2019 Schedule Released For Outlaw Kart Season At Little Southern Oregon Speedway
White City, Oregon...After a bit of delay, the 2019 schedule for Little Southern Oregon Speedway has been released. The Outlaw Kart program has been featured on the little 1/8 mile clay oval track for the past 21 years as a training grounds for the future stars of the big speedway.
However, in recent seasons, the count has declined to a point where the program itself has been at risk. Core divisions have continued to be the 500 Open Karts, 250 Karts, Box Stocks and Beginners Box Stocks. Speedway Karts were added as a way to get the numbers up last season, and management has considered many other options to get the count up.
Lawn Mowers have been invited, though drivers in the mower divisions seemed less than enthusiastic about competing at the little track. 600 Micros have been considered, though enough cars aren't out there to get it started. Management has discussed many other special attractions to get the interest up.
However, something new is going to be attempted. Joining the five classes this year will be the Flat Track Motorcycles. Southern Oregon Speedway promoter Mike McCann has been working to put a program together and feed the need of Motorcycle enthusiasts in Southern Oregon who in recent years haven't had much to see on the oval tracks. The result is the new division being added to all eight events this year.
Details are still being put together and will be forthcoming in the days ahead. The Box Stock and Beginners Box Stock divisions are the strongest classes at the moment, and the 250's are still holding on. Beyond that, the trend seems to be for drivers to bypass the 500 Open class and move into the Sprint Car division on the bigger track. It's known that there are several 500 Open Karts in the area, but getting them to show up on any given Friday night has been a challenge.
The drivers in all classes, including the Speedway Karts, will have an opportunity to race at the opener on May 10th, followed by a May 17th show. In June, races on the 14th and 21st are scheduled. In July, Kart racing returns on the 5th and 19th. In the final month of the season, August 9th and 16th will be the dates. The speedway attempted to run September shows last year, but interest waned to the point where the final race was scrapped. It is felt that racing from May through August is the best opportunity for the track. Furthermore, there will be playdays on April 13th and 27th, weather permitting.
The decline in numbers in the Kart program can be seen at other venues in Oregon and Northern California, but McCann still felt strongly enough about keeping this show alive that he put together a schedule this year. The families who have been supportive of the Outlaw Karts in recent seasons have done so enthusiastically. It is hoped that the influx of younger drivers into the Box Stock ranks will begin to move into the 250's, and we've begun to see that.
For instance, last season saw both Vinny DeBenedetti and Taylor Fuller compete in their first full seasons in the 250s. Incoming champion Trevor Grimes seemed to be the driver to beat going into the season, and DeBenedetti turned out to be a pleasant surprise as the big challenger for the crown. Grimes opened the season with back to back Main Event wins, but DeBenedetti won the next two races to insert himself into the championship conversation.
After a Grimes victory, he saw his luck turn sour with a blown motor in a heat race at the next event. Grimes missed a race, putting DeBenedetti into a position to win the championship merely by starting the finale, which was won by Grimes. Four-time winner Grimes settled for second in the final standings.
Taylor Fuller gave it a good run and looked like a contender to win the final race of the season before bad luck put an end to that. He finished as high as second once with three third place finishes to secure third in the final standings. Brenden Bartlett was subbing for Brionna Fuller, who had to sit out a few races with a broken arm.
Bartlett and Yreka star Cale Cunial were the other Main Event winners during the season. Cadyn Smith finished as high as third once to secure fourth in the final standings. Other season-best efforts included one second place each for 2016 champion Bodee Weiser and Cole Cunial. Grimes had a pair of seconds to go with his four wins, and DeBenedetti had a pair of thirds. Braden Weiser also had a third place finish.
Another close battle was had in the Box Stock division between Keaton Augustine and Ryan Hirschbock. Taylor Fuller and Jacob James also ran in close contention during the first half of the season, but Fuller moved up to focus on his 250 effort and James ended up missing some races. Fuller did win the season opener in impressive fashion. Fuller remained In contention until moving up, but one third and three fourths were among his best finishes after the win.
Herschbock inserted himself into the championship conversation by winning the second event. He also won the last two races of the season and had two seconds and two thirds. However, Augustine got on a roll. After back-to-back second-place finishes to start his season, Keaton won three in a row and finished second in the final three races. It was close in the end, but Augustine prevailed over Hirschbock for the championship.
