Forget NASCAR, Watch Dwarf Cars: The Southern Oregon Speedway Hosts the Dwarf Car Nationals
Images come to mind of a bunch of souped-up Mini Coopers racing along in the 2003 heist film The Italian Job, where the size of the cars made the difference in the scheme. While not quite the image of European cuteness, Dwarf Cars really hold their own on the racetrack. We caught up with Don Martin II of the Southern Oregon Speedway, home to all motorized vehicles in the Rogue Valley that just wanna see a checkered flag for over 20 years, to see what Dwarf Car Nationals was all about.
Rogue Valley Messenger: What exactly is a “dwarf” car?
Don Martin II: Dwarf cars are 5/8 scale replica models of vintage 1928-1948 American made automobiles. They have full steel roll cages; sheet metal or aluminum bodies, and are powered by 4 cylinder motorcycle engines up to 152 horsepower. They have full racing suspension and are capable of speeds over 100 mph (160 kmh) on the straightaways.
RVM: What are they like to race?
DMII: Dwarf Cars are sort of a cross between a non-winged Sprint Car and an IMCA Modified. Without the wing but with a good amount of speed, these race cars put the emphasis on the driver. A Dwarf Car can be a bit more challenging to drive than a winged Sprint Car. Drivers like past Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Nationals winner Shawn Jones and original SODCA champion Jon DeBenedetti have gone on to win some big events in other classes after mastering the handle of a Dwarf Car.
RVM: What is unique about watching a dwarf car race versus a different race?
DMII: The smaller size means you can get more of them in a smaller space. You will see two and three wide racing with these cars, and the racing is fast and very exciting to watch. The affordability means drivers can build competitive cars at a reasonable cost, meaning more drivers challenging for wins.
RVM: What competitors should the audience keep an eye on this year?
DMII: From a visitors stand point, “Captain Chaos” Danny Wagner and Ryan “Ice Chip” Winter are top drivers from the Nor Cal Dwarf Car Association. Both are champions in their group. Matt Sargent is a Nevada and California SF Bay Area champion. John Isabella is a champion from Southern California. All bring fast race cars.
Local stars Brock Peters and son Cody Peters are fast. Brock is the two time reigning track champion. Cody won his first Nationals last season with a last lap pass on Wagner. Two time local champion Josh King. He is the great grandson of original Medford Raceway promoter Cecil James and grandson of Southern Oregon racing legend Markey James.
Fred Hay is a popular local racer among the fans and is well into his 70’s.He will be competing in the Veteran’s class this year. He’s been racing since the 1960’s. Fred suffered what could have been a career ending neck injury at an event in Chico, CA in 2016, but he returned last season. He has scored back to back Top 3 finishes with the SODCA group as of this writing.
What is something that most people don’t know about Southern Oregon Speedway?
NASCAR Star Kyle Larson once raced at this track. He made multiple visits to our Outlaw Kart track before he moved up to race in a Sprint Car. He won a Sprint Car race here with us before moving on to race in NASCAR.
WSDCA Dwarf Car Nationals
7 pm, Friday and Saturday, August 3 and 4
Southern Oregon Speedway, 6900 Kershaw Road, White City
$6 – $12