By Kevin Triplett
After months of delay due to the COVID19 pandemic, the 2020 Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) season finally opened at Petaluma Speedway on July 18th. Nineteen midgets from the BCRA and the United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States division were on hand for the 30-lap West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Classic.
In time trials, young Ben Worth in the Alexander 5G set quick time at 15.69 seconds to edge out Cory Elliott who posted a best lap of 15.71 second lap in his father Mitch’s #11E. Tracy, California’s Austin Liggett timed in third in his family’s #83 midget at 15.79 seconds, while rookie Colton Raudman posted fourth quick time of 15.82 seconds after he spun on his first timed lap, and his single lap edged out teammate Alex Schutte’s 15.84 second lap.
Australian Scotty Farmer wheeled the Six8 Racing Esslinger powered #68 to the win in the first eight-lap heat race as he finished ahead of Frankie Guerrini in the brand-new F&F Racing #63, followed by Worth, Raudman, veteran Spark Howard in Dave and Wendy Thurston’s #17 Esslinger, 2019 BCRA champion Robert Carson and rookie Blake Bower.
Rookie Brody Fuson shot into the lead at the start of the second heat race and held the advantage over the entire nine-lap race distance as second-fastest qualifier Cory Elliott steadily moved through he field from his sixth starting position and nipped Alex Schutte for second place at the finish line. CJ Sarna finished fourth in his #20 ahead of Brendan Ruzbarsky in the Matt Streeter #14JR and “the ageless one “nine-time BCRA champion 85-year old Floyd Alvis.
After two false starts which resulted in the original front row starters moved back a row, Terry “Panda” Nichols jumped into the lead from the pole position of the third heat in the Nichols #1NP ahead of David Prickett and Mike Leach Jr. as Austin Liggett stalked his way through the field after he started fifth. Later in nine-lap event, he pulled past Nichols and drove to a clear victory. With Leach in fourth ahead of Ron Hazelton and young third-generation racer Ben Wiesz in his #21 car owned by his father Colby “the Colfax Comet” Wiesz.
As with the third heat race, the feature starting field had trouble getting a clean start which resulted in outside front row starter Alex Schutte set back two positions, but on the third try, pole sitter David Prickett roared into the lead in turn one, but Worth spun and collected Fuson and necessitated a complete restart. Once racing got underway, there were several caution flags in the first ten laps which kept the pack tightly packed with Liggett in the lead over Schutte, Fuson Worth, Elliott and Guerrini.
On lap six, Scotty Farmer drifted too high as he exited turn two and hit the outside of the second turn wall hard in the Six8 racing machine in spectacular fashion, as pieces of the wooden outer wall flew high in the air. Farmer was unhurt in the incident, but the #68 Stewart chassis was done for the night. During the pause in the action, this reporter noted that the machines of Prickett, Howard, Ruzbarsky and Blake Bower had already retired from the race.
As soon as racing resumed after the red flag for Farmer’s accident, on lap seven Schutte executed a nifty low-side pace of the rim-riding Liggett to grab the race lead. Alex began to stretch his lead as Frankie Guerrini battled with Cory Elliott for third place as the breather for the Stanton SR-11 engine on the #63 midget began to emit a steady stream of oily smoke. The car’s speed was not affected, but after several laps of smoking, Guerrini pulled the F&F Racing machine into the infield.
Alex Schutte crossed under the checkered flag at the end of the thirty laps with a nearly ½ lap over Austin Liggett to capture the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Classic and collect both the $1,000 winner’s purse and the $500 “BCRA bonus,” as the top-finishing BCRA registered car. Thanks to the generosity of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Liggett banked $600
Cory Elliott placed third and collected $500 ahead of Ben Worth in fourth with a check for $400 with CJ Sarna in fifth place as the race’s biggest mover, as CJ started the race in fourteenth place. Terry Nichols crossed the finish line in sixth place ahead of Mike Leach Jr., Robert Carson and Ben Wiesz, with Floyd Alvis in tenth place.
Among the non-finishers the order was Frankie Guerrini in eleventh ahead of Brody Fuson, Ron Hazelton, Scotty Farmer and David Prickett fifteenth. The final four cars were Colton Raudman, Sparky Howard, Brendan Ruzbarsky and Blake Bower in nineteenth.
Petaluma Speedway promoter Rick Faeth has indicated that he would like the USAC and BCRA midgets to return on September 12, but this date is yet to be finalized by USAC our co-sanctioning partner. Pease keep checking the BCRA website for updates. The next race is the 4th Annual Tom Manning Memorial on the pavement at Stockton 99 Speedway with the vintage division on August 8 followed a week later by another pavement race at the Shasta Speedway in Anderson California on August 15th.
Feature Winner Alex Scutte (28) Passed Austin Liggett (83) for the lead and drove away to win (Matt Sublett Photo)