Ocean Speedway

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Ocean Speedway
Ocean Speedway, July 16, 2016
LocationWatsonville, California
Coordinates36°57′07″N 121°44′01″W / 36.95201°N 121.73348°W / 36.95201; -121.73348Coordinates: 36°57′07″N 121°44′01″W / 36.95201°N 121.73348°W / 36.95201; -121.73348
OperatorPrentice Motorsports Group
Former namesWatsonville Speedway
Major eventsJohnny Key Classic, Howard Kaeding Classic
Length.25 mi (.402 km)
Race lap record10.949 (Mark Kinser, Kinser Brothers, September 9th, 2000, World of Outlaws)

Ocean Speedway, formerly known as Watsonville Speedway, is a dirt oval located in Watsonville, California, United States at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.


The track was the brainchild of retired driver Bert Moreland and a small group of others in the winter of 1959.[1] They came up with a plan to put a 1/4 mile race track in the infield of the existing 1/2 mile horse track. The first race took place May 27, 1960 and was won by Art Eaton. Figure 8 racing was introduced to the area at the speedway in 1964 and was popular with fans and drivers.[2] Ray Elder was one of the most notable drivers to compete at Watsonville Speedway in its early days.[3] The track then turned to stock cars in the '70s. Future NASCAR driver and Daytona 500 winner Ernie Irvan was turned away by the track for having illegal parts on his car, so he turned his attention to pavement racing elsewhere.[4] In the '80s, the NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars were the feature division and were a part of the Winston Racing Series, where drivers could compete for National and Regional points.[5][6] Another NASCAR legend, Bobby Allison, raced at the track once in 1983 in the Late Models.[7] The Grand American Modifieds made their debut in 1990. Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace, Geoff Bodine, Ernie Irvan and his father, Vic, ran a "Race of Champions" against each other in the Modifieds in 1999 while they were in the area for the NASCAR race in Sonoma.[8][9] A year later, Mike Skinner, Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer, Vic Irvan, and track sponsor John Prentice competed in the second edition of the event. Super Modifieds made sporadic appearances at the speedway in the 60s and 70s. Sprint Cars also made appearances at the track on a staggered basis with local series, including the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) and the Golden State Challenge/King of California series.[10] The annual Trophy Cup was held once at the speedway in 2000.[11]

Ocean Speedway Era[edit]

Former street stock and dwarf car driver John Prentice took over operation of the track in 2006 and renamed it Ocean Speedway, in alliance with the Ocean Chevrolet and Honda dealerships located in Santa Cruz County, where he worked as the General Manager.[12] Several years after Prentice acquired the track, a lawsuit was filed against the speedway and the fairgrounds by a neighborhood group called the Community Alliance for Fairgrounds Accountability, or CAFA, alleging the track was a nuisance due to the noise the cars produced.[13] After being stayed three times while both parties looked for common ground, the lawsuit was dropped and races were allowed to continue with stricter sound rules and an earlier curfew.[14][15] The track currently hosts a weekly 360 Sprint Car championship along with other divisions including IMCA Modifieds and SportMods,[16] Midgets, Dwarf Cars, American Stocks, and 4-cylinders, affectionately called "4-Bangers." The track also holds six "Police-N-Pursuit" races a year, in which police officers, detectives, and other officials representing local agencies compete to raise money for Special Olympics of Northern California.[17] In 2017, the group raised $34,000 for the charity.[18] Travelling series that visit the track include the World of Outlaws,[19] NARC/King of the West 410 Sprint Cars, Civil War 360 Sprint Cars, BCRA Midgets,[20] and the IMCA All Star Modified Tour.

