Monday, July 25, 2016

Schutte goes back-to-back
in BCRA action at Placerville Speedway



Saturday July 23 saw eighteen of the mighty Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midgets in action at Placerville Speedway in a joint program with the track’s Thompson's Auto Group 360 cubic inch winged sprint cars on “Big Trophy Night.” The BCRA ‘regulars’ were joined by USAC racer Randi Pankratz, recent college graduate Sean Dodenhoff, 1999 BCRA champion Matt Streeter, Nate Wait and young phenom Michael Kofoid who was pulling double duty.

In the drivers meeting, BCRA Business Manager Linda Manning announced that Chief Referee Karl Hokanson was under weather and that BCRA president Rick Holbrook would fill in for Karl for the evening. Ms. Manning also shared that the tentatively scheduled August 27 BCRA midget race date at the Stockton dirt track will not be held.

The six-car starting lineups for the three 8-lap heat races were set by pill draw, but unfortunately during hot laps, Doug Hunting’s Honda engine suffered terminal valve train damage and Hunting’s #2 Spike entry was scratched for the rest of the program. At the drop of the green flag the first heat race, Sean Dodenhoff in his #9D powered into the lead from his pole starting position to the topside of the race track and never looked back as he went wire-to-wire ahead of Cory Elliott and Michael Kofoid.

Pole sitter Nick Foster took the lead in Dave LaMott’s #24 Spike/Honda at the start of the second heat race and held on for the first circuit before Alex Schutte powered his #28 Spike/Esslinger past into the lead.  Schutte’s car sped around the top of the track as Foster and Pankratz staged an exciting battle for second place. Alex took the checkered flag ten car lengths ahead of Foster who was followed closely by Pankratz. 

In the third heat race, Dustin Golobic and Wait battled side-by-side around the race track for the first few circuits before Golobic pulled away as he used the high groove while Wait fought off the charge of Matt Streeter. Streeter finally slipped underneath Wait as the pair raced through turn one on lap six to finish second behind Golobic’s Esslinger-powered Spike.

The three Thompson's Auto Group sprint car heat race wins went to Sean Becker, Billy Butler and Greg DeCaires.

Pankratz and Kofoid led the field to the green for the 30-lap feature and Randi used the bottom of the track to pull into the lead as Kofoid’s Mike Sala-owned Spike slid high in turn two. As the field entered turn three, the hard-charging Kofoid ran over the left rear of Foster’s machine and overturned. Behind Kofoid, Brian Gard in the #88 Ellis/Chevy also rolled over as JR Williams and Bill Lindsey came to a stop.

With the red flag displayed, the Placerville Speedway safety crew helped Kofoid from the car and he walked to the ambulance. The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) took their time and carefully checked over the 14-year old Kofoid as he had also flipped over in a sprint car race Friday night. After a few tense moments it was announced that Michael Kofoid was OK and released to race; he placed fifth in the 360 winged sprint car feature race later in the evening.          

The remaining sixteen midgets lined up for a complete restart with Foster on the front row alongside Pankratz, and the drop of the green flag that pair battled for the lead around the bottom of the track as sixth place starter Golobic charged to third place as his the lone car to use the top side of the race track. A few laps later Golobic car’s flipped in turn two.  Greg Bragg had nowhere to go car and he hit Golobic’s stalled machine while in the confusion Streeter’s car suffered a flat right front tire and brake line damage. Golbic and Streeter headed to the designated the work area, as Bragg’s Thurston-owned machine was towed back to the pit area done for the evening. Golobic was able to continue but Streeter’s crew was unable to complete the required repairs in time for Matt to rejoin the race.  

After the single file restart Schutte shot in the lead with Pankratz in hot pursuit followed by Elliott and Taylor Simas in fourth place. After another pair of caution periods by lap 18 Elliott had snuck past Pankratz into second place as Randi fought off Brian Gard’s charge up from the tail of the field to fourth place.

The caution flag flew again on lap 24 as Maria Cofer in her newly graphic-wrapped #57 spun on the slick track in turn two and was struck head on by Floyd Alvis. Both midgets suffered substantial front end damage, with Cofer’s car towed back to the pits, but the ageless Alvis was somehow able to continue. On the restart, Elliott challenged Schutte for the lead while Gard battled Pankratz.

On lap 28, as Gard attempted to pass Pankratz on the low side, Gard’s car hit one of the tractor tires that mark the inside of the ¼-mile track and the BCRA dirt points leader’s car suffered terminal front end damage. When the green flag flew on the final restart with two laps to go, Schutte pulled away, and Pankratz passed Elliott to claim a hard-earned second place finish as Simas and Dodenhoff rounded out the top five.

