Smokin Wheels Story
FOR: Marine Drive Magazine
30 April 2012
BY: Stephanie Lundberg
The 2012 Shell V-Power Smokin Wheels Racing Weekend showed some fire over April 13-15, featuring drag race championships, off-road motocross, all-terrain vehicle, buggie and truck racing, minibike and motorcycle endurance races, the Smokin AutoFest Car Show, and a myriad of social events to round off the weekend.
With more than 30 years of the event under Guam Racing Federation’s belt, competitors from around Guam and Asia participated in the races, including those from the All Japan ATV Association Championship to earn points for their racing series. All told, more than 150 Japanese racers from all racing classes participated in the Smokin Wheels event.
“Over the past thirty years, Shell V-Power Smokin Wheels has gained an excellent reputation throughout the racing community in Japan. Aside from the racers who come to Guam to compete, there are hundreds of crew, family and fans that make the trip to Guam. It’s an annual event that these high-spending tourists look forward to,” says Henry Simpson, president of the Guam Racing Federation.
Simpson also highlighted the increased interest women have shown in this year’s event. Le Anne “Gem” Kuether joined her husband Leo Kuether in the truck race last year, and returns this year to compete herself. Another notable racer is Keiko Hamaguchi, a Japanese surgeon who is also a professional off-road driver and who ranked 4th in her class at the 2011 Dakar Rally.
“We want to point out that this racing is not just for the boys; these girls really enjoy it too, and they’re very competitive. We’re really proud to have them here at this time, so I’d like to welcome Gem [Kuether] and Keiko [Hamaguchi],” said Simpson.
Andy Wheeler, host and announcer for the 2012 Smokin Wheels event, also noted that the event wasn’t just for auto and racing enthusiasts, but also a draw for families and tourists. “It’s a great [weekend] for families to come out, families on Guam or visitors from off-island, and it has put Guam on the international auto-racing map. So it’s always a big event and we want to thank everyone for taking part in it, and of course for making it happen.”
Smokin Wheels saw some big winners at the end of the weekend: in the Drag Racing Championships, Super Sport Motorcycle category, Larry Packard took 1st place; Eric Mendoza took 2nd place; and Brian Mendiola took 3rd place. In the Super Bike category, Jesse Duenas came in 1st; Josh Trinidad took 2nd place; and Tommy Salas came in 3rd place. In the Super Street Auto category, Felix Pangelinan took 1st place; Kendall Allen came in 2nd place; and Ryan Abando took 3rd place. In the Modified Auto category, Michael Piconi took 1st place; Joe Donato came in 2nd place; and Ronnie Nera took 3rd place. In the Super Modified Auto category, Tommy Medler came in 1st place; Jun Dorian took 2nd place; and Ray Estioca came in 3rd place. Last in the Drag Racing Championships, in the Competition Auto category, Jason Faculo took 1st place; Jimmy Mendoza took 2nd place; and Carlos Herrera came in 3rd place.
In the ATV Enduro Race, in the Mid-range ATV Category, Yuichiro Omatsu and Rikito Yamaguchi won 1st place; Tatsuhiko Hosoda took 2nd place; and Kiyoaki Tsuji and Makio Okuwa took 3rd place. In the Open A-B ATV category, Ramon S. Torres won 1st place; Robert Bucek took 2nd place; and Andy Painter and Travis Joaquin came in 3rd place. Finally, in the Open ATV category, Daichi Horikawa and Hiromasa Kitada won 1st place; Toshihiro Narayama and and Kenji Matsuda took 2nd place; and Masamao Katayama and Kosuke Yamada came in 3rd place.