Orland Raceway fans will be seeing a couple of special appearances this Saturday night. The NorCal Dwarf Car Association will be making their only visit of the season to the 1/5 mile dirt oval. The California Hardtops make their second of three scheduled visits. Also in action will be the regular Pure Stock, Mini Truck and Micro divisions.
It’s been a few years since the Dwarf Cars have been at Orland Raceway. The NorCal Dwarf Car Association is the longest-running Dwarf Car group in the state. They tend to race mainly in Marysville, Placerville and Chico, but there’s always been inquiries about the possibility of them coming to Orland. A date was finally secured for this Saturday night.
The group has fielded some of the biggest car counts of any Dwarf Car organization on the West Coast. The cars can be described as a scaled-down version of a Hardtop, but with 1200cc engines. The group has a reputation of having some of the best Dwarf Car racers around, and frequently it’s a NorCal driver winning the bigger national events held at various venues throughout the year.
In three races, there have been three different winners. Most recently, Jeremy Blackshere was the winner in Marysville, and other wins have been earned by long time Dwarf Car competitor Spanky Grenert and Danny Wagner. Grenert is the only driver with three Top 3 finishes so far, while Ryan Winter has a pair of seconds. There are some good drivers in the group, including Ben Wiesz, Josh Wiesz, Mike Reeder, Kevin Bender and Buddy Olschowka.
The California Hardtop Association has proven to be very popular with the Orland fans. Last time out, it was Ron Ruiz driving his old Coup to a win ahead of local standout Mario Romano and Joe Hopp. These three are anticipated along with Ken Clifford, Joe Shenefield and Larry Wells. The most recent winners in Placerville were Bay Area competitors Dave Mackey and Ken Retzloff, and it’s possible both will be here this week as well. The mixture of old Chevy and Ford Coups and Sedans from the 1930s and 1940s are a nice glimpse into the glory days when Hardtops ruled the speedways in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Pure Stock championship battle continues between Keith Ross and Phil Spencer. Both drivers are feature winners this year, but Wes Smock returned last time and picked up an impressive victory. Smock was a regular at Orland Raceway in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and he’s just as fast now as he was then. Steve Martin continues to be in the championship hunt, and other drivers to watch for this week include John Camper, Jason Matlock and reigning champion Paul Stephens.
The Mini Truck division has been very competitive this year as Zack Webster, Kalvin Kvalvik and 2016 champ Dan Webster have picked up wins this season. Unfortunately, Zack Webster gave the people a little bit too much excitement a few weeks ago when he flipped his truck off of the second turn and into the pits. Fortunately he was not hurt, but he missed the most recent race. The drivers have been stepping things up a little bit, and drivers like William Fogle, Dan Libbee, James Woodell, Beau Chandler and Justin Vance are all in the hunt for wins this season.
It’s not often that the 600 and 250 Micro classes run on the same night, but that’s the case this week. The 250s seem to be getting just a little bit better support this year as reigning champion Pax Gonzalez, Alex Fowler and Mike McCarthy run at the front of the pack in the championship chase. Past champion Jess Garland and Lester Elsey are other noteworthy competitors. The 600 Micro class is led by young gun Cody Gray, Jessica McManus and past champion Jeromie Chrismon.
Orland Raceway has been offering the fans a nice variety of different divisions this year, and Saturday night will be a chance to see some classes of cars that you don’t get to see very often. For further information, go to the Orland Raceway Facebook Page.