2007 SERIES CHAMPION – Dave Byrdadmin
If you have been a race fan in the southwest portion of the country for any length of time, you have probably heard our 2007 champion’s name. He is the owner of 13 Track Championships, a NASCAR State of California Championship, a NASCAR Pacific Coast Regional Championship, as well as two asphalt touring series championships. The driver is equally adept on both dirt as well as asphalt. That driver is none other than French Camp, CA racer Dave Byrd.
Byrd has multiple dirt track championships at San Jose Speedway, Antioch Speedway and Ocean Speedway/ Watsonville Fair Grounds. On the pavement side he has scored multiple championships at The New Stockton 99 Speedway and Altamont Motorsports Park, with a single championship at Mesa Marin Raceway. His Spears Srl Southwest TourSeries Championship was accompanied by a Mega Power Tri-Track Series Championship in 1997, a predecessor to the SRL. Byrd was the seventh different champion, in the first seven seasons of the SRL.
With the demise of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Divisions, at the end of 2006, the SPEARS SRL Series was there to fill the void. The series picked up Elite Division drivers such as Mike Mendenhall, Smittys Voigt and Dan Holtz, while others such as Jim Pettit II, M.K. Kanke, Craig Raudman and Keith Spangler gave the SRL a try, with partial schedules. With the uncertainties, however, the series average car count dropped to 19.0, with 41 drivers participating. The series visited four facilities in 2007, including their first visit to the state of Colorado, with an August visit to Colorado National Speedway. Eight events made up the schedule with Madera Speedway hosting three events, while Shasta Speedway and Altamont Raceway Park hosting two each.
Bryon Herzog was crowned the Rookie-of-the-Year in 2007 and Jeff Belletto was the Qualifying Champion. Winner’s that season included Jim Pettit (3), Bryan Herzog, Porter Smith, Craig Raudman, Chris Muhler and Byrd.
Byrd had a great first three-quarters of the 2007 season, scoring one win, four top-five and six top-10 finishes in the first six events. But a DNF at Madera, in Race #7, set the stage for a dramatic finish to the championship. It was Byrd’s most memorable event of the season, which took place at Altamont Raceway Park. It resulted in the championship, over one-time on-track rival Steve Belletto, by just seven points.
“There have been so many good memories, but probably the best is the night we won the championship at Altamont Raceway Park”, Byrd recalled. “We needed to finish ahead of Steve Belletto, to win the championship, and on lap 60 we broke an oil fitting and pitted. A few laps later Steve lost a couple of cylinders, so he pitted. We went back out on the track with towels wrapped around the oil lines, and then Steve came back out smoking. Both of us were doing about 50 MPH, and I was amazed they let us stay on the track, but they did.”
The result was Byrd’s second touring series championship, one that was special to him because of the competition he faced.
“The SRL championship meant everything to me, because of the level of competition”, Byrd stated. “There were other championships that were special too, but this series had the best of best which was extremely rewarding.”
Byrd had 67 career starts in the SRL, but was also a participant in the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series. His 31 starts, in that former series, gives him a unique perspective between the two, as he assessed.
“I guess I’d have to say the difference between the (NASCAR) Southwest Tour and the SRL back then was the atmosphere at the racetrack. The racing in both associations was equally intense, but the teams and officials in the SRL seemed to work together more, to grow the series and make the racing better. There was always a willingness from other competitors and officials to help us out, when we needed help.”
Byrd made his first start in the SRL in the inaugural season in 2001. He ran four of 12 races that season. Following his championship season, he finished in the top-10 in the standings three additional times. His last start in the SRL was in 2014, a career that spanned 14 seasons. He has observed the series over the course of time, and has noticed the evolution to the present.
“It’s amazing to see how this series has grown over the years. The prize money they offer now, assures the very best drivers will be there to compete.”
As the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series enters its 20th season, it is drivers like Dave Byrd that have made the series so successful. The ownership team of the SRL are grateful to all the drivers who have competed over the years, to help keep Super Late Model racing alive on the West Coast. It takes a great team of drivers, officials and sponsors to continue to succeed. Similarly, it takes a group effort for a racing team to succeed. Byrd was thankful for his team in 2007, which led to his SRL Championship.
“I’d like to thank Bob Strandwold Racing, and his brother Jeff, for giving me great race cars every time we showed up, and Greg Voigt for letting me drive his car when times were tough.”
Will we see Dave Byrd back in a SPEARS Southwest Tour Series car again? Only time will tell.
The next event, on the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series schedule, is a trip to Roseville, CA. Last year’s event at ALL AMERICAN SPEEDWAY – ROSEVILLE CA was a thriller, with the 2020 edition promising to be just as exciting. The “JM ENVIRONMENTAL, INC. 127 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM.” will take place on May 16th, and will pay a minimum of $7,000-to-win. A $5,000 bonus will be available to any driver who qualifies in the top eight, and elects to start in the back. If that driver wins, they will head home with a $12,000 victory.
Photo Credit: David Misco