By Michael Stephens
For the Independent
Champion Raceway hosted three full days of drag racing over the weekend of July 26th, 27th, and 28th. First came the regular Friday Night street legal/test & tune races on Friday evening, followed by the two-day Land of the Leader event on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
On Friday the 26th, the Champion Raceway 50/50 raffle gave away four tickets to see the new Medford Rogues baseball team play at Harry & David Field. A cash prize was also awarded by a second drawing on the same night. Champion Raceway holds similar drawings to give away lots of fantastic prizes to spectators at nearly all of their racing events. The 50/50 raffles help raise money to support the outstanding needs of the Raceway. Having recently collected the funds necessary to purchase some new fire safety equipment, their new goal is to raise enough money to resurface the entire drag strip.
There was a shortage of competition in the Motorcycle and Sports Compact classes on Friday night, so the winners in these classes won by default. Jason Sauer won the Motorcycle class on his Suzuki 1300 with a 10.132 E.T. at 133.99 MPH on a .124 reaction time. Larry Chapman and his ’89 Cavalier won the Sports Compact class with a 1/4 mile pass of 15.009 at 89.22 MPH on a .213 reaction time.
Amy Adams won Friday night’s Street DOT class in her ’79 Camaro with a 16.048 E.T. at 81.96 MPH on a .100 reaction time. Runner up in Street DOT was Kevin Barden in his ’65 Mustang. Barden ran an 11.693 1/4 mile pass at 117.48 MPH on a .077 reaction time.
Top spot in the Hot Rod class was Jerry Cochrane due to a red light in the finals. Cochrane took his ’07 Chevrolet down the 1/4 mile for a 12.935 E.T. at 105.84 MPH on a .113 reaction time. In second place was Chad Brown, a new resident in Southern Oregon who reportedly moved here from Arkansas a short while ago. Brown left the line early, but ran an 11.284 1/4 mile pass at 120.49 MPH in his ’68 Camaro.
Saturday night kicked off the Slant Six/ Land of the Leader races, which included a visit from the Killer Bees Racing Team. The Killer Bees represent the west coast half of the National Slant Six Organization, a group of approximately 3400 members from across the country with a common goal of “affordable drag racing.”
A resident of Halsey, Oregon, C.J. Stoakes has raced with the Killer Bees since 2007. Last year, Stoakes won the 2012 National Slant Six Championship, as well as the 2012 Western States Killer Bees Points Championship. On Saturday, Stoakes also won the Slant Six race at Champion Raceway with a 15.530 E.T. and a .076 reaction time in the finals.
Stoakes drives a ’74 Plymouth Valiant that he found almost ten years ago, rusting in an open field. He has since turned the 21 second project car into a 15 second winning machine, over the space of seven years, and with significant effort toward weight reduction.
“First time I rolled across the scales it was like 3500 pounds,” Stoakes said, as he related his restoration process. “I removed the carpet from the car with a shovel, then just stripped it completely out. It’s got aluminum firewalls on the trunk, fuel cell, and a lot of weight’s been taken out. If I roll that thing onto the scales now, it’s 2800, without me in it.”
Stoakes went on to express his gratitude for the victory, but also commented that winning was not his primary motivation for becoming a drag racer. “The Slant Six guys, we’re all friends,” Stoakes said. “So, if I put it on the trailer after one round, that’s fine too. I just come out here to have a good time.”
Saturday’s Sportsman class was won by Anthony Guida in his canary yellow ’72 Chevelle. In the finals, Guida reacted in .053 sec for a 12.953 E.T. at 93.61 MPH. Sportsman runner up was Ken Stevens, who took his ’94 Astro van for an 18.898 1/4 mile pass at 63.11 MPH on a .147 reaction time.
Dave Martin won the Pro class in his ’93 Mustang with a 12.739 E.T. at 103.83 MPH on a .041 reaction time. Rob Lee Edwards took second place in the Pros, running his ’92 Mustang at 111.19 MPH for a 12.113 E.T. on a .173 reaction time.
Winner in the Super Pro class was Michael Souza, who drove his ’92 Corvette at 122.89 MPH for an 11.854 E.T. on a .019 reaction time. Lyle Hood took the Super Pro runner up spot with an 11.111 1/4 mile pass at 123.83 MPH on a .039 reaction time.
The racing action continued through the following Sunday afternoon with a handful of remaining drivers.
Frank Wright won the Sportsman class with a 1/4 mile pass of 14.813 at 92.24 MPH on a .086 reaction time. Sportsman runner up went to Carl Cole, who red lighted in the finals but ran a 12.210 E.T. at 109.47 MPH.
Kevin Barden won the Pro class with an 11.668 1/4 mile pass at 115.35 MPH on a .024 reaction time. Jeremy McGee came in second with a 10.025 E.T. at 134.04 MPH on a .054 reaction time.
First place in the Super Pro class went to Phillip Greer, with his final 10.788 E.T. at 125.95 MPH on a .045 reaction time. Michael Souza took the runner up spot after an 11.988 1/4 mile pass at 124.41 MPH on a .165 reaction time.
The street legal race that was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 2 has been cancelled, and the D&S Harley Davidson Motorcycle race has been rescheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 17. Other upcoming Champion Raceway events include the National Dragster Challenge on Saturday, Aug. 10, and the King of the Track event on Sunday, Aug. 11. Be sure to check out championraceway.com, or like the Champion Raceway Facebook page for more info.