Los Angeles, CA – NMRA three-quarter midget series competitors raced the first two events of their scheduled 15 event season on the final two Saturdays of March. The dirt track sites were the fifth-mile Ventura Raceway on March 21 and the third-mile Bakersfield Speedway on March 28. The 20-lap feature winners were Anthony Lopiccolo, of Yorba Linda, in Ventura, and Bruce Hiroshima, of Camarillo, in Bakersfield.
The first two feature winners this year continued their championship duel for the 2014 NMRA TQ driving championship, won by 28-year old newlywed Lopiccolo. Both veteran TQ drivers were seeking their first driving titles. Their close battle came down to the final race, which was canceled days before the race with Lopiccolo holding a slim point lead. NMRA officials and Ventura Raceway promoter Jim Naylor got together and added an October 18 race in Ventura so the two drivers could decide the championship on the race track. Lopiccolo edged Hiroshima by six points (595-589).
March 21-Ventura: A field of 14 TQ midgets raced in the 2015 season opener in a multi-division program at the seaside speedway in a picturesque setting between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean. Lopiccolo drove his No. 21 Stealth/838cc Kawasaki and won his eight-lap heat race from fourth starting position in a seven car field. He then led the final six laps of the 20-lap main event. West Evans won the other seven car, eight-lap heat race.
Scott Dobson drove his own No. 18 Stewart/750cc Honda into the lead and paced the first 13 laps of the feature. He placed second. Evans took third in his own Spike/Bob Wirth 750cc Suzuki. Kenny Wiley, Hiroshima, Dave Lambert, rookie Ace Kale, Rick Poe, 2014 NMRA rookie of the year Doyle Mosley and Chris Thomas completed the top ten. Six drivers ran all 20 laps. Rookies Ted Dann, Kevin Kale and Nick Lopiccolo, older brother of the winner, finished in positions 11-13 respectively. Past NMRA champion Chuck West finished third in the second heat race. However, his No. 38 Evans Motor-sports Stealth/838cc Kawasaki did not start the feature because of a burned piston.
March 28-Bakersfield: Ten cars competed at NMRA’s home track in the north Bakersfield community of Oildale. It was a multi-division racing program with local divisions also in action. Evans and Dobson won the pair of eight lap heat races after starting second. All ten cars started the 20-lap TQ feature. Hiroshima came from outside row two on the grid to lead the final eight laps in his own No. 5 Rick Stewart chassis with a Clerc-built 838cc Honda. Evans started third and was the runner-up in his No. 36 Spike/Bob Wirth-built 750cc Suzuki. Outside front row starter Dobson led the first 12 laps in his No. 18 Stewart/Honda before settling for third place. Chuck West drove Bruce Hiroshima’s No. 20 Stewart/Honda backup car all night while his No. 38 Kawasaki engine was being repaired. He started fifth in the main and placed fourth. Pole starter Lambert finished fifth in his own No. 55.
Rookie Ace Kale, from Westminister, who purchased Britt Grissom’s No. 43, and came from eighth to earn sixth as the last driver on the lead lap. Rick Poe ran 19 laps for P. 7. Rookie Ted Dann, a CRA sprint car driver at Ascot in the 1980s , drove his No. 7, the ex-Adam Baker No. 17 Don Vesco chassis with a 750cc Suzuki. He started tenth and dropped out after 14 laps for eighth place. Rookie Kevin Kale, 36-year old son of car owner Ace Kale, drove his dad’s ex-No. 66 Scott Niven Stealth/Clerc 836cc Honda, now using No. 07. He dropped out on lap 5. Doyle Mosley, brother of the late Indianapolis 500 driver Mike Mosely, started seventh in his own former Ron Ahrendt No. 87 Ellis/Honda. He dropped out on lap 5 and received tenth position.
The next NMRA-TQ event will be held Saturday, April 11 at Ventura Raceway in a show with Ventura Racing Association 360 cu. in. sprint cars, California Lightning Sprints, and local divisions. A week later on April 18 NMRA teams will return to Bakersfield Speedway for event four this season.
Heat 1 – Anthony Lopiccolo, Kenny Wiley, Bruce Hiroshima, Dave Lambert, Chris Thomas, Rick Poe, Ace Kale.
Heat 2 – West Evans, Scott Dobson, Chuck West, Kevin Kale, Nick Lopiccolo, Doyle Mosley, Ted Dann.
Main – A. Lopiccolo, Dobson, Evans, Wiley, Hiroshima, Lambert, A. Kale, Poe, Mosley, Thomas, Dann, K. Kale, N. Lopiccolo, -DNS-West.
March 28 – Bakersfield:
Heat 1 – Evans, West, Lambert, Poe, Dann.
Heat 2 – Dobson, Hiroshima, A. Kale, K. Kale, Mosley.
Main – Hiroshima, Evans, Dobson, West, Lambert, A. Kale, Poe, Dann, K. Kale, Mosley.
POINT STANDINGS (as of April 7, 2015)
Drivers Car Owners
1 West Evans 123 1 No. 36 West Evans 129
2 Scott Dobson 122 2 No. 18 Scott Dobson 128
3 Bruce Hiroshima 117 3 No. 5 Bruce Hiroshima 123
4 Dave Lambert 100 4 No. 20 Bruce Hiroshima 118
5 Ace Kale ® 91 5 No. 55 Dave Lambert 106
6 Chuck West 85 6 No. 77 Ace Kale 97
7 Rick Poe 84 7 No. 2P Rick Poe 90
8 Kevin Kale ® 73 8 No. 07 Ace Kale 79
9 Doyle Mosley 69 9 No. 87 Doyle Mosley 75
10 Ted Dann ® 68 10 No. 7 Ted Dann 74