Willow Springs Raceway -
Eddie Mulder's West Coast Vintage Dirt Track Series
Round #6 Walt James Stadium – Willow Springs
By Jamey M. Blunt Photos by Janice M. Blunt
With double points up for grabs in the final round of the W.C.V.D.T. series and many championships still undecided tension was thick in the ninety degree desert air.
The Rod Lake Racing/Megacycle Cams Senior class had fourteen riders all over the age of fifty on machines from 1974 or earlier. As they left the line Tom Horton got a flier while Kenny Thiebaud was asleep and would have to play catch up. Joe Suebert dropped into second behind Horton while Thiebaud who was away in eighth had already worked his way up to fourth by the entrance to turn three. At the end of one the running order was Horton, Suebert, Jeff Lessley, Thiebaud, Ron Lessley, Gary White, and Steve Craft. A half lap later Ron Lessley was by Thiebaud for fourth as Thiebaud pulled off the track with a mechanical problem. Suebert was tough and hounded Horton as he turned a 22.62/100 second lap on his 750cc Triumph. The front two were pulling away from the rest of the field as Jeff Lessley struggled to keep touch. Three and a half laps in White made a move on Ron Lessley to take over fourth and out of nowhere Craft found some new speed and was threatening them both. Ron Alexander was running in seventh as the white flag came out and White was starting to fade as Ron Lessley took fourth back and Craft went by White as well for fifth. At the front the top three were set at Horton, Suebert, and Jeff Lessley as the battle was for fourth position. On the entrance to turn three for the last time Craft ran it hard up the inside to take the spot leaving Ron Lessley to finish fifth, Alexander moved past White to sixth which left White back in seventh.
Twenty one riders attempted to qualify for one of ten spots
in the MAXXIS Tires/A&A Racing Vet "A" main event. From the front
row Steve Nichols and Joe Steffen hit turn one side by side, with Nichols
taking the lead on the exit from turn two. Mike O'Neil settled in at third with
Lloyd McGregor fourth, and Mike Besemer fifth. By lap two a battle was shaping
up for the sixth place position which John Lundgren occupied and Art Guilfoil
wanted while Elliott Iverson watched from eighth. Lap three with his head down
and pulling away Nichols turned a 22.18 second lap as he moved to another zip
code. At the white flag McGregor showed O'Neil a wheel entering turn one as
they both closed in on Steffen in second. At the front Nichols won with over a
two second gap as the three behind him bunched up in the fight for second,
third and fourth. At the stripe Steffen held strong for second, O'Neil was
third, McGregor fourth, and some distance back Besemer was fifth, with Guilfoil
winning the fight with Lundgren for sixth.
Who is Merritt Moore? Where does he come from? Well, Merritt
Brad Holt aboard a H.D. Sprint nailed the start in the Barnett/K&N Filters Classic 500 main event with Ross Stuckert second. Through turns one and two Tom Horton and Mike O'Neil both dropped Stuckert back to fourth. Down the back straight Horton took over at the front from Holt as O'Neil was making his presence known as well. Upon the exit from turn two for the second time O'Neil got a drive down low and shot past Holt to take away the second place position. This lap would see the fastest lap of the race at 23.00/100 seconds flat compared to Horton's best of 23.27/100. But it was too little too late as Horton a very experienced racer was gone at the front and would never look back. The front two would maintain their gap to each other and finish first and second with a full straight length gap over Holt in third. Stuckert was a solid fourth on his trick BSA, and Robert Bush held down fifth.
People have come to expect good starts from Joe Suebert, and
he rarely disappoints as he led into turn one in the AGV Helmets/Berkeley Honda
Yamaha SeaDoo Modern 750 main event. Tom Horton gave chase in second while Paul
Herman who was away in fourth shot down the back straight past everyone to lead
entering turn three. The first trip across the stripe had the order at Herman,
Suebert, Gary White, Horton, Jim Ottele, Ron Alexander, Ross Stuckert, and
Merritt Moore. Once out front Herman was gone and was the only rider to post a
lap time under twenty-three seconds at 22.33/100. But a battle for second
position was shaping up by lap three as Horton who had dropped all the way back
to fifth was now regrouped and charging forward. He made short work of Ottele
for fourth, and White who had claimed second went wide in turn two handing it
back to Suebert and allowing Horton easy access to third. With a lap remaining
Horton was pressuring Suebert for second which he stole on the exit from turn
four to the flag making Suebert third, White fourth, Ottele a distant fifth,
Alexander sixth, and Mark Stuckert seventh.
Mike Gonzales and Mike O'Neil were tied in points for the Maxima Racing Oils/Simi Valley Kawasaki 500 Support title. Gonzales led into turn one off the line with O'Neil on his heels followed by Jim Steet, Joe Steffen, Jeff Gonzales, and Mike Besemer. With only one lap down the front two had pulled away from the pack with Mike Gonzales posting a 23.04/100 second lap time. The track being a little on the dry side for this particular race was making it hard to gain ground, but O'Neil stayed two bike lengths behind Mike Gonzales waiting for something to happen. By lap three Jeff Gonzales found his rhythm and had leapt up to third as O'Neil turned the fastest lap of the race at 22.80/100 seconds. With two to go Steet was back to fourth, Steffen was fifth, and Gabe Slatton was up to sixth. Leaving nothing on the table O'Neil gave it his all but just couldn't find a way past Mike Gonzales as they took the checkered flag a bike length apart. Jeff Gonzales held on to third over Steet, Steffen and Slatton.
followed by Eric England, Garrett Stout, and Dillon Allen.
Down the back shoot and into turn three Stout and Allen both dropped
The fastest lap time of the day was turned during the $2000
Vizzo Racing "Dash for Cash" where the four heat race winners went at
it for five laps. On a freshly groomed track, pole sitter Sammy Halbert led into
turn one with Kayl Kolkman second, Jared Mees third and Brandan Bergen fourth.
It took Mees a lap to get past Kolkman and by then Halbert had a four bike
length gap. Lap four was the fastest of the day as Halbert put in a 20.92/100
second lap to seal the victory, while
Ten points separated Jared Mees from his closest rival for
the MAXXIS Tires $5000 point fund money in the Digger Helm Open Pro main event.
Sammy Halbert led the field of nineteen into turn one for the first of twenty
laps. Kayl Kolkman, Jared Mees, and Luke Gough dropped in behind as things
settled down. Mees and Gough both made short work of Kolkman as Brandan Bergen
running fifth was now after him as well. Shaun Russell with a fair start ran in
sixth with David Brown in seventh. On lap four in turn two