Open Wheel Racing On The Schedule For Antioch Speedway Saturday Night
2022-04-12 12:56dirtFan website https://dirtfan.com/dirtfan/assets/graphics/dirtfan-200x200.jpg
Antioch, CA...Racing fans will be treated to something a little bit different when action resumes at Antioch Speedway this Saturday night. The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds facility will see the season debut of the popular Wingless Spec Sprint division along with Delta Dwarf Cars, Mini Stocks and an appearance by the WMR Midgets. There will also be an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids during intermission.
It was 23 years ago when Antioch Speedway debuted a brand new Sprint Car class that was geared towards making this division more affordable to drivers on a tighter budget. The man who wrote the rules, Don O'Keefe Jr, labeled them SPEC Sprints, which stood for Sprint Parts Economy Class at the time. No other track in the state had this division.
They never fielded less than 12 cars throughout the entire season, making it the most successful launching of a division at Antioch Speedway in the modern era. Several tracks followed Antioch Speedway's lead in starting their own classes, and the popular Hunt Wingless Sprint Series also took its cue from Antioch.
Two of the drivers on that original roster still compete at the speedway these days. Second-generation racer Dan Gonderman is racing with the IMCA Stock Cars these days, although he still has a Sprint Car at his disposal. Rick Panfili was also there for the first race and has competed every season since. Other drivers might be better known and get more of the glory, but it's dependable racers like Rick that the track counts on. Panfili has logged quite a bit of seat time and is respected among his peers.
He started racing with the NCMA 30 years ago. He decided to get involved with Spec Sprint racing at Antioch to cut down on some of the traveling he had to do and race closer to home. He's been Top 3 ranked in the standings on multiple occasions and finished as high as second. Second is also his high mark in Main Event competition, which he's done multiple times. Budget always dictates how much Rick will get to race, but we will see him compete on the dirt oval this Saturday night.
Bob Newberry has garnered a bit more of the glory. He's third ranked on the Wingless Spec Sprint win list with a pair of championships at Antioch. He's also a champion at Chico and nearly got the job done at Petaluma as well. Wherever he goes, he's fast. He was at Antioch last Saturday night giving his car a shake down run.
The reigning champion is Ryon Siverling. His grandfather Burt ran with the NCMA in the 1990s. Some of the drivers to watch for include ageless veteran Roy Fisher, Kevin Box, Jeff Scotto, Tony Bernard, James East and Steve Maionchi.
The WMR Midgets were introduced by Mike McCluny back in 2019. McCluney has been involved in this sport for many years, and he saw the need to create an open wheel division that could bring drivers up from the Micro Sprint ranks.
Midget racing needed a shot in the arm, and the Ecotec rules package provided by the WMR Midgets was just the ticket. The WMR has seen some talented racers, such as Sage Boardenave, Nate Wait and reigning champion Blake Bower come up from the 600 Micros. Bower also won the USAC Western States Midget championship last season.
Perhaps the hardest driver to beat on the track is David Prickett. Prickett was the champion a year earlier and is seen as the barometer for the division. If you can beat him, you're beating somebody who is very fast. Prickett recently got the win at Marysville. He also fields multiple cars in an effort to get other drivers involved. Some of the stars to watch for this week include Kyle Hawse, Todd Hawse, Megan Moorhead, Bryant Bell and Shawn Arriaga.
The Delta Dwarf Cars have proven to be very entertaining. The man with the target on his back will be two-time champion Danny Wagner. Wagner has kicked off the season with back-to-back victories. This leaves Devan Kammermann in hot pursuit of his very first win, while others such as Ellie Russo, Jack Haverty, Sean Catucci, Travis Day and Chance Russell are also in the thick of the battle.
There is also the father and son team of David Rosa and his son, David Michael Rosa. The family has been involved in racing at the speedway for several years, going back to David's older brother Anthony Rosa, who raced Stock Cars in the late 1970s. David's other brother Frank Rosa raced Street Stocks and Mini Trucks as well.
David has earned the accolades as a two-time Street Stock champion and the driver who has more wins in that class than anybody else in speedway history. He's also had some success in Super Stocks and the Figure 8, but he's added some wins in Dwarf Cars as well.
What makes Dwarf Car racing more enjoyable for the elder Rosa is the fact that he gets to compete with his son. Daughter Victoria Rosa competed with David in the Super Hobby Stock class with some success.
However, David Michael Rosa has picked up several wins in the Dwarf Car ranks. The two Rosa's race very hard when they're on the track together. It's not just everybody else they want to beat. They want to beat each other. More importantly, a night at the race track is a good bonding experience for the father and son.
The Mini Stocks round out what is sure to be an exciting program. Management introduced the division prior to the 2020 season as a way to give new racers an entry point. Hobby Stock star Jess Paladino and Tom Brown are the previous two champions. Brown actually competed at the speedway in Mini Trucks several years earlier, and he's a two-time champion at Petaluma Speedway as well. Brown ran strong at opener, but he ended up settling for second behind Randy Miramontez.
The Speedway has added several new local drivers. This includes Laina Bales, Dana Gardner, Dan Abitz and Ryan Graham. The latter two are competing in Ford Pintos, which is the same model as Brown. Unfortunately, Abitz saw his race end early last time out when he tangled with Gardner in Turn 4 during their heat race. He and Graham will be hoping to give it a good run this Saturday night.
Grandstands will open at 4:00 pm with the first race starting at 6:00 pm.
For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.