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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Hughes finishes third in Demo Cross season standings


Last updated 11/30/2018 at 8:53am

Weston Hughes placed third in the Demo Cross season standings at Perris Auto Speedway, and the 2006 Fallbrook High School graduate had the fifth-place overall Night of Destruction points figure.

Hughes accumulated 354 points during the season's eight Demo Cross main events which concluded with two races Oct. 14 during the Southern California Fair, and he won the June 16 Demo Cross feature. Kyle Cox of Tustin won the division championship with 405 points and Costa Mesa driver J.D. Wilson had the second-place total of 390 points. Whittier racer Michael Schattilly accumulated 336 points for the fourth-place amount and Beaumont's Jesse Gordon had 333 points which gave him fifth place.

"I'm pleased with it," said Hughes of placing third in the final Demo Cross standings.

Hughes added 39 points to his overall total with an eighth-place finish in his only Trailer Figure 8 race April 28, which placed him 11th in the final season standings for that division.

The 393 points gave Hughes fifth in the overall standings. Cox won the overall championship with 1,014 overall Night of Destruction points as well as the Demo Cross and Trailer Figure 8 season titles. Gordon was second in the overall standings with 1,005 points and won the regular Figure 8 season championship. Nuevo driver Ryan Kinnett had 706 overall points for third place. Ken McWilliams of Menifee accumulated 487 overall points to place fourth. Wilson was sixth with 390 points. Homeland driver Garrett McCourt had 372 points to take seventh place.

"I'm thrilled with that," Hughes said of fifth place in the overall standings. "I was really surprised I was that far up there."

Hughes initially planned to compete in all classes, but after the first night he decided to focus on Demo Cross. "Can't complain when I only ran one class," he said of fifth place in the overall standings.

Hughes made his racing debut with motorcycles in 2014 and first raced at Perris Auto Speedway June 6, 2015. He initially drove a 1984 Ford Taurus, which was one of the smallest Night of Destruction vehicles, for his Perris races and brought out his 1992 Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2016. His father, Tod, first raced at Perris March 18, 2017, in a Lincoln Town Car which had been donated by Fallbrook Taxi.

Tod Hughes placed third in the 2017 Demo Cross season standings. "That's right where I am this year, so that's kind of cool," Weston Hughes said.

Weston Hughes was seventh in last year's Demo Cross standings.

Hughes debuted his 1985 Jeep Grand Cherokee as a racing vehicle on this year's Night of Destruction opener April 28 and put his father in the 1992 Jeep Grand Cherokee for the April 28 races. "We kind of traded up this season," Hughes said.

The 1985 Cherokee has a 5.2-liter V8 engine while the 1992 Cherokee has a 4.0-liter slant six engine. "They're both completely driveway-built. I'd say garage-built, but I've got too much junk to build stuff in there," Hughes said.

Hughes won the April 28 heat race, and although he did not finish the main event he was given 11th place while his father was credited with an eighth-place result.

This year Tod Hughes and Dan Drowns, who is Weston Hughes' cousin, shared driving in the 1992 Cherokee. Tod Hughes had 123 Demo Cross points in 2018, which gave him 16th place, and Drowns was 25th in the final standings with 63 points.

Weston Hughes noted that Drowns helped turn the 1985 Cherokee into a racecar.

"The only reason we were able to build that car in three weeks was that Dan was here working on it daily," said Hughes. "He was definitely a huge part of the team."

Drowns' 10-year-old daughter, Fiona, assisted with some of the tasks. "She put in almost as much work as Dan did," Hughes said. "It wasn't just Dan. Fiona had a huge hand in it, too."

Hughes finished fifth in the May 19 Demo Cross main event and his father finished third. Hughes won his first career main event June 16. He finished sixth in the July 4 race. He did not finish the July 28 race but was given 15th place. Hughes took third place in the Sept. 1 main event.

The first six Demo Cross races were on the same night as Trailer Figure 8 and regular Figure 8 competitions. Perris Auto Speedway is on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds, and the facility is used for the Southern California Fair in early October although the fair includes motor sports activity. The final two Demo Cross races were held Oct. 14 as part of the Southern California Fair.

Hughes finished third in the Oct. 14 afternoon race. He noted that the afternoon race was as important as the night race which ended the season. "You get the same points, the same payout," he said.

Hughes won the afternoon's six-lap heat race, although his engine temperature gage indicated a potential problem.

"I got a little bit warm," said Hughes. "I barely even made it out there for the main event. I was running the whole race overheated, but it seemed to hold together."

Hughes began the afternoon heat race on the inside of the fifth row. "I moved from there all the way up to first," he said.

The post-race analysis indicated a bubble in the Cherokee's cooling system, although the problem was not apparent to Hughes and his crew between the heat race and the main event. "I was trying to figure it out," he said.

Hughes drove the overheating car in the main event despite the risk of a blown engine.

"If it's the last race of the season you can afford to blow it up," said Hughes. "I can rebuild it by the next season."

The attempt to figure out the problem with his car led Hughes to line up late for the main event. David Holmes put coolant in Hughes' car while Hughes was inside the car assembling his seat belt.

"Everything was working really well," said Hughes. "The only issue I was having was a little bit of an overheating issue."

Because Hughes lined up late for the main event he started in the back.

Hughes took 10th place in the evening main event. "By the time I started the races I was already overheating," he said.

Two flat tires also hindered Hughes. "I was a couple of laps down," he said.

Hughes noted that he was third in the final Demo Cross standings despite "did not finish" status for two races.

"If I wouldn't have had those I would have been a lot more competitive with Kyle," Hughes said.

Third place was still acceptable for Hughes.

"I'm happy with it," said Hughes. "Even though I lost I'm still happy for my friend that won."

In addition to Tod Hughes and Dan and Fiona Drowns, Weston Hughes' crew during the season included Tracy Hughes, Matt Robison and Aaron Pack. Hughes was sponsored by Inland Empire 4x4 Recovery.


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