Notable drivers[edit]

Some notable drivers who have made appearances at Ocean Speedway over the years include World of Outlaws champions Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Danny Lasoski, and Donny Schatz. Indianapolis 500 competitor, Bryan Clauson made his winged sprint car debut at the track in 2011.[21] Current NASCAR driver Kyle Larson and others such as former NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Rico Abreu, Kraig Kinser, Brad Sweet, and Tyler Walker have also raced at the track, along with Cheryl Linn Glass, Doug McCoun, Ron Shuman, James Bondurant, Jac Haudenschild, Kerry Madsen, Joey Saldana, Lucas Wolfe, Dale Blaney, Johnny Herrera, Cory Kruseman, Brady Bacon, Michael Pickens, and Olympic athlete Josh Lakatos. Cole Custer won at the track in a USAC Jr. Ford Focus Midget in 2011.[22] Super Bowl XXIII champion Linebacker, Sam Kennedy, races at the track in the American Stocks on a now-and-then basis.[23]

List of Track Champions[edit]

Track championships have been awarded since the track opened in 1960 in the Claimer division. The division was discontinued in 1964 in favor of the Sportsman class.[24] The Micro 600s were a short-lived division at the track, awarding championships 2008-2012. Champions in the division were: Devon Ostheimer in 2008, Orval Burke Jr. in 2009-10, Tomas Bray in 2011, and Alexander Mead in 2012.

Season Sprint Car Wingless Sprint Modified SportMod Sportsman Claimer/Stock/LM Street Stock Figure 8 Dwarf Car American Stock 4-Banger
1960 Hap Barber
1961 Art LaCost
1962 Art LaCost
1963 Lloyd Beard
1964 Lloyd Beard
1965 Ray Elder
1966 Vic Irvan
1967 Art LaCost Dave Alonzo
1968 Vic Irvan Dave Snyder
1969 Dennis Moomjean Cecil Irvan Cecil Irvan
1970 Jerry Cecil Joe Esperanca Lloyd Keldsen Sr.
1971 Ron Gravelle Dave Tannahill Lloyd Keldsen Sr.
1972 Vern Willhoite Johnny Brazil Jr. Lloyd Keldsen Jr.
1973 John Harper Ray Johnson Johnny Brazil Jr.
1974 Jerry Cecil Dennis Wilson Ken Nott
1975 Roy Pruett Doug McCoun Bob Benge
1976 George Steitz Ray Johnson Ken Naber
1977 Duane Noe Dave Brightwell Ken Nott
1978 Jerry Cecil Ray Morgan Jerry Cutler
1979 Duane Noe Ray Morgan John Keldsen
1980 Duane Noe Ted Stofle Jim Reno Johnny Brazil Jr.
1981 Jerry Cecil Ray Morgan Bobby Large Ken Nott
1982 Doug McCoun Kevin Pylant John Keldsen
1983 Dave Byrd Kevin Pylant Lloyd Keldsen Jr.
1984 Doug McCoun Kim Beard Jim Pettit
1985 Kevin Pylant Ken Morgan Peter Gates
1986 Ray Morgan Todd Souza John Keldsen
1987 Ed Sans Jr. Lloyd Antonetti Jr. John Keldsen
1988 Ed Sans Jr. Mike Brumit Jim Gillespie
1989 Jim Pettit II Lloyd Antonetti Jr. Jim Gillespie
1990 Scott Busby Jeff Silva Bobby Large Greg McGregor
1991 Mike Brumit Jeff Silva Bart Reid Paul Larsen
1992 Scott Busby Bobby Scott Jr. Ron Parker
1993 Scott Busby Robert Miller Kurt Slama
1994 Dave Byrd Don Silva Fred Lind
1995 Dave Byrd Mike Cecil Jim Gillespie
1996 Kenny Nott Ricky Sanders John Keldsen Ken Jepsen
1997 Bobby Hogge IV Doug Hagio John Keldsen Mike Meazell
1998 Bobby Hogge IV Dave Soito Jim Gillespie Jimmy Bowman
1999 Bobby Hogge IV Tim Clark Sr. Mike Finlen Sr. Sam Kennedy
2000 Bobby Scott Dennis Pelphrey Doug Snodgrass Sam Kennedy
2001 Bobby Scott Ken Gregg Jim Gillespie Rick Ray
2002 Bobby Scott Dennis Pelphrey Doug Snodgrass Sam Kennedy
2003 Bobby Hogge IV Dennis Pelphrey John Keldsen John Prentice Sam Kennedy
2004 Kenny Nott Dennis Pelphrey Jim Gillespie Howard Fergerson Sam Kennedy
2005 Steve Pemberton Garrett Steitz Dennis Pelphrey Keith Trusso Todd Damron Sam Kennedy Andrew Camperud
2006 Steve Pemberton Tim Balding Jeff Decker Jim Gillespie Matt Sargent Tim Clark Sr. Andrew Camperud
2007 Brent Kaeding N/A Kenny Nott Jeff Decker N/A Billy Nelson Kyle Thorne
2008 Brent Kaeding Ryan Bernal Robert Marsh Bobby Hogge IV Ryan Diatte Austin Burke Jeff Wilson
2009 Tommy Tarlton Billy Aton Kenny Nott Jeff Decker Gilbert Toste William Kennedy Matt Sotomayor
2010 Tommy Tarlton Ryan Bernal Kenny Nott Bobby Scott Ryan Diatte Billy Nelson Adriane deSousa
2011 Ronnie Day Jim Christian Brian Cass Clay Daly Shawn Jones Nick Silva Adriane deSousa
2012 Shane Golobic Jim Christian Jim Pettit II Matt Sotomayor Clay Daly Terre Rothweiler Matt Kile Dan McCabe
2013 Brad Furr Tommy Laliberte Andy Obertello Stephen Hopf Camron Diatte Terry Campion Al Sotomayor
2014 Shane Golobic Bryan Grier Kenny Nott Nick Spainhoward Terre Rothweiler Billy Nelson Justin McPherson
2015 Justin Sanders Bobby Hogge IV Matthew Hagio Gene Pires Jr. Terry Campion Luke Babcock
2016 Brad Furr Bobby Hogge IV Jim DiGiovanni David Teves Robert Gallaher DJ Keldsen
2017 Geoff Ensign Nick DeCarlo Matthew Hagio Camron Diatte Robert Gallaher Bill Beardsley
2018 Brad Furr Cody Burke Jim DiGiovanni Gene Pires Jr. Matt Kile Kate Beardsley
2019 JJ Ringo Austin Burke Jarrod Mounce Robert Gallaher Nicole Beardsley

