Chowchilla Speedway

Chowchilla Speedway

A school bus at Chowchilla Speedway.

Welcome to Chowchilla Speedway! As we enter the summer of 2020, the racing season is a few months from getting underway. Although we are still quite a bit out, its never too early to begin working on your vehicle. If you’re serious about competing in the 2020 racing season, then you’re already late to the show. At Chowchilla Speedway, we have racing teams travelling the country to race at our events. We’re not saying this to scare you, instead we want to prepare you! As for now, start by reading our season rules! Hobby Stock, Modified Vehicle, Mini 4, Super 4, and 360 WSS Sprints.

If you need to contact us, then you can do so through our contact page.

Fan Fever #2: The Greatest Show on Earth

A yellow vehicle racing around a speedway.
Spending a few nights at the Chowchilla Speedway is the “Greatest Show on Earth”.

A Fan’s Perspective

Some of my fondest memories as a child were the days I spent going to the circus with my Dad. It never was the local small town circus; it was always “The Big Top.” It was Ringling Bros, Barnum, and Bailey Circus. Known to us all as “The Greatest Show on Earth”. I didn’t think anything could compare to the thrill and excitement of those days, until this weekend. The tent I stayed in wasn’t quite the same as the circus tent I knew as a child. But the atmosphere surrounding it was equally as exciting and just as memorable. George Steitz put on a 3-day show that was more then anything I could have imagined.  Please keep in mind I’m just a fan. This is all new to me, so being overwhelmed should be no big surprise. That’s why I chose to call it “The Greatest Show on Dirt”. Because to me, that is exactly what it was.  What else would motivate a person to sleep 3 nights in a tent, in the freezing cold, only to wake up breathing dirt and smelling like methanol? How bad you got it? Probably not that bad! But I do, and I would do it again in a minute, because I truly love racing. It all started late Thursday night when I pitched my tent behind the bleachers. Promoters, George, Michelle, Marco, and Joyce invited me into their motor home to share racing stories with me from years past. It was a 
great preliminary to the weekend that was about to come.

The Greatest Show on Dirt is brought to you by San Francisco Car Detailing! Thank y’all! We truly appreciate your support, and this wouldn’t be possible without you. If you’re looking for car detailing services in the San Francisco area, then give them a call. Or you can visit their website at sanfranciscocardetail.com! When you mention Chowchilla Speedway, you’ll receive a 25% discount!

Driver of the Week: Cory Gilmore

Two race cars speeding around the corner of a dirt race track.
Cory Gilmore racing at Chowchilla Speedway.

Cory Gilmore

Just one year ago, if I had asked Cory Gilmore what he thought about racing, he may have shyed away and may not answered me at all. Today when I asked Cory Gilmore what he thought about racing, he confidently told me, just about everything. Young Cory Gilmore, our other 16-year-old hobby stock rookie, and “driver of the week” has gained a great deal of confidence since he started driving a race car. His mother shared that he has always been kind of quiet and kind of shy but now that he is behind the wheel of his 1972 Camaro displaying the #20G, he is gaining a new identity. 

Cory’s Story 

Cory started racing hobby stock for the first time at the beginning of the racing season. He is not quite as high in points as he would like to be, but that is mostly due to a major breakdown in the car. This caused him to miss the first 5 races which really set him back in points. Cory has already taken 1st in a heat race competing against several experienced drivers who are much older than him. What Cory likes most about driving is that it is really fun and exciting. Isn’t everything fun when your sixteen? His friends help him get motivated to race each week by challenging him at home on video games, like the Outlaw Sprints and other racing games. Cory started driving at a very young age. He drove go-karts when he was 5 out at the airport where there was lots of room. He didn’t drive again until he was 13 1/2. He drove go-karts at Altimont in a division called Briggs Jr. II. Where he won a main event.He has over 20 trophies to show for all of his many accomplishments.

