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2012 News and Results

7 Main Event Wins

8 Heat Race Wins

SponsorsThe Pink Poodle

Petaluma Speedway

Alviso Rock

S&S Automotive

Atomic Designs

E3 Designs

December, 20th, 2012

As Christmas is right around the corner and 2012 is quickly coming to a close, Decker Racing would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and crew for all their invaluable support and help over the past season. 

To The Pink Poodle – our featured and most special sponsor - thank you for your continued loyalty and trust in us. Mike and Belinda, we would like to thank you personally for sticking with us and having fun with us, and most of all, celebrating our success with us! We think the world of you guys, and cannot thank you enough! We hope we represent you well, and can continue to do so in the upcoming season.

To Alviso Rock – You came on board this year, and we appreciate the support! We hope we showed you that as a race team we could and would put your name in victory circle. 

To S&S Automotive – Thanks for continuing to help us with the speed portion of our program. Your knowledge and legendary service is vital to us and our racing program. 

To Big John and Eddy – It seems that this is the only time of the year we really tell you how much your help means to us. We need to remedy that. We absolutely could not do what we do without your help. Your loyalty, excitement, and backing is crucial to “doing what we do.” The new modified is waiting (hint, hint). Thank you, thank you and thank you.

We are looking forward to the 2013 season running our dirt late model as well as our new modified! Over the off season we will continue to post pictures and update you on our “rebuilding” process. We hope that those of you who were able to come out and watch some of our races can make a few this upcoming 2013 season. Having our fans in the stands cheering us on, really fires us up! More than you could even imagine. 

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Be safe and enjoy

Three Time Maselli Champion

September, 8th, 2012

Petaluma Speedway – The VVVIII Annual M. Maselli & Son’s Classic

The M. Maselli & Son’s Late Model Classic is the race we wait all year for.  The one we strive to win.  In the past four years, Jeff has either won this race (twice), or finished second in it.  Needless to say, he is a threat to take the title every year.  This past Saturday at Petaluma Speedway, Jeff put on his game face.  He wanted this win.  He was going to get it done!

The West Coast Late Models were running the show on Saturday, and they had brought four of their drivers to compete with the Petaluma regulars.  The four additional drivers were all “loaded for bear,” with big motors, high dollar set ups and newer chassis’.  Our advantage in this set up, is that we knew the track.

Regardless of how big a show, the drivers still have to mudpack, and we used that time to see what track conditions really were like, as you can’t completely tell until you are actually ON the race surface.  If conditions weren’t misleading, this track looked like it was going to turn out to be like the Petaluma tracks of old; tacky, hooked up, and fast!

Since Jeff had won the past two races he ran at Petaluma, we were pretty sure our car set up was close to where it needed to be, so no changes were made before hot laps.  Hot laps were pretty crowded as the officials put 9 cars on the track to hot lap.  Having that many cars out there never allowed Jeff to get a really good lap, but he still looked really fast.  When he came in, he still was pretty happy with the car, and they didn’t want to make any changes to it yet.

Group qualifying was out this night and single car, two-lap qualifying would be how you got your time.  Jeff was the third car out on the track and ripped off a blazing fast time of 14.467!  He was fast time in his group and 2nd quick time overall!

Starting on the pole of the heat race, we were pretty confident that Jeff would come out either first or 2nd in the 8 lap battle, and we were right.  The bottom of the track was pretty slick and Jeff didn’t get the traction he needed to come out on top.  The #16 piloted by Michael Paul, Jr. got the jump at the green and Jeff and he put on a pretty good race.  Jeff was at his door at the checkered flag, but still finished in the 2nd position.

The West Coast Late Model Series runs their dashes in a different format, with the 1st and 2nd place heat finishers from all the heats pulling a pill for starting position in the dash.  The way the drivers finish in the dash is the way they will line up for the main event.  Jeff pulled the number 4, and lined up for the 6 lap dash for cash.   Jeff's car was good in the dash, but not as good as the leader's car, as he pulled away from the 2nd and 3rd place cars.  Jeff was faster and smoother than the 2nd place car, and made several attempts to pass him, but wisely backed off as that car was completely out of control and it looked like to pass it, would be to wreck himself.  Jeff settled for the 3rd place position at the checkers. 

So that brought us to The Main Event, in which Jeff would start in the 3rd position.  What can I say about the main event that would describe it to you?  I try not to use foul language on the website, so I can't use that...  Well, I'll just try my best to catch you up.

As I said, Jeff started in the 3rd position.  At the drop of the green, the 2nd place car obviously jumped the start, and the start was called back by the flagman.  On the 2nd try, the 1st place car obviously jumped the start, and again, it was called back by the flagman.  At any other racetrack, there would be a change made at this point.  The front two cars would be penalized for not being able to start the race by moving back a row and the 2nd row would then be moved up.  Not at this race.  A third attempt was going to be given, when the 2nd place car of Clay Daly came off the track with a broken birdcage.  The 4th place starter had already been involved in a tangle and had come off the track for repairs, so the 6th place car was now moved up to start on the outside front row...was this race ever going to get started? 

