. In victory the podium drivers all complimented the racing surface and how nice it was to have two grooves. Despite previous struggles the Sunset Speedway proved tonight it can provide side by side great Sprint Car racing.

 

A few quick notes: Look for some Washington drivers to join the field tomorrow. I don't for sure who but i would expect 3-5…The 20 car field was dominated by California as they more than half in the field…Young Washington driver Corbyn Fauver was at Cottage Grove Wednesday and Sunset Thursday as he diversifies his track experience…Borden just continues to impress. Enough said about that…Drivers Justyn Cox, Seth Bergman and Colby Copeland were in unfamiliar territory as they ran mid pack all main…In the post race interview and after the race Sanders kept talking about the battle he had with Wheeler as they went wheel to wheel many times without touching. He loved it…It was announced that both Gualda and Love will head back to California to Saturday to fulfill other race commitments.

 

 

            Well that is it for now. Time to get some sleep and head down to Cottage Grove in the morning. Before driving down going to get some miles on the bicycle in Banks.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

DID I HIT A NERVE….I DIDN’T MEAN TO

Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

Kitsap Peninsula…After two long weekends of chasing ASCS National Sprint racing I took last weekend off to work and as Bryan Hulbert would say it was time “save my lunch money” and get ready for another long weekend chasing the last three nights of Northwest speedweek at Sunset Speedway Thursday night and at Cottage Grove Speedway Friday and Saturday. I was going to write this article about the upcoming speedweek but then something occurred Saturday that changed my direction.

                        On Saturday evening as toiled away in my office at work I couldn’t help but see come across my twitter feed that the Sprint Car Challenge Tour only had 15 entries at Stockton Speedway. This for a series that was consistently in the 30s until this year as some where in the 20’s has become the norm. I retweeted my shock at this development and then after the show was noticed that every participant in the evening seemingly tweeted how great the series and promoters of the series are. I saw tweets saying how the surface had been so good and how Scott Russell, Matt Wood and the rest of the crew are so great. I hope this was not a response to my simple inquiry and surprise about the car count. I sure hope nobody took my tweet as a negative comment towards the SCCT as I have nothing but respect for the group that puts this premier series on.  I am shocked – like many others I am sure – at where the car count has gone though. With that said I have reasons for the low car count which has everything to do with amount of options drivers now have and nothing to do with excellent people behind the scene of SCCT.

                        The series continues to offer a great purse and after the show Saturday series regulars were rewarded with a new right rear – no small gift to a race team. It has a good point fund and encourages drivers to race every night to be eligible for more rewards and perks. Unfortunately the California scene is a little a saturated. Drivers like Mitchell Faccinto and DJ Netto now have to Kings/Tulare series they can race, while SCCT regular Andy Forsberg has recently dropped off the tour as focuses his efforts at Placerville in  the Family and Friends Sprinter and Chico in his own. Willie Croft seems focused on 410 racing.Kalib Henry and the Worden vowed to chase the whole series but split while back and both have dropped off the tour. Another previous regular Colby Copeland has ran an outlaw schedule this year as he has appeared in numerous different rides this year. Justin Sanders has done the same thing as the Dale Miller chose not to follow the tour after earlier committing. This all leads to a perfect storm of drivers taking the same weekend off.

                        And while I was shocked by the low car count I am not concerned. The sprint car scene in California and the West Coast in general is strong and one night with a low car count is not vindictive of bigger problem. On other hand it means drivers have choices and choices are good. They don’t feel bound to one series as their are plenty of tracks and series to race giving each driver more variety and creating situations where you just never know who is going to show up on any given night.

                        In addition it was nice to see so many drivers compliment the surface at Stockton as the track has taken some heat this year for track conditions and purse structure for the Asparagus Cup. This was unwarranted as like any dirt track Stockton will have their good nights and bad but the track is continuing to support sprint cars with opportunities to race so no complaints from me.

                        Do I really think my tweet set off a firestorm? Of course not. I just needed something to write up this week. lol

                        Few NW Notes: Speedweek starts tonight in Yreka – usually the first two nights are dominated by California drivers as the northwest teams don’t get into full swing until midweek…Some of the California drivers expected all week are Kyle Hirst, Mitchell Faccinto and Justyn Cox…Normally a few of the lower buck teams out California will be a surprise and do the whole week – who will they be this year?…Tony Gualda will probably run most of the week in Rutz sprinter before returning to Placerville on Saturday…Last week was the only time this year Grays Harbor and Skagit had 360s on the same night and for good reason – car counts were cut in half…Devon Borden picked up his third win of the year at GHR (and fourth overall) while Colton Heath wheeled to his second win of the year at Skagit.

                        Well that is for now. Catch me the in Oregon later this week. Look for articles following last three nights of northwest speed week.

            Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  and @idrinkiswim on twitter

 

 

 

FIVE NIGHT, FIVE RACES, FIVE WINNERS

 THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

 BY Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…11 days ago it began with a cheap tent and a cooler full of beer. After three days of beer and dirt at Skagit Speedway it was time for four days off before regrouping and doing it all over again and then like that the ASCS National Sprint Tour has come and gone. Five nights with five different winners.  Rubber down tracks, hooked up tracks and slick tracks all awaited the drivers the last two weekends creating some surprise results and five nights of ultra competitive racing.

 

            The Brownfield Classic may not be the same type of event as Dirt Cup but it is still a huge deal in the northwest and after a light Friday crowd the Elma faithful filed the stands Saturday night to support the Brownfield finale. After the first night in which the track was lightening fast and difficult to pass on the second night featured a slicker surface demanding a little more car control than the first nights hammer down you-lift-you-lose surface. And even though the track appeared (smelled as if it had) to take rubber an quick analysis of the tires showed that some tire was left and rubber may not have been as bad as it appeared.

 

            While the World of Outlaws are without doubt the premier Sprint touring division the invasion of the ASCS drivers is a true battle of invaders versus locals. This year the invaders won as they claimed four of the five races although in reality three of the five winners were from the Northwest. The locals were solid as Jason Solwold and Colton Heath each recorded four top tens, Devon Bordern won Friday night at GHR and had a top 10 at Dirt Cup and Austen Wheatley continues to shine at GHR as he came a hard fought fifth last night in the Brownfield Classic finale after flirting with a podium for most of the night.

 

            With his win last night Matt Covington joined Solwold, Blake Hahn and Dirt Cup winner Robbie Price as the only drivers with two podiums during the five nights - that speaks to the competitiveness of the field. Overall Covington was the class of the field as he almost won Dirt Cup before an engine failure and then rebounded to take the classic. It is fitting that Covington would run so well in the northwest as his office is a XXX chassis powered by SHARK engines - both are based in the Burlington area near Skagit Speedway.

 

            WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FAVORITES:

 

            Just like the weekend before at Skagit the sharpies were wrong on the favorites. It was basically declared a five driver race for the Brownfield Classic but that is why they race the race. The five favorites were solid but struggled to make any real noise.

           

            Sam Hafertepe, Jr who had dominated the northwest swing in recent years was only on the podium once - Friday night at GHR. Hafertepe who built a new car last weekend at Skagit seemed to be in the hole because of bad pill draws each night and was unable to make up for it. Although he did garner a third and fourth over the weekend Hafertepe, Jr. was never really in contention.

 

            Another driver with terrible draws was Roger Crockett who with the exception of Friday at Skagit spent most of the two weekends lingering in mid pack - not an usual position for the Rocket. As a critic pointed out to me a Friday night “Remember when Crockett was fast at Elma.”

 

            After a great Dirt Cup Hahn struggled all weekend at GHR and had to use a provisional to tag Saturday’s A main after a Friday night where he barely held on to a top 10.

 

            Seth Bergman had a tough draw on Friday but made the best of it to get a top 5 and Saturday seemed to be in ideal position to score his first Brownfield Classic as he won his heat and drew the number two starting position. Luck was not on his side as he blew an engine as his heat ended and after motor problems the night before elected to just push off and then pit. He was credited with 23rd. Bergman who has won Dirt Cup and the Summer Nationals but still needs the Brownfield was obviously disappointed as he talked about his tough luck in this event.

           

            Solwold was only favorite to make a run as he was on the move Saturday night coming from 6th to 2nd but just couldn't make a run on Covington after a late race caution. Solwold who had an up and down two weekends was also disappointed in that like Bergman he only needs the Brownfield to compliment his Dirt Cup and four Summer Nationals victory. Solwold was happy to be on the podium but it was evident he was little deflated as for the third time in five years he was on Saturday night podium at the Brownfield but in the wrong spot.

 

MORE BROWNFIELD/ASCS NOTES: After shocking the world Friday Night Devon Borden struggled in his heat Saturday and started dead last in the B before charging to third in the B and making the A…As mentioned earlier Heath had a great two weekends that included a second, sixth and two seventh…Reece Goetz who has made only a handful of starts this year went from sixth to second in his heat and started the main second Saturday night. He came home seventh…On the other hand Reece’s brother Chase was a no show Saturday after numerous bad breaks over the two weekends…More than a few were surprised to see Lance Sargent start 11th at Dirt Cup. He backed it up by rolling off seventh for the Brownfield finale…John Carney II was up and down during his Washington debut with his best run being Friday night at GHR when he finished second. He finished fourth in the B Saturday and was never a factor…Summer Thunder rookie Bailey Jean Sucich had nice weekend making the main both nights…Another Summer Thunder Series rookie Chris Bullock rolled off 10th Saturday night for the Classic…Travis Jacobson was coming off a solid Dirt Cup had a tough weekend and after a disappointing heat race Saturday night he and the Cook racing team packed up shop and were on the road home at 815 pm…The two weekends took their toll on Summer Thunder supporters and now only seven drivers have made every race as Chris Schmlezle, JJ Hickle and Danny Ochs all missed their first races…Also Jake Helsel who has had the Bud Ashe sprinter running as well as it ever has was a no who Saturday after experiencing some rumored engine gremlins…With only show up points available for the five nights points have not changed for the Summer Thunder Sprint Series. Solwold leads Borden, Cam Smith and Heath…On the ASCS front Hahn gained the point lead at Dirt Cup but lost it at the Brownfield and now sits third behind Hafertepe and Carney…Interestingly Solwold is 14th and Heath 15th in National points due to the strength of their five race performance.

 

            Well that is it for now. I will be taking next weekend off due to work commitments but I will be writing a piece previewing Northwest Sprint Week which kicks off the Monday July 8 in Yreka, California. I will be catching up with Speedwell on July 11 in Sunset and then the final two nights in Cottage Grove.Will probably be my only racing trip to Oregon the year.

 

            If you cant catch me at the races then catch me swimming, running and cycling.

 

            E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com follow on twitter @idrinkiswim.

