Roa Leads USAC/CRA Youth Movement
by Scott Daloisio, PERRIS, Cal. (June 7, 2016) – When the Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Cars returns to Perris Auto Speedway this Saturday night, June 11th, fans who have not been to the races in a while may notice a big difference. The series points leader is Garden Grove’s Brody Roa and he heads a strong contingent of young drivers in what appears to be a changing of the guard in the 13-year-old series.
Heading into Saturday’s race, no less than seven of the top 10 in points are 30-years of age or under and of those seven, six are 25 or younger. The three drivers in the top 10 over 30 are five-time series champion Mike Spencer of Temecula, Concord’s Damion Gardner, who has won the title four-times, and Lawndale’s Jeremy Ellertson.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Roa, 25, has a slender 6-point over fellow 25-year-old Richard Vander Weerd of Visalia. While Roa has only been racing sprint cars for the past four or five years, the family name goes back for more than 40-years on famous ovals such as Ascot, Speedway 605, Speedway 117 and more.
“My dad’s cousin and uncle, Tom Roa Sr. & Jr., they had a car and they raced,” the point leader said over the phone. “Then my dad raced for a few years in the 1980’s.”
Roa has been a notoriously slow starter in his sprint car career. Thus far, 2016 has been anything but slow. He has finished third in three of the first four races of the year in the USAC/CRA Series and was running in the top three when he ran out of fuel on the last lap at The PAS two weeks ago and finished eighth. The fast start has caught many by surprise and one of those is the driver himself.
“Four months ago if you would have told me I would be in the point lead in the 410’s at this time, I would have told you that you were crazy,” Roa said with a laugh. “We have started the season good in the 410’s (USAC/CRA) and we are only a few points (eight to be exact) out of first in the 360 series (USAC West Coast). It has been a phenomenal start to the year and we have to keep it going. The schedule starts to get busy in July this year and that is when we normally get strong. Hopefully we can stay strong that time of year as well.”
The confident racer continued.
“I have been asked a lot this year why we have had such a good start and I really do not have a good answer for it. I don’t really know what the difference in this year and in year’s past has been. I believe I am more confident. We are not doing a whole lot different (with the cars), but we are trying some new things and they are a lot more comfortable for me.”
One of his third place finishes came at the Ventura in early May and to get the spot, he had an epic battle with west coast sprint car legend Damion Gardner. Ever since Gardner burst onto the So Cal scene back in 2002, he has been a dominant driver. He has won the USAC/CRA championship four times (including the last three in a row), he has two Oval Nationals titles and 74-lifetime sprint cars wins in the combined CRA, SCRA, USAC/CRA totals that date back to 1946 . That ranks him seventh overall among the thousands of drivers who have pulled on a helmet in those competitions in 70-years.
Watching Gardner from the stands as a child and now competing against him on the track, Roa knows of his wins and titles and respects the veteran’s record. Few drivers have gotten by him late in a race and that pass for third at Ventura was hard fought for and special. It pumps up the young driver’s’ confidence.
“It was huge,” he said. “To almost be held up by him for half the race that was almost bigger. It was not like I had just one good lap and was able to get by him and held him off. Passing Damion is something I have not done very often and really, I don’t if I had ever done it. So, that was pretty cool to do that.”
Like many of the longtime fans of sprint car racing in So Cal, Roa senses a change is coming in the series. It usually happens about every 10-12 years when a new generation comes in and starts to grab hold of the reins.
“For a long time it was just Mike (Spencer) and Damion out experiencing a lot of us,” he said. “Every once in a while we (the young guys on the circuit) would put in a good run, but we did not have the experience (to stay with the big dogs). I feel like a lot of us, who are just coming up here like the Williams brothers (Cody, Austin and Logan) and Jake (Swanson), we are getting a lot more experience and we can run up there consistently.”
