ANTIOCH -- First time champions were crowned in four out of five stock car racing divisions at Antioch Speedway on Oct 12.
Concord's Jimmy Robbins not only became a first-time champion in the Super Hobby Stock division, but he did so in his rookie year. Kimo Oreta of Vacaville (Hobby Stock), Jim Freethy of Danville (Super Stock) and Ken Radabaugh of Antioch (Four-Banger), are all first time champs. Danny Wagner of Bay Point took the championship in the Dwarf Car division for the second year in a row.
Oreta, 49, just has to start the race this Saturday night and he wins his first Hobby Stock Championship.
How much does it mean to him?
"It means so much, I can't put it into words," he replied.
Oreta, who began as a hobby stock driver eight years ago, first shared the same car he drives today with his father-in-law, Phillip Gibber. As he progressed as a driver, Gibber promoted himself to crew chief. Both men still own the car and work on it together, night after night.
They have no sponsors. They have no money. Junkyard parts and ingenuity propel the blue Camaro to the front week after week.
"If we need something we can't find in the junkyard, we fabricate it," Oreta explained.
Freethy battled one of the nation's most revered drivers, Larry Damitz of Vallejo, to win the Super Stock title by four points. Damitz, who has been racing since 1952, was the reigning champ. The two were side by side through three restarts in Saturday night's feature, Freethy winning in the end.
"Our crew has been working and striving for that championship all season," said Freethy. "I've only been racing in this division for three seasons, and it was cool to race with such seasoned veterans like Larry."
Jack Jonker, crew chief for Freethy, had his work cut out for him throughout the season. Freethy flipped his car on the front stretch during a June race, and crashed into a car that had spun out in another race. Nevertheless, he was back the next week racing again in the same car.
Robbins came back from a crash on Saturday night. He wrecked in the first turn during a heat race, almost rolling his car over. Damages were extensive. Many people thought he would not make the feature, which would have handed the championship to Gene Haney of Brentwood.
Crews from other cars swarmed on Robbins' damaged car, making repairs just in time for him to start in the main event and win the championship by four points. Even Danny Jones, who later beat Robbins in the feature, was there to help.
"It was awesome to see everyone jumping in to help me," Robbins said. "Being a rookie, I heard that racing was that way, but I did not experience it yet. It restored my faith in mankind."
Ken Radabaugh topped his uncle, Fred, in the "Four-Banger" championship battle.
"It's a blast racing with family," Ken Radabaugh said. "I wasn't even planning on racing this year. I jumped into a car my dad had on the first night of the season. I had so much fun I found a car for myself by the next weekend and I was back on the track."
Troy Foulger won Saturday night's open modified stock car feature event. Danny Naron won the "Four-Banger" feature. Nick Viscusi III was first in the Hobby Stock main event.
The speedway's International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Modified and SportMod championships were wrapped up at the end of September, as mandated by IMCA rules. Foulger, of Martinez, repeated as four-time champion in the Modified division, and Jeremy Hoff of Copperopolis was a first-time champion in the SportMod division.
Gary Nelson, Jr., of San Jose, became champion of the All-Star Wingless Sprint Car division after that division's final race in the Delta Classic Program on Oct. 5.