Reno-Fernley gives plenty of action
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist
FERNLEY – Reno-Fernley Raceway hosted the Bay Cities Racing Association’s Midget Lite and Vintage Midget divisions Saturday night, along with Sprint 100, Legends, Pro Four, and 318 Modified classes.
It was also the debut of the two-seater ride car, with one lucky fan getting a taste of racing up close and personal.
The 318 Modifieds kicked off the action, with Bob Bender of Fallon leading the charge into turn one and Wadsworth’s Larry Silas in hot pursuit. On the fourth lap Bender spun in turn two and Silas was unable to avoid him. Silas’ front suspension was history, but Bender was able to continue.
Frank Kay of Yerington took the lead on the restart, but he also spun and went to the tail end of the field. Keith Walsh of Sparks took his car to the pits and Fallon’s Glenn Lee took the lead while Jim Turner of Loyalton tried in vain to reel him in. At the checker it was Lee, Turner, Kay, and Bender, with Walsh getting credit for fifth. Turner won the earlier heat race and Silas took the trophy dash victory.
Next up were the Legends, a popular national class, in their first 2007 appearance at Reno-Fernley. Legends veteran Wayne Estes of Fallon grabbed the lead at the green flag with Reno’s Travis Peterson making his first Legends start in second. Terry Madjeski of Incline Village slotted into third while the Handley boys from Sparks, Christopher and Fred, held down fourth and fifth respectively.
Madjeski spun in turn four, rejoining far back in the field, while the front pack of Estes, Peterson, and Chris Handley ran nose to tail. Coming to the checker Peterson and Chris made contact in turn four.
Handley nosed in front with his car in the infield, taking second from an unhappy Peterson, who ran Handley into the infield at the entrance to turn one. Words were exchanged, but both drivers stayed in their cars as they were towed back to the pits. Fred Handley came home fourth, with Madjeski rounding out the top five. Honors were spread around evenly, with Madjeski winning the heat race and Peterson coming home first in the trophy dash.
The always popular Vintage Midgets, cars from the 1930s through the 1970s, took to the track for an “exhibition” race that looked pretty serious. A red flag flew on the first lap, as Michael Luddon of Novato, Calif., sailed off the end of the track and landed on the off ramp to the pits.
When the race restarted, Victor Mencarini of Sacramento and Santa Clara’s Ron Dunn ran side by side and nose to tail in the lead for pretty much the entire race. Behind them Castro Valley, Calif., driver Tom Belfiore battled for third with Stu Donaldson of El Sobrante, Calif.
Attrition took its toll, with Paul Farajiah, Perry Ashworth, and Donaldson all retiring and at the checker it was Mencarini edging out Dunn for the win, and Belfiore in third the last car running. The earlier heat race win also went to Mencarini.
Tony Gowearin of Livermore, Calif., quickly surged around early leader Tom Goepner of Reno to the front of the Sprint 100 main and opened up a huge lead. But Tom MacLaughlin of Colusa, Calif., soon moved up to second from his mid-pack start and began whittling away at Gowearin’s margin.
Sacramento’s Nick McColloch settled into fourth after a brief battle with Jessica Goepner of Reno, who soon went a lap down to the flying Gowearin. The caution flag flew when Bill Goepner of Washoe Valley had a problem in turn four, and on the restart Gowearin and MacLaughlin hooked up together and pulled away from the pack. Third placed runner Tom Goepner also spun in turn four, bringing out the second caution.
On the second lap of the subsequent restart Gowearin went wide in turn four and opened the door to let MacLaughlin into the lead. Gowearin recovered to re-pass MacLaughlin and held the lead to the checkered flag. MacLaughlin had to settle for second, followed home by McColloch, Sparks driver Vernon Hickman and Chad Thompson of Rancho Cordova, Calif., in fifth. Jessica Goepner won the first heat race, while Gowearin scored a hat trick by winning both his heat and the dash.
The next to last race on the card was the season debut for the Pro Four division. Stephen Crook of Sparks shot into the lead at the drop of the green flag, with defending champion Brian Coclich of Carson City behind him in second. Crook built up a comfortable lead while Cochlich put a sizeable gap between himself and the battle for third place between Reno’s Kenny Martin and Ron Wagner of Winnemucca.
Reno’s Erin Looney had a good race going with Dennis Crook of Fernley for fifth until Crook finally got by and started to pull away. Then disaster struck as leader Stephen Crook’s engine began to smoke and then expired. The caution flag came out as Crook coasted to a halt on the front straight and Coclich took the lead.
Coclich got a bad restart and lost position to Martin and Wagner, but soon re-passed both to re-take first spot. Another yellow for Looney’s stalled car set up the final restart.
Cochlich held the lead to the white flag, but Martin pulled alongside and passed for the lead into turn three coming to the checker. Martin held on for the win with Coclich second, Wagner third, Dennis Crook fourth and Missy Natenstedt rounding out the top five. Martin and Coclich won a heat race apiece, and Stephen Crook took the dash.
It took three tries to get the final race of the evening started, with a yellow for a spin on the first try and a red flag for a flip by Scott Males of Elk Grove, Calif., on the second attempt. When the green flag waved for the third time, Marysville, Calif., driver Chris Glass led the way into the first turn, followed by Tyler Franklin of Roseville, Calif., Jason Sneep of Newark, Calif., and Cameron Beard of Atwater, Calif.
Beard soon advanced to second, but his teammate Doug Nunes of Kingsburg, Calif., soon spun in turn two, bringing out a caution. Glass held off Beard on the restart and Sneep moved past Tyler for third a lap later. Glass began to pull away from Beard, who built a considerable cushion over third-place Sneep.
As the leaders got into lapped traffic, Beard closed on Glass, at times running right on the leader’s rear bumper. But when Beard slid up the track in turn four two laps from the end, Glass was home free. Glass took the win, followed home by Beard, Sneep, Franklin, and Jeff Scott of Antelope, Calif. Nunes won the first heat, and Beard swept heat two and the dash.
Next Saturday night is the Allen Boles Memorial Race in memory of the veteran driver who lost his race with cancer recently. It is also American Cancer Society Night at the races.
IMCA Modifieds, the division Boles most recently raced in, will be on hand along with Dwarf cars, Hobby Stocks, Pro Stocks and Pure Stock Minis. Spectator gates open at 3 p.m., with racing action starting at 6. For more information, call (775) 575-7217 or go to http://www.renofernleyraceway.com on the Web.