Saturday, August 30, 2008

Two races left at Redwood Acres Raceway

Although I am far from being a professional writer, I try to write my race reports for Redwood Acres as though I were/am a professional. That means that I can never put my personal opinion on matters on the race track. Sometimes I have to "gloss" over an incident where one driver clearly runs over another driver. It's not hard to pull back and not have an opinion about matters of that nature, but it has been fairly difficult for me to continue to keep the "juice" going when this season at the track has been dominated by a few drivers who continue to win every week. There have been several races this season that have quite frankly been dull, and I've had to figure out how to add more excitement to those races through my writing. Hopefully, I've been able to do that.

In case you don't know, there are five divisions that Redwood Acres Raceway has at every race; the limited street stocks, mini stocks, real stocks, thunder roadsters and the sportsman division. The limited street stocks are kind of like old Winston Cup cars from the 1970s. I'm not savvy when it comes to what's on cars, but that's kind of the idea of that class. The mini stocks are a four cylinder engine division comprised of smaller cars like Pintos. The real stocks are probably the closest to cars that are on the street. They have to have a roll cage in them, and they have adjustable suspension and a race tire. The thunder roadsters are a spec class where all the cars are the same, the only difference is the drivers. The sportsman division is the local late model class which is similar to divisions all over the United States.

The limited street stocks have had a real down season. Only six cars have raced the division the entire season, and they have had a real main event type race in a long time. It looks as though Fergy Ferguson is going to win the title based on showing up every weekend and earning points for doing. It's not as though he's not deserving of the track championship, it's a shame though that there aren't enough cars to force the championship to be decided on the race track.

The mini stock class has been dominated by Craig Baker this year. Of all the drivers in the division, he by far has the most experience. He's able to get the absolute maximum out of his car, and were it not for issues early in the season, he probably would have clinched the championship by now. One great thing about the mini stock class is that there have been a few drivers who've brought cars out. Three rookies Norm Carmichael, Brian Murrell, Jr. and Ryan Ahrens started their seasons off at the halfway point and although all three have had to learn what it takes to go fast, they've all done a great job of being smart on the track and giving room to faster drivers.

My personal opinion is that the best driver at the Acres is real stock racer, Trevor Miller. I've watched him race for several years and have been impressed with his ability to get everything out of his race car without getting out of shape. Besides that, he's a clean and respectable racer. He definitely deserves a shot to drive in the sportsman division, because I think once he gets that chance, he'll be able to move to a touring division very quickly. Shawn Craig is another guy who's a good racer and gets a lot out of his car. He and Miller have raced head-to-head several times this season, and it's been fun to watch. Jim Redd is the points leader at the moment, but he's definitely going to have a hard time holding off Miller. In reality, Miller could have been leading the points right now had his car been able to pass inspection the first race of the season. He's been playing catchup ever since.

The thunder roadster class has been the most predictable this year. Paul Peeples, Jr. has won all but three main events this year. There just isn't anyone that's capable of giving him a hard time. I don't mean to disrespect any of the roadster drivers, but it's the truth. Peeples has so much more experience than the others that they will always be a step behind him. It's also a shame that the car count for the division has been so low this season, because that would be a big challenge for him as well.

Brandon Barnwell and Dennis Delbiaggio have been going back and forth for the points lead in the sportsman division all season. Until the Fair Night races in June, it was hard to predict who would win a main event in the division. That changed with the team of Mic Moulton and Tim McCracken came back. From the Fair Night races on, I believe they've won all but two races. Hopefully the competition will step it up and at least give the 1 car a challenge in the final two races.

More than anything though, the biggest disappointments for this season has involved the cancellation of the BCRA/WMRA midgets on Fair Nights as well as the August 9th cancellation of the North State Challenge Series late models. From what I understand, there was going to be a good field of midgets on Fair Nights, but both series had to cancel because the drivers couldn't get to Eureka because of the wildfires that were going on at the time. I know the North State series has struggled with the car count for various reasons of which I'm not qualified to comment on, and the reason why that race was cancelled was because there weren't a lot of cars signed up for pre-entry. It seems like so long ago when they did race here in April.

Hopefully the final two races will be exciting. I'm looking forward especially to the Fall Spectacular at the end of September, because the IMCA modifieds will be here and they always have a strong field of good cars, and the North State series will be back. Hopefully the lack of races during the season and it being the end of the year will entice drivers to show up for that race.

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