For Valleyford’s Jake Bissett, the next journey of his racing career began last weekend at the 45th Annual Apple Cup held at Yakima Speedway.
A national champion go-kart racer who migrated to Legend cars, the Freeman High School student made his first start in the ultracompetitive late-model class.
Despite a subpar finish after a brake line broke, Bissett showed fans and fellow racers that here will be a tough competitor each time his car is on the track.
Turing a 19.10-second lap in qualifying, Bissett demonstrated the strength of his No. 96 Ron General Contractor Chevrolet right from the start. The Port City chassis, prepared in part by renowned Northwest car builder Chuck Carruthers, uses a crate-engine package that, while lacking in horsepower, makes up for it in corner speed and tire management capabilities.
Bissett’s time was the fastest a car of his type had gone at Yakima, showcasing the hard work his team put in over the winter to prepare for its debut. Under the guidance of his father, Mark, and crew chief and older brother Joe, Bissett was the talk of the pits as the race prepared to go green.
“He looked real quick in qualifying and once he gets onto that car he will be tough to beat,” 2004 Apple Cup champion Shane Mitchell said. “All of us here on pit road sure are aware of what he’s doing (last weekend).”
Qualifying for a trophy dash, Bissett ran strongly in the four-lap sprint to pick up a first-place finish. In heat-race action the two-time Legend Series champion again showed his worth.
“(We knew that) if we could get the car to turn, it’d be good for the race,” Bissett said. “Our qualifying time was a real surprise. Naima Lang (who also runs a crate motor late model) has always been fast here and his times were our benchmark. To outrun him was pretty cool.”
Graduating from the Legend Series to a class as competitive as late models is the natural progression for Bissett, his father said.
“We have been working hard to get to this point,” Mark Bissett said. “(The family) have put all our time into building this car since the winter started and Chuck Carruthers has been a big help to us along the way. Our plan is to run different tracks this season and have some fun. We might run again at Yakima or head back to Montana Raceway Park (where Bissett has two track championships in the Legend Series) because Jake really likes to run there, but at this point we’re just going to take it one race at a time.”
Jake will be running a car but not Joe, which is a break from having two sons racing, Mark added.
“Joe wants to be the crew chief on the car, and while we’re trying to get another late model going he’s happy to be doing that,” he said. “We’d like to have both of them out there, but at this point we’ll concentrate on getting Jake going.”
Stateline fights weather
Stateline Speedway will try again this weekend to get its 2011 season under way as the weather has been the big winner in the first week of the Post Falls facilities schedule.
Rain forced cancellation of last weekend’s action, which postponed the debut of the Stateline Baby Grand Series until Sunday afternoon. Also in action will be the Hobby Stocks and the Road Runner Fun Run.
Stateline has yet to run its popular Wednesday Night Fever program this year because of inclement weather. It is the hope to kick that series off next week, according to Randy Koch, the new operator of the race track.
Fans can receive all the latest news regarding Stateline Speedway by logging onto their website at www.raceidaho.com and enrolling in the email newsletter option. Debuting last season, the option allows supporters to receive discount ticket specials and get up-to-date news. In the event a race is going to be postponed, a message is also sent.
To reach The Spokesman-Review’s motor sports columnist, Doug Pace, email him at racingnotes@ comcast.net. Also see his online column at spokesmanreview. com/blogs/keepingpace