Once the race finally got underway, the leader, Rob Sanders, checked out.  Jeff got hung up behind the 6th place starting car for a few laps and when he finally cleared him, began trying to track down the leader, but at this point, Sanders had clear track and was sailing away and already lapping a car or two.  A few yellow flags bunched up the field again, but due to lap cars being placed between Jeff and Sanders and because of the “Delaware style” restart format that the West Coast Late Model series uses, Sanders always had a distinct advantage and was able to take off quickly and separate himself from the rest of the pack while Jeff had to work his way around lap cars before once again, tracking down the leader.  We were so frustrated!  Why didn’t the West Coast Late Model officials just let the front two race?!  Jeff was making up some ground, but we were worried it was too little each lap.  We shouldn’t have worried however, because as the laps clicked off, Jeff’s car just seemed to get faster and faster.  It was ROLLING!  Jeff got closer and closer to the leader under green.  When Sanders got hung up behind a lap car, Jeff was right on his bumper!  Sanders couldn’t clear the lap car, and as they headed into turn 4, Jeff dived to the bottom to try and pass! 

The two leaders, along with the lap car, made it three wide coming out of turn four with Jeff on the bottom, Sanders in the middle and the lap car on the top side.  Jeff went into turn one with the advantage on Sanders, but Sanders wasn't about to give up and both cars took the dive into turn one really hot.  Jeff was committed to the bottom and took the turn on a mission.  Both cars slid up to the top of the race track where Sanders and he made contact but neither Jeff nor Sanders gave an inch and they were both going for it!   Jeff came out on top in that battle and now had the lead!  After Jeff made the pass, the rest of the race was relatively uneventful, and we could calm down a little as Jeff went on unchallenged to take the checkered flag and his his 3rd M. Maselli & Sons Late Model title!   But once the checkered flag came out and Jeff had secured the win, we once again lost it and were cheering like mad fools!  IT WAS GREAT!  This is the race we want to win all year, and to actually do it, for the third time, is just downright amazing.  Jeff is just downright amazing!

 

August, 25th, 2012

We were back at Petaluma Speedway on Saturday night, in our attempt to make it two wins in a row with the late model.  The weather was beautiful, the pits were crowded and the track looked smooth.  Perfect.

We had been having transponder issues (electronic scoring device), and had just got a new transponder this past week.  We hoped this would solve the problem.  After Jeff took his hot lap session (in which he looked great, by the way), the announcer relayed the information that Jeff was the fastest in his hot lap session, so I guess the new transponder was working!  Yay!  Perfect!

When Jeff came in, the guys discussed possible changes, as they weren’t sure if the track would stay the same, or dry out a little before the qualifying session.  They decided to leave it alone, and Jeff headed out with his group.  The track looked like a fast one, and Jeff proved it was laying down a blistering fast lap of 15.116, for the fastest overall qualifying time.  Perfect!

As Jeff had timed in fast time, he started on the pole of his heat race.  The track surface was very narrow, and Jeff was worried about the bottom of the track being too slick to get any traction.  He shouldn’t have worried, as he quickly outpaced the rest of the field.  Lap traffic played a small part as at one point a car was still on the track with a broken traction bar, and almost took Jeff out because the car had absolutely no steering!  THAT was scary.  But Jeff got around the car and won the heat race unchallenged.  Again, perfect!

A small adjustment to the car and some added fuel were the only changes made before the 25 lap main event.  Jeff would start on the outside, front row, and we were very confident in the car.  It was a rocket ship tonight!  At the drop of the green flag, it was obvious to us that Jeff was in a league of his own.  He took off and basically left his fellow competitors in the dust.  At one point, Jeff had a half of a track lead over 2nd place!  It wasn’t until lap traffic became a factor, that that gap closed a little.  Jeff cautiously, but aggressively, picked his way thru lap traffic, diving and weaving; it was beautiful to watch.  Jeff turned some incredibly fast laps, and came very close to breaking the Petaluma late model track record!  Jeff took the checkered flag, unscathed, for another win!  Two in a row, and five wins overall this season at Petaluma!  Absolutely PERFECT!

August, 18th, 2012

Loaded up the late model and we were back on the road headed North to Petaluma this past Saturday.  Excited to see Jeff run the late model again.  My favorite!

We were happy to see more than the regular turn out of late models, but a smaller than average turn out of cars in all other classes.  The pits basically looked empty.  Kind of strange, but that meant we would definitely be out of there early in the evening. 

Mud packing let us know that the track was in great shape, and when they let the late models go right to a mini hot lap session, we felt that the track was gonna be fast and smooth that night.  They let the late models go out for another “official” hot lap session about 20 minutes later, and our thoughts were confirmed. 

Due to a lower than usual overall car count, the track decided to do two-lap, one car qualifying for the late models, which is not the norm; they usually do group qualifying, and that can get you stuck behind a slower car and your time might not reflect your actual speed.  So this was a good thing and would give us a real indicator of where the car was.

Not many changes needed to be made, as the car looked close to perfect.  Jeff headed out to line up for qualifying and we were very happy to see Jeff turn the 2nd quickest lap of the night; a 15.757.  Fast time had been set by John Silva with a 15.550, so there wasn’t a significant difference between the 1st and 2nd qualifiers.  In fact, Jeff and John Silva were the only drivers to time in the 15 second bracket!  The car was good!

