Marysville CA - June 7, 2004. If you missed
the 5th edition of the Mel Hall Memorial Race, you REALLY missed
something. The annual salute to one of the stalwart figures in northern
California racing circles couldn’t have been better. The week started out with
a number of bizarre incidents that had promoter Clyde Tipton shaking his head.
First a mechanical problem on the water truck required extensive repair. Then,
on Wednesday a rare problem on the grader rendered it useless. The parts for the
grader were located, but unattainable until after the scheduled race program.
Adding insult to injury the newly repaired water truck required a new shoe when
a huge gash in the sidewall required repair at a critical time. Car owner Paul
Hawes of H & H Trenching out of Yuba City came to the rescue and showed up
at the back gate with a grader. Mark
Moore from Moore’s Custom Grading pitched in and the work started in earnest.
From Thursday on, a tireless effort by Tipton and his associates was on. They
worked feverishly to get the track into shape for the big show. How would the
track be? Read on.
The preliminary races were excellent. Some notable passing
efforts and only one red flag punctuated the early events. Lady sprint car
driver Chris Zaveson of Gridley gently leaned her white #11 over on it’s left
wing side panel after a grinding collision in turn 1.
Other wise, the sprint car heat races featured wheel stands the length of
the back chute as well as a wealth of passing as the drivers tried to transfer
through the desperation heat races. One battle of note was in heat race #4 when
Dennis Wood and Kevin Lovell hooked up in a side-by-side duel that lasted the
entire caution free distance. In the end Lovell would win by a nose. Two grooves
and side by side; the track came alive.
The TCS Stock Car Series main event rolled out first and
pole sitter Wayne Turk wrested the lead on the opening lap. On the backstretch,
John Johnson made a solid move into 2nd. Johnson was a rocket and
quickly challenged for the lead as Chico’s Andy Aust made his way into 3rd.
Johnson’s banzai effort came to an end as he lost control on several occasions
during the first few laps ending his bid for the win. Aust took the lead from
Turk with a smooth move off of turn 2 a few laps later. Point leader Jerry
Bartlett, Chris Paquette and Donnie Fortney showed up behind Turk as the
two-groove track helped this trio catch the two leaders. In a race that was
remarkably free of yellow flags, the final 5 laps were the best of the year in
this class. After a short slowdown for a mechanical stall on the backstretch,
Bartlett eclipsed Turk and Paquette did the same.
Bartlett camped on Aust’s tail and the race was on. Lap
after lap, in the final 5, Bartlett challenged Aust. High, low;
side-by-side…it was a thriller. The white flag flew with Bartlett pushing Aust
up the front chute. Through the first series of turns Aust held the advantage.
Bartlett looked high and Aust started to make his machine a little wider. On the
back chute Bartlett gained on Aust by inches. Then Bartlett stayed on the gas
and buried his car into the 3rd turn banking carrying incredible
speed. He hooked up. Bartlett and Aust were side by side as they flew onto the
straightaway. Bartlett inched ahead and won in spectacular fashion. Aust was
second followed by Paquette, Turk and Archie Flynn. Bartlett said later that it
was the hardest race he’s run. “They made me work for this one,” he noted.
Bartlett is in his final season as a driver and is vying for his 4th
The Featherlite Pacific Sprint Cars were next up. Korey
Lovell and Mike Monahan led the field to the green flag. Monahan got the jump
and in the first few circuits began to sail away. A lap 4 yellow bunched the
field and Lovell made the most of it. Monahan and Lovell battled side by side
for several laps before Monahan once again settled into the front spot. 5th
starting Colby Wiesz got roughed up in the early laps and lost a few spots. Then
the race turned into the most exciting sprint car show all year. The field broke
into two groups with cars running high and low all over the swift ribbon of
clay. Wiesz looked high, it worked and he headed for the front. In a masterful
display of driving Wiesz went high when he had to and low when that opportunity
presented itself. As Wiesz got by other cars, they went to school on him and
started to move forward. Korey Lovell’s effort ended when he biked and nearly
flipped. Lovell did a great job to save it, but suspension damage ended his
The story of the race was Wiesz’s run to the front. He
passed every competitor in his sights and went on to a convincing win. Monahan
held on to 2nd and a fast charging Mark Hall finished 3rd.
