On Saturday night October 17th, Petaluma Speedway on the grounds of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds hosted the first round of the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame Challenge for the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) and United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States midgets.
Blake Bower from Brentwood California topped time trials in the #10 BWR midget sponsored by Bay Muffler and Orland Public Auto Auction with a best lap of 14.936 seconds around the Petaluma 3/8-mile oval. Frankie Guerrini III in the F& F Racing Stanton SR 11 powered midget qualified second fastest with a lap of 14.984 seconds, followed by Maria Cofer in the #57 Tule Vista Ranches sponsored midget with a 14.998 second lap.
Kyle Beilman from Santa Monica rounded out the top five in the Dave.com sponsored midget with his 15.0444 second lap. Defending BCRA champion Robert Carson and 2020 BCRA Antioch feature winner Jarrett Soares both encountered terminal issues before qualifying – neither posted a qualifying time and were scratched from the program.
New Zealand’s Scotty Farmer stormed from his fourth starting position in the Six8 Racing Spike Esslinger to grab the point early and cruised to victory in the first heat race over David Prickett, Bower, and Cofer with Floyd Alvis in fifth place, as Britton Bock encountered problems and failed to finish.
Brody Fuson started fourth in the second heat and jumped in the lead over Sparky Howard when the caution flag flew on lap three for a tangle in turn one with Randi Pankratz, CJ Sarna and Beilman. Both Pankratz and Beilman restarted, but Sarna’s car suffered front axle damage and the crew towed it to the pit area. Fuson held his lead after the restart until Guerrini sped past on lap six. At the finish the running order was Guerrini, Fuson, Pankratz, Beilman and Howard.
Before the field of twelve cars took the green flag for the 30-lap feature event, Cofer stopped in the infield in turn four to ensure that the track scoring system properly read her car’s transponder. After things checked out OK, Maria resumed her fourth place starting position. At the drop of the green flag, Scotty Farmer drove the jet black #68 midget into the lead from his outside front row starting position ahead of pole sitter Fuson, Cofer, Beilman and Prickett.
On lap three, Brody passed Farmer for the lead but on lap eight, Cofer got her #57 alongside Fuson on the backstretch and completed an outside pass through turn three to grab the lead. Cofer led Fuson and Farmer when the race’s first caution flag flew on lap 14 for Sarna’s stopped #20 midget in turn three.
After the restart, Guerrini began his march forward the front of the field and ran third when Blake Bower brought out the caution flag when he bumped the outside wall in turn two on lap 17. On the restart, Fuson fell back with an apparent tire problem which Guerrini capitalized on to move into second place. Several laps later, Fuson’s car came to a stop and under the caution flag, his crew changed his tire and Brody rejoined the field at the tail.
Over the last ten laps, Cofer stretched out a comfortable lead over her pursuers, and the 2018 BCRA champion scored popular victory over Frankie Guerrini, Scotty Farmer, and Kyle Beilman. Brody Fuson recovered to finish fifth as he edged out Randi Pankratz and Sparky Howard as the ageless nine-time BCRA champion Floyd Alvis finished eighth. The classified non-finishers were Blake Bower ninth, CJ Sarna tenth, with David Prickett eleventh and Britton Bock twelfth.
After the first round of the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame Challenge, Frankie Guerrini leads with 80 points over Maria Cofer with 79 points. Scotty Farmer is third with 74 markers, trailed by Beilman with 69. Brody Fuson clings to fifth place, just five points ahead of Randi Pankrantz.
The BCRA/USAC midgets will do battle on Saturday night October 24 at Petaluma Speedway for the finale of the Challenge. The top point earner in the two races will claim the $1000 bonus, while second place will get a check for $700. The driver with the third highest points total for the two races earns $500, while fourth place will receive $350 and the fifth place finisher $250 courtesy of the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Special thanks to Ken Clapp for his ongoing financial support of Northern California midget racing and to Petaluma Speedway promoter Rick Faeth for providing BCRA and USAC midgets a great place to race.
October 24th also marks the close of the 2020 Bay Cities Racing Association midget season, but remember that the BCRA Lites will be in action on November at the three-day Hangtown 100 for the USAC National midgets at Placerville Speedway scheduled for November 19 through the 21st.