Crazy fastLarry F. Douglas
|Jim Richardson, right, led the first several laps of the second heat race Saturday, until a blown back right tire allowed the No. 88 car to get by. Richardson is integral to the sprint car races at American Valley Speedway.|
The California Civil War Sprint Car Series brought more than cars producing in excess of 700 horsepower motors in 1,500-pound winged bodies to the American Valley Speedway for the sixth event of their series. It brought the best of the West in 360 Sprint Car racing. It attracted not only the champions but also the future generation of drivers of their sport. It brought pit crews that could put a damaged car back into competition within minutes after an accident. It brought an organization proud of its unique history in the development of speed and safety in motor sports racing. It brought 13-year-old Bradley Kennedy announcing with veteran Steve Ross.
The Friday night sprint car race was planned as a memorial for Jim Richardson’s contributions to American Valley Speedway. His service has led to the development and attraction of sprint car racing in Plumas County.
The evening event began with another memorial service to Roy Moore and Herman Klein for their contributions to sprint car racing. Roy’s grandson Mark took a warm-up lap then a hot lap in the family sprint car as the crowd stood in commemoration and listened to their stories of service.
Friday night was filled with excitement. It took three starts to complete the first lap of racing of the sprint cars. Accidents put pit crews to the test as they got their teams back on the track. Robby Witchurch, from Chico, in car No. 82 took first with a total time of 56:34.744 from delays and the fast lap time of 16.841 seconds. Coby Weisz, from Colfax, in car No. 21 took second with a difference of 1.24 seconds. Brad Bumgarner, from Chico, in car No. 88 took third. The veteran Jim Richardson, of Graeagle, in car No. 8 was running in fifth when, on the 15th lap of 20, a five-car accident took him out of the race. Only 13 of the 22 cars finished.
Seven IMCA cars raced on Friday. Chris Neiman in car No. 3 took the lead from start to finish. Chris, in his rookie year as an IMCA Modified driver, lead Wade DeBurg in car No. 17 by 6.309 seconds. Bobby Higgins in car No. 13H took third.
AVS is proud of the development of its young drivers and for the leadership from its veterans. The variety of classes permits a diversity of options for drivers and teams.
The Saturday night races attracted another rookie of the year and a family with four generations of sprint car drivers. Chase Johnson in the No. 24 Johnny Franklin car is the great-grandson of Frank Johnson, who left NASCAR as a grand champion to race sprint cars in the early ’50s. His son Bobby began racing midgets at an indoor stadium with wood floors at Sonoma County Fairgrounds and raced sprint cars until he had a near-fatal accident. Robbie became the third generation sprint car driver and was the points leader in Petaluma while his son was taking the honors as “rookie of the year.”
The next generation of Johnsons is competing in Outlaw GoKarts. They raced in Ukiah on Friday night. The Johnson family came up the Canyon on Saturday for Chase to compete in Quincy. Saturday night Jim Richardson set a new record by competing with three generations of the Johnson family.
The Civil War series brought a female attraction to Quincy. Alissa Geving, from Penngrove, is giving the men a run for the checkered flag. She is fifth in the overall standings. She was also a “rookie of the year.” Her qualifying time was 16.477 seconds. She was second in her heat race and finished ninth in the “A” Main. Women are taking the opportunity to become leaders in motor sports racing.
The Saturday night sprint car “A” Main was a 30-lap race with 22 cars. The start had one yellow flag and another after 26 laps. The restart with only four laps was the climax of an exciting and faster race. The overall time of the fastest car was 25:24.158. Andy Forsberg, from Auburn, in car No. X1 took the checkered flag with a fast lap time of 16.725 seconds. Andy is five-time Civil War champion and now has three wins in this series. Colby Weisz again took second, with a difference of 1.487 seconds. The top 10 finishers were rounded out by 24-year-old Brett Rollag, of Rohnert Park, in car No. 27; Mason Moore, of Quincy, in car No. 5H; Hermit Klein, from Sacramento, tied for overall points in car No. 91; Steven Tiner, from Visalia, in car No. 94; Mike Henry, from Sacramento, eighth overall in car No. 18; Jermery Burt, of Grass Valley, in car No. 2B; Alissa Geving; and Kyle Hirst, from Elk Grove, in car No. 14.
Eight dwarf cars raced 15 laps in Saturday night’s “A” Main. Jason Crosby, of Quincy, and Jesse Van Kol, of Portola, had a cross-town rivalry delivering one-two punches throughout their races. Jason got the win with Jesse in second. Bobby Wilson in car No. 87 and Race Wilson in car No. 65 took third and fourth. Chase Nieman retired after nine laps with a blown motor.
The California Civil War Sprint Car Series is a highlight which is over for this season. There is much more racing to come at American Valley Speedway. One of the newest attractions is the GoKarts. The next race is July 9.
AVS wishes to thank Rich Baucom, Jake, Fish, Bill, Jr., Dr. Dirt, Tom of the Flags, and all the volunteers that make these events possible.
For more information call 283-2175 or visit