Since Jeff had qualified so well, he would take the pole position in his heat race.  Starting on the front row, Jeff shot out of there like a cannon and basically just left the other competitors.  When Jeff crossed the checkered flag he was half a track in front of the 2nd place car.  The pit crew felt great about the car, but we definitely wanted to get Jeff’s input.

Jeff seemed to think the car was a hot rod as well!  The guys made a few small adjustments, but nothing major.  We would be starting on the outside, front row, but starting in the pole position right next to us, would be John Silva, the closest in qualifying time to us.  We needed to be perfect!  And from the drop of the green flag, perfect was as close as I can describe to what Jeff was in that race car.  Jeff was so smooth!  He hit his marks and turned lap after perfect lap.  There were some truly anxious moments with lapped traffic, and Silva was waiting to pounce at any moment if Jeff made a mistake, but he didn’t.  Even at one point when a lapped car was right in Jeff’s line and Jeff could hear Silva’s motor in his right ear and knew he was coming, Jeff didn’t lose his cool.  He came out ahead in every adverse situation, and WON THE EXCITING, FAST, FURIOUS, 25 LAPPER!  It was an awesome night, and I definitely lost my voice because of it.  But I’m not complaining.

Here is a link to the official story on Petaluma’s website:  http://www.petaluma-speedway.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=440:division-leaders-take-top-honors-at-petaluma-speedway&catid=1:latest&Itemid=50

 

August, 4th, 2012

Kind of a last minute decision to take the modified and run Antioch Speedway’s weekly modified show this past Saturday.  Jeff had been working extremely hard on the modified, both in online research and physically on the car, and we were interested to find out if we were going in the right direction with it.  Only one way to find out!!

We were happy to see 20 modifieds in the pits.  That meant that we would be racing for $1000 to win, as opposed to the regular $600.  However, since Jeff had won the race the last time we were there, we would still have to start near the back. 

When Jeff went out for mudpacking the track was a MESS!  Someone had definitely got a little crazy with the water truck!  Cars could barely stay on the track, and were sliding all over.  Jeff only stayed out as long as necessary, but we still could not believe how much mud his car had picked up during that crazy session.  We felt like we scraped off at least 1000 pounds!

2 hours later, and multiple mudpacking sessions later, hot lap sessions were called up.  The track still looked a bit greasy, but we needed the lap time just to see if the car was in the ballpark.  With the 2-1/2 laps the flagman gave our group, we couldn’t tell much, but the car didn’t look too bad.  Nobody looked great.  There just wasn’t any track to run on yet.

Fortunately a few classes of cars ran their hot lap sessions and their heat races before we were due back on the track for our heat race.  This helped the track come in, and we couldn’t wait to see how the car would do in Jeff’s heat.  He was starting dead last, so pretty much any gained position was good!  From the drop of the green, we could tell that Jeff had made some significant improvements in the car!  The thing shot forward like a rocket!  There still wasn’t any bottom to the track, so Jeff had to use middle/high to get around the cars, but he managed to get up to 3rd and was running down the 2nd and 1st place cars when he ran out of time at the checkered. 

Jeff felt the car was so good in the heat race, he was hesitant to make any major change before the main event.  We would be starting 8th, so we had a long way to go to the front.  The guys watched the track for any significant change, and ended up just adding fuel to the car.  We crossed our fingers and sent Jeff out.

Starting 8th at Antioch’s tight bullring of a track can be a scary proposition.  You push it and you can end up in the wall.  If you’re too patient, you can end up getting ass packed, or just left in the dust.  You have to time and drive it perfectly.  And that’s exactly what Jeff did!  Cars were tank slapping and spinning each other out, and Jeff did what he does best.  He drove a heads up, very aware race, and his car was awesome!  He could put the car on the bottom, on the top, basically anywhere he wanted.  The car just responded.  He was quickly up to 6th, then 5th, and then 3rd.  It was so exciting!  When Jeff got up to 2nd, and then was challenging for the lead, we almost lost it!  He was very close to taking the win, but ended up with 2nd.  It still felt like a win to us, as the car was so much better than it has ever been!  We’ll take it!

July, 28th, 2012

Headed back down to Petaluma Speedway on Saturday again with the late model.  After running there the previous week, we had fixed a couple of things and wanted to see how the car would respond to the changes. 

After unloading the car and going to the driver’s meeting, Jeff was soon headed out for mudpacking, and it quickly became apparent that the track was already dry.  The sprint cars were another class running that night, and along with the warm weather, their large tires had sucked the majority of the moisture right out of the track! 

When Jeff returned to the pits, the guys made some adjustments for dry, slick conditions and Jeff got back in the car and lined up for hot laps.   During the session, he looked a little tight in the middle of turns 1 and 2, but not too bad considering the conditions.  He looked fast.  As he was coming off the track, the announcer stated the times that the racers had turned during hot laps.  He then said that Jeff had recorded no time as apparently he had no transponder.  What?  He had a transponder!  It was on the car!  We had charged it!  Uh oh.  We would have to look into this.

Jeff pulled the transponder off the car, wiped it down, checked it over and reinstalled it on the car.  Everything “looked” fine on it.  Qualifying was up next, so we just hoped that there had been some mud blocking the transmission of our time, and now everything was okay.  Jeff ran some really good laps and we knew that he would be in front of the heat race, when once again, the announcer says, “Jeff Decker has no transponder and no time.  He will start in the back of the heat race.”  Are you kidding me???????????

