Southern California Flat Track Association: A Look Back
Story by Jamey Blunt
PERRIS, CA, DEC. 20, 2013
Vince Graves (left), the current owner of Perris, with Bruce Sanford, the founder of the SCFTA, at the new quarter-mile track in October of 2012. Photo by Janice Blunt
More than 15 years ago, a San Diego-based flat-track and TT racer named Bruce Sanford missed the only type of motorcycle racing that was invented in America.
Sanford had grown up racing motorcycles at the El Cajon Raceway with the likes of Jim McMurren and others who went on to become nationally ranked. So, to keep dirt track alive, Sanford formed the Southern California Flat Track Association – or the SCFTA, as it’s referred to today.
In the early years, as their rider count grew and word spread, the SCFTA raced wherever they could rent a race track – at places such as Temecula, Competition Park, Del Mar, Costa Mesa and Victorville.
Flash forward: With Sanford’s health sadly declining, though this was “his baby” and therefore hard to give up, he turned the SCFTA over to Vince Graves and Freddie and Donna Edwards. Graves (the current owner of Perris Raceway), along with the Edwards, built a one-eighth-mile oval on the back section of Perris, where the old rough scrambles track had been.
In the early going, some events had as few as 39 entries, but the trio was steadfast in their goal of keeping dirt track alive, and after a few years they decided they needed a bigger racetrack. So, after much dynamiting of the granite rocks that are the biggest “crop” at Perris, and after 62 truckloads of debris had been carried away, the Perris Raceway quarter-mile oval was created.
The SCFTA had a home.
Now look at the just-completed 2013 season: More than 1,600 entries passed through the gates, and an average race date never has fewer than 125 entries or fewer than 20 heat races and main events!
Perris Raceway, with the SCFTA, has had three World Champions race at the venue, along with three Grand National Champions, MotoGP’s John Hopkins, AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, and many National-number riders from the dirt-track community, as well as many from the road-race circuit, and a Supermoto Champion (Mark Cernicky) as well.
This, of course does not take into account the many past World and National Champions who just come out to Perris to visit and hang out at a track where some started their racing careers, such as Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey.
There’s so much more to Perris and its history; this is just a small glimpse into the SCFTA piece of it, and what Vince, Freddie and Donna have accomplished.
Please enjoy these photos of just some of the highlights of the history of the SCFTA at Perris Raceway…
Three World Champions have raced at Perris. John Kocinski (shown here in August of 2011) has two World Championships, earned on the asphalt tracks of Europe. But dirt track is in his roots. Kocinski is also the current track record holder for a Class C motorcycle, at 14.06 seconds. He’s also one of only four undefeated racers at Perris, with 38 main-event victories. Photo by Janice Blunt
Two-time individual World Speedway Champion Greg Hancock is another World Champion who has raced at Perris. Hancock (shown here in March of 2011), Kocinski, and individual World Speedway Champion Billy Hamill are the three World Champions to have raced at Perris. Photo by Janice Blunt
Billy Hamill (shown here at Costa Mesa Speedway on his way to winning the 2013 U.S. National Speedway Championship in October) holds the Class A track record at Perris Raceway, at 13.62 seconds; both he and Hancock have lapped in the 13-second bracket. Photo by Jim Thorn/ BackItInPhotos
Brad Baker (shown here taking a victory lap at Perris in October of 2012) is one of two Grand National Champions to have raced at Perris. He is also another rider who remains undefeated: Baker has a perfect three for three record. Photo by Janice Blunt
Joe Kopp (shown here at the Pomona Fairgrounds in October of 2009) is another Grand National Champion who has raced at Perris. However, he rode on the earlier one-eighth-mile short track. Nevertheless, Kopp is still an undefeated rider at Perris, having gone one for one. Photo by Dennis Suter
Jared Mees (69) is the third Grand National Champion to race at Perris (though he is only the second one to run on the quarter mile). Mees put in one of the best races at Perris, winning the Pro main in October of this year by taking the lead on the last lap from Rob Pearson (66) and Mikey Rush (54). This makes Mees one of the undefeated riders at Perris, with his tally at one for one. Photo by Janice Blunt
National Singles Champion Henry Wiles started coming to Perris in 2010. Wiles won the very first Pro main event he entered on the new quarter-mile oval and held the track record for more than a year. Photo by Janice Blunt
Many National riders have raced at Perris, both past and present. National number 98, Kayl Kolkman (shown here in November of 2012), cut his teeth, so to speak, at Perris… Photo by Janice Blunt
…as did Jimmy Wood (shown here in November of this year). Photo by Janice Blunt
Some of the past stars of dirt-track racing frequent Perris as well. Former Grand National Champion Dick Mann make the trip in February of 2012. Photo by Janice Blunt
Former National number 13, David “Bones” Aldana, actually threw a leg over a borrowed bike and raced at Perris in May of 2012. Photo by Janice Blunt
Former National number 98, “Little John” Hateley, is often seen at Perris. Here he’s doing some fine-tuning on the Zero motorcycle. Hateley is also one of only three riders to lap the track under the 15-second mark aboard a TT500-based machine. Photo by Jamey Blunt
Former National number seven, Sammy “The Flying Flea” Tanner (shown here at Perris in July of 2011), is another regular at the Raceway. While Tanner doesn’t race anymore, he still has a lot of knowledge that he offers to anyone who wants his help. Photo by Janice Blunt
Legendary motorcycle inventor Preston Petty (shown here in April of this year) races – and wins – in the Over 70 age class. He’s seen it all at Perris, dating back to the 1950s. Photo by Janice Blunt