Antioch Speedway Prepares For Five Division Show As Community Mourns The Passing Of A Legend

Antioch, CA…Antioch Speedway will follow up the successful Hetrick Memorial and Dwarf Car Nationals events with a five division program this Saturday night. The IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds have been added to the lineup with the Dwarf Cars being pulled so the drivers can recover from the Nationals. Also competing will be the Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks, Wingless Spec Sprints and Mini Stocks.

However, some sad news has rocked the racing community. Just as the Hall of Fame committee had met to vote on this year’s inductees, news circulated around Antioch of the passing of longtime Promoter John Michael Soares. John and his family have been involved in the motorsports industry for decades, and he was raised around race cars and race tracks.

His legendary father, John Pershing Soares, was one of Bob Barkhimer’s go to men when it came to promoting race tracks in the 1950s and 1960s. Since he was a kid, John learned to handle different duties at the track and learned about working on race cars. Before he was even 16 years old, he was driving race cars.

When Antioch Speedway opened for weekly competition in 1961, John was one of the competitors. He bears the distinction of being the only driver to win at least one Main Event at the track in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, 00s and 10s. As a Sportsman competitor, John notched 20 victories at Antioch Speedway, third all-time behind fellow Hall of Famers Gary Pacheco and Dennis Furia.

He won the 1969 State Sportsman championship as well as the Petaluma crown. Though he ranked well through years at Antioch, he didn’t pursue points, instead opting to run money races and move up to the Winston West Series.

John developed the Lobak Performance Muffler, which became the standard at several race tracks. He built winning race cars in the Sportsman and Late Model divisions in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He was still building race cars at the time of his passing. He was a Top 10 ranked Winston West driver and a winner on that competitive circuit. He even competed for a while on the Winston Cup circuit.

In the 1990s, John began working as the team manager/car builder for the Team USA versus Team Australia Sedan series, which took place in Australia during our off-season. After winning the bid to get the contract for promoter of Antioch Speedway in 1998, John was at the helm of the track for 22 seasons.

Combined with his father’s 20 years, that means a Soares has promoted the track for 42 years. In 2018 he was inducted into the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame, and it was just decided on Monday that his wife Donna would be inducted this year.

John was proceeded in death by his wife Donna in 2018. The Donna Soares Memorial race was held that year and was run in conjunction with the Hall of Fame, which was established in the same season. The track will make announcements in the days ahead regarding John and any events scheduled in his honor. His guidance kept the track going, even when times weren’t the best, and he will be missed by the racing community.

Despite the bad news, John himself would want the show to go on, and Saturday’s event should be a good one. Nick DeCarlo and Kellen Chadwick have been waging a fierce battle for the IMCA Modified championship. The two past Antioch title winners have won multiple Main Events this year, and DeCarlo leads Chadwick by just one point going into the night. At the Hetrick race, Chadwick drove the Gary Hylton car to a third place finish. Bobby Motts Jr is 13 points back in third.

Five-time champion Troy Foulger competed at the Hetrick event and settled for second behind all-time Antioch Speedway winner Bobby Hogge IV. However, Foulger has had a couple of big moments in recent weeks, winning the $7,300 R Charles Snyder Salute in Medford, Oregon and the most recent $2,500 Top Dog Nationals race in Petaluma.

The IMCA Sport Modifieds will be back in action. Four-time Main Event winner and two-time reigning champion Fred Ryland maintains a four point advantage over recent Northwest Speedweek Series champion Andrew Pearce. That battle has been intense, but rising young star Jacob Mallet Jr has sort of slipped in under the radar. Mallet is only 22 points out of the lead in third. He currently leads the IMCA State of California point battle and ranks second at Watsonville. He has four wins at Watsonville, and he picked up the victory at Merced last weekend. Mallet is still searching for his first Antioch win of the season.

After winning three Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stock Main Events earlier this season, Misty Welborn has been shut out of the winner’s column. However, she continues to stretch her point advantage and used a third place finish in the most recent race to take a 36 point lead over rival Michaela Taylor. Not to be forgotten in the mix is Jared Baugh. Baugh picked up his first ever victory last Friday, and that enabled him to move into third in the standings by 12 tallies ahead of Taylor DeCarlo. The Hobby Stocks have been the biggest supported division at the speedway this year.

2019 Wingless Spec Sprint champion Shannon Newton may not have been thinking about points entering the season, but he finds himself just 13 points behind James East coming into this race. Only eight points out of first is one time feature winner Zack Neeley. Newton was an unlikely winner last time out after aparent winter Nick Larsen was docked two positions on a rough driving call. Shannon’s daughter MacKenzie Newton finished a career high second on that occasion.

We haven’t seen much of the Mini Stock division lately, but reigning champion Tom Brown has two wins and holds a 28 point lead over Dana Gardner. 32 points out of lead is rookie Shan Titman. Brown used his sixth victory at Petaluma Speedway last week to maintain his advantage in that title chase. The reigning Petaluma champion has a third championship at that track in his sights, and he would be the only driver to have managed that feat if he is able to accomplish it.

While it may be a somber occasion this weekend, the five division lineup should offer some great racing for the fans. The gates will open at 4:00 with the first race starting at 6:00.

Ticket prices are $20 for Adults, $15 for Military, Seniors (60 and over) and Children (under 11) with Children 5 and under free

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