In addition to Roa and the rest of the big time stars in the USAC/CRA Series, the PAS Senior (drivers 45 and older) and Young Gun (drivers 14-25 with no prior sprint car experience) Sprint Car Series’ will also be in action on Saturday. Spectator gates will open at 5:00 PM with racing at 7:00.
Adult tickets are $25.00 on Saturday. Seniors (65 and older) get in for $20.00. Active military members with proper id, teens 13-18 with their school id and kids age 6-12 are $5.00. Children 5 and under are free. There will be plenty of tickets for everyone at the ticket window on Saturday. In addition, advance tickets are available 24-hours a day online at the following link http://pas.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=829398 or by calling 1-800-595-4849.
Amsoil USAC/CRA Points
1. Brody Roa – Garden Grove, CA – 280
2. Richard Vander Weerd – Visalia, CA – 274
3. Jake Swanson – Anaheim, CA – 258
4. Mike Spencer – Temecula, CA – 257
4. Austin Williams – Yorba Linda, CA – 245
6. Damion Gardner – Concord, CA – 239
7. Max Adams – Loomis, CA – 203
8. Cody Williams – Corona, CA – 177
9. Jeremy Ellertson – Lawndale, CA – 155
10. A.J. Bender – San Marcos, CA – 154
The complete 2016 Perris Auto Speedway schedule is at the end of this release.
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Perris Auto Speedway is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds (home of October’s Southern California Fair), approximately one-hour east of Los Angeles and one-hour North of San Diego. To get to the track, take the 215 freeway, exit on the Ramona Expressway and go three miles east to the fairgrounds.
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June 11th USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, PAS Senior Sprints and PAS Young Guns
June 25th NIGHT OF DESTRUCTION NOD IV – Demo Cross, Figure 8’s, Figure 8 Trailer Racing, Figure 8 Chain Racing and Spectator Racing
July 2nd “BUDWEISER FIRECRACKER 30 & SKY CONCERT” USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, PAS Senior Sprints & PAS Young Guns, California Lightning Sprint Cars “Power of Purple Night” Benefiting the City of Perris Relay For Life and The American Cancer Society.
July 16th PASSCAR SERIES – Street Stocks, Super Stocks, Factory Stocks and IMCA Modifieds
July 23rd NIGHT OF DESTRUCTION NOD V – Demo Cross, Figure 8’s, Figure 8 Trailer Racing, Figure 8 Chain Racing and Spectator Racing
July 30th USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, PAS Senior Sprints, PAS Young Guns
August 20th PASSCAR SERIES – Street Stocks, Super Stocks, Factory Stocks and IMCA Modifieds, CDCRA Dwarf Cars
August 27th “CALIFORNIA RACERS HALL OF FAME NIGHT” USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, PAS Senior Sprints and PAS Young Guns
September 3rd NIGHT OF DESTRUCTION NOD VI – Demo Cross, Figure 8’s, Figure 8 Trailer Racing, Figure 8 Chain Racing and Spectator Racing
September 10th PASSCAR SERIES – Street Stocks, Super Stocks, Factory Stocks and IMCA Modifieds, CDCRA Dwarf Cars
September 17th PASSCAR SERIES – Street Stocks, Super Stocks, Factory Stocks and IMCA Modifieds, CDCRA Dwarf Cars
September 24th “GLENN HOWARD CLASSIC” USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, PAS Senior Sprints and PAS Young Guns
October 1st – 9th Southern California Fair
October 15th USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, PAS Senior Sprints and PAS Young Guns
October 29th PASSCAR “Champions Night” – Street Stocks, Super Stocks, Factory Stocks and IMCA Modifieds, CDCRA Dwarf Cars
November 9th Oval Nationals Practice
November 10th Budweiser Oval Nationals “Presented by All Coast Construction”
November 11th Budweiser Oval Nationals “Presented by All Coast Construction”
November 12th Budweiser Oval Nationals “Presented by All Coast Construction”
NOTE; THIS SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE