American Motorcyclist Assn. rider Bubba Shobert, who has already clinched his second straight championship, will try to become the first rider ever to win nine national features in a season Saturday night in Ascot Park's 28th annual National Half-Mile.
Shobert, 24, from Carmel Valley, Calif., claimed his eighth dirt-track win of the season Sept. 7 at Syracuse to tie the mark set by Joe Leonard in 1954. Leonard is the only man to hold championships in AMA and Indy cars.
While Shobert, who rides for Honda, has the title secured, the race for second place, between Harley Davidson teammates Scott Parker and young Chris Carr, will command a lot of attention. Shobert has amassed 280 points to win the title, while Parker has 202 and Carr 188.
Carr's rise in the motorcycle rankings has been spectacular, and spectacularly steady. He has been racing and winning since he was 6 years old.
"May dad has been around racing for a long time and I grew up around bikes and engines," the 19-year-old Carr said. "I'm told I saw my first race when I was 3 weeks old."
Carr grew up in Stockton, where his father owns a TV repair business and his mother is an English teacher. They used his interest in motorcycles to spur his schoolwork and he was an honor student through high school. "When I didn't do so well in school, my bike would be hanging upside down in the garage until I did better," Carr recalled.
But there was no denying where he learned his best lessons.
"My folks bought me my first minibike when I was 5 1/2 and I was 6 when I first raced," Carr said.
How did it go? "Well, I learned an important lesson that day. I fell down, and cried. If I had gotten up and finished, I would have received a trophy."
Carr showed he was indeed a fast learner on the kid tracks. At 11, he won the North California championship in 80cc and 100cc minibikes. He won 10 national amateur and minibike titles in the years 1977-80. Clearly a young man to watch.
He turned professional on his birthday, May 6, 1983, but there were no gifts that day. His engine stopped. But he went on to finish third in the Western Regional championships.
And the successes just kept spinning along. Carr was the junior circuit national champion in 1984 and rookie of the year in the expert division in 1985.
With those achievements on his resume, he was invited to ride for the Harley-Davidson racing team, where he joined veteran Jay Springsteen and Parker, with whom he will be dueling on Saturday night at Ascot.
By joining the Harley-Davidson team, racing became a full-time job for Carr, who has put off attending college. He's making good money, and seeing the country--he's been to 43 states already. "I'm having fun," Carr said.
The fun gets serious at 8 o'clock Saturday night when Carr will go up against a field that includes Shobert; Parker; Ronnie Jones, who won the National Half-Mile last year; and Randy Goss, the two-time Camel point champion.
Shobert is the man to beat, although he has never won a half-mile race at Ascot.
STOCK CARS--The NASCAR Southwest Tour makes its first stop at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino Saturday with the Big Orange 100 set to start at 7:30 p.m. Ron Esau of Lakeside, Calif., winner of two straight Southwest Tour races, holds a 39-point lead over Troy Beebe of Modesto in the series standings. Randy Becker of Highland, Calif., and Dean Huss Jr. of Bloomington, Calif., two talented newcomers to the Southwest circuit, are both still looking for their first win. Huss expects to be at the wheel of a new Chevrolet Camaro for the Orange 100. . . . Second-place battles in the Bomber and Figure 8 and Oval divisions will be featured on the final regular season stock car program at Ascot Park Sunday. The racing begins at 7 p.m. In the pro stocks, Ron Meyer of Anaheim has already won the championship, while Don Wright Jr. of Simi Valley has taken second and Marcus Mallett of Carson third. . . . Hobby stocks go at Saugus Speedway Friday night, and Saturday's program includes Sportsman Grand Prix, Street Stock Grand Prix, and Figure 8 Grand Prix.
SPRINT CARS--The California Racing Assn. non-winged sprinters travel to Phoenix this Saturday night for the next-to-last race of the season at Manzanita Speedway. . . . The World of Outlaws western swing continues with the winged-sprinters traveling to Chico for a three-night program starting Thursday. On Sunday, the action moves to the Napa County Fairgrounds at Calistoga for a one-night show. Sammy Swindell made it three for three by winning last Saturday night's main event at Santa Maria. Earlier he won at Placerville and Fremont.
RALLY--One of the more adventurous rallies of the year starts Saturday at Bellevue, Wash., the 11-day Uniroyal Alcan 5,000. The route will take competitors across the rugged North Cascades of Washington into Alberta, Canada. The rally nicks the northeast corner of British Columbia before entering the Yukon via the Alcan Highway. The rally then heads into Alaska on the Top of the World Highway. After a break in Anchorage, the rally moves east to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and then south on the Cassiar Highway to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. After a 15-hour voyage on the Inside Passage ferry, the rally crosses Vancouver Island and finishes at the Expo '86 grounds. Rod Hall, a champion off-road racer, John Buffum, winner of the 1985 race, and world record-holder Gary Sowerby are among the competitors in this SCCA-sanctioned event. . . . La Carrera II, the San Felipe-Ensenada international road race, will be held Sunday
SPEEDWAY MOTORCYCLES--Bobby Schwartz of Balboa, the British Speedway League veteran, is in the Southland to tune up for the U.S. championships and will race tonight at 8 at Ascot's south bay stadium. Mike Faria of Colton, Robert Pfetzing of Garden Grove and Alan Christian of Huntington Beach are among Schwartz's chief rivals tonight. . . . A 24-event program is on tap at International Speedway in San Clemente Friday night at 8.
NOTES--Pirelli, the Italian tire manufacturer, has made it official and is withdrawing from Formula One racing, leaving the racing tire track pretty much to Goodyear. Pirelli says it wants to apply the lessons it has learned in Formula One and that it will continue to back World Touring Car and rally championships. Both Bridgestone and Yokahama are rumored to be coming into Formula One, but that day seems quite distant. . . . Michael Andretti has renewed his contract with the Kraco racing team and goes after the Indy car points lead Sunday in the 200-miler at Elkhart Lake, Wis. Michael is tied for fourth with his father, Mario, behind the co-leaders Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr. and second-place Danny Sullivan.