By Kevin Triplett
The Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midgets took to the high-banked paved Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday July 14th for a program that also included the BCRA vintage division as well as the Gunslinger and the Northern California Modified Association (NCMA) sprint car divisions.
Chad Nichols set quick time in time in qualifying as the familiar #17N Shanonian Esslinger flirted with the magic 12-second speed barrier with a best lap of 13.018 seconds. Rookie Jesse Love in the 51 Fifty/Van Dyne Engineering #5 was just a tad slower and took second fastest honors with his 13.088 second lap. The third fastest qualifier was Mark Maliepaard in the #51 Fit & Finish Hot Rod Interiors/Bob Roza Motorsports Esslinger at 13.139 seconds, with David Goodwill in the DDS Racing #3G fourth at 13.197 seconds.
Ominously, however Goodwill’s engine began misfiring during his cool-down lap and when his car returned to the pits his crew was assisted by fellow competitors Tres Van Dyne and Cody Jessop to diagnose the malady. Cody Jessop qualified fifth in his family-owned Jessop Trucking #00, with Frankie Guerrini III in Bob Rosen’s Mr. Espresso sixth fastest, JR Williams in the J&J Fontana powered #74 seventh and nine-time BCRA champion Floyd Alvis, victimized by a flattening right rear tire on his familiar green #18 midget, was the eighth fastest qualifier.
Unfortunately, Goodwill’s car continued to experience electrical problems as David was pushed off for the start of the first heat race, which left the race to the three cars of Love, Guerrini and Alvis. Jesse jumped into the lead at the start then he fought off Frankie’s early attempts to pass on the low side through turns three and four before he sped away. On his sixth lap Love recorded a flying lap of 13.21 seconds on his way to a dominant victory ahead of Guerrini and Alvis.
The start of the second heat race featured Jessop and Maliepaard on the front row and after one aborted start attempt, Mark seized the advantage with Jessop in hot pursuit. On lap two, Nichols took the low road through turns three and four to take over second place from Cody, and the trio completed the eight-lap sprint in that order after JR Williams retired his #74 to the pit area on the fifth lap.
Chad Nichols drew the number four pill to set up a four-car invert for the lineup of the feature with David Goodwill scheduled for the pole position with Mark Maliepaard alongside and Love and Nichols in the second row. Unfortunately, Goodwill’s #3G continued to experience electrical problems and David exited the track before the green flag flew, and Jesse Love moved his blue #5 to the pole position. At the drop of the green flag, Maliepaard and Love raced side by side for the first lap before Maliepaard gained the advantage.
Unfortunately, amid the torrid action at the front of the field, Cody Jessop rolled his #00 midget into the infield after just one lap with an unknown mechanical failure. Nichols swept past Love to grab second place as JR Williams took his #74 to the pit area on the seventh lap which left Love in third place, Guerrini in fourth and Alvis in fifth place. That running order remained static past the halfway point of the 30-lap feature until on lap 19, Maliepaard left the bottom side open through turns 3 and 4 and Nichols motored past into the lead.
Once in the lead Nichols quickly built up a substantial lead as Alvis pulled into the infield on lap 22. Chad held a 10-car advantage over Maliepaard at the drop of the checkered flag with Love in third and Guerrini in fourth place. Among the non-finishers, Alvis placed fifth, Williams sixth, Jessop seventh and the unfortunate schedule pole-sitter Goodwill in eighth position.
Following his BCRA feature win, Nichols jumped behind the wheel of Ted Finkenbinder’s #3F Gunslinger sprint car and edged out Jerry Kozba at the finish line to claim second place behind winner AJ Russell.
Saturday July 21st is the Jack London Bash Picnic and Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma California. The Bash starts at 10 AM with lunch catered by Lombardi’s BBQ served at noon and the induction ceremony set to begin at 1:30 PM. There is still time to make your reservations for $30 apiece by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us as we honor this year’s inductees – drivers Don Meacham and Chuck Stevenson, owner/drivers Rick Holbrook and John Mosekian and Midget Lite official Peggy Holbrook.
After the bash ends at 3 PM, the action moves to the adjacent Petaluma Speedway for the Jack London Hall of Fame racing program co-sanctioned with the United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Division. The dirt racing program is set to start with time trials at 6 PM followed by racing at 7 PM.
Mark your calendars for August 18 as the BCRA pavement midgets travel north to Ukiah Speedway for a race con-sanctioned with the Washington Midget Racing Association (WMRA). Early reports from our northern neighbors point to a large car count for an exciting race on the quarter-mile paved oval at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds.