Southern Makes It Two in a Row in So Cal Oval Karters Open Class at Perris Auto Speedway
Despite being nagged by a sciatic nerve problem in his left leg, Hesperia, California’s Chris Southern stayed perfect on the year by winning the So Cal Oval Karters Rogue Specialties Open Class main event at Perris Auto Speedway on May 30th.
After first and second-place finishes in his heat races, Southern was on the pole in his powerful GM engine #11 kart. San Diego’s Jason Bishop was outside of him for the start of the 16-lapper. When starter Chris Fulton signaled the beginning of the race with his green flag, Southern burst into the lead with Bishop and Scott Rogers in hot pursuit. By lap five, the top three checked out from the remainder of the eight-kart field. Southern, who had recently returned from the rained out NHRA drag race in Houston, Texas, was a couple of kart lengths in front of Bishop when a yellow came out on lap nine due to a tangle at the back of the pack. On the yellow, Southern was extending his left leg out of the kart as the sciatic condition was causing issues for him while braking. Sciatic nerve issues or not, once the race restarted with nine-laps to go, Southern got back to his normal business. He immediately started pulling away from Bishop, who was likewise moving away from Rogers. By the time the race ended seven-laps later, Southern had extended his lead to nearly a half straightaway. For the second race in a row, Bishop placed second. Rogers stayed in third from green to checkered. “Hubcap” Mike Collins of Lake Forest and Brian King rounded out the top five.
In the ROA Racing Engines KT100 Class, Torrance karter Bryan Drollinger was off the pole in the main. Longtime veteran Collins was next to him with season opening winner Luis Calderon on the inside of the second row. Outside of Calderon was Temecula’s Art Laski Jr., who was racing a kart for the first time in 30-years! Drollinger, who was knocked out of the season opener in April after a tangle in the main event, jumped into the lead on the start. Collins was second into turn one, but he had been replaced in the runner up spot by Calderon before the end of the first circuit. Calderon wasted little time and began to close in on Drollinger. By lap four he was all over the back of the leader and he got a run on the inside going into turn three on the fifth go around. Drollinger was equal to the challenge and thwarted the attempt. A lap later, Calderon tried the same line coming off turn four, but once again, Drollinger fought him off. While entrenched in their fight for the lead, they had pulled away from Collins and Laski who were having a great fight for third. Calderon never let Drollinger rest, but in the end, he was about two kart lengths behind the leader. The intense battle for third reached the penultimate moment when Collins slid a little high coming off turn two on lap 15. That allowed Laski a lane on the inside, and he took full advantage. He pulled alongside Collins and completed the pass for third as they exited turn four and headed for the white flag.
The hottest driver on the day was Tyler Rose Bohle of Fountain Valley. The teenager started six races on the sun drenched track and won five of them! Included in her wins were the main events in the Burris Racing F200 Class and the Uncle Frank’s SR L0 206. In the F200s, Bohle led the early portions of the race. Just behind her, Banning’s Scott Gaynor, in his Dale Earnhardt lookalike kart, and Norm Reynolds of San Marcos battled for second. On lap eight, Bohle gave Gaynor some room on the inside, and he pounced on the opportunity taking the lead on the back straight. Four laps later in an almost exact same scenario, Gaynor slipped up the track coming off turn two opening up the bottom and Bohle flew by to reclaim the top spot. In the next corner, Reynolds caught a piece of Gaynor and they both spun. They quickly righted themselves, but by the time they did, Bohle was gone. In fact, she was well over a half-track ahead and coasted to the win. Gaynor took second with Reynolds third and Jason Erickson fourth. In the Uncle Frank’s LO 206, Bohle led green to checkers. Michelle Munoz ended up second and was about a half straight behind at the finish. Mike Erickson, who was second until an early race spin, ended up third.
The Caymus Vineyard Senior Clones and the Junior Clones raced together. Heat race winners Mike Demello of Wildomar and DJ Villa were on the front row for the Seniors. Demello got the early jump at the start of the sixteen lapper and quickly opened up a commanding lead. However, late in the race, Villa, who was making his 2021 SCOK debut, came calling. He closed dramatically over the final three laps. Had the charge come earlier, the finish may have been different. In the end Demello took the win with Villa glued to his rear bumper. Third spot went to SCOK debutante Ryan Greco of Palmdale.
In the Junior Clones, Lauren Bishop of San Diego made it two wins in two SCOK starts in 2021. Michael Cazares was the leader to start the race and he stayed at the front until Bishop went to the inside of him as they exited turn two on the fourth lap. From that point on, Bishop pulled away and when the checkered flag flew, she had a half straight lead. Zate Legend, who was contesting his first PAS outing of the year, placed second with Cazares third. Tristan Juillerat of Whittier was fourth.
Dillon Huff, in a Junior LO206, and Junior/Junior driver Dylan Young of Hesperia were the lone representatives of their respective classes and ran together on the day.
The So Cal Oval Karters return to action on Sunday, June 27th, at California’s premiere dirt track racing facility, Perris Auto Speedway. All the usual SCOK classes will be on hand along with the second appearance of the Mini Dwarfs.