SEPTEMBER 18, 2007 --- One of the big fun night's of the year takes
place Saturday night at Manzanita Speedway as the USAC/CRA sprint cars race on
the half mile track, vintage cars will be staging exhibition races, five new
members will be inducted into the Arizona Motorsports Hall of Fame and ten
drivers from a bygone era will be available for a two hour autograph and bench
Tony Jones will be heading up the West Coast sprint cars as he brings a
commanding 151 point lead to town. The second generation driver, his father
Bubby won the 1976 Western at Manzy, has been fast and consistent this year
leaving the rest of the field to battle for runner-up honors in the chase for
the championship. Jones has won five feature races, has 17 top fives and has
missed the top ten only twice and one of those he did not enter.
Through the years Jones has had great success on Manzy's half mile track.
He has won the Hall of Fame Vintage Classic (2002) and also won the Sokola
Classic. This year he has second and two fourths here.
Mike Spencer is entrenched in second in points with Rickie Gaunt in third
followed by Danny Sheridan and Scotty Weir.
Charles Davis, Jr. and Jeremy Sherman have won two of the three races run
at Manzy and R.J. Johnson has won at Perris Auto Speedway. Other local drivers
are also expected for this, the final tune up for the USAC/CRA races at the
Western World Championships in November.
2007 is the year of the car builders in the Arizona Motorsports Hall of
Fame. Gary Stanton, who is already in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame,
Jack Rich and Rick Stewart, a famed car builders, owners and crew chiefs, will
be inducted. Also going into the Hall of Fame Saturday night will be Dick
Rautenberg and AL Cerney.
Stanton started building cars in Phoenix but moved back to the sprint car
hot bed in the Midwest. He then took interest in the Mopar engines and was
successful in developing them to the point where many sprint car and midget
teams have them in their cars.
Jack Rich was among the first to build sprints, midgets and super modifieds.
Among his drivers were Gene Brown, Buddy Taylor, Monroe Van Meter, Josh Pelkey,
Billy Van Meter and J.J. Yeley. Jack worked with Yeley and developed the
"coil over" cars which are used on most sprint cars today.
Rick Stewart has been active in auto racing since the early days. He cars,
too, have won numerous championships including last years SCOA title. Justin
Fisher runs one of his cars with the ASCS sprint cars. Dick Rautenberg is
undoubtedly the top driver to ever race out of Yuma. He has raced in four
decades and has won over 500 races. He has raced at Manzanita in the late
model stocks with success.
AL Cerney made his reputation on the drag strips throughout the nation. As
the owner of AL's Speed Shop he sponsored several cars that were driven by
Benton Burns, Paul Marciano and Brown.
The former drivers who will be in the autograph session are: "The
Gasman" Richard Griffin, Art Adams who raced for four decades including
the first race run at Manzy; Terry Belcher, the winningest driver ever at
Manzanita; Jimmy Wood, of Ramona, CA who raced "The Flying Ford".
the first ever winged car at Manzy; Dave Birmingham, the 2001 midget champion;
Phil Hertel, the 1969 Claimer champion who also drove late models and modified
stocks; Hall of Fame member Benton Burns, one of the top sprint car drivers in
the sixties; Will Schmink as successful and personable sprint car driver, also
from the sixties; Jack Ickes, a top late model and later dirt modified driver;
Marion Smiley, a two time Western World Late Model winner.
The autograph session starts at 5:00, qualifying for the sprints at 6:45,
racing at 7:30 and Hall of Fame induction during intermission.