Championship Season Closes With Night of Tricks, Treats
The heartiest short track fans in the country descended on Meridian Speedway on Saturday, October 28, for the season-ending Trunk or Treat event. The Idaho CDL Training Street Stocks, Boise Bath and Kitchen Company Mini Stocks, Pepsi Sprintcars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Trammel Construction Stingers, Bandoleros, and Project Filter Mini Modifieds all packed the pit area for the last time in 2023, with their sights set on the night’s Trammel Construction Feature Flags.
Twenty Idaho CDL Training Street Stocks crowded the quarter-mile for the first of their three 33-lap features Saturday. Jake Altman and Samantha Raymond led laps early as the pack beat and banged for position behind them.
On the move early was division points leader Jesse James Lawson, who sliced his way through the pack to battle with Magic Valley Speedway Street Stock champion Shawn Lester for fifth in just ten laps. Lawson soon moved his Flap Jack Flips, Boise River Logistics machine past Lester and his fellow Magic Valley Speedway Street Stocker Ronn McClimans to plant himself firmly in the top five.
Ahead of this action long-time speedway competitor Mike Marston dueled with Taylor Occhipinti for second place on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Marston had the inside line but found himself boxed in behind lapped traffic as Occhipinti, Lawson, and Josh Fanopoulos dashed around him on the outside.
Without Marston to worry about Occhipinti sprinted to the rear bumper of Raymond. In just two laps Occhipinti worked his Marv’s Tire Service, Sonic Crush racer into the lead before a caution flag bunched the field for a restart.
When the green flag waved Occhipinti and Lawson stormed past Raymond and into the top two spots. Lawson searched high and low for a way around the defending division champion but ran out of laps to make his move as Occhipinti crossed the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first. Fanopoulos, Raymond, and Scott Groom rounded out the top five finishers.
“It’s been a while since we could park it up here, so that’s pretty cool,” Occhipinti said as he collected his first feature flag of the year.
In the division’s second feature McClimans and Lester sped to the top two positions early but were soon chased down by Andrew Palmer. Palmer, who fought his way forward from the eighth starting spot, wasn’t content to ride in third, and instead took his Bobby’s Transmission racer to the lead after just nine laps.
But Palmer’s rearview mirror was full of T. Roy’s Flight Standards, A and E Sharpening entry as the veteran campaigner worked the low and high sides of the track in hopes of taking the top spot. But try as Roy might Palmer countered every challenge to score his first feature victory in the Idaho CDL Training Street Stock division.
“Oh, wow. I’ve had this speech planned out,” Palmer joked as he collected his Trammel Construction Feature Flag. “I want to thank God for keeping us all safe and [the fans] for showing up. It’s been awesome.”
In the Idaho CDL Training Street Stocks’ third and final feature Raymond again took the early lead, this time with Skip Taylor in her tire tracks. An early caution flag flew and reset the field with Raymond and Taylor on the front row and Marston and Lawson in the second.
The green flag waved and Taylor went to work in the outside line. The veteran racer overtook Raymond sideways, and in so doing opened the door for Kyle Latham and Lawson to sneak through for second and third, respectively. Lawson’s car was strong, and he quickly dispatched Latham to take second before he motored around the outside of Taylor for the lead.
In this fight for the top spot Taylor’s Granite Excavation, S&T and Sons Trucking car broke loose in turn four and spun down the front straightaway. Raymond and Marston were collected in the resultant stack up, but all cars were able to continue.
This action set Latham and Lawson on the front row for the restart. Latham dug hard down low to move his Conrad and Bischoff racer to the lead, but Lawson carried more momentum in the outside line and kept pace. Lap after lap the lead duo battled wheel to wheel until Latham went for a slide through turns one and two. Forced to pedal his machine Latham fell back to second.
With just five laps left and lapped traffic dotting the track Latham couldn’t muster a serious challenge down the stretch and Lawson capped his championship season with a win. In celebration, Lawson burned the rear tires off his car with some donuts and a burnout the full length of the backstretch.
A strong field of twenty Boise Bath and Kitchen Company Mini Stocks packed the Concrete Jungle for the final time in 2023 Saturday. Terry Armstrong, Jr. was quick out of the blocks and piloted his racer to the early lead.
On the move early was Robbie Hyde in his High Line Power Sports, Elevated Wraps machine. Hyde, having repaired damage sustained in the night’s earlier heat races, was on a rail as he carved his way to the runner up spot. But Armstrong lay nearly four full seconds out in front of the Twin Falls, Idaho racer.
But all was not well under the hood of Armstrong’s car, and he was forced to the pit area just past halfway. This left Hyde to battle Jason Sanders and Tyler Palmer for the top spot.
Hyde planted his car low while Palmer eyed the outside line in his Serenity Homes mount. Lap after lap Palmer tried the outside line, and lap after lap Hyde held on down low. With the white flag in the air Hyde sent his car deep into turn three, but lost the handle and spun to the infield. This paved the way for Palmer to score his second victory of the year.
“This race, I’m dedicating it to my brother who passed away a month ago,” Palmer said. “I’ve said all week I want to bookend this season. I won the first and I won the last for him.”
With a seventh-place run Don Trafford sealed the deal on his first division title in his American Tire, Quality Alignment machine.
“First front-wheel drive, baby,” Trafford said as he collected his championship hardware—the first for a front-wheel drive car in the Boise Bath and Kitchen Company Mini Stock division.
Eight Pepsi Sprintcars rumbled to green for their 25-lap feature. Tony Ackerland got to the front first in his Dick’s Chevron sprinter, while a battle raged for the runner up spot as Kaleb Johnson and Kate Jackson worked to get around Rich Montes in his RMAC Machine Shop, North American Recycling entry.
Johnson got the better of this battle and took off toward the leader. After just a handful of laps Johnson raced his way to the lead while Ackerland fell to second. Once out front Johnson pulled away from the pack until he raced across the finish line victorious.
“If you told me that my first year here, I’d say you were crazy,” Johnson said. “We worked for this one.”
Project Filter Pro-4 competitor Kenny Chandler ran the final 25-lap feature of his 46-year career Saturday. Chandler made the most of his outside front row starting spot and overpowered Ryan Bailey to take the early lead in his familiar Fairly Reliable Bob’s, Project Filter number 33 machine. But there would be no storybook ending for the veteran campaigner as a mechanical issue struck just five laps into the race. Despite this issue Chandler would soldier on and reach the checkered flag in his final race.
While Chandler took his final laps, Jordan Harris was putting the final touches on a dominant Project Filter Pro-4 season. Harris stormed past Andrew Prince and the rest of the pack to collect his personal best tenth victory of the 2023 season.
“I gotta hand it to the 33,” said an emotional Harris post race. “He pulled us into this class...there’s nobody better than Kenny Chandler is what it comes down to.”
“I’d like to thank everybody who’s been watching and enjoying it. I’ve had an awful lot of fun,” said Chandler of his 46-year racing career.
The Project Filter Mini Modifieds made the two hour tow from the Magic Valley to Meridian Speedway for a wild twenty lap exhibition race. Turn one had been treacherous all day, and as the field dove into it for the first time nearly everyone spun into a pile on the turn two apron. On the restart Zaine Newberry jumped out to the early lead with Zach Rydalch and Magic Valley Speedway division champion Gabriel Varin in tow.
Varin wasn’t content in third, and the Gooding, Idaho racer piloted his Steve’s Quick Stop, Outlaw Customs modified around the low side of the track to take the lead on lap five. An early restart lined Boise Bath and Kitchen Company Mini Stock racer Morgan Trammel up to Varin’s outside, and when the green flag flew the Meridian, Idaho racer took off into the lead. This dropped Varin into a battle with Mini Stock competitor Travis Pavlacky.
As the pair battled for position the sped into turn one and encountered the stopped modified of Bob Hickerson. Pavlacky slammed into Hickerson, caromed off, and body slammed Varin. This sent Varin into the outside retaining wall and brought out the red flag. All drivers involved climbed from their vehicles okay, but all three retired from the race.
Once the race resumed Trammel and Jason Sanders found themselves out front. Familiar foes in the Mini Stock ranks Trammel and Sanders battled hard for the lead, but made contact in front of the flag stand and slid through the grass into the south turns.
