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Biggest season ever starts Saturday at MRP
Sprint Cars and Supers take center stage

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA – April 1, 2014 --- Some 75 to 85 race teams are expected to crowd into town and compete Paul and Kathy Hawes’ beautiful Marysville Raceway Park Saturday night. The Yuba-Sutter area’s only professional sports venue will bring up the curtain on its 46th consecutive championship point racing season. It will be the “Ace Hardware-Union Lumber of Marysville-Night at the Races.” The mighty MRP Winged Sprint Cars will headline the program with the MRP Super Stocks headlining the fendered portion of the 5 division show. The MRP Wingless 360 Sprint Cars will open their season along with the MRP Mini Stocks and the Pro 4 Sprint Cars.

The raceway has been revamped and updated over the winter and features among the finest food and beverage options of any live outdoor sports venue. It is a very fan friendly place to be. The near sell-out three weeks ago for the Sprint Car Civil War attests to that. Some 66 loads of new racing clay has been added to the surface over the winter as well.

The premier MRP Winged Sprint Car field is expected to be a superb one. 3-time and defending champion Billy Wallace from Grass Valley will have some pretty stiff competition as MRP kicks off the 2014 championship season. Wallace has been on an unbelievable streak over the last three years. Wallace is currently 4th on the list of all-time feature event winners at MRP with an impressive 34 feature event victories in winged sprint car racing at MRP. Wallace has another dozen wins in wingless sprint car competition as well. Only Kelseyville’s “Battlin’” Brent Dothage (35 wins), Yuba City’s Korey Lovell (37 wins) and Colby Wiesz “The Colfax Comet” (52 wins) have more victories at MRP. Wallace will be aboard Mark Moore’s sleek black hot rod in an effort to get his 4th MRP sprint car title in a row. In doing so, Wallace can break a tie with Wiesz for consecutive title defenses.

All time MRP feature event winner and 3 time champion Wiesz has purchased a championship membership and is expected to be in the field Saturday. Wiesz recently had an impressive run in the opening round of the California Sprint Car Civil War Series by coming from 21st starting position (last row) to 6th at the finish. Wiesz is just spectacular around the quick MRP clay and is a late race closer of the first order.

5-time champ Lovell, aboard his famous #71 will try for championship #6. Lovell was seriously injured for the first time in his 20 year career late in 2012 season. He denounced any mention of retirement and, as a matter of fact if Lovell’s performance in the 2013 season is any indication, he is back, big time.

Also tossing his helmet in the ring for 2014 is 3-time MRP champ “Battlin’” Brent Dothage from Kelseyville. Dothage is truly one of the hardest chargers ever to wear the MRP crown. If Dothage can put together a full effort this season he could well be a 4-time champion. Speaking of chargers, the 2007 MRP Champ (and runner-up again last year) Jeremy Burt is expected along with former champion Mike Monahan out of Sparks, Nevada. Once again MRP presents a great “Race of Champions” for opening night in the winged sprinters.

Speaking of returning champions, Marysville’s own Cortney Dozier will be in the hunt. While Dozier has not won the winged sprint car title at MRP, he has won just about everything else. He is a former wingless sprint car champion, and has numerous wins in just about every category of racecar at MRP. Dozier was also the 1992 Late Model Stock Car champ at MRP. As a matter of fact, Dozier also finished 3rd in the MRP Winged Sprint Cars in the same year he won the title in the MRP Wingless Sprinter Cars. Dozier will also enter a MRP Super Stock in Saturday’s program.

Grass Valley’s Burt has indicated that he will be at this year’s opening event and make a concerted effort to grab another title. Despite enduring severe back injuries in an odd looking crash in 2012’s final sprint car race, Burt roared back in 2014 to his 2nd consecutive runner up finish in the premiere division with additional appearances in victory lane. He is a formidable presence and a relentless charger and is likely to be intensely focused about securing his 2nd championship at MRP. It is this observer’s assessment that Burt is not comfortable with runner-up championship finishes. Watch him closely this season.

Sparks Nevada’s “Madman” Mike Monahan will be back in the saddle again after horrendous injuries nearly curtailed his career in 2012. His courageous comeback was capped by fabulous feature event wins in June of that year and multiple return visits to victory last year. One of MRP’s most popular drivers, Monahan will make the long tow Saturday.

