|Friday The 13th ? We Laugh At Danger!|
Southern California Flat Track Association
Round 5, Perris Raceway
Story by Fred Windum
Perris, CA, June 13, 2008
Who says Friday the 13th is unlucky? Two races in a row, Jimmy Wood has taken the Pro Dash and Pro Main at Round 5 of the Southern California Flat Track Association short track races at Perris Raceway. Even the unusual Friday night date still drew full field in Pro, Vet and Open Amateur classes. It seems that the only way he doesn't take home all the money is if he doesn't make it to the races because he's at another race somewhere else! Joe Winston also had a repeat performance of the last race with a solid win in the Vet class. And nobody left the track during the races with any more than bumps and bruises.
Friday night races in Southern California are difficult to make, since weekend "rush hour" traffic can start as early as noon, making it tough to get to the track. With this in mind, practice and racing was held later to allow stragglers time to get to the track in time for at least one session of practice. Another advantage of a delayed start was lower temperatures and a setting summer sun. The Friday night race did, however, allow many of the regulars from Gene Romero's West Coast Flat Track Series to get in a second race the night before his Perris Auto Speedway event.
Jimmy Wood started the race night out right with fast time in Time Trials (stopwatch courtesy of Terry Statum). Next in line was Perris regular Kayl Kolkman, picking up speed every time he goes to the track. WCFTS riders Jesse Sleeper and Taylor O'Hara, followed by So Cal kid Kenny Malaguarnero made up the top five that went to the Pro Dash. Wood started the night off right with a holeshot in the Pro Dash, trailed by Sleeper, Kolkman, Kenny Mal and O'Hara. Wood was never threatened for the lead, but Kolkman put pressure on Sleeper for second. On the white flag lap O'Hara pushed past Malaguarnero for fourth. That didn't help him any, since the payout was for the top three this night. Wood won the race pulling away, Sleeper and Kolkman second and third, followed by O'Hara and Malaguarnero. Usually the dash payout only goes to the winner of the race; Spectators, fans and fellow racers were generous when the hat (helmet) was passed and the payout was spread over the top three finishers.
Ryan Surrat grabbed the lead in the Youth class, holding off Anthony Dodge and Tristan Wilson for the win. Anthony Dodge is continuing the dirt track tradition in his family; both his father and grandfather have had a long relationship with "Class C" racing. Tristan Wilson and his dad Mike are both racing!
Race two combined the novice, beginner and knobby classes. Doug Reyes took command at the green light. Dennis Kanegae held off Life Kelly for the first lap, but Kelly made his way up the inside of the veteran racer to pull into second. Allesandro Assanti, Mike Wilson and Harly Legowski fell in line behind Kanegae. Kelly pulled in close behind Reyes, trying to get around the outside of the leader. Kelly gained going in and in the middle of the corner, but Reyes had a power advantage on the straights. Kelly switched to an inside line to try a pass, but power was still king in this race. Reyes held onto the lead, leaving Kelly second, while Kanegae, Assanti, Wilson and Legowski followed them home.
Joe Winston nabbed the lead in the Vet race ahead of Chris Cannon, Wes Powell, Mike Bessemer, Adam Souza and Joe Steffen. Bessemer took a high line through one and two to pass both Cannon and Powell for second, while Steffen pulled in behind Powell for fifth. Cannon took second back a lap later and Powell took aim for Bessemer in a race for third. Winston pulled away from Cannon. A lap later Steffen stuffed up the inside of Powell in turn one to move up to fourth. Powell's run to the back ended after Jim Wood, making up for a poor start, dropped him another spot to sixth. Joe Winston took the win with a smooth, fast and easy (looking) ride. Cannon held off Bessemer for second, Steffen keeping Wood at bay for fourth, followed by Powell, Joel Kath, Loren Burkman, Adam Souza, and Lloyd McGregor.
Some bikes at the tracks are rolling history displays. The Classic race usually has it share of beaters, raced and repaired for decades. Tonight only had a pair of entries, but both were exceptional. Jeff Apple was aboard his father John's Harley Sprint, of questionable displacement, and Joel Kath on Dave Hanson's Triumph 500, both classic dirt track machines from the middle of the last century, and both performing well beyond the expectations of performance and lifetime envisioned by their designers. Both shot off the line, Apple on the lighter Sprint leading Kath on the screaming twin close behind. Kath took over on the second lap after getting a drive off of turn four, passing Apple on the inside and never looking back. Apple stayed close for a few laps, but may have tired, this being his first trip back to the races in some time. Kath, on the other hand, was strong to the end, pulling out to a 20 bike length lead on the bigger twin by the end of the race.
