Southern Oregon Speedway: A Field Of Dreams For The Racers For Over 20 Years

Southern Oregon Speedway: A Field Of Dreams For The Racers For Over 20 Years

The Medford area has a long and storied history of racing going back many years to the famed Medford Speedway.  When the last track closed, the search was on for a new location.  It was found at the Jackson County Sports Park in neighboring White City.  John Skinner built the 3/10th mile banked clay oval track and opened it in April of 1996.

The divisions featured that first season included the Dirt Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Mini Stocks and Winged Sprint Cars.  The track also hosted visits from the Late Models, SODCA Dwarf Cars and other groups.  Through the years, big Late Model and Sprint Car events have taken place at the speedway, and two of the biggest events at the track are the Dwarf Car Nationals and the R. Charles snyder Salute.

In the early years of Modified racing, the track ran the Modifieds with wings on the cars.  In more recent years, Southern Oregon Speedway has run the division under IMCA sanctioning and added an IMCA Sport Mod division as a way to help breathe new life into some of the older cars in the area.

A man who will certainly be in the discussion of "greatest ever" at Southern Oregon Speedway is Mark Wauge.  Wauge has won seven IMCA Modified championships at the speedway. Tom Glover opened the track with a championship and won another one two years later.  Hard chargers like Don Estramado, Brian Poppa, Jon DeBenedetti and Travis Perry are others who have written their names on the Southern Oregon Speedway Wall Of Champions in the Modified division.  Poppa got his start by winning a Pro Stock championship before moving up, and another Pro Stock graduate, Albert Gill, entered 2016 as a two time defending IMCA Modified champion, but it was Wauge winning that chapionship.

Here's a look at the IMCA Modified Wall Of Champions:

Modified Champions

1996  Tom Glover
1997  Dennis Silva
1998  Tom Glover
1999  Don Estramado
2000  Mark Wauge
2001  Jay Hinton Jr.
2002  Jon DeBenedetti
2003  Jeremy Richey
2004  Brad Alfrey
2005  Mark Wauge
2006  Brian Poppa
2007  Mark Wauge
2008  Justin Holt
2009  Mark Wauge
2010  Travis Peery
2011  Mark Wauge
2012  Mark Wauge
2013  Dustin Knight
2014  Albert Gill
2015  Albert Gill
2016  Mark Wauge

Sometimes there are races that can make the entire season for a driver.  The Lon Skinner Memorial Race is such an event.  When the track opened in 1996, John Skinner wanted to have a special race in honor of his father.  This race has became perhaps the biggest event on the West Coast, and drivers flock to Southern Oregon Speedway from throughout Oregon, California, Washington and other states to compete.  With $5000 to win last year and again this year, this race is the one they all want to win.

It's a Californian by the name of Bobby Hogge IV who is a five time champion, and he will enter the next race this September as the defending champion.  Fellow Californian Richard Papenhausen has two wins and has entered every race since this event began.  Brian Poppa tops the local driver's winners list with three victorires, while Mark Wauge, Don Esramado and Matt Duste are among the other winners.  It wasn't until the seventh event that we had our first repeat winner, Richard Papenhausen.  Bobby Hogge IV bears the distinction of being the only driver to win three of these races in a row.

Past Lon Skinner Memorial Winners

1996  Ron Haggard
1997  Scott Lenz
1998  Tom Glover
1999  Richard Papenhausen
2000  Don Estramado
2001  Brian Poppa
2002  Richard Papenhausen
2003  Dennis Silva
2004  Scott Weldon
2005  Brian Poppa
2006  Mark Wauge
2007  Jon DeBenedetti
2008  Bobby Hogge IV
2009  Bobby Hogge IV
2010  Bobby Hogge IV
2011  Brian Poppa
2012  Matt Duste
2013  Jesse Williamson
2014  Nick Trenchard
2015  Bobby Hogge IV
2016  Bobby Hogge IV

The IMCA Sport Modifieds enter their fifth season at the track with two different champions.  Dwayne Melvin got it started with back to back championships, but the hot driver at Southern Oregon Speedway is past Street Stock champion Jorddon Braaten, who is coming in as a two time defending champion . One of Braaten's closest competitors will be Mike Medel, who is the defending IMCA Sport Mod champion.

