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S.O. Speedway set to open

WHITE CITY — Southern Oregon Speedway will kick off its 21st season this Saturday with a mix of familiar and new offerings.

The lineup features 24 race weekends on the 3/10th-mile banked clay oval, which will be overseen by new promoter Mike McCann. He takes over for Medford auto dealer John Skinner after the previous lease expired.

McCann, who has 30 years of experience, signed a 10-year agreement with Jackson County to operate the speedway. He has promoted motorsports since 1979 and owned or leased facilities from 1984 to 2005.

McCann has operated Riverside Speedway in Cottage Grove, Twin Cities Raceway Park in Marysville, Calif., Eugene Speedway and Sunset Speedway in Banks.

Racing divisions at Southern Oregon Speedway will remain the same as in previous years: modified and sport modified (sanctioned by The International Motor Contest Association), mini stocks, hornets, pro stocks and the touring Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association will all be offered.

Saturday will be headlined by the inaugural appearance of winged sprint cars, with pro stocks, dwarf cars and mini stocks also in action. Pit gates open at 4 p.m., grandstands open at 5 p.m. and racing is at 7 p.m. The cost is $12 for general admission, with seniors and juniors (ages 6-12) $6 and children 5 and under free.

"I really feel like our schedule offers something for everyone," Southern Oregon Speedway publicity director Don Martin II said. "We're very excited about it."

Last season, Albert Gill successfully defended his IMCA modified track championship, capturing the main event along with four seconds and two thirds. Mark Wauge picked up three first-place efforts in a field that saw 11 different victors.

Wauge held off Tim Bailey by just four points to claim second in the standings, with Jesse Bailey and Brian Poppa rounding out the Top 5 in points.

The big feature wins of 2015 went to Wauge (Firecracker 50), Bobby Hogge IV ($5,000 Long Skinner Memorial) and Jesse Williamson (Speedweek race).

Other points champions last year were Jorddon Braaten (sport modified), David Marble (mini stocks), Jeffrey Hudson (pro stocks), Drew Fielder (hornets) and Josh King (dwarf cars).

Additions to the schedule this season include the winged sprint car class, with 10 races booked. The track had a run of over a decade with the division before ending it in 2010 with Chadd Noland as champion. Young driving standouts Camden Robustelli and Jeffrey Hudson, along with 2015 Cottage Grove sprint car champion Patrick Dills and Orland Speedway wingless sprint champion Bill Hopper, all plan to give it a go, Martin II said.

Noland is also expected to race Saturday.

In dwarf racing, Kalvin Morton is set to race after securing a victory in the class' season opener two weeks ago in Yreka, Calif. The race on Saturday will help raise money for injured local racer Fred Hay. A special 15-lap, $1,000-to-win race was created with assistance from an anonymous sponsor. The drivers' entry fee will be donated to the longtime Eagle Point resident, who recently suffered serious injuries at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. He spent several days in a hospital before returning home, where the third-ranked driver and two-time main event winner from a season ago is recovering.

Super 4s will also return after an 11-year run and an open stock division has been created with a six-race schedule. The class will accommodate stock cars, including late models, sportsman and street stocks with open rules.

The 21st running of the Lon Skinner Memorial is Sept. 3-4. Some of the top IMCA modified drivers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond will compete for a shot at a $5,000 prize.

The track will also host a Western Regional Dwarf Car event Aug. 4-6.

The Roger Haudenshild Tribute race is May 28 and a Wild West Speedway race is on June 11, two other highlights of the IMCA modified schedule.

On July 4, the speedway will host a fireworks show and will have a Sprint Car Sprint Week race on July 9.

The season concludes Sept. 24.

The 1/8th-mile Outlaw Kart dirt track will see eight events on Friday nights throughout the late spring and summer. Classes range from beginning for children ages 5 to 8 to a new micro sprint class for older teenagers and adults.

For more information and for prices of specific events, visit southernoregonspeedway.com.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt

Albert Gill defended his IMCA modified track championship last season at Southern Oregon Speedway. PHOTO BY CAROLE BRYAN