Brian Tully made his Barona Speedway racing debut November 8 and finished seventh in the Hobby Stocks main event.
The Fallbrook driver was running second in the race before Brandon Davis, who is on Tully’s pit crew when he isn’t racing himself, hit Tully from behind and sent Tully into the hay bales by the pit entrance.
“It was an exciting, fun night,” Tully said.
Tully, who first began racing stock cars at Ascot in 1978, has also raced on the Speedway 605, Oildale, Adelanto, and Perris dirt tracks as well as the Irwindale asphalt oval.
Tully moved to Fallbrook seven years ago and had not previously raced at Barona.
The Hobby Stocks are considered Street Stocks at Perris Auto Speedway, which has been the home track for the drivers.
The Perris track features sprint cars and other special events as well as stock cars, and the Street Stocks have had one scheduled race there since June 26.
Some of the Street Stock drivers from Perris competed at Barona in August, September, and October in the Factory Stock division, and Tully attended the October 11 race as a spectator.
In late October, Perris Auto Speedway replaced the stock car races scheduled for November 8 with off-road competition.
After the November 8 stock car races were cancelled at Perris, Jerry Knight worked with Barona Speedway promoter Todd Salazar to bring the Street Stocks to the San Diego County track that night.
“We started talking and Todd and I put together a little group of guys,” Knight said. “I started making phone calls to everybody and e-mailing everybody.”
Knight and Stefan Davies, both of whom live in Murrieta, now each have their own cars, but at one time they shared a Street Stock at Perris. Davies notified Tully of the November 8 race.
What is a Street Stock at Perris is a Factory Stock at Barona, and Salazar is considering the creation of a Pure Stocks division at Barona which would accommodate the Factory Stock class at Perris.
“That would be fun,” said Fallbrook driver Jim Ramsey, who races a Factory Stock at Perris. “If they put a Pure Stock class together, I’d go down and race.”
Perris has clearer definitions of Street Stocks and Factory Stocks.
At Barona the drivers in each class vote on the rules, so some classes currently are legal at Barona only.
While the Street Stocks drivers from Perris were allowed to run Factory Stocks at Barona, Salazar felt that a separate class was warranted for a large number of Perris drivers.
“They’re not apples to apples so far as with our Factory Stocks,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of switching one thing over.”
The Hobby Stock class also ensured that drivers who were not in Barona’s season points race did not interfere with drivers on the final night of the points season.
Although the Perris standards were permitted, drivers new to Barona needed to make gear adjustments. Perris is a half-mile oval while Barona is a quarter-mile speedway.
“It was challenging,” Tully said of the smaller track. “It’s exciting because the turns came up so quickly.”
The Barona rules also require drivers to wear a neck brace. Tully was unaware of that rule and did not bring his to the track, but a Barona driver loaned him one for the night.
Tully has both a Nova and a Camaro. He maintained the Nova setup for Perris, which is scheduled to close out the Street Stocks season with a November 22 race, while bringing the 1974 Camaro to Barona.
Although the Hobby Stocks debut saw only nine cars, a Street Stocks race scheduled for November 1 at Route 66 Raceway was rained out and the Victorville track used November 8 at a makeup date, drawing some of the Perris cars which otherwise likely would have raced at Barona.
The Hobby Stocks main event took place after the Factory Stocks feature, and the Perris drivers invited the Barona drivers to join the non-points race.
“We tried to include the other guys in with us,” said Temecula driver Henry Wesolowski Sr., who won both the heat race and the main event. “I would have liked to have more cars, but nine cars, it made a race.”
The Barona Speedway scorers expressed concern over confusion, so the Perris racers were by themselves.
The scorers found another advantage of the Perris drivers being on their own after the various yellow flag cautions and restarts throughout the race.
“They lined themselves up,” Salazar said. “Those guys were like bees.”
Salazar was also appreciative that the drivers knew their proper positions, and he was also pleased with the competitiveness.
“The cars were on top of each other. That was a very exciting race,” he said.
