The annual Hot August Nights promotion got under way Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway and Trevor Baker became the first driver to win going topless.
That is, without a roof on his car.
The Speedway allows drivers to shed roofs every Saturday during August. Not many go to the trouble, but those that do give fans a closer look at them as they work their way around the third-mile clay oval.
Baker was one of three Hobby Stock drivers to race topless.
“There’s not too much difference,” Baker said of driving with or without a roof on the car. “We’re about 140 pounds overweight so we lose about 40 pounds without the roof. It helps a little on the exit of the corner.”
Baker was certainly fast as he suffered a flat tire while leading on lap nine but managed to get it changed during a brief caution.
He powered back to third when a caution flew five flaps from the end of the 25-lap feature and regained the lead from Don Mead with three laps to go.
Nicholas Johnson, also driving a topless car, finished second with Mead third. Lloyd Wren Jr. was fourth and Cody Johnson, also in a topless car, fifth.
The IMCA Modified feature was not complete at print deadline.
Zach Forster took the lead midway into the 20-lap Mod Lites feature en route to his sixth win of the season.
Anthony Balcazar finished second with JD Brown third.
Forster and Balcazar, who has yet to win, are now tied for the points lead.
“Those boys are getting fast,” Forster said. “Im putting my son in one of these next year and I may just have to retire and crew chief.”
Larry Thompson Jr. of Tulare took the lead at the drop of the green flag and led the rest of the way to win the 20-lap IMCA Stocks feature.
It was the second straight win for Thompson.
“The car started going away there at the end,” Thompson said. “The power steering was going away and it started running on seven cylinders. I was just hanging on.”
Troy Patee finished second with Stephen Streeter third and Preston Martin fourth.
Tyler Johnson of Bakersfield, who came into the rce with a seven-point lead over Streeter, suffered a right front suspension parts failure while running second 10 laps in and finished ninth.
Unofficially, Johnson now leads Streeter by one point.
There were only four cars in the Super 4 feature but they were evenly matched, despite Kit Murphy leading all 15 laps for the win.
Murphy started on the pole and took the lead into the first turn with Roy Atchison falling right behind. Atchison stayed right with Ramirez, but finished a half-car behind. Close behind were Clinton Massey and Andy Boydstun.