From Gerald Laurie
After a sunny and warm afternoon at Madera Speedway’s annual Vukovich Memorial Race, the evening turned cool and windy and the racing turned into what would have been a typical Full Moon event (no, there was only a sliver of Luna showing). With ten different classes of racecars in the pits, including three vintage exhibition groups, it would turn out to be a curfew buster for track promoter Kenny Shepherd. The BCRA Midgets and the Wild and Wooly Supermodifieds were the featured classes and are covered in this article.
There were eight Supermodifieds (three 360 class cars and five Open Cars) and ten Midgets in the pits to start practice. Kody Swanson was the fastest Midget and Jim Birges was the fasted Supermodifed pilot during the warm ups.
Real competition started with individual qualification runs and Chad Nichols (17) was the fastest BCRA entrant with a lap of 14.056 seconds on the 1/3 mile banking, He was followed by Kody Swanson at 14.167, Nick Chivello(27) at 14.209, Tanner Swanson(10) at 14.329, and Nick Foster, Jr.(1) at 14.683. Scott Pierovich (35) made two qualifying attempts only to have mechanical ills relegate him to the back of the pack.
The Supermodified field had some driver changes due to illness as Kyle Vanderpool took over his father’s number 3 Open Car when Dan fell ill, and younger brother Shane Vanderpool jumped in his Kyle’s number 1 360 car to fill out the field. When all was said and done, Lonnie Adamson (98) was fastest of the fast at 12.660 seconds with Jim Birges(32) hot on his heels at 12.683. Kyle Vanderpool put the 3 car in the field at 13.018. Carl Johnson(07) was the fastest 360 at 15.456. Kody Swanson(72) shut down on the backstretch and coasted to the line when the changer gears in the rear end shattered and ruptured the Center Section spreading synthetic gear oil through the topside of turns 3 and 4 and down the front stretch. The Speedy Dry came out for the first time in the evening and the lengthy clean up put the show well behind schedule.
Heat races were up next. There were a couple of oil downs from other classes during the heats, further delaying the schedule and adding a bunch of speedy dry at the end of turn two and on the front straight. The Bay Cities Racing Association fielded two five car, eight lap heats. The first eight lapper lined up with ageless Floyd Alvis on the pole pursued by Nick Foster, Jr., Nick Chivello, Chad Nichols, and Mike Snider. At the drop of the green, Foster and Nichols blasted around Alvis on the top of turn one and Chivello followed through on back straight. Snider brought up the rear. Nichols got around Foster on lap two and pulled out a substantial lead. Chivello took second on lap three and there was no additional passing. Nichols won followed by Chivello, Foster, Alvis, and Snider
The second Midget Heat Lined up with Scott Pierovich and David Prickett on the front row followed by Dillon Silverman, Tanner Swanson, and Kody Swanson. Pierovich’s mechanical gremlins raised up again and the 35 car scratched putting Silverman up front. Lap one saw the Brothers Swanson (Tanner first and Kody second) jump to the front followed by Silverman and Prickett. Again, that was the extent of the passing and lap eight reflected lap one perfectly.
The Supermodifieds were relegated to one combined heat with Lonnie Adamson and Jim Birges on the front row followed by Kyle Vanderpool and Davey Pombo in row two. The two remaining 360 cars were Carl Johnson and Shane Vanderpool. Birges and Adamson went side by side for nearly two full laps with Jim leading at the line each lap. He finally cleared Adamson and gained a small lead while K. Vanderpool, Pombo, S. Vanderpool, and Johnson rounded out the field. And that was how the heat race wound up, with Birges taking the win. Carl Johnson( 1 second) and Shane Vanderpool (3 seconds) ran substantially faster laps than where they had qualified.
After another substantial oil down on the back straight from the late model feature, the open wheel features were next up. The schedule was revised to make sure the open wheel features would be run and there were some unhappy vintage racers in the pits. The midget line up for the thirty lap main event had Dillon Silverman, Nick Foster, Tanner Swanson, Nick Chivello, Kody Swanson, and Chad Nichols in the six car invert. Rounding out the field were Floyd Alvis, David Prickett, Scott Pierovich, and Mike Snider. Coming down for the start, Silverman turned the car sideways coming off turn four and collected both Swansons to bring out red flag (and added some more speedy dry to the now very slippery surface). Restart order was Alvis, Foster, Pierovich, Chivello, Nichols, T. Swanson, K. Swanson with Prickett and Snider in the rear.
At the drop of the green, Alvis advanced rapidly rearward putting Chivello in the lead, followed by Foster, Pierovich, Nichols and K. Swanson. With some banging and bumping on lap two, Chivello maintained the lead with Kody moving to second followed by Foster, Nichols, and Pierovich. Lap four saw both Pierovich and Tanner blow by Foster to take fourth and fifth. Kody Swanson grabbed the lead on lap eight. At the end of ten laps, the top five were Swanson the elder, Chivello, Nichols, Pierovich, and Swanson the younger.