           

 

 

 

FAST FIRST NIGHT AT THE CLASSIC

TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

By Joseph Terrell

 

Along  I-5, Western Washington…The first night of the Fred Brownfield Classic is in the books and boy was it a quick one – literally. Steve Beitler and his crew rolled off the 34 ASCS sprints and 19 midgets in two and a half hours. Seven heats, a B main and two 25 lap main events and the checkered had flown on the night. And not only was the show fast paced…overnight rains and a little daytime drizzle left the Grays Harbor Raceway hooked up and hammer down making passing a difficult proposition all night long.

            When the checkered fell last night a few fans were surprised when 16 year old Devon Borden went green to checkered to become the youngest winners ASCS National sprint history breaking the record set by some guy named Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I wasn’t as Borden has scored two wins already this year and has shown that when he tarts up front he is tough to beat. This night everything fell in place for Borden as he started second in his heat and led all eight laps. He then started second in the main and again led every lap as he dominated aboard the Borden Auto Parts Don Ott powered sprinter. With yellow lags each time slower traffic started to get dicy Borden was never seriously challenged.

            Behind Borden ASCS stars John Carney II and Sam Hafertepe, Jr. were given chase but just couldn’t make up enough ground on the lightening fast track. Each driver commented in victory lane on the difficulty of passing because of the fast surface but were also quick to congratulate the emerging star who has just been the class of the field.

            Two early favorites Roger Crockett and Seth Bergman had terrible pill draws and with track conditions as they were each had a long night ahead. Crockett struggled in his heat, was okay in the B and was on the tail end of the lead lap as he never showed the prowess he usually exhibits at GHR. Bergman on the other hand made a few passes in the heat and was patient during the 25 lap main and finished 5th after being slotted to start 13th.

            A tour of the pits last night had most drivers commenting on the fast race surface and how the pill draw is everything when the heats are that hooked up. With much dryer conditions expected today and another night of racing on the track the overwhelming feeling was the track would get much racier tonight.

            Classic Notes: Young driver Bailey Jean Sucich started the A on the pole and finished a very solid 8th. She started her night be winning her first ASCS heat…Oregon cage kart star Tanner Holmes weekend ended early as his motor expired in the B. He was on the road home by 915 pm…Colton Heath continues to be solid the past two weekends and came home 7th after transferring out of the B…ASCS point leader Blake Hahn struggled all night as he was mired in a midpack battle that included Reece Goetz, Austen Wheatley and Robbie Price among others…Australian Andrew Caruana did some major front end damage after running into the back of Jason Reed during the B main. They were thrashing last night to get the car fixed…Speaking of bad luck Chase Goetz back streak continues. After a rough Dirt Cup Goetz and team worked all week to get the car together to only DNF after hot laps…Lastly notable no shows were Oregon star Garen Linder (still recovering from his Dirt Cup junking) and JJ Hickle (driving the Worden sprinter in California all weekend).

                        Well off to the grind for the day before heading back out to GHR tonight for night number two. This year no automatic lock ins so everybody will start fresh. Borden has a proven to be legit contender. Can we get a fifth different winner in five nights of ASCS in the Northwest. Drivers that still haven’t won include Hafertepe, Jr., Bergman. Heath, Carney II and Jason Solwold. I expect one of those five to win tonight.

 

                        Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com @idrinkiswim on twitter.

 

 

 

 

DIRT CUP – YOU ONLY GET TO IT ONCE A YEAR

Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

 

Kitsap PeninsulaSaturday evening as Oklahoma driver Matt Covington was getting the Dick Wilskey pole award for high points after two nights Covington could not stop talking about how great a event Dirt Cup is and the how great the northwest fans are. He made mention that it is so much more than a normal race as the money, the competition and the fans make it a very special weekend.

What a weekend it was. After an anti-climatic ending Thursday night that I detailed Friday morning, Steve Beitler and his crew went to work and had Skagit Speedway on point the last two nights. Saturdays A main had the Skagit faithful going crazy as many said it was the best race they have seen at Skagit. Saturdays 40 lap headliner featured six lead changes and more slide jobs than one could count. The battle from 1-6 was non stop as the best 360 drivers in the country literally waged a war on the Skagit oval. The most amazing thing was that even though the racing was close and the slide jobs fierce their was no dirty moves. Yes a couple of the dive bombs weretight - especially Seth Bergmans late move to pass Jason Solwold and get on the podium - but all were done clean leaving room for everybody to operate.

            When the dust settled Saturday night it was British Columbia driver and former track champion Robbie Price who had claimed the $15,000 prize as well as his first ASCS national victory. The feeling from the sharpies all week was that Price would run well and could possibly win a preliminary night but that his chances Saturday night were slim at best. Oh how the sharpies were wrong as Price raced the best I have seen him run and once he inherited the lead for the final time on lap 30 he was not going to be denied as he drove away from the field to secure the victory. Prices joy was Covingtons misery as a blown motor handed the lead back top Price and robbed Covington of his first big money race victory.

            Covington and Price both slid beneath radar all weekend as the sharpies were really into Blake Hahn, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Bergman, Solwold and California Superstars Justyn Cox and Justin Sanders.

Hahn seemed like the driver to beat after his Thursday night run and solidified it with a solid Friday night but a midrace spin dropped him to fifth and seemingly dashed his chances. He rebounded to get second but it had to be bitter for Hahn as Dirt Cups are hard to win and if you waste the opportunity you dont know if you will get another one.

Bergman made a late move Saturday after what had been a lackluster weekend to that point to finish third and gain another Dirt Cup podium. Solwold was up front all weekend but like so many times this year just did not seem to have what it takes to win. Nothing wrong with a fourth place finish but I know Shaylen Raye Motorsports team was looking for more.

Hafertepe could just not find the speed he needed all weekend and was never really a factor. Cox and Sanders were just too inconsistent all weekend and come Saturday night just were not in a position to do too much. Although it must be mentioned after a very slow start Sanders seem pick up the pace Friday and Saturday as he seemed to get his Doug Rutz ride rolling pretty good by the end of the weekend. No word when we can expect Cox or Sanders in the Rutz sprinters again but Northwest speedweek in a few weeks seems the most likely.

In addition to the great racing some great crowds greeted the 50 sprint cars all weekend. Friday and Saturday were especially filled as parking got at a premium with all the campers that were one site. For those that have never been to Dirt Cup this just might be best part of the weekend. Campers were everywhere from tents to the most expensive RVs and all sizes in between. Saturday night after the races one of the best things to do is wander around and see what party you might end up and who just might be there. More than a few times some of the best drivers in the business have found themselves wandering the campgrounds looking to unwind after a long weekend. Word had it the hidden spot on Saturday night was the in the pits as DJ Festy texted to me late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. By that point I was winding down trying catch a few hour of sleep before packing up heading back to reality.

Luckily reality only last until Friday as we get ready to do it all over again at the Brownfield Classic with two nights of ASCS national races. Look for around 40 cars to fill the pits and take on the wide and ultra fast Grays Harbor Raceway. Early thoughts from the sharpies are varied but I would expect that the favorites this week will be among others Bergman, Hahn, Price, Hafertepe, Solwold, Australian star Scott Bogucki and Friday night preliminary winner Roger Crockett.

Dirt Cup New and Notes: 51 cars officially check in for the weekend as Dirt Cup continues to hover around 50 number for total entriesthis years format was expanded to include four qualifiers from three the previous yearsAfter last years point debacle that put more emphasis on heats and qualifiers this years point system heavily weighed the A mains . By all accounts the new system was much better receivedCrocketts Friday victory came after an awful Thursday which he did not make it of the A. Last years system would have made him a B main car but this year a bad Thursday and a win on Friday were good enough to get an 8th starting position and ultimately 11th place finish on SaturdayBogucki who was coming off a weekend sweep was seemingly checked out on Friday when he caught the cushion and destroyed his car. His crew re-built the car and Bogucki drove 13th to 5th on SaturdayAmong other drivers who had heavy car damage during the weekend were South Dakota driver Travis Reber (re-build after Thursday night), Chase Goetz (went to second car for Friday) and JJ Hickle (went home after Friday)Two young Oregon stars made their 360 debuts at Skagit were Tyler Thompson and outlaw kart star Tanner Holmes. Holmes had the most success and was running second Friday night when he had to avoid Bogucki causing severe front end damageBesides Solwold three other locals graced the Top 10 Friday night runnerup Colton Heath, former Dirt Cup runner Travis Jacobson and budding superstar Devon Borden…Lastly Lance Seargent was a surprise all weekend as he started 11th on the grid Saturday after almost not racing due to recent struggles.

Well that is wrap until this weekend at GHR. These truly are the best racing weekends of the year in the northwest. I will be writing articles after both nights races.

terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

RUBBER DOWN - I HAVE NEVER

 SEEN THIS BEFORE

 THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

 BY Joseph Terrell

 

Alger,Wa…The 48th annual Super Dirt Cup kicked off last night and history was made - but not the sort that I thought was going to be made. Every year Dirt Cup brings the unexpected but as the final 15 laps clicked off the board last night and sprint cars resembled a train as they cascaded around the bottom in the one big line. It took myself and most of the faithful to understand what was happening. Was it true? Yes it was. Skagit Speedway had taken rubber. In 22 years of attendance at this great track I have never seen this happen at Skagit. The track has had many critics over the years and sometimes for rightful reasons but a rubber down speedway has never been one of them.

 

                        After a six great heats, four amazing qualifiers and two very competitive B mains the Skagit faithful seemed guaranteed an amazing main event. But before the sprint main rolled out the ford focus midgets had their main and that is when it started to happen. The signs were there but many of seasoned veterans at the track just couldn't accept it. The sharpies were still saying Hafertepe was going to win from 13th or Bergman from 5th not knowing or maybe accepting the brutal reality of a rubber down follow the leader track.

 

                        Even the first few laps were inconclusive but when Matt Covington blew by Jason Solwold and almost did the same thing to eventual winner Blake Hahn it was obvious the rubber was down. Hahn moved to the bottom to thwart Covington’s move and from that point on Hahn lead Covington, Solwold and Bergamn on  high speed parade around Skagit Speedway. In victory lane even longtime track participant Solwold admitted to being surprised the track took rubber and that he reacted too slowly which allowed Covington to get by early in the race.

 

                        Hats off the Steve Beitler and his team as they obviously were not satisfied with the track and before post race interviews had been concluded he had his toys on the track going to work. Having 50 sprints and more than 30 midgets on hand definitely took its toll on the track and it will be interesting to see how Beitler and his staff navigate the weekend to prevent what happened last night from happening again.

 

First Night Notes from Dirt Cup…After running strong at Skagit each year Hahn finally scored his first win at the track…Northwest local now ASCS star Robbie Price was high point driver going into the qualifiers and eventually started 4th in the main before finishing 6th…John Carney had an eventful first night at the Skagit Speedway but survived a qualifier mishap to come home fifth…California star Justin Sanders who the sharpies were all over struggled mightily and spun twice in the B main. Sanders was looking for a heavy California cushion and their was not one to be found…His Doug Rutz teammate Justyn Cox fared better and came home with a solid top 10….After a lot of talk about the locals being strong this year the top looked pretty familiar in that it was all National drivers with the exception of Solwold. We have seen this act before…Roger Crockett who entered as a driver to beat had steering problems all night, got stuck in the back of the B and couldn't work his way out…Brock Lemely switched engines after qualifying and struggled until the B where he charged from 15th to 3rd before spinning in turn 2…For the first time I remember not one California or Edmonton based team participated in Dirt Cup…Chase Goetz making his first 360 start of the year had his night end quickly as he was stuffed in the wall in his heat race. He scratched for the rest of the night and afterwards the car was bare bones in the Goetz trailer…South Dakota traveller Travis Reber took a wild ride in the B main and may have set a height record as he flipped violently down the front stretch. But in the spirit of racer he guaranteed to be back Friday night.

 

                        Well that is it from the first night of Dirt Cup. Tonight we shake it up again and see what happens. Will Hafertepe and Crockett rise to the top? Will Solwold and Hahn re-kindle their emerging rivalry? Will Covington or Price shock the world and get it done? Or does Bergman reign supreme again? We will find out more tonight. 

 

                        The sharpies will keep the odds updated Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon will be final odds. Follow on twitter.

 

                        Until Sunday evening Mr. Dirt Cup is checking out and diving into the cooler full of Coors Light. Bingo.

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com or @idrinkiswim.

 

 

LIVING THE DIRT CUP DREAM – A WHO’S WHO
Tales of the Northwest Nomad
By Joseph Terrell

Kitsap Peninsula….The time is now. The wait is over. The hype machine has been working overtime but now it is time for the reality to hit and the hype to end. What am I talking about? Well of course it could only be the annual edition of the Jim Raper Memorial…Super Dirt Cup to the common fans. The festivities kick off this Thursday and go through Saturday as the drivers chase the dream of $15,000 payday. For more than 30 years Dirt Cup has been the premier event of the Northwest and in many ways the West Coast. The winner list has all the West Coast legends from Sills to Green, Kaeding to Kent, Allard to Solwold and many in between. The names are a roll call of hall of famers. But this is not just limited to West Coast stars as luminaries such as Wolfgang, Jeff Swindell and Sam Hafertepe. Jr. have also graced victory lane in this iconic race.
This is years edition is looking like it will be another super competitive three nights of racing with many potential winners and the sharpies have been evaluating closely during the last two months as they follow the ASCS national tour and the local northwest scene as well as keeping an eye on a couple of California invaders. This last weekend was the last tune-up and some favorites warmed up with wins, others struggled a bit, while a few (namely Jason Sowlold and Seth Bergman) took the night off – obviously they feel like they have made their cases to the sharpies and pundits.
With that said it is time to breakdown five drivers who are contenders and five who are have some work to do:
CONTENDERS (no particular order):
• Sam Hafertepe, Jr. – Great resume at Skagit Speedway with two Dirt Cup victories and a World of Outlaw win. Five wins on the ASCS national tour this year. Last year made an epic run from 18th to 3rd on the final night. Something tells might tell the sharpies he won’t have to work so hard this year.
• Seth Bergman – Defending champ won Friday night last year from 16th and then simply dominated Saturday night. What is not to like about Bergman and his chances this year. Ran second in his only appearance at Skagit this year. Sharpies have taken notice.
• Justin Sanders – first time at Skagit and Sanders is on the contender list. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with this young man as his resume is filled with wins. Swept Bradway memorial this year, has knocked on the door of Outlaws win at Silver Dollar and warmed up with a win and second over the weekend. Only question is how he will adjust to driving Doug Rutz Sprinter. Some sharpies think he might open as the favorite.
• Jason Solwold – stared the season ablaze with four straight wins. Since no wins in six starts but has been on the podium four times. Hasn’t seemed as strong the last month as he needs to but it is Skagit Speedway and it is Jason Solwold so it is hard not to have him on the contender list. Furthermore has scored four ASCS national wins in the last four years. Sharpies are skeptical as of now though.
• Roger Crockett – Led the ASCS national points for awhile but has slipped recently now resides out the top five. But Crockett is coming to familiar territory and I look for him to be really strong. Crockett has never won a Dirt Cup and traditionally has encountered tough luck but this year the stars might align for Crockett to conquer the Dirt Cup demon.

WORK TO DO:
• Colton Heath – Just hasn’t shown consistent speed this year. Always fast at Skagit Heath seemed like a favorite early in the year but now finds himself on the work do list. The sharpies want him to be a favorite but just can’t justify it.
• Justyn Cox – I don’t why but the sharpies just don’t think Justyn Cox is going to contend this week. Come Saturday night the sharpie might be wrong but Skagit is a different beast and the sharpies need to see Cox really perform before he is considered a legit contender at Skagit.
• Scott Bogucki – I know a runner up at Dirt Cup last year and two wins over the weekend and he is on the work to do list…but the sharpies are very skeptical that Bogucki will be able to repeat his success from last year. Look for good value on this driver when the odds come out.
• Devon Border – Just too young…or is he? No doubt he might make some noise and turn some heads but Dirt Cup is about consistency and the sharpies need to see it from Borden. Come Saturday night however if he starts up front he might just shake up everything.
• Robbie Price – Even though he comes home to Skagit after being on the road all year the sharpies still are not convinced this rising Canadian star is ready for the big time. But the former track champion is always fast at Skagit and if he has a strong Thursday night a pretender might become a contender.

There it is a quick run down. I will post final odds Thursday morning on Twitter.

A QUICK TRIP AROUND THE WEST COAST: Multiple time champion Jay Cole won his first main event at GHR this year. Cole has struggled in recent years but looked strong on Saturday and officially led all 25 laps…Austen Wheatley made his second start of the year and made a pass for the lead momentarily on lap 12 but an incident with slower traffic ended his night and Borden’s…Travis Jacobson continues to perform well in the Cook Family sprinter and came home second at GHR…Mini sprint and ford focus midget star Chance Crum hopped in JJ Hickle’s sprinter (he was in Montana racing over the weekend) and ran a solid 6th….Down in California five 360 mains were ran over the weekend with five different winners…Friday saw Kyle Hirst win the David Tater Memorial at Silver Dollar over surprise second place finisher Chelsea Blevins, while Justin Sanders did the honors out at Ocean…On Saturday it was DJ Netto winning the fierce SCCT main at Kings over Sanders, Kalib Henrywon up at Marysville and former Keith Kunz midget shoe Ryan Robinson got it done at Antioch…Robinson who was a surprise show at Dirt Cup last year has ran infrequently this year after competing professionally the last few years in the midget ranks…Henry spent the weekend aboard the Van Dyke #5h….The SCCT it has no doubt been a huge success but the amount drivers who actually follow the whole tour has fallen as their is so many options in California… but options are good and create competition and that is why the California winged 360 sprint scene is thriving.
Look for final Dirt Cup odds Thursday on twitter @idrinkiswim. Also I will be posting an article on Friday discussing the opening night of Dirt Cup.
As usual if I am not chasing races then I am swimming, running or cycling. Catch me at Skagit Thursday-Saturday this week.
Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and @idrinkiswim.

 

 

The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa… With ASCS National Tour invasion less than two weeks away there is a lot of Sprint Car stuff to cover but before that a quick recognition of the local modified class at Grays Harbor Raceway. I know this website is dedicated to sprint car and open wheel racing and that often fans here use modifieds as a punching bag. I don’t share this opinion and truly believe that a perfect show is a two division sprint and mod combo. Why do I like the mods? One only needs to venture out to Grays Harbor Raceway. Last Saturday again proved that this class can be pretty awesome.

                        The mods rolled out 18 deep Saturday night and put on a 25 lap two caution classic that saw hard charges, slide jobs, different leaders and a grandstand that was on the edge of their seat when the checkered wave. The mods gave us everything on this night that we want from the sprints. What is most special is these guys are just all weekend warriors who work all week and then strap on their superman capes come Saturday and race like drivers who do it 70 times a year. Just wanted to give a shout out and recognition to the drivers that are the backbone of dirt track racing.

                        Now time to discuss Sprints. Saturday was the last tune-up at Skagit Speedway before Dirt Cup and it was Cam Smith who wheeled the family sprinter to his first win of the year at Skagit and second of the year. In the process Smith joined Devon Borden as the only driver to win at Skagit and GHR for dual track bonus. As has been discussed previously Smith has really stepped up his game and it will be interesting to see what the sharpies put his Dirt Cup odds at.

                        Speaking of Borden it was nice to see he made to Skagit for Saturday’s race. He had posted earlier in the week that the team was out of engines and were going to be out of action for a bit. Haven’t heard what changed but Borden obviously was able to hustle up some horsepower which is nice to see because this young star is too good to be sitting at home playing video games.

                        Now back to the sharpies and those Dirt Cup odds. After the previous weeks DTB at GHR the sharpies seemed in unison that Seth Bergman was going to win Dirt Cup, Brownfield and well hell every other sprint show he entered in the northwest. And after breaking the track record early in the night it seemed the sharpies were ready to put the pens down, retire the book and head out for summer vacation but that is why they run the races and as dust settled Saturday the sharpies had to start revisiting the odds. Not that they moved too much but a definite reassessment is needed.

                        Speaking of the sharpies and odds Sam Hafertepe, Jr. is starting to roll and has now got five ASCS national wins. The driver that has proven to have much success at Skagit Speedway (only himself and Jason Solwold have ever won a WoO and ASCS race at Skagit) - will definitely be one of the drivers to beat and rumor has it he might actually open as the favorite.

                        Speaking of favorites and odds it will be interesting to see where the sharpies place such intriguing picks as Solwold, Colton Heath, John Carney and JJ Hickle to name a few. As a critic texted me Saturday night from Skagit at least 15 of the 24 drivers present could win. It has been a while since the northwest scene has been that competitive and with ASCS national tour having plenty of new names and faces it could be that the sharpies favor the locals when the odds are released.

