A race car doesn’t know who’s driving it. So when Saturday night’s Powder Puff main feature took the green flag, the ladies at the wheel got work slinging dirt like the best of them.
The annual Powder Puff race features an all-female lineup, and it capped a night of racing at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. When the checkered flag flew, the No. 77 of Brenda Robson claimed her second straight Powder Puff victory.
The Wasilla racer finished second to Kristie Bass in the 2017 Powder Puff feature, but has returned to win two in a row, beating Soldotna driver Bridgette Attleson both times.
Saturday at Twin City, Robson held off a determined Attleson to win by several car lengths, and explained why the race is important for her.
Robson lost her mother to cancer, and herself is a five-year breast cancer survivor. She also said she is scheduled for two back surgeries unrelated to cancer in August, so winning the Powder Puff race was something she needed.
“This race means a lot to me,” Robson said. “I’ve done it four times now, we have five or six stock cars (back in Wasilla), and I just always want to win it.”
Attleson was driving the No. 32 B-Stock car normally piloted by her boyfriend Chuck Winters, who has taken the car to numerous victories at Twin City in the past.
With a difference of around 100 horsepower compared to the No. 5 A-Stock car she races, Attleson said she relished the opportunity for more power.
“Oh yeah, you can feel it,” Attleson said when asked about the horsepower difference.
Attleson threatened Robson for the lead for most of the 15-lap race, but couldn’t quite crack the racing veteran.
“If we had 20 laps, I think I would’ve won it,” Attleson said.
The wildest race of the day came in the 30-lap Legends feature, which came down to a four-car dogfight.
Bryan Barber raced to wins in the first two Legends heats, but spun out early in the feature, dropping his No. 88 machine as far back as half a lap behind the leaders.
The battle for the lead grew intense as David Kusmider, Ty Torkelson and Brent Romagoux fought for every inch on the track, but it was Barber turning the fastest laps as he slowly but surely reeled in the three leaders.
“I never let off the gas,” Barber said. “If I had pushed it a little harder, I may have (beaten them).”
Barber finally caught them with only a handful of laps to go and rejoined the mix at the front to create a four-way race for the checkers.
Ultimately, Romagoux emerged with the lead and held off Barber to win the feature in his No. 6 racer.
“I was just patient,” Romagoux said. “I didn’t try to do anything stupid to pass him, just waited for little mistakes and go.”
Barber’s feat of making up over half a lap under green conditions didn’t go unnoticed by Romagoux.
“Never surprised with Bryan,” he said. “Especially with a 30-lapper. He had plenty of time to catch back up, and I knew he would. I’m just surprised he didn’t pass me.”
The A-Stock division was dominated by 15-year-old Seward driver Clay Petersen, who swept all three A-Stock races Saturday with authority in his No. 53 Oldsmobile Cutlass bodied race car.
Petersen said he built the car over the winter with his father, Todd Petersen, a former racer himself, and said installing some new engine parts has given the car better speed.
That and a welcome drop in temperature during the race helped Petersen win.
“It’s better being like 30 degrees cooler outside,” he said, referring to the July 4 races when the high temperature in Kenai hung in the upper 80s.
Petersen said his family brought the A-Stock car to Kenai this summer, his third year racing but first at Twin City Raceway, to avoid putting so many miles on the camper in the summer.
Previously, Petersen and his family had to make the long haul up to Fairbanks to race at North Pole Speedway, a quarter-mile asphalt track, so Petersen could race the bandolero division. Bandoleros are a midget-sized racer ideal for younger drivers looking to get their start in the sport.
Over the last two summers, the Petersen’s have road-tripped to Fairbanks when the bandolero schedule called for it, which was every two or three weekends. The trip from Seward to Fairbanks can take nine hours driving or more, which makes the trip to Kenai look like a stone’s throw away.
Petersen held off Kristie Bass and Attleson in the last two races of the night in a field of A-Stock racers that featured more ladies than gentlemen. Petersen said the feeling of racing a bigger car on dirt is something to which he’s quickly adapted.
“I like the dirt more,” he said. “I like the sliding.”
In the Sprint Car races, the No. 23 of Randy Barnes swept the night, beating out the No. 9 of John Mellish in the feature event.
The Dollar Stocks also ran another weekend at Twin City Raceway, following their debut earlier this year, and put on a show on the smaller dirt course in the infield of Twin City. The category restricts racers to entering race cars costing $500 or less, so the show often features rundown junkers instead of high-powered machines.