2022 Champions honored at banquet were Nick DeCarlo (IMCA Modifieds), Fred Ryland (IMCA Sport Modifieds), Travis Dutra (IMCA Stock Cars), Misty Welborn (Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks), Shannon Newton (Wingless Spec Sprints), Jim Freethy (Super Stocks), Danny Wagner (Delta Dwarf Cars) and Tom Brown (Print Club Mini Stocks)
By Candice Martin, DCRR Racing News
Antioch, CA…This Saturday night, March 25, 2023, Antioch Speedway has a loaded program as the 63rd season of championship auto racing is set to begin. Weather permitting, the trifecta of IMCA, Modifieds, Sport Modifieds and Stock Cars, will be joined by the Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks, Delta Dwarf Cars and United States Auto Club Western States Midgets. Wet weather leading up to Saturday could postpone things again.
Antioch, like much of the state, has seen more rain this winter than has been seen in several years. The rain hit the track so hard that you could have had a fishing contest on the flooded racing surface back in February. With water pumps and a diligently working track crew, the track is expected to be ready on Saturday as long as the weather allows the six-division show to happen.
Back in February, the track did manage to make an awards banquet happen to celebrate last season. This has not been a given for the track in recent years. Due to COVID-19, the track couldn’t even have fans in the grandstands in 2020 when they held races, and the banquet was a non-starter. The banquet was set to happen early in 2022, which would celebrate the previous season, but COVID-19 regulations kept the gathering from happening again.
However, last year was the first season since 2019 in which fans were able to attend every race. There were no restrictions in place. A last minute effort was put together for the banquet, which took place at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in February. With some sponsorship and teamwork from throughout the racing community, champions in eight divisions were crowned in February.
Drivers earning the big trophies included Nick DeCarlo (IMCA Modifieds), Fred Ryland (IMCA Sport Modifieds), Travis Dutra (IMCA Stock Cars), Misty Welborn (Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks), Shannon Newton (Wingless Spec Sprints), Jim Freethy (Super Stocks), Danny Wagner (Delta Dwarf Cars) and Tom Brown (Print Club Mini Stocks).
The Top 10 drivers in each division were honored along with Most Improved Driver and Rookie of The Year awards in all classes, plus special awards. Track Photographer Katrina Kniss also had some special awards for the Top 3 drivers in each class.
The gala event was nearly at capacity, and the interesting part was something was attempted that had never been done before. This was a free to attend event for the racing community, which also included a spaghetti meal and beverages. A live band ended the night on a positive note.
Drivers were speaking of their enthusiasm coming into the new season, It’s a clean slate. That means a new opportunity for drivers to run for points in the popular IMCA divisions, which always garner lots of attention from the fans. The Hobby Stocks were noteworthy last year in bringing the biggest car count week in and week out. If the five regular divisions on the schedule aren’t enough, there’s a special attraction on Saturday.
Promoter Chad Chadwick and Race Director Chris Bennett worked diligently to give the fans several special events of interest, and more open wheel racing will be a part of it. For the first time ever, the United States Auto Club Western States Miidgets will compete at Antioch Speedway, and this is just their first visit of the year. These fast wingless open wheel cars have been a popular form of racing in California since the 1930s.
Later on this year, the fans will be treated to NARC Winged 410 Sprint Cars, Sprint Car Challenge Tour Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Hunt Wingless Spec Sprints, among the many special events that will be a part of things in the weeks ahead.
The track’s website has the schedule listed along with other vital information, and it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the social media pages.
The IMCA Modifieds are the longest continuously tenured division currently in the lineup, having had championship seasons every year since 1990. DeCarlo enjoyed his second Antioch championship last year. The Sport Modifieds have a slightly bigger car count and will have intense competition this year, while the Stock Cars continue to gain more competitors among their ranks. They are poised to have a breakout season. Add in all the other elements, and Saturday night is a must-see event for racing enthusiasts.
The gates will open at 4:00 with the first race starting at 6:00.
Adult tickets are $20, Senior/Military $15, Kids (5-12) $15 and kids five and under free.