“It was a very competitive field. I think I did well to get an early lead,” said Wesolowski.
Tully’s night which ended in the crash wall also started with bad luck, as during the pea pick to determine heat race starting positions he drew 48 out of a possible fifty.
He began the eight-lap heat race on the outside of the fourth row but advanced to sixth by the checkered flag.
The top six finishers in the heat race were inverted to start the main event, so Tully began the feature on the pole.
He soon fell behind some of the drivers with previous Barona experience, dropping to fifth place, but after some additional competitive laps he was able to pass three of those cars who had overtaken him. “I got by through those,” he said.
“I really liked the track,” Tully said. “The track actually had a lot of grip until we ran.”
The racing from the classes prior to the Hobby Stocks, who closed out the night, took away that grip.
During the Hobby Stocks main event, however, Bobby Hogerhuis blew a transmission.
A red flag was thrown, and the drivers were sent to the infield. During the break they found the cleanup efforts to be more than they expected.
“They actually brought the grader out,” Wesolowski said. “I’ve never seen that done before.”
The tight racing continued once the green flag was thrown. “All nine cars were pretty much all in a cluster,” Knight said.
Davis began challenging Tully for second place. “He kept banging me,” Tully said. “He just lost control of his car.”
Eventually that contact proved to be at Tully’s expense, as he hit the hay bale and the K-rail. “I moved the two K-rails,” he said.
In addition to bumper damage, the assessment of the Camaro includes a bent wheel, a damaged tie rod, a cut tire, a dented side, and possible suspension damage.
“Brandon offered to help me fix it,” Tully said.
Tully’s pit crew for the evening consisted of Howard Bymark, Lori Hancock, and Donita Ritchey.
The collision also cost Davis one position, as Daniel Voyles was able to move into second place.
“When Brandon took me out it held him up, and the 62 [Voyles] got by him,” Tully said.
The crash had occurred two laps before the scheduled end of what was to have been a 20-lap race.
Ken McWilliams lost a ball joint on the same lap, and track officials threw the checkered flag after the red flag had been displayed.
“We put on a good show. We were within feet of each other,” Tully said. “That’s what I loved about it. It was competitive, it was racing.”
Perris has infield pits, although if those pits are full some classes are pitted outside the track entrance. The Barona pits are outside the racetrack.
“The pits were good. There was a lot of space in the pits,” Tully said.
“We didn’t get our full 20 [laps], but we had a ball,” Knight said. “It was a kick in the pants. We had a great time.”
“I’m just hoping to make it better for everyone,” Salazar said.
“They treated us like gold,” Knight said. “They were real thankful and real hospitable. Couldn’t have asked for more.”
“The officials were appreciative that we were there,” Tully said.
“They did everything they possibly could,” he added. “They took a lot of time for us.”
Barona Speedway opened in 1994, two years before the Perris Auto Speedway’s initial race.
The initial Barona track was a 1/6-mile oval on the outside and a 1/8-mile length on the inside. In 1999 the track was lengthened to its current quarter-mile distance.
The Salazar family has operated the track since 2000.
“I’m really happy that they came,” Salazar said of the Perris drivers.
“They want us there,” Knight said of Barona Speedway. “The guys from Perris were thoroughly impressed with Barona and the way they treated us.”
Various classes have raced at Barona over the years, but Salazar has adopted a formula of holding races every other week with regular competition for certain divisions.
The Modified division starts its season later so that drivers won’t be forced to choose between Barona and the El Centro track which operates from fall to spring.
If Perris holds regular stock car races in 2009, Salazar has no desire to raid drivers from the nearby track, but he plans to hold several Hobby Stocks races in 2009 when Perris focuses on other types of cars.
“I told them I’d put them on the schedule every week if they had ten cars or more,” Salazar said. “I’m really hoping that they come down here next year.”
One of those cars will likely be Tully’s. “I will go back there. I enjoyed it,” Tully said.
To comment on this story online, visit http://www.thevillagenews.com.