Northwest Sprint Notes: Austen Wheatley made his northwest debut Saturday night as the big shows of the northwest approach. Last year he struggled at Dirt Cup but was super competitive at GHR. You never know how Wheatley will run…Last year Justin Youngquist won the season finale for the Summer Thunder Series but had not been on the track until Saturday night…Both Wheatley and Youngquist were DNFs…For the first time in recent memory Skagit Speedway had a B main for a weekly Sprint show. The birth of the Dual Track Bonus has really paid dividends…Former Skagit champion Barry Martinez made his debut aboard the Jensen Sprinter and finished 10th..Jason Solwold ran third Saturday giving him nine podiums in 10 A main starts. His other finish was fourth…It was a rare Saturday night with two northwest tracks running 360s as Cottage Grove also had 360s on the menu…The talented but inconsistent Jake Wheeler steered to his first career Cottage Grove win and first 360 win by a local at the track since late 2017.

Now onto West Coast Sprint Notes:Andy Forsberg picked up win number five at Placerville Saturday night putting him first on west coast win list…Rico Abreu won a miracle at Tulare and with it scored a cool $11,000. I was a little disappointed the Peter Murphy classic and the huge payday only had 25 entrants…Chase Madjic rolled to his first 360 win Friday in Chico outlasting Justyn Cox…Speaking of Cox he got his first taste of Skagit Speedway Saturday night and finished fourth in the Doug Rutz sprinter. Yes the sharpies noticed when it comes to setting odds for Dirt Cup…Ryan Bernal won the Friday night 360 race at Tulare while Dominic Scelzi won Saturday night…Amazingly California had two 360 races Friday and four Saturday plus a NARC 410 race. That is seven full sprint car races for the weekend. Yes sprint car racing in California is doing oaky…And finally speaking of California for the second time in three years a driver from Golden State captured Indiana Midget Week. Congrats Logan Seavey on getting to done after Sunday was cancelled because of that rare midwest rain lol.

            Next week I will head to GHR for third straight week to catch the final 360 race before Dirt Cup and Brownfield as well as the Washington Modified Tour will roar for 30 laps as the headliner this Saturday. I have confirmed the sharpies will be at GHR Saturday for this last look and that initial Dirt Cup odds will be posted Sunday morning @idrinkiswim.

            Will probably do two articles next week as action really picks up in the northwest. Follow me @idrinkiswim. email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Tales of the Northwest Nomad

by Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…June 1 was a Saturday and what better way to kick off the month of June than with a Summer Thunder Series Sprint Car race at Grays Harbor Raceway. Once the calendar turns to June all northwest sprint fans get a little more excited and the competition gets a little tighter as the local stars fine tune their hot rods in anticipation of the ASCS National Tour hitting land the last two weekends of the month. Those two weekends are without a doubt the best back to back weekends of racing in the northwest all year so everybody is looking to be at their best come then.

As the clock struck 6 pm Saturday night it was time to head west out GHR. As I arrived first thing I noticed is it was going to be a big crowd. The ticket line was deep and stands were much fuller than usual. Amazing how the mention of fireworks drives people to the races. But then again whatever gets fans out to the races is a plus - just this week four tracks shut down with attendance being a factor in all four. With the huge crowd and great weather I wandered into the stands a little past seven and I was greeted with 25 sprint cars - a season high in the state of Washington. Unfortunately I was also greeted to three support divisions but given my previous statement about the importance of attendance I will keep my displeasure on the subject to myself.

One of the competitors in the pits and bringing a little extra competition to the field was Washington native turned national 360 star Seth Bergman who has headed home to get a early jump on preparation for the big shows a the end of the month. Bergman has elected to not chase the ASCS national sprint tour this year and instead chase big money shows and plans in being in the northwest through the Summer Nationals at Skagit Speedway at the end of July. Seth has plenty of laps at both GHR and Skagit and the extra prep time can only be detrimental the to the rest of the field. On this Saturday it was very detrimental as Seth announced his arrival home in a loud and proud fashion.

After setting fast time and running third in his heat Seth started the main in the second row and quickly went to work. The difference was the ability of Seth to enter turn three on the top as leader JJ Hickle committed to the bottom and second place Jason Solwold started in the middle of turn three and slid to the top of turn four - as he was either unwilling or unable to enter on top coming into three. Seth paced behind the top two for a few laps as he picked up momentum running the scary high side until he finally drove by Solwold in turn four and Hickle a lap later. From this point Bergman set sail and definitely let the northwest competitors they need to step up their games if they want to be a factor.

Both Hickle and Solwold ran solid races but have a ways to go to be competitive with Bergman. His ability to navigate the track and find the fast lane is very impressive and it seemed like Saturday he knew the fast line a lap to two before the rest of the field found it. The northwest drivers were a little conservative in searching for new lines and it showed as Bergman was never challenged during the last 20 laps despite numerous restarts. With this said I fully expect the best of the northwest (Solwold, Hickle, Colton Heath, Garen Linder, Cam Smith among others) to make the necessary adjustments and close the gap quickly. The bar has been raised for the locals and I expect next week at Skagit Speedway for the best of the northwest to offer much more resistance to the Bergman train than they did this week.

As previously mentioned 25 sprints signed into the pits Saturday. This continues a strong year of resurgent car counts in the northwest. While I know 25 may not seem like a lot but given the trajectory of the last few years it is awesome to go to sprint car racing in the northwest and know a full field will greet you. After a few years where the best weekly field were 15 I will gladly take a year where the we have only one field thus far below 15.

WEST COAST ROUND UP:

 Northwest notes…Jake Helsel made his season debut in the Bud Ashe Sprinter and qualified in the top eight and ran fifth for most of the main before finishing 7th. Nice run for Helsel who has spent the last few years running micros and sportsmen sprints…Former Skagit champion Eric Fisher made a rare appearance at GHR and finished fifth with a late race run…JJ Hickle lead early as he chases his first career Summer Thunder Series victory. His second place run was his fourth podium of the year…Speaking of podiums only Colton Heath with five and Solwold with seven have more podiums in the northwest…Cam Smith qualified like junk and started 17th in the A. On a track that was difficult to pass on Smith worked himself up to 6th with a late race charge…Local driver Jason Reed had a career best qualifying effort of third. He had a hard time maintaining the momentum throughout the night and finished outside the top 10…Up at Skagit Speedway 600 star Jesse Schlotfeldt made his debut at the speedway in the Sportsman division. Schlotfeldt is a known commodity in the micro world and was the pole sitter for the headlining 600s at the Clay Cup Nationals last year. Did I mention his age is somewhere south of 16. He finished 7th…Also at Skagit were a handful drivers like Evan Margetson (winner of the ford focus midget main), Kelsey Carpenter, Jayme Barnes and Chase Goetz (all in the Sportsmen) who need to be 360 cars. JMO…Lastly speaking of Goetz his brother made Reece made a rare 360 start and after a slow start ended the night with a top 10. I once witnessed Reece Goetz win 4 main events in two nights sweeping two divisions.
California Notes: A quite week in California saw only three winged races over the weekend. Bud Kaeding won in Ocean Friday in his Dad’s car, Colby Copeland got it done with NARC Saturday at Petaluma and Shane Golobic did Shane Golobic things at Placerville winning the 360s and midget main…Golobic heads to Indiana to compete on Indiana Midget Week which starts Tuesday. He is a former champion of the IMW and is always a threat in the Matt Wood midget…Golobic will having plenty of west coast friends competing during IMW including Tanner Thorson. Thorson was scheduled to chase the whole USAC National midget tour this year aboard the Clyde Lamar Midget before suffering serious injuries in a March highway accident. He will return to racing abroad a Keith Kunz prepared midget this week…Kaeding’s win at Ocean was his third of the year at the track in his Dad’s legendary Al’s Roofing Sprinter. Bud continues to moonlight in his Dad’s car when not aboard the Morrie William’s sprinter…Copeland who has been off to a slow start this year broke out with a win at Petaluma Saturday overcoming three late race restarts. Copeland continues to exude mastery at the tricky Petaluma gumbo track…So far it looks like two California drivers will be attending Dirt Cup: Justyn Cox and Justin Sanders will both be in Doug Rutz sprinters. With $15,000 on the line will more from the Golden State throw their name in the hat?

This next week is still up in there as I try to determine whether to head to GHR or up to Skagit Speedway for the dual track bonus. This also a rare weekend with two 360 shows on the same night in the northwest as Cottage Grove will also be running the 360s Saturday night.

As usual if i am not swimming or running i am chasing races. Catch me at the race track.

Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

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The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

by Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa….As we enter the month of June in the Northwest it is inevitable the anticipation for the summer big shows will pick up. The Marvin Smith Classic at Cottage Grove Speedway over the weekend was the start of the northwest money season. June will the have Dirt Cup and the Brownfield Classic, July brings northwest Speedweek and Summer Nationals, August is a little light but it all concludes labor day weekend with annual World of Outlaw swing through the northwest. It will be great summer as the stars of northwest will battle ASCS invaders, California invaders and even an invader that is native to the northwest (Seth Bergman). A lot of anticipation but it fails to 2006 when the wave hit its cress in the northwest and for one moment we thought the sprint car world revolved around us.

                        20006 was the year when the promotor battle of the northwest - as Fred Brownfield (who ran Grays Harbor Raceway) formed his own National sprint tour, while Steve Beitler was able to bring the outlaws back to Skagit – seemed to go national. The traditional Outlaw weekend in August was now moving to Skagit and at the same time The National Sprint Tour booked a race at GHR for the same weekend. At first it created anxiety and nerves among the northwest locals - was it better to go GHR for the fledging National Sprint Tour or was it better go to the Outlaws and their return to Skagit Speedway. Many of my buddies were leaning towards Skagit, while I was all in at GHR. This was going to be and was a huge weekend but unfortunately that weekend and northwest sprint scene changed direction for ever on a tragic Friday night before Father’s day that many us remember like yesterday.

                        Before the NST and WoO could lay battle in the northwest their was a little race in June paying $25,000 called Super Dirt Cup that proceeded. In these days Dirt Cup was a 410 race and was becoming more and more competitive as the Washington drivers had stepped up their game making it more difficult for California drivers to cash that check. 2006 was shaping up the same way until a glitch in the schedule and the reality that NST drivers needed more races on the schedule to pay the bills. As Dirt Cup approached – at that time it was always Father’s Day weekend – the rumors started to swirl that many NST drivers might be making an appearance at Dirt Cup. First it was native Jason Solwold who announced he would be a in local ride and then Shane Stewart did the same. Not long after Jason Meyers and Tim Kaeding committed driving for teams out of California. That made four out 12 registered NST drivers at Dirt Cup. Texan Travis Rilat also made the announcement he would be making his first appearance at Skagit Speedway. In a weird the NST had come to Skagit – just Fred Brownfield was not promoting it.

                        In addition to all this the field had many future stars including USAC firestorm Robert Ballou, Seth Bergman and some young driver from California named Kyle Hirst who was desperately trying to break from his Dad shadows. The B mains that weekend were A mains and it became very evident after Thursday night this field was as deep and as competitive as any in then history of this glorious race. Their was NST star power, all the California legends (including Allard, Kaeding, Kent, Becker, Day etc.) plus a super competitive local scene including Chad Hiller and future Dirt Cup winner Jayme Barnes.

