MICHNOWICZ WINS CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR SERIES
NOVEMBER CLASSIC AT THE BAKERSFIELD SPEEDWAY
(Upland, CA, November 24, 2020) In a year that has been
ruled by unpredictably, the predictable happened when five-time
California Lightning Sprint Car Series champion Bobby Michnowicz won the
November Classic at the Bakersfield Speedway on November 17th. The
victory was a repeat performance of the CLS only other race of 2020 when
Michnowicz outdistanced the field at the “Okie Bowl” in June.
A fine field of 22-CLS cars showed up for the race at the
track dubbed as “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked Clay Oval.”
Always fast Lakewood, California teenager Aiden Lange out-qualified the
talent-laden field with a lap of 12.771. Not only was that lap the only
one in the 12-second bracket in the CLS field, but it was also faster
than 43 of the 44 USAC National Midgets who were on hand for their
portion of the show. In fact, the time of the top three CLS qualifiers
would have put them in the top-seven in the USAC Field. 2020 NASCAR
Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed of Alpine was the second quickest
qualifier in the CLS with a time of 13.006 and Michnowicz was third when
he stopped the clocks at 13.010.
Three eight-lap heat races proceeded the CLS main event.
Wyatt Boczanowski of San Diego came from fourth to win the first one.
It was his first-ever victory in the CLS. Friendly veteran Cody Nigh of
Camarillo also came from fourth when he posted the victory in heat two.
The third and final eight-lapper went to Yucca Valley’s Jeff Dyer who
took the victory after starting sixth.
For the main event, Creed and USAC/CRA Series regular A.J.
Bender of San Diego manned the front row. Youngster James Turnbull of
Indio and Michnowicz made up row two. Fast Palmdale teen Eric Greco and
Nigh sat in row three with Boczanowski and Lange in the fourth row.
When the green flag flew starting the 25-lapper, Creed was the first to
get to turn one, but Bender, on the outside, breezed by for the lead
coming off the second corner. Michnowicz, who now resides in Oak Hills,
was third at the end of the opening circuit. He stayed there until he
drove around Creed for second at the end of the fourth go around.
By the time Michnowicz moved into second, Bender, in the
pretty Schweitzer owned #41, had established a half straight advantage.
The leader caught up to lapped traffic on lap seven and had little
trouble racing past the backmarkers. He maintained a good size lead,
but that all came to a screeching halt when David Gaspar of Santa
Barbara got upside down in turn three. Gaspar escaped unscathed, but
his pretty blue number 18 suffered heavy damage.
For the restart, Bender had Michnowicz, Creed, Nigh and
Greco all ganged up on his tail. Bender got a great restart and once
again left the others in his wake and pulled away to a comfortable
lead. The green only stayed out for four laps before another yellow
flew when Turnbull stopped against the wall in turn four.
After Turnbull’s car was pulled off the track, racing was
ready to resume. The top five were the same, but that was about to
change in a hurry. This time Bender did not get a good restart and
Michnowicz, who just turned 57, pounced on the opportunity presented to
him. The wily veteran dove to the inside going into turn one. He then
slid up the track in front of Bender to steal a lead that he would not
relinquish. One lap later Creed used the same maneuver to slide into
second, but this time Bender cut back to the inside and reclaimed the
runner-up spot. That battle for second allowed Michnowicz to establish
a commanding lead.
Nigh and Creed exchanged the third-place position in the
highly entertaining race on lap 14, but their efforts would soon come to
an end. The same looked probable for Michnowicz when his #21 began to
puff smoke. And, with each passing lap, it was pushing out more smoke.
Another yellow came with 10 laps to go and it was at that point that
Nigh dropped out. Once the race restarted, a nervous Michnowicz saw
his car stop smoking, but he was holding his breath as he steered around
one of his favorite tracks.
Creed’s night came to an end on lap 19 and that elevated
Greco to third. But time was running out and Michnowicz was gone out
front. The only question was, could his ailing car make it to the
finish? It did and he maintained a nearly full straight lead all the
way to the checkered flag for another convincing win in his
T Shirts by Timeless/Super Shox/Outlaw Wings/Guhl /Pflum Wagner Engines/
Fabozzi Metal Works/DLX by Circle Track Performance Chassis/ZX10.
Bender crossed the line second with Greco third. The father and son
combo of 16-year-old Grant Sexton and his father Brent from Lakeside
finished fourth and fifth. Brent was also the race “Hard Charger” after
“My car was good on the top, but it was smoking,”
Michnowicz told the worldwide audience watching live on Flo Racing. “I
could smell it. It has been bad all night long. These motors only cost
like $2,500.00. I was going to pull off on the last yellow, but Wendy (Michnowicz
wife/crew chief) signaled I had the lead. So, I just figured screw
it. I will run it until it breaks, or the checker comes out.”
