Jesse Love wins the Annual Gerhardt Classic Midget event at Madera Speedway July 13, 2019

POWRi BCRA midgets return to Kern County Raceway Park

By Kevin Triplett

The POWRi Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) midget auto racing cars and stars returned to the 1/3-mile dirt track at the Kern County Raceway Park (KCRP) on Friday night May 3, 2018, with eleven cars signed in at the pit gate. The POWRI BCRA midgets were the featured cars in a diverse program that also included the KCRP American Stocks, Pro Stocks, and 305 cubic inch winged sprint cars.

Austin Liggett started his perfect night by setting quick time during time trials, as he toured the oval in 14.603 seconds in his SR11-powered midget to top Anaheim, California’s Robert Dalby’s Esslinger powered machine with a 14.692 best lap. Dalby narrowly edged out local favorite Shannon McQueen by .002 seconds who was third fastest in her #7 Esslinger powered Bullet chassis.

Fourth fastest qualifier was another local racer Cory Elliott in his family’s #11E midget, with Terry “Panda” Nichols fifth, and Kyle Beilman in his Dave.Com sponsored midget the sixth fastest racer in time trials. Seventh fastest was Ricky Lewis in the #1N, with CJ Sarna eighth, Troy Morris III in the #07 ninth, followed by the ageless Marvin Mitchell in his #78 tenth with the leading Rookie of the Year contender, fourth-generation racer Robert Carson eleventh fastest in the Howard and Karen Segur #99 entry.

Austin Liggett continued his successful night in the first eight-lap heat race as he shot into the lead in turn three of the first lap past early leader Terry Nichols. On lap two, Shannon McQueen spun to a stop in turn three as she battled Lewis for position. Shannon restarted at the tail of the field, and before a lap was completed Lewis spun to a stop himself on the high side of turn three. The field reformed for the lap two restart with Lewis at the tail, but because of a broken steering arm, Ricky’s #1N midget was unable to make it through the first turn and he slapped the outside wall hard, which damaged the car so badly that it ended his racing for the night.

When racing in the first heat race resumed with two laps completed, on lap four McQueen moved up to third place with a nifty move on the low side of turn three to pass Morris, then she moved past Nichols on the inside of turn one on lap six to claim second place. McQueen was unable to close on leader Liggett over the last two circuits and at the drop of the checkered flag, the heat race one finishing order was Liggett, McQueen, Nichols and Morris as Lewis did not finish.

CJ Sarna and Kyle Beilman shared the front row for the start of the second heat race, and the pair battled side-by-side until turn four when Beilman surged ahead into the lead. On lap three Elliott moved up from his third starting position into second place and Dalby got past Sarna to drop CJ into fourth place. Elliott closed the gap on leader Beilman and challenged for the lead on lap five but was unable to get past the Dave.Com machine, and at the finish the order was Beilman, Elliott, Dalby, Sarna, Mitchell and Carson.

When the POWRi passing points were totaled from the heat race finishing orders, the two heat race winners shared the front row for the start of the 25-lap feature, with local racers McQueen and Elliott sharing the second row. At the drop of the green flag, Austin Liggett shot into the lead as Beilman moved to the high side of the track down the backstretch, but his #31 car flipped wildly end-over-end through turn three which brought out the red flag. Kyle crawled out his damaged race car uninjured, and the field restarted less the cars of Beilman and Nichols which moved Elliott up to the front row alongside Liggett for the start.

At the drop of the green, Austin steered his #83 straight to the point with Elliott in hot pursuit followed by Dalby in third and McQueen in fourth place. Liggett stretched his advantage into a 5-car length lead during the early laps, but by lap eleven, Cory closed in using the high line as Austin worked the low side. On lap 14, Robert Dalby began to challenge Elliott for second place and got past Cory and settled into second place on lap 20. The yellow caution flag flew on lap 23 as Troy Morris III spun as he battled Sarna and McQueen, but Troy restarted without any loss of position as Marvin Mitchell and Robert Carson were both a lap down to the rest of the field.

When the green flag flew with three laps to go, Dalby quickly closed in on Liggett but could not pass him, but back in the pack Morris passed both Sarna and McQueen to claim fourth place. Austin Liggett led every lap of the 25-lap feature to top Robert Dalby, Cory Elliott, Shannon McQueen, CJ Sarna, Marvin Mitchell and Robert Carson. Among the non-finishers Kyle Beilman was awarded ninth place and Terry Nichols a tenth-place finish. Austin made it a clean sweep with fast time, a heat race win and the feature win on an evening when he led every lap of every race in which he competed.

The POWRi BCRA midget racers return to action on May 11 for a co-sanctioned race with the Washington Midget Racing Association on the paved Shasta Speedway ¼-mile track on Shasta County Fairgrounds in Anderson, California together with the BCRA vintage division. Also scheduled to be in action for a program that starts at 6 PM will be the Shasta late models, limited modifieds, bombers, legend cars, hornets and the pro-4 modified class.