            As great as racing would be it seem the partying was determined to be better. I remember driving all around Mount Vernon on Thursday afternoon with northwest legend DJ Festy trying to find a keg beer. Our journey took us across the Skagit River into west Mount Vernon and ended at some dive bar. Before entering we surveyed the location and saw the sign we were looking for “Kegs to Go.” Before we got our keg we had few big beers to set the mood for the day. As we raced back to Skagit Speedway a skunky odor poured from the car with a full keg in back. Back at camp we got the keg in ice and the games began, In addition we had bottles of various liquors to ensure we would be well lubricated all weekend. We partied hard Thursday night but really went for it on Friday. With rain in the forecast we decided to pass the time taking shots of Jim Beam and guzzling keg cups of beer. Skagit Speedway was party central. Beer bongs, apple pie, yucca and plenty of drinks and contraptions were prevalent throughout the campground.

            By the time we headed to the track Friday night following a long rain delay the crowd was in an alcohol fueled frenzy. The Skagit faithful had spent all afternoon into the early evening indulging and now it was race time. Everyone was waiting to see what Friday night would bring as it was last chance for those struggled on Thursday to make noise and a chance for those who did well Thursday solidify their position at the front of the field for Saturday A main. The crowd was unreal that night with excitement as so many stars battled for every position. As the heats ended it was many big name drivers were looking at the B main and some even the C main. Then it happened…

            A murmur started through the crowd. Steve Beitler disappeared from his normal perch on his tower. And as the D main pushed off a dark cloud came over the speedway. Their was a buzz…but it was not good. Sitting at the top of the stands in turn four next to a passed out fan I finally got the word. Tragedy had struck at GHR. Fred Brownfield has been struck by a modified and the early indications were not good. As the dark cloud opened up and the rain poured out the energy had been sucked out of everybody. Fans were standing in groups in the heavy rain mourning with a lost look in their eyes. Racers were despondent. I remember seeing Kyle Hirst and his team standing quietly outside their trailer. Tim Kaeding was in his hauler wondering what would become of the National Sprint Tour and talking about how big of a loss this would have for the sport. Steve Beitler elected to not run Friday’s main events Saturday – in my estimation he did not want to re-live that night in any way.

            Dirt Cup would go on and Jonathan Allard would continue to build his legend as he outran the legendary field. And the weekend in August was amazing and Northwest sprint fans would have many great moments since as locals have won outlaw races, dirt cups and ascs national shows. But none of these events reached the height of that June weekend in 2006 and what was seemingly on the horizon. When Fred Brownfield died he left many voids but the biggest in racing was the loss of competition. Fred and Steve competed each week as promoters and the result was pushing Sprint Car racing in the northwest to its greatest heights. That death of competition had a lasting effect on the Northwest and the mark on that mountain can still be seen if you look just right at the rolling rolls around Skagit Speedway. Every once in a while I will get a thrill as I look back at that amazing moment and time in the northwest sprint car scene.

            But that was 2006 and it is 2019 and Sprint Car racing is alive and well in the northwest this year and is experiencing a re-birth. Maybe it is time to climb back up that hill and find a new benchmark. I always enter the month of June with so much anticipation as it is the best time in northwest with warm weather and great racing every week.

            I will be at GHR the next three weekends before Dirt Cup at Skagit and Brownfield Classic at GHR to close out the month of June.

            Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. Email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com.

           

 

 

 

 

The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

 by Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa…Rarely would I have weekend during race season that I didn't have to work and at the same time didn't attend any races. Such was this weekend. Due to some commitments out of my control Saturday and the fact I was running a half marathon early Sunday morning (start time 745 am) meant no racing in the cards this weekend. That doesn't mean I don't have a lot to write about though.

 

            First and foremost nice job by Colton Heath Saturday night at Skagit. Heath started alongside Jason Solwold and trailed early on but eventually chased down Solwold and secured his first win of the year. In the eight starts in 2019 Heath has been on the podium five times - getting off to a nice start in the competitive northwest 360 scene. Heath is one of those drivers that is the backbone of sprint car racing. Aboard the LAW Motorsports XXX Heath supports both Skagit Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway while making treks down to Oregon when time allows. He is also regular competitor and and already registered for the Trophy Cup in Tulare.

 

            Heath has been on the northwest scene for a while starting in his family owned Sportsmen Sprinter before moving to 360 and 410s and finally establishing himself as a star in his current ride. As we fans we always get enamored with stars and the up and comers but often loose track those wily veterans like Heath who make the show go. He is not a professional and doesn't have some massive hauler with full back up cars. What he does have a is solid ride that is capable of winning at any track in the northwest on any night. He is one of the many drivers and cars that make the sport so special. A local driver in a local ride who has a chance at winning plenty of big races this year starting this weekend with the $4100 first prize Marvin Smith Memorial in Cottage Grove.

 

            Speaking of the Marvin Smith Memorial this weekend look for a solid field to converge upon the Cottage Grove Speedway this weekend. In addition to Heath many contenders will be on hand. Two time champion Solwold will be on hand. Idaho based Lgan Forler will be searching for his first Marvin Smith Memorial victory. Look for Oregon veterans Garen Linder and Jake Wheeler as well as young Oregon stars Tyler Thompson and Tanner Holmes to be up front. This race usually draws a few from California which begs the question  who will be in the Doug Rutz sprinter. My bet is we will see Justyn Cox in that ride and he has a long history of success at Cottage Grove. With Skagit racing Saturday night it very likely that a few cars will make the tow from Skagit to catch the second night of the weekend.

 

            In addition potentially one more big name driver could be added to the mix. Nothing is concrete as of press time but ASCS superstar Seth Bergman has indicated he might be in town for this show. Also there is a good chance Seth will spend a good part of his summer in the northwest as he not following the national series this year. Indications are he will compete in an array of shows including Dirt Cup, Brownfield Memorial and the Skagit Summer Nationals. One would also assume Northwest Speedwell is in his plans. This will definitely change the landscape of the northwest scene this summer brining another top tier contender to the already stout northwest competition.

 

West Coast Sprint Stuff: With no racing I had some time to look back at the season so far in winged sprint car racing in the northwest and west coast…first the northwest…Colton Heath became the fifth different winner in nine main events in the northwest…His five podiums trail only Solwold who has six…Youngster Devon Borden registered his third podium of the year after driving all night from  Tulare the night before…Jay Cole is the only driver with a perfect podium record - two races with two podium finishes…Amongst drivers looking for their first wins of the year are Eric Fisher, Brock Lemley, Travis Jacobson and the previously mentioned Jay Cole…Now onto the west coast in general which includes California, Oregon, Washington…Amazingly in a combined 51 410 and 360 winged races their have been 30 winners…And still Tim Kaeding, Ryan Bernal, Brad Furr, Geoff Ensign, Colby Copeland and plenty of other talented drivers have yet to taste victory lane…Mitchell Faccinto, Andy Forsberg and Sowlold continue to lead the win list with four…Kyle Hirst is also winless but in his limited starts this year has been a contender each night and currently only sits 14 points behind Shane Golobic in SCCT points…Rico Abreu finally broke into victory lane Friday night in Tulare as he has struggled to get that first win this year…And if speaking about Tulare then Trophy Cup must mentioned…preregistration is off and running with both Roth Motorsports (the Scelzi brothers) and Tarlton Motorsports (Tim Shaffer and Buddy Koifoid) already forming super teams…Lastly one of the bummers of Saturday’s rain out in Tulare was that California legend and four time Dirt Cup champion Jonathan Allard was going to make a rare start as spends most of his time these days spinning wrenches for youngster Kyle Olfill.

 

            Lastly I want to branch out nationwide and talk about the World of Outlaws this last week in Pennsylvania. With Lance Dewease winning two out of three shows he allowed the posse to reign king this weekend. In addition to his victories Ryan Smith ran second Wednesday in Lincoln and Danny Dietrich second Friday night at the Grove. After running roughshod over the California contigent early in the year and the amount of posse drivers that are no longer porch sitters it seemed like some nationally were discounting the rivalry. The locals never did however and they were right as though the Outlaws dominated the top 10 the posse dominated the top two. Their is nothing better as a fan than seeing your local stars battle and beat the outlaws and I have been fortunate to see it many times in Washington and California. With that said the Outlaws always rise to the challenge and the agitated interview with Donny Schatz makes me think the outlaws will return in July looking to show the posse up. Easier said than done though.

 

 

            Next weeks entry will be a look back at when the wave crested in Northwest Sprint Car racing and the long journey since then. Anybody who is familiar with the Northwest sprint scene will appreciate this piece.

 

            Until next time if I am not chasing races I must be running, swimming or in the summer cycling.

 

            Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.  E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

           

 

 

 

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

by Joseph Terrell    

Grays Harbor, Wa….Oh how the weather changes in the northwest. After enjoying a nice warm day in Olympia which included a long run, a couple afternoon beers and an evening BBQ it was time to head out to Grays HarborRaceway about 630 pm.  As we departed the sun was shining and the sun was warm…but I knew not to be fooled. The weather would be different in Elma. I had my cold weather clothes packed and ready to go. I threw a couple of blankets in the van and rounded up my traveling partner for the night and headed west.

            As predicted as we left Olympia and merged onto highway 8 the weather began to change. Away went the sun and in came the clouds. As we winded through the rolling hills on the way to the track the clouds got thicker and the weather cooler It was over 70 when we left Olympia and by the time we arrived in Elma it was 55. Why do I mention this? Because for the second time this year I left my bags of warm clothes at home – they are not going to do me much good there. As I got out of my car I realized this epic mistake but luckily I had an extra blanket and used that for warmth and was able to survive night without buying another desperation sweatshirt.

            This was my first time out to GHR this year. It is located in the fairgrounds in Elma and has gone through quite a transformation the last 20 years - from a run down narrow track with long straights and short turns to a track a featuring sweeping turns and high speeds on one of the best track surfaces in America. At its best GHR has multiple lanes, endless slide job and features speeds that make you hold your breath. The legend of Fred Brownfield is evident every time I walk into the raceway.

            Early in the season the GHR race surface can be a little difficult as the wet, cool climate makes it difficult for the track todry out enough to get racy. Often as the track just starts to dry and the action picks up the moisture will rise as the sun sets reverting the track to qualifying conditions – fast speeds with little lifting and even less passing. As the summer months come and it gets just enough warmer the track really comes on and provides endless action. By the time the Brownfield memorial comes in late June these will be the conditions that will be present. Tonight would be the opposite – only three divisions, lack of laps on track and very cloudy, cool evening created an endless night of hot laps.

            Both heat races and the main were won from the front row. The main featured heat race winners Cam Smith and Jay Cole on the front row and by the time they roared out of two Smith was gone. He would never be challenged during the 25 lap main event and multi time track champion Cole maintained second without much competition. The only race up front that looked interesting was JJ Hickle and Jason Solwold battling for third.  Solwold tried to use the top lane as everybody else pounded the bottom but after a handful laps he gave up and moved to the bottom and followed Hickle.

            This is not in anyways an indictment of GHR but just a reality of northwest racing in spring time. Track conditions are often determined by the weather and at no track is this more evident than GHR which battles the ocean moisture rolling in at night.

            On a positive note 15 sprints qualified as the dual track series between Skagit and GHR pays dividends. Car counts have averaged almost 17 sprints for the first four nights of the series after last year when Skagit was often around 10-12 and GHR would be lucky to get 10. This year the fields have been bigger and stronger.

            Now time to talk about Cam Smith. Smith had a relatively easy run to victory from the pole - much to the delight of my partner for the night - and continues to grow as a driver. Although the track lacked much passing up front the one lane groove made lap traffic difficult and Smith handled it with ease. Smith has been working on his craft for around a decade now and has really come into his own and tonight showed as he worked the traffic with ease - never letting the narrow track conditions hinder his progress. He has become patient and aggressive at the same time and has eliminated the mistakes that used to set back a good night. He is now a driver that is either on or near the podium each night regardless the competition.

            Smith used to bounce around from track to track and seemed to avoid Skagit for a while. In the last year he has become dedicated to running Skagit and GHR and he continues to get good results at each track. In a brief conversation with Smith at last year’s trophy cup he mentioned he specifically was focused on running good at Skagit with an eye on winning the two bigs 360 races held there -  but if he continues to up is game at GHR he may have more opportunities to win a big race than he thought.

 

West Coast Winners: First and foremost last week I forget to talk about Justin Sanders going into Silver Dollar Speedway and sweeping the weekend. He won the Brownwell memorial Friday night and then cruised to victory Saturday against King of the West competition during the historic Broadway memorial. Two 410 wins in two nights for a primarily 360 driver although he has been on the cusp of outlaw wins the last two years at Silver Dollar and seemingly wins every where. Amazingly these were his first two wins of the year and he started this weekend off in good fashion Friday with third straight at Ocean Speedway. He was in prime condition Saturday to win his fourth in a a row as he started up front at Placerville but lady luck soured on him after one lap. Sanders continues to be maybe the most underrated driver in America as he usually drives multiple cars at different tracks to a lot of wins. Although he has started slow by his standards come late September something tells me he will be at his “normal” win total of 12+…only a few drivers win 12+ races regularly and they have names like Schatz,Dover and Hagar…speaking of wins Andy Forsberg and Mitchell Faccinto continued their early season success bringing their win totals to four this week…Forsberg won for the third time at Placerville and Faccinto won his third race of the KIings/Tulare challenge…This ties them with Solwold for most Sprint wins on the west coast…Chase Johnson - maybe California’s most versatile driver - picked up his third win of the season Saturday night at Petaluma..Johnson has three 360 wins, competes full time in NARC 410, dabbles in USAC/CRA competition, does some midget racing and moonlights at Cycleland is going to get a huge win one day the question is just what division…Somewhat surprisingly Shane Golobic has only two wins this year - I say surprisingly because with the semiretirement of Kyle Hirst Golobic has become the unofficial best driver in California…Many drivers in California seemingly have many rides - Kalib Henry was in Jensen #5 this weekend and at least his third ride this year - he competes full times in the Worden #63 on SCCT; Colby Copeland was in the Van Lare #5v at Petaluma Saturday has been in at least two other rides beside the Antaya Motorsports #16a he normally pilots; Justin Cox has been in at least four rides this year; and Justin Sanders was in the three cars over the last two weekends - the Von Schriltz #121, his families #17 and his normal chariot the Dale Miller 4sa and don't forget Geoff Ensign as he has been spotted in the Snow #7 and Finkerbinder #3f amongst other rides. These are just a few of the drivers that seemingly are always present but just not sure what ride it will be.

            Well that is about is for this week. I will be MIA the next few weeks as far as attending races before a busy June but that doesn't mean the tales of this nomad stop. Next two weeks will feature special topics that are TBA.

            As usual if I am not swimming or running then I am chasing races and might land at a race track near you.

            Follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter. Email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

 

The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

 by Joseph Terrell

  5/5

Sweet Home - Olympia, Wa…As we left home and headed to the beautiful Skagit Speedway for round three of the Summer Thunder Series and Dual Track Series my mind wandered as the miles ticked away on I-5. The northwest season is just getting going but I feel the tone of the season and drivers to be beat are becoming apparent. So far northwest racing has been dominated by Jason Solwold who had scored four wins in four starts (sweeping weekends in Yakima and Cottage Grove). In addition JJ Hickle and Devon Borden had claimed Dual Track series races . Tonight it was time to see if a new winner would emerge on the season as all three winners would be present as well as host of other contenders. Or would one of the previous winners cement their status as contender in the northwest.

                         As we pulled into the Skagit parking lot at about 6:15 we could hear the 360 sprint cars working through their hot lap sessions. A quick look into the pits confirmed a strong field with seemingly all the usual suspects in the pits. We continued along to a familiar camp site and parked. My partner headed in as the sprints got ready to qualify but I stayed by the camp gabbing a little bit and stretching my legs after the two hour plus drive up. As qualifying for the sprints winded down I headed up and purchased my ticket and entered the hallowed grounds. As I walked in qualifying was just ending and 18 of the 20 cars present had taken qualifying laps. Solwold had set fast time in the Shalen Raye #18. Notably second place in points Logan Forler and last years runner up and Summer Thunder regular Oregon’s Garen Linder were not in the field.

             After opening ceremonies the the show proceeded in rapid fashion with ford focus midget heats, sprint heats and the outlaw tuner heats. The midgets had a 12 lap b main and the sprints had a pill draw for the fastest eight qualifiers to see where they would start the A main. When Solwold drew the one pill it seemed that we had seen the end of the movie. Who was going to beat him? Linder and Forler were not present and defending champion Colton Heath had struggled in qualifying and was starting 10th. Cam Smith who has been running strong was starting 6th but would he be able to catch and then pass Solwold. And surely 16 year old Devon Borden who was starting second would not muster much resistance? Would he? As the A pushed off the I openly opined I thought that Borden would at least lead early. But even I kind of assumed Solwold would track him down at some point and that would be that.

             Skagit Speedway has been the subject of much criticism over the years - some earned for sure but much more of it made up and completely unwarranted. But one thing was for sure - for much of then 2000’s and 2010’s Skagit Speedway would get super dusty. And I mean SUPER DUSTY. Only the most loyal and dedicated fans (yes I was one of them) would tolerate this. The conundrum was the dustier it got the better it got - the ultimate catch 22. But in middle of 2015 Steve Beitler flipped the script to bring in some new clay. It took some time for it to pay dividend but a year later at the 2016 Summer Nationals it was apparent the new clay was a difference maker as it had provided a dust free version of racing that included slide jobs and multiple grooves. By the time the World of Outlaws left in 2017 even long time critics from that series had been transformed into believers. Why does this matter?  Because as Solwold and Borden raced into turn one and sliding to the top of two it was obvious Skagit Speedway was in peak form this night.

             Borden would take the initial lead and even as Solwold waged relentless pursuit he seemingly had no answers for the young emerging star. About lap 11 Solwold started to work his patent bottom groove as everybody else banged the cushion but even as he pulled next to Borden on a few occasions the youngster was not be deterred and Solwold was now dealing with onslaught from Brock Lemley. At one point Borden, Solwold and Lemly were nose to tail as they raced through turn two. By lap 15 though Borden had reestablished control as Solwold and Lemley continued to battle. On lap 17 a caution flew as STSS regular Chris Schmelzle found the wall - unfortunately at the same time Lemley was spinning in turn two. Now Solwold was behind the youngster and as the green flew the crowd assumed Solwold would make a move but again Borden was up to the challenge. As the laps waned it was obvious Solwold was up in the saddle as he tried to desperately to make one last move but Borden had all the answers and held the late charge to finish a car length ahead of Solwold for the $2000 win.

             In victory lane Borden stood next to his Borden #8 and was beyond elated as all the hard work and time he and his father had put in during the last year plus was being realized. Borden has had his up and downs in both the sprint and 600s during the last year and their has been plenty of nights as I cruised the pit area and his pit was thrashing as they rebuilt a race car. But the talent that was so evident is now coming through. After a win a week earlier that some critics had said was against a weaker field and thus for not legit Borden had proven it was no fluke and that he is now a player in the northwest. We have had many teenage sensation in the northwest including Kasey Kahne, Travis Rutz and Trey Starks. Looks like it is time to add a new one to the list. And like all the previous their was some equipment torn up along the way.

             As we made that familiar drive home and cruised through Seattle and the lights shined bright I wondered if the world of Sprint Car Racing had just found another shining light tonight at Skagit Speedway.

 Northwest Sprint Notes: The Summer Thunder Sprint Series (STSS) in the brain child of Steve Beitler and is in the long line of 360 sprint touring series in the northwest. It provides a chance for drivers in the northwest to chase a touring series that races at four different tracks…In a weird turn of fate Saturday’s race had no drivers that lived out of Washington as Oregon regular Garen Linder and Canadian regular Luke Didius were not present…Travis Jacobson making another appearance in the Cook #22x was fast and competitive and brought the car home fourth after some impressive slide jobs through traffic that caught the attention of a more than a few spectators…Cam Smith continued his consistent ways to start the season in the Smith #17 and rolled home third - he inherited third after the Lemley spin and kept Borden and Solwold in sight but could never quite mount the challenge I thought he might…After starting 10th Colton Heath in his LAW Motorsports #33 used his experience to navigate to fifth - I look for Heath to pick up the pace as the summer months and big money shows arrive…Elma’s Jason Reed always seems to have an interesting night at Skagit and on this night he missed qualifying but finished fourth in his heat then started 12th in the A and finished in the top 10…In seven main events this season in the northwest the win count is as follows: Solwold - 4; Borden -2; Hickle 1…Speaking of Hickle he finished 7th and was never really a factor all night after a strong opening night at Skagit…Former track champion Eric Fisher was one spot ahead of Hickle in the A but after qualifying a stout third didn't seem to have the same speed the rest of the night…29 Northwest ford focus midgets were on hand to support the night…Former Skagit Speedway Sprint driver Nick Evans lead the whole way but the race was far from eventful…Mini Sprint star Chance Crum, Ford Focus Midget hot shot Tristan Thomas, and midwest transplant Ross Rankine went wheel to wheel to settle second through fourth…I have been a critic of the ford focus midgets in the past but I have to say that they have joined modified as my favorite support division in the northwest.

