PETALUMA, CA, Aug. 11—It was time to turn back the calendar Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway, to an era when fenderless race cars ruled the sport of auto racing. The Speedway’s sixth annual Open Wheel Madness competition, featuring winged 360 Sprint Cars along with the Bay Cities Racing Association’s Midget and Midget Lite divisions provided the racing action, with plenty of timely reminders of the perils of open-wheel racing.
Sacramento driver Mike Henry held off the charges of Bradley Terrell and Chase Johnson to complete a clean sweep in the Pit Stop USA Sprint Car feature while Greg Bragg of Visalia and Dakata Albright of Oakdale captured victories in the Midget and Midget Lite features.
Starting on the pole, fast-qualifier and heat winner Henry, a former Civil War series champion who often shines when competing on Petaluma’s three-eighths-mile adobe oval, didn’t need to be reminded of his previous effort two weeks ago when Sebastopol’s Terrell chased him down and took the lead with seven laps to go before beating him to the finish by a fraction of a second.
Starting on the front row next to Henry was Petaluma High School senior Chase Johnson, ranked second in points behind leader Terrell, who started in Row 2 along with Sacramento’s Billy Butler.
Henry was at his best, exploding into the lead and reaching lapped traffic in just six laps with Johnson and Terrell hot on his trail. A red flag for a toppled David Lindt Jr. slowed the action just after Terrell grabbed second place from Johnson, but a quick move by Johnson on the ensuing restart planted him back in second behind the fleet Henry.
Henry made all the right moves in lapped traffic while Johnson and Terrell engaged in a formidable battle for second place. Three laps from the finish, Johnson exited Turn 4 a little shaky allowing the tenacious Terrell to snag second place, where he finished behind Henry, who won for the first time this season. Johnson was third, sixth-starting Koen Shaw of Fresno finished fourth and Butler was fifth, in the 17-car race.
In its heyday the BCRA was the premier racing organization in the Bay Area and are still a top attraction on the traveling circuit. In the 30-lap Midget feature, Terry Tarditi led the 14-car contingent for the first 13 laps until the sixth-starting Bragg successfully made good on a bottom pass in Turns 3 and 4.
Bragg raced to a wide lead over Tarditi, David Prickett and Pete Davis until Lap 20 when Davis, attempting to wrest third place from Prickett with an inside pass, appeared to clip his tire, resulting in Prickett’s car falling on its side. In a battle for second place, Prickett then managed to overtake Tarditi with five laps remaining. Bragg took the checkered flag for his first Petaluma Speedway victory, followed by Davis, Tarditi, Bill Lindsey and Rob Lindsey.
Brian Corso, who led the first 20-laps of the 25-lap Midget Lite feature, seemed to be headed for his second straight Petaluma Speedway victory until some very close racing in lapped traffic between the leader and Albright resulted in some tire contact that ended Corso’s night and elevated Albright to the top spot. Albright maintained his advantage until the checkered flag where he captured his second career victory, and first at Petaluma Speedway, over Scott Kinney, Craig Dillard, and Marcus Smith.
Results for Aug. 11
360 SPRINT CARS
Fast time—Mike Henry 13.216.
Heat 1—Henry; Nick Ringo Jr.; Bill Cornwell; Eric Humphries; Art McCarthy Jr.; Matthew Haulot.
Heat 2—Chase Johnson; Chase Wood; Billy Butler; Koen Shaw; Jake Haulot; Steve Jaquith.
Heat 3—Bradley Terrell; Norm Johns; Kenny Drew; Max Adams; David Lindt Jr.
Main—Henry; Terrell; Johnson; Shaw; Butler; Drew; Humphries; Ringo; J. Haulot; Adams; M. Haulot; Wood; Jaquith; Cornwell; McCarthy; Lindt; Johns.
Fast time—Dan Parker 15.239.
Heat 1—Greg Bragg; Britton Bock; Parker; Floyd Alvis; Terry Tarditi; Bill Lindsey; Gary Canterno.
Heat 2—Rob Lindsey; Pete Davis; Nick Chivello; David Prickett; JR Williams; Rick Holbrook; John Haugh.
Main—Bragg; Davis; Tarditi; B. Lindsey; R. Lindsey; Parker; Conterno; Alvis; Prickett; Bock;Williams; Chivello; Holbrook; Haugh.
Heat 1—Craig Dillard; Cameron Beard; Brian Corso; Marcus Smith; Rick Soto; Howard West.
Heat 2—Dakota Albright; Scott Kinney; Craig Holsted; Marshall Sexton; Rick Johnson; #47.
Main—Albright; Kinney; Dillard; Smith; #47; Soto; Johnson; Holsted; West; Corso; Sexton; Beard.