Fans rave about SRA's season

April 23, 2001|By TIM YANNI, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — With a chilly wind blowing over the grandstands at the Imperial Valley Expo, the Southwest Racing Association staged its season finale of stock car racing Saturday night.

Fans ranged from young to old and most seemed to not mind the brisk conditions.

Some fans had attended SRA races throughout the season, while others were out for their first time.

Javier Alonso Leiper, a 19-year-old race fan from Imperial, attended most of the races this season.

"I enjoy getting together with my friends," Leiper said. "I like listening to the engines. They have a very sweet sound."

Michael Trull, 13, of Imperial said he is entertained by accidents on the track.

"I like to watch the crashes," Michael said. "I also like to see them compete. It's a very competitive sport and it's lots of fun."


Michael enjoys the food served at the I.V. Expo. The corn dogs are his favorite.

"It's great," Mike Lizarraga, 40, of Imperial, said of the SRA races.

Lizarraga was attending the races for the first time.

"I brought my son and my neighbor and we just came out to spend the evening," Lizarraga said. "We're really enjoying the races."

Cindy Kemp, a 28-year-old fan from Brawley, was at the expo to see her relatives Steven and Tommy Daffern take the track.

"I like watching my relatives race," Kemp said. "I like the action and the competition of the races."

Kemp agreed that seeing the cars crash sometimes adds to the excitement.

Kemp's brother-in-law, Kurt Leptich, was at her side.

"It's my third time out this season," Leptich, 38, Brawley, said. "But I want to come out every time. I just can't fit it in.

Leptich said his father began bringing him to the stock car races when he was 8 years old and he still enjoys it.

"I just love coming," Leptich said. "I like the smell of the fuel."

Thomas and Zachary Harrison, 8 and 6, of Yuma, came to see their father race.

"I like watching my daddy race," Thomas said.

"I like when my daddy wins first prize," Zachary added.

"The cars go fast and my dad lets me ride in it," Thomas said.

Thomas wants to get into stock car racing when he is old enough.

"I like the way the cars look," Thomas said. "They're cool."

Zachary added he likes the noise the cars make and they both said the food is an added bonus.

"I like the candy and the food," Thomas said.

Zachary said the churros, cotton candy, hot dogs and slushies are among his favorites.

The winner of the main event, Josh Wood, 21, Brawley, walked off the tack with a big smile.

"Two races ago it was my first win." Wood, racing for his third year, said. "It's too bad the season didn't start like this."

Wood is optimistic about returning to SRA competition next season.

"Maybe next year I'll be better," he said.

Wood plans to race in Arizona so he doesn't get rusty over the SRA break .

"I think different tracks make you adjust," Wood said.

"This win is for my wife at home with my baby," Wood added, who then walked over to sign autographs for his fans.

Doug Peterson, 38, of Yuma, was the SRA champion for the 2001 season.

"We just had to start the main event to win it," he said of the season championship. "So we were just trying to be conservative."

Peterson gave credit to his crew for the championship.

"This was our goal," Peterson said. "My crew worked hard all year."

"We had a lot of help from friends and family and it's a really good feeling."

Peterson plans to return when the SRA kicks off again.

"We'll be back," Peterson said. "This is our home track."

He said the Yuma track is no longer open, so the I.V. Expo has become the main track for some Yuma drivers.

Peterson plans to keep racing in Arizona over the break and elsewhere, but what he is really looking forward to is a return to the SRA.

"We're looking forward to coming back next year," he said, then drove off with his crew.

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