Monday, June 20, 2016

The BCRA midgets rocked Marysville

Saturday night June 18 2016 the ¼-mile egg-shaped clay oval Marysville Raceway Park (MRP) hosted the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midget and midget lites racing program. When the author arrived in the warm environs of Marysville, there were thirteen (13) BCRA midget lites in the pits and eleven (11) full midgets with a twelfth car on the way.

As it had been several years since the author had last seen the lites, Chief Referee David LaManna explained that without a wing, the 1000 CC (cubic centimeter) motorcycle engine powered chain-driven midget lite cars had to meet a 925-pound minimum weight with the driver and all fluids.  At MRP, the lites were a “pill-draw” show, while the midgets set the field through single car qualifying with the better of timed two laps counted as the official time.

Since the BCRA midgets had not raced at MRP since it was remodeled in its current configuration, fast qualifier Cory Elliott’s 14.312 second lap was established as the new MRP track record. Second fastest qualifier Brian Gard was less than a tenth of second slower with his best lap of 14.414 seconds, followed by Dustin Golobic third fastest with his 14.761 second lap time.

The pair of eight-lap midget lites heat races were won by RC Smith and Craig Dillard, but unfortunately each featured crashes. In the first heat, Tim Kinser’s car flipped end over end through the third turn, and the second heat, Nate Buffa’s car bicycled onto two wheels as he entered turn one and Buffa then hit the outside retaining wall head-on. Neither driver was injured but both cars were scratched for the night.

The first eight-lap midget heat race ran flag to flag without a caution flag and was won by Britton Bock over Ellott, Greg Bragg and 16- year old second generation driver Maria Cofer. The second heat race was won by the steadily improving Bobby “Hollywood” Wilson over Taylor Simas and Gard. Golobic pulled into the infield mid-way through the second heat race when his Doug Bock owned #25G midget experienced problems with its Esslinger engine.

The 20-lap BCRA midget lites feature started off with a bang as early in the race, Scott Males of Australia, the feature winner two weeks earlier at Placerville Speedway, rode over another car’s wheel and his #9 machine flipped hard into the outside wall off turn two.  Males climbed out uninjured, and promoter Dennis Gage’s track crew did an excellent job to repair the damaged wall quickly so that the racing program could resume.  When the race restarted, Kyle Offill shot into the lead in his immaculate #2K machine and Offill dominated the balance of the race and he held a half-lap advantage at the drop of the checkered flag. 

Taylor Simas and Maria Cofer, the daughter of 1994 USAC Western States midget champion John Cofer shared the front row for the start of the 12-car midget feature which was marred on the opening lap by a collision which eliminated two cars from the field. Second fastest qualifier Brian Gard’s #88 car spun in turn three and then Gard’s stopped machine was clipped by Mark Malipaard’s trailing car. After both cars were towed off the racing surface, the feature resumed with a complete restart with Simas in the lead and Cofer in hot pursuit.  

Midway through the feature race, Elliott moved up from his sixth starting position to pass Cofer for second place and he set off to track down Simas who held a straightaway lead. As the pair sliced through lapped traffic, Elliott closed to within three car lengths of Simas, but time and the laps ran out and at the checkered flag, the finishing order was Simas, Elliott, Cofer, and Greg Bragg.  During the post-race technical inspection, Cofer revealed that her car had had no brakes since lap five, which makes her third place finish a really remarkable performance.    

The mighty BCRA midgets will next be in action at Placerville Speedway on July 2, while the BCRA midget lites will hold their next race, with wings, at Placerville on July 9.  Both classes will be in action at Petaluma Speedway on July 16 for the annual Jack London Bash and Hall of Fame Induction.

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