Family Atmosphere

His Dad motivated him and encouraged him to drive at Chowchilla Speedway. His Dad used to drive street stock in Merced several years back. To watch his Dad at the track is also very entertaining. He tries hard not to look too concerned but it is hard to disguise, when your son is out on the track being pushed and shoved around by other drivers. Racing is rubbing, and rubbing is racing. Cory feels that he has had his share of experiencing the meaning of that. Between his inexperience, and the inexperience of others, things are bound to happen. One such incident happened a couple of weeks ago. Cory had won his heat race and was feeling very confident towards winning the main event. After the green flag, Cory’s car got loose down the back straightaway. As it turned in, his car went sideways. Two other cars pushed his car all the way to the end of the straightaway and into turn 3 sending him almost over the hill. Cory’s racing was done for the night. It was discouraging to him, since the night started out so well in the heat race. The reason I share this is because Cory felt the need to share a happy ending to this story. One of the drivers who he had tangled with was #3 Jay Connelly. Jay made several attempts to apologize to both Cory and his Dad. To me that was a very kind gesture on his part. Even though it was just racing, Jay felt it was important for them to know that nothing was done intentionally. I see this kind of integrity in the drivers at Chowchilla more than any other track I’ve been to. Cory and his Dad were grateful to know that there were other drivers out there considerate enough to take the time to acknowledge their concern for one another. The following week when Cory went to pay his entry fee, he was blown away by the fact that another driver had already paid his entry fee for him. Later that night he found out that the driver who paid it was none other than Jay Connelly. One of the best things that Cory said he liked about Chowchilla was all the people and the other drivers. This is just an example of the many kind gestures we see exchanged between drivers at Chowchilla Speedway. It is these kinds of courtesies shared between drivers that keep them coming back to race every week.

Bright Future

Cory is 16, and he is a sophomore at Golden Valley High School. With school finished for the year, Cory has lots of time to work on his car,a long with his Dad, Mark Romero, and Billy Waite. Cory says sometimes they work on the car 7 days a week, and that’s not an exaggeration. You can find these guys also in the pits each Friday making sure everything comes together for Cory. Cory’s big goal for this year at the moment is to win a hobby stock main event. Cory concentrates mostly on avoiding wrecks, and on driving clean.Besides his dad as a mentor, Cory also claims Jimmy Brewer as a role model…that’s 2 out of 2. Jimmy, you must be doing something well. It must be great having these young kids look up to you. Jimmy advised him to drive smooth & clean, and not to drive over his head. Cory also likes driving for the fans. He feels they are very important to the drivers. He would really like to see an increase in the car counts, especially in street stock. I think the main reason Cory drives for the fans is because he has a huge fan club that really motivates him. His biggest one I think would be his Mom. Sitting next to her you can find both sets of his grandparents. That is quite a fan club you have already established Cory, good job! Cory would like to thank his sponsors!

Next week, we are updating our pricing table. If you’re planning on attending, then make sure to give it a look! Sorry for the late notice.

Driver of the Week: Garrett Steitz

A blue race car speeds around Chowchilla Speedway.
Garrett Steitz speeding around during his first race at Chowchilla Speedway!

Garrett Steitz

How do you motivate a 16 y/o kid into becoming a race car driver? For Garrett Steitz, it was simple. On his 16th birthday, his parents gave him a race car! Last year on November 3rd, George and Michelle presented Garrett with a race car. Instead of blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, he was blowing his way around Chowchilla Speedway in his “new” 1970 Camaro. Coincidentally, that same day, his dad was sponsoring the “Dirt Track Shoot Out” which is held every year in Chowchilla. It certainly sounds like” Sweet 16″ to me, and to other car enthusiasts. Garrett was very inexperienced as he entered the track. After all, he had never driven a race car in his entire life. The track was filled with many-experienced hobby stock drivers in which he had to compete with. Garrett was determined to at least finish the race if nothing else. He not only finished, but he came somewhere within the top 12. Not bad for a first time driver, it must be in “the blood”.

Family Business

George Steitz proudly watched his son cross the finish line. After all, George had raced for over 18 years, so he brought Garrett to the track since he was a baby. They say that racing is in “the blood”, and I am starting to believe it. In the 70’s and 80’s, George drove in the sportsman division and also drove asphalt in Madera. George also owned a car detailing business in Los Angeles for many years. Although he sold the company, they are operating under new management. If you are searching for Los Angeles Car Detailing, then check out their website! George proudly displayed the #7 on his cars, of which he has now handed down to Garrett. I’d say it’s a “lucky 7” he inherited as this young rookie has already won a main event this year. As of last week, he stood 6th in points. That’s 6th out of over 20 drivers. That however is not even what I consider the highlight of his new career. He put all fear aside, and two weeks ago he entered into the figure 8 division to race the deadly X I call it. This division scares even the most seasoned drivers we have. The car count for the figure 8 this particular week was more than 12. I wasn’t quite sure if George and Garrett both had lost their minds. I’m just a fan, but from my side of the fence, this division is just pure insanity. Garrett claimed however that he wasn’t scared at all and that he had a lot of fun that night. When I asked if he’d do it again he said no. Only because his car’s oil pan was badly affected by all of the right turns he had to make. He claims that it is not worth ruining his car over. After speaking with Garrett and watching him race each week I tend to think that statement will prove to be untrue. He is a natural driver & if he continues at this age, by 20 he should have that X mastered. 

Race Preperation

Garrett says he never tinkered much with cars, but now that he has one he’s learning a lot and plays a big role in preparing his car for each race. His dad George, his Mom Michelle, his sister Sarren, good friend Dale Cox and cousin Bobby Borba, also help him to get his car ready to race each week. His friend Dustin Meadows especially does a lot of work for him and, come race night, all that hard work pays off. 

Professional Racing

His dad, Dale, Dustin, and Bobby also are his main pit crew. They are always watching Garrett closely, taking care of his car, giving advice, encouraging him and providing him with the signals he needs from the sidelines. He knows that without them, racing is impossible. A good pit crew is vital to any race car driver, and Garrett will be the first to agree with that. Besides his dad being his inspiration and mentor, he also holds hobby stock points leader #8T8 Jimmy Brewer at the top of his list as far as role models. Jimmy has been a good friend, a great encourager and has given Garrett many pointers. Most importantly, they have told him to concentrate on just finishing the race and to drive clean. Jimmy who was our first driver of the week, 2 weeks ago, is a very good role model when it comes to clean driving, that’s why I gave him the nickname “Mr. Clean.” His 17-year-old daughter Valerie is a rookie who drives for the Ladies Hobby Stock division & is very close friends with Garrett. She also has been a big support to him at the track. When Garrett’s not in a race car you can find him working on the car, hanging out with his friends, snowboarding, or in school. Garrett still has 2 years of high school to complete at Los Banos High. It is amazing how competitive these kids are at such a young age. 

Main Event

Garrett says that as far as racing goes, the only fear he really has is hurting someone else. He is nervous before the race, but once the green flag drops, it all goes away. There is no time for fear; it is all about driving. Garrett is easy to identify on the track, he races in a red 1970 Camaro with a huge #7 on the side. When it comes to strategy, Garrett’s concentration is mostly on avoiding the wrecks and driving clean, which isn’t always easy for a rookie. Learning to control a race car takes a lot of perseverance, a lot of patience, and a lot of stamina. His best night was when he won the main event. His goal for the season is to be rookie of the year. He loves driving in Chowchilla because he says the people there are great, including Tom and Cindy Sagmiller – the promoters. Garrett claims he drives mostly for the fans. He would like to see a ride along for the fans with their favorite driver. They are very important to him and therefore would like to see more happening for them in the stands. The most exciting thing about racing, Garrett says, is the 20-lap main event adrenaline rush. Garrett says, “It doesn’t get any better than that”. His fans enjoy him just as much as he enjoys the fans. Which includes his Mom, sister, Aunt Lee Borba, friend Kim Hogan, his pit crew, Dad and Valerie. He would like to give many thanks to his sponsors especially Mobile Car Detailing, Steitz Towing, Lima Customs, Condell Radiator, Promotor Sports, and HTW. Congratulations Garrett. Good luck on your rookie of the year and I cant hardly wait to see what you get for your 17th birthday. 