“I have been coming to this track since like 1982,”
Michnowicz continued when Flo’s Kristy Bemmes asked why he is so good at
Bakersfield. “In TQ’s and then sprint cars. I have always liked this
place. The Schweitzer’s (the promoters) are great people. I always do
good here luckily. Maybe it is just good luck.”
While the 2020 season is now over, the work continues.
The 2021 schedule is taking shape. All the current tracks are expected
to be back on board for next year and the return of another longtime
stop for the CLS may be added as well.
If you or your company would like to become part of the
series for the 2021 season, please call Alex Grigoreas at (909)
To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website
http://racecls.com/ or on Facebook at
Bakersfield Main Event Finish (with starting positions)
1. Bobby Michnowicz – Lomita, CA – 4th
2. A.J. Bender – San Diego, CA – 2nd
3. Eric Greco – Palmdale, CA – 5th
4. Grant Sexton – Lakeside, CA – 9th
5. Brent Sexton - Lakeside, CA – 19th
6. Jeff Dyer – Yucca, Valley, CA – 12th
7. Jeremy Queener- Mira Loma, CA, CA -17th
8. Kevin Bates – San Diego, CA – 10th
9. Trevor Ballou- Corona, CA – 14th
10. Greg Dennett - Livermore, CA – 16th
11. Robb Pelmear - Ventura, CA – 11th
12. Rudy Padilla - Norco, CA – 18th
13. James Helling – San Bernardino, CA – 13th
14. Sheldon Creed - Alpine, CA – 1st
15. Wyatt Boczanowski – San Diego, CA – 7th
16. Jon Robertson - Torrance, CA – 15th
17. Cody Nigh - Camarillo, CA – 6th
18. James Turnbull - Indio, CA – 3rd
19. Aiden Lange - Lakewood, CA – 8th
20. David Gaspar – Santa Barbara, CA – 21st
21. Chase Gaal – O’Neals, CA – 20th
PLACERVILLE CANCELED – MERCED STEPS IN FOR LIGHTNING SPRINTS
(Upland, CA, November 11, 2020) The topsy turvy 2020 California
Lightning Sprint Car season took another downturn that was quickly followed by
an upturn on Tuesday. Due to the Covid crisis, the three-night “Hangtown 100”
at the Placerville Speedway, which the CLS was a part of, was canceled. Soon
after, Merced Speedway promoter Doug Lockwood stepped up to host events on
November 20th and 21st. The show on the 21st
will include the BCRA Midget Lites who will welcome the CLS. Proceeding that
show will be the November Classic at “The West’s Fastest 1/3 Mile High Banked
Clay Oval,” the Bakersfield Speedway, on November 17th.
The Bakersfield show will be conducted with CLS rules. The Merced
race will be run with BCRA rules. Both events will be winged races and both
will pay $1,000.00 to win (Merced $1,000.00 to win based on 20 cars starting the
Both shows will also feature the NOS Energy Drink USAC National
Midgets. In addition, the Merced show will also feature Hobby Stocks on the
program. Racing will start at 5:00 PM Pacific at Bakersfield with cars slated
to be on the track at 5:30 at Merced.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, spectators will not be allowed to
attend the races. However, fans from all over the world can see every lap of
the action on Flo Racing. For more information or to subscribe to Flo, fans can
use the following link.
If you or your company would like to become part of the CLS
series for the season in 2021, please call Alex Grigoreas at (909) 437-3170.
To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at
PAST CALIFORNIA LIGHTNING SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONS
1994 Tony Everhart
1995 Gary Sexton
1996 Rob Sczymczak
1997 Jon Rahe
1998 Chris Rahe
1999 Brent Sexton
2000 Greg Bragg
2001 Greg Bragg
2002 Greg Bragg
2003 David Cardey
2004 Keith Janca
2005 Johnny Bates
2006 Donny Gansen
2007 Shane Rossen
2008 Brent Sexton
2009 Stuart Hielschier Sr.
2010 Jarrett Kramer
2011 Tim Brown
2012 Bobby Michnowicz
2013 Stephen Limon
2014 Bobby Michnowicz
2015 Bobby Michnowicz
2016 Bobby Michnowicz
2017 Bobby Michnowicz
2018 Jarrett Kramer
2019 Jarrett Kramer