May 5, 2019 Willow Springs International Raceway, Rosamond, CA
Gary Ritchie was back on the tractor on the track early Sunday morning to create the absolute best race track possible for the Digger Helm Memorial Day at Willow Springs, the second day of racing with the Eddie Mulder West Coast Dirt Track Series. The pits were full, with riders anxious to race for the second day of this special weekend. Good news had been received about Ron Wood, the Grand Marshall of the event who was not able to attend. He was doing well and would be going home soon after a stint in the hospital. Eddie announced how the day’s events would take place during the rider’s meeting and the weather was a bit more pleasant than Saturday although the wind was blowing as it does in the Spring at Willow Springs.
Before practice began Eddie headed up the riders for a reverse lap for Digger Helm. Digger had been a friend to Eddie since his youngest racing days and the main supporter of the WCDTS events as well as supporting up and coming pro riders through the years. Digger was always on hand with a story or some sarcastic remark that made you laugh and he loved racing cars and motorcycles alike! On hand for the day were some of Digger’s family here to celebrate Digger’s life with the racers he so loved as well as some of his many motorcycles. It would be an emotional day for many of us that knew Digger through the years.
Many of the same riders were on hand Sunday that rode Saturday with a sprinkling of new faces too. Practice got under way and as always the program moved along like clockwork. After practice Eddie again rounded up the riders for a salute lap to Digger. A group of riders rode behind Eddie each with a #57 number plate that also had a picture of Digger in it. Jared Mees, one of Digger’s favorites, rode with a #1 plate the same style as the others. The other riders and fans gathered on the infield to give a hats off salute to Digger with the checkered flag as the group crossed the finish line.
Heat races took place in the same manner as Saturday followed by a break in the program and then the Specialty Fabrications, Inc/Rod Lake Racing Dash for Cash. This day’s Dash paid $7,000 and the competitors were Jared “Cha Ching” Mees, “The Wizard” Jeffrey Carver, “Slammin'” Sammy Halbert and Mikey Rush. Carver got the drive off turn two and just kept going. A couple of bike lengths behind him Sammy was on throttle followed by Mees and Rush. A five lap shoot out ended with Carver in front, Halbert, Mees and Rush following. What a treat this win was for Ron Wood’s son who was on the track, representing his dad for the winners victory lap. The Pro semi followed with Kayl Kolkman and Nick Armstrong earning a place in main. Jim Ottelle, Don Galloway and Mitch Rowland rode the Sr. Vintage class in that order to the checkers. Twelve riders found their places on the Vet grid. Jim Rosa got the hole shot with Craig Peyron and Donnie Howard in close competition. Jason Stopher gave Howard a run for his money trading places with Howard in laps one and three. Rosa crossed the checkers in front of Peyron and Howard. The Super Sr./Sr. Novice class included twelve riders. These Super Seniors are no slouches on the track considering they are over 60 years old. Repeating his Saturday ride, Rod Lake took the win after battling with Rick Reed the first 5 laps of the race. Don Galloway rounded out the podium. Emmett Brown took the win in the 60 youth class on Saturday in front of Kage Tadman. This day, Kage pushed just a little harder and took the win in front of Brown. Kage was back to take the 80cc class home followed by Saturday’s victor Colin Petton and Alex Martin. Martin’s brother Sterling finished fourth, Sierra Hickerson fifth. Fred and Jeremy Berger, father and son, competed with one another in the Classic 250 class. Jeremy was a little bit faster beating his dad and Thomas Asperger to the finish. Craig Peyron enjoyed a pole start in the brakeless Classic 500 and went on to reel in Tom Horton and Chris Rudy in the first lap and then on to a first place finish. Horton and Rudy rounded out the podium. David Brown, Jimmy Lundgren and Don Galloway rode 1,2,3 to the checkered flag with Sten Kelley 4th in the Modern 500 class after Dave Ehrhart won the Modern 250 class.
Every now and then some younger legends show up at the races. This day both former national number riders, #3 Joe Kopp and #20 Johnny Murphree were on hand and put on a show of their own in the Modern 750 class. Kopp, on a Harold MacDonald tuned Johnson Cams Triumph, got out in front at the start and Murphree, piloting an Eddie Mulder Replica Triumph owned by D-Dan Racing was riding in third behind Paul Herman but four laps later it was Murphree in the front with Kopp riding close behind and Herman running behind them both. At the finish there was less than a bike length between Murphree and Kopp, Herman followed and Don Galloway crossed the finish in the fourth place. The 250 Open class included nine riders. Joe Kopp’s son Kody led that contest all six laps with the same riding style as his dad. Long time WCDTS class 500 Support rider “Speedy” Jeff Gonzales was first off the start line and just kept going without looking back. After popping a wheelie on the start, it didn’t take Danny Ritchie long to get by Bryan Berna and two laps later Jason Craven also got by Berna to take the third position. The fastest kids on the track this day, Grant Holmes, Travis Petton, Kody Kopp, Tarren Santero and Dominic Dias were among the twelve riders taking their places in the Open Amateur A Main. The pack stretched out quickly. Holmes took the lead, Kopp followed and Petton rounded out the podium. Santero followed in the fourth position. The Open Amateur B Main included nine riders. Austin Williams held the lead flag to flag. Behind him Bradon Gross and Brandon Engebretsen worked the track and each other for the second spot. Gross Earned that spot in lap five and Engebretsen finished third. Jim Rosa came out of the second turn with a couple of bike lengths between himself and Donnie Howard in the Senior Open A. Howard remained in second place through lap 4 when Jim Ottele got by him. The finish was Rosa, Ottele and Howard. The senior Open B podium included John Rudder, Travis Ward and Mark Norman.
