Eddie Mulder’s West Coast Dirt Track Series
Round 2: Willow Springs International Raceway
Story and Photos by Karen Gould/Checkered Flag Photography
ROSAMOND, CA, OCT. 4, 2014
Eddie Mulder’s West Coast Dirt Track Series’ two-day finale was like no other. When you plan a trip to Willow Springs, you never know what the weather will be like. Unlike the season opener back in April, this weekend was hot and dry, with a little bit of a breeze making it necessary to water the track often throughout the day. Gary Ritchie seemed to be either on his tractor seat, grooming the track, or on his motorcycle seat, racing. There wasn’t much rest for him. The three-eighths-mile, banked-cushion track was superb, with a lot of new DG that was brought in by Eddie to make sure the track was safe and racey.
Lots of riders came in on Friday night, finding their favorite spot to pit, while others stayed outside the gate by the sign-in shack.
Approaching the gate on Saturday morning to get things set up and ready for the weekend, we wound our way through the many riders in line, waiting for the 8 o’clock gate opening. Everyone was eager to get their equipment set up to go racing!
Eddie always passes the hat in the riders’ meeting, but on this Saturday he announced that he would not do that, so that folks would be ready to donate in the Sunday riders’ meeting when the hat would be passed – not for the Dash For Cash, but for Jethro Halbert and his family. [Jethro Halbert was injured at the Calistoga round of the AMA Pro Flat Track Series and remains in a coma as of press time… Editor]
These would be the biggest purses ever offered at a WCDTS event, thanks to series supporters Digger Helm #57, Mark and Randy Zimmerman of Specialty Fabrications, Rod Lake, and the newest supporter, Terry and Nancy Otton of Ramspur Winery. The Ottons added another whole level of prize money to the series this year with a generous donation of a $7,500 series high-point purse. Other series sponsors include Tuff Plates, Motion Pro, Barnett Clutches and Cables, Brown’s Cycles, and many more.
Thirty-three Pro-class entries rode five heat races and two semifinals on Saturday, all hoping for a piece of the $67,000 weekend purse. Heat-race winners earned a place in the Dash For Cash.
Brad Baker topped the Dash on Saturday, coming from third to pass both Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert for the win.
Seventeen main events accommodated 133 entries on this DG cushion track on Saturday. The start was wide enough for six riders on the grid. The racing was fast and competitive.
Donnie Howard put on a show of his own in the Vet class, leading Paul Ott and Jack Jones to the finish.
Jim Ottele found himself between the Lessley brothers, Ron and Jeff, in the Senior Vintage main. This class rode all six laps in the same order.
Steve Craft and Jack Alexander, who have been great buddies for a long time, finished the Senior Novice class one and two. Rick Villanueva, aboard a 1964 Harley-Davidson 883, rounded out the podium.
Cary Tanner gave Chris Rudy a run for his money in the Classic 500-750cc class. Rudy, aboard a 1963 Harley 750, led all but two laps to finish in front of Tanner’s Eddie Mulder Triumph Barracuda T10 500. Mark La Due finished third, piloting his Yamaha 500.
The Lessley brothers, Ron and Jeff, finished first and second, respectively, in front of Jim Lundgren in the Modern 500cc class.
Jeff Johnson hasn’t lost any speed. He competed against Donnie Howard and Robert Bush in the Modern 750cc class. Johnson took the win!
Another rider provided some eye candy on this day. Young Brandon Green, a very talented and fast 250cc rider, led the 12-rider 250cc Open pack to the checkers. Jace Callison and Tanner Dean followed in second and third, respectively.
Callison took the win in the Open Amateur class, leading Green and Paul Ott to the finish. Julia Rankin, the only girl in the class, finished fourth.
Dean won the Open Amateur B main.
Brad Baker got the holeshot in the Digger Helm Open Pro main. On the second lap, Sammy Halbert took the lead, and Baker settled into the second spot, looking for an opportunity to recapture the front position. Behind them, Jeffrey Carver was pushing Jared Mees, and he finally made the pass on lap 17. The finishing order was Sammy Halbert, Baker, Carver, Pearson and Jimmy Wood.
The 85cc class was treated to cash payouts at the end of the night, delivered by Randy Kremlacek of the California Flat Track Association and donated by KDM Forest Products. CFTA 85cc riders were riding for points in their three-race 85cc Regional Series. Hunter Goodwin took the 85cc win, in front of Jacob Cascio and Tyler Raggio. Zaden Flores, who finished fourth, is the current CFTA 85cc-class points leader.