We pulled the transponder off once again and I went to the office to see if I could borrow one of the track’s transponders, which they were nice enough to let me do.  Jeff and the guys were busy making changes to the car since we were starting in the back of the heat and Jeff felt the car needed more forward bite.  Only too soon, Jeff was back in the car and lining up for the heat.  Starting in the back didn’t stop Jeff and he quickly came forward and ran in the 2nd position, which is where he finished.  At least we now had a working transponder and could be scored!  Hopefully we would get a good starting position, and a good finish out of the main event.

The guys watched the track and made changes.  They watched it some more and tweaked it a little more.  An inversion pill was pulled for position in the late model main event, and we found out we would be starting 3rd.  Not too bad! 

When Jeff lined up on the front stretch for the main event, we found out that the original pole-sitter would now start in the back of the main event, which would move us up to pole position!  This sounded great, but in reality, we were worried as all night the track had been a one-lane groove… ON THE TOP.  Since Jeff was starting on the bottom of the track, we were worried that the top side would just rail around and we would end up in the back like the beginning of last week’s main!  Shouldn’t have worried, as Jeff held on to the car and floored it and put it into second position immediately.  Jeff drove the car the best he could, but we could tell the car was just not all “there.”  It was tight, it was loose, it just wasn’t the hot rod we usually have.  Like I said, Jeff did the best he could with what he had and held 2nd position for about 20 laps, but really couldn’t do anything when the 3rd place car of Richard Papenhausen got by him on the bottom of turn 3.  Jeff ended up taking the checkers in 3rd place, and we were very proud of him!  He drove his butt off! 

 

July, 14th, 2012

Headed back down to Petaluma Speedway on Saturday to do some late model racing.  Had been awhile since we had the car out, so were excited to hear the loud roar of the late models again!
Not as many late models as usual had showed up, but there were plenty of talented drivers there.  We would have to be on our game tonight.

Heading out for mudpacking, and the track was a mess!  Greasy, slick and just plain undriveable.  We couldn’t tell how the car would do, or if it would even stick to the track in hot laps.  It was just wait and see.

Jeff got back in the car and lined up for hot laps.  Hopefully the track would be a little more driveable and readable!  However, it was neither, and with a couple of late model drivers spinning out, Jeff really only got two complete laps out there.  Not enough to be able to tell him or us anything. 

Surprisingly, Petaluma decided that they were going to do away with group qualifying that night, or actually, qualifying of any kind for the late models, and lined up the heat race straight off the pill draw.  Unfortunately, I had pulled us the worst pill of the bunch and Jeff would start dead last in a 7 car, 8 lap heat.  With no idea how the car would really perform on the track, off Jeff went to see what would happen.  The car was good, but not great, and Jeff moved forward fairly quickly to 4th and that is where he finished.

When Jeff returned from the heat, the gloves came off.  The car was immediately jacked up and changes were flying left and right.  We found out that an inversion pill would be pulled for track position during the main, and we were lucky enough to land in the 3rd starting position.  Great news.  We hung out, waited and watched the track conditions during the mains that would run before us, and more changes were made to the car.  We really had a completely different racecar by the time our main event was set to start. 

Lined up on the front stretch, with only one car in front of us, things looked pretty positive… That is, until the green flag dropped, and the car in front of us, JUST DOESN’T GO!  Unreal!  Jeff is quickly shuffled back to 6th position as everyone flies to the top of the track and rails around Jeff and the putting polesitter.  Wow.  Our hearts sank.  Jeff got around the slow car as quickly as he could , but had to drive the car hard!  The leaders sped away, but Jeff was looking good… The car was working well… We were catching them!  Jeff made clean lap after clean lap, and was cutting their lead down.  He was quickly back into 4th position, but honestly, we needed a yellow for Jeff to have any chance at the win, and we just weren’t getting one!  Finally, a restart on lap 21 of the 25 lap race, had the competitors bunched up again, but it was a single file start!  Jeff drove his ass off and managed to pull off a very respectable 2nd place finish from that very sucky start.  What could have been!?! 

June 30, 2012

No late model racing going on this weekend, so decided to bring the modified out for its 5th appearance ever and race out at Antioch Speedway.  We love this hooked-up, fast, bullring of a track.  The fans and racers are great, it’s close to home, and we (almost) always have fun there.  It was great to be traveling to a different venue on Saturday.  We were all upbeat and excited.

Sixteen modifieds were on hand for the evening, and this included a lot of great competition.  Jeff pulled his pill for his starting position, and got a 90.  After it all played out, this was the worst number pulled for that evening, as Jeff started dead last in the second heat.  Each heat had 8 cars.  We had our work cut out for us!

The track had been heavily watered and there was clay everywhere when Jeff returned to the pits from mudpacking.  Hopefully this meant that the track would stay hooked up.  We scraped off as much of the stuff as we could and Jeff headed out to hot lap.  We all watched the car closely.  We wanted to be able to tell Jeff what the car was doing if he asked.  The car looked good to us -- maybe a small tweak or two, but we felt it was heat race ready!

