Four time A Modified champion Troy Foulger #49 and point leader leader Carl Berendsen II #88 battle for position. Photo By Ryan Brown.
By Don Martin, II
After a one week break, racing returns to Antioch Speedway’s fast 3/8 mile clay oval this Saturday night. The $2,500 to win Jerry Hetrick Memorial Race for A Modifieds will headline this program. Also on the card will be the DIRTcar Late Models, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks.
Jerry Hetrick and crewmen John Sutherland (left) and Butch Linn (right) before a race in 1974. Photo From The Jerry Hetrick Collection.
Throughout the 1970′s and into the early 1980′s, Jerry Hetrick was one of the top local drivers in the old Sportsman division. He did not have the budget of the top teams, yet he managed to be competitive and win races. In the mid 1970s, he even set the track record in qualifying. He was ranked in the Top 20 in points every year from 1975-1981, with best seasons of 4th (1975), 5th (1981) and 10th (1977). Back in February of this year, Hetrick passed away. He was 72. Several members of the racing community, including legend J.D. Willis, attended his funeral.
One of the racer’s Jerry competed against was promoter John M. Soares. Soares decided to add a $2,500 to win Memorial Race in Jerry’s honor, and the stage is set for this Saturday night. The buzz is that there will be several top drivers hoping to bring home the big prize money. If that is not enough, there is no extra entry fee for the drivers to come out and race. The cost to enter is the normal rate.
Anytime you put the money up, you know that Bobby Hogge IV will come to town. Hogge is known for coming to the big races and leaving with the big bucks. Throughout his decorated career, Bobby has won three track championships at Antioch Speedway and is #3 on the all time win list behind Willis and Scott Busby. Bobby just may be the driver to beat on Saturday.
Jerry Hetrick #9a spots Tommy Thompson #39 pulling alongside him in 1980. Photo from Tommy Thomson collection.
However, Kellen Chadwick may have something to say about that. Chadwick recently went up to the Pacific Northwest and scored four wins in a one week period to win the Wild West Modified Series championship. Chadwick is a past Antioch Speedway champion, and he has been known to win the big shows too.
When you put the money on the line, you know that some of the big names will come to town. With four championships and roughly 30 feature wins to his credit at Antioch Speedway alone, Troy Foulger is a serious contender for the big victory. Last season, Troy picked up a pair of $2,500 paychecks with two big wins aboard the Bowers Racing Modified at Antioch Speedway.
The fact that Hogge, Chadwick and Foulger will be in town might be enough to get the attention of the fans, but there are other stars anticipated for this race as well. The last time the A Modifieds raced, five time track champion Scott Busby was picking up one of the biggest wins of his career after a battle with NASCAR veteran Kenny Schrader. Nobody has won more A Modified Main Events in Antioch Speedway history than Busby, but the big prize seems to have eluded him at his home track.
Current point leader and 2014 champion, Carl Berendsen II has hopes of picking up his first career feature win in the division. Consistency has given Berendsen the point lead as the division races into the month of July. Another past champion, Aaron Crowell, hopes to have another motor in his car after he blew a motor in Tulare earlier this year. A Crowell appearance means another tough competitor in the battle for the big win.
Two time reigning Petaluma Speedway champion Nick DeCarlo is anticipated for the show as well. Josh Combs has a feature win at Antioch Speedway this year and will be hoping to pick up the big paycheck this week. There should be a good field of drivers, including Raymond Lindeman, Shawn O’Gara, Bobby Montalvo, Jeff Thomas, Trent Wentworth, Mikey Slaney and John McDougall.
Jerry Hetrick #44a takes a checkered flag in his track record holding Sportsman in 1975. Photo From The Jerry Hetrick Collection.
The DIRTcar Late Models could see a couple more cars due to Modified drivers possibly fielding two entries. Two drivers who are actually two car teams are Hogge and Foulger, and Hogge does have feature wins in both Modifieds and Late Models this year at Antioch. Foulger came close as he finished second in both the Late Model and Modified Main Events on the night he brought both cars earlier this year. He was a two time feature winner in Late Models last season.
Of course, two big name drivers waiting for others to come through the gates are point leader Richard Papenhausen and reigning champion Jeff Decker. Both drivers have feature wins this season as does West Coast Late Model champion Clay Daly. You never know who might show up to run Late Models, but Top 5 ranked Chester Kniss and David Newquist are anticipated along with last season’s top rookie Danny Malfatti, Paul Guglielmoni, Terry Kuntz, Mike Hynes and Dennis Souza.
