Racing season begins at River City Speedway
River City Speedway's 2019 season opener included nice weather, great racing and some pretty awesome looking cars, which all added up to an exciting motor sports event for fans and drivers on Saturday, May 4 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds facility in St. Helens.
It proved to be quite a spectacular day, too, for local drivers Terry King, Bob Berg and Anthony Brinster, who each recorded thrilling Columbia County Racing Association (CCRA) main event victories.
The quartet of Washington drivers Clyde White, Devon Reed, Trenton Brogan and Zander Kock also started the season very well by driving to main event wins on the quarter mile clay oval track.
Berg, of St. Helens, recorded a sweep of Tuner Division events as he won the trophy dash, heat and the 25-lap main in his Cozy Lawn Maintenance/Eaton's Tire & Service Center-sponsored 1997 Dodge Neon.
Berg started fourth in the seven-car main, and he took the lead from Kelso's Joel Davis on lap seven after passing him on the front straightaway.
Davis, 59, led the first six laps with his Economy Auto Wrecking 1996 Nissan Altima.
Berg took the checkered flag and won by a straightaway length over Dan McDonald. Davis was third, followed by TJ Landis and John Brown.
"It's nice winning all three and getting a sweep," said Berg, 55, the defending Tuner Division champion. "I have a new motor (2.0 liter) in my car and it's fast, just like a rocket ship and it was running really well. I would just like to see a little more competition in the class, though, because it seemed like we just didn't have many cars here today."
Berg's wife, Tiffany, competed in her first race in five years, driving a 1997 Pastime Tavern-sponsored Dodge Neon in the Four Cylinder Division. Tiffany took sixth place in the main. She was fourth in the dash and second in the heat race.
"Oh, my gosh, I had a blast, and I didn't even finish last so I felt pretty good about my performance," she said. "Trenton is a good, hard racer, he's an amazing kid, and he'll undoubtedly win the championship this year, because he has a very fast car."
Brogan, of Kelso, Washington, had a very impressive debut in the Four Cylinder class. He won Heat 1 and the main with his Ram Light Truck Salvage/T & T Tire-sponsored 1996 Nissan Altima.
Tiffany Berg started on the pole of the nine-car event and led the first three circuits.
Brogan, 16, passed Berg on the back straightaway on lap four and led the remainder of the 30-lap race. Lance Landis was runner-up, followed by Sande Simmet, Michael Martin Jr. and James Shultz.
"There's a lot more cars and a lot more competition for me now than there was in the Tracer class," said Brogan, 16, who won the 2018 Tracer Division (ages 10-15) title and then moved up to the Four Cylinder class this year. "It's a lot harder to get into the front while racing with more experienced drivers now. I'm surprised I won the main, and it definitely exceeds the expectations that I had in my first-ever Four Cylinder race.
"I think I'll have a good chance to win the championship, but I'll have a lot of work to do while competing against lots of other good drivers. It's a lot different than the Tracer class, and it's definitely a lot more fun, and I sure enjoy racing with a lot more cars, which makes it a much more competitive event."
Like Berg, King also notched an impressive sweep as he won the Street Stock Division dash, heat and 20-lap main while driving his Ross Diesel & Auto-sponsored 1987 Buick Regal.
King took the lead from Portland's Tom Zywicki after passing him on the 10th lap.
King remained up front for the last 10 circuits and won by a straightaway length over defending Street Stock Champion Greg Brumbaugh of St. Helens.
Zywicki took third place in the three-car main event.
"It's the best thing to get a win out of the way right off the bat, but I just wish we had a few more cars out here," said King, who finished third in the 2018 point standings. "It's hard to complain after winning, though, and I really had a good time. I've done lots of work on the car, and I have a new engine for it, but I just haven't put it in yet. I had a good start to the season and so I'm definitely going to make a run for the championship this year."
Brinster, of St. Helens, started fifth in the nine-car Dwarf Car Division main and took the lead from front-runner Dennis Liebig on lap 24.
Liebig, of Scappoose, started in the pole position and appeared to be headed to a victory while leading the first 23 laps. Brinster moved ahead one lap later and held on for the narrow lead, winning by eight car lengths over Liebig.
James Brinster took third, followed by Kyle Frelich and Josh Rodgers to round out the top five.
Reed, of Woodland, Wash., won the two-car Sportsman Division 20-lap main with his Dancin' Bare Tavern/Reed's Automotive-sponsored Chevrolet. Reed, the defending series champion, recorded a sweep of the division while winning the dash, heat and main. Portland's David Weaver was runner-up in all three events.
The four-car Modified Division main event included three drivers who each had a chance to win while leading the race. Mark Hill of Scappoose led the first four laps and then Stephen Kaptur of St. Helens passed him on the back straightaway. Kaptur moved up front on lap five and seemed to be in position to get the win while leading the next eight circuits with his Discount Race Car Parts/Malar Performance Engines-sponsored racer owned by Don West of St. Helens.
"It's not too bad of a way to start the season," said Kaptur, 43, the two-time defending series champion (2017-18). "White was definitely consistent, that's for sure. The caution flag certainly didn't help me at all, and after that happened, it made it a little easier for him to get by. I was hoping that there would be a few more drivers to compete with, but it was a good clean, fun race.
"I had a race at Sunset Speedway in Banks last weekend, so it was nice to get a little practice prior to our season opener. The track personnel (Darrin Rye, Shawn Etheredge, Matt Brown) did a good job of preparing the track surface, which was just in excellent condition."
Longview's Clyde White, overtook Kaptur on lap 14 and led the last six circuits to capture the 20-lap main event in his PNE Construction/Eric's Frame Repair-sponsored open-wheel race car. Kaptur was runner-up, followed by West and Hill. White had a sweep as he also won the dash and heat race.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Don Jenner and Matt Jenner of Vancouver, for helping me set up my new car, and they just did a tremendous job," White said. "My brothers, Jim and Scott, helped a lot, and my wife Alicia also provided lots of help as well."
In the Tracer Division, 10-year-old Zander Kock of Vancouver, Wash., had a sweep in winning the dash, heat and 15-lap main with his Dodge Neon. Paige Gump of St. Helens was second, and Martin Reed of Woodland, Wash., took third in the main. The heat and dash had exactly the same order of finish as the main.
The next event on the schedule is 5 p.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds motor sports facility.
The CCRA classes include Street Stock, Dwarf Car, Four Cylinder, Tuner and Tracer.