NW Motorsports Report - January 5, 2024

January 5, 2024


 Northport’s 2023 Modified champion Dan Watkins started racing quarter-midgets when he was 8 years old in Texas.

“My father was in the Air Force so that’s how we ended up in Washington,” Watkins wrote in an email.

Watkins raced several different kinds of cars through the years and “always find myself back in the dirt,” he said.

This season Northport was our focus.

“We spent last winter going through our cars and getting them the best they could be,” Watkins explained. “I won two main events and I was consistently on the podium all year.”

Watkins edged his son, Daniel by 51 points when all the tallies were complete. This was flip-flopped from 2021 when Daniel beat dad in the final standings.

“It does not get much better than that as a family team,” Watkins said.

Ed Neraux built both Watkins and his son’s cars very dependable and competitive engines.

“I have a wonderful group of people that help us I would like to thank,” Watkins said. They include Kyle and Lucas Sanders in the pits the Watkins and Ford families.

In addition Watkins said that thanks go to Deaner Hegel, Dennis Bailey, Rusty and James King. “Without these people none of this would happen.”

“I would also like to invite everyone who is reading this article to come out and support Northport Raceway,” Watkins said. “It’s a great track run by wonderful people. Cory Bell does a great job of providing a place for us to play I am looking forward to next year’s adventures.

Pos   Car #    Name                    Points Gap
 1         15         Dan Watkins               496
 2         15w     Daniel Watkins          445
 3         14         LeeAnne Zaitsoff      287
 4          89        Cody Rees jr.                286


 Roland Leong, known for his Hawaiian-themed funny cars and dragsters, died on December 29, at age 79.

Leong’s funny cars gained popularity on the match-race circuit in the 1970s and ‘80s with drivers like Bobby Rowe, Leroy Chadderton, Gordie Bonin, Mike Van Sant, Denny Savage, Norm Wilcox, Larry Arnold, Ron Colson, Mike Dunn, Rick Johnson and Jim White at the wheel.

He brought Bonin to Spokane Raceway Park in 1989 to drive his dragster at the AHRA World Finals and went away the winner.

Leong began as a successful gas dragster driver in Hawaii before moving to California in the early 1960s. At the 1964 Winternationals, Leong won the Top Gas title with Danny Ongais behind the wheel.

Leong teamed with Don “The Snake” Prudhomme to win top fuel the 1965 Winternationals.

In 1970 Leong switched from dragsters to funny cars and won back-to-back championships at Pomona with drivers Larry Reyes and Butch Maas piloting.

Over the last two decades Leong gained renewed popularity as one of the leading tuners in the Nostalgia Funny Car division of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series.


  Cale Yarborough, who at one time held the NASCAR record for most consecutive championships, died Dec. 31 at age 84.

Yarborough won the Cup Series titles from 1976-78, making him the lone driver to win three straight NASCAR championships until Jimmie Johnson won five in a row from 2006-2010.

In addition to his run of championships, Yarborough also was a four-time Daytona 500 winner taking the checkered flag in 1968, 1977, 1983 and 1984. Yarborough retired in the No. 6 position of all-time race wins with 83.

According to the Reuters report, Yarborough was a South Carolina native who grew up on his family’s farm, he also played college football at Clemson but left the team to pursue a career in racing.

While no cause of death was listed Yarborough had been battling a rare genetic disorder, according to his family.


Send Us Your Champions Profiles

The tradition of the NW Motorsports Report honoring various race champions continues in our new home in the Exchange. 

For information of how you can be features contact:

Paul Delaney
Phone or Text at: 509-220-8018
Email at: pds-spokane@gmail.com


Paul Delaney has been writing about Motorsports in the Pacific Northwest since 1976. He welcomes learning about your racing accomplishments.

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