By Kevin Triplett
On Saturday night July 21 at the fast 3/8-mile Petaluma Speedway, the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) joined forces with the United States Auto Club (USAC) ‘Light up the World Beverages presented by CBD Living Water’ Western States midgets to celebrate the Jack London Hall of Fame induction weekend.
Earlier in the day before the racing program began, members of the BCRA community gathered for the annual Jack London Bash and Hall of Fame induction on the grounds of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. In addition to delicious luncheon, attendees saw the induction of drivers Don Meacham and Chuck Stevenson, midget and midget lite owner and driver Rick Holbrook, midget lite series official Peggy Holbrook, and long-time car owner and driver John Mosekian.
In addition to honoring this year’s and previous years’ inductees and their families, there was a giant raffle of exciting prizes during the ceremony. A surprise inductee was former BCRA driver and Petaluma Speedway promoter Rick Faeth, who announced that earlier in the week he had signed a four-year extension of his lease of the Petaluma Speedway.
18-year old Clayton Ruston topped time trials with a best lap of 15.339 seconds followed by Alex Schutte, defending BCRA champion Maria Cofer, and Shannon McQueen as David Prickett rounded out the top five qualifiers. Sixth through tenth were Daniel Anderson, Jackson Dukes, Frankie Guerrini, Geoff Ensign, in the Finkenbinder 3F and tenth was Michael Faccinto in the Dodenhoff entry followed by Robby Josett, as all the top eleven cars recorded lap times in the 15-second range.
The twelfth fastest qualifier was Kyle Beilman, trailed by C.J. Sarna, Robert Dalby, Ashley Hazleton-Heredia, Rick Cook, Matt Sargent, Ariel Biggs, Marvin Mitchell, and J.R. Williams. Third-generation racer Randi Pankratz wound up 21st fastest as she and her crew battled engine woes with her newly reassembled Edmunds AutoResearch #8 machine.
Pole position starter Faccinto reacted quickly and grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag in the first of three heat races, then steadily built his lead and won by six car lengths over Sarna with McQueen third and Ruston in fourth place. In the second heat race, front row starter Guerrini took the early lead and held on to win over Josett, Prickett and Schutte. Victory in the final 8-lap heat race went to Daniel Anderson, whose #77 was trailed across the finish line by Ensign, Beilman and Cofer.
Unfortunately, Rick Cook who pulled double duty in a 600-cc micro sprint car was involved in a serious crash at the start of their feature event and was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The BCRA family extends best wishes to Rick for a speedy and complete recovery.
After fast qualifier Ruston pulled the number six pill in the re-draw for the lineup for the feature race, Daniel Anderson and David Prickett shared the front row for the start followed by McQueen and Cofer in the all-female second row and Schutte and Ruston in row three. At the drop of the green flag for the start of the 30-lap race, there was a collision in the first turn that involved Dalby, Sarna, Mitchell and Pankratz.
Sarna’s midget suffered a left rear broken shock absorber in the collision but CJ elected to continue. On the complete restart, Prickett grabbed the lead before a flurry of activity during the race’s second lap. JR Williams retired his #74 to the pit area and McQueen her #7 pulled to the infield with a suspected broken rocker arm in the Esslinger engine before a mix-up occurred in the first turn on the third lap that claimed the cars of Hazelton-Heredia, Dalby and Biggs.
When green flag action resumed, Prickett maintained his lead, as behind him Schutte moved into third place on lap 8 behind Anderson, then into second as Faccinto also got past Anderson and dropped the #77 machine into third place. After a restart for a stopped car on track, on lap 13, Schutte passed Prickett for the lead with Faccinto in third place.
Schutte recorded a series of fast laps and built a five-car advantage which he extended to a full straightaway by the drop of the checkered flag. Alex was trailed across the line by Prickett, Faccinto, Cofer, Guerrini. Josett and Ensign. Randi Pankratz recovered from her mechanical gremlins to finish in eighth place, and for her outstanding run from the 21st starting spot, Pankratz earned the race’s “hard charger” award.
Ninth place went to Sarna who ran the entire race with a broken shock absorber, with the finish rounded out by Beilman and Marvin Mitchell. Among the non-finishers, the official order was Anderson, Dukes, Ruston, Sargent, Hazelton-Heredia, McQueen, Biggs, Dalby and Williams.
The BCRA midgets will make their furthest visit north in the 2018 season for their next race at Ukiah Speedway in an event on Saturday August 18th co-sanctioned with the Washington Midget Racing Association.