NARC NEWSLINE – JUNE 9, 2022, By Jim Allen … Sometimes, you must improvise and endure. Other times, you just shake your head in disbelief. Those statements provide me with a perfect segue to the Northern Auto Racing Club’s Fastest Four Days (actually three) in Motorsports over the Memorial Day weekend in the Pacific Northwest. A few lessons were learned on this NARC Fujitsu General 410 road show.
First off, there is a distinct difference on how California and Oregon-Washington promoters look at the weather. In California, if there is a 50% chance of rain, IT IS GOING TO RAIN! However, in the Pacific Northwest, they view it from a completely different perspective. If there is a 50% chance of rain, their mindset is there is 50% chance IT IS NOT GOING TO RAIN! And they proved it. To steal a line from the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Weather Channel is “more than a guideline than a rule.”
The other lesson learned was that until a race car team pulls in the pits, don’t count on them being there. This quick tour through Oregon and Washington, which was three-years in the making, was good, but could’ve been great. While the racing was entertaining, the car count support left a lot to be desired. If we roll back the clocks to February, 15 NARC teams quickly committed to make the trip to claim their $1000 share of Fujitsu General tow money (each.) The plan was that with 15 teams towing out of California, and the additions of Oregon’s Tanner Holmes, Washington’s Tyler Thompson, and Idaho’s Logan Forler, all we needed was a little local support at each event to make a show. The World of Outlaws employ this same philosophy with only 10-14 regular drivers. By the way, those three aforementioned Northwest drivers competed in all of the FFDM shows.
But as luck would have it, plans hit a rut and slammed into the wall the week of the FFDM. The Bates/Hamilton #42X team decided to park their car after three consecutive crashes to rebuild. The fact that Tim Kaeding was injured made that decision the right thing to do. Michael Faccinto parted ways with the Mike Phulps Racing #56 the weekend prior, and no traveling drivers were available that didn’t have prior commitments. And the rest of the teams spent too much time watching the Weather Channel and decided to stay home. That killed the idea of possibly offering their tow money to other teams on such a short notice. That wasn’t exactly the way this business plan was drawn up. But in reality, it was probably their loss since the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports sported elevated purses and product awards. And to go on the record, these teams had tires so that wasn’t an issue. We made sure they did!
So, at this point, the Northern Auto Racing Club would like to truly thank the eight CA teams who made all three of the shows. That would be Dominic Scelzi (Scelzi 41), Willie Croft (Croft 29), Billy Aton (Aton 26), Justin Sanders (Mittry 2X), Bud Kaeding (Kaeding 69), Joel Myers Jr. (Vertullo 83V), Max Mittry (Mittry 2XM), and Mitchell Faccinto (Tarlton 21). I already mentioned the support and thank the three Northwest teams. We also want to recognize the promoters at all three tracks for pushing forward and getting these shows run. They had a lot invested in the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports.
MAY 26th – SOUTHERN OREGON SPEEDWAY: The weather in Central Point, Oregon was more psycho than my bipolar ex-wife. It started out as an absolute beautiful day. I even managed to play a round of golf at Stone Ridge Golf Club in the morning, which is located 200-yards from the track. But in a span of just two hours in the late afternoon, the wind kicked up, it drizzled, it got cold, it rained, and then in 30-minutes reverted back to awesome. And what was ironic is that according to the Weather Channel, they didn’t forecast any weather issues at all.
What was super impressive at SOS was the Thursday night crowd. The place was stacked with fans, and they were very enthusiastic. There were 18-cars in the pits, including two by car owner Demo Mittry. We were joined by locals Garen Linder, Jake Wheeler, Steven Snawder, Jared Hood, and T.J. Winningham. Yes, that T.J. Winningham, the Baylands Raceway Park rookie of the year in 1985. To put that in perspective, this was the year the movie Back to the Future came out. Tire wear was an issue initially, but a lower track rework before the feature made for an extremely racy venue. We thank the entire staff at SOS for making that happen.
This first half of this headliner was owned by Mitchell Faccinto and the Tarlton Motorsports team. Faccinto jumped out front and did not have a peer – until he grazed the back straightaway wall on lap 19 and shredded a coveted right rear Hoosier. He stated the car just got tight. In a recurring theme this season, none other than NARC points leader Dominic Scelzi was there to take advantage of the situation. He went on to win his fourth NARC feature in a row and 19th of his career to slide up to seventh on the NARC-King of the West all-time win list. Said Scelzi, “Sometimes you take a little bit of luck.” Honesty is the best policy.
All of sudden, everybody was thinking about how many wins Scelzi could string together to pocket the special $40,000 bonus. Anything is possible. Justin Sanders, who absolutely despises not winning, finished second, chased by Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, and Colby Copeland. Tanner Holmes sixth place finish in front of his home crowd was a NARC career best. So was Logan Forler’s eighth place outing. A disappointed Mitchell Faccinto battled back to score 11th. At least he earned 10-pounds of bacon for winning the Sunnyvalley Bacon dash.
MAY 27Th – WILLAMETTE SPEEDWAY: The road show continued up the road three hours on Friday night. Everybody was amazed at the track surface. This dirt was smooth and there wasn’t a rock to be found anywhere. Despite the previous days rain, it appeared dry, but that was just a bluff. Promoter Cory Penfold stated what he really wanted, and was expecting, was a new track record. Penfold statement was based on his previous Saturday show where everybody was super-fast. That meant his 3/8-mile track was ripe for the taking and he was correct. Much to his delight, the record was blown out of the water by Justin Sanders who shattered Brad Sweet’s World of Outlaw record set in 2016. The new standard to beat is 11.284 seconds.
