Saturday, June 9, 2007

Gone But Not Forgotten

One of the features I'd like to do in this blog would be called Gone But Not Forgotten. This would be a series of posts about some of the people in racing who contributed to the sport in one way or another who have passed on.

Earlier this year, John Soares Sr. passed away, and that got me thinking about it. In my opinion, both of his sons ought to be holding races (Antioch and Petaluma) in his memory. John contributed so much to the sport, and so many people don't realize just what he did.

Bob Barkhimer is another great who passed away last year, and there should be an entire racing series in that man's honor. If you don't know who he is, all I can say is that California racing would look a lot different without him.

George Steitz. He was a champion and the promoter of one Northern California's biggest open show events ever. I was proud to know the man and announce a couple of his Chowchilla shows.

Mel Maupin. He was one of the low buck guys who made my time at Antioch Speedway something to look forward to. He was my friend and I was a fan of his.

Darryl Shirk. Simply one of the greatest drivers to ever strap into a race car in Northen California. Won many NCMA championships and was a key addition to the Spec Sprint roster at Antioch when Don O'Keefe Jr. and I started working on making the class happen.

Andy Archer. A talented young racer taken from us all too early. Raced with NCMA and won Rookie Of The Year honors with them. Another Spec Sprint original.

Actually, there are a few class act racers from the NCMA who passed away, including Roland Lokmor, Del Quinn, Dave Johnson and Ernie Smith. These men shaped the future of NCMA. Lokmor was a guy who was always quick to lend a hand to those in need. Quinn was a champion on more than one occasion and generally one of the nicest guys in NCMA. Johnson was a founder of NCMA, and I wonder how far his son would have gotten without him.

The NCMA will come up on many occasions here as I was a board member of the club from 1989 to 1993 and their first PR guy.

Jim Booth. He was NCMA President and kept that thing going during a time when it looked like it was over. Stock Car and 360 Sprint Car champion at Baylands and a man I was honored to call a friend. When others didn't make me feel welcome at times in NCMA, he was one who always let me know my efforts were appreciated.

Willie Myatt, Brian Solomon, Mike Cecil, Jim Deitrick, Buddy Cox and, oh Lord, it seems there are so many no longer with us. They must be up at that speedway in the sky.

Gary Jacob. Racing misses this man terribly. He covered races at so many tracks and just loved the sport. Won numerous awards, including one from The DCRR. He encouraged me and my writing efforts and gave me my first typewriter.

Jackie Martin. My sister. I miss her terribly. She wasn't just my sister, but my best friend. She had faith in me when I had none in myself. She was Head Of Sales for DCRR during it's best time. She had two amazing years as Antioch Speedway's Advertising Rep. I add that these were two of the best years ever under the John Soares Jr. era of the point fund.

Bill France Jr. Bill presided over NASCAR during it's period of unprecidented growth. The 80's are probably my favorite time to watch the Cup, before it got too corporate. The Weekly Racing Series was going strong and NASCAR seemed to care about it. I may have some rants on that subject in the future, but not now. I read in a Barkhimer story in Racing Wheels how Bill flew to California to learn about short track racing. When Bill ran NASCAR, the sport of racing was still going strong, and the future looked bright.

There are so many people who did so much for the sport that are gone now. People like Mel Hall, Doug Fort and Bert Moreland, three great promoters. It makes me sad to think of what we lost, happy to know that they were there but concerned for where we are going in the future.