There is simply no other way to describe the ongoings at the Fifth Annual Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway.
It started on Friday night with rain disrupting the show then turned totally bizarre, starting with gale-force winds overnight and into Sunday morning that pushed dirt and a variety of debris, including 4-by-8 foot plywood billboards blown off fencing, up against the turn three and four walls of the half-mile oval.
Clean-up started early. Then came more rain.
Finally the track was dried and racing started. Then it rained.
And then came the coup-de-grace. A power outage at the track and the surrounding area.
And, sure enough, there were a couple of people who ended up stuck in the elevator. Three units from the Kern County Fire Department responded, including Urban Search and Rescue, and after about 90 minutes the hostages were finally set free.
By that time, the rest of the preliminary Lucas Oil Modified race which had been rain delayed, was completed and the 300-lap Winter Showdown was well under way.
A multi-car pileup on a restart on lap 116 eliminated more than a dozen of the 37-car starting field as cars were stacked like cordwood right before the start/finish line.
To make it an official race, there needed to be at lead 150 laps completed and after a long delay to clear the front straight, the race against darkness was on.
On lap 169, Jeremy Doss crashed into the turn three wall. At lap 172 and cars circulating under caution — and in darkness — officials decided to wave the red flag, bring the cars to a stop and wait 60 minutes.
If the power came back on, the race would resume. If not, the race was done.
The power did not come back on and Wiscon’s Ty Majeski was the Winter Showdown champion.
And to continue the bizarre theme, the power came back on as Majeski started his victory lane celebration.
“If it were me, I’d say just call it,” Majeski said during the hour wait. “All these people are cold in the stands … no we came out here to run 300 laps and that’s what we want to do. I think we have a great car, regardless.”
The victory, worth $32,250, was redemption for Majeski.
We felt we just really missed the boat last year,” he said. “We learned a lot of what we needed to do better for this year,” he said. “We felt we had a much better shot to win and were much better prepared. We wanted to come back and show them we could do it.”
The lap 116 restart, with Preston Peltier on the inside and Doss on the outside, proved to be the pivotal point of the race.
“(Peltier) just didn’t go and it stacked the whole field,” said Majeski, who was right behind him. “I can’t go until he goes and he just never went and stacked up the whole field.”
Majeski took the lead from Peltier on the restart after the big pileup and led the rest of the way. Derek Thorn of Bakersfield finished second.
“We’ve had moments when (the car) ran good, but it’s a little tight in the turns,” Thorn said.
As for all the nature-caused drama, Thorn just shook his head and smiled. “You couldn’t script anything more bizarre,” he said.
Peltier was third, Willie Allen fourth and former Bakersfield resident Ryan Reed fifth.
“A little bit of timing, a little bit of luck,” Reed said of avoiding the restart melee. “I’ve been a part of situations like that when restart guys are playing games … but a line was crossed there. Too aggressive, especially early in the race.”
Still, Reed said he came out from North Carolina to have fun and that mission was accomplished.
“Honestly, we came out her to have a great time and everyone had a great time,” he said.
In the 75-lap Lucas Oil Modified race, Trevor Christiani powered into the lead on the 38th lap and powered away from the field to win by nearly a half lap.
Early leader Kyle Tellstrom finished second, followed by Ryan Schartau, Justin Johnson and Cody Kay.