Others to watch for include Woodland’s Peter Paulson who continues to impress. This truly could be his year. Paulson was a factor all year in 2013. Husband and wife racers Raquel and Heath Hall will be returning. Both drivers have been very quick around the MRP oval and Heath Hall is a former winner of the Rich Dozier Classic. Raquel Hall was MRP’s Rookie of the Year last season in the class. Auburn’s Jimmy Steward has an all new car and new power for 2014. This might just be what he needs to break into victory lane this season. Additional championship caliber entries from California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada will be at MRP for this one as well. Many raceways have not started their seasons yet, particularly in the rain plagued Pacific Northwest.

Of particular interest is a rookie contender in the MRP Winged Sprint Car division; Marysville’s Jeremy Hawes. Hawes will be transitioning from a decade of successful, if terrifying and fan-friendly rides in the wingless sprint car class. If Hawes was on the track, you knew it. Now Hawes will turn his attention to the winged cars, and by his own admission, it’s a whole new ball game. Hawes also indicated recently that he will return to the wingless cars as well. More later.

Once again promoter Hawes is offering a championship point season for the wingless 360 spec sprints. The new season for this division will feature some notable contestants. “The Wingless Warriors” as they have come to be known have put on outstanding races over the years at MRP.

Along with Hawes, one of the top contenders in this sprint car division will be Marysville’s Josh Vieira. Vieira knows the way to victory lane and he could be in the perfect position to grab his 1st ever title.

It looks as if Citrus Heights’ Tim Sherman Jr. will be back for a shot at the title. Sherman, who visited victory lane again early last season, took the point lead, and then disappeared for the rest of the season has indicated he’ll be in Saturday’s field.

A couple of notable sophomore contenders will be entered in the wingless sprint car ranks again. Misty Castleberry will again be aboard the famous “Flyin’ Ford” sprint car this season. Castleberry grabbed Rookie of the Year honors last season. Another driver who jousted with Castleberry all last season is Wheatland’s Johnny Burns. Burns became a factor in Pro 4 Sprint Cars during 2012. The young charger has made the jump to the Wingless Warriors a success and will be one to watch.

The MRP Super Stocks will roar onto the MRP clay in their first event of the year as well Saturday night. Defending series champion, Auburn’s Wayne Trimble, will have some serious competition this year. It looks like Yuba City’s Cory and Brent Hall will be returning to the series where they each had significant success.

There are a couple of other drivers, among a multitude of others that you should watch for this season. James Castleberry’s now notorious “bad luck” will have to change for this charger to be a factor in the points chase. We know he can win. Is he ready to be the champion?

It could well be that the return of Rich Dozier to the Super Stock ranks will be the story of the year in this division. Along with his brother Cort Dozier, the Marysville drivers will saddle up in a pair of nearly identical black Supers. While Trimble grabbed the title last year, Cort Dozier was wicked-fast all year long and kept champion Trimble honest. Cort Dozier is surely one of the favorites for this year’s championship.

The familiar #86 of former Super Stock champion Phillip Shelby will be back. Shelby’s new car is remarkably quick. Shelby has had numerous successes at MRP in his Super Stock efforts, but this young man has dominated Mini Stock competition and has been a factor in wingless sprint car action as well over the last decade.

Watch for ageless “Wild” Willie Horn to have another wild season ripping around the MRP oval. This will be Willie’s 46th year at the raceway. As a very young man, he was at MRP’s grand opening in 1968 and remarkably enough, was fast qualifier that day. A rip-roarin’ field of Super Stockers is ready for the first big slam-bang, fender shredding stock car race of the 2014 championship season.

The mighty MRP Mini Stocks will present their first show of the new year. Defending champion Shaun Merritt of Marysville is ready to defend his title. Runner-up in last year’s title chase Howard Law has not made his intentions known. But, Linda’s James Foster and Yuba City’s Kyle Davey are quick and capable. If 4-time champ Misty Castleberry pulls out her Mini Stock, the race for 2nd might be where the action is.

The Pro 4 Sprint Cars are also on the program as 2013 champion Misty Castleberry and former champion Tim Maclaughlin lead this group of winged 4-bangers into their 1st show of the year.

More later, stay tuned.

Pit gate opens at 3PM. Grandstands open at 5PM. Hot Laps at 5.30. Qualifying at 6PM. Racing begins after qualifying at about 6.30.

The text is based on information we have at the time of its release.

Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect. Go to Marysville Raceway Park’s facebook for all the latest updates or our website at marysvilleracewaypark.com.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting “Man, what a ride!”