Tuesday, May 11, 2010

John Soares Jr. Confirmed As Merced Speedway Promoter

A Soares returns to run Merced Speedway. Tom Sagmiller involved?

Just got off the phone with Teresa Burrola, the Merced County Fairgrounds Manager at approximately 11:45 AM. She has confirmed that John Soares Jr. is the new promoter at Merced Speedway. She was unclear on the start date, but mentioned it should be soon after the annual county fair, which takes place in June. Yesterday was the monthly Merced County Fair Board Meeting, where the contract for the race track was officially approved.

I've known for a few months through the grape vine that John was looking at this track. Back in the late 70's and early 80's, his brother Jim had ran the track. John brings his years of experience to a track that has a rich history of great racing tradition.

Another name linked with John on this is Tom Sagmiller. I cannot confirm that at this time, though his name has been mentioned in these conversations I've had over the past few months. I chose to keep Tom's name out of the reports I've been making for reasons that most of you in the area will understand. It has nothing to to with bias against a man I respect. Tom would be an asset to the cause. I just didn't want to sabotage anything by putting his name out there. His involvement has not been officially confirmed by me, but I suspect he will be track manager.

With John, you have a man who has seen and done it all as racer, car builder and promoter. John has dedicated his life to the sport he loves, and I think his involvement is reason for fans to be excited about things. His improvements to the Antioch facility have been a positive and willingness to gave back the the racers who support the cause is noteworthy. Merced Speedway can only get bigger and better with John involved.

Sagmiller has not been in the sport as long as John, but in his 15 plus years, he has racked up some impressive credentials of his own as a racing champion, promoter and track prep man. The fact that Chowchilla Speedway ever came to be in a miracle, and he was at the forefront of making it happen. He is a man the racers respect, and his involvement would be an asset to the track.

A Soares-Sagmiller alliance was something I pushed hard for in 2000. This was an interesting time for me personally, but ironically, things started happening, such as a Limited Late Model Series, a Dirt Modified series, the Freedom Series moving to Antioch when Tom was back doored from Chowchilla. All of these things were positives for racing that John and Tom made happen.

We are looking for confirmation on several key things, which may pop up on the www.dirtstars.net or www.latemodelracer.com forums and the CRO blog at www.lnjphoto.com or possibly Antioch Speedway's own web site www.antiochspeedway.com. Undoubtedly, a new Merced Speedway page will launch soon.

Is Tom Sagmiller involved? As reports would indicate.

When will it open? Exact date should be announced soon, but likely right after the fair.

What divisions? I anticipate the classes that ran there before, such as Dirt Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks, possibly Sportsman and other classes as well.

Will there be a special meeting called for the racers prior to opening?

When will the new web page launch at at what address?

Any truth to reports that the track may bring back the quarter-mile oval they raced on for so many years, or will the bigger track remain in play?

And other questions.

The important thing is, racing is back at Merced Speedway. All the details will emerge in the coming days, so get ready to go racing.

I'll say it again, I hope Johnny Sass is back in the booth when things get going again. The man has been a tremendous asset to racing in The Valley, and that cannot be denied. I thought I read some place that this was to be his 60th year in the sport, and I think he deserves to have that if he wants it.

Stay tuned as I'm sure more details are coming and perhaps a special audio show as well.