Fifteen cars were in the pits, which gave me heart palpitations (not in a good way.) The field included the local contingent of Shane Forte and Brian Boswell. A surprise entry was Sean Becker who drove the Cook Motorsports number 22X. Not another 410 or 360 to be found despite $525 to start. No Garen Linder, or locals from SOS. By the way, Boswell was the only driver to bring out the red flag the entire trip. He made repairs after his heat race escapade and ran the main.
The Willamette feature belonged to Willie Croft and unlike Faccinto’s efforts the night before, he scored a “10” on each of his 30-laps. Croft held off Scelzi and Sanders in slower traffic to win by three seconds. It was a feel-good victory for Croft, who was NARC winless since his 2018 Dave Bradway Jr. victory at Silver Dollar Speedway (48 series starts.) It should be noted that Croft does more with one of the smallest pit crews in the business, which includes Zac Thomas and his son Cole. Chalk this victory up to the little guy – if there is such a thing in our sport these days. With his ninth career win that was worth $5000, Croft now has one more series victory than Kyle Larson. Scelzi was second, and third place Sanders was wondering what it was going to take to score his first NARC win of the season. Shane Golobic earned the Swift Metal Finishing Hardcharger award by fighting from ninth to fourth. His team would head back to California after this show due to other commitments. The same for the Colby Copeland/Larry Antaya team, which really put a serious bind on car counts.
MAY 28th – GRAYS HARBOR RACEWAY: We finally had our first and only rain out three days into this expedition, but it wasn’t a wasted day. Teams performed their normal maintenance, and everyone was focused on a multitude of live-streaming sprint car events and their alcohol of choice. The Stay Beyond Hotel lobby was invaded to create a de facto sprint car watch party. Eventually, the group migrated to the only bowling alley in Elma, a ten-lane venue with a bar, grill, and pool tables. An unused $1000 travel share was utilized to start a bar tab and the rest is history. Even the part where a bar patron tried to start a fight with Dominic Scelzi. Not that Scelzi couldn’t fend for himself, but he had a lot of back-up.
MAY 29th – GRAYS HARBOR RACEWAY: This day kicked off with an Elma Raceway Hall of Fame BBQ on the fairgrounds. They served up 58-pounds of pulled pork and enough food to satisfy any hunger urge for hours to come. That was followed by a Memorial Day weekend parade through downtown Elma (about five-blocks) which included most of the NARC team haulers. The town’s residents lined the sidewalks and curbs and had a great time. These are the kind of events that need to happen at sprint car events across the country. Grass root racing needs to continue to build grass roots connections.
Despite almost solid rain for the previous 24-hours, the track surface appeared to be moisture-free. The infield was a little sloppy but the track crunched when we walked across it. How was that even possible? We don’t know, but never judge a book by its cover. Promoter Bert Johnson stated that it was the norm at this 3/8 mile oval. Johnson, who was instrumental in helping put the FFDM together with other venues, stated that he had to put a couple loads of water on the track the day prior between rain breaks. That was the personality of Grays Harbor.
Like Johnson guaranteed the day prior, this program was full speed ahead. Unfortunately we had to do it with a total of 13-cars. At this point, I needed a Tylenol for the migraine. How was this possible? That’s just half of what we’ve been averaging this season. Despite a $500 bonus for the top three finishing 360’s, and $600 in A-Main start money, not one showed. Trey Starks and Austen Wheatley were in the house in 410’s, but Washington driver Jason Sowold was noticeably absent. Now I was wondering if everybody was hypnotized by the Weather Channel.
The locals represented very well in this $7000 to win show. Wheatley set quick time, Starks won the Race of the States dash, and capped that off with his first career NARC Fujitsu General feature win at the Timber Cup. Dominic Scelzi and Justin Sanders gave it all they had, but Starks had homefield advantage to score the popular victory. You know what would have taken this race over-the-top? About four more cars, because getting past slower traffic was tough – but that is how this FFDM adventure started.
The final show ended with a stout 15-minute Grays Harbor fireworks display, followed by a long 736-mile trek home. Although it was discussed, a Monday rain date just wasn’t going to work for the remaining NARC teams and running another 13-car show was not in our best interest. We will let Trey Starks bask in his NARC victory glory for another year. In reality, everybody needed to go back to work to pay for this road trip. And as expected, everybody topped off their gas tanks before they crossed the California state line.
NARC NOTES: Our PNW Floracing coverage lacked the standard ticker banner and timing information because all three tracks don’t have Wi-Fi. That is on the list of things to fix before the next visit. … Based on this win at Southern Oregon, his third-place outing at Willamette, and his runner-up at Grays Harbor, and Jimmy Carr, Dominic Scelzi was named the Fastest Four Days (actually three) in Motorsports champion for the second year in a row. (Trophy Pending) … Exorbitant fuel cost are beginning to suck some of the life out race teams (and fans) across the country. … Hoosier tire availability is getting tighter on the West Coast. Not just for NARC, but for anything that goes fast. Hoosier is working overtime to correct the issue, but demand is exceeding manufacturing capabilities. …
And on a completely different topic, we would like to offer special thanks to Karen Bradway Tuccelli, who spearheaded the Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial race fund raising effort for the June 11th race at Placerville Speedway. It was an over-the-top effort. And of course, we pay gratitude to all of race fans and sponsors who contributed to this great show. …
We’ve got a ton of racing lined up this month. Don’t miss a single event:
June 10th – Ocean Speedway – Pombo-Sargent Classic
June 11th – Placerville Speedway – Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial
June 17th – Silver Dollar Speedway – Road to the Dirt Cup
June 18th – Cottage Grove Speedway – Battle at the Bullring
June 23-25th – Skagit Speedway – $50,000 to win Dirt Cup
Coming to you live from Auburn, CA. See ya!