Jeff came into the pits, and I guess he didn’t agree, lol.  Since we were starting at the very back of the heat race, he felt now was the time to make changes and try a different set up.  The guys got to work and next thing ya know, Jeff was headed back out.  The first couple laps of the heat race, you could see Jeff trying to feel out the car, and then he basically passed three cars on one lap.  He spent the remainder of the race trying to track down the top runners, but ran out of time and finished 5th in the heat.

With his 5th place finishing spot in the heat, the mathematics would have him starting 9th in the main event.  Wow, that was deep in the field.  Jeff did not feel the car currently had the set up that it needed to come forward and win the race, and decided to make major changes.  Pull bars were adjusted, shocks were changed or tied down, tires were changed.  Not much wasn’t adjusted!  The track was closely watched for changing track conditions, and then more changes were made!  We had no idea what the car would do.  We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

With big motors and experienced drivers to contend with, Jeff would have to be on top of his game.  Plus, the action flies fast and furious out at Antioch, and wrecks can and do happen quickly and often.   In the pits, we were all nervous, excited and pacing to see what would happen.  We know that Jeff is one of the best drivers around, but we still get crazy on our side of the fence!   At the drop of the green flag, it was on.  Jeff took off and the car was good!  He immediately passed two cars before even one lap was completed!  He was in 7th!  And then the yellow flag came out…  Did this mean he would have to give up those two positions?  Turned out that no, it didn’t, as the two cars that had spun were the cars he just passed.  So there would be a complete restart with Jeff now in 7th position.  The green flag dropped again.  Jeff passed two more cars!  He was in 5th!  And then the yellow flag came out…  Are you kidding me?  This would be the theme of the night.  I lost count of how many yellows there were.  But every time there was a yellow, on the double-file restart, Jeff would move up.  By lap 8, Jeff was in 2nd place!  More yellows, more restarts.  Jeff passed for the lead at least 3 times, and a yellow would come out.  Jeff had to give the position back as they “revert back a lap”   Ahhhh!!!!!!!!  This was crazy!  Then the unexpected happened!  The leader broke!  Jeff was following close behind him, and in his effort to not get into the back of him, had to slow up dramatically.  This unfortunately allowed the 3rd place car to pass both Jeff and the broken car for the lead.  With the laps ticking down, Jeff only had about 5 laps left to get the lead back and the win.  I couldn’t even watch!  At the drop of the green flag, I just put my head down and prayed, and then I heard John yelling, “go, go, go!” and knew that Jeff had once again, showed his incredible talent, made a clean pass, and was back out in the lead!  This time he was never challenged, and sailed to victory!  And what a sweet victory it was!  The first EVER for our new FlexiFlyer chassis!  Took 5 races in the thing for Jeff to figure it out, but now that he has, WATCH OUT GUYS!!!  LOL.

 

June 9, 2012

Headed up to Petaluma Speedway on Saturday with high hopes.  Jeff had three main event and three heat race wins under his belt to date and we were hoping to add a fourth to both of those tallies. 

It was an unusually warm day in Petaluma, and the wind was blowing.  When we passed the Bay, we could tell that the tide was WAY out.  This did not bode well for hooked up track conditions, as the track surface is very centered around the weather and tide conditions.  Plus, the sprint cars were running with us that evening.  We were almost guaranteed a dry, slick track.

When Jeff hit the track for hot laps, we could tell that the track was not going to be anywhere near normal conditions.   The track was turning out to be just as we thought; dry.  Jeff’s car looked okay, but he wasn’t that happy with the handling.  Changes were quickly made for the qualifying session and Jeff headed back out.  He timed in 2nd quick in his group qualifying.  This would have him starting outside, front row of the heat.

The guys watched the track and it just seemed to be getting drier and slicker.  Jeff was a bit reluctant to throw our “dry, slick set-up” on the car, because we weren’t sure if the track would start to come back, or if the track preparer would get a notion to blade it, so only minor changes were made and Jeff headed out.  Starting on the outside was the lane to be in at that time, and Jeff was never challenged and won the heat race by a TON.  

Again track conditions were closely watched, and since the dust was swirling overhead, the decision was made to go to our dry, slick set up.  At the start of the main event, Jeff lined up on the pole of the front row and took off like a rocket ship.  The changes to the car had been the right way to go.  For 19 laps he pulled further and further ahead and was completely unchallenged.  It looked like he was headed for victory lane again!  However, on lap 20 a car spun in turn 3, and on the restart, our giant lead had completely evaporated.  At the restart, Jeff had what we thought was a good start, but unbeknownst to us, his right tire had sealed over, and he wasn’t getting the “bite” he needed.  When coming out of turn four, his car slid out just enough to give the 2nd place runner, Anthony Restad, enough room to get underneath him and pass.  Jeff quickly came back and almost passed back, and the two went side by side for a lap or two, but Restad had the momentum, and took the checkered flag for his first victory of the season at Petaluma.  Jeff had to settle for 2nd place. 

May 19, 2012

Saturday was just another beautiful day in the neighborhood, and we were once again, headed back to Petaluma Speedway to watch Jeff race the late model. Having won the last two races there, we were all crossing our fingers on the possibility that we could get three in a row!

Hot laps were the first time we hit the track and the car did not look good. The track was completely different from the prior week, and the car set up was off for the conditions. Changes were made and Jeff went back out for his qualifying session. While he did time in fastest in his group, he was still not satisfied with the way the car was handling.

