Four in a Row – Champions Troy Foulger, left, and Billy Bowers, right have entered the record book with four straight modified championships at Antioch Speedway.
Troy Foulger of Martinez, Calif. was honored for an unprecedented fourth straight championship at the 2013 Antioch Speedway Awards Banquet. Champions and Rookies of the Year in the speedway’s eight divisions were applauded at the Contra Costa Fairgrounds on Saturday night (11/23).
Foulger, 22, who drove a car owned by Billy Bowers of Oakley, scored five wins and 13 top five finishes in the highly competitive International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) modified stock car division. He heads to Lincoln, Nebraska this week to be honored by the organization.
Foulger praised the work of Bowers and his crew.
“They worked on the cars every night of the week, all season long,” said Foulger. “We sometimes raced both cars, back to back, and it isn’t easy to maintain and race two cars. Their dedication to preparation made the difference.”
Rookie of the Year in the IMCA modified division is Antioch’s David Michael Rosa. He’s hoping to end Foulger’s streak.
“When I started out in the modifieds this year, it was my goal to be rookie of the year,” said Rosa. “My next goal is to win a championship.”
In the IMCA sanctioned SportMod division, champ Jeremy Hoff towed his car from the hills of Copperopolis, just to compete at the delta high-banked 3/8-mile oval.
IMCA SportMod champ Jeremy Hoff and Alishia Rae.
“I was new at Antioch Speedway and everyone made me feel welcome,” he said. “In fact, if it weren’t for the Bowers crew, I might not have been champ. They fixed my car in time for the feature after a crash in a qualifying race late in the season.”
Hoff held off Megan Ponciano of Oakley, who finished second in the point battle. Ponciano was named Rookie of the Year.
Wingless Sprint Car champion Gary Nelson, Jr., of San Jose, never finished out of the top five.
“If anyone told me four years ago that I would be champion of this division this year, I would think they were crazy,” said Nelson. “I have to thank my dad. He believed in me from day one.”
Wingless Champ Gary Nelson, Jr. and Gary Nelson
Jim Freethy of Danville won the Super Stock championship by four points after fighting off veteran driver Larry Damitz of Vallejo. He thanked crew chief Jack Jonkers and his dedicated team.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this championship. Championships are hard to come by,” Freethy said. “It was an honor to race with Larry (Damitz).”
Hobby Stock champion Kimo “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Oreta of Vacaville gave a passionate speech after receiving his award.
“When you have strong competition, as I did, winning a championship feels even better,” Oreta said. “Number one is what we shot for at the beginning of the season, and number one is what we got.”
Kimo “The Flyin Hawaiian” Oreta addresses the crowd.
Nick Baldwin of Oakley made forward progress through the season to become one of the Hobby Stock division’s top drivers and its Rookie of the Year.
“A year earlier I was sitting in the stands and thinking I would like to do this,” Baldwin said. “I never raced before. I can’t believe I’m rookie of the year.”
Another four-point championship went to Jimmy Robbins of Concord, who topped Brentwood’s Gene Haney in Super Hobby Stocks. Robbins was offered a ride in Steve and Natalie Perry’s car early in the season.
Jimmy Robbins, Super Hobby Champ
“It was a very interesting season,” Robbins said. “Natalie told me to drive the wheels off of the car. Steve told me to pace myself, and I would do better. The combination of advice worked.”
Mitch Locicero of Martinez was named Rookie of the Year in the Super Hobby Stock division.
“I raced on two wheels (motorcycles) for years, and switched to four wheels this year,” Locicero said. “And I had more fun this year than I ever had before.”
Ken Radabaugh of Brentwood, champion in the four-cylinder “Four Banger” division, thanked his fiancé, Shawna Vannucchi for her support.
Four Banger champ Radabaugh and fiance Shawna Vannucchi
“She was always there, scraping mud, helping every night,” Radabaugh said. “It’s our first championship. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Brent Curran, 21, of Antioch, who received the Rookie of the Year in the “Four-Banger” division, didn’t expect he would win. He worked two jobs just to support his racing.
“My goal was to just race and have fun,” Curran said. “I watched my dad and grandfather race here, and I wanted to be a third generation racer.”
Jim Freethy and Jack Jonkers, Super Stock champions.
Dwarf Car division champion Danny Wagner of Bay Point made a remarkable comeback after breaking vertebrae in his back and being hospitalized after a 2012 crash.
Danny Wagner and Jordan Franklin.
“I have to thank my parents, Celeste and Dan, and my girlfriend Jordan Franklin for forgiving me for the grease in the house and the mud in the driveway.”
Antioch Speedway’s 2014 season will begin in February. The 2014 schedule will be released next week.