Sprint cars do battle at American Valley Speedway
The wing on a sprint car provides downward force to increase traction.
6/23/2010 - American Valley Speedway has become a New Age Coliseum for motor sports. Modern gladiators drive redesigned chariots powered by engines equivalent to hundreds of horses around a 0.375 mile dirt oval track in Quincy. Only Calistoga has a longer track in California.
Saturday night, June 19, approximately 500 spectators felt the quake of 33 sprint cars with some of the champions of the sport in one of the coliseums set up for the California Civil War Sprint Car Series. Sean Becker, two-time defending champion, drove car #25b. Four-time champion Mike Henry drove car #18. Two-time champion Andy Forsberg drove car #47. Local legend Jim Richardson drove car #8. The difference in the fast lap times of the top twenty cars in the final main was 1.26 seconds. The competition is intense for every victory.
Unlike the American Civil War of the nineteenth century, these battles are for points and a championship. Contestants come from the western United States but are centered in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area. Bradley Ferrell in car #43 is the points leader in the Petaluma area and was running sixth in the overall series. Steven Tinner in car #94 came from Visalia. Bob Clark in car #30 is from Pahrump, Nev., but vacationing in Quincy.
The "civil" war of sprint cars is waged by sportsmen with high tech equipment and crews. Wings have evolved on these cars to keep them grounded. The battles began with qualifying laps and then with four heat races. The leaders would go on to a "B" Main, and then a final "A1” Main.
The fastest qualifying lap was 16.541 set by Herman Klein in car #91. The heat races were composed of 8 cars running 10 laps. Mike Henry showed his championship skills by winning the first heat race. His best lap time was 16.643. Trent Caneles in car #5c took the second heat with a best lap time of 16.083 and the fastest lap time of the night. Kolby Weisz in car #21 won the third heat race. His best lap time was 16.861. The fourth heat race was won by Jeremy Burt in car #2b with a best lap time of 17.433.
The "B" Main was won by Herman Klein with a total time of 8:08.633 for the 12-lap race. Steven Tinner was in second with Justin Sanders in third with car #83.
The final main or "A" Main was composed of 22 cars running a thirty-lap race or 11.25 miles of sprints on an open field of competition with occasional contact. The mortality of the cars and the ability of the teams to keep them running at top performance levels is a major factor in these battles for points. The driver's determination and skill then take the reins of these modem chariots of speed. The final outcome may rest in the hands of the old Roman gods.
Jim Richardson, who has already been memorialized at AVS, had the pole position in the final main event of Saturday night. Jim drove like the Roman gladiators leading 21 laps and taking fifth place at the checkered flag. At 63, he is the active veteran of sprint car racing.
Steven Tinner was the top performer and winner of the final race. He came from twelve cars back to take the victory over some very equally matched competitors. Stephen Allard, in car 14s, came in second with only .447 of a second difference. Justin Sanders came in third. Sean Becker took fourth place. Nichole Miller, in car #20, took eighth place. She was the only female competing. Kenny Allen, at the age of 15, took 19th. Drivers commented that the track was "fast.”
The Pro Stocks also ran for points on Saturday night with their own gladiators in the coliseum.
"Shake and Bake" Tom Brennan showed his skills in the heat race as he defeated veteran gladiator Craig Nieman.
The Final Main was inverted, putting Tom at the back along with Craig. Both became front-runners with Brennan leading most of the race until Craig jumped in front. In the last turn of the final lap, "Shake and Bake" made his move and Craig was spun out with Brennan taking the checkered. Brennan was black-flagged giving Craig Neman the victory.
"Shake and Bake" deserves a trophy for the "Most Improved Driver in Pro Stock."
B.J. Pearson has had a rough season. His water pump broke during qualifying. AVS hopes that the Roman gods are smiling and will bring him better luck. His determination and fortitude is an inspiration to all.
The racing at Quincy's coliseum began on Friday night with the Sprint Cars warming up and the Pure Mini Stocks running.
The Pure Mini "Luck of the Draw" race had new competitors that gave the regular gladiators a surprise in the heat race. Jon Busselen of the new MaddBuzz Team (formerly the Madden team) took first with the team's econo-pickup #84 in the first heat race. Matt "MaddBuzz" Stewart took first in the second heat race.
The main event had seven cars running. Jon Busselen took first place with Branden James in car #21 in second. Larry Whitebird in car #97 took third. Matt ran with a flat tire before retiring to the pits. The Nieman girls still remain as the point leaders in the Pure Mini class.
The audience got a bonus on Friday night with the appearance of Mini Modifieds. They accepted AVS's invitation to come to race. Six drivers put their helmets on to give the crowd an introduction to Mini Mod racing. Their lap times were two second faster than the Pure Mini cars.
Dennis Clook in car #34 took first in the first and second heat race. His fastest lap time was 22.326. Larry Miller in car #1 took second in both heat races with a fast lap time of 22.415. Clook and Miller continued their winning streak into the main event where they were one and two again. Preston Irwin took third in car #26x.
These Friday and Saturday night races gave fans an entertainment normally not found in rural communities. American Valley Speedway wants to thank the fans, drivers, crews and sponsors for their support. These races are also supported by volunteers and local businesses.
The next race on July 10th is a memorial race to honor volunteer firemen and their departments; there will be DART Dwarfs, IMCA Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Pure Mini Stocks.
For more info call 283-2175 or log on to americanvalleyspeedway.com.