#50 Mike Spencer. Photo by Steve Lafond / Tear-Off Heaven Fotos.

#50 Mike Spencer. Photo by Steve Lafond / Tear-Off Heaven Fotos.
From Dick Jordan

Four-time AMSOIL USAC/CRA Champion Mike Spencer of Temecula, Calif. opens his attempt at a fifth consecutive series championship this Saturday night when Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway presents the Annual “Sokola Shootout.”

The race honors California’s Sokola family and their contributions to the sport of Sprint racing. Gary Sokola, who passed away in 2001, is among 2012 inductees into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa. As USAC’s National Sprint Car Series Supervisor and Assistant Competition Director during a span of 10 years, Gary exhibited leadership and dedication in maintaining one of the planet’s most spectacular forms of motorsports.

Spencer is the defending race champion and won four of the first five Perris races contested last year. He has 24 career USAC/CRA wins at the Perris oval.

Spencer has an opportunity to make USAC history this year. NO driver has ever strung together five consecutive championships in a single racing series.

The first six “Sokola Shootouts” occurred at the now defunct Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., won by Tony Jones (2001), Jeremy Sherman (2002-2003), Cory Kruseman (2004) and Mike Kirby (2005-2006). The race moved to Perris in 2009 and Rickie Gaunt was the winner. Damion Gardner won the 2010 running and Spencer was the winner last year.

Five of the “top-10’ in last year’s USAC/CRA Sprint standings were unable to find victory lane in 2011. Hoping to end that streak Saturday will be Cody and Rip Williams, Danny Sheridan and Rickie Gaunt, while Casey Shuman replaces Greg Bragg for Saturday’s opener.

The PAS Senior Sprints and California Lightning Sprints share the card Saturday night.

“We are very optimistic that 2012 is going to be a very good year,” promoter Don Kazarian says. “Several young drivers are jumping into the series and USAC made sure there are no conflicts between the CRA and West Coast 360 Series as there have been in the past. The amount of teams we have seen on the track at practice has been a very pleasant surprise.”

Good news for the teams competing at The PAS is the increase in the purse for 2012. The purse will return to what it was a few years ago and the winner will again get $2,500.00 (as opposed to $2,000.00 the past few seasons) and it will pay a minimum of $300.00 to start the main (as opposed to $150.00).


1-Mike Spencer-1,253; 2-Nic Faas-1,178; 3-Matt Mitchell-1,073; 4-Austin Williams-741; 5-Greg Bragg-651; 6-Cody Williams-646; 7-Danny Sheridan-614; 8-Rip Williams-588; 9-Rickie Gaunt-520; 10-Damion Gardner-507.