The guys didn’t think it was the time to go all crazy making changes to the car, so only minor adjustments were made and Jeff headed back out for the heat race. Although we ended up winning the heat, Jeff got out of the car shaking his head, declaring the car “a handful!” Something would have to be done if we were to have any chance of winning the main event!

As usual, the guys watched the track, and we were all shocked at how rough it was quickly becoming. We had noticed during qualifying and the heat race that there were quite a few ruts, but the ruts were fast turning into holes you could bury dead bodies (or race cars!) in! Jeff knew that to win the main event, we would have to make changes to the car so that the car would more easily get through these ruts (gravesites!). Jeff, Ed and John threw the kitchen sink at the car! Shocks, springs, bar adjustments. They were all tweaked, lowered, raised and changed. This is always a risk as you never know how the car will react to all these changes. We had to take that risk.

Jeff headed out to line up for the main event and we crossed our fingers.  Would it be good or not?  The lights went out and Jeff slammed the pedal to the floor.  The car stuck and shot forward to the lead!  It was good!  Jeff took the lead and never looked back.  There was one restart late in the race that caused some concern, but once again, Jeff’s timing was impeccable at the green, and he took the checkered flag for the THIRD WIN IN A ROW!

May 12, 2012

After a week off of racing we were scheduled to race the late model at Petaluma Speedway on Saturday. We were ready and excited to get the car out again after such a successful outing in it last time. Of course, having the right set up on the car from the week before doesn’t necessarily mean anything as Petaluma’s track is so tricky, and changes from week to week, depending on the weather, prep and other classes competing. You never know what you’re gonna get!
Jeff headed out to hot lap and the track already seemed dry, but really smooth. Last time we ran, the track was hooked up and really rough! Like we said, you never know, but this was like night and day! Would we have to completely change the set up on the car? Jeff looked decent, but the times were slow. Jeff came back to the pits and the guys got to work changing the car over to our “dry, slick” set up.
Qualifying went much better and Jeff ended up setting fast time in his group. He still wasn’t satisfied with the car’s handling in certain spots on the track, but didn’t want to go overboard on changes to the car, when he could possibly change his driving style instead. They made a few minor changes and soon it was time for the heat race.
Since Jeff had set fast time, he was able to start on the pole of his heat race. He laid the pedal down and was never challenged, clicking off six straight, clean laps and taking the checkered flag first. Yay! He would start outside, front row of the main event.
The guys watched the track carefully as the fog was rolling in and it was getting cold!  The weather affects Petaluma’s track conditions so much, and it quickly became apparent that the track was regaining moisture – but we weren’t sure HOW much moisture.  They decided to just leave the car alone and go for it!  This was definitely the right decision!  Jeff took off on lap 1, and aside from getting hit in the door on the initial start by the pole sitter, no other car even came close to the speed Jeff laid down.  He was never challenged, never even saw a car come close, as he effortlessly sped around the track.  Dominating win number two was in the books!  

April 21, 2012

Rare April heat wave had us happy to make the trek up North to Petaluma.  We were pretty sure the temperature would be a few degrees cooler up there.  This would also be our first time back at the Speedway this year.  We were prepared for a bumpy ride however, because as a general rule, the track is extremely rough for the first few races at Petaluma.  We weren’t disappointed.

Five classes of cars had the pits extremely packed and the weather brought them into the grandstands as well.  Jeff had worked extremely hard on the late model in the past weeks and we were excited to see what his changes would do to the car’s handling.  Heading out for qualifying, we all had big smiles on our faces.  Yep!  Racing season had officially started!

During hot laps, it was pretty clear right away that Jeff was the fastest car out there on the track.  We were really excited, but didn’t want to say anything to Jeff, because the last time we told him that (at Hanford), we were wrong, and Jeff didn’t make the changes to make the car better.  But when the loudspeaker announced that Jeff’s car was 1 SECOND faster than everyone else, we knew it was okay to tell him.  Oh man.  We had a rocketship on our hands.

Petaluma uses a “group qualifying” method to get times.  They put 6 cars on the track, evenly spaced apart, and drop the green flag, and you take off and try to get the fastest time that you can.  Group qualifying, while a timesaver, can be a time killer as well.  It all depends on who is out there on the track with you.  What if a car spins in front of you?  What if two cars spin?  Your time will definitely be affected.  Luckily, Jeff’s group kept their heads and cars on straight and once again, Jeff came out with official fast time overall.

We weren’t sure if starting on the pole of the heat race was a good thing or not.  The outside line definitely looked like the place to be, and with Anthony Restad starting next to us in the heat, we were pretty sure we were going to come away with a 2nd place finish.  Well, what we thought was going to happen, didn’t!  Jeff hooked up to the bottom of the track and just ran away with the heat.  Wow.  It really was an impressive show of speed!

We didn’t think that we would have to make very many changes to the car as it was performing so well, but just as we were thinking that, they brought the tractor out on to the track and started grading it!  The track had been extremely rough so far, and I guess they were trying to make it better, but man, now what?  Jeff and the guys kept a close eye on the tracks performance after that, but we really didn’t have a lot of time before the main event!

The changes were made that Jeff thought appropriate, and off he went to run the 25 lap main event.  Jeff would be starting on the outside front row, so hopefully the track conditions and the changes that were made would be right.  At the drop of the green, it was once again very clear that Jeff was the fastest car on the track.  He was flying!  In 5 laps, he was coming up on the guys at the rear of the field!  A yellow flag bunched the cars up again though, and had us biting our fingernails at the double-file restart, but Jeff had it under control, as lap after lap he once again pulled away.  Deep into the race, lap traffic became a factor however, and Jeff had to be very cautious about passing the lappers as they seemed unable to hold their lines on the rough surface.  This allowed the second place car of John Silva to catch Jeff, and at one point coming off of turn 4, Silva showed Jeff a wheel.  That was all Jeff needed to shut out any competitor’s ideas about passing as he put his foot to the floorboard and took the checkers with plenty of empty real estate behind him.  It was a CLEAN SWEEP for the night!  If you weren’t there, you missed out on a great show!

April 6, 2012

Friday, April 6th, we were back out at Ocean Speedway, Watsonville, in the modified. This would be our second race ever in it, and Jeff felt there were still a few bugs to work out.  He had made quite a few changes to the car during our “off” time, and we were looking forward to seeing what those changes would do to the car.  18 modifieds had checked in for this Friday’s happenings - good competition and great weather as well. The track had been way overwatered and took quite a while to “come in,” with two mud packing session per class. Needless to say, the car was a mess! The track was also going to be fast and RUTTY!
Hot laps were pretty uninformative, as the track was still relatively greasy and we couldn’t tell where we were at. Jeff made a few changes, but basically left it alone for the heat race. Having pulled a higher starting pill number, we lined up 5th in the heat race. When the cars took off, we could tell that the car was okay. Just okay. Jeff could keep up with the other drivers, but was not able to pass them easily. When passing one car on the track, they banged into each other, and a limiter chain broke on the race car. Jeff told us after the heat race that from that point on, “the car was a handful!” We did end up finishing 4th in the heat race however.
When the car returned to the pits, Jeff and the guys got to work. With some helpful advice from Mike Salazar (who also owns a Flexi Flyer chassis), Jeff made some changes to the car that he had never tried before. We didn’t know what the car would do in the main event, but hey, we couldn’t win the race with the car set up like it was!
We were slotted to start 6th in the main event, and that gave us some hope that we would be able to get to the front and dodge the majority of the wrecks. At the drop of the green we could tell that the changes that were made to the car were the way to go! The car looked WAY better! Jeff was coming forward and passing cars quickly! He was going to the front! At lap 13 he was in 2nd position! We were so excited until a lap car spun in the middle of turns 3 and 4. Jeff almost had the spun lapper cleared, when Bobby Hogge clocked him from behind sending him into the spun lapper. Jeff never took his foot off the throttle, and turned the wheel to exit the wreck, and keep the car going. When the yellow flag came out, Jeff fully expected to be put back into 2nd place, or at the very least 3rd (as supposedly according to IMCA rules, they revert back a lap after the yellow), but I guess the scorer had different plans for him, and put him back into 6th place. (All we could say was WTH???). However, if you argue or question the officials or the scorer, you’ll be put to the BACK of the starting line up, so I guess it’s best to just go where they tell you to, even if they’re wrong (sounds fair, right? NOT). 
At the restart, we could tell that Jeff was determined to get back to the front.  He was hammer down and focused, but unbeknownst to us, the car had suffered more damage than could be seen with the naked eye.  A ball joint was bent and the rear end had been pushed forward somewhat, and these factors had the car not handling exactly like it should.  However, Jeff did his best with what he had and finished the race with a respectable 4th place finish.  We’re now really excited to bring the modified back out with our new “knowledge,” and see if we can put it in that first place slot! 

 

March 23, 2012

That was definitely the question on Saturday.  Mother Nature was being bi-polar as hell, and we could not believe with the way it was raining in our area that it could be anything but the same down south.  We checked the internet, called the promoter, called anyone we knew who even lived close, and in the end, decided to risk the fuel bill, and just drive down there.  Traveling down 152 and onto Highway 5, gave us no more reassurance.  It was still pouring rain.  How on earth did they expect to get this race in?  All of us in the truck were speculating on how bad the pits and track would be.  Getting onto Highway 198 for the final stretch to the track gave us some hope, however, as once we pulled on, the sun came out and there was no rain!  Maybe, just maybe, the track was dry!

Once we arrived at Kings Speedway, however, our hopes were severely dashed.  It was raining.  Not just sprinkling.  Raining.  We decided to sit out in the parking lot for a good long while waiting to see if the officials would call this race.  Instead, they were leading people into the pits, and parking them and getting them unloaded.  Well, if they could be that optimistic, so could we.  We headed in.  It was a mess.  We unloaded the car during a clear moment, and just as quickly pushed it back into the trailer when the skies opened up.  The officials announced they would call the race at 6PM if it just wasn’t doable.  Mother Nature must have heard, because she decided to flip it, and clear things up.  The car came back out of the trailer.

Since things had been delayed because of the weather, the track was now in “hurry up” mode.  Jeff quickly got his suit on and equipment together and got in the car.  Mud packing was pretty gross, and we scraped quite a bit of mud off the car when he got back into the pits.  It seemed like just moments after that, he was headed out for hot lapping.  The track had come in surprisingly well and was wicked fast!  Because the sprint cars were also there that night, it also was, at the moment pretty smooth.  The car looked great and really, really fast.  Compared to the other cars out there with him, Jeff looked like he was flying!  We told him so when he returned to the pits. 

