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MOTOR RACING / SHAV GLICK : Prosser, at 53, Back at Saugus (Where Else?)

September 24, 1993|SHAV GLICK

Oren Prosser, who won the first of his five Saugus Speedway championships nearly 30 years ago, will come out of retirement Saturday night to drive Don Johnson's No. 15 Chevrolet in the season-ending Fall Spectacular at Saugus.

Prosser will be in the 100-lap sportsman main event. Also on the program are a 75-lap Grand American modified feature and a 25-lap train race.

Four of Prosser's winning seasons--1969 through '72--were spent in earlier model No. 15 Chevrolets built and owned by Johnson. He won his first Saugus title, in 1964, in a car he built himself.

"Donnie has two cars that his son, Rod, drives and he asked me if I'd like to drive one Saturday night," Prosser said. "Sounded like a good idea to me, so I said sure. Last time I drove a race car was a couple of years ago in one of those old-timers' races."

Rod Johnson will drive in the Grand American modified race.

Prosser's last regular season was 1985, after 25 years of racing on the West Coast, mostly on the flat oval at Saugus.

"That was the great time of my life," said Prosser, 53, who owns a repair shop in Van Nuys. "I met a lot of great people and raced with a lot of great guys. I don't know why I quit, I guess I sort of got burned out. I had a couple of divorces and that slowed me down. I was only 45. That's not so old for a driver these days.

"I was lucky, I was very successful because I had a big advantage. I grew with the sport. We were all driving old junkers when I started, and as my ability progressed, so did the equipment. For years, I drove Friday nights at 605 Speedway in Irwindale--I held the track record there when they tore it down--and Saturday nights at Saugus."

Prosser was a senior at San Fernando High when he started racing.

"I worked after school for Don Brown, helping build sprint cars. One night I was driving home and I saw this big old yellow sign on a telephone pole telling about a stock car race at Saugus. I decided to go. I had no intention of racing, but when I saw what they were driving, I said to myself I could do that. Three weeks or so later I had an old jalopy and went racing.

"I was only 18, but I told them I was 21 so I could race. Years later, (promoter) Tony Coldeway's wife told me she knew I was only 18, but said she and Tony didn't say anything because they needed cars."

Prosser has another reason for wanting to get behind the wheel. Next year, he is planning on racing Dwarf cars--tiny replicas of 1930s stock cars powered by motorcycle engines.

"I hear they're for old geezers," he said. "I guess that's for me. Guys tell me they're having a lot of fun racing them, so I'm going to try it. I expect to have a lot of fun Saturday night, too. At least I'll see a lot of old friends at Saugus."

The Fall Spectacular, while ending the season at Saugus, will be the start of two Southern California competitions. The sportsman and train race series will continue Oct. 2 at Cajon Speedway and Oct. 9 at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, with the sportsman drivers concluding their series Friday night, Oct. 15, at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.

Newly crowned Saugus champions are Pat Mintey Jr., sportsman; Dave Phipps, Grand American modified; Ed Horst, pro stocks; Gerrit Cromsigt, street stocks; Mal Borders, pro four modifieds; and Gerry Mielke, mini stocks.

Motor Racing Notes

SPEEDWAY BIKES--The Cirello 25-Lap Classic, longest race in American speedway motorcycle history, will close the regular weekly season tonight at the Orange County Fairgrounds track in Costa Mesa. National champion Chris Manchester of Hesperia has won both previous runnings. On Oct. 2, Manchester will also defend his title in the United States Nationals on the same Costa Mesa oval. In the 16-rider field will be Sam Ermolenko of Cypress, newly crowned world champion. . . . The California state championship final will be run Saturday night at the Glen Helen track in San Bernardino.

STOCK CARS--Cajon Speedway will feature the Buck Knives Grand Prix for Grand American modifieds, street, pony and bomber stocks on Saturday night. Ed Hale won his third sportsman championship at Cajon last week, with former motocross champion Rick Johnson finishing third in the sportsman main event. . . . Pro and modified stocks will race Saturday night at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. . . . Santa Maria Speedway will have a 250-lap factory stock enduro Saturday night. . . . Stock cars will return tonight to Ventura Raceway after a two week absence.

DRAG RACING--The American Nostalgia Racing Assn. will hold the final round of its Chevrolet-Champion series Saturday night at Bakersfield Raceway. Point leader Wild Bill Alexander of La Crescenta will try to hold off challengers Bill Dunlap of Capitola and Dan Horan of Sylmar in top fuel.

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