This put Newberry back on pole position with Dale Bolinger to his outside. Bolinger fired off faster than Newberry and took the lead before he was tracked down and dispatched by a resurgent Sanders and Trammel. Once out front Sanders never looked back as he sped to the overall win, while Newberry was the first Mini Modified to cross the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe.
“For my second time ever being on this track to actually win a race is awesome,” Newberry said.
The closest points battle on the quarter-mile Saturday was for the Trammel Construction Stinger title. Entering the action Ryat Gorringe held a slim nine point lead over Makayla Trafford. Trafford set quick time to strike first, but Gorringe took home the heat race win. This left the feature to settle the youngsters’ season standings.
Gorringe and Trafford tore through the pack and after just two circuits set themselves up in first and second on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Trafford worked the outside line in her racer, but Gorringe was too strong down low. With eight laps left Trafford tried a late inside move into turn three and the two leaders made contact.
Gorringe’s Fast Lane Indoor Karts car slewed sideways, but he was able to regain control as Trafford was forced to back out and gather her car, too. As Trafford pulled back into range she and Gorringe ran up on Trinity Sheckles. Gorringe juked high while Trafford ducked low as they entered turn one three wide. Sheckles’ Neil Alan Fine Jewelry car snapped loose on corner entry and bounced off Trafford’s passenger’s side before she whoaed her machine to a stop just short of the pit entrance. Due to the contact with Trafford both drivers were sent to the back of the pack for the restart.
The green flag waved and Gorringe shot back to the top spot with Coleman Green all over his rear bumper. Green pushed his HazTech Drilling, Affordable Transmission and Auto Repair racer as hard as he could, but couldn’t track down Gorringe who collected the feature victory and the season championship.
Gorringe thanked 2022 Trammel Construction Stinger champion Niko Heinzel in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle for both, “teaching me a lot and leaving the class so I can actually get some wins.”
Ten Bandoleros took part in the first ever Bando Bash. Action started early as contact in turn two sent Matthew Anders’ Barry Fresh Designs, The Fan Connection machine bouncing across the infield on lap one. On the restart Ryan Barlow zipped to the lead with division points leader Mason Martin and Cole Dasenbrok in tow. But Dasenbrok and Martin were fast, and the pair split Barlow as they charged into turn three.
Martin hooked the inside line and took the lead in this wild exchange while Dasenbrok dropped into the second spot and prepared for another charge at the top spot. With four laps left Dasenbrok made his move, but carried too much speed through turn three and spun in turn four.
On the restart Martin faced Alanna Trammel for the victory. Trammel pushed her Trammel Construction machine hard, but didn’t have enough to track down Martin, who claimed the first Bando Bash feature win and, in the process, clinched the Bandolero championship.
The second Bandolero feature got off to an uneven start as two bouts of mid-field contact sent cars pinballing down the front stretch under the waving green flag. But the third attempt proved to be the charm and outside pole sitter Dasenbrok overpowered Tayton Monroe for the lead. Martin and Tucker Webster followed Dasenbrok past Monroe to take over the second and third spots on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
Martin immediately turned his sights to Dasenbrok and laid down a series of fast laps to reel the race dominator in. Lap by lap Martin got closer until a late caution flag flew. This lined Martin up on Dasenbrok’s rear bumper for the restart.
The green flag waved and Martin hammered the gas pedal. But Dasenbrok got out of the blocks faster and cruised through the race’s final laps to take the checkers. Martin held on to take the runner up spot, followed by Webster, Mariyah Soloman in her first race night, and Monroe.
“It’s cold out and hard to drive,” Dasenbrok said of his race night.
With the night’s points tallied Martin was declared the Bando Bash winner. Dasenbrok took second place while Alannah Trammel finished her adventurous night with third place honors.
With the 2023 season in the books, focus shifts to the 2024 schedule release party at the Boise Roadster Show presented by Les Schwab Tires, scheduled for March 8-10 at Expo Idaho. Stay up to speed with all the latest news and notes from around the quarter-mile at www.meridianspeedway.com and our Facebook and Instagram pages. On behalf of each and every member of the Meridian Speedway staff, we thank you for a great season of racing under the big, yellow water tower, and we’ll see you in 2024 at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.
Submitted By: Tyler Schild