Fast qualifier Brent Dothage got 4th and Robert Stice picked up 5th
in his first appearance of the year. The relatively controlled Wiesz was beside
himself as he came to a stop on the front chute to celebrate. He grabbed the
checkered flag and climbed onto his car to the cheers of the crowd. This was
arguably the best sprint car show presented by TCS. Wiesz was very excited and
vocal about the track and it’s preparation allowing the multiple groove
The non-wing Speedway Sprint Cars rumbled off next and pole
sitter Darryl Moore led the field into turn 1. Moore and last week’s winner
Steve Stein pulled away from the field. Like Wiesz, 8th starting
David Goodwill was caught up in some traffic at the start and lost 3 positions.
But, when Goodwill gathered it up he put on a clinic. This race featured long
green flag segments and Goodwill was on the move. He camped on the high side and
picked off cars one by one as he headed to the front. As cars were passed by the
high-flying Goodwill they, too, went to the high side and began to pass. A
three-car crash, on the front chute at ½ way, had cars flying through the air.
Everyone landed on their wheels and walked away. Moore held on to the lead to
the finish and led wire to wire. Goodwill with a last lap effort out of turn 4
beat Stein in a photo finish for 2nd. Feature winners earlier in the
season, Gary Koster and Kenny Bair completed the top 5.
The final event of the night was the TCS Mini Stock Series
main event. Lady racer, Melissa Bryant and former champion, Glen Wingate, led
the thundering herd into turn 1. Wingate led and was pulling away when he shed
his right rear wheel on the low side of turn 1 at ¼ distance. Point leader
Kevin Sprague, Heather Bartlett and Jeremy Blackshere inherited 1st,
2nd and 3rd with Wingate’s misfortune. James Castleberry
and Robert Mull were flying through the field as the new green waved with 13
laps remaining. Then, at ½ way everything changed. In the space of 2 laps,
Mull’s efforts came to an end when mechanical failure prompted an early end
for last week’s winner. Castleberry’s car began to sputter and stopped.
Leader Sprague had a tire problem and had to pit. 5th place James
Gillaspie experienced a rear suspension failure and headed to the pits as well.
Blackshere and Ken Reische spun together dropping Blackshere 3 positions. This
remarkable turn of events affecting every leader, with the exception of
Bartlett, put her in the lead. At the new green Gillaspie, Wingate, Sprague,
Reische and Castleberry had returned to the battle. The attrition rate among the
other competitors left only 12 cars on the track and only 6 on the lead lap.
Once again, an impressive drive by Mike Merritt placed him in the top 5 at the
new green. After 2 more quick yellows for mechanical failures by some of the
backmarkers, Bartlett led the field down for the final green flag segment.
Bartlett and a fast closing Castleberry had a stirring duel for the top spot
with 9 laps to go. Sprague, Blackshere and Gillaspie all got back into the top 5
during this time.
Castleberry tried low with 6 to go and couldn’t get the
job done as Bartlett thwarted the challenge in front of the cheering crowd. On
lap 15, Castleberry tried the high side and it paid off. Bartlett stayed low and
Castleberry motored by. Bartlett’s valiant efforts in the last two laps fell
short as Castleberry took the checkers. Sprague was 3rd, Blackshere 4th
and Gillaspie was 5th. Castleberry was as surprised as anyone that he
was in victory lane. “I thought we were done. It sputtered and stopped and I
thought that was it.” said Castleberry. “I guess I got lucky.”
Castleberry’s car was refired and rejoined the field with the four other
racers as mentioned above.
