It was a long road to the Antioch Speedway’s victory lane for San Pablo’s Bobby Motts. After four years behind the wheel of his plain blue modified stock car, Motts steered to the checkered flag in Saturday night’s International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) main event.
Winners in the five-feature card included Brentwood new mother Melissa Myers, who scored her third win of the season in the Hobby Stock Division; student Kyle Bakkie of Citrus Heights, who brought home the trophy in the Wingless Sprint Division; long-time Concord racer Mike Gustafson, who scored in the Limited Late Model Class; and, Danny Wagner of Bay Point, who fought off all challengers in the Dwarf Car division.
“I’m shaking like a leaf,” were the first words out of Motts’ mouth when he got out of his car in victory lane. ”All these years of trying, and it finally paid off.”
Motts’ car is devoid of graphics and sponsorship decals that cover most stock cars. Instead it is a collaboration of personal time and money of crewmembers Mike Ferry, Bill Garrell and Steve Cunningham.
“The guys have been with me for 18 years,” explained Motts, who won the Speedway’s Super Stock championship back in 2004.
The feature event unfolded with the twists and turns of an action movie. IMCA Champ Carl Berendsen of Antioch looked to be in route to a win. Then, halfway through the feature, a tap in turn two from Scott Busby spun out Berendsen and sent both he and Busby to the back of the lineup.
Fairfield’s Sean O’Gara looked to be heading for the win, but he was sidelined with engine problems with five laps to go. As Motts maintained his lead, it was Antioch’s Michael Salazar who charged forward.
“I just drove it as hard as I could,” Motts said of the last laps of the race.
Salazar, in his first appearance of the season, had to settle for second.
“My car just started fading away on me near the end of the race – I just couldn’t catch Bobby (Motts),” Salazar said. “I’m happy taking second on my first night out.”
Berendsen fought his way up to third from the back of the pack.
“You have to break out of the best line to pass – which is a risky move,” Berendsen said. “That late in the race I decided to do damage control and be content with third.”
Chris Elby of Tracy was fourth and Dustin Himes of Manteca completed the top five finishers.
Sponsor Steve Huddleston jumped into the passenger seat to get a thrilling perspective of his driver’s skills when Melissa Myers fought off champ Kimo Oreta of Vacaville to win the Hobby Stock main event.
“I loved every minute of it,” said Huddleston of his ride along. “I’ve been a passenger twice in this car and twice we’ve been in victory lane. Can a sponsor ask for anything more?”
Myers led from start to finish in the non-stop event.
“I could see the nose of Kimo’s (Oreta) car alongside of me,” Myers said. “But I knew as long as I did not mess up, I would be o.k.”
Oreta tried lap after lap to catch Myers.
“I just couldn’t get my car under hers for a pass,” Oreta said. “She drove clean and I wanted to keep it that way – a good, clean race.”
Jason Jennings of Pittsburg finished third, followed by Michael Cooper and Calvin Louis.
The only two drivers at the speedway who could have 100 years combined experience finished first and second in the Limited Late Model Division. Gustafson, who has raced since the 1960’s, stayed a step ahead of Vallejo’s Larry Damitz, who started his racing career in 1953.
“My car was right for the track,” said Gustafson. “I could see Larry’s (Damitz) number on the scoreboard, so I knew he was coming for me.”
The duo survived a chain reaction crash coming out of the second turn. The car of John Evans came off the wall in front of Gustafson, who tapped it, causing Damitz to bang into Gustafson.
Earlier in the race, Mark Garner of Antioch had his car destroyed as he took a hard hit into the turn one wall after contact from Mike Hynes of Suisun.
Lori Brown of Antioch finished third in front of Jim Freethy from Danville.
UC Davis chemistry major Kyle Bakkie won his second Wingless Sprint Car feature of the season with no one in front of him or right behind him. His last win this season came when the winning car was disqualified.
“It feels good to win this one by actually winning,” Bakkie said in victory lane.
Bakkie is in school all week, with his 75 year old grandparents, Judy and Earl Bradford, maintaining his car.
“They’ve been taking care of my cars since I was seven years old,” Bakkie said. “They just love sprint car racing. This means so much to them.”
Jeremy Newberry of Oakley finished a distant second in the race, followed by Marcus Smith of Manteca.
Wagner Feels the Pressure
It would be hard to say Danny Wagner ran away with this week’s Dwarf Car Feature. Mike Corsaro of Tracy and David Teves of Concord pressured Wagner all the way to the finish line.
“I never gave up, just kept going,” said Wagner, who was passed in the turns by each of the drivers, and managed to pass them back.
First it was Teves who challenged Wagner’s lead.
“I’m just trying to get the bugs out of my new car,” Teves said of the maiden voyage in the Dwarf Car he built from start to finish. “The car got tighter as the race went on, we’ll have to work on that.”
So Teves let Corsaro peck at Wagner.
“I almost had him,” Corsaro said. “We’re going to get him soon. We’re going to tame ‘Captain Chaos’ (Wagner’s Nickname).”
It was Corsaro, Teves, Jerry Doty of Hayward and Charlie Correia of Tracy across the finish line.
One More for Old Times Sake!