Unfortunately, because we told him that his car was the fastest in hot laps, they didn’t make many changes, and when Jeff went out to qualify in his group, it was pretty obvious that the other cars that he had been hot lapping with, had made changes to their cars, and had fixed whatever problems they had.  We ended up qualifying fourth out of our group.  Not where Jeff is used to qualifying.  They got to work changing bar angles and shocks.  We would line up starting fourth in our heat. 

At the drop of the green, Jeff took off and easily passed into 3rd position.  However, the 1st and 2nd place cars were extremely hooked up and fast!  They checked out, made no mistakes, and we ended up finishing the heat in 3rd.  Looked like we still had work to do. 

Again, we were told that we needed to hurry, as the weather looked like it was coming back in and they were going to try and get the main event in before it really started raining.  The guys only had a short amount of time to make some changes.  They went in the direction that they thought was best and Jeff headed out.  We would be lining up starting 8th in the main event. 

There was a lot of talent in the first 4 rows.  Jeff was going to have to be on his game, and hopefully the car would be there right alongside him.  At the drop of the green, we could tell right away that the car was performing well, but so was absolutely everyone else's!  This was going to be a tough one.  Jeff worked hard to pass a couple of cars, but everyone was racing like it was the checkered flag lap, and no one was giving an inch.  Jeff, with his smooth driving style, eventually managed to get around the drivers in front of him, but by that time, the front 3 had checked out, and as all the cars were basically spread out, it didn't look like there was going to be any yellow flags.  On lap 22, a car broke and ended up on the track in turn 4, bringing out the much needed caution.  However, when the car was cleared off the track and the cars re-lined up with 8 laps to go, the powers that be decided that it would be a great idea to leave all the lap cars in between Jeff and the other leaders, giving us pretty much no chance to race for position or the win.  Don't you love that?  I mean, there is a REASON that a car is not on the lead lap.  It means that they cannot keep up with the LEADERS.  With only 8 laps to go, do you think they were actually going to get their lap back?  Do you think they were going to advance in position?  Highly doubtful.  So at the checkered flag we ended up settling for 5th place, with a car all in one piece, albiet extremely muddy, and we were very glad that we made the trip down to attend the Gary Jacobs Memorial. 

 

March 23, 2012

We were nervous, excited, hopeful and there were a bunch of other emotions mixed in for our first race with the modified out at Ocean Speedway on Friday.  It had been nine years since Jeff raced his own modified and with the racecar technology changing so rapidly, the questions in our minds were flying fast and furious.  Would our car be competitive?  Would the engine hold up?  Would Jeff be able to transition back and forth from a late model to a modified?  All questions would be answered on Friday night.

The pits were packed with over 100 cars in 7 different divisions.  The modified’ s were the premier division that night, so we would be going last in the lineup of all the divisions.  Great.  More time to get nervous, LOL. 

After mud packing, we realized the track was going to be really rough, and made a few adjustments accordingly.  Jeff had pulled a #3 starting pill for the heat race, and that put us on the pole of the first heat race.  Whew!  What a relief.  We didn’t have to start at the back of the heat, and we could see if the car was competitive, as Jim Pettit was starting on the outside front row, and Jim is nothing if not competitive!  From the drop of the green, we could tell that we had something to work with!  While the outside line was definitely the preferred line on Friday, Jeff still gave it all he had, and at times looked like he was going to pass for the lead!  It was very exciting and we were not upset at all with our second place finish.

Since we were the last main event to run for the evening, the guys spent a lot of time checking out the track and watching for changing conditions.  We went to find out where we were starting in the main event and were shocked to find we were listed as starting in 10th place.  WTH??  We were then told, “Well, everyone knows that top 5 has to pull another pill for starting position in the main event.”  Really.  Everyone?   Hmmmm.    Well starting 10th wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, but it is what it is.  We certainly won’t make that mistake again!  Jeff, Ed and John made a few more adjustments and we headed out for the main event.

At the drop of the green it was a cluster$%#@.  Cars were flying everywhere.  Boy oh boy.  Something’s you just forget.  Something’s are just BETTER to forget… Like all the yellows and all the crashing involved in modified racing.  Jeff was doing his best to stay clean and out of the wrecks and he was doing a hell of a job.  Going high to avoid the wreck in turn 2.  Going low to avoid the out of control car in turn 4.  Another thing we forgot about was the lap reversion.  Working to pass a slower car, actually passing that slower car, and then the yellow comes out and you have to let that slower car back in front of you at the restart!  So frustrating!  Jeff must have passed this one particular car 5 times!  Again though, it is what it is.  Jeff was working his way forward car by car, lap by lap.  Up to 8th position, then 6th, then in the top 5!  When the checkered flag flew, Jeff crossed it in 4th place with the determination that next time we would be attempting to race for the win! 

 While after the race the car was basically in one piece minus some body damage, once we got the car home, washed and inspected, we discovered that the rough track had done more damage than initially thought.  There are broken rear suspension bars and parts that are going to take some cash, time and welding to fix.  It’s a good thing that our next modified race isn’t until April 6th!  Hopefully they’ll have the track smoothed out by then as well.

 

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