This was, by far, the most competitive Mel Hall Memorial
Race ever staged. Ceremonies earlier in the evening paid tribute to Mel Hall who
promoted races in northern California for decades. Mel promoted races at Twin
Cities Speedway until his untimely passing in 1999. Mel’s wife Marlyn, and son
Mark, took over before handing the torch to Clyde and Linda Tipton for the 2003
season. Marlyn was on hand with Mark and his family for the tribute. Mark raced
to a 3rd place finish in the race named for his father.
This Saturday night TCS will host the California Sprint Car
Civil War Series. Pit gates open at 3; the grandstand gates open at 5 with
racing at 7.
Visit us on the web at the Official
Web Site for Twin Cities Speedway www.twincitiesspeedway.net
or call (916) 985-2089 to reach the business office. All the latest updates are
always posted to the website first.
FEATHERLITE PACIFIC SPRINT CARS, SPEEDWAY SPRINT CARS,
MINI STOCKS, STOCK CARS - MELL HALL MEMORIAL
TWIN CITIES SPEEDWAY - MARYSVILLE, CA
JUNE 5, 2004 - POINTS RACE #9
FEATHERLITE PACIFIC SPRINT CARS
1. 2B- Brent Dothage, 2. 21- Colby Weisz, 3. 11S- Robert Stice, 4. 1-
HEAT RACE WINNERS
Willie Croft, Kevin Lovell, Korey Lovell, Colby Weisz
1. Colby Weisz, 2. Mike Monahan, 3. Mark Hall, 4. Brent Dothage, 5. Robert
Stice, 6. Brad Sweet, 7. Herman Klein, 8. Jim Richardson, 9. Scott Russell, 10.
Troy DeGaton, 11. Pat Harvey, 12. Kevin Lovell, 13. Dennis Wood, 14. Mark Tabor
Sr., 15. Kyle Schild, 16. Carl Droivold, 17. Rick Kraushar, 18. #1, 19. Korey
Lovell, 20. Willie Croft
SPEEDWAY SPRINT CARS
HEAT RACE WINNERS
David Goodwill, Chris Magoon
1. Daryl Moore, 2. David Goodwill, 3. Steve Stein, 4. Gary Koster, 5. Kenny
Bair, 6. Chris Magoon, 7. Charlie Correia, 8. Tim Sherman, 9. Jacob Serven, 10.
Rick Eversult, 11. Bobby Bankson, 12. Jeremy Hawes, 13. Thomas Arbogast, 14.
Mark Orth, 15. Nathan Johnson, 16. Jimmy Steward, 17. Scott Pagh, 18. Gregg
HEAT RACE WINNERS
Heather Bartlett, Greg Prather, Ken Reische
1. James Castleberry, 2. Heather Bartlett, 3. Kevin Sprague, 4. Jeremy
Balckshere, 5. James Gillaspie, 6. Mike Merritt, 7. Melissa Bryant, 8. Brad
Magenheimer, 9. Ken Reische, 10. Robert Luster, 11. Glen Wingate, 12. Shaun
Merritt, 13. Joel Guisti, 14. Greg Prather, 15. Robert Mull, 16. Ryan Francis,
17. Damian Merritt, 18. Robert Hunt, 19. Shane Stoker
TCS STOCK CARS
HEAT RACE WINNERS
Jerry Bartlett, Archie Flynn
1. Jerry Bartlett, 2. Andy Aust, 3. Chris Paquette, 4. Wayne Turk, 5. Archie
Flynn, 6. Kenny Robinson, 7. George Magenheimer, 8. Jeff Olschowka, 9. Donnie
Fortney, 10. Jacob Cavasos, 11. Bob Martinelli, 12. John Johnson, 13. Lonnie
Taylor Jr., 14. Aaron Taylor, 15. Tony Licari, 16. Charlie Duffy, 17. Cindy