                         Before I head out I only want to say that I wish all Summer Thunder Series main events were 40 laps - especially the races at Skagit and Cottage Grove. But this is just my little rant as overall the Summer Thunder Series is a great series that provides some extra money and prestige to the northwest sprint car scene with racing at four very different tracks: the big track in Yakima, the super fast and scary track in Elma, the comfy confines and top to bottom action of The Grove and the legendary and unpredictable Skagit Speedway.

                         Headed out to Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma this Saturday. One thing is never forget your sweatshirt when going to GHR. This track is one of the true hidden gems in the dirt track world. The sprints can really fly at this wide sweeping 3/8 mile oval.

                         As always if I am not swimming or running I am chasing races and on my way to track near you.

                         Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. Email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

BY JOSEPH TERRELL  

 4/29

Kitsap Peninsula…It is Saturday Night and I should be at Grays Harbor Raceway catching opening night but instead I am on the Kitsap Peninsula after a long day of wok swirling an easy IPA. I am annoyed by the fact I am missing opening night and the sound of sprints of roaring into turn one. I was also missing the modifieds slice and dice like they only can on the ultra wide 3/8 mile oval.
Also down in Oregon Cottage Grove Speedway was having a two night show fearing the 360 sprints. A lot of sprint car action in the northwest this weekend and it got me thinking who are the best northwest sprint car drivers since 1990. A little trip down memory lane - the biggest criteria ismost of said drivers career has taken place in the northwest (Oregon and Washington). The decision making process was difficult and the committee of one needed a second beer to finalize the decision. After much thought and deliberation the committee decided:
The obvious answer is former USAC midget national champion and NASCAR legend Kasey Kahne. But Kasey did not spend much of his time in the Northwest despite two dominant Dirt Cup championships. So while he is no doubt the biggest name too come from the Northwest - he was not eligible. The vote was so close that the committee decided on a split decision:

1a) Jason Solwold - Won an amazing 23 races in the Northwest in 2003 (16 -360, 7-410)…2008 WoO winner at Skagit Speedway…2 career outlaw wins, 4 ASCS National wins and also wins with the All Star Circuit of Champions and the now defunct National Sprint Tour…2015 Dirt Cup Champion at Skagit Speedway…1996, 1997, 2001 and 2017 Summer Nationals Champion at Skagit Speedway…2015 and 2016 Marvin Smith memorial winner at Cottage Grove Speedway...1998 Northern Sprint Tour Champion…2010 ASCS NW Champion…2015, 216, 2017 Summer Thunder Series Sprint Champion…Has been the most dominant driver in the northwest since 1996. Has never won the Fred Brownfield Memorial at Grays Harbor but has won the prelim night in 2015 and 2018. Put on a show for the ages at the 2016 Summer Nationals to only have the next driver on this list take the win.

1b) Roger Crockett – born in California spent a majority of his career racing out of Oregon until recently moving to Oklahoma following number three on the list…While most of the drivers on the list have had their heroics at Skagit – Crockett made living at Cottage Grove and Grays Harbor…Dominated the 360 touring series in the northwest for years (NST, NSCS, ASCS Northwest)…Total of nine championships between the three touring series (2001-04, 2007, 2009, 2011-13)…ASCS National main event winner on multiple occasion including last years opener at Devil’s Bowl Speedway…1998 California Civil War Series Champion…2017 Marvin Smith Classic winner…Nationally recognized as one of the best 360 drivers in the nation…World of Outlaws winner in Minnesota…won Summer Nationals in 1998 and 2016 – beating Solwold on a classic late restart that proved to be one of great nights of racing ever at Skagit Speedway…only lacking a Dirt Cup victory…possibly the smoothest driver I have ever seen

3)Seth Bergman…ASCS National star who has spent most of his career on the road chasing the dream…but has spent enough his career at home with major wins that I couldn’t leave him off the list…2014 and 2015 Summer Nationals Champion…2018 Super Dirt Championship in dominating fashion…won the 2018 Dirt Cup Friday night preliminary main from 16th in a historical run…three major wins is enough to get you on this list…Still looking for a Fred Brownfield Memorial win…Consistently wins 10 + races every year…If he raced in the northwest consistently he would probably be number one on the list.

4)Travis Jacobson…maybe a little bit of surprise but like Bergman it is his work in the big shows that solidifies his spot on this list…3 consecutive Summer Nationals Championships from 2010-12...but it is his 2012 World of Outlaw race that cemented his legend…led all 35 laps repealing all challengers as he joined Solwold as locals who have won an Outlaw race at Skagit…his struggles at Dirt Cup are well noted but he did have a runner up finish in 2005 chasing Jon Allard throughout the latter half of the race. Maybe the best drive I have ever seen at Skagit Speedway – unbeatable when he is on.

The final spot on this list was heavily debated but in the end it is performances in the big shows that win out…

5)Jayme Barnes…not the most consistent driver ever…but nobody can do the things he can when he is in the zone…2008 ASCS Northwest Champion…runner up in 2008 World of Outlaw race at Grays Harbor Raceway…20th to 2nd at 2001 Summer Nationals…but it is Dirt Cup that gets this driver on this list…back to back Dirt Cups wins in local low buck rides in 2008-09 and third in 2010…could have won outlaw races in 2009 and 2010 at Skagit but lady luck was not his friend…while he has had big lulls in his career and some failed adventures in bigger and better financed rides Barnes work at Dirt Cup is legendary… Legend has it someone told Danny Lasoski “They are running 10 second laps around Skagit”and he said “no they aren’t…Barnes is running 10 seconds lap.”… That is enough is for me.

Travis Rutz gets a special spot on this list. Though his career was cut short he did manage two Summer Nationals championships and enough thrilling moments for a lifetime.

Many names did not make the list just because of space and they are in no order: 1991 Dirt Cup Champion Bobby Burrow, Chad Hillier, Marc “the Shark” Huson, Jay Cole, Shawna Wilskey, 2014 Dirt Cup Champion Brock Lemley, Danny Horner, Trey Starks, Dale Smith, Logan Forler and Ricky Fauver are just a few of the greats who didn’t make the cut.

My list is done, my beer is finished and it is time to point the car toward home roll down highway 16, cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and b-line for I-5.

Northwest Notes: Devon Borden picked up the first win of his career Saturday night at Grays Harbor Raceway. After showing a lot of speed and a heavy right foot Borden broke through – look for more wins for this young man as confidence will only accelerate the fast learning curve...12 360’s showed up for the second night of the dual track series – less than the 20 at Skagit the previous week but up from last year…Up at Skagit Chase Goetz won his second straight Sportsmen Sprint race – talk about fighting out of your weight class…northwest drivers and cars are all over the county representing – Cory Eliason in the Rudeen ride (All Stars), Chad Kemenah in the Shannon Wheatley ride (World of Outlaws mainly), Trey Starks (Knoxville), Skylar Gee (All Stars), Seth Bergman (ASCS national) and Robbie Price (ASCS)…while I would love to see all these cars and drivers in the northwest it is always nice to local stars and car succeed…Finally in 2003 as previously mentioned Solwold had the greatest season ever in the Northwest and the 2019 season is starting to bring back memories as Solwold swept the Spring Fling at Cottage Grove…that is four wins in four starts – I am definitely keeping an eye on this and see where this might go.

Next week I will head up to Skagit Speedway for round three of the Summer Thunder series and the dual track series. Looking forward to a solid group of sprinters and whether someone can stop the Solwold train.

If I am not swimming or running I am chasing races so until next time you never know if I will be at a race track near you.

Follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter. E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

4/23

The Beautiful Skagit Valley, Wa… Racing season in April and May in the northwest is always a bit unpredictable. The weather is in constant flux and the rain gods may appear at anytime and stay for an extended visit. I have endured springs where it seems the rain will never stop even and when it doesn’t rain on Saturday you have to be the most dedicated fan to sit through the cold, wet nights. Other springs have offered nice days and cool nights - the sky is clear and the air is dry. What type of spring this season will bring only time will tell but for this last weekend it offered one of those ideal spring days that leads to a great night of racing.

            Mobbing up the I-5 towards Skagit Speedway the traffic was rather thick on this Saturday before Easter. Traffic built up at numerous locations in Seattle and its surrounding areas - plus an unplanned stop in Everett at the request of one the passengers on this trip - made a two hour trip closer to four. As we worked out of the bottleneck and headed for Skagit County the roads began to open up. Working through the rolling hills and finally the Skagit valley appeared before us. Opening up to the Puget Sound to the west the Skagit valley is an immense valley cut out the by Skagit River. Littered with small towns such as La Conner, Conway, Bow and Edison it can seem like a step back in time. As you snake through the valley and pass through the city centers of Mount Vernon and then Burlington you began to ride back into the rolling hills. And just as the Skagit Valley fades into the background we departed from I-5 and cruised on highway 99 following sprint car ace Lance Seargent until the great Skagit Speedway appeared to our left and opening night was upon us.

            As we drove up we didn't know what to expect for opening night. Last year only 11 360s had showed up and all year car counts would struggle during weekly shows in northwest at Skagit and Grays Harbor Raceway. Over the winter promoter Steve Beitler went to work and upped the weekly purses and also created the dual track challenge between Skagit and Grays Harbor raceway in Elma - this series is the northwest version of the Attica-Fremont Series. After a couple of years of struggling car counts Beitler was definitely looking to create more excitement in weekly racing. His popular Summer Thunder Series has consistently drawn nice fields and is a one of the best regional series around. Tonight though was to be the first night of dual track challenge and would it make it difference…

            ….The answer is yes - The nice crowd of avid fans were rewarded with a solid 19 360 sprints which provided 18 starters come main event time. The field was competitive and deep - providing great racing on the comfy confines of Skagit Speedway. Turns 3 and 4 turned out to be the most eventful with multiple lines containing unpredictable ruts. After an early but eventually fruitless challenge by former Word of Outlaw main event winner Travis Jacobson Washington peninsula resident JJ Hickle drove away from the field to score his first ever 360 main event at the legendary grounds. Hickle has won multiple races at Grays Harbor Raceway but before tonight had never graced victory lane at the home of the Dirt Cup. Greg Hamilton - who has shown lots improvement the last year and half - chased Hickle the last half of the race but settled for second. Hamilton is becoming a contender and could be a sleeper come Dirt Cup and Summer Nationals.