As is the usual custom at Eddie Mulder’s events, the racing was followed by the awards ceremony, at which Eddie personally handed out the plaques for the day’s competitors. On this day, the trophy presentation was finished in the dark.
Once back at the hotel, the “WCDTS family” – those who work with and support the series – celebrated another day of racing, breaking bread and sharing Mexican flags at a local restaurant. It’s always a good time to share stories of the day and catch up with one another.
Willow Springs International Raceway
Results: October 4, 2014 (Round 2 of 3)
YOUTH 50: 1. Zack Earwood.
YOUTH 60: 1. Aidan Bromstead; 2. Ava Bush; 3. Ana Bush; 4. Conner Hickerson.
YOUTH 85: 1. Hunter Goodwin; 2. Jacob Cascio; 3. Tyler Raggio; 4. Zaden Florez; 5. Grant Holmes; 6. Travis Petton IV; 7. James Ott; 8. Nathan Agrifoglio.
250 OPEN: 1. Brandon Green; 2. Jace Callison; 3. Tanner Dean; 4. Clayton Williams; 5. Alex Crosby; 6. James Ott; 7. Grant Holmes; 8. Travis Petton IV; 9. John Gronek; 10. Justin Hanson; 11. Jaycee Jones; 12. Noah Bush.
500 SUPPORT: 1. Jack Jones; 2. Cary Tanner; 3. Gary Ritchie; 4. Jim Lundgren.
OPEN AM: 1. Jace Callison; 2. Brandon Green; 3. Paul Ott; 4. Julia Rankin; 5. Dillon Allen; 6. Clayton Williams; 7. Darrell Ponton; 8. Rich Hanson; 9. Scott Hanson; 10. Joe Roberts.
OPEN AM B MAIN: 1. Tanner Dean; 2. Derrick Ponton; 3. Bill Wright; 4. Ron Duarte; 5. Stephen Yoshida; 6. Hayden Earwood; 7. Mike DeJohn; 8. Noah Bush; 9. Cody Van Dyke.
DASH FOR CASH: 1. Brad Baker; 2. Sammy Halbert; 3. Jared Mees; 4. Jimmy Wood; 5. Brandon Bergen.
OPEN PRO: 1. Sammy Halbert; 2. Brad Baker; 3. Jeffrey Carver; 4. Robert Pearson; 5. Jimmy Wood; 6. Kayl Kolkman; 7. Danny Koelsch; 8. Jake Shoemaker; 9. Dan Ingram; 10. Joe Roberts; 11. Chad Cose; 12. Brandon Bergen; 13. Jared Mees; 14. Jarod Vanderkooi; 15. Mikey Rush; 16. Bronson Bauman; 17. Cody Johncox.
VET: 1. Donnie Howard; 2. Paul Ott; 3. Jack Jones; 4. Robert Bush; 5. David Bush; 6. Will Ott; 7. Gary Evans; 8. Mike DeJohn; 9. Mark Dodson; 10. Gary Ritchie; 11. Jim Medlin; 12 Mark LaDeu; 13. Scott Podergois.
SR NOV/SUPER SR: 1. Steve Craft; 2. Jack Alexander; 3. Rick Villanueva; 4. Dan McDougall; 5. Charles Caspary; 6. Fred Berger; 7. William Morgan.
SR OPEN: 1. Jim Ottele; 2. Scott Podergois; 3. Gary Evans; 4. Craig Scroggins; 5. Jim Medlin; 6. Dan Dawson; 7. Mark Dodson.
SR VINTAGE: 1. Ron Lessley; 2. Jim Ottele; 3. Jeff Lessley; 4. David Krohn; 5. Rick Villanueva.
DINOSAUR: 1. Brent Johnson.
CLASSIC 500-750 SMALL VALVE: 1. Chris Rudy; 2. Cary Tanner; 3. Mark LaDue; 4. Joe Pape; 5. Fred Berger; 6. James Kohls; 7. Steve Craft; 8. Lenny Rodriguez.
MODERN 250: 1. Will Ott.
MODERN 500: 1. Ron Lessley; 2. Jeff Lessley; 3. Jim Lundgren.
MODERN 750: 1. Jeff Johnson; 2. Don Howard; 3. Robert Bush; 4. Dan McDougall; 5. Charles Caspary; 6. Hayden Roberts; 7. Travis Petton II.