Thirteen riders lined up for the Digger Pro Main. Competition all weekend had been stiff. Mees, Halbert and Carver had each proven their talent equivalent to one another and Mikey Rush was hanging tough on his 450 Honda. To recap, Saturday’s dash for cash winner was Halbert, the main event went to Mees and the Dash for Cash earlier this day went to Carver. The main event was to be very exciting and competitive because the purse was even more than on Saturday! Carver had pole position with Halbert lined up next to him. Carver quickly pulled out in front with Halbert second and Rush and Mees following. Carver and Halbert rode side by side with Halbert holding the lead by less than a bike length then putting space between himself and Carver. Halbert maintained that lead through sixteen. Behind them, Mees was doing what he could to try to gain ground without much luck. In lap seventeen, Carver got under Halbert coming out of four, twisted the throttle of the Wood Rotax he was riding and rode flawlessly to the finish. Halbert and Mees followed. Before he was off his bike in front of the crowd Carver was texting Ron Wood in the hospital to tell him they won!
The weekend was perfect. A grand way to say “see you later” to National #57 Digger Helm. With the support of Mark and Randy Zimmerman/Speciality Fabrications, Rod Lake Racing, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Steve DeLorenzi/SDI Racing, Triumph of America, Motion Pro, Barnett Clutches and Cables, Maxima Racing Oils and the WCDTS crew, it could not have been any better!
Eddie and Jodi will clean up their stuff from Willow and get busy putting together the always fun Lake Cachuma British Motorcycle Rally scheduled for September 20-23, 2019. For information and pre registration go to EddieMuldersWCVDTS.com.
1. Jim Ottelle; 2. Don Galloway; 3. Mitch Rowland
1. Jim Rosa; 2. Craig Peyron; 3. Donnie Howard; 4. Jason Stopher; 5. Rob Bush; 6. Bryan Berna; 7. James Davis; 8. Jack Roberts; 9. John Lundgren; 10. Shawn Chamlee; 11. Robbie Crean; 12. Mark LeDue
Sr. Novice/Super Sr.
1. Rod Lake; 2. Rick Reed; 3. Don Galloway; 4. Mitch Rowland; 5. John Lundgren; 6. Jay Gardner; 7. Brian Cassara; 8. John Rudder; 9. D Dan McDougal; 10. Charlie Caspary; 11. Maury Austin; 12. Mike Boal
1. Kage Tadman; 2. Emmett Brown
1. Kage Tadman; 2. Colton Petton; 3. Alex Martin; 4. Sterling Martin; 5. Sierra Hickerson
1. Jeremy Berger; 2. Fred Berger; 3. Thomas Asperger
1. Craig Peyron; 2. Tom Horton; 3. Chris Rudy; 4. Lenny Rodriguez; 5. Joe Pape; 6. Ryan Colvin
1. Jim Ottelle; 2. Fred Berger; 3. Marcus Harner; 4. Robert Koch
1. David Ehrhart; 2. Tom Horton
1. David Brown; 2. Jimmy Lundgren; 3. Don Galloway; 4. Sten Kelley
1. Johnny Murphree; 2. Joe Kopp; 3. Paul Herman; 4. Don Galloway; 5. Ross 6. Scott; 7. Charlie Caspary
1. Kody Kopp; 2. Blake Ash; 3. Jacob Cascio; 4. Zack Earwood; 5. Jonathan Schaefer; 6. Conner Hickerson; 7. Brandon Engebretsen; 8. Cole Norman; 9. Bryson Berna
1. Jeff Gonzales; 2. Danny Ritchie; 3. Jason Craven; 4. Jack Jones; 5. Bryan Berna; 6. Jimmy Lundgren; 7. Jay Gardner
Open Amateur A Main
1. Grant Holmes; 2. Kody Kopp; 3. Travis Petton; 4. Tarren Santero; 5. Dominic Diaz; 6. James Ott; 7. Julia Hess; 8. Blake Ash; 9. Matthew Ott; 10. Rob Bush; 11. Jonathan Schaefer; 12. Conner Hickerson
Open Am B Main
1. Austin Williams; 2. Brandon Gross; 3. Bradon Engebretsen; 4. Chad Caldwell; 5. Nickolas Henry; 6. Cole Norman; 7. Robbie Crean; 8. Hadley Melton; 9. Andy Davis
Senior Open A
1. Jim Rosa; 2. Jim Ottelle; 3. Donnie Howard; 4. James Davis; 5. Ray Lopez; 6. Larry Ehrhart; 7. Don Galloway; 8. Jack Roberts; 9. David Ehrhart; 10. Greg Powell
Senior Open B
1. John Rudder; 2. Travis Ward; 3. Mark Norman; 4. Dan Dowding; 5. Luis Orozco
Digger Pro Main
1. Jeffrey Carver; 2. Sammy Halbert; 3. Jared Mees; 4. Dan Bromley; 5. Mikey Rush; 6. Dalton Gauthier; 7. Max Whale; 8. Kayl Kolkman; 9. Kayden Downing; 10. Oliver Brindley; 11. Nick Armstrong; 12. Andrew Luker; 13. Clayton Williams; 14. Jay Maloney
Dach for Cash
1. Jeffrey Carver; 2. Sam Halbert; 3. Jared Mees; 4. Mikey Rush