Mason Moore captured his third Thompson's Auto Group sprint car feature of the season over Greg DeCaires.

Those teams that suffered accident damage will have time to make repairs as the BCRA midgets take a weekend off from racing before they gather again on August 6 at the historic high-banked asphalt ¼-mile Stockton 99 Speedway. The BCRA vintage division will also be on hand at Stockton in a program with the King of the Wing touring sprint car series. The BCRA midget lite racers will be in action this coming weekend for the annual Wayne Albright Memorial on July 30 at Placerville Speedway paired with the King of the West sprint cars.   

Brad Kennedy and Dean Mills contributed results for this report.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Garage Italia Customs
heads to Los Angeles

The VENUS LA Art Gallery at 601 South Anderson Street Los Angeles will host “Piston Head II: Artists Engage the Automobile” show set to open on July 30th and run through September 10 2016.
Lapo Elkann the owner of Garage Italia Customs enthusiastically accepted the invitation to participate in the event with the company’s creations. Collector Adam Lindemann, owner of the Venus Gallery, has been Elkann friend for a long time and the pair share their great passion for art and cars.

 “I am happy that Garage Italia Customs and its creations have a role in the VENUS LA exhibition alongside world-class artists. Adam Lindemann and I share a passion for the incredible artistry, beauty and power of the automobile. The VENUS LA exhibition gives Garage Italia Customs the rare opportunity to evolve beyond its unique cars and focus on the potential for innovation that still exists within the space” said Mr. Elkann.

Garage Italia Customs will show two the exclusive one-off machines - the Alfa Romeo 4C Hokusai and the BMW i8 Futurism Edition in the exhibit.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Hokusai is a celebration of the encounter between Japanese and Italian cultures. Alfa Romeo was chosen because it is a symbol of Italian character and it is loved by the Japanese, who have always been passionate about the Arese brand. The best-known Japanese work in the world “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai” was air-brushed by hand on the Alfa’s bodywork.

The hand painted wave dominates the entire rear side of the car and the surface of the roof, sinuously following the shapes of this extraordinary “canvas”. The choice of the materials for the upholstery of the interiors –Kurabo denim and koi patterned cream Foglizzo leather – are a clear reference to Japan, as well as the covering of the steering wheel and handbrake handle, inspired by the art of wrapping the Katana hilt (Tsukamaki).

The BMW i8 Futurism Edition was created by Garage Italia Customs to celebrate 50 years of BMW history in Italy with a pattern inspired by the 1909, oil painting “Street Light” by futurist Giacomo Balla which represents an electric lamppost in a moon-lit night. A tailor-made film was applied on all the BMW i8 bodywork and the upholstery in the interior shows iridescent reflections when hit by light and is made by Solaro, a fabric that is used for men’s suits.

About Garage Italia Customs 
Just as a tailor-made outfit follows the lines of the body harmoniously, Garage Italia Customs aims at making any vehicle unique, be it a car, a motorbike, a plane, a helicopter or a yacht. Garage Italia Customs works to meet their clients’ wishes with a tailor-made service that involves the study of detail, balance of the components and research of materials.

The best technicians specialized in the automotive sector, specifically in the field of wrapping, painting and upholstery of interiors backed up by the Style Centre where the abstract concepts are elaborated into digital images by use of the most modern technologies. The clients are guided in the choice of the right chromatic combinations and the most refined materials; their taste and needs are respected. Garage Italia Customs headquarters are located at 1 Alfredo Pizzoni Street in Milan.

Founded in 2012 by Adam Lindemann, the VENUS LA gallery hosts a primary program in a 14,500 square foot exhibition space in the downtown arts district. It presents exhibitions by a roster of established and emerging talent including Dan Colen, Katherine Bernhardt, Dan McCarthy, Adel Abdessemed, Marianne Vitale, and Elaine Cameron-Weir.

Information and photographs for this article were provided by Roberto Corona of Garage Italia Customs

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Alex Schutte wins his second race in a row at Petaluma Speedway

Following the annual Jack London Bash Picnic and Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, 24 BCRA  and United States Auto Club (USAC) midgets and 10 BCRA midget lites racers put on an action packed racing program for the fans at the 3/8-mile Petaluma Speedway on Saturday night July 16 2016,

The picnic and Hall of Fame induction ceremony held in the afternoon at the AP Behrens Park on the grounds of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, honored six new members of the BCRA Hall of Fame; championship car owners Jim Fowler, Lonny Lopez, and Ted Hunting, two-time driver champion John Sarale, and long-time photographers/writers Mark and Matt Sublett of M&M Photos.   

