BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY: Bob Berg in fast lane for Four-Cylinder championship repeat
Bob Berg will chase his third Four-Cylinder Division main event win of the year, but first he'll turn 54 on the Fourth of July.
The Columbia County Racing Association's fifth weekend, sponsored by O'Reilly Auto Parts, is scheduled for four days later at the River City Speedway in St. Helens.
The standings leader won the Columbia County Racing Association's Four-Cylinder championship after racing Street Stock and Sportsman -- for the latter of which he said his best finish was seventh place -- for 20 years, and is after a repeat in his 1997 Dodge Neon with a 2.0-litre engine that TK's Auto Repair (Vancouver, Wash.) rebuilt with new pistons, rings and a single overhead camshaft.
"I got used to running front-wheel drive, and [TK] is part of what keeps my car running strong," said Berg, the Cozy Lawn Maintenance proprietor who lives a mile from the track.
Berg is eager to win a four-cylinder challenge, the next of which he says is set for July 15 at Sunset Speedway in Banks and Aug. 5 in St. Helens, after coming up a close second last year.
He added St. Helens sponsors Green Lion Cannabis, which bought him four new tires last year and a barrel of oil this year, and Eaton's Tire & Auto Repair, his street tire team.
His car was declared best-looking at the St. Helens Kiwanis Community Parade on June 17, and the CCRA gave away free race tickets.
Four-cylinder cars come cheaper and pre-built, and help 13-to-17-year-old racers in the Tracer Division learn.
Berg helped build a car for St. Helens' Ryan Potter, who won the Tracer championship last year.
The Columbia County Fair will not host a race this summer because of noise concerns.
Berg would like to see more fans at the races as it costs an estimated $7,000 to run the show, and an estimated average of 100 of 300 seats are filled in this season's early going.
Family passes for two adults and three children are $30, and Berg said he's the only CCRA racer who signs autographs for kids and fans in the stands.
"The kids really love it when they get appreciated," Berg said. "If they like it, they'll come back. I'd hate to see the track shut down."
On Saturday, June 24, in an afternoon reaching 97 degrees, Berg, Justin McMullen and Teagan Fischer all won twice at the speedway.
"A lot of fans and drivers stayed home because of the heat," CCRA board member Sandy Fast said. "We have some die-hard drivers and fans, and hopefully July 8 will be better."
Berg aced his trophy dash and main after Eddie Farness, 17, of Sandy, led the first 10 laps in his Mountain View Plumbing 1997 Dodge Neon and Berg overtook him on lap 11's outside lane and led the rest of the 40-lap race.
"It's actually the third race in a row our team has won, because [St. Helens'] Brandon Potter drove my car as a co-driver in the June 3 race," Berg said. "TJ Wegner [of St. Helens] was very close to me at the finish, but he wasn't able to get past me. He has a new car, which is real fast, and it also has a lot more horsepower than my car. I work on my car all week to check everything out and make sure it's prepared well prior to each race."
Wegner was a close second as he went bumper-to-bumper with Berg at the finish line.
McMullen, St. Helens' 27-year-old twice-defending Street Stock Division champion, won his main and the heat race in his McMullen Water Systems/Alliance Automotive 1979 Chevrolet Malibu, his third win and his fourth top-two finish in his quest for the sixth Columbia County Racing Association title in his 11-year stock car career.
"It's pretty good to win two weeks in a row," said McMullen, who leads the Street Stock point standings through four events. "It was kind of hot, but the track conditions were really good and it was a real smooth surface. I had fun racing side-by-side with [St. Helens'] Greg Brumbaugh early in the race. My car had some mechanical issues, but it held together long enough for me to get the win, so that was pretty good. I've had lots of good luck so far this year and I'm hoping to get a couple more wins by the end of the season."
McMullen passed Brumbaugh once and for all on the outside in the 12th of 40 laps.
Fischer, 16, who will be a St. Helens High junior in the fall, won her third Dwarf Car Division main and trophy dash in a row in her TFT Construction/Finish Line Graphics open-wheel style race car. She leads the series standings and, if she wins the division title in September, will be the CCRA's youngest champion in its 32 years.
Scott Dorie, 59, of St. Helens, the 2015 division champion, followed Fischer in the main, just ahead of his son, Shawn.
Editor's note: Mike Weber, a frequent update writer for the Columbia County Racing Association, contributed to this story.
Columbia County Racing Association
June 24 results
Heat: Clyde White, Devon Reed; Trophy Dash: White, Reed; Main: White, Reed.
Dwarf Car Division
Heat: Shawn Dorie, Teagan Fischer, Scott Dorie, Dave Brune; Trophy Dash: Fischer, Scott Dorie, Shawn Dorie, Brune; Main: Fischer, Scott Dorie, Shawn Dorie, Brune.
Heat 1: Robert Jenner, Doug Davenport, Don Jenner, Mark Hill; Heat 2: Jim Potter, Stephen Kaptur, Dustin Asher, Brandon Potter; Trophy Dash: Davenport, R. Jenner, J. Potter, Kaptur; Main: D. Jenner, J. Potter, Hill, Kaptur, R. Jenner, Asher, Brandon Potter.
Four Cylinder Division
Heat 1: TJ Wegner, Bob Berg, Eddie Farness, Darrin Rye, Sam Simmet; Heat 2: Damion Owen, William Wolfe, Austin Henderson, Jacob Schultz, Joel Davis, Jason Scheibel; Trophy Dash: Berg, Wegner, Wolfe, Owen; Main: Berg, Wegner, Simmet, Farness, Rye, Schultz, Wolfe, Henderson, Owen, Davis.
Street Stock Division
Heat 1: Scott McMullen, Gary Kordosky Jr., Trevor Lively, Terry King; Heat 2: Justin McMullen, Tom Zywicki, Greg Brumbaugh, Gary Kordosky Sr.; Trophy Dash: G. Kordosky Jr., J. McMullen, Zywicki, S. McMullen; Main: J. McMullen, Brumbaugh, King, G. Kordosky Jr., Lively, G. Kordosky Sr., Zywicki.