The weather was so cooperative Saturday evening it was great, and a good crowd was on hand to take in opening night. They were treated to really good racing and mishaps that make opening nights so much fun. For the local classes, we listened to the fans and did away with qualifing! This meant it was straight to heat races where drivers get to race for their starting positions in the trophy dashes and mains.
The wild and crazy Hornets were full of first time racers as well as veterans, so dents, spin-outs and blown engines were liberally scattered throughout practice and racing. The Heat races were won by Don Meza from Wenatchee in last years car after the new car lost a rod bearing in practice. Lucas Merril from Wenatchee won the other heat in his BMW 320I which seemed to have the bugs out of it from last year. Robby Sutton (Wen) said he didn't do much to his black Scirocco before bringing it to the track for the year but it was quick enough to have no trouble winning the trophy dash and do really well in the main also.
Next up was the Dicks Heating and Air Conditioning Thunder Cars, also with a few new faces, and a few familiar faces that have moved up from the Hornets and had fun with all that weight and torque! John Wagner continued his winning ways in his 1969 Impala taking the heat race and a trophy dash, with Russ Kain taking the other heat.
Last years Champion Kevin Dietrich (Chelan) didn't show up in last years consistent Pinto, he went ahead and built an entirely new Mustang! What a back up car to have though. Heat race for the Pepsi Cola Mini Super Stocks was won by Mitch Evans, also from Chelan, who will also be racing boats for his 25th year. Mitch is now driving the #43 driven by Larry Hyde last year. Chelan's Darin Dietrich did a great job getting last years Pinto looking great and won the trophy dash.
As for the Jerry's Auto Supply Grand Nationals, after 3 years off, Gary Bykoski has returned. The 3 time champ says he's out to have some fun and he has a real good car. Racing wise it was Shannon Mitchel winning a heat race and then Okanagan's Darren Goetz won his heat and the trophy dash.
With the light breeze that felt so good under the sun, now was chilly under the stars, racers had improved the handling on their cars and it was time for main events. The 20 lapper for the Hornets was won by Robby Sutton. With Gustavo Martinez moving up to Sportsmen, last years Champion Randy Dietrich out for a while with an injured back, and some new talent bringing some fast cars to the track, this year will be interesting. Here's the finishing lineup for the main with new drivers noted:
2- Pat Flanagan (new) 3- Scott Burchett (new) 4- Josh Kaminoff (new) 5- Jeremiah Voss (much improved over last year) 6- Jeff Linterman- (new car) 7- Ron Voss (new car) 8- Johnny Huson (much faster than last year) 9- Lucas Merrill (much improved) 10- Brad McFarland (led every race) 11- Josh Sims (new) 12- Chris Bates (new) 13- Fred Vangog (new) 14- Mathew Rise (new) 15- Lyle Purdy and 16- Don Mesa, 2nd year guys who had mishaps lets say.
The Dicks Heating and A/C Thunder Cars are going to be even more fun to watch as many new cars showed up and word is many more are still under construction. John Wagner continues to be impossible to pass in the big Impala, but this year the stage has already been set. In second place was Russ Kain, who finished 2nd in points last year and wants to be champ bad, during post race interviews I mentioned to Russ that this looks like it's going to be a battle between he and John, he agreed, then I mentioned that John has a smaller, faster car almost ready for racing, Russ says- "He's going to need it!" In 3rd was the incredibly improved Bill Harvey, 4th was Chuck Wagner, 5th was Chuck Neville, 6th was former Hornet racer and former Thunder Car driver Lee Jarolimek followed by Bobby Jarolimek who also raced Hornets last year. EJ Caveness was able to limp out for a lap, but engine problems for him started with practice.
The Pepsi Cola Mini Superstocks main was next and with the inverted start, champ Kevin Dietrich was in the back, in a brand new car that looked great! In the end Kevin worked his way up to 2nd right behind winner Mitch Evans who drove like he'd been racing all winter. In 3rd it was Darrin Dietrich, Larry Sweeney kept near the front all race and ended up in 4th, Larry Jobe got to the track late, spun out and still worked the car without any track time to a 5th place finish. Jan Gall came in 6th, Mike Pease blew his engine during Wednesday's practice and drove Randy England's car to 7th, and Jeff Tarrant led for a while and showed some speed, but fell back later on for 8th.
The Jerry's Auto Supply Grand Nationals is always a super competitive class, especialy at the beginning of the year. Jason Ogle showed up with a new bright Yellow Firebird, drove to the front and stayed there for the win- his first. Closely behind was Lloyd Sims, followed by Darren Goetz the heat and trophy winner. Terry Osborn also showed up late, but drove well without any practice laps for 4th, in 5th it was Tom Wentz, Jeremy Osborn's car seemed to handle much better for 6th, 18 year veteran Gary Bykowski returned after 3 years to take 7th, Amanda Rowe in 8th, Mr Excitement Terry McGraw is back and placed 9th, Lacey Ledbetter had his car painted before the first race this year and came in 10th, Vern Huson jumped in Chuck Neville's 1973 Firebird Thunder Car that was driven to a Championship by Terry Osborn last year and finished 11th, Robin McClusky came down from Canada to finish 13th, Shannon Mitchell in 13th, Kevin Gates in 14th, Mike Sims in 15th, and Keli Ray in 16th.
Lots of blown motors to start the year, lots of spin-outs an bumping, but a lot of fun! I was really impressed by the looks of the cars this year. A lot of hours went into the fit and finish on so many cars it was like a car show just wandering through the pits! Hope to see you this Saturday night because WVSO will host the biggest late model race of the year! The Big 5 is now the Big 10 Super Late Models, the Les Schwab Mini Sportsmen will run for the first time this year, debuting will be the Performance Auto Sound Spectator Drags where a fan will get to race a car against another or against the clock, and the one night only Northwest Late Model Challenge! I've heard that 50 are already registered! There will be a B main and 2 100 lap main events!