From The Announcer’s Seat: Preview Of A Weekly Grassroots Racing Series

Ed Note: Welcome to Grassroots. We’re trying something new here at OneDirt with this recurring series and hope you will follow along and interact. We hope to provide you with a little insight into the real-life people who make up the stock car classes by following a small group of racers at our home track, Perris Auto Speedway.

Stealing from the idea of “reality TV,” we thought it would be great to handpick this group of racers who are representative of people you may see on any given night, at any given track, in any given town across the nation. As you learn the personalities of these individuals, we think  you will gain a familiarity and recognize these characters at your own track. Whether the driver is a 15-year-old young gun, a 50-something wily veteran, a fan favorite stocker, or a black hat wearing bad guy … there’s plenty of entertainment and personality to go around.

We have enlisted the help of Scott Daloisio, who has announced at the track for the past twenty years and knows the racers intimately. He has background info that most of us don’t know, and he has the best seat in the house to watch how the fans react to the action on the track.

Perris Auto Speedway’s (PAS) stock car classes run under their own banner that they fondly call PASScar. The rules for each class are very similar to fender car classes at every other dirt track in America today. Though we are following this group at Perris, if we meet our objective, you won’t care what track it is, or even who won.

We want to capture the essence of dirt track racing — what makes the racer the kind of racer they are! Read on and see how this plays out. This is certainly a work in progress and will develop as we go along and we want readers to participate by letting us know about similarities and differences compared to the racing in your backyard.

Racing starts this weekend, so here is a little introduction to the folks you will be following this season. Watch for the rest of the series as we start getting down in the dirt!

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From Scott Daloisio:

Perris Auto Speedway (PAS) is set to kick off it’s 23rd consecutive season of stock car racing this Saturday and Sunday, February 10th and 11th, when LKQ Pick Your Part presents the PASSCAR Stock Car Series featuring the Super Stocks, Street Stocks and American Factory Stocks, along with the IMCA Modifieds. The two races will be the first of nine monthly shows that will culminate with the season finale on October 27th.

For LKQ Pick Your Part, who has been a sponsor at the track since it first threw open the doors in 1996, it will be their first year as the presenting sponsor of PASSCAR. In addition to presenting PASSCAR, 2018 will be the company’s second year as the presenting sponsor for the track’s popular “Nights of Destruction” which will begin on March 17th.

Going Back Old School

The biggest change for the competitors in 2018 will be the way the championship is decided in the PASSCAR classes. Over the past three years the title was decided by a format that copied the “Chase” in NASCAR. Drivers who won preliminary main events were eligible for the championship on the last night of the year. The highest finishing qualified driver on the final night was crowned champion of the class. Over the winter, drivers requested that the track go back to the traditional format of season long points deciding the champion. Longtime promoter Don Kazarian complied with their wishes and the track will go “old school” again in 2018.

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Alyssa Smith (31). Photo by Vane Ledgerwood.

A pair of drivers many are keen to keep their eyes on in 2018 are teenagers Alyssa Smith and James Altman Jr. After fighting for the championship in the Factory Stocks in 2017, both are stepping up their game and moving up in class. Smith, who eventually won that championship, will jump up to the Street Stocks while Altman moves up to the Super Stocks. At the pre-season “Winter Heat” openers in January, Smith led every inch of the way to win the Street Stock main and Altman finished third in the Supers.

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A wily veteran, Luke Dodd. Photo by Doug Allen.

The Wily Veteran

If there was such a thing as a sure bet in dirt track racing, one would be well advised to lay down a yard of cash on wily veteran Luke Dodd. Driving a car painted and numbered like the ones his father Jerry drove to championships at the Corona Raceway, which was located within 20 minutes of The PAS, Dodd has won four track championships dating back to 2000. In 2017, he won seven of the eight Street Stock main events. The only race he did not win, he blew an engine and had to drive someone else’s car in the main event.

Heading the list of entrants in the Super Stock class will be 2017 champion the “Sheffield Tiger,” Andy Moreton. A native of Sheffield, England, who now makes his home in Victorville, California, Moreton’s previous claim to fame on the famous half-mile clay oval was destroying a car three years prior on the back straight. Moreton’s only win in 2018 was at the season finale, but in eight races, he only finished out of the top five two times.

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Andy Moreton (07) John Mansperger (10). Photo by Doug Allen.

Wormsbecker And Becker

The most intriguing class at The PAS in 2018 may be the Modifieds.  Billy Wormsbecker, who previously won a modified championship at Victorville, claimed the 2017 PAS IMCA title while third generation driver Chuck Becker won the PAS Modified title. They are expected to be in the hunt for the crown again in a field of very stiff competition.

One of the drivers many tracksiders are keeping an eye on is off-road star Bradley Morris. Morris comfortably held the field at bay for the win in the season opener in January and backed that up with a fifth place finish 24 hours later. Crowd favorite Steven “Bam Bam” Fangmeyer, who won three mains last year and who was one of the favorites for this year’s crown, missed both races in January and will miss this week as well as he awaits an engine.

Bradley Morris

Bradly Morris. Photo by Bobby Kimbrough.

If there is a head scratcher at the track this year it is the Factory Stocks. With Smith and Altman moving on, the fight for the championship is up in the air with several new faces expected to fight for the crown along with veteran Kris Carnish and second year driver Cameron Veatch.

Spectator gates will open at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and racing will begin at 3:00 p.m. Prior to the races at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Chaplin Jim Spoonhower will conduct a Sunday service in the main grandstands for fans, drivers, crews and officials.

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Life is Beautiful. Photo by Vane Ledgerwood.

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