9/15-Salem, Or- Salem Speedway kicked off it’s Knecht’s Auto Parts/Les Schwab Tires “Slideways Saturday” indoor speedway karting season Saturday and though numbers were on the scarce side with 40+ entries, a little bit of everything was on hand to try out what has been hailed as the best indoor speedway racing facility in the Northwest and possibly the west coast. ‘Slideways Saturday” brings promising optimism with it this season, having been accepted as a United All Stars sanctioned track through the efforts of series director Roger Freeborn.
The united all stars is an organization that was put together to preserve 2 cycle “Open” karting…Since the invasion of the 4 strokes, the 2 cycle division of karting has taken a hard hit and the UAS as it is known was organized to try and keep a portion of the “old school” karting alive…the “Opens”. The opens back in the day were a karting tinkerer’s dream, with virtually no rules to speak of, speed junkies could try their hand at just about anything from leaf blowers as superchargers to one off conglomerations assembled from the pieces of several different engines, with the only rule being having to stay within a specified CC limit…”Not everybody wants to play by rules, a lot of racers want to still be able to use their imagination and with the open class historically being one of our stoutest venues, this only made sense” said second year series director Roger Freeborn. “Although the open class is a known as a ‘run what cha brung’ type of class, this sanctioning has limits and criteria that the racers have to meet, and makes everybody feel like they are on the same page” continued Freeborn, “We figured it was going to be 3 to 5 years before the series would really be established, and this was one way to hopefully make that happen sooner…Everyone so far is on board and very excited with the direction the series is going.”
There were 11 classes slated for the days events which kicked off at 9am when the speedway gates opened at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. Hot laps got underway at 11:30 a bit behind the schedule but call it opening day jitters, and will improve once the “groove”gets set and routines take hold…After a couple of practice sessions and a quick sprinkle of water….Slideways Saturday was ready to kick off racing…
First to hit the race track was the JR division which was made up of a combination of the Jr.1’s and Jr.2’s but is was Austin Smith winning Jr.1 with a dominating performance…Smith swept both heats and the main event overall, besting the hard charging efforts of female dirt phenom Arianna Anderson…Anderson who literally has grown up at the Salem Speedway has tried the ‘other’surface and done well, but seems more at home on the dirt….Anderson had a sensational start on the drop of the green for the feature, but could not fend off the drive of Smith. After waking up from his nap on the start of the feature, Smith drove the wheels off his speedway machine and marched right to the front. On lap15, Smith got underneath Anderson in turn one and wasn’t seen again….Justin Jones , Bailey Story, and Kyle Roles were official entries but did not start the main event. Talyn Roberts took runner up honors to Smith in Jr.1, Arianna Anderson carptured Jr.2…Trust me… Austin Smith is going to be a good one…He just gets it..and the “It” is something that you don’t teach.
KT Light rolled out next and had a cool story behind it. Those of you who have followed Speedway racing here in the Northwest know the Gibb racing family with standout drivers Jason and Chris Gibb….Jason is a speedway legend here in the NW and has to his credit a couple of big National Speedway Championships (and maybe more) when he used to make the trek back to Oklahoma. His epic battles with arch rival Phil Pfau are some that will go down in the history books as some of the greatest battles on dirt. Brother Chris who took runner up honors in last years 3rd annual Buddha Memorial…the largest indoor speedway event on the west coast, were both on hand crewing for their dad Fred, who decided to come out of retirement after a 35 year layoff!! A former twin engine driver, Fred Gibb was outstanding for his first time back behind the wheel…especially going up against the likes of young whipper snapper Corey