Al Steele continued his winning ways in the Senior class, leading from the flash of the green light, followed by Ron Moore, Dan Shaw, Steve Craft, Bill Wright and Roy Staffords. Shaw and Moore collided in turn three, neither rider backing off as they continued down the front straight. A lap later Moore's hand was in the air with an unknown (and temporary) problem, dropping back to fourth, while Craft took advantage of the confusion to pass Shaw for second. Staffords pulled up to fifth, leaving Wright with a view of all the action from the back. Steele went home with yet another win, Craft second, trailed by Shaw, Moore, Stafford and Wright.
Bomber and Sportsman Vintage races were also combined due to the light Friday turnout. Joe Steffen seems to have found his mojo, back in form again since taking over Mr. Ed's Racing from his dad. Jim Ottele was also back after a lengthy recovery from a previous injury. Steffen led off the line, Ottele in pursuit, ahead of Robert Koch and Shannon Adams. Adams hit a slick spot coming off turn two and ended up in the racing line on the back straight. Red flag and restart. Adams was up and running quickly, and joined the restart lineup. The restart was Steffen's once again, followed by Ottele, Adams and Koch. Steffen stretched his lead our over Ottele, winning by a good margin, leaving Adams and Koch to race for third. Adams had the advantage at the checkered flag.
Super Seniors lined up short a rider, and when Ed Steffen stalled his Honda, it looked like Allan Girdler may have been on his way to his first win. No luck, since the kindhearted starter threw the red flag, giving Steffen a chance to restart, and allowing a tardy Dave Molitor to join the race. After lining up once again, Steffen led Molitor and Girdler around the 1/8 mile oval. Steffen hugged the pole, forcing Molitor to take a high line if he wanted to pass. Didn't seem to bother either of them much; Molitor stayed on Steffen's right shoulder through the end of the race. At the end, Steffen kept the advantage for the win, Molitor a solid second, and Girdler bringing up the rear, still on the lead lap.
Lloyd McGregor led the Open Amateurs into turn one, but Richard Fox fell to the ground coming out of two, stopping the race. Fox dropped out with a broken clutch lever. On the restart, McGregor once again took off out front, losing the lead to Adam Souza heading onto the back straight. Freddie Poli, Ray Hensley and Lindsay King fell in behind, followed by Tom Sahli, Allesandro Assanti and Dan Shaw to the finish.
Jimmy Wood, Kayl Kolkman and Jeff Johnson launched out in front of the Pro main, Kolkman getting the advantage over Johnson top fall into second. Joe Winston slipped inside Johnson in turn three to take away third. Kris Bunch also made his way past Johnson crossing the stripe and going into one. Johnson got hung out in the marbles, letting Jesse Sleeper, Chris Cannon and Kenny Malaguarnero through. Wood had smooth sailing out front while Kolkman picked up the pace to try to close in on the leader, Winston trailing him in third. Bunch had his hands full holding off Cannon, Sleeper and Malaguarnero in their race for fourth spot. Cannon was dropping off the pace as the race went on, with Wood putting both him and Johnson a lap down at the halfway point. With lappers distracting the leader, Kolkman began to gain a little ground, as Cannon slid out in turn three. Quickly up and out to the wall, there was only a short yellow to slow the race. With the checkered flag flying, Wood took his second win of the night, and second main event win in a row. Kolkman followed in second, Winston third, Bunch, Sleeper, Malaguarnero and Tyler O'Hara the only bikes to follow still on the lead lap.
Many regulars made the Friday night program. Many newcomers also showed up thanks to the efforts of Gene Romero and his West Coast Flat Track Series. Next race will be with the Ventura Vintage Outlaw Motorcycle races at Ventura Fairgrounds Saturday June 28, 2008 & Saturday September 27, 2008. While only a few classes are listed for the event, all entries will be accepted and scored according to current SCFTA class points in their respective races. For more information, go to http://www.southerncaliforniaflattrack.com . For questions and answers go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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