From the desk of Kevin Triplett
13-year old racer Jess Love of Menlo Park California made history Saturday night at Madera Speedway as he won the 46th annual Harvest Classic and became the youngest winner in the storied 79-year history of the Bay Cities Racing Association.
Love started his night by qualifying second in BCRA time trials, as he powered his Van Dyne-powered 51 Fifty energy drinks to a time of 14.089 seconds, just 13/1000 of a second slower than fast qualifier Mark Maliepaard in his Esslinger-powered Fit & Finish Hot Rod Interiors Special. Perennial Madera standout Chad Nichols timed in third fastest in the orange #17 Shanonian Esslinger, with David Goodwill fourth and Cody Jessop fifth overall.
2013 BCRA Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Screeton made his return to racing in the #1N Shanonian entry and qualified sixth fastest with Cody Gerhardt seventh fastest as the team battled fuel delivery issues.
US Western Speed 2 midget standout Toni Breidinger, USAC’s winningest female driver joined the BCRA field in her family’s #26B Honda-powered midget with an eighth-place qualifying effort, and Joey Iest, currently second in USAC Western Speed 2 midget point standings, qualified ninth, with the ageless JR Williams tenth and Austin Carter in the second Jessop Western Speed2 racing entry rounded out the qualifying field in eleventh. Frankie Guerrini was unable to make the qualifying call as his Bob Rosen-owned Mr. Espresso midget suffered an oil pump issue during practice and was withdrawn.
Chad Nichols claimed the lead of the first heat race at the drop of the green flag, was never challenged, and brought home the win over Jessop, Maliepaard, Gerhardt and Austin Carter. Screeton proved that was just as fast as ever as he led the second heat for several laps before he surrendered the lead to Jesse Love on lap six and trailed Love to the finish line. Goodwill finished third, with Iest fourth and JR Williams in fifth place.
Late in the evening, after the 10-car BCRA feature pushed off as the last race of the night, Chad Nichols jumped into the lead in the first turn trailed by David Goodwill, Love, Maliepaard and Jessop. On lap three, BCRA stalwart JR Williams pulled his midget into the infield, and then on lap five Love maneuvered past Goodwill to take over second place, five car lengths behind Nichols, then three laps later Maliepaard dropped Goodwill to fourth place.
On lap 13, Love began to reel in the leader Nichols and an epic duel ensued as Jesse in the blue #5 Van Dyne looked first to the high side then the low side of Chad, all the while glued to the rear nerf bar of the orange #17. On lap 21 as the pair entered turn three of the fast Madera 1/3-mile oval, Love dove to the bottom and after wheel-to-wheel contact, emerged with the lead briefly before Nichols recaptured the point.
On lap 24, Love again tried the inside move into turn three and again the lead cars bumped and both bobbled, with Nichols was scored the leader at the start-finish line. Finally, on lap 28, Love moved past Nichols in turn three to take the lead for good and finished the 30-lap feature .391 seconds ahead of Nichols to score his historic first BCRA feature win. Mark Maliepaard recorded the race’s fastest lap and scored a strong third place finish, with Cody Jessop in fourth place and Goodwill fifth. Cody Gerhardt finished sixth, with Jimmy Screeton a lap behind the leaders in seventh, trailed by Toni Breidinger in eighth place and Austin Carter in ninth, two laps in arrears. JR Williams, with the only car that did not complete the race was placed tenth.
BCRA wishes to recognize and thank the USAC Western Speed2 midget car owners, mechanics and drivers that made the necessary changes to their cars and joined the regular BCRA racers to present a thrilling non-stop race for the fans.
The mighty midgets of the Bay Cities Racing Association return to action on September 29th at the unique ¼-mile paved Lakeport Speedway on the grounds of the Lake County Fairgrounds. Mark your calendars now for the big BCRA year-end doubleheader at the lightning-fast paved Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday October 27th and Sunday October 28th as part of the ‘Gun Slingers Sprint Car Series Championship’ weekend, with two complete shows that will also include the BCRA vintage division.