Hello to everybody still reading. Sorry it's been so long. Had some family things going on here. When I left off, there was the possibility of me coming back to Antioch Speedway and resuming the duties that I handled there for the first three season's under the John Soares Jr. era. Plus, the opportunity to help reestablish Racing Wheels Magazine. Well, actually, I wasn't really seriously interested in doing either, but I considered it.
Fact is, I've moved on. I considered the possibility, because it was for John and a track that has been a part of my life for many years. I respect the Soares family. Always have, even when we disagreed. That John came calling spoke to the fact that he respected what I brought to the table and that maybe I did a few thing right. To reject it out of hand maybe wasn't fair, so I didn't.
I have a post in my archives where I talk about my feelings on the matter. I have no real reason not to post it. What do I care, right? But, I decided not to ramble. I've moved on. For me and my desire to be involved, this offer would have probably been taken six or maybe even five years ago. It was not forthcoming, and that's just the way it is. As for now, I've moved on.
I decided to decline the offer. Most of you who know me know how much of myself I put into what I did. I lived it. I went to bed with it. I woke up with it. I was pretty much married to it. Kind of sad when you put it that way, but it's the truth. In some ways I'm proud of it all, but in others I'm not. I almost regret it. To jump back in again for me and do it the way I need to do it would require that sort of commitment, and I just don't have it in me.
I did consider it, because like seven years ago when I left the sport, I know what is at stake. The times are changing, and the sport either adapts or slowly fades away. It's that simple. People are mad at John and want him gone. I understand. He's not the easiest guy to deal with sometimes, for some people, but he's not the monster people make him out to be either. Sort of in the middle.
He complains too much about money, but then again, do you have any idea how much money is at stake? I understand the problems the racers have to deal with in these tough times to keep a car together and manage their every day life with the family. I understand the fact that disposable income is a concern for the family deciding to attend a race. Times are tough. Even more money is at stake at the track. Yes, it's true. Running a race track now versus 20 years ago is a whole different ball game.
Just consider the idea that John really does care about the sport and the race track that his father founded some 50 years ago. He grew up in a racing household. He learned from a man who was one of the best. He went out on his own and learned more, ran Winston West races competitively and even flirted with a move to Winston Cup. He's done this racing thing all his life. He does give a damn, though sometimes people find it hard to believe. John, like his father, can be somewhat of an unsympathetic person to people.
You'll get the whole "that damned Soares" comment. He's an easy target, and to be honest, sometimes maybe he has it coming to him. He screws up, just like any of us, but he came back to the track because he thought he could make a difference. He invested a lot of money into it to make it better, but he also pissed a few people off along the way. Some had reason to be mad, others really didn't. But, whatever.
For my part, I wanted a chance to try and make a difference. I wanted to announce. I wanted to handle publicity. I wanted to fight for the cause, not just run my mouth and never do anything but bitch and moan. John was the one who handed over so many responsibilities and told me, "Go do it."
That means a lot to me. Who the hell am I, anyway? I'm nobody. Just a fan in the stands who dreamed of being a part of it. He gave me that opportunity, and I think the results were pretty positive. During those three years I was part of it, we reached heights at that track we never reached before, or since. Maybe that has something to do with being asked to come back? Maybe.
I don't want the track to fail. I want it to get better. I want to pick up my newspaper on Monday and read a story and some results. I want more people in the stands, and I want the kind of races and car counts that make those people want to come back every week. From everything I read last year, I think things leveled off a little, and maybe this year can be bigger than last year. I hope so.
This depends on if John can provide the kind of atmosphere by putting the right people in place. It depends on if the racers give it one more chance. It depends on good communication and give and take. Respect is a two way street, and I certainly hope that's understood by all. Nobody who loves racing wants to see the track close.
So, as I take my seat over on the sidelines, I wish for a strong 2010 season at Antioch Speedway. Though I declined the offer to come back, it was appreciated. It sort of feels like it all came full circle. For my part, I will try to make sure to keep new blog material flowing and give more thought to the book.
I've been doing reorganizing around here and getting rid of stuff, including boxes of old DCRR magazines. I need to make room, and I've waited long enough. I will be keeping anything relevant to local racing history, but things are going to be different around here.
I'll end this on more hopeful news. Apparently, there is some talk about Merced Speedway still having a future. I hate to be cryptic, but I've heard things. The recent Fair Board meeting had the track high on the agenda, but I know little else at this moment. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Can it be done on late notice? Yes. If something is decided immediately, it can. Merced is about the local scene. If you bring in new management and keep the same basic rules and divisions, racers will come back. Time will tell, but I sure hope for the best.