Eddie Mulder's West Coast Vintage Dirt Track Series
Willow Springs (Walt James Stadium)
Article by Jamey Blunt
Mulder brings the Stars out Of Mees and Men
Eddie Mulder made the stars come out in the daytime at Walt James Stadium inside the Willow Springs racing complex. By sweetening the pot at the end of his season rainbow Mulder had twelve national numbers in attendance. So, who was the big winner? Well, that depends on your judging criteria. Would you give the nod to the biggest money winner? Maybe Sunday's main event, but don't forget Saturday's main, as all the same players were there too. Perhaps the Maxxis Tires $4,000 Pro Point Fund winner and lest not forget the California Cup champion would be crowned this weekend taking the $5,000 first prize of the $12,000 point fund, a lot at stake to say the least. Would the standing track record of 20.80/100 seconds around this 3/8 mile banked oval set by Jimmy Wood in 2004 hold up? The conditions were right, track great, weather nice at 76 degrees, with no wind, and many big guns in the house.
What makes an Eddie Mulder race an EVENT, as opposed to just another race are the people he brings to the table. These in the form of sponsors (more than anyone else promoting dirt track) and the crew behind the scenes. Without sponsors, A&A Racing, ARD Ignitions, Barnett, Bartels, Berkeley Yamaha/ Honda, Brown's Cycles, C&J Racing Frames, Coventry Spares, Digger Helm, Flat Track Ill., Johnson Cams, JRC Eng., K&N Filters, Kawasaki of Simi Valley, Maxima, Maxxis Tires, Megacycle Cams, Motion Pro, Red Hot Racing Frames, Rod Lake Racing, Saddlemen, San Diego Off Road, Shelly Ward Ent., Shoei Helmets, Tuff Plates, Works Performance, and Beth, Bob, Bob, David, Fred, Janice, Jessyca, Jodi, Laura, Penny, Phil, Rick, Roger, and Walt this series would never take place!
Twenty Eight heat
races would decide the starting positions
for 253 entries staged through out twenty three main events, an
turnout in any form of motor-sport racing to say the least. Triumph
Horton led Bob Graves and
Only twelve spots were available in the "A&A Racing"/"Maxxis" Vet "A" main. This from a field of thirty two riders, had heat race winners John Lundgren, Mike Vital, and Joe Steffen staged next to each other. Off the line Vital led followed by Steffen, Marshall Lapp, Art Guilfoil, and Lundgren. Entering turn two for the second time Lundgren moved past Guilfoil for fourth and Bill Kolkman followed suit as well, dropping Guilfoil another spot. Two laps from the end Vital turned his fastest lap of 21.68/100 seconds, one that no could match, giving him a wide margin of victory over Steffen, Lapp, and Kolkman who got past Lundgren on the final lap for fourth.
The question has been asked, can anyone stop Mickey Alzola in the Super Senior class? Well, Ken Barrow out of San Diego CA has stepped it up and is giving Mickey some stiff competition. For the "K&N Filters" main Roy Burris hit turn one first followed by former national #11 Jim McMurren, Alzola, and Barrow. Exiting turn four Alzola made a spectacular move from third to first aboard his C&J framed Triumph. By lap two Barrow settled down, moved to a lower line on the track and was up to third, while Burris under attack slid backwards from pressure from Dave Cheney who took over fourth. On lap three Barrow was all over McMurren and would move into second while Alzola out front put in a 23.41/100 second lap. The checkered flag saw the order Alzola (checked out) Barrow, McMurren, Cheney, and Burris.
The "Motion Pro"/"Works Performance" Classic 500-750sv class has some of the most intense racing on the track, with five of the fifteen riders all in the 23 second lap time range. Chris Rudy wheeled off the start which cost him big time, as he hit turn one in sixth. Bultaco mounted Jeff Lessley led with George Wills on the Dodge Brothers Ind. second and Tom Horton third. Down the back straight for the second time Horton took over second, Rudy was up to forth, and Davie Brown ran fifth. Rudy on a mission, went past Wills entering turn one on lap three for third, then past Horton exiting turn two for second on the same lap. With a lap and a half to go Rudy bobbled between three and four allowing Horton back in second. On the run to the finish Rudy set Horton up, but it was too late, Lessley won, Horton was second, Rudy third, Wills fourth, and Brown fifth.
Andre Ochs and Larry Smith the third provided some of the best racing of the day in the "Tuff Plates"/"Shoei Helmets" Youth mains. Both riders aboard 65cc machines competed in the 65cc & 85cc classes. Ochs has mastered the art of starting as he usually leads the field into turn one. Och's lap time of 25.20/100 seconds would hold as the fastest lap for anyone on a 65cc machine, Ochs would come right back and top Smith again in the 85cc class giving him two victories for the day. But don't think it was easy, it wasn't, and Smith was right there and had the crowd in attendance on their feet!
