Rain fails to dampen action at Reno-Fernley Raceway
Appeal Motorsports Columnist
FERNLEY – Rain and a brief hailstorm temporarily halted the action at Reno-Fernley Raceway on Saturday night, but the track was dried and racing resumed.
Four divisions and a total of 63 racecars gave fans their money’s worth.
The evening’s action kicked off with the 318 Modifieds, a racing division unique to Reno-Fernley Raceway. V8-powered open-wheelers sporting cut-down sedan bodies, the cars have a somewhat whimsical appearance that is belied by their speed and competitive racing.
When the green flag flew to start the main, Larry Silas of Wadsworth grabbed the lead from the outside of the front row and hooked up with Rick Thuemler of Stagecoach to pull away from the field.
Starting at the back of the pack, Rick Looney of Fernley was up to fourth place by the end of lap one, then picked off Don Hughes and Thuemler to take over second place. Silas had a sizable lead but a caution flag for a spin by Duncan Lee bunched the field, with Looney on Silas’ rear bumper for the restart. Silas held Looney off for three laps after the restart, but Looney was not to be denied and surged by on the outside to take over the lead.
Once by, Looney checked out, taking the checkered flag with a substantial margin. Silas finished second, followed by Thuemler and Sparks driver John Scherer, who nipped Hughes for fourth on the last lap.
Scherer won the single heat race earlier in the evening.
The Hobby Stock division was up next with enough cars to warrant three heats and a B main to determine the starters for the 18-car A main.
Carson City’s Mike Kinkel took command at the green, but was passed by Jimmy Berhorst of Silver Springs before the first lap was complete. Winnemucca’s Chris O’Neill quickly moved to the front, settling into second behind Berhorst. A multi-car incident soon brought out a yellow flag, with David Ausano of Fernley and Dayton’s Frank Serpa going to the pits for repairs.
O’Neill passed Berhorst for the lead on the restart, while Joe Specchio III battled Berhorst for second. Former champion Dean Clark of Silver Springs was mired mid-field and couldn’t find an opening to move up, while Carson City’s Shane Ramthun pitted to replace a flat tire and dropped to the rear.
When the checker flew, it was O’Neill with the win, Berhorst holding off Specchio to take second,with Joe Pierson of Fernley in fourth and Gary Serpa of Stagecoach rounding out the top five.
Heat race winners were Ausano, Theron Delorme of Reno, and Specchio. Steve Rauscher of Sun Valley won the B main.
The speedy and entertaining Dwarf cars were next on the program. Powered by large motorcycle engines, the Dwarfs resemble 30’s and 40’s jalopy racers scaled down to about 5/8 the size of the real thing.
Skip Hempler of Zephyr Cove got a great jump on the start . . . too great, in the minds of track officials, since he was several car lengths in front before the green flag waved. Hempler was sent to the back of the field and on the next start Billie Canham of Sparks took the lead with Carson City drivers Jeff Shurley and Barry Lane dicing for second.
Vuki Wilson of Minden, along with son Reece Wilson of Reno, moved rapidly through the field from the back, with Vuki charging to second place behind the fleeing Canham. Vuki reeled in the leader and passed Canham midway through the race. Then Reece tangled with Canham while they battled for second, with Canham heading for the pits and the younger Wilson going to the rear of the field.
On the restart Vuki Wilson rocketed away, while Reece charged through the field again but ran out of race before he got to the front.
The checkered flag waved for race winner Vuki Wilson, with Shurley in second, Reece Wilson third, Hempler fourth and Lane rounding out the top five. Hempler and Vuki Wilson won the earlier heat races.
The Pro Stock field was also large enough for three heat races and a B main, and 18 rumbled out to take the green flag.
Rookie Jake Holland, 15, from Calpine, Calif. took the lead at the green flag and held off John Durney of Chilcoot, Calif., while they motored away from the rest of the pack.
Sean Natenstedt of Fernley was having a good night, moving into the top five, when the roof of his car blew off. Debris from the incident brought out a caution, and Natenstedt was sent to the pits to have the flapping roof panel removed. Durney also pitted from second-place with suspension problems. Natenstedt rejoined at the rear of the field, but after his second jump of a restart was black-flagged. He either didn’t see it or figured it was for someone else, as he hounded Jim Smith of Loyalton, Calif., who had moved into the lead but had ominous sparks flashing from under the front of his car.
Sure enough, Smith’s front suspension collapsed, bringing out a yellow and bringing Natenstedt to the pits for good. This moved David Ellsworth of Loyalton, Calif. to the lead, which he stretched to almost a full straightway as half a dozen cars battled behind him.
Ellsworth took the win with fellow Loyalton resident John Hood in second. Reno’s Mike McMordie, Gary Nevers of Carson City and Randy Reid of Sparks rounded out the top five.
Ellsworth, Natenstedt, and Dan Kondart of Oregon House, Calif. won the heat races, while Joe Specchio, Jr. won the B main.
Next Saturday is New West Distributing/Coors T-shirt Night at Reno-Fernley Raceway, with the 360 Sprint Select series featured. Also on the card are 318 Modifieds, IMCA Modifieds, Pure Stocks, and Dwarfs. Racing begins at 6 p.m.
n Contact Roger Diez at Racytalker@aol.com