Marcum who karting wise I don’t think has ever been on anything but dirt… the kid can flat wheel….heat 1 looked like Gibb was going to take it early on as Marcum was trying everywhere to get by.. Pat Henkle decided to run his 4 stroker with them was doing his best to keep them in site…On lap 6 Gibb spun when a rock got lodged in the brake caliper and rotor locking up the rear end handing heat 1 to Marcum. Heat 2 found Henkle on the pole with Marcum outside and Gibb by himself in row two. 2 Marcum jumped out early and lead it wire to wire with Gibb again having problems, Gibb was on the hook and Marcum took the flag…. The feature was all Corey Marcum as he again led it wire to wire, Fred Gibb second & looking like he was glad the maiden voyage was over…Alot has changed in 35 years…stay tuned, I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from Fred Gibb. You heard it here first…Really cool stuff…
KT Heavy- was a show…with Jason Gibb driving climbing back behind the wheel in one of his rare appearances anymore, Darren Brown an up and coming racer who has been working with karting legend Phil Pfau. Hadley Loveall a former late model stock car driver and Dave Neal the summer outdoor speedway champ… though only 4…it’s a tough 4…..Heat 1 goes to the Wizard Gibb. Darren Brown and Hadley Loveall have a meeting going into turn 3…Brown into the turn 3 wall, Loveall to the pit area…Brown drives the wheels off of his trackmagic trying to catch Gibb, nice effort but not enough. Gibb takes the checkers in both heats and looks like he has never left the seat…The Wizard is no doubt the guy to beat in the final as he goes back to assume the point. Darren Brown in close pursuit…Loveall and Dave Neal have a good battle going on for 3rd and 4th…Neal in his sophomore season is starting to get the hang of it….The Wizard Gibb rolls on hitting his marks lap after lap grinding the less experienced Brown down give Brown HUGE props for his drive, it was a good one just not enough to do away with the veteran Jason Gibb…The Wizard Gibb can just roll, that is all there is to it…. Feature finishes “The Wizard” Jason Gibb first, Darren Brown second, Hadley Loveall third, and Dave Neal fourth…Amazing fact: Darren Brown won 10 straight races in the outdoor speedway season.
SuperSport 200 Light- clones in other parts was next to roll out for battle, the battle however was for second as Marc Wooten swept everything in the season opener and was the class of the field This class is tough, it houses some very capable drivers… Example, Todd ‘The Todd’ Brown won 6 straight Oregon State Karting Championship Series asphalt events to close out the season in route to his first championship, and was just about unbeatable all season. Austin Felch another young whipper snapper who is no doubt going to be a serious factor with continued seat time.He is very close. There is Alex Millen not a flashy driver, a prepared one and some way seems to find a way to be there at the end. It is a damn tough class. On hand to see what all the commotion about Speedway racing was all about was regional 4 cycle standout Dan Cahill who brought a gorgeous Rockstar energy drink backed machine out to try going left…
Cahill rolled big time….heat 1 third, heat 2 he DNF’d after running second when both brake lines pulled out from caliper…I know, keep the sponsor and fire the crew…Cahill was back for the feature and worked on Austin Felch for much of the main event. On lap 16 with a killer run off of turn 4, Cahill got underneath Felch who left the door open to long getting into turn 1…Meanwhile, former regional & national Rotax standout & now driver coach/tuner Aaron Neliton was also on hand to drive one of class organizer Wayne Felch’s machines for his first experience at going left. Neliton rolled awesomely as he danced the rear end of his machine in true dirt track style cutting and grooving his way from tail end Charlie all the way to fourth…Both he and Cahill have got to be kidding that they have never been on the dirt with the way they both performed Todd Brown struggled to find the handle…and never did, he was fifth. Marc Wooten is an easy going, fun loving racer happy just to be racing winning or losing, and always shows up withspotless and very colorful iron. In four words G.O.N.E, history, adiosed, outta here…(ok maybe five words) describes the performance of Marc Wooten… Really nothing to talk about, he was flat gone. 20 lap feature was Wooten first, Cahill second, Austin Felch third, Aaron Neliton fourth, and Todd Brown rounded out the top five.
