Track History

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Track Records (Current Divisions)
Please note all records prior to 2008 are not from electronic timing
360 Sprints Cars
Qualifying 11.617 Evan Suggs 10/16/2009
6 Laps 1.16.784 Ricky Wright 8/29/2008
8 Laps 1.35.710 Ronnie Day 10/16/2009
10 Laps 2.03.069 Brett Rollag 9/25/2009
12 Laps 2.28.721 Andy Gregg 8/29/2009
30 Laps 7.44.127 Jason Statler 7/31/2009
50 Laps 50.41.411 Brent Kaeding 8/29/2008
410 Sprint Cars/World of Outlaws
Qualifying 10.949 Mark Kinser 9/1/2000
6 Laps 1.11.218 Jason Meyers 3/14/2008
8 Laps 3.04.412 Danny Lasoski 10/17/2008
10 Laps 1.58.646 Tim Kaeding 5/30/2008
12 Laps 2.29.124 Bud Kaeding 10/17/2008
30 Laps 20.57.168 Bud Kaeding 8/8/2009
40 Laps 18.57.029 Steve Kinser 10/17/2008
4 Bangers
8 Laps 2.34.814 Steve Leonard 10/3/2008
4 Laps 1.15.800 Adriane DeSousa 10/3/2009
12 Laps 4.08.043 Richard Dragonetti 10/2/2009
20 Laps 6.03.768 Jeff Wilson 8/14/2009
American Stock
Qualifying 18.218 Norm Ayers 7/15/2005
4 Laps 1.10.794 Nick Silva 4/16/2010
6 Laps 1.53.09 Chad Bisordi 6/4/2004
8 Laps 2.20.717 Matt Sotomayor 3/26/2010
10 Laps 3.14.53 Chris Juhl 8/6/1999
12 Laps 3.57.55 Jesse LaVerne 5/27/2005
15 Laps 4.49.51 Jimmy Bowman 6/20/1997
20 Laps 5.59.317 Bill Neslon 4/16/2010
50 Laps 23.22.866 Bill Sorg 8/1/2008
Bay Area Dwarf Cars
4 Laps 1.03.201 Gilbert Toste 8/8/2008
8 Laps 1.58.371 Dave Mosier 4/25/2009
10 Laps 2.09.694 Gilbert Toste 10/25/2008
12 Laps 3.14.876 Mark Biscardi 6/27/2008
20 Laps 5.23.723 Gilbert Toste 5/2/2008
30 Laps 20.05.742 Gilbert Toste 10/24/2009
IMCA Modifieds
Qualifying 14.93 Bobby Hogge, IV 8/22/1997
4 Laps 59.85 Eric Jacobsen 8/31/2001
8 Laps 2.01.395 Andy Obertello 3/26/2010
6 Laps 1.30.66 Dave Byrd 8/31/2001
10 Laps 2.39.315 Jeff Taylor 10/2/2008
12 Laps 3.05.488 Paul Stone 10/2/2009
15 Laps 4.04.62 Scott Busby 6/7/1991
20 Laps 5.15.78 Bobby Scott 8/1/2003
25 Laps 8.22.396 Andy Obertello 4/9/2010
30 Laps 17.29.403 Tim Balding 10/2/2009
50 Laps 34.23.570 Jim Pettit, II 7/24/2009
Micro 600s
4 Laps 53.169 Devon Osthemier 8/8/2008
8 Laps 1.46.753 Christine Root 3/19/2010
20 Laps 4.37.025 Christine Root 3/26/2010
Ocean Late Models
Qualifying 14.154 Jeff Decker 5/9/2008
4 Laps 58.168 Bobby Hogge, IV 4/25/2008
8 Laps 1.55.505 Jeff Decker 5/9/2008
25 Laps 6.16.815 Bobby Hogge, IV 4/25/2008
Wingless Sprint Cars
4 Laps 43.742 Dave Press 9/26/2008
8 Laps 1.50.847 Ryan Bernal 7/17/2009
20 Laps 4.52.694 Billy Aton 6/13/2008
USAC Ford Focus
8 Laps 1.58.579 Cody Swanson 7/10/2009
20 Laps 7.16.031 Cody Swanson 5/14/2009

History of Watsonville/Ocean Speedway

By Dennis Mattish

Claimer/Sportsman era

 

During the winter of 1959 retired racer Bert Moreland and a group of men hatched a plan to build a ¼-mile racetrack within the confines of the existing ½-mile horse track.

The track was completed in the spring of 1960 and the first race was held on May 27, 1960. The division that ran the first couple of years was called $99 Claiming Cars; meaning if you had $99 you could buy the car after the main event for that price. This helped keep the cost down to an affordable price for anybody who wanted to race.

The most notable driver who got his start in the claimer class was Ray Elder. Years later Ray would win races in NASCAR’s premier division against the likes of Richard Petty and A.J. Foyt.

The track was an immediate hit with the local community and standing room only crowds were common in the first two years. It was the place for families to gather on Friday nights.

By the mid 1960’s the Claimers had evolved into the more sophisticated Sportsman racecar, complete with a wing on top and a narrowed body. Vic Irvan and Jerry Cecil were the drivers with the most wins during this era.

Figure 8 racing was introduced to the Bay Area by way of Watsonville Speedway in 1964 and was an instant success.  This slam-bang novelty event proved to be popular with the fans. You cannot think of figure 8 racing at Watsonville Speedway without thinking of the Keldson Clan and Ken Nott (over 250 wins combined).

Stock Cars became part of the weekly show in 1967.  A driver named Ernie Irvan emerged out of this class in the 1970’s and went on to win the Daytona 500, the granddaddy of all Stock Car races.

The Sportsman class started to lose popularity when NASCAR demanded the body style return to normal width. This resulted in the class becoming a secondary status behind the Late Model Stock Cars in 1980.  The class was discontinued altogether in 1981.

Late Model Stock Cars/Modified era

Watsonville Speedway enjoyed resurgence when NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars became the featured division during 1980 and especially when the track started running for National and Regional points in the Winston Racing Series. Car counts were up and rivalries were heated, which in turn sparked fan interest. Doug McCoun, Ray Morgan, Ed Sans Jr, Bobby Hogge, Dave Byrd, Jim Pettit II, Jeff Silva and Ted Stofle were some of the drivers of note during this period.

Street Stocks were added to the weekly show in 1980 with car counts of 50 being the norm. Bobby Large and Lloyd Antonetti were the drivers with the most wins.

Grand American Modifieds made their first appearance during 1991 and would be the featured division at the track a couple of years later. Many of the Late Model drivers joined the Modified ranks where they found stiff competition from drivers like Kenny Nott, Bobby Hogge IV and Scott Busby. 

By the end of the nineties the speedway was running a dozen classes of racecars on a staggered schedule. There was something for everyone.

In 2006 local racer John Prentice became the new promoter and changed the name of the track from Watsonville Speedway to Ocean Speedway. Under John’s guidance, Ocean Speedway has emerged as one of the most successful tracks in the Western United States.

Like most forms of entertainment, attendance has ebbed and flowed with the economy, but one thing is clear, auto racing at Watsonville/Ocean Speedway has been the number one attended sport in not only Watsonville but also Santa Cruz County for the last 51 years.

2010 marked the 50th anniversary of one of California’s most successful weekly racetracks.