Fifth Annual West Coast Nationals/Bill Bowers Memorial This Weekend At Antioch Speedway
Antioch, CA...After a weekend off to allow the local racers who desired to take a trip down south to support the show in Bakersfield, racing returns in a big way this Friday and Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. It's the fifth running of the West Coast Nationals Bill Bowers Memorial Race.
The event hearkens back to when Antioch Speedway first had a West Coast Nationals IMCA Modified race in 1993. Then champion Scott Busby of Martinez was looking to prove a point regarding the value of this growing class. He did the legwork, and the first show produced a track record 83 Modifieds.
To this day, it's one of the biggest Modified turnouts in California history. There are two other interesting points regarding that race. It was won by Mark Welch of Orangevale. The car Mark drove to victory was purchased by current Promoter Chad Chadwick as he came out of retirement to go racing again.
After four more runnings of this race, it was retired when management changed hands to John Soares in 1998. Enter Chad Chadwick and PROmotions.
Chad had been in negotiations to take over the track and was given the opportunity to promote a big race in October of 2019. Thusly, he brought back the West Coast Nationals name. When longtime friend and employee Bill Bowers passed away, he decided to make it a memorial race in his honor.
Bowers and JD Willis are both Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame members, and they won many races and championships together. Willis, a 72 time feature winner and five-time champion at the track, will be saluted on the Friday night portion of the program.
The format is still being set as management encourages the racers to submit their ideas. The IMCA Modifieds, Sport Modifieds and Stock Cars are the featured divisions. When the purse was announced two weeks ago, the Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks were added to give them another big race.
The Modified drivers will be competing for one of the coveted feature starting births on Saturday night, which pays $300 minimum to take the green flag. The winner of the race takes home $2,000. The Sport Modified drivers get $200 minimum to start that race and $1,500 to win, while the Stock Cars get $150 to start and $1,000 to win.
More than that, the drivers want to win this race in honor of Bill, one of the most beloved figures among the local racing community. Bill's motors were fast, and people are still competing with them to this day. Last year, his son Billy and driver Troy Foulger of Oakley teamed up to win both the Modified and Stock Car races, making it a special occasion for the family.
The Sport Modified win went to Kenny Shrader of Pacheco, who was notching his second West Coast Nationals victory. In fact, the winners of last year's big event were a sign of what was to come this year. They won track championships in their respective divisions.
In Modified competition, there's never been a repeat winner. The previous winners in order have been Kellen Chadwick of Oakley, Jacob Hobsheidt of Plattsmouth, Nebraska and Ryan McDaniel of Olivehurst. The first race paid an even bigger purse, and Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas had the win in hand until Chadwick used slower traffic to snatch the victory.
After Shrader got the first Sport Modified win in 2019, Guy Ahlwardt of Antioch and Fred Ryland of Brentwood won the next two. The IMCA Stock Cars got an audition in 2020 that yielded a good car count and led to the class being added for championship points a year later. Foulger won that weekend, while Nick Johnson of Bakersfield came to town and won in 2021.
Drivers come from everywhere in California to compete in this event. A few competitors will even show up from out of state. The addition of the Hobby Stock class to the program adds a new dimension of excitement. When last we had a race at the speedway two weeks ago, Buddy Kniss of Oakley was collecting a $3,000 Hobby Stock Nationals payday in the Dave Baca owned car.
The fans will get an opportunity to see some top talent that they don't see at the speedway every week. The four division lineup should offer them plenty of excitement from start to finish on both nights. With the money and the glory on the line, who will be leaving with the victories this year?
It should also be pointed out that excitement is building in Antioch with the second running of the Open Wheel Showcase planned for November 11th. That night will see some of the top Winged 360 Sprint Car drivers from California in action. Fans have been asking for more Winged Sprint Car racing, and that night will fulfill their need for speed.
The gates will open on both nights at 4:00 with the first race starting at 6:00.
Friday tickets $15 thanks to sponsorship from Trevor Clymens
Saturday tickets Adult tickets are $20, Senior/Military $15, Kids (5-12) $15 and kids four and under free.
For further information, go to www.raceantiochspeedway.com or check out the Antioch Speedway by PROmotions Facebook page.
Article Credit: Candice Martin
Submitted By: Wylie Wade