IMCA Sport Mod Champions

2012  Dwayne Melvin
2013  Dwayne Melvin
2014  Jorddon Braaten
2015  Jorddon Braaten
2016  Mike Medel

The Sprint Cars have had at least a race at Southern Oregon Speedway each season.  The track has hosted some big Sprint Car events through the years, including visits from the the World of Outlaws and races during Northwest Speedweek.  There were 15 years point seasons for the division, but the class fell to visitor status for the past five seasons.  That changes this year.  Notable championship winning drivers of the past include two time track champion Dan Menne and two time champions Randy Rodgers and Bill Nutter.

Sprint Car Champions

1996  Dan Menne
1997  Bill Nutter
1998 Dan Menne
2001  Chad Bauer
2002  Todd Zeitler
2003  Dan Menne
2004  T.J. Winningham
2005  Dan Menne
2006  Bill Nutter
2007  Randy Rodgers
2008  Randy Rodgers
2009  Charlie Thompson
2010  Chadd Noland
2013 Kyler Barraza *
2014 Kyler Barraza *
2016  Jake Wheeler

* Southern Oregon Sprint Tour

The Pro Stocks are another division that was on the track's roster when it opened for business back in 1996,  There are two big names that seem to rise above the others on the Champion's List.  Jimmy Walker Jr. was a force on the Pro Stock scene, and his three championships at the speedway happened during the first six seasons.  The other mega star in the class was Frank Word III.  Frank has won an amazing eight championships, and he did it all within a nine year span.

Two champions who have sprung up from Pro Stocks to win IMCA Modified titles are Brian Poppa and Brad Alfrey.  Not to be outdone,  Scott Lenz won the track's first Pro stock championship before winning the prestigious Lon Skinner Memorial race a year later.  Poppa was the driver who kept Word from winning nine championships in a row when he returned to the class for a second championship.  The division races at multiple tracks these days, and hard chargers like Ken Irving, Dave Everson and Jeffrey Hudson count themselves as champions.  Irving is a two time champion.

Pro Stock Champions

1996  Scott Lenz
1997  Jim Walker Jr.
1998  Jim Walker Jr.
1999  Brian Poppa
2000  Brad Alfrey
2001  Jim Walker Jr.
2002  Frank Word III
2003  Frank Word III
2004  Frank Word III
2005  Frank Word III
2006  Brian Poppa
2007  Frank Word III
2008  Frank Word III
2009  Frank Word III
2010  Frank Word III
2011  Dustin Knight
2012  Ken Irving
2013  Dave Everson
2014  Ken Irving
2015  Jeffrey Hudson
2016  Steve Borror

Mini Stocks were there at the beginning of Southern Oregon Speedway to give the track a nice entry level division for the racers to get their feet wet.  Through the years, the track has tried a few different 4 Cylinder classes, and the regular Mini Stocks are the class with the most staying power. Three notable multi time champions on the list are John Derby, David Bishop and Tracy Bradley.  Derby is a four time champion, doing it four years in a row.  Bishop and Bradley both won back to back championships.  Two stars of recent seasons are Gary Anderson and David Marble, who have won the most recent two championships.  However, veteran Bob Burkett finally won his first championship in 2016.

Brian Barns counts himself among the Mini Stock champions, and he ushered the Super 4 Mini Stock division into the speedway by winning the first two championships.  The Super 4's would have an 11 year run that saw such notable two time champions as Joe Guider and Brian Johnsen.  The division is returning to the fold at Southern Oregon Speedway this under the name Late Model Lites with Lee Doty as defending champion.

