The 2009 racing season gets underway as does The Spokesman-Review's coverage every Friday from our motorsports correspondent, Doug Pace.
Doug Pace / Correspondent
Two-wheel, four-wheel and kart racing action kicks off in the Inland Empire this weekend with auto racing at Stateline Speedway, motocross action on the grounds of the Spokane County ORV complex and a promotional fun race at Sunset Speedway.
Stateline began its season last weekend with the Racers Jamboree non-points event and held its first Wednesday Night Fever action this week. Saturday marks the opening events for the Inland Northwest Sprint Car Association, the Speedway’s Street Stock and Late Model 4s classes.
Racing begins at 5 p.m.
Kevin Burck is the defending INSCA champion and will be out to make it two straight titles should he contain 2008 second-place points finisher Cole Tupling and third-place points driver Ron Rodhe.
INSCA is looking for interested community members who would like to take part in their push truck program. For more information, contact Justin Popple at 499-9582.
The Toyota Extreme Outdoor Series for motocross teams hosts its first weekend of the season beginning Saturday at the Airway Heights-based ORV Park.
Professional payouts will be offered to eligible riders with racing beginning at 10 a.m. Classes from beginners to professional will compete on the challenging track throughout the weekend. For more information, go to www.extmotorsports.com.
Sunset Speedway hosts its annual promotional fun day Saturday for new kart racing teams and prospective drivers. The one-fifth-mile clay oval is located on the grounds of Spokane County’s ORV Park just across from the Extreme Motocross venue.
A new class for entry-level racing of all ages will be offered this year at Sunset, featuring small engines that can be purchased for as little as $100.
The clone engine class will have a claimer rule and should prove popular for racers looking to have fun on the big track and do so on a budget.
Clone engine karts and more information on the new class will be available at Saturday’s promotional event.
Sunset’s season opener is set for April 18 with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6. Defending champions Nick Nereaux (F200), Joe Bird (Junior II) and Jerid Pickens (Junior I) will be back to defend their championships. Bird will be out to grab his third Junior II class championship in as many seasons.
For more information regarding Sunset’s promotional event and new clone engine class, contact the speedway’s vice president, Jim Dodson, at 489-8010.
Kopp’s big day
Inland Empire American Motorcycle Association rider Joe Kopp kicked off his AMA Pro-Flat Track Racing schedule in grand fashion last month during Daytona Beach’s annual bike week. Kopp, who hails from Mica, had to use a provisional starting position in the weekend’s first race en route to a third-place finish, but he made history just one night later.
Kopp had never won a short-track event, the one missing piece to the AMA Grand Slam (wins on a half-mile, mile, TT and short tracks). Powering his Latus Harley-Davidson/Screamin’ Eagle to his first victory of the season, Kopp bested a 19-bike field with a .373-second margin of victory over rival Kenny Coolbeth.
“Thinking about the Grand Slam took my concentration off the actual race for quite a few laps,” Kopp said. “I remember hearing a bike staying real close behind me during all those laps, and I just remembered thinking it was Coolbeth right there. I can’t believe the Grand Slam is finally mine.
“I screamed and yelled at myself that entire cool-down lap after the checkered flag fell. This was a great way to start the 2009 season and really proves to that I am ready (to race for a championship).”
Kopp will have plenty of time to savor his historic Daytona victory as the AMA series is off until the annual Memorial Day weekend Illinois State Fairgrounds event.
Fans can follow Kopp’s racing exploits on his Web site, www.joekoppracing.com. A race reports section keeps followers informed of each weekend’s action.