Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The BCRA Made Me Do It

Yeah, it was the BCRA. It's all their fault. It's a funny thing really. I can't claim to be a big BCRA Midget fan, or I wasn't when I was younger. Those days when our regular program was altered to bring them in made me very grumpy. Or when they were a part of the regular show in 1981. Oh look, a flip. Red flag. Stop the cars. Looks like somebody's race is getting cut.

I didn't appreciate it then. Yeah, the battles between guys like Ted Montague, Rick Bussell, Floyd Alvis, Bobby Morrow, Tim Joyce... Okay, there was good racing, but I had a Stock Car mentality at the time. Well, the Sportsman division will always be my favorite. Maybe it has something to do with it being the first division I saw as a child and being awe struck by it. Can anything that comes after compare to those memories?

You know, the third year I was score keeping as a fan, which would be 1985, I was given my first offer to be a part of something. BCRA needed score keepers and were offering $50 a night to do it. I didn't have a ride, but they even had that covered. I declined. Couldn't leave Antioch Speedway for that. That's what I really wanted, to be a part of that.

But, BCRA has never forgotten their roots. This is a group that once upon a time sanctioned race tracks and had a Hardtop series that rivaled anything else back in the day. I actually have a bunch of stuff about that in my notes. Pictures and stories.

At one time, BCRA held the London Bash and Hall Of Fame Picnic at Antioch, then it moved, then it came back in the late 1990's. I really feel the racing got better in BCRA when they took off the wings. Just my opinion. Anyway, in 1999, they had the picnic there, and I got to thinking. Why not an Antioch Speedway Hall Of Fame? BCRA has a rich history that they honor every year, and so should Antioch. This was my thinking.

What you have to understand at that time is that Jackie and I were doing a lot of stuff for the track to help make things better. This was never about the money for either of us, which is a good thing. Also understand that in 1999, by mid season, things were starting to unravel. People were talking behind people's backs and games were being played. John had reason to be grumpy, though I think he forgot that most people were supporting him and wanted him to be successful.

I had things being said to me, but all I wanted to do was the best I could. I was announcing, doing points, doing new souvenir programs every week and other little things here and there. Jackie was in change of bringing in advertisement, which she did very well, selling magazines and programs, being a sort of "unofficial" hostesses for the races as people loved talking to her and went to her for help sometimes, and she did whatever was needed to help.

1999 should have been my best year, but it was down rght miserable. The beginning of the end. By 2000, I was looking for anything that could bring back the fun feeling that made it all worthwhile, which led me to Chowchilla. But, that's for another time. Jackie and I were quite serious about a Hall Of Fame Picnic, and we could have pulled it off too without John having to lift a finger, just run the races that night and we'd do the prerace barbecue like BCRA did.

Furthermore, the Antioch library had a display case at the entrance, and on the day I finished researching Antioch Speedway history, I discussed the possibility of doing a display for a month on Antioch Speedway, past champions, pictures, an overhead shot of the track and that sort of thing. It was a go. For the Hall Of Fame, I went to people who had been a part of the track for 20-30 years to get their opinions, and I had a list of 10-12 drivers, all of whom I feel are very deserving.

I went to John for his opinion, and he didn't like the list. Fine. What does John think? He never gave me his thoughts on who belongs. I sensed at that point I needed to drop it. I didn't feel like it was appreciated. If you don't have that, what's the point? So, the display case and the Hall Of Fame never happened. It's a shame. Antioch Speedway ought to do a better job of honoring it's past and keeping the community aware that it's been active weekly for 50 straight seasons now.

To this date, Harvey Mason and Darryl Shirk are the only racers in the track's Hall Of Fame, though this fact isn't quite known to most people I'd bet.

If I were to induct people, I'd start with John Soares Sr. Wouldn't have been possible without him. I think Bill Brown and Gary Pacheco should be in the first year. Jimmy Stewart, champion the first two seasons, should be in. Probably put Dave Logan in as well. All of this would be open for discussion. Thing is, if you don't get in the first year, there's always next year. This would be a part of the tradition.

I think the BCRA has this right. The sad thing is, I don't think it matters to most people. Maybe I have an antiquated way of looking at it. Maybe all that really does matter is what happens week to week, not the past. Maybe it's just a Saturday night short track and nothing else. Then again, maybe not.

Actually, what brought up this line of thought was something I read in John Kelley's MotoRacing magazine recently. BCRA is apparently working on rules for another Midget division, and the name listed as helping with that is Rick Young. I'm not sure if this is the Rick I'm thinking about, but Rick Young had a CMA Modified in 1994. This was when Mike Johnson and I started the California Modified Association, a rival for the NCMA that nobody thought would even get off the ground.

We started it to get better purses, bigger car counts and more respect for this form of carbureted Sprint Car racing. This is something I've always been for. Well, Mike fielded three cars from his own garage, but his buddy Steve never produced the two cars from his garage that we had hoped for. This made Rick the only CMA member with his own car outside of Mike's garage, but Ruck struggled to put it together. I think he was hoping for some guidance from Mike, but I don't think Mike was particularly helpful.

Rick made a race or two, but the car didn't run that well as I recall. I think if he had the help, things would have been different. He wanted to help promote the cause and get CMA into Sacramento Raceway. One day he came out there for some hot laps. Anyway, I'm not sure this is the same guy, but I do wish BCRA well in their efforts to keep things going into the next decade.