By Robert Haugh
Honoring one of Northern California’s most fabled and respected racing legends, Petaluma Speedway General Manager Rick Faeth hopes the inaugural 101-lap Johnny Soares Classic transitions into being the premier Midget race West of the Chili Bowl.
Presented by 101 Casino (http://www.the101casino.com) of Petaluma and Western Performance Parts (559-485-7442) and sanctioned by both USAC-Western States and Bay Cities Racing Association Midget series, the $2,500-to-win race will be split into two sessions on the 3/8-mile Dirt oval, with a refueling intermission between sessions.
With an $11,000 purse and guaranteed $2,500-to-win and $275 to start the 101-lap A-main event, it’s no wonder entries are expected from the West Coast’s top Midget drivers coming from throughout the West, with entries expected from California, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon to compete on one the best race tracks in the West, with entries from multiple Midget champions, skilled veterans and young guns hoping to make an impact.
Leading the heap of expected entries are current points leaders, past champions and race winners, including USAC-Western States Midgets points leader and Petaluma Speedway Midget track record holder Shannon McQueen of Bakersfield in the McQueen Racing #7 Spike/Esslinger, seven-time BCRA champion and current BCRA points leader “Ageless Wonder” Floyd Alvis aboard his #18 Stealth/Esslinger, current USAC-WS Dirt points leader and former BCRA champion David Prickett of Fresno aboard the Neverlift Motorsports #15 Spike/Van Dyne, 2007 WMRA Midget champion Evan Margeson of Tacoma, WA in the Margeson Racing #50 Beast/Esslinger, multiple-time BCRA and USAC victor Scott Pierovich of Alamo in his #35 Spike/Wirth Mopar, three-time 2012 (and August 11 BCRA Midget winner at Petaluma) BCRA Midget winner Gregg Bragg of Visalia aboard Dave LaMott’s #0 Stealth/Wirth Honda, former BCRA Midget champion and multiple-time feature winner Matt Streeter of Galt aboard his #14jr Spike/Chevy, Tanner Swanson of Kingburg in Dave Thurston’s #11 Spike/Esslinger (which has won the last three BCRA Dirt races with Bragg driving), former USAC-Western States Midget champion Alex Schutte of Redding aboard Mason Cook’s #10 Beast/Fontana and open wheel ace “Fremont Flier” Shane Golobic of Fremont aboard Doug Bock’s #26 Spike/Esslinger.
Pierovich won three consecutive Midget features at Petaluma from 2009 through 2011 with Fast time in 2010 and 2011. Pierovich did not compete in the August 11 Midget event earlier this season. McQueen set the blistering track record in 2009 with a 14.360 mark and placed second Pierovich in both the 2010 and 2011 Midget events at Petaluma.
Locals will have plenty to cheer for, with American Canyon native Travis Berryhill returning to his home track, manning Britton Bock’s #67 Spike/Esslinger, while Bock pilots grandfather Doug’s #62 Spike/Esslinger rounding out a potent three-car Bock Racing stable. Popular local Sprint Car veteran Sparky Howard of Santa Rosa will be chauffeuring Rick Faeth’s #3 Beast/Chevy V4.
Additional entries include August 11 Petaluma Fast Time winner Danny Parker of Oakdale in Bob Roza’s #21 Spike/Esslinger, Arizona’s Connor Kassik in the Neverlift Motorsports #115 Spike/Van Dyne, Carson City, Nevada’s “Mr. Popular” J.R. Williams in his #74 Stealth/Brayton Chevy, August 11 second-place finisher Pete Davis of Pleasanton in his #00 Hothead Engine Heaters Spike/Esslinger, second-place BCRA points runner and BCRA President Rick Holbrook of Vacaville in wife Peggy’s #6 Spike/RRE Stage II Chevy EcoTec, 2012 USAC-WS Santa Maria August 4 winner Frankie Guerrini III of San Rafael in the F&F Racing #63 Stealth/Gaerte Ford, veteran Midgeteer Bill Lindsey of San Carlos in Stu Donaldson’s #8 Stealth/Pontiac, past USAC and BCRA Midget winner “Nitro” Nick Chivello of Manteca in the Chivello Motorsports #27 Spike/Esslinger, most recent USAC-WS feature winner (September 22 Bakersfield) Troy Rutherford of Ojai in Calvin Martens’ #86 TCR/Esslinger, Bakersfield’s Sean Dodenhoff aboard the East Hills Racing #9 Spike/Fontana and San Diego’s Chris Ennis in the Neverlift Motorsports #151 Spike/Chevy.
In addition to being sanctioned by both California Midget organizations, the race awards points towards the series championships in both organizations. There will also be a $500 bonus for the leader at 50 laps, plus $100 to fast time and $100 to the best passer Hard charger sponsored by M&M Racing Photos (www.mmracingphotos.com). Competitors towing from Oregon and Washington will also receive $100 tow money.
The race format allows each entry two qualifying laps, with the Top 10 locked into the A-main with the remainder of the 22-car starting grid formed by the Top six finishers of two 15-lap Qualifiers. The A-main inversion will be weighted with 4, 6, 8 and 10 inversions possible. A refueling stop will be held at half way.
USAC and BCRA tire rules will be enforced.
Racers should complete the entry form and submit to Petaluma Speedway General Manager Rick Faeth at PO Box 6, Petaluma, CA 94953 as soon as possible. For more information on the 3/8-mile Petaluma Speedway or to download the entry form, visit http://www.petaluma-speedway.com/
Admission to the race is $16 for Adults, $12 for Children and $10 for Seniors. In addition to Midgets, the event will feature BCRA Vintage Midgets and Dwarf Cars.
Suggested local accommodations are at the Best Western (707-763-0994) and Quality Inn (888-564-6980).
Petaluma Speedway sponsors include PitStopUSA.com, BPT Performance Carburetors, M. Maselli & Sons, Inc., Napa Auto Parts and Team Ghilotti Inc. Engineering.