The man with more wins than anybody else in Wingless Spec Sprint history is gunning for his second division championship. That would be Jim Perry Jr., who has recorded two feature wins so far this year. Jim was in the hunt for a third win last time out when mechanical problems hit. Perry is being chased in the standings right now by Rick Panfili and Marcus Smith. Smith has driven the Richard Basden owned entry to one feature win this year, while division original Panfili is still looking for his first career win. He has two career best second place finishes this year.
Jimmy Perry III has won many Main Events and is third on the all time win list. Jimmy was a multi time winner last year, but his luck so far this year has been anything but good. There are some hard chargers in the points battle this year as car count has grown just a little bit. Racers to keep an eye on this week include Roy Fisher, Alan Miranda, James East, Brandon Burd, Shannon Newton, rookie Adam Teves and the winner last time, NFL alumnus Jeremy Newberry.
The B Modified division has been led for several weeks by the consistent Al Johnson. Though he leads the standings, Johnson has yet to get a feature win. He has three second place finishes and is using his consistency to withstand the challenge of three time winner Trevor Clymens. Clymens missed a race, but he is slowly chipping away at the Johnson lead.
The busy schedule has affected the car count just a little bit, and Fred Ryland’s decision not to defend his championship has meant chances have increased for new winners. A few weeks ago, K.C. Keller added his name to the list and is one of the Top 5 drivers in the standings. Shane DeVolder has finished as high as second this year and could be a winner as well. You also have to consider double division racer Danny Jones, who is also Top 5 ranked.
Word out of the Pearce Racing Team is that Brian Pearce is getting a new car together for a return to the speedway soon. Drivers to watch for this week include Randy Brown, Chuck Golden, Paul Mulder and Ron Brown.
Limited Late Model point leader Larry Damitz #15 and Mark Garner #76 battle for a heat race win. Photo ny Ryan Brown.
In The Limited Late Model division, Larry Damitz is the reigning champion and winner of four of the last five championships. However, he isn’t dominating the way he has in the past. In fact, the driver with the most wins right now in the class is two time winner Mark Garner. Garner, point leader Damitz and Kino Oreta are locked in a close battle for the championship. Oreta has yet to join the other two on the winner’s list, but it could happen at any time.
Top 5 ranked Jim Freethy and the division’s all time win leader, Mike Gustafson, are also on the winner’s list, but past champion Lori Brown appears to be closing in on her first win in a while. The steady John Evans is anticipated this week along with Calvin Lewis and John Keith.
An amazing Hobby Stock rookie season continues for Guy Ahlwardt. Last time out, he charged from tenth starting to take the lead from 2010 champion Chris Sorensen for his third win of the season. He has had such a good start that he has a comfortable point lead. Behind him in second is one time feature winner Danny Jones. Jones had some bad luck earlier in the season drop him back just a bit.
Hobby Stock point leader Guy Ahlwardt #10 and Jordan Swank #73 get ready to start their race. Photo by Ryan Brown
Cameron Swank is in the hunt and is also a driver to watch as he goes for his first career feature win. There are a few drivers who have raced for a while at the speedway and have yet to win, and drivers who could get it done soon are Natalie Perry, Michael Cooper and Robert Niven.
The Hobby Stock division is stacked with talent, and car count is approaching 20 on race night. Other drivers you need to keep an eye on include Jason Jennings, last year’s top rookie Jordan Swank, Frank Furtado, Lindsey Buirch, Sorensen and Jessica Jones.
The Jerry Hetrick Memorial $2,500 to win A Modified Main Event headlines the six division show, but there will be some great racing in the DIRTcar Late Models, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks as well. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
All Star Series – Antioch Speedway
Carl Berendsen II 294
Scott Busby 265
Ray Lindeman 231
Trent Wentworth 230
Sean O’Gara 204
DIRTcar Late Model
Richard Papenhausen 210
Jeff Decker 200
Chester Kniss 166
David Newquist 139
Dennis Souza 126
Wingless Spec Sprint
Jim Perry Jr. 256
Rick Panfili 206
Marcus Smith 204
James East 202
Shannon Newton 196
Al Johnson 462
Trevor Clymens 434
Shane DeVolder 408
Danny Jones 370
K.C. Keller 280
Limited Late Model
Larry Damitz 252
Mark Garner 246
Kimo Oreta 240
John Evans 214
Jim Freethy 182
Guy Ahlwardt 354
Danny Jones 273
Michael Cooper 258
Cameron Swank 252
Natalie Perry 251