After a delicious barbeque luncheon, emcee Floyd Busby presented brief biographies of each inductee and then conducted the raffle that followed the program. All but two of the deserving inductees were on hand to receive their plaques and see their names placed on the BCRA Hall of Fame trophy; Lonny Lopez could not attend due to recent health issues, while John Sarale was racing with his son Caleb at the Clay Cup in Deming Washington. 
Fourteen BCRA midget regulars where joined by ten USAC midget competitors in a diverse field that featured a wide variety of engines, chassis, and drivers, as the field of entries included three lady racers- Shannon McQueen, Courtney Crone, and Maria Cofer – as well as a visitor from New Zealand Taylor Clark, who made his first midget start on US soil.

Clarke and Crone were teammates in pair of identical beautiful black #25 Toyota powered midgets owned by Jerome Rodela with sponsorship from Tom Malloy’s companies- Ed Pink Racing Engines and Trench Shoring. The appearance of the pair of “Malloy Specials” is reminiscent of cars owned by Tom’s father the legendary Emmett Malloy, the man who provided cars for drivers that included Troy Ruttman and who also built Carrell Speedway in Gardena California. Clarke plans on returning to the US for the Turkey Night Grand Prix in November at Ventura Raceway.  

One of the first group of cars in the group qualifying time trial format on the tight heavy track set the evening’s fast time. Dustin Golobic in the Doug Bock Racing #26 posted a best lap of 14.216 seconds, which nearly eclipsed Ronnie Gardner’s existing track record of 14.200 seconds. Golobic’s teammate Britton Bock suffered mechanical problems and did not post a time, while Bobby Wilson’s car lost its transponder and did not record a time.

The first of three midget heat races was won in dominant fashion by current USAC Western States point leader and defending champion Ronnie Gardner over Brian Gard and Clarke. Victory in the second heat race was claimed by Cory Elliott over Michael Faccinto and Cody Swanson, and the third race which featured all three lady racers was claimed by Frankie Guerrinni III over Alex Schutte and McQueen, who piloted her #7 Kara Hendrick tribute Spike/Esslinger.

Maria Cofer daughter of 1994 USAC Western States midget champion Johnny “the Flying Farmer” Cofer suffered a mis-firing engine in her heat race which was later diagnosed as a crank trigger sensor problem, and other competitors which included Ronnie Gardner, pitched in to help make repairs to the #57 car’s Esslinger engine so Maria could start the feature.  

The first 8-lap midget lite heat win went to Kyle Offill in just his second non-winged race over Scott Kinney and Hunter Kinney, with the second heat race win going to Chris Hansen followed by Craig Dillard and Emilee Lindgren. The 20-lap BCRA midget lites feature was won by pole-sitter Dillard who fended off repeated challenges all race long from Offill as Hunter Kinney finished third followed by Hansen.  

Gardner and McQueen shared the front row for the start of Petaluma Speedway’s evening’s finale, the 30-lap BCRA midget feature, which started just 23 cars after JR Williams’ car broke a heim joint after it was pushed off and had to be towed back to the pits. At the drop of the green flag, Gardner shot into the lead with McQueen in hot pursuit. By lap seven the leaders were in lapped traffic, with the two leaders joined by Schutte who had moved up quickly from his twelfth starting position.

On lap 15, Schutte moved past McQueen into second place then just one lap later used a daring move in traffic to slip past Gardner for the lead through turn three. The racing action came to an abrupt stop with the red flag displayed with twenty laps completed. Robert Dalby’s #4D and Golobic’s #26 tangled after the left rear tire on Golobic’s car failed and pushed both cars into the backstretch wall and fence.

Both cars and the chain link fence sustained heavy damage but both drivers quickly emerged from their respective cars uninjured.  On the restart, Schutte got a big jump and then held on through lapped traffic as the top four cars all ran together on the race track. Alex Schutte led the field under the checkered flag to claim his second straight Petaluma feature win over Gardner, McQueen and Faccinto.

The BCRA midget competitors will return to action on Saturday night July 23 at the ¼-mile clay Placerville Speedway as part of the track’s “Big Trophy Night,” with a field of 360 cubic winged sprint cars. The BCRA midget lites racers will be in action with their wings at the same Placerville Speedway one week later, on July 30 for the Wayne Albright Memorial as part of a joint program with the King of the West 410 cubic inch winged sprint cars.  

