By Kevin Triplett
Maria Cofer, her father John, and crewman Bobby Boone should have brought a broom with them to Placerville Speedway for the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midget races Saturday night August 25. Cofer, the defending BCRA series champion in the Tule Vista Ranches-sponsored Spike/Esslinger executed a “clean sweep,” as she posted the fastest qualifying time, won her preliminary heat race, and then topped off her night with a dominant victory in the 20-lap feature.
The BCRA midgets at Placerville Speedway exhibited a remarkable variety of engines, as in addition to Esslinger and Fontana engines, Dr. Brad Dodenhoff debuted his new all-billet Chevrolet based engine for son Sean in the #9D, Robert Dalby’s #4D entry sported a new Van Dyne Engineering Mopar W9RP engine, while Beau Lemire’s #24 car featured a flat four-cylinder Subaru powerplant and Mike McCluney debuted his new #73 midget powered by a Ecotec 2.4-liter engine driven by Keoni Texeira.
As the first car out Dalby set the early pace in time trials and recorded a best lap of 12.136 seconds, which none of the other BCRA challengers that included David Prickett, Randi Pankratz, JR Williams, Sean Dodenhoff, Marvin Mitchell and Lemire could eclipse. As the next-to-last car out to qualify, Maria Cofer in her familiar black white and red #57 roared around the Placerville ¼-mile clay oval in just 12.080 seconds on her first lap then improved on her second lap with a run of 12.043 seconds to post the fast time for the evening.
Following Cofer’s memorial lap that honored BCRA Hall of Fame member Howard Segur, Junior (see separate article), the BCRA midgets lined up for their 8-lap heat race with Marvin Mitchell and David Prickett on the front row and Dalby and Cofer deep in the field on the third row. At the drop of the green flag, Prickett jumped into the lead but on lap two Pankratz grabbed the point. On the third lap, Randi tried the high side of turn two but lost momentum which opened the door for Cofer to blast past into the lead which she never relinquished. Cofer was trailed across the finish line by Dodenhoff, Pankratz, Dalby, Prickett, Mitchell and JR Williams.
After the heat race was completed, the Dodenhoff #9D was withdrawn with an engine problem, as the all-new billet powerplant finished the race on just three cylinders, and McCluney also withdrew his #73 with an apparent fuel pump failure. Maria Cofer drew the “0” pill in the redraw for the feature line-up which meant the evening’s fastest qualifier started the 20-lap feature from the coveted pole position with second fastest qualifier Robert Dalby on her outside.
Unfortunately, before the evening’s feature race began, the #14 of Beau Lemire came to a stop with terminal issues with the Subaru engine and was done for the night. When the green flag was shown, Cofer rocketed into the lead with Prickett in hot pursuit trailed by Pankratz and Dalby, who spun the black #4D to a stop in turn two on the eleventh lap for the race’s first caution period. After the restart, Cofer quickly rebuilt her lead to over five car lengths ahead of Prickett until the yellow caution flag flew again on lap 17, this time for Randi Pankratz’ yellow #8 stopped in turn three.
When the racing action resumed, over the final laps David Prickett was not able to get close enough to the flying Cofer to challenge for the lead and Cofer romped home to her third BCRA victory of the 2018 season with a two-car length victory over Prickett’s #24X. Robert Dalby overcame a throttle response issue to finish third ahead of Randi Pankratz who recovered from her earlier problem to finish fourth. Marvin Mitchell edged out JR Williams for fifth place, while Beau Lemire as awarded a seventh place ‘did not finish’ result.
Next up for the BCRA mighty midgets will be the 46th annual Harvest Classic at Madera Speedway, as the midgets will appear in the program together with the Western Winged Super Sprint Series, United States Auto Club (USAC) Western Midgets, Northern California Modified Association (NCMA) Sprints, California Supermodified Series (CSS) 360 Super Modifieds, the Legends of Kearney Bowl and the California Hard Tops, plus supercharged multi-engine pulling tractors.