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Local champions enter big L-M headliner

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - April 24, 2012 --- After weather postponed the first appearance of the rip-roaring Late Models at MRP, everyone in the class is ready to go. A couple of former track champions will test the visiting teams in this long awaited start to MRP’s Late Model season. The “twist ‘em in sideways at 100 mph” Wingless Warrior Sprint Cars will also be featured. The MRP Mini Stocks have been waiting on the weather and they, too, will burst out of the starting gate on Saturday. The MRP Hobby Stocks will be out for their 2nd point race of the year and the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars will appear for the first time at MRP in 2012.

For those who prefer their stock cars sideways and on the gas, this initial 2012 outing for the ferocious Late Models at Paul and Kathy Hawes' Marysville Raceway Park will offer a great opportunity to see them do just that. The clay ripping hot rods will be a welcome sight after their spectacular appearance last October during the annual Great Taxi Cab Open. While a significant number of Late Model stars will tow in from out of town for this event, there are a couple of well known local Late Model hot shoes that deserve a nod. 

One of the biggest names in west coast stock car racing, 11 time champion Randy McDaniel, is a local product making Marysville his home. But, McDaniel has won nearly every major race in stock car competition in the west from Las Vegas to Washington at one time or another. McDaniel’s sparkling #1 will be hard to beat in this one. His sling it in style and win it or wear it attitude makes McDaniel dangerous and quick, the perfect formula for a racer. 

But, once again if you go searching for big name challengers you don’t have to look any further than Live Oak where wicked fast Matt Michelli hangs his goggles. Michelli is another Late Model expert that travels and has had great victories to his credit all over the west coast. This soft spoken crowd pleaser will be in top form Saturday night.

On the other end of the “soft spoken” spectrum is the guy in the purple car. Talk about a driver with an attitude? “Mr. Controversy” Jerry Bartlett will bring his sleek, familiar 00 to this gunfight and this guy can smoke a field with distinction if he’s got it hooked up right. Bartlett always seems to have something coming out of his corner that opens up an eye lid or two and gets people gabbing. Bartlett’s championships include almost every class at MRP. But he has never been dominant in the Late Models. His fire-breathing missile will be another one to watch in Saturday’s program.

"Bad" Billy Knoop will be saddled up in what is reported to be his familiar #73 livery. But this is not his Super Stock in which he secured 2 championships. This is a full-out late model effort in a car driven by track promoter Paul Hawes in past appearances. Knoop is a popular entry and is very good when it comes to the end of races. His 2 championships were earned with late race heroics and daring passes.

Another former MRP champion will put on the helmet again Saturday. Marysville’s Leroy Perry has put together an outstanding looking car that looks fast sitting still. You have to see it to believe it. Leroy is great competitor and completes this veteran quartet of stars that will all compete against the travelers.

Other local stars of note include another rapid fire hot shoe in Brian Cooper. Cooper too has an MRP title, but has raced elsewhere for over a decade. Cooper could be the spoiler in this one. This guy will run fender to fender with anyone.

Visiting Late Model stars expected at MRP Saturday include the “Wild Man” Dominic Stone in his gleaming white rocket. Jay Norton is expected with his superb #15. Norton turned in some of the quickest laps of the race at the last Taxi Cab Open. Norton succumbed to mechanical woes while headed to the front. Dave Larabee will also be in the field in his outstanding looking racer along with former champion at the Placerville Speedway, Jason Englund. Englund’s black 77 was a factor last year in the Taxi Cab Open and he’s a guy who can get the job done.

This door handle to door handle Late Model extravaganza will also be a Contingency Connection event. It is the 1st Contingency Connection offering for the 2012 season and Wingless Warrior Sprint Cars as well as Late Models are the participating classes. Feature event bonus awards will be available to the winner of the events depending on the Contingency Connection sponsorship decals displayed by the winning driver. Sponsorship decals are available at MRP.

Four other classes will compete Saturday night including the long awaited return of the Wingless Warriors. This wingless 360 sprint car class often produces the wildest racing available in short track competition. Driving off the right rear tire at terrific speeds requires a skill and daring 2nd to none. The Sherm Toller Memorial winner Jeremy Hawes is expected along with 2011 MRP champion Brett Youngman. Feature event winners Josh Vieira and hard charger David Sprigg will all be in the house Saturday. Elbows up and on the hammer pretty much sums up the kind of racing generated by this class. Stay tuned for additional info and entries on this class.

The MRP Mini Stocks will finally christen the 2012 season at MRP after the rains took away opening night a couple of weeks ago. Looks like Misty Castleberry hasn’t missed a beat as that red white & blue hot rod of hers seems to be quick as ever. As noted earlier, one of the strongest contenders may be a rejuvenated Shaun Merritt. Merritt, who was very fast last season, had far too many mechanical issues and bad luck nights to be a contender at the end. Merritt told this observer that he’s spent money in all the right places and is itching for a title. The Merritts may field as many as 4 cars in the upcoming season. One will be for brother Damian and others for the “kids” according to Shaun. The MRP Mini Stock saga for 2012 will begin this Saturday night.

2012’s second edition of the MRP Hobby Stock wars will be presented as well. Based on the bent metal and ruffled feathers that opening night created, this should one be more of the same. Garrett Agnew will try to double-up this Saturday with win #2.

The Nor Cal Dwarf Cars will bring their traveling show to MRP for the first time this year. Local entries include Jeremy Blackshere and Neil Stinson. They are formidable contenders in this class. For more on the dwarf cars go to . 

Pit gate opens at 3PM. Grandstands open at 5PM. Hot Laps at 5.30. 1st race at 6.30PM

Don’t forget to monitor our facebook page during the races as updates are constantly being forwarded.

IMPORTANT: 2012 minor releases must be signed by parents for all minors entering the pits. 

Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect. The text is based on information we have at the time of its release.