Fan Fever #1: Darcie Strikes Again

Darcie Odgers takes a victory lap around Chowchilla Speedway.

Darcie Odgers strikes Chowchilla once again with her #57 red, white, and blue Nova hobby stock. Darcie strikes not once tonight, but twice. First in the heat race, coming in first, and then again in the main event. Between races, Darcie went into EMT mode to help one of our quad drivers who took a really bad spill while racing an exhibition. Thank you for the heroics Darcie, but your racing was truly spectacular. Its no wonder you’re first in points, congratulations! Also, thanks for taking the time to help one of our fellow drivers. We hope to see you out there again soon!

Ladies Hobby Stock

Heat #1: In the first heat race tonight #8 Jeanie McAbee took the checkered flag in her bright yellow car and ended up 3rd in the main. #44 Cindy Layton took 2nd in the heat and 2nd in the main. These girls were very consistent tonight, and #2 Lisa McCollum came in 3rd.

Heat #2
: Points leader and main event winner Darcie Odgers came in 1st in the heat. #02 Donna Stephens finished 2nd, and young rookie #8T8 Valerie Brewer finished 3rd. Although they happened to place, they also look like they had a great time on the track tonight. 

Main Event
: The main event was a battle from beginning to end. #44 Cindy Layton, #12 Rachel Paul, #57 Darcie Odgers, and #8 Jeanie McAbee battled each-other 20 laps. Cindy had the lead for the majority of the race. A yellow flag on lap 16 changed everything. Darcie struck out to take the checkered while #12 Rachel Paul’s car got loose setting her back 2 positions. The battle was then between Odgers, McAbee, and Layton. Odgers took first, Layton 2nd, and McAbee 3rd. It was a great finish.

Street Stock

Johnny ’Lightning’ Cardoza stole the main event! When Johnny Cardoza became “Driver of the Week” last week, I was hoping he would win the main event the very same evening. As he took the checkered flag on lap 20, that dream had come to life. It was a perfect ending for a beautiful evening. Whenever I cheer for Johnny, it seems he never lets me down. This week was no exception. He went into lightning mode & never looked back. This race moved Johnny only 13 points away from taking over points leader Darrell Hughes. That championship is getting closer and closer. Congratulations Johnny, you deserve it! But Darrell Hughes wasn’t looking too shabby either in this battle for first. Darrell took second in the main & took first earlier in the heat, so his night also ended well. In third came Steve Stone, who we have seen very little of at the track this year. Steve, it was nice seeing you tonight! The Street Stock was great racing for the fans tonight. Keep up the good work guys!

Modified Vehicles

In the modified vehicles division, Charles Paul brought home the hardware! As Charles was competing against 11 other cars in this event, he had no time to be waiting around for some lucky break. He did what he does best: drive hard & drive fast. Last week, Charles had a half a lap lead over the entire pack. We were sure he had it locked up, until a flat tire knocked him all the way to the back of the pack. We’re glad Charles drove well tonight because he has some lost time to make up this week. Charles is currently battling #98 Jack Stanford for the points lead.

360 Sprints

Our points leader, #20 Keith Shipherd, had to settle for second tonight in both the heat and the main event. But it was an amazing finish! Keith got a flat on the 3rd lap of the heat & still finished 2nd. Our very own #14 Darren Thomas has magically reappeared to take the main event win in our sprint division. These drivers are bringing home trophies in a few divisions! Darren, it looks like you’re getting rather comfortable in this class. Keep looking good out there on the track!

4 Cylinders

We save the best for last – 4 cylinders. Although it was a quiet night in this racing division, these guys were speedy. They always put on a good show, even if only 6 cars are racing. The showoffs tonight were #26 Dudley Reed & #3 David Mullet. They both drove great & they both won their main event. 

If you’re interested in the full racing results, then visit our results page! Until next week, have fun and drive safe. But don’t forget that going to Chowchilla Speedway is the best six dollars you’ll ever spend! “It’s The Place To Race.”