Jim Ottele led the "ARD Ignitions"/"Bartels H.D." Modern 750 pack into turn one on his Doug Douglas sponsored Yamaha. Jerry Gates ran second only to have heat race winner Joe Hoogerhyde go from fifth to second in a single move. Then exiting turn four for the second time Hoogerhyde got a drive and shot past Ottele for the lead. Once up front Hoogerhyde put his head down and checked out, turning his fastest lap of 22. 42/100 seconds leaving the field in his wake. Ottele in second was now being pressured by Gates and Robert Hansen who now had joined the war. At the finish Hoogerhyde in another zip code won over Ottele who stayed mistake free for second and Gates who held off the advances of Hansen.
Hot Shoe Michael
Avila has made the transition from the
mini's to the "Berkeley Yamaha/Honda" 250cc class with ease. However
an unknown quantity in the form of James "The Rocket" Rispoli from
Thirty riders made up the "Browns Cycles" 500 Support class, fifteen of which were staged for the "A" main event. Heat race winners Tommy Carriger and Mr. Ed's Joe Steffen hit turn one side by side, with Steffen taking the lead exiting turn two. Our other heat race winner Paul "Tye Dye" Herman was away in fourth but wasted little time and quickly moved past Carriger for second before one lap was complete. Mike Gonzales ran fourth with Mike O'Neil in fifth as the field settled down and found their rhythm. Two laps in the books saw Frank Hardman running a high line moving forward as he moved into fifth. On the final go round Hardman moved up to third, O'Neil regrouped for fourth and Steffen out front put in a 22.13/100 second lap no one could match as he bested Herman by nine bike lengths for the win.
The "Rod Lake
Amateur class is as close to the pros as you can get. Forty one riders
come through three heat races to make the field of fifteen for the
"A" main event. Brandon Bergen was away first followed by Kevin
Knudsen, Joe Hernandez, and Scott Baker. On the second trip down the
straight Hernandez shot past Knudsen for second while
Forty-eight pros made up seven heat races, with the top two transferring directly to the Digger Helm Pro 600 Main. Three semis would berth one each giving us a field of sixteen for the twenty lap final. With the fastest heat race time by .02/100 of a second, (clocked by Chris from Motion Pro) National #21 Jared Mees reversed the line up starting from the outside on the front row. Next to Mees in order of their heat race times were Jimmy Wood, National #89 Kevin Varnes, National #59 Willie McCoy, National #18 Terry Poovey, and Steve Murray. It took only one wave of starter Fred Allen's green flag for a clean start with Suzuki's Varnes leading the way. Lancaster H.D.'s Mees ran second with WKR/Arai's Atherton third. Entering turn three on the first lap Mees ran underneath Varnes for the lead, with Atherton in tow for second. Wood on a borrowed Ron Wood Yamaha moved from sixth off the line to fourth, then across the stripe to third only to loose the front end and taste tera firma in turn one on lap two. Wood the defending champ would rejoin at the back two laps down. Lap two also would see the exit of 1st Legal/A&A Racing's Terry Poovey. Four laps in had the running order Mees, Atherton, Shaun Russell (on the move), Johnny Murphree (up from an eighth place start), Varnes, and Willie McCoy. A lap later, 1st Legal/KTM's Steve Murray would pass McCoy for sixth, while buried at mid pack were NJK/Shoei Helmets Jethro Halbert and Mike Rush. Back at the front on lap seven Mees was getting away, which is when National Cycle/CoZiahr's Murphree threw the switch and picked up his pace. A lap later Murphree displaced Russell and set his aim on Atherton. Then just before the half way point Atherton's Yamaha expired, with his hand going skyward, Murphree now in second had his work cut out for him as Mees had a twelve bike length lead. At the crossed flags (half way) the order ran Mees, Murphree, Russell, Varnes, McCoy, Rush, Halbert, Moroney's Bryon Smith, KLH's (2005 AMA Horizon Award winner) Stevie Bonsey, Murray, Alex Wood, David Brown, Nicole Cheza, and Jimmy Wood. By the twelfth go round the leaders were into lappers as both Mees and Murphree were held up at different times. Murphree now four bike lengths behind Mees could smell blood. Murphree dug deep on lap fifteen and put the Mr.Ed's Jim Wood Honda up front, but Mees wasn't about to roll over and came right back at him. This is also when Russell's day came to an end advancing Varnes to third. With one lap remaining Mees got held up slightly thus ending any run on Murphree. Halbert had climbed to fourth but couldn't get past Varnes who would take the final podium. McCoy came home fifth followed by Rush, Smith, Bonsey, Murray, Alex Wood, Brown, Cheza, and Jimmy Wood.
What this set up for Sunday's final was a tie for the Maxxis Tires Pro Point Fund between Alex Wood and Stevie Bonsey with Don Howard four points behind. Plus, Sunday's race paid double points which put Jared Mees in the mix. Jethro Halbert led the race for the California Cup Championship, and there was to be a $1,500 "Dash for Cash" between the six heat race winners. But first there was the closed to the public, private dinner at Zumas. For years Zuma's has been "The" place to be after the races, featuring some of the finest Italian food to be found. But due to the large crowds, this year Eddie Mulder stepped up and had the place closed at except by invitation to four hundred of his closest friends. A who's who of the dirt track community could be found through out the night bench racing and having a good time.