Merced Speedway is back, and so far most of what's being said about things is pretty positive. I'm happy to hear that. I'm not going to be doing a race review of this event. Why? Mike Adaskaveg is handling publicity for the track, and I, for one, think that's a good thing. Since that is the case and he has released a press release from the season opener, I will let him do what he's paid to do. I'm happy to see the track has a publicity director who seems to know what he's doing. Every track should have one.
For those curious about the finishes. here are some results:
Main Event: Alex Stanford, Randy McDaniel, Chris Shannon, Ryan Porter, Derek Colvin. Heat Winners: Randy McDaniel, Ryan McDaniel.
Main Event: Mike Shepherd, Bob Williamson, Larry Damitz, Mitch Enos, Roy Hart Jr. Heat Winners: Larry Damitz, George Lefler Jr.
Main Event: Tim Prothero, Mike Shearer, Mike Hauseman, Mike Henault, Donny Shearer.
Main Event: Shane Hauseman, Raul Rodriguez, Ryan Hart, Shannon Porter, Danny Van Tassel. Heat Winners; Shane Hauseman, Ryan Larimer.
Main Event: Dan McCabe, Mike Pickering, Dustin Donathan, Greg Mead, Ashlee Cole.
It wasn't the 80 cars John predicted, but it wasn't the 40-50 I predicted either. From what I'm hearing, there were 16 Dirt Modifieds, 16 Super Stocks, 12 Hobby Stocks 11 Four Bangers and 6 Valley Sportsman. That's at least 61 cars and a nice opener for the track. I'm one who wants every car you can get, but this was probably about right for an opener in which they needed to put the new quarter-mile through it's paces. Too many cars and it could be a mess, but this gave four of your divisions two heats and a main with enough time for track prep to handle things without taking up too much time.
I'm hearing the racing was good. The track needs some tweaking, but that's to be expected. That will be handled in the weeks ahead. What was important was the show went on, and people have racing in Merced once again. There is a 2010 season after all, and who thought that would happen a few months ago?
There were some names I thought or hoped to see in the field that weren't. Much of the field has been racing at Chowchilla this season with some surprise visitors thrown in there. The reason this is important is because you want to know who will be there after the novelty of a track reopened wears off and it's back to business as usual. Chowchilla will be running their main classes next Saturday (they didn't last week), so who will be coming to Merced on Sunday?
Next week was originally scheduled as the Timmy Post Memorial race, but now I see that has been removed. I'm not surprised to see that. Some things will NEVER change, but the intentions were honorable in my opinion. I said it before and will say it again, they should have contacted the Stofle family about bringing THE race of races back to Merced. Maybe we will see a Ted Stofle Classic at Merced next year?
So, who will be racing in the next few weeks? That is the question, and I hope there's not a big drop off of racers. That is why I felt it was important for certain drivers to be back in the pits again. Maybe they will begin appearing. I certainly hope so. I also hope the lack of IMCA on the Modifieds doesn't hurt things in the long run. Up until last year, IMCA worked well with Merced. Time will tell, but I'm hoping for the best. From what I've heard, there was a good turnout of fans looking for some good racing.
It appears the Tom Sagmiller question has been quietly answered. He's helping with the track prep and answering questions on the internet for John Soares Jr., who doesn't like to do much talking on the net. But believe me, he is looking, and I hope he's pleased that the racers have been behind him so far. This is sort of how it was when John stepped into Antioch. Though there were critics (there always are), there were a lot of people pulling for him to be successful. I hope he can inspire people the way he did back then. The first couple of years at Antioch were pretty amazing.
And I will again give credit to John and Donna Soares for stepping in and reviving Merced Speedway. I highly doubt there would be racing there otherwise, at least this year. I hope people remember that, and I also hope it's not forgotten that racers are pulling for John. There WILL be critics and people who are just negative in attitude, but most will be pulling for John and Merced Speedway. I also know how a few very vocal negative people can get to a person and effect their attitude. What is needed now is positivity on ALL sides.
Merced Speedway has more potential than some may realize, and John knows this. Somebody asked on one of the forums about Late Models coming to Merced again in the future. Knowing John, I believe that is one of the intentions. In addition to Late Models, I believe he will also pursue Sprint Cars. So, yes, there is a lot of potential here. It will be interesting to see how things go this year, but I will say I am pulling for Merced Speedway. I remain a fan of that race track and it's drivers.
In closing, I read the comment in the latest release about the Sportsman division. I just want to