posted April 07, 2001 11:36 PM
State Fair Raceway Opens 2001 Season
State Fair Raceway - Yakima, WA - April 6, 2001
by George Hespe
State Fair Raceway in Yakima, WA got it's first taste of 2001 racing action
on Friday April 6th, when the sprints, modifieds and Hobby Stocks took to the
track in the first of six scheduled 'Fun In The Sun' events scheduled for this season.
Taking the first wins of the season were Lake Stevens, WA's Shawna Wilskey
with the Sprint class win, Craig Moore of Seabeck, WA took the Modified win
and Rick Melbourn of Lake Quinault, WA hauled in the first Hobby Stock win of
With additional clay added to the track over the winter the racers were
anxious to try the new clay, and their hopes for a better racing surface were
well answered. Staying smooth and fast for the entire evening, positive
comments were abundant and the winners all praised the track.
Twenty-two sprint cars signed in for opening night with one, Geoff Beck,
coming from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta and two hauling over from Montana
Wilskey grabbed the lead from her outside front row position on the green
flag, leaving Rick Smith and Randy Ridge in a 10 lap battle for second place.
Wilskey was in traffic by the third lap as Smith, from Mt Vernon, WA and
Snohomish, WA's Ridge ran nose to tail and wing to wing until Ridge finally
picked off 2nd spot on lap 9. Jason Solwold clipped an infield tire in turn
three on the next circuit, removing the left front wheel from the car, ending
the Burlington, WA driver's night of racing. During the yellow flag Smith went
to the pits with a flat tire, re-joining at the back of the pack.
On the restart it was again Wilskey showing the way with Ridge in second
while Shelton, WA hot shoe Jay Cole and Richie Peterson gave the crowd a great
race for third to watch. The final 15 laps had the leaders working traffic
smoothly and Peterson made the long haul from Great Falls, MT worth it by
taking third from Cole in the closing laps.
Young Gary Taylor, out of Snohomish, had a good outing in the Wil Kennedy #39
as he held off Barry Martinez for 5th. Martinez may have carried the battle to
Taylor a bit harder had he not had a tight battle with Chad Hillier for most
of the race.
At the finish line it read Wilskey, Ridge, Peterson, Cole and Taylor in the
top five. Smith came back from his tail end restart to finish 12th.
Martinez picked off the first win of the evening when the Lynnwood, WA driver
led wire to wire in the first heat of the evening. Cole held off Wilskey for
second place with Jim Cress taking the fourth spot. Cress' battle to keep
Smith in 5th was close, fast and the one to watch the entire race.
Heat two had Peterson putting a classic turn four slide job on Taylor for the
lead at the end of the third lap. Ridge and Dean Junell were wheel to wheel at
the white flag with Ridge getting 3rd at the checkered. Junell is just
returning to racing after a spectacular crash a couple of seasons ago. Chris
Schmelzle was fifth.
The final heat went to Jeff Blanton of Sedro Woolley, WA. Blanton was
followed by Glenn Borden, Jr. and John Tharp with the evenings best battle the
one for fourth between Solwold and Hillier with Solwold getting the spot.
The dash went to Rick Smith who held off Wilskey for the six lap run. Wilskey
and Cole banged tires in turn three on lap 4 with Cole dropping back and not
getting another chance at the spot. At the line it was Smith, Wilskey, Cole,
Ridge, Peterson and Hillier.
Fast time of the night went to Wilskey with a 16.102 circuit of the 3/8 mile oval.
A good turn out of hobby stocks saw Rick Milbourn take the lead from Hoquiam,
WA's Jack Parshall on lap 4 as the ailing Parshall exited to the pits and the trailer.
With Milbourn in the lead the battle for position in the 15 lap feature event
settled out to two groups with the faster group eventually putting the slower
cars a lap down. Elma, WA's Wes Valentine settled into second place after
getting by Chris Asche of Shelton, WA. Asche was followed by Yakima drivers
Brad Tidrick and Ron Moore.
Shortly after Parshall's exit, Dwayne Nunley headed for the pits also. Harold
Emmons of Selah, WA had his race cut short be a couple of laps when his hood,
much to the delight of the fans, decided to suddenly fold back over the top of
the car leaving Emmons with very limited viewing of the racing surface.
At the flag the top five read Milbourn, Valentine, Asche, Tidrick and Moore.
Heat race action had a tight race between Parshall and Milbourn with Milbourn
taking the win. Asche, Chris Jeffery and Valentine ended the heat in that
order after swapping spots during the race.
Lap 5 saw the yellow flag fly when James Adams and Moore tangled in turn 2,
sending Adams to the pits.
Dash action had the fans screaming as Yakima's Jeffery and Asche ran pedal to
the metal and door to door from the green flag. Exiting turn four they made
contact with Jeffery spinning in to the wall. No longer able to make the cars
go in the direction intended they were out of the dash and Jeffery was out for
the night. With two cars left, Milbourn won the drag race to the checkered
It was very evident from the first race that Yakima drivers will be quickly
adapting to the clay surface, Elma driver's loved the track and a friendly
east/west rivalry could well be in the making.
If there was a down side to the night it was that only four modifieds
ventured across the mountains to race and there no cars in this class racing
in eastern Washington. With warmer weather in the offing and good reports on
the track, more cars are expected in the future. The cars in attendance put on
a very good show of the close racing this class provides. Craig Moore cleaned
house with the Seabeck, WA driver taking the heat, dash and feature events.
The heat finish read Moore, Leroy Lawhead of Rochester, WA, Dan Wolfard,
Bremerton, WA and Kevin ****bower out of Elma. The dash went Moore, Lawhead,
Wolfard and ****bower.
In the feature Lawhead and Wolfard tangled mid race with Lawhead never able
to get back up to speed. The finish was Moore, Wolfard, ****bower and Lawhead.
Moore ran a 23.246 fast time.
Fast Time - Shawna Wilskey - 16.102
Heat 1 - Barry Martinez, jay Cole, Shawna Wilskey, Jim Cress, Rick Smith, Joe
Ramaker, Mark Kenworthy.
Heat 2 - Richie Peterson, Gary Taylor, Randy Ridge, Dean Junell, Chris
Schmelzle, Jeff Pollard.
Heat 3 - Jeff Blanton, Glen Borden, Jr., John Tharp, Jaason Solwold, Chad
Hillier, Brandon Harkness, Donny Fry.
Dash - Smith, Wilskey, Cole, Ridge, Peterson, Hillier.
A-Main - Wilskey, Ridge, Peterson, Cole, Taylor, Martinez, Hillier, Borden,
Blanton, Tharp, Harkness, Smith, Cress, Junell, Kenworthy, pollard, Ramaker,
Schmelzle, Solwold, Fry, Mike Melwicks, Geoff Beck.
Heat - Rick Milbourn, Jack Parshall, Chris Asche, Chris Jeffery, Wes
Valentine, Brad Tidrick, Jr., Harold Emmons, Ron Moore, James Adams, Dwayne
Dash - Milbourn, Parshall, Asche, Jeffery.
A- Main - Milbourn, Valentine, Asche, Tidrick, Moore, Emmons, Nunley,
Parshall, Jeffery, Adams.
Fast Time - Craig Moore - 23.246
Heat - Craig Moore, Leroy Lawhead, Dan Wolfard, Kevin ****bower.
Dash - Moore, Lawhead, Wolfard, ****bower.
A-Main - Moore, Wolfard, ****bower, Lawhead.