A recent addition to the roster is the bone stock Hornet class.  The rulebook for these Mini Stocks allows no modifications to the cars.  These are cars that the drivers race, not race cars, as was written in the original rulebook.  It's a great opportunity for new racers to come out and see what racing at Southern Oregon Speedway is all about.

Mini Stock Champions

1996  Brian Barns
1997  Scott Holt
1998  Rich McCoy
1999  Tracy Bradley
2000  Tracy Bradley
2001  Tom Lanigan
2002  Mike Johnson
2003  David Bishop
2004  David Bishop
2005  Tony Christopher
2006  Milton Carter
2007  Jim Pope
2008  John Derby
2009  John Derby
2010  John Derby
2011  John Derby
2012  Toby Judd
2013  Steve Goetz
2014  Gary Anderson
2015  David Marble
2016  Bob Burkett

Super 4 Mini Stock Champions

2003  Brian Barns
2004  Brian Barns
2005  Reggie DeVore
2006  Joe Guider
2007  Jacob Cole
2008  Brian Johnsen
2009  Parker "Hollywood" Jones
2010  Brian Johnsen
2011  Joe Guider
2012  Jamie Guider Newberg
2013  John Barger
2016  Lee Doty

Hornet Champions

2014  Robert Jones
2015  Drew Fielder
2016  Joby Shields

In the 20 plus years that the Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association has been around, Dwarf Cars have been a part of the action at  Southern Oregon Speedway.  These fast, motorcycle-engined race cars put on a great show and never fails to entertain the fans. Two of the biggest stars of the early days were three time champion Jon DeBenedetti and two time champion Gary Fitzsimmons.  Both drivers have since moved up, and DeBeneditti is both an IMCA Modified champion and winner of the prestigious Lon Skinner Memorial race.  Three other drivers have notched a pair of championships through the years, Kelly Gutches, R.J. McGahuey and Josh King.  Brock Peters comes into the 2016 season as the defending Dwarf Car champion.

Dwarf Car Champions

1998  Jon DeBenedetti
1999  Jon DeBenedetti
2000  Jon DeBenedetti
2001  Gary Fitzsimmons
2002  Gary Fitzsimmons
2003  Dan Van Acker
2004  Crash Jackson
2005  Jerry Apland
2006  Tom Palazollo
2007  Jeff Harsha
2008  Kelly Gutches
2009  Greg Denton
2010  Kelly Gutches
2011  R.J. McGahuey
2012  R.J. McGahuey
2013  C.J. Puttnam
2014  Josh King
2015  Josh King
2016  Brock Peters

There have been other divisions at the track through the years, including the now defunct Super Trucks and the Street Stocks.  Notable champions in Street Stocks include Jorddon Braaten and Duane Osburn.  Street Stocks will be making a comeback this year along with Late Models as part of the new Open Stock Class.  If interest proves to be strong enough, this may lead to the track creating a Street Stock and Late Model division.

Street Stocks Champions

2011  Duane Osburn
2012  Duane Osburn
2013  Jorddon Braaten
2014  Miles Dubert

Super Truck Champions

1998  Roger Lee
1999  John Cahill
2000  Patrick Lanigan
2001  Steve Pierce
2002  Greg Arnold

Up Next
April 13
Playday All Classes

April 27
Playday All Classes

May 4 - "Spring Buster"
Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets

May 11
Late Models, Valley Store All Late Model Lites, Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets, SODCA Dwarf Cars

Pit Gate Opens        4:00 PM
Grandstands Open   5:00 PM
Practice Starts         5:30 PM
Racing Starts           7:00 PM

Admission Fees September 22
General Admission $13
Seniors 62+         $7
Veterans              $7
Juniors 7-12         $7
6 And Under          Free

Regular Weekly Shows Gate Fees
Pit Passes           $30
Hornets                $30
Mini Stocks          $30
Dwarfs                  $35
Late Model Lites    $35
Late Models            $45
Pro Stocks              $45
IMCA Sport Mods   $45
IMCA Modifieds      $50
Sprint Cars              $50
Destruction Derby    $50