It’s close racing at Fernley |

It’s close racing at Fernley

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

The feature race Saturday night at Reno-Fernley Raceway was the Bully’s Sports Bar Topless 50 for Pro Stock cars, and fans were treated to some of the best racing seen all season at the track.

Close racing in every division was the norm, with victory in doubt right up to the final turn of the final lap in most cases.

First up were the Pure Stock minis, with 14 cars taking the green flag for the 20 lap main. Pete Moore of Fernley took command on lap one while division points leader Jason Flores of Reno began a charge from the back of the pack, advancing to seventh at the end of lap one. Action was slowed when Fernley’s Lynda Crook fetched up against the outside wall in turn two. Crook was unhurt, and rejoined the race at the back of the field.

On the restart it didn’t take Flores long to take over the lead, and he began to pull away from Moore, who had a comfortable lead on a three-way battle for third among Doug Davis of Fernley, Sun Valley’s Gordon Hughes, and Reno driver Tim Cremeans. Davis fell back to mid-pack while Cremeans took over sole possession of third place from Hughes.

Up front, Flores had checked out and was motoring away from the field while Fernley’s Sarah Sherman tried to hold off John Schilling of Stagecoach and Doug Hast of Fernley for fifth. Cremeans was making up ground on second-place Moore, but the laps were winding down. Then Flores spun in turn four all by himself, and found himself in fourth place by the time he recovered.

Cremeans continued to close on Moore, who was now the leader. The battle went down to the wire, as Moore took the checker barely ahead of Cremeans. Flores recovered to pass Hughes for third, and Schilling won the battle for fifth. Earlier heat race wins went to Flores and Cremeans.

A large field of Hobby Stocks rolled out next, and Reno’s Bill Holloway got the jump from outside pole position at the start. Minden’s Nic Omnes, Dayton’s Royce Goetz, and Janet Wainscott of Carson City lined up behind Holloway in second through fourth. Doval Hopper of Sparks lost power and coasted to a halt at the head of the off ramp, bringing out the first caution.

Josh Ogg of Sparks took advantage of the restart to grab the lead, while Holloway, Billy Anderson of Round Mountain, Chris Van Rockel of Penn Valley, Calif., and Mike Leach of Silver Springs ran in the top five. Van Rockel spun in turn four all by himself, and then the caution flew for debris on the back straight.

The cautions worked to the advantage of Sparks’ Rich Italiano and Shane Ramthun of Carson City, who had started at the back of the pack. On the next restart, Italiano advanced to fifth, just one position ahead of Ramthun. Up front, Ogg pulled away to a substantial lead with Anderson a distant second. Italiano moved up to third and Ramthun to fourth.

Then cars spun at both ends of the race track, causing the yellow flag to wave once again, and Italiano took his car to the pits. Ramthun got a great restart and attached himself to Ogg’s rear bumper, then began to look for a way by. As the laps wound down, Ramthun tried to pass high, then low, then high again, but Ogg’s car seemed to take up the whole width of the racetrack.

At the checker it was the broad car of Ogg for the win, with a frustrated Ramthun second. Anderson came home third, Holloway was fourth, and David Pearce of Stagecoach rounded out the top five. Ogg, Italiano, and Leach each took a heat race win.

The always-exciting Dwarf cars were next, and they did not disappoint. Vuki Wilson of Minden took the lead from the pole at the green flag, while Skip Hempler of Zephyr Cove, Sparks driver Danyale Urban (in a borrowed car), and Reece Wilson hooked up in close pursuit. A little ways behind, Reno’s Joe Frock was locked in a tight battle with Minden’s Billy Wilson and Billy Canham of Sparks for fifth.

As the leaders got into lapped traffic Hempler spun in turn one and was t-boned by the lapped car of Fernley’s Barry Slater. This brought out the first caution, and on the restart a multi-car incident on the back straight brought the race to a halt with a red flag. Urban and Tori Edgington of Fallon were checked out by track paramedics, but there were no serious injuries among the five drivers involved.