            Amazingly in the sportsmen sprint accomplished northwest sprint shoe Chase Goetz also won his first sprint car race ever at Skagit.This surprised me as Goetz has always been fast at Skagit Speedway in his 360 ride. Goetz was not the only sprint star in the sportsman field as he was joined by former two time Dirt Cup champion Jayme Barnes. I have been going to northwest racing long enough that anytime Barnes is in the house you need pay attention. After showing early speed he was a DNF. Somebody needs to get this guy in a 360 for the summer big shows.

            It was a great opening night at Skagit and the little traffic on the way out was a minor inconvenience to see so many fans out supporting dirt track racing. Yes we could have bummed around the camp sites and driven home with sun coming up but tonight we took the easy way out. We headed back down the rolling hills, through the valley, down the freeway leaving great Skagit Speedway behind us. We rolled through the cities with ease as the clocked turned the page to Sunday and the previously four drive was the two hour drive it should be. Traffic was a thing of the past and the freeway rolled with ease on this perfect northwest spring night.

Weekly Notes: Cam Smith and Hickle struggled early in qualifying but improved through the night with Hicklewinning and Smith coming home fourth…Both of these drivers expect and should compete for wins all season long…Another that will be contender all season isColton Heath who rebounded from a tough opening weekend at Yakima with quick time and a third place finish in the potent LAW motorsports sprinter…Jacobson was in the Cook family sprinter and had it rolling before incurring a DNF…another star of the past gracing the grounds was Brock Lemley as he looks to resurrect his sprint car career after a few years of not running much – if Brock puts the time in he will be a contender sooner than later this year…Canadian car owner Doug Rutz competed in California over the weekend with solid results. He had Tony Gualda and Justyn Cox in the cars Friday night and Cox in the car Saturday…

            Lastly I went a give big THANK YOU to all the promoters and race tracks (you know who you are) that are busting tail making Sprint Car racing the best it can be on the west coast. Whether it is Steve Beitler, Jim Allen (NARC), Tony Jones (USAC/CRA), the Russell family (Placerville/SCCT) or the many others I missed sprint car racing is alive and well on the west coast thanks to your hard work and dedication.

            More than likely I will not make it out to any races this weekend – work commitments and one of my racing partners is unavailable to ride along – but until next time if you can’t find me in the pool or running long distances check your local dirt track.

            Follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter.

 

4/16/19


Along I-5, West Coast…. As I roared down I-5 heading to Stockton, Californiathis past weekend for the Asparagus Festival (of which the Asparagus Cup was part of) at some point I left the northwest behind and saw the promise land of California ahead of me. I think the exact spot is somewhere in the Shasta Lake area as you wind through the mountains and eventually into the central valley. Once you land in the valley the sun arises and the climate changes immediately. It was nice to cruise through the valley, window down, pegging 80 mph leaving the dark rain clouds behind.
I arrived in Stockton mid day Thursday giving ample time to get setup and situated for the weekends asparagus cup. $25,000 if a driver could sweep – but with this tough California competition it seemed doubtful this would happen. Too many good drivers, too many good teams, too much luck needed. With such stars as Shane Golobic, Kyle Hirst , Gio Scelzi, Mitchell Faccinto, Rico Abreu and DJ Netto to name a few the weekends action was sure to be fast and furious.
Getting situated involved setting up my tent in a covered barn that I am sure houses animals during the fair. Luckily the asparagus festival doesn’t feature farm animals…meaning I did not have to share my sleeping quarters with some over sized stinking boar. On the other hand the faint smell of that oversized boar lingered.
After wasting the day Friday riding bad carnival rides over and over and eating the much anticipated fried asparagus it was time to head to the track. This was my first visit to the Stockton Dirt Track. It is cut out of an old mile horse track with the front stretch coming out onto the horse track front stretch. The turns are carved into the ground creating the banking necessary to ensure drivers can run the bottom and push the cushion. A little later as I walked the pits I noticed a few major absences – Dominic Scelzi , Chase Johnson (who won at Ocean on Friday) and Washington star Jason Solwold were MIA. Also two of the most potent rides in California were not in the house – the legendary Beef Packers machine and the Tommy Tarlton special decided home was the place to be for the weekend. Still the pits filled with 37 stout sprint cars each night (a total of 40 different drivers).
Most of the early action Friday was rather uneventful - although Jason Statler and Blake Carrick made the main through their heats after starting last which is a rare feat. The action in the B picked up but it was the A that really set off. Rico did his thing and rolled 24th to 5th while Gio Scelzi stalked Mitchell Faccinto relentlessly until finally seizing his opportunity as the leaders raced into turn one on lap 28. It was at this moment Scelzi let the slider rip. The 17 year old was $10,000 richer.
Walking back to the camp that I night mentioned maybe Gio would sweep - opinion had changed and a sweep now seemed reasonable. And he did just that. After Colby Copeland set the early pace Saturday Gio rolled by him with ease, opened the can of whooping and set sail. It was never in doubt…Gio had double dipped and got paid $25,000. What a weekend for this 17 year old young star.
Walking back to camp I decided to indulge in one last Asparagus Festival artery clogger. It has going to be the Clam Chowder with shrimp covered fries. Yes over the top…but yes super necessary for the enjoyment of the experience After a roaring crowd all day Saturday the crowd had settled late in the evening but still many lingered on the grounds. As I waited for my heart bomb order I overheard an Asparagus Festival goer talking to a friend how they should hit 99 and cruise to some other valley city on this warm summer night and ride the wave of life. I was kinda jealous and wanted to join them and ride the wave but that long ride home awaited in the morning. I got my loaded fries headed to camp and chewed the fat for a while before heading to sleep.
The drive back home is the reverse to the drive to California. From the sun to the weather cooling to inevitable spring downpour it was sad to leave but good to go back home. As I crossed that Oregon state line I waived goodbye to California and looked forward to the season in the Northwest and the inevitable spring buildup that leads to the grand daddy of them all - Super Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway.

Stockton Observations: Blake Carrick and mini sprint star Joey Ancona were representing the under 16 crowd…Ancona led most of the way the last year at the $10,000 to win Super 600 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway before a DNF…Speaking of mini sprint stars Caden Sarale was also in attendance both night s as he advances his career into sprint cars…The Keith Kunz connection was deep this week with former and current drivers including Rico Abreu, Ryan Robinson, Tanner Carrick, Blake Carrick and Logan Seavey…Speaking of Seavey he was making a rare winged appearance in the Larry Antaya sprinter however the defending USAC National Midget Champion was never a factor showing just how the stiff the competition was…Garren Linder and Jake Wheeler represented the state of Oregon during the weekend…The car count may have been lower than what would of have been expected but it didn't effect the level of competition as stars such as Justin Sanders, Rico Abreu, DJ Netto, rising midget star Tanner Carrick and NorCal legends Andy Forsberg and Sean Becker were never factors all weekend…watching Kyle Hirst is a treat - he makes it look so easy sometimes. I hope he gets behind the wheel more as the season progresses.

Looking to head to Skagit Speedway this week as long as weather permits. Until then…if I am not swimming or running I am chasing races. follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

By Joseph Terrell

4/9/19

Somewhere, Wa….The northwest sprint car season kicked off this past weekend over the hills in Yakima at the Yakima dirt track. This was the first races of the season for the regional Summer Thunder Sprint Series. Unfortunately I was unable to make it over the mountain to the valley as work commitments had me tied up all weekend. Instead I followed along on twitter over the weekend.

Jason Solwold continues to be the dominant force in the northwest. His sweep of the weekend only emphasized this point. However this doesn’t mean he is unchallenged. Garen Linder, Colton Heath and JJ Hickle to name a few are sure to offer many challenges to Solwold. Linder and Heath specifically have shown the ability to compete and beat Solwold. Also running strong over in Yakima was Logan Forler. Forler tends not to follow a series but just pick and choose and the former ASCS national regular is a threat every night he shows up. If he chooses to follow the series he will not only step up the competition level but would be a serious contender for the championship. In addition Forler is the hardest working driver in show business – don’t believe get a pit pass sometime and just observe Forler throughout the night. Race and wrench and repeat.

A couple of other drivers who stepped up last year were Cam Smith and Austen Wheatley. Smith has become super strong at Skagit Speedway especially and I look for him to compete for both Dirt Cup and Summer Nationals glory. Wheatley also came on strong last year – was really good at Elma for the ASCS national weekend – but at this time I am not sure of his racing plans for the year.

Another nugget from the Yakima weekend is the driver shuffle that often happens aboard the potent Richmond engine powered Doug Rutz sprinter. Last year this car featured among others mini sprint star Jared Peterson (mainly at Skagit), JJ Hickle and California now Midwest superstar Buddy Koifoid. Other drivers that have ventured into this ride are Trey Starks and Wheatley. At Yakima this weekend Rutz had young New Zealand star Breyton Davison in the car both nights and California high flyer Tony Gualda turning the wheels Friday night. In typical Gualda fashion he was hammer down as he set fast time and led early in the feature before finishing with A DNF. No word on how many appearances the Hollister, Ca. driver will make aboard the Rutz sprinter. Gualda would finish a close second to Justyn Cox Saturday night at Placerville.

But wait there is more….it was announced that Cox will be making numerous appearances in the Rutz sprinter throughout the year starting this week in Stockton at the mighty Asparagus Cup. Cox has also stated he would like to be in the Rutz ride in Nortwest during the summer when all the big northwest shows occur. As always the summer should be awesome in the northwest.

Of course every time I see the Rutz sprinter I can not help but think of the original shoe – Travis Rutz. Anybody from the northwest can speak of the legend that this young man is and will always be in the northwest. More talent and charisma than almost any driver I have ever seen. I will never forget seeing Travis Rutz gushing as Joey Saldana graced the campsite – Travis felt he was in company of a legend. Me and my partners new we were in the presence of two legends.

Now on to the Asparagus Cup…I am now packing and getting ready for the road trip down. This will be my first visit the Stockton dirt track and am looking forward to the watching the stars of the Golden State do battle. I think it is awesome the Nocetti Group put together this great race and purse. I know their has been some negative feedback on twitter but there is nothing wrong about promoter putting on shows that pay $10,000 and $15,000 to win. Maybe it could pay better through the field…but if aren’t first you are last J

Combine the Asparagus Cup with Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway, Summer Nationals at Skagit Speedway and Trophy Cup at the Tulare Thunderbowl and the west coast boasts many of the highest 360 ci winning purses in the United States. As I like to say the WEST COAST IS THE BEST COAST.

Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim as I will posting different betting odds for each night of this weekends Asparagus Cup. Be pre warned though – finding the betting window is like finding Narnia (nearly impossible)

Until next week, when I will fill everybody in on the ins and outs of the Asparagus Cup which is part of the much bigger Asparagus festival (I can already taste the fried asparagus), so long and stay safe chasing races.

 


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