Thursday, August 30, 2007

Walking The Fence

In 2001, I was one of four people able to "walk the fence" between Chowchilla and Merced and work at both tracks. Flagman Doug Laidlaw and Joe & Lynn Martinez were the others. We all cared about one thing, supporting racing. Eventually, we all got knocked off that fence. I had a lot of fun at both tracks. I was helping both tracks. If I couldn't get track unity, I was gonna try and make Chowchilla the place to be on Friday and Merced the place to be on Saturday. I think I had a positive impact on both places.

Photo by L&J Photography

After a race in September at Chowchilla, Tom surprised me with a birthday cake. The only promoter to ever give a damn about my birthday actually. I still have the Mark Martin hot wheel from the cake and the purple luggage bag they gave me carried my luggage to Indy. I call it my Sagmiller Bag. If you could have seen the bags I used to get my stuff to Chowchilla, you'd understand why they gave me that bag. Tom & Cindy are two of the nicest and most caring promoters I've ever met in racing.

Photo by L&J Photography

Johnny Sass is holding a microphone for Jack Stanford in this Merced photo. Jack was the big IMCA star at the time, before Ramie Stone took over. He won the CRA State point race that year. Ramie won the DCRR Sweet 16 State race a year later, and Johnny Sass gave those points a big mention in the Merced program. Can't say enough about Johnny and his willingness to welcome me into the booth. He is a legend in the business as far as I'm concerned and one of the people I still look up to for all he has done for racing and Merced Speedway in general.

If I could have walked the fence after 2001, I never would have left. I loved it in The Valley that much. It was a refreshing change of pace for me, even with the cloud of "the feud" hovering over everybody's heads. Sadly, it didn't work out that way. Merced didn't need me, which I found out just before getting on a train to come to Merced for the 2002 opener. I was crushed, because I really loved Merced. I parted with Chowchilla, not on the friendliest of terms, and I admit I could have left in a better way. I was leaving either way though, but I regret being a bit of a jerk about it.

That damn feud!!!

What's really telling to me is how Tom & Cindy have remained friendly even after some of the things that happened. I probably didn't deserve their friendship.

I will always remember the good times. We did some great things together. All I ever wanted was to see Merced AND Chowchilla get bigger and better and work together.