On the restart, the Wilson family took over the top three spots . . . Vuki, Reece, and Billy in that order. Division points leader Derek Rosse of Carson City moved up to fourth, with Dan Edgington of Fallon, Tori’s father, taking over fifth. The front four broke away from the field, flying in close formation as Rosse got by Billy Wilson for third.

A final caution for a two-car tangle in turn two set up a two-lap dash to the finish with the field all bunched together. Billy Wilson spun out of contention in turn two on the last lap, and Vuki held off everybody to score a wire-to-wire win. Rosse passed Reece Wilson for second, Hempler recovered from his earlier incident to finish fourth, and Fallon’s Tim O’Neill came home in fifth. O’Neill, Rosse, and Billy Wilson were the heat race winners.

The IMCA Modifieds were moved up from their usual final race slot because of the Pro Stock Topless 50. Mike White of Fallon took advantage of a front-row starting position and rocketed away to a huge lead at the green flag.

Polesitter Byron Hutchinson of Fernley battled with Gardnerville’s Russ Cazier for second, and other battles raged throughout the pack. The caution flag appeared when Gene Kay of Yerington and Carson City’s Matt Collier tangled in turn four. Fernley’s Shawn Natenstedt snatched the lead on the restart, and was never headed.

Behind him White, Cazier, David Ellsworth of Loyalton, Calif., and Reno’s Joe Frock tussled over second through fifth. In the heat of battle, Cazier and Frock collided, and the caution flag flew again. Carson City’s Steve McGee joined the front group on the restart, battling with Ellsworth for position.

Robert Smotherman of Dayton joined the top five and methodically began working his way past car after car. While Natenstedt opened a lead, Smotherman passed White, then McGee, then Ellsworth to take over second. And that’s how it ended, with Natenstedt taking the win, Smotherman second, Ellsworth third, McGee fourth, and points leader Rich Hill of Sparks rounding out the top five. White and Darren Manning of Sparks split the heat race wins.

The final event of the evening was the Bully’s Sports Bar Topless 50 for Pro Stock cars. The “topless” moniker referred to the fact that the roofs were removed, giving spectators an interesting look at the drivers’ offices behind the wheel.

Scott Doich of Reno took the lead at the green flag, but he was soon joined by Fallon’s Jesse Gonzales, who began to challenge for the lead. Behind them, Carl Barlow of Silver Springs fought side by side with Loyalton, Calif., driver Jim Smith for third. Fernley’s Joe Specchio Jr. charged from the back of the 21-car field to seventh. Gonzales took the lead just as Fallon’s Rob Grace nudged the turn two wall and brought out the caution.

There ensued a series of restarts that led directly to caution flags, as cars crashed repeatedly, mostly in turn one. On the fourth try everybody got through a lap unscathed, and Specchio advanced to second. But by the time he got there, Gonzales was out of sight, opening a huge lead.

The caution flag flew again as Mound House driver Dean Cichowicz coasted down the front straight and stalled on the off ramp to the pits. Two laps after the subsequent restart, the field was red-flagged and stopped in front of the main grandstand while crews added fuel.

When the race resumed, Gonzales again proved that he was the car to beat, pulling away from the field at will. A brief caution for a spin by Sparks driver Vince Malone bunched the field for a final time while points leader Travis Peterson of Spanish Springs retired to the pits along with Malone. Gonzales cruised to the checker, and Specchio Jr. finished second, still locked in battle with third-place Jay Sears of Reno. Barlow was all by himself in fourth, and Doich held off Reno’s Mark Hain to take fifth. Barlow, Specchio, and Sears were the heat race winners.

This Saturday night’s scheduled Late Model race has been cancelled. Racing will resume at Reno-Fernley Raceway’s 3/8 mile clay oval on August 11. For more information, call (775) 575-7217 or go to