VICTORVILLE, California -- Barstow racers Steve Rose and Robbie Cockrell each drove their way to Route 66 Raceway's Victory Lane on Saturday night with wins in the Street Stock and Mini Stock divisions, respectively. Rose, who before his latest win was hovering near the top of the points race in his division, preceded his Main Event win with a third-place finish in his heat race. The feature race was peppered with minor fender benders, which resulted in only 15 out of the original 21 starters around to fly under the checkered flag at the end. After starting off in the number 5 position Rose was able to fend off challenges by a number of other drivers, including fellow Barstow racers Mike Milender, John Krieger and newcomers Robbie Brand and Jim Eichler. A number of caution flags closed the field up at times, putting additional pressure on Rose. "I kept hoping that he wouldn't overdrive the car and stay loose, and he did a great job," said Rose's wife Tammy in a post-race interview. "I don't know what to add, except that it was a great night and I am sure happy with this win," added Rose himself. Hesperia's Tim Timmerman II finished second to Rose with Billy Lyons, also from Hesperia rounding out the top three.
Earlier in the night it was young Robbie Cockrell, driving his bright yellow Pinto-based Mini Stock racer, who had the crowd almost on its feet as he fended off numerous challenges by Riverside's Dave Clark throughout his feature race. On at least two occasions, Cockrell and Clark were side-by-side as they passed the grandstand. In the previous heat race Clark bested Cockrell as they went one-two in the heat.
"We've been working hard to get the best out of the car and it worked really well tonight. The car felt strong and I was confident that I could hold off anything that came up against me, and I guess I was right," stated Cockrell, humble in his win after being presented with the winner's trophy on Victory Lane following the last race. Coming in third, behind Cockrell and Clark, was Oak Hills' Randy Thompson.
While the fates were kind to Rose and Cockrell, such was not the case for another popular Barstow area driver, Newberry Springs' own Mike Morris. Morris, who entered the night's meet in a dead even tie with Trona's Chris Smith in the Super Street points race, had earlier finished second to Smith in their heat race. This was only the second time all season that Morris and Smith had faced off in a preliminary race, and Smith's win in the heat race moved him just two points ahead in this hotly contended battle.
The Main Event saw Smith and Morris starting off in ninth and eleventh positions, respectively. Both drivers were able to maneuver their cars to the front of the field and it appeared that Morris was would in fact drive away from the pack with Smith in hot pursuit.
Suddenly, and without warning, Morris' engine let go and he was forced to limp off the track and into the pits, allowing Smith and Phelan's Dave Funkhouser to battle it out for the trophy. In a case of poetic justice, though, it was Funkhouser who prevailed at the finish line with Smith following behind in second place. It was Yucca Valley's Scott Curry who completed the top three in Super Street this night.
"I just completed building and installing this new engine, since the other one was getting a little tired. I figured that with Chris being such a challenge, I needed the little extra edge that a new engine might give me," Morris said in a pre-race interview. No doubt Morris will be ready to resume the battle with Smith when they meet again in two weeks.
What could have resulted in tragedy ended up as only a severely broken racecar for Hesperia's Jason Andrews. During the feature race in the All American class Andrews found himself with nowhere to go as he was wedged between two other racers coming out of Turn 4. The mishap resulted in Andrews' car being tossed around like a toy and coming to rest at the head of the grandstand straight. After a few harrowing minutes it was determined that Andrews was indeed okay, although it remains to be seen if his car will live to race another day.
Victorville's Walt Reynolds eventually won the race with Hesperia's Johnnie Little finishing second and Tim Foster traveling up from Whittier to take third place honors. Prior to tonight's races the points race in All American had Andrews in first place, Little in second and Reynolds in third. Andrews' incident surely tightened that race up a bit.
In other racing action at the Victorville oval youngster Tony Vanillo of Hesperia once again came away victorious in the Hornet Junior class. Vanillo held off newcomer Cody Vogel who came in from Apple Valley to drive his sister Heather's car to a second place finish. Nick Searles, also from Apple Valley, finished in third position.
In the Hornet class, which consists of not-so-young but relatively newer drivers, perpetual visitor to winners' circle Stan Youngblood won handily, even lapping the majority of the field, some cars twice. Nuevo's Mark Howison and Matt Snider, racing out of Lake Matthews followed him across the line.
Rounding out the night's races were the little winged 250 Sprint cars and although there were only six cars appearing this night, they still can put on an exciting show. This night turned out to be a sweep for El Cajon's John "The Weapon" Wilcox as he captured both the heat and feature races. It was Jim Henderson from Oak Hills and Costa Mesa's Phillip Ward rounding out the top three positions.
All during the night, departing Track Announcer Bill Wolfrum had fun with the kids in the stands as he brought the up to the booth to assist in the announcing of the races. Saturday marked Wolfrum's last stint behind the mike as he is leaving to join his wife on a new adventure in Brazil. Too bad he didn't get a chance to try out his verbal skills in Portuguese on the crowd. Following a one-week break racing will return to the Victorville facility on Saturday, Sep 4. In additional to all the regular classes, the popular California Outlaw Dwarfs will be back and it will be Hawaiian Shirt night at the raceway, with everyone wearing a Hawaiian shirt or dress gaining free admission to the grandstand. For more information or directions to the track, which is located at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville, call the Fair office at 760-951-2200 during regular business hours.
ROUTE 66 RACEWAY RESULTS - 8/21/04
NOTE: all results are subject to tech certification and may change after publication
1. Dave Funkhouser 14 Phelan
2. Chris Smith 15 Trona
3. Scott Curry 65 Yucca Valley
4. Len Wahlquist 66 Fontana
5. Roger Funkhouser 18 Phelan
1. Steve Rose 29 Barstow
2. Tim Timmerman, II 47 Hesperia
3. Billy Lyons 21 Hesperia
4. Melodie Smith 60 Trona
5. Chris Tooley 88T Norco
2. Dave Clark 31 Riverside
3. Brian Clymer 20 Murietta
4. Jimmy Helton 55 Apple Valley
5. Mark Nustad 17 Johnson Valley
2. Johnnie Little 00X Hesperia
3. Tim Foster 73 Whittier
4. JR Steele 30 Hesperia
5. Bud Gray 8 Hesperia
2. Jim Henderson 0 Quartz Hill
3. Phillip Ward 21 Costa Mesa
4. Andy Field 24 Las Vegas
*only cars finishing
2. Mark Howison 34 Nuevo
3. Matt Snider 14 Lake Matthews
4. Chip Tanke 41 Riverside
5. Bobby Kimbrough 40 Temecula
2. Cody Vogel 24 Apple Valley
3. Nick Searles 9 Apple Valley
5. Krystal Reynolds 14 Riverside