Track Name – Steel City RC Speedway Owners – Phil & Kyle Goodwine Country – USA Location – Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California Direction – Clockwise Surface – Asphalt
Opened just a little over a year ago, the brand new Steel City RC Speedway located at the full size Auto Club Speedway has quickly risen to prominence after being chosen as the replacement home of the legendary Touring Car Reedy Race of Champions and also securing the 2019 1:8 Onroad World Championships. Following the announcement that the 21st running of the Reedy Race would be the last at one of the sport’s most iconic tracks, Tamiya Raceway, the search was on to find a suitable new home for the most prestigious touring car race to be held on American soil. Step in Phil & Kyle Goodwine, the father and son creators of Steel City RC Speedway, a track that is very distinctive in its red coloured infield. With the small Tamiya track’s super popular layout and infamous kink always going to be a benchmark that would be hard to replace, the nitro oriented Steel City track would not seem the most logical choice.
Build on an area 250ft wide by 150ft deep for a track length of 1000ft, the track has been reduced by about 25%. To put the scale of that in to prospective, the piece they have cut out of the track layout is the size of the entire Tamiya track. The story behind the track name and its coming to be is an interesting one. Originally the land on which the track is build was part of the Kaiser Steel, the 2nd largest steel producer in the world during World War 2. The company eventually went bankrupt and was bought by Penske who built the full size motor speedway. Running an electric touring car race in one of the parking lots during the Indycar weekend at the track, that was the start of the relationship between the real track and Goodwines who then negotiated a lease to build the impressive looking track that is now Steel City RC Speedway.
With rain on Thursday limiting drivers to just one damp practice, and just two dry 4-minute practices this morning (Friday) before the first of the heads up races, defending champion Marc Rheinard’s first impressions of the track layout was, ‘its ok, but for Reedy Race I thinks it is too open and too fast’. Former multiple Champion Ronald Volker echoed those thoughts saying, ‘it’s not a difficult layout however it is high speed, so for heads up racing it’s going to be tricky. I’m not sure what to expect for racing’.
Sunny California didn’t live up to its billing today with practice for the 22nd running of the Touring Car Reedy Race of Champions being rained off. With this year’s event the beginning of a new era for the legendary race as it moves from the famous Tamiya RC Raceway, which is no more, to Steel City RC Speedway, invite drivers got just one run in less than ideal conditions, before shortly after lunch the rains returned and the decision was made to call an end to official proceedings. With cars struggling for traction, reigning 7-time RROC Champion Marc Rheinard joked from the drivers stand it felt like playing Super Mario and running over banana skins. With weather for both Friday and Saturday set to deliver the shorts & t-shirts weather associated with California, Race Director Scotty Ernst issued a new schedule which will see the invitational drivers get two practice runs in the morning before getting down to the real business of 5 rounds of the events unique heads up racing. A further 5 rounds are planning for Saturday but with rain forecast to arrive again on Sunday afternoon, a call to run the final two rounds of racing on Sunday morning will be made based on the the latest forecast given on Saturday.
Having made the comment ‘I need a change’ after finishing 16th at last year’s Reedy Race of Champions, it seems a change is exactly what Jared Tebo needed as today at the 25th running of the event he finally landed the one title that had eluded him. Switching to Team Tekno for 2019, the weekend started out perfectly as a rejuvenated Tebo sat second behind new team-mate Joe Bornhorst in the points table at the end of Day 1’s four rounds of 4WD racing. It was however when the racing switched to 2WD, that Tebo really excelled going into the points lead at the end of Day 2. While the start to the deciding day saw him throw away a win and fall to 3rd, the driver synonymous with offroad racing over the past decade came back to win his next two outings eliminating all his rivals bar Spencer Rivkin. Winning the penultimate round ahead of Rivkin, this left the Associated driver a tall order to keep the title in the Californian manufacturers hands, defending Champion Dustin Evans’ fight coming to an end in the 10 of the 12 rounds of heads up racing. Still the stage was set for a last race showdown with the grid a whose who of 1:10 Offroad racing. Rivkin had to win, a result that would give him the overall win on a second places tie breaker, but starting 10th and with Ryan Maifield on the front row it was going to be a tall order for Rivkin to deny his senior rival the win. While Rivkin would get by Tebo crossing the line 4th, up front Maifield checked out to notch up win no.6, the most wins of the event, demoting Rivkin to third overall but the moment belonged to Tebo with his first Reedy Race victory popular with spectators at OCRC Raceway.
With his name set to be the 17th to be engraved on the Mike Reedy Heritage Trophy, reacting to his win Tebo said, ‘This was one of the titles I didn’t have. I’m ecstatic. I’m so happy to finally get the win. I’m really looking forward to the future with my new team. They gave me great support and I’m believing in myself again’. Commenting on the deciding race, he said, ‘It wasn’t my best race. I was really nervous. I just wanted to stay ahead of Spencer but was thinking too much about it and jumped a little wide at the triple. I could have turned down on him but gave him space. I had a bobble and it was over for me after that. I’m so happy to get the overall win’.
While his shot at a second Reedy Race title ended in the penultimate round after he failed to make a points advantage on Tebo as they both registered wins, Maifield was pleased to finish second given he ended 4WD 8th in the points. The Yokomo driver said, ‘Second is a good result. The 6th I was carrying in 4WD was always going to hurt me. I thought 2WD was going to be a complete cluster F but the track changed and made it more racy. We made good team work, my cars really worked. Overall we put on a good show’. Registering the most wins, on his sixth race win in the final race he said, ‘I started out front and just drove around. My car was awesome. I made a little mistake but got back into my rhythm and Ty (Tessmann) couldn’t catch me’.
Matching his previous best finish at the Reedy Race, having previously finished third in his Invitational Class debut in 2016, Rivkin said, ‘It is what it is. Maifield got the win so I finished 3rd’. On the deciding race, the 2015 2WD World Champion added, ‘The race was fun. All the top dogs were running in the show. I started 10th and thought I drove well. I beat Tebo. I couldn’t do anything more but I’m happy with how I drove. I’ll just have to try for the overall win again next year’. Behind Rivkin, last year’s Runner-up Ty Tessmann ended up 4th ahead of the outgoing Champion Dustin Evans with multiple champion Ryan Cavalieri completing the Top 6.
Booking their places to compete with the best drivers in the world at next year’s Reedy Race of Champions, Top Qualifier Tommy Hinz took his Xray to the 2WD Open Class win ahead of Ron DeVoll who took the second of the two A-Mains to go with his third in A1. DeVoll however got the job done in 4WD to secure one of the coveted 30 Invite spots taking his Associated to victory in both Mains ahead of Hinz, with Austin Horne completing the podium.