Hobby Stocks racing debuts at Barona

The Hobby Stocks class made its debut at Barona Speedway with a heat race and main event Nov. 8.

Henry Wesolowski Sr. won the eight-lap heat race and the main event,

which was scheduled for 20 laps but was called two laps early due to an

accident that would have forced a long stoppage.  

Nine drivers participated in the first Hobby Stocks race.

“It was a very competitive field.  I think I did well to get an early lead,” said Wesolowski.

The Hobby Stocks are considered Street Stocks at Perris Auto Speedway,

which has been the home track for the drivers.  The Perris track

features sprint cars and other special events as well as stock cars,

and the Street Stocks have had one scheduled race there since June 26.  

In late October, Perris Auto Speedway replaced the stock car races

scheduled for Nov. 8 with off-road competition. Because of that, Jerry

Knight worked with Barona Speedway promoter Todd Salazar to bring the

Street Stocks to the San Diego County track that night.

“We’re trying to find somewhere to race,” Knight said.

What is a Street Stock at Perris is a Factory Stock at Barona, and

Salazar is considering the creation of a Pure Stocks division at Barona

that would accommodate the Factory Stock class at Perris.  

Several of the Street Stocks racers from Perris visited Barona in

August, September, and October, and Wesolowski won the Factory Stock

heat race and main event Sept. 27.

Perris has clearer definitions of Street Stocks and Factory Stocks.  At

Barona, the drivers in each class vote on the rules, so some classes

currently are legal at Barona only.  While the Street Stocks drivers

from Perris were allowed to run Factory Stocks at Barona, Salazar

thought that a separate class was warranted for a large number of

Perris drivers.  

“They’re not apples to apples so far as with our Factory Stocks,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of switching one thing over.”

The Hobby Stock class also ensured that drivers who were not in

Barona’s season points race did not interfere with drivers on the final

night of the points season.  Although the Hobby Stocks debut saw only

nine cars, a Street Stocks race scheduled for Nov. 1 at Route 66

Raceway was rained out and the Victorville track used Nov. 8 at a

makeup date, drawing some of the Perris cars which otherwise likely

would have raced at Barona.

Knight did his part to give Barona as strong a car count as possible.

“We started talking and Todd and I put together a little group of

guys,” Knight said. “I started making phone calls to everybody and

e-mailing everybody.”

Not only did Knight get a favorable reception from the other Perris drivers, but the Barona track was also supportive.  

“They treated us like gold,” Knight said.

On Nov. 7, the Barona track had an open practice and didn’t charge

drivers to participate.  Barona Speedway also sponsored a barbecue

following the practice session.  Salazar referred to the event as a

thank-you for all Barona drivers during the year.

The appreciation continued to the following day’s races.  

“They were real thankful and real hospitable. Couldn’t have asked for more,” Knight said.

In reality, the drivers would have liked the main event to have lasted

the scheduled 20 laps, but with two laps remaining Brian Tully, who had

been in second, was sent into the hay bales by the pit entrance.  A red

flag was thrown, which was followed by a checkered flag.  Daniel Voyles

took over second place and finished immediately behind Wesolowski.

“The cars were on top of each other.  That was a very exciting race,” Salazar said.

The top six finishers were inverted to start the main event, and

Wesolowski took the original green flag on the outside of the third

row.  Curtis Dietzsch, who won the 2007 Street Stocks season

championship at Perris, took a lead on the second lap, but Wesolowski

was in front by the end of the sixth lap.  

“On the  second restart I got Curtis going down the front straightaway,” Wesolowski said.

“The Barona officials and everybody around really accepted us well,”

Wesolowski said.  “Hopefully next year the Barona and Perris rules can

be a little closer.”

“I’m just hoping to make it better for everyone,” Salazar said.

Although the Perris standards were permitted, drivers new to Barona

needed to make gear adjustments.  Perris is a half-mile oval while

Barona is a quarter-mile speedway.

Barona Speedway opened in 1994, two years before the Perris Auto

Speedway’s initial race.  The initial Barona track was a 1/6-mile oval

on the outside and a 1/8-mile length on the inside.  In 1999 the track

was lengthened to its current quarter-mile distance.

The Salazar family has operated the track since 2000.

“I’m really happy that they came,” Salazar said of the Perris drivers.

“They want us there,” Knight said of Barona Speedway.  “The guys from

Perris were thoroughly impressed with Barona and the way they treated

us.”

Various classes have raced at Barona over the years, but Salazar has

adopted a formula of holding races every other week with regular

competition for certain divisions.  The Modified division starts its

season later so that drivers won’t be forced to choose between Barona

and the El Centro track which operates from Fall to Spring.  If Perris

holds regular stock car races in 2009, Salazar has no desire to raid

drivers from the nearby track, but he plans to hold several Hobby

Stocks races in 2009 when Perris focuses on other types of cars.  

“I told them I’d put them on the schedule every week if they had ten

cars or more,” Salazar said. “I’m really hoping that they come down

here next year.”

   
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