Antioch, CA…The 2017 Antioch Speedway schedule has just been released, and it’s a good one. All of the divisions the fans enjoyed last season will return along with some big special events. 2017 marks the 57th consecutive season of operation for the Contra Costa Fairgrounds based racing facility. It is also the 20th season under the promotion of John & Donna Soares of Oval Motorsports. The track operated during it’s first 20 years under the management of John’s parents, John & Gladys Soares.
One of the big things racing fans will notice about the new schedule is the return of the King Of The West/NARC 410 Sprint Car Series and the debut of the new 360 Sprint Car Challenge Series. Soares met with the founders of the Sprint Car Challenge, and the result was the season opener for that tour on April 1st. They are back again on June 24th, a weekend in which NASCAR is at Sonoma and Soares is known for booking big events at Antioch. The schedule that night may include the addition of a second class. The new series boasts a $2500 first prize for the Main Event, and the Top 10 point earners compete for a big point fund, which includes a $10,000 championship.
Meanwhile, the King Of The West Series just announced that they are bringing back the NARC name. NARC was the big sanctioning for Winged Sprint Car racing in Northern California from 1960-2000. The King Of The West Series is as big as it gets in California Sprint Cars with their 410 cubic inch motors making them the fastest Winged Sprint Cars in the state. The first race will take place on June 3rd, and they return on August 5th. The oldest sanctioning body in California, the BCRA, will once again be represented by the Midget Lites on April 1st and August 19th.
Meanwhile, the track’s All Star Series roster of divisions will include the Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Late Models, A Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars and the Bay Area Hardtops. The track has been building up its own Winged 360 Sprint Car class for the past three seasons and had its best season yet last year. It is anticipated that car count will continue to improve this year. Last season’s championship battle went down to the wire in favor of Billy Aton ahead of ageless veteran Art McCarthy. Their season kicks off on April 22nd as they are scheduled for 12 races.
Antioch Speedway is the birth place of the Wingless Spec Sprint class, which is basically Sprint Car racing for the Stock Car crowd. These self starting, 360 cast iron motored Sprint Cars are now competing at other places, but it was Soares who scheduled the first races at Antioch in 1999. Jim Perry Jr. won last season’s championship and has won more races than anybody in division history. He didn’t have an easy path to the championship with Marcus Smith, Roy Fisher and Rick Panfili in the battle. Spec Sprints kick off their 10 race season on April 29th.
Late Models are back for what will be their fourth consecutive championship season. These high powered Stock Cars have an 11 race season that starts with the opener on April 25th and wraps up with a $1500 to win Fall Brawl Race on September 30th. Two weeks before on the 16th will be the John Soares Sr. Memorial Top Dog Challenge. Two of the drivers who have been at the head of the pack are 2015 champion Jeff Decker and reigning champion Richard Papenhausen. A Modifieds won’t be left out either as they begin their 28th consecutive season at the track. They kick off an 11 race season on April 8th. They are also scheduled for $750 to win on May 6th, $1000 to win on July 1st and the Second Annual Jerry Hetrick Memorial Race on July 8th. Last season, Carl Berendsen II held off five time champion and division legend Scott Busby to win his second championship in three seasons.
The work horse classes at the speedway this year are the B Modifieds and Hobby Stocks. The B Modifieds check in with a 17 race season, while Hobby Stocks, the track’s entry level class, have 19 races. Both divisions are part of the March 25thopener and return on April 8th when B Modifieds race for $500 to win and the Hobbys get a $300 first prize. These two divisions are also part of the Fall Brawl September 30th finale, where the B Modifieds get $1000 to win and the Hobby Stocks race for an $850 prize to the victor. Last year saw Trevor Clymens win a good battle with Al Johnson for the B Modified championship, while Guy Ahlwardt won the Hobby Stock crown in his rookie season. Ahlwardt has a B Modified this year, opening the door for hard chargers like Jordan Swank, Michael Cooper, Chris Long, Frank Furtado, Cameron Swank, Lindey Buirch and Natalie Perry to battle for division supremacy.
The racing community was recently shocked by the sad news of the passing of BCRA Hall Of Famer Larry Damitz. At 87 years old, Damitz won the Limited Late Model championship last year, which was his fifth championship in six years. Reports were that Larry was planning his return when he died unexpectedly. The Limited Late Models race 11 times this year, and the May 13th race will be the Larry Damitz Memorial race. Only ageless veteran Mike Gustafson, himself a two time Limited Late Model champion, has more wins in this division’s history. The season kicks off for Limited Late Models on March 25th.
The always exciting Dwarf Cars are back for what will be their 20th championship season at the speedway. Kevin Miraglio came through with a strong season last year to beat Mike Corsaro for his first championship. Racers like David Rosa, Josh Miller, Tim Reeder and Jenna Frazier help make this an exciting show for the fans. Dwarf Cars kick their season off on March 25th.
There’s a desire amongst some of the drivers in the area to build up their own base of vintage Hardtops. To that end, the new Bay Area Hardtop group was created, and they have a schedule of four races with the possibility of more. Their season kicks off on April 22nd and continues on July 8th, August 19th and September 9th. The September 9th event will be the annual Chet Thomson Memorial Race. Hard chargers such as Dave Mackey, Rob Waldrop, Tommy Thomson, Dan Williams, Ken Retzloff and Steve Cloyes, among others, are anticipated this season. No conflicts exist between this schedule and the California Hardtop Association, which ensures drivers from either group can support the other.
There will be two playday opportunities for racers to test their cars on March 11th and 18th. The season kicks off on March 25th with Spec Sprints, Late Models, Limited Late Models, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars. April 1st is the first big open wheel night with the Sprint Car Challenge and BCRA Midget Lites, followed by Wingless Spec Sprints, Late Models, A Modifieds, B Modifieds ($500 to win), Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks ($300 to win) on April 8th. It all adds up to a season of plenty of All Star Series racing excitement. For further information on scheduling and other things, check out the official track website at www.antiochspeedway.com.
Antioch Speedway 2017 Schedule
March 11 Open practice
March 18 Open practice
March 25 Spec Sprints, Late Models, LLM, B-Mods, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf
April 1 Sprint Car Challenge, BCRA Lights
April 8 Spec Sprints, Late Models, A-Mods, B-Mods ($500 to win), LLM, Hobby Stocks ($300 to win)
April 15 No racing Easter
April 22 All Star 360 Winged Sprints, A-Mods, B-Mods, Dwarf Cars, Hobby Stocks and Hardtops
April 29 Late Models, Spec Sprints, A-Mods, B-Mods, Hobby Stocks
May 6 All Star 360 Winged, A-Mods ($750 to win), LLM, Spec Sprints, B-Mods, Hobby Stocks
May 13 All Star 360 Winged, A-Mods, Dwarf, LLM (Larry Damitz Memorial)
May 19 Contra Costa County Fair – Racing TBA
May 20 Contra Costa County Fair – Racing TBA
May 27 No racing Memorial Day Holiday
June 3 King Of the West Sprint Cars, Hobby Stocks
June 10 All Star 360 Winged Sprints, B-Mods, LLM, Dwarf, Hobby Stocks
June 17 All Star 360 Winged, Late Models, A-Mods, Dwarf
June 24 Sprint Car Challenge, TBA
July 1 A-Mods ($1000 to win), B-Mods, Late Models, Hobby, Dwarf
July 8 “Jerry Hetrick Memorial” All Star 360 Winged, A-Mods, LLM, Hobby, Dwarf Cars, Hard Tops
July 15 Late Models, B-Mods, Spec Sprints, Hobby, Dwarf
July 22 Late Models, Spec Sprints, B-Mods, Hobby, Dwarf
July 29 All Star 360 Winged, Spec Sprints, B-Mods, LLM, Dwarf, Hobby
August 5 King Of The West Sprint Cars, Dwarf Cars
August 12 Spec Sprints, Late Models, LLM, B-Mods, Dwarf, Hobby Stocks
August 19 All Star 360 Winged, BCRA Lights, B-Mods, LLM, Hobby, Hard Tops
August 26 All Star 360 Winged, A-Mods, B-Mods, Spec Sprints, LLM, Hobby Stocks, Dwarf Cars
Sept 2 No racing Labor Day Weekend
Sept 9 All Star 360 Winged Sprints, Late Models, A-Mods, B-Mods, LLM, Hobby Stocks, Hard Tops (Chet Thompson Memorial)
Sept 16 “John Soares Sr. Memorial Top Dog Race” All Star 360 Winged, Late Models, A-Mods, B-Mods, Dwarf, Hobby
Sept 23 All Star 360 Winged, Spec Sprints, LLM, B-Mods, Dwarf, Hobby
Sept 30 “Fall Brawl” Late Models ($1500 to win), B-Mods ($1000 to win), Hobby Stocks ($850 to win)
Schedule Subject To Change