Holt in a class by himself at speedway

Justin Holt has never won a points title at the Southern Oregon Speedway, but the Central Point electrician might be the only driver in the history of the track to compete in five divisions.

Holt, who stands fourth in the modified points race and won the main event in the pro stock class last Saturday, has competed in those categories as well as the mini stock, dwarf car and super truck divisions.

"Not to toot my own horn, but I've been fairly competitive in everything I've driven," says Holt, 25. "Maybe not dominating, but competitive."

Holt, who made his speedway debut in a mini stock as a 16-year-old in 1997, led several pro stock races last season but was victimized by constant mechanical failures. He still managed to win rookie-of-the-year accolades in that division.

"Wiring problems, cooling problems, a blown engine, you name it and it probably happened," says Holt. "We had something like 12 DNFs (did not finishes). It was a frustrating year."

Holt climbed back into the same car last week and won, but not before a needle in his carburetor stuck, causing the engine to flood with fuel over the last five laps.

"We barely made it," says Holt.

Holt has had more luck with his modified car, a 2002 Lightning Chassis that he and his father, Scott, put together over the winter. Holt won a feature race on May 19 and has been in the top eight in three other main events.

"I really like the modified class," he says. "It's by far my favorite car to drive. There's more horsepower, a better suspension, better tires ... it goes the fastest and so far the car has been bullet-proof."

Holt puts in 10-hour days at Erickson Air-Crane and often works Saturdays. Last week he missed the qualifying session at the track and had to start last in the main event, but worked his way to 11th by the checkered flag. Holt also missed an earlier qualifying session, losing valuable points.

Holt's father, who competed at the old Medford Raceway, helps with the car's set-up. Track conditions constantly change at the one-third mile clay track.

"He does a lot of the calls for the set-ups," says Holt. "If things don't feel right, we'll discuss it, but every week we're really consistent."

Holt and his brother, Justin, who also races modifieds, got their racing starts before their sixth birthdays in three-wheelers at the Jackson County Expo. From there they graduated to open go-kart racing at the Expo and then to cage karts at the speedway before moving up to car racing.

The only class of cars that Travis Holt hasn't raced in White City is sprints.

"If someone offered me a ride, I'd drive one in a heartbeat," he says. "I'll race just about anything."


DAN VAN ACKER AND Jerry Apland are in a dead heat for the dwarf car points lead.

The two will go head-to-head in Saturday's feature event, the Dwarf Lite Invitational that is worth $500 to the winner.

Van Acker and Apland each have 318 points, with Trevor Hukill (291) and Jeff Harsha (282) not far behind.

Van Acker is eager for a win after finishing second in his last four races — two in Yreka and two in White City.

"I love racing out there, it's just awesome," says Van Acker, who won the 2003 dwarf car points title and finished second to Crash Jackson by a single point in 2004.

Apland ruled the track on June 16, the last time the dwarf cars competed at the Southern Oregon Speedway.

"We're trying to figure out how he got so fast, so quick," says Van Acker of Apland. "He picked up a second a lap in one week. He must have been eating his Wheaties."

The dwarf cars, which weigh just 1,000 pounds and are powered by motorcycle engines, roll around the oval at speeds exceeding 80 mph. They've been a fan favorite since their debut in 1997

Van Acker, a contractor who's been commuting to Missoula, Mont., for the past year, drives a 1934 Ford pickup chassis that's powered by a 2005 GSX-R 1,000.

Van Acker was on his way back to Medford Thursday when he was stopped and issued a speeding ticket.

"I'll need to win Saturday to pay for that ticket," he says.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail dhunt@mailtribune.com

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