James charged to a win and two seconds and a third among his best finishes to lay claim to third in the standings ahead of Fuller. The steady Kiley Grimes ranked fifth. Grimes was making her move up from the Beginners division and finished as high as fourth once and fifth twice. Other season best efforts included one third for Mason King and a fifth for Malachi Johnson. Johnson ended up returning to the Beginners class to finish out the season, but he's returning for the full season in Box Stocks this year.
The Beginners class was the biggest at the speedway, and because of the discrepancy in speed between drivers with just a little bit more seat time than the newer drivers, a Novice class was started in an effort to give those newcomers a chance to learn at their own speed. Johnson carried the advantage as the incoming champion, but Shailene Horn and Carson Henson were in the hunt early on. Horn would miss races due to the fire in the Yreka area, but Henson stayed in the battle.
After Hayfork visitor Chayce Smith earned the first of his two victories in the opener, Johnson rattled off three wins in a row. This put him in the lead, but he elected to miss a race to make his first start in the Box Stock ranks. That race was won by Crescent City visitor Austin Bartholomew, but Johnson returned to win the next race. However, Henson was now in the hunt. The reigning indoor Yreka champion, Hanson had a second and three thirds among his best efforts, but he managed to lock up the championship with his first win in the season finale. Johnson settled for second.
Third in the final rundown went to Jayme DeBenedetti, who had one fourth and two fifths among her best efforts and was also a heat race winner at the opener. Other season best finishes included two second-place finishes for Horn and three second place finishes for Mike Wheeler Jr. Uriah Sanders was also an early-season contender with a second and a third before dropping out of contention. Grant Proctor, Bartholomew and Albert Gill Jr each had third place finishes.
DeBenedetti ended up being entered in the Novice race for the finale as her father wanted her to gain some confidence and get her to be a little bit more aggressive. She won that race ahead of Bhaltaire Edwards and Isaac Grimes. Edwards won two races with Gill also getting a win. Grimes had two second place finishes and Caleb Ranney, who was the youngest driver in the field, also had a second place finish. Edwards was awarded the championship ahead of Grimes and Ranney.
The Speedway Karts show was an interesting battle. The two-day season opener saw a special appearance of the 206's, and Phil Pfau won that $1,000 prize. Some of those competitors also ran in the Speedway Kart race the next day, won by Jeremy Brown over Daniel Kravitz and Steve Rambo. Rambo took a casual approach to running for points, but his three wins and second and third In addition to his season opening performance had him leading going into the finale. Inexplicably, Rambo chose to miss that race, opening the door for Lori Fuller. Lori had won the Main Event earlier in the season in a Four Cycle Kart that was not even competitive with the Speedways Karts after attrition took everybody else out of the race. She ended the season with a victory to beat Rambo for the championship. Lori also had two third place finishes among her best efforts.
Larry Fuller won one Main Event and had a third place finish to settle for third in the standings. Not being comfortable with track conditions, Larry skipped the last two races of the season, which would have made the difference in a possible championship run. Ron Bolles won the Main Event in his first of two appearances. Ken Gaines finished a very close second to Lori Fuller as his best effort in the finale. Season-best second place finishes were also turned in by Johnny Hoult, Sean Fuller and Ed Grubb. Grubb did it twice. Brionna Fuller had a pair of third place finishes, the second of which came while her arm was still in a cast.
Because of car count issues, you never knew if there was going to be a 500 Open race. The record shows that there were four different winners in the four races that happened. On one occasion, Reece Slyter was the only driver to appear and ran with the 250s, but his night ended in a nasty heat race flip on the front straightaway. Mike Wheeler won the $500 prize in the season-opener ahead of Kenny Boardman. Yreka star Josh Steinhoff, 2016 champion Johnny Burke and Boardman were the other winners. With his win in the finale, Boardman earned the championship. Bailey Sucich finished second in the finale, and Kyle Romacotti and Brenden Bartlett both finished as high as second once. Dillen Lausen, Slyter and Merissa Henson finished as high as third.
This season, the Outlaw Kart program will go on with eight scheduled races. There is much optimism in the Box Stock and Beginners Box Stock classes with all of the new drivers helping make those classes bigger. The opportunity is there for the drivers in all classes to support the show and help the program grow stronger. The further addition of the Flat Track Motorcycles will give the fans more excitement on any given Friday night.
We would like to invite everyone to check out the kart races at Southern Oregon Speedway: where the whole family can race!