SuperSport 200 Heavy- Looked like B.J Koppert was going to be the guy to beat early on…Keith Mandell brought out an early heat 1 caution as he spun exiting turn 2…Koppert, Scott Baughman, Dave Schrock,Jonathon Brown, and Mandell was the order on the restart…on the wave of the green Koppert gets out early and everybody settles in…EXCEPT for Mandell who sliced & diced his way through the field like a Gin-Su and caught Koppert and drove away…give heat 1 to Mandell ..Heat 2 more of the same ALL Keith Mandell. In the Feature Mandell surely is the guy to beat right? was until mechanical woes took care of any chances he had as his machine stalled twice during the feature allowing BJ Koppert to take the checkers. Let’s rewind just a bit…Steve Baughman and Dave Schrock had a battle going for second and third, while Jonothon Brown was fourth…Baughman gets by Schrock for second with 3 to go…he may have of rubbed his way by…call it whatever you want, but Schrock didn’t care for it & repassed Baughman with a flash of young exuberance coming from from elder-statesman …Give the feature to Koppert first, Schrock second, Baughman third, Jonathon Brown fourth ( and is getting better and better in only his second year of speedway racing), and Mandell rounded out the top five.
AKRA Clones had a great race with veterans Bryan Green and Chris Hatch both out to do a little rubbing and racin’. Both are IKF champs Green in 09 and Hatch in ’10, and are both stellar performers on both surfaces. Not forgetting drivers Greg Normandin and Steve King, both of whom work very closely with Green and Hatch…Hatch’s Black Star Motorsports builds the engines for all four drivers…Greg Normandin who raced back in the heyday of karting in the C-Open class had two wins on the Oregon State Karting Championship Series this summer one of which was the prestigious “Summer Sizzler” the”Sizzler” is in August under the lights in McMinnville, OR & Steve King who had a fine summer winning the Rose Cup Karting road race event at Portland International Raceway and some strong finishes in the NW Gold Cup region 6 traveling series also were on hand and ready rumble. It went down like this…Heat 1-HATCH….Heat 2- HATCH…FEATURE- HATCH. Green was runner up in all three events and gave Hatch a run for it in heat 2 Steve King was third in all three events and Greg Normandin struggled in heat 1 and in the main with mechanical woes. One of those days for Normandin..Anyone who has raced know how those go, and it is in no way indicative of his talents. Interesting were the tire choices as Hatch was the only AKRA Clone on slicks…
UAS Open Division was rather light for this first round with the opening of hunting season….Jim Pieschel, Wayne Felch, and Chris Passanante where on hand for the inaugural event under the new UAS sanction…Passanante Stuck his Sudam in practice…stuck it good…good enough it was going back to CMC ( competition motors corporation) for a rebuild and his Yamaha going on for the race…Wayne Felch had is open twin engine inline Clones out & this piece of art is by a fabrication master the quality and workmanship is second to none…Literally this is probably one of the finest works of fabrication that I have EVER laid eyes on. There were several regulars not in attendance because of hunting season, “The Rocket” Ronnie Cox if you have not seen the Rocket your in for a real treat.., the “Ironman” Joe Stackman one of the finest closers there is in close down to the wire events, the” Ace” Phil Pfau is going to be out at the next event …its the luck of the draw when your setting schedules…sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don’t and that is what happened this time….Long story short, Chris Passanante won everything going away, Jim Pieschel battled the most stubborn chassis you have ever seen and couldn’t have turned the kart with 4 steering wheels….It looked more like work than fun that’s for sure .. Wayne Felch was in and out of the pits most of the day trying to keep his monster happy & running….Felch spins the inline clones 8900 rpm and it gives goose bumps listening to it run….Stay tuned to the Northwest Race Report for a future article on Wayne Felch’s amazing machine.
It’s great seeing all the familiar faces that you lose sight of during the summer race season..ProSoundAudioServices is proud to be the official announcing services for the Knechts Auto Parts-Les SchwabTires indoor Slideways Saturday Series…The next event at the speedway is October 22nd and 23rd as the Kage Karts are in town along with the Pro 4 Stock cars and Mini Stocks…The next UAS Slideways Saturday event is scheduled for Noveember 12th ….That wraps up another lap of the Northwest Race Report….I’m Terry Bridges and thanks for reading, please leave us a comment and let us know what you think. If you have comments or suggestions please leave me a comment, that is how I improve. Thanks again so much for reading every body!