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Watsonville Speedway Hall Of Fame". March 15, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Speedway celebrates 54 years of racing". June 2, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  3. ^ "Broken Axle Snaps Elder's Win Streak At Speedway". September 3, 1965. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  4. ^ "Jayski's Ernie Irvan Site". September 21, 2000. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  5. ^ "California results, 15–16 July". 1994-05-08. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  6. ^ O'Dell, Ron (May 25, 1992). "May 22; Watsonville Speedway". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  7. ^ "Allison is to compete in Watsonville Friday". June 2, 1983. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  8. ^ "Jayski's Ernie Irvan Site". September 21, 2000. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "Sears Point Will Offer Plenty of Twists, Turns". June 25, 1999. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  10. ^ "Winged 410s: Major Changes for 2000". January 2000. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  11. ^ "2000 Trophy Cup Results (Watsonville Speedway)". Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  12. ^ Gumz, Jondi (August 24, 2010). "Steve John sells Ocean Honda to Michigan dealer". Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Pierce, Jacob (August 10, 2011). "Santa Cruz County Fair Fight". Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Jones, Donna (February 25, 2014). "Ocean Speedway gets green light in lawsuit settlement". Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Jacquez, Monica (April 10, 2015). "Races resume at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville". Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  16. ^ "IMCA MODIFIEDS, NORTHERN SPORTMODS ADDED AT WATSONVILLE, CHOWCHILLA". March 15, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  17. ^ Karis, Tony (July 19, 2014). "Ocean Speedway: Mutoza, CHP sweep Police-N-Pursuit event". Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  18. ^ Karis, Tony (April 22, 2017). "Ocean Speedway: CHP's Mueller takes opening Police-N-Pursuit race". Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "World Of Outlaws Release Stacked 91-Race Calendar". November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  20. ^ "Ocean Speedway". January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  21. ^ http://www.bryanclauson.com/news/?i=9054
  22. ^ http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/ZZ/20110619/NEWS/110617384
  23. ^ https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/70668442/
  24. ^ "Auto Racing Legends Of California - Watsonville". 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  • Mattish, Dennis (2012), History of Watsonville and Salinas Auto Racing, Dennis Mattish Photos, ISBN 9780988186101

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]