Falling just short in his bid for
a second INSCA championship to title winner, Justin Popple, 2007
series champion Tony Berry sees this weekend’s race as a chance
for redemption to a strong but brief season.
SPOKANE, Wash. (October 6, 2009)-For 2007 Inland Northwest Sprint
Car Association champion, Tony Berry, the racing season has come
down to one final event-the Northwest Sprint Car Invitational to be
held Saturday, October 10 at Columbia Motor Speedway in Hermiston,
Falling just short in his bid for a second INSCA championship to
title winner, Justin Popple, Berry sees this weekend’s race as a
chance for redemption to a strong but brief season.
“When we began the season with our new Lejeune chassis we were
focused on running strong at each event,” Berry said. “Going in
there were two dates that we knew we could not attend with the INSCA
group, one was my wedding over the Fourth of July and the other
happened to be a rain out. When those passed we found ourselves
second in points and as a racer with a committed team we went for
the gold so to speak.
“We changed our schedule to run the rest of the season for points
and came up a bit short. We really had hoped to run the championship
race at Spokane County in September (which was canceled by the race
track) but we chalked that up to something like a rain out and
started to focus on this Northwest Invitational here at the end of
Having the opportunity to jump behind the wheel of the Oak Tree
Inn/Pheasant Café and Lounge No. 53 one more time in ’09 is a
reward for the team’s hard work, Berry added.
“We’re excited to have another opportunity to perform well and
in reality this race could end up being the biggest event of the
year for our team. We’ve had some local business partners come on
board for this weekend including the Desert River Inn and the
Hermiston Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Moon Saloon and Western Wine
Festival so I know the promotional team is very excited to get this
event going this year and for the future.”
Berry has made laps in Hermiston and knows that the little bit of
knowledge he may have could be key to besting the likes of Mike
Fought, Craig Deaver, Popple and other Northwest Sprint Car stars.
“It is a track with a lot of character. There aren’t many places
to compare it to because it’s so unique. The racing surface itself
has been sealed by the new owners of the facility and I think that
will produce higher grip and better racing for our cars,” Berry
explained. “We’re excited to hold this type of event here
because no one really has a competitive advantage at a neutral site.
To win, it’s going to come down to the drivers and crews that are
able to best adapt to the new surface and I hope we can make those
gains quicker then everyone else.”
While working with Popple and Mark Jones to build excitement for
this weekend’s event has been a daily task for Berry, the end
result of a successful weekend makes the long days of working on the
event coupled with working on the sprint car worthwhile, he noted.
“It hasn’t been easy (balancing the needs of the race team and
the event),” Berry said.
“Motorsports at our level is only as successful as the amount of
work and time you put into it. That goes for both preparing the race
car and for putting on a race of any caliber. Out model for this
event was the Fall Classic late model show that ran last weekend in
Yakima. That event, obviously run at the end of the year, has an air
of fun and enjoyment about it and that is the kind of race we’re
hoping to create for sprint car racing in general in the Northwest.
This event is design to be inclusive so if someone has a cast iron
motor and a sprint car they can come and play.”
Sponsors make it all happen to get a team to the track, Berry added.
With the support of racing enthusiasts and regional businesses,
Berry has also been able to give back to the greater Northwest
One endeavor the Gonzaga University graduate has taken on this
season is the Cory Mackay Spinal Injury Foundation, which has seen
half of Berry’s winnings donated to their group after each race in
2009. Berry will use the energy focused on that project this weekend
in an effort to come to the aid of fellow sprint car driver, Travis
“We’ve been able to support many causes over the years including
the Cory Mackay Spinal Injury Foundation. The motorsports family is
very generous in times of need and I think that has been displayed
often. It sounds like a cliché but when someone in the racing world
suffers a serious injury behind the wheel of a car you see time and
time again this community band together to support the driver, crew
“Travis suffer a devastating accident at Terre Haute in a sprint
car which makes this tragedy hit home hard for all racers but
especially those from a similar discipline and the same region of
the world. You instantly relate to what the family is going through
and as you’ve seen from what is happening to help Travis, the
entire racing community not just those in the Northwest, have banded
together in support of the Rutz family.
Berry, Popple and the backers of the idea to pass the helmet for
this weekend’s event. Trish and Kirk Eklund, hope to collect funds
that will aid in Rutz’s recovery, he added.
“Trish and Kirk (from WESCO) are the ones that really spearheaded
the support of the pass the helmet donation that we will be taking
up this weekend. We hope that our contributions will help the Rutz
family in a time of need and we’re all wishing for a speedy
recovery for Travis.”
For more information regarding the Northwest Sprint Car Invitational
at Columbia Motor Speedway log onto www.columbiamotorspeedway.com
Racer information can be obtained by calling 800-336-2682.