With the 2011 calendar year just beginning, here is a look back at the top 10 moments from the 2010 season at Eureka, California’s Redwood Acres Raceway.
10. The demise of the Limited Street Stock division Throughout the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the limited street stock class struggled to maintain a worthy car count. With no sign of new cars or drivers joining the class, the limited street stocks were cut from the track’s program for 2010. Thankfully the three mainstay drivers in the division, Kenny Demello, Fergy Ferguson and Bill Middleton continued racing at the Acres in 2010, Demello in the sportsman division, Ferguson in the thunder roadster division while Middleton returned to the real stock class.
9. The August 7th Thunder Roadster Heat Race This truly was a race of attrition. The carnage began with Alan Olson spinning in turns one and two and suffering left front damage to his suspension from Mike Ward’s nose. It continued when Thomas Payne got into Ward going into turn three spinning Ward around, then concluded when Chris Sarvinski spun off turn four collecting Ward with a vicious hit. The collision finished Ward’s season as he suffered a broken foot. To top it off the front two drivers, Randy Olson and Ray Elliott mistakenly pulled into the pits believing the race to have ended when it in fact did not. Belinda Ward inherited the lead and was able to take the win in one of the craziest races of the season.
8. Surprise champions
Going into the 2010 season in the thunder roadsters, it was unlikely that anyone other than Paul Peeples, Jr. or David Henderson would take the division track title. In fact, it was unlikely that anyone other than Peeples, Henderson and/or Randy Olson would be able to win a main event. Thomas Payne was able to break through, first with a series of strong finishes and an eventual main event victory. Though neither Peeples or Henderson ran the full season, Payne was a constant contender night after night and was a deserving champion.
Like Payne, 2010 real stock champion, Casey Mitchell was a constant mainstay in the top three. All throughout the year, Mitchell was always at or near the front, challenging for the race win. Mitchell won three main events and usually did it without having to use strong-arm tactics.
7. Moulton track champion again
Mic Moulton began his racing career at Redwood Acres Raceway in 1994 in the mini stock division. In 1995, Moulton took the mini stock track championship. In 2010, Moulton was once again a track champion, this time in the sportsman division. Though Moulton was a heavy favorite going into the year, it was a real fight to win the title.
For the better part of the first half of the year, Moulton was caught up in wrecks or suffered parts failures. As the season wound down though, Moulton began to show the strength that everyone expected and by the end of the year he was able to beat Angelo Marcelli for the sportsman crown.
6. Fair night fireworks
Perhaps the most controversial race of the 2010 season was the sportsman main event on June 25, the first of the two night Redwood Acres Fair Classic. Mid-way through the race, Mic Moulton dove on the inside of Angelo Marcelli going into the first turn. The two came together and spun collecting Dennis DelBiaggio while Joe McDonald narrowly escaped getting involved.
In the closing laps, McDonald and Jerry Peterson dueled for the race lead. Coming to the white flag, Peterson applied the bumper to McDonald getting McDonald loose and allowing Peterson to get under.
Coming off turn four to the checkered flag, McDonald used the same tactic only this time Peterson spun sending up a huge cloud of smoke.
McDonald was DQ’ed giving Angelo Marcelli the victory. Unfortunately, he penalty effectively took McDonald out of the running for the points title which was a shame as he was Moulton’s biggest competition all season long.
5. The AABLM debuts at the Acres
For the first time since the now defunct North State Challenge Series, Redwood Acres Raceway fans saw the return of a touring late model series with the Airport Auto Brokers Late Models. The AABLM visited the Acres twice in 2010, first on May 22nd then on July 31st.
Coquille, Oregon’s David Miller won the May event while Lucerne, California’s Kevin Ostern won the July race. Acres fans can look forward to the return of the Northern California late model series in 2011. The AABLM has points paying dates tentatively set for June 25th and July 31st.
4. What’s going on with Jim Walker?
Northern California late model stock car racing legend, Jim Walker participated in only two events at the Acres in 2010; the second night of Fair Night racing on June 26th and the second AABLM race on July 31st. Walker delighted the crowd in the sportsman main event on June 26th coming from the rear of the field to finish third. In the AABLM race in July, Walker started fourth in the 75-lap feature but unfortunately made serious contact with the wall down the front stretch ending his night. It’s not known what Walker’s plans are for
2011 but it will be a huge loss for the Northern California motorsports community if Walker can no longer race.
3. Bakers vs. Murrells and the likely end of the mini stock division Things got heated in the mini stock division almost immediately between the Baker brothers and the Murrell father/son duo. Brian Murrell, Sr. and Craig Baker got together twice in the trophy dash on opening night of the season. The two came together a third time off turn two resulting in both cars in the fence. The next race, Brian Murrell, Jr. and Scott Baker made contact while racing hard for the win going into the third turn on the final lap. Baker spun while Murrell was able to cross the line first. After the race, a fiasco broke out in the pits. The end result forced the division out of action for several races.
There weren’t any other big moments between the Bakers and Murrells for the rest of the season, but the continued low car count for the division will likely send it the way of the Limited Street Stock division for the 2011 season.
2. Sir Raleigh
Prior to the 2010 season, Raleigh Willoughby was best known at the Acres as being the kid who flipped his roadrunner car in 2009. After the 2010 season, Raleigh Willoughby is best known at the Acres as the kid who has the most trophies. Willoughby won the first three races of the season before getting involved in a wreck off turn four not of his making. Willoughby had to be cut from his car for safety precautions but was able to return to race the next race. Willoughby would only finish outside the top five twice all season long. In the end, Raleigh amassed seven main event wins along with the 2010 roadrunner track championship.
1. The Fall Spectacular
For the first time in several years, the season ending Fall Spectacular was a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon show. The featured cars, the late models had 28 cars and drivers show up to partake in the weekend’s events. For the first time ever, the Acres had a higher car count for the late model open than the open at Shasta Raceway Park. Given the location of Redwood Acres Raceway and taking into account the difficulty of getting to and from the area compared to the Redding/Anderson area, it was a very big deal to outdraw the Shasta facility. The 100-lap affair featured only one caution flag and was dominated by David Miller in wire-to-wire fashion.
Redwood Acres Raceway 2011 Tentative Schedule April 2 - Practice April 16 April 30 May 7 May 21 June 4 - Northern California Pro-4 Modifieds June 11 June 25 - AABLM Series July 9 July 23 - AABLM Series July 30 August 6 August 27 - Northern California Pro-4 Modifieds September 10 September 24 and 25 - Fall Spectacular featuring Late Models, IMCA Modifieds and Northern California Pro-4 Modifieds