The yellow was in the wind on lap sixteen when Chivello rolled to a stop in turn four. Just before the green restart, Tanner Swanson was black flagged as he had deposited his muffler on the front straight. Restart order was K. Swanson, Nichols, Pierovich, Foster and Silverman. Then Snider spun in turn four and Tanner rejoined the field at the end of the lead lap after replacement of the muffler by a crew member with apparently asbestos fingers. They found oil in turns three and four on the bottom of the track and another lengthy delay ensued as the Speedy Dry concession owner got richer. The bottom of three and four were very slippery and more resembled a skating rink than a race track as the track crew headed to the storage barn for more speedy dry. On the restart, Kody led over Nichols, Pierovich, Tanner and Foster as everyone tip-toed through three and four when the yellow flew again for a spin by Alvis. On this restart, Pierovich got smart and moved to the top of the track in the North turns to take second on lap nineteen and grab the lead a lap later. Order after two thirds distance was Pierovich over K. Swanson, Nichols, T. Swanson, and Foster.
Lap twenty one saw Tanner follow Pierovich’s line and move to second followed by Kody and Nichols. A lap later Nichols reasserted his hold on third position at Kody Swanson’s expense. The rest of the race ran cleanly although there was still a lot of skating around in turns three and four with the still slick bottom and the grains of Speedy Dry contaminating the rest of the turns. Scott Pierovich went from rags to riches after his earlier problems to win over T. Swanson, Nichols, K. Swanson, and Foster
The remaining six Supermodifieds lined up with Davey Pombo on the pole followed by Kyle Vanderpool, Jim Birges, and Lonnie Adamson. The 360 Supers of Shane Vanderpool and Carl Johnson rounded out the field. The outside row moved quickly forward on the green flag lap with K. Vanderpool leading over Adamson, Birges, and Pombo. Vanderpool was holding the middle line as Adamson kept trying to pass on the bottom. There was absolutely no traction on the bottom of three and four and both Adamson and Birges buzzed the tires trying to pass. Finally, Adamson did a bonsai move across the bump at the entrance to turn one to get a slide job on Vanderpool and then took off for another zip code. At ten laps, Adamson led over K. Vanderpool, Birges, Pombo, and S, Vanderpool. Birges was all over the back of the 3 car but had the same problem as Adamson in getting by. There was just no traction on the bottom of three and four.
Johnson headed for the pits on lap fourteen .After twenty laps, Adamson had a two thirds lap lead over Vanderpool and Birges with Pombo one lap down, and Shane two laps down. With Adamson quickly catching the other lead lap cars, Birges finally swept around Vanderpool on lap twenty one and took off in pursuit of Lonnie who, by now, had the 98 on cruise control. Adamson had caught Kyle by lap twenty six when Birges broke a water line and spun in turn two to end his evening. Jim had a substantial steam burn on his right leg when visited later in the pits. The yellow kept Kyle from getting lapped and the remaining four laps were uneventful. Adamson won over K. Vanderpool, Pombo, S. Vanderpool, and Birges. It was about eight minutes past the 10:30 curfew with the vintage cars still to go. To really top off the lunacy of the evening, The 98 crew was entertaining fans in the pits when the fickle wind blew the newly acquired Vukovich Classic Trophy off the top of the pit box and shattered it into several pieces. There had to be full moon somewhere!
With the addition of Brancato’s 82 and the Tatro owned 72 for Kody Swanson, the Supers gained a little in the car count sector. But both were eliminated before the heats and we were down to six cars. The midget field was only a bit better, but at least all of them started the feature. Hopefully, additional owners will get their cars to the tracks before pavement style open wheel racing disappears from the Western States landscape.
Madera Speedway Vukovich Classic
Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets
Qualifications: 1. Chad Nichols(17), 14.056; 2. Kody Swanson(4), 14.167; 3. Nick Chivello(27) , 14.209; 4. Tanner Swanson(10), 14.329; 5. Nick Foster, Jr.(1), 14.683; 6. Dillon Silvermann(4K), 15.165; 7. Floyd Alvis(83), 15.309; 8. David Prickett(15), 15.524; 9. Mike Snider (2), 15.687; 10. Scott Pierovich(35), 17.297.
Heat 1: 1. Nichols; 2. Chivello; 3. Foster; 4. Alvis; 5. Snider.
Heat 2:1. T. Swanson; 2. K. Swanson; 3. Silverman; 4. Prickett.
Feature: 1. Pierovich; 2. T. Swanson; 3. Nichols; 4. K. Swanson; 5. Foster; 6. Silverman; 7. Prickett; 8. Snider; 9. Alvis; 10. Chivello.
Open and 360 class* Supermodifieds
Qualifications: 1. Lonnie Adamson(98), 12.660; 2. Jim Birges(32), 12.683; 3. Kyle Vanderpool(3), 13.018; 4. Davey Pombo(10), 13.508; 5. Carl Johnson(07)*, 15.456; 6. Shane Vanderpool(1)*, 17.097;, 7. Kody Swanson(72), 19.489; 8. Gerry Brancato(82)*, N/T.
Heat: 1. Birges; 2. Adamson; 3. K. Vanderpool; 4. Pombo; 5. S. Vanderpool*; 6. Johnson*.
Feature: 1. Adamson; 2. K. Vanderpool; 3. Pombo; 4. S. Vanderpool*; 5. Birges; 6. Johnson*; 7. Swanson, DNS; 8. Brancato*, DNS.