Familiar Faces at “The Acres”admin
Lakeport, CA (May, 28, 2013) Saturday June 1st marks the initial visit to the Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka, California for the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series (SRL), but it is not the first visit for many of the drivers who call the series home. Redwood Acres Raceway, which is known to many as “The Acres”, has hosted various asphalt late model touring events over the years since its paving in 1988. Among the competitors who have visited the storied facility, are a crop of drivers who have graduated to the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series 125 Sponsored by Renner Petroleum and Leon’s Car Care Center and Presented by Flowmaster Mufflers and Red Bone 92.3 Big Red Country is a chance for the fans at “The Acres” to see a number of the drivers they may recognize from the past revisit the raceway and compete with the stars of the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series.
Leading the stars of “The Tour”, who have had previous racing experience in Eureka, is the defending 2012 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Champion Derek Thorn from Lakeport, CA. Derek, who has now relocated to Bakersfield, competed in both the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series and the NASCAR K & N West Series full time in 2012. In addition to his SPEARS Championship, Derek finished third in points with two victories and one pole position in his first full season with the West Series. This season, Thorn is leading the point’s standings in both series. Derek last competed at Redwood Acres in 2006 as a member of the North State Challenge Series. During his stint with the NSCS, Derek compiled a record of 3 wins, 4 top five and 6 top ten finishes in his eight starts at “The Acres”, in addition to 3 pole positions. When asked about returning to Eureka with the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, Derek said, “I’m excited to be back at a track I grew up racing on early in my career. It’s a really cool drive up there and it’s the closest track to my hometown. It’s always nice to visit a track near home.” Derek also added, “Redwood Acres Raceway is a really special place to me. I remember winning my first big modified race there in 2003 at the Fall Spectacular. It was the first big win I had in the modified division.” When asked about what it would take to win at RAR, Derek replied, “It will take a good set-up and a lot of tire management and patience. The set-up will be critical with the humidity level playing havoc with the set-up. Overcoming the environmental obstacles will be very important.” On June 1st, Derek hopes to improve his last Fall Spectacular finish of second, in 2006, by one position and take home his third SPEARS Southwest Tour Series victory of the year.
One driver with recent experience at Redwood Acres Raceway, is the 2012 AABLM Series Champion Jeremy Doss from Upper Lake, CA. Jeremy is coming off of a season in which he won eight of the eleven races run in that series and took home one Eureka victory at the Fall Spectacular. He also added two Rocky Mountain Challenge Series victories in only four starts. This year Jeremy is leading the Rookie of the Year standings with the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. After struggling to a 14th place finish in the season opener at Madera, Jeremy rebounded to a nice 9th place finish in Stockton and survived damage from a lap 6, eight car accident, to finish 11th in Las Vegas. “There is so much competition in this series that I was just hoping to finish races and get top fifteen finishes. As the season moves along, my expectations will get higher”, stated Jeremy. When asked about his expectations for the series stop at Redwood Acres Raceway, Jeremy said, “I am hoping for a top five finish. I do feel like we have somewhat of an advantage there because not a lot of the other drivers have any experience there.” Jeremy continued, “I love this track, it is one of my favorites. Every time I’ve been there, our car has been fast. I think if we are patient and stay out of all the wrecks, we should be able to make it out with a decent finish.” If Jeremy can replicate even his worst career Redwood Acres Raceway finish of second, he will be very satisfied.
Hometown driver, Brandon White, is another Rookie of the Year Candidate on the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series with recent success at Redwood Acres Raceway and in late model touring competition. In Brandon’s first year in a Super Late Model he finished fourth in points with the AABLM Series and took home the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. White had one win and ten top five finishes in eleven starts in that series, to go along with one win in only two starts in the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series. Brandon had three starts with the AABLM Series at “The Acres” in 2012. He had finishes of fifth, third and another third place finish in the 2012 Fall Spectacular. Brandon’s 2013 rookie campaign in the SPEARS Southwest Series got off to a rough start when brake issues resulted in a practice crash in Madera, which forced him to miss the second race of the season in Stockton. Brandon rebounded to a solid 12th place finish at his first official start in Las Vegas. “My goal for the Eureka race is to compete in the top 5 and show my home track fans that I am able to run with the series veterans”, Brandon stated. Brandon continued, “I think the experience of running in Eureka is going to help greatly. I think I will have a slight advantage over the other drivers”. Brandon also hopes to race well for his grandpa. When I was growing up, I found out that my grandpa raced on the (Eureka) dirt track back in the day. I have some fond memories of him, since he passed on, and I always think he is watching me when I race.” Brandon added. To get a win in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series125 would indeed be very special to Brandon.
Forrest Kuecker from Lakeport, CA will be making his SPEARS Southwest Tour Series debut on June 1st at “The Acres”, a track that he has recorded a previous victory. During the 2012 campaign, Forrest finished second in points with the AABLM Series and recorded one win and eleven top five finishes in eleven starts. That win was at Redwood Acres Raceway on July 21 where he beat Jeremy Doss, Brandon White, David Miller and Jimmy Walker among others. The 2007 AABLM Series Champion finished third and fourth in his two other 2012 Eureka starts. “I wanted to make my SRL debut at Redwood Acres Raceway because it is a track I am familiar with”, stated Kuecker. Forrest continued, “I decided to race with the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series because I wanted to race against the best drivers on the west coast.” Kuecker, who has been racing late models since 2007, has nine late model feature event wins to his credit. He hopes that success can lead to a good finish at Redwood Acres Raceway. “My expectations would be to get a solid finish and be able to roll the car back into the trailer. I think the key to running well will be a good starting position and tire management”, said Kuecker. He also added, “The last race we won here, I remember my crew chief telling me over the radio to back off when we had a comfortable lead to save our tires. That is what won us the race.” A good finish on Saturday night would be special to him because as Forrest said, “Redwood Acres Raceway is a special place because it is in the heart of Northern California.”
These drivers, along with Northern Californian legend Jimmy Walker, who hopes to make his second SPEARS Southwest Tour Series race, are optimistic that their previous experience at Redwood Acres Raceway will prove to be beneficial in their quest for victory against the stars of “The Tour”. Among the series veterans expected to race are two-time Series Champion Jim Pettit II, 2008 NASCAR State Champion Jason Gilbert, 2011 Series runner-up Jacob Gomes, 2000 Irwindale Speedway Super Late Model Champion Greg Voigt and the All-Time SRL Starts leader Troy Ermish. They will be challenged by, up and coming drivers such as 13 time late model feature event winner Ross Strmiska, 2012 Orange Show Speedway Late Model Champion Brandon Loverock, multi-time late model feature event winner Zane Lovelace, 2011 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Roseville winner Bobby Hodges and 2013 Las Vegas pole winner Donny St. Ours, just to name a few. For racing fans in the North State, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series first visit to the Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka, CA will be a “can’t miss” event.
Freelance Writer: Kevin Peters Photo: Farr Motorsports Photography