All photos by the author 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


On Friday, August 12, 2016 the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum will be holding the United Trailer Golf Classic in memory of Kevin Gobrecht at the Bos Landen Golf Club in Pella, Iowa. This tournament a fund-raiser for the Hall will use a 4-Person Best Shot Format, with the cost of $90 per person which includes a golf cart, range balls, continental breakfast and lunch. 

Registration on August 12 begins at 7:00 AM with the shotgun start at 8:30 AM. Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of your round, and National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductees and current sprint car drivers will be there to spend time with golfers, before, during, and after your round.

Please contact Special Events Coordinator Mike Noftsger at 1-800-874-4488 or with any questions or comments.

Here is the direct link to the entry form at

information and graphics for this article provided by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame

Monday, July 4, 2016

Shane Golobic was "the show" 
at Placerville Speedway

Seventeen mighty Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midgets invaded Placerville Speedway on a hot Saturday night of the long Fourth of July weekend. The BCRA midgets were part of a multi-class program that included pure stocks, late models, and 25 Thompson’s Auto Center 360-cubic inch winged sprint cars. Three competitors elected to do “double duty” in both a midget and sprint car – Shane Golobic, Sean Becker and Michael Kofoid the young sensation of Northern California racing.

Young racer Micheal Kofoid's Dan Simpson owned 
midget foreground with his sprint car in the background 
author photo

With the midget lites division not in action, BCRA had four officials on hand; Business Manager and Scorer Linda Manning, registrar Jimmy Montgomery and referees Karl Hokanson and Dave LaManna who all kept the racers up to date and on time during a busy race night program.  Rather than qualifying, the two BCRA heat race starting line-ups were set through a blind draw process.  

Heat Race action.
author photo

The first heat race took a few tries to get started, which included two spins by Nick Foster, but once racing got under way, Taylor Simas in the Doug Bock Racing #62 Esslinger powered Spike led all eight laps to take the victory over Greg Bragg in Dave Thurston’s entry. 

In the second heat race, pole-sitter Britton Bock in his family’s Spike/Esslinger led all eight laps and held on for the win over Cory Elliott in his own Spike/Esslinger. Elliott started the heat race from the sixth place and clearly had the fastest car on the track at the end of the heat race but ran out of laps to seriously challenge Bock. 

Bock and Simas shared the front row for the start of the 30-lap BCRA midget feature, but on the initial start Bock tagged the first turn berm and spun to a stop. Bock restarted but was forced to restart from the tail of the field.  At the second drop of the green flag, Simas and Elliott both pulled away from the rest of the field as they worked the bottom of the track. 

Behind them the three “double duty” drivers Shane Golobic, Becker, and Kofoid all chose to run the high line, and placed their right rear tires against the dirt cushion at the top of the ¼-mile track and began to move forward from their starting positions deep in the field. The three high side racers provided plenty of excitement for the capacity crowd as they used their momentum to move forward. 

With nine laps in, a battle shaped up among Bragg, Golobic, Brian Gard, Becker and Kofoid for third through seventh positions. Their battle was halted temporarily when third-place Golobic came to a stop on the backstretch on lap 15 with a flat right rear tire. Golobic's midget was pushed to the work area and the Doug Bock crew was able to replace the tire under the caution in time for Shane to rejoin the race at the tail of the field.

Simas and Elliott pulled away from the field on the restart and Golobic charged around the high side of the race track in his effort to get back to the front of the field. The race’s final caution on lap 26 found Golobic back up to fifth place, and on the restart he moved into fourth.  Exiting the the last turn on the final lap, Golobic in the high groove powered around Gregg Bragg to take a hard-earned third place finish at the checkered flag behind his teammate Simas and Elliott.

Shane Golobic’s eventful night was not over, as he climbed into his #22 sprint car and led every lap of the sprint car feature under heavy pressure all race long from second place finisher Andy Gregg and third place finisher Michael Kofoid. 

The BCRA midget cars and stars will be action July 9 on the paved 1/3-mile Madera Speedway as part of the Gerhardt Classic while the BCRA midget lites will be racing that night at Placerville Speedway.  Mark your calendars for the July 16 2016 BCRA midget and lites show at the dirt oval Petaluma Speedway which will be preceded by the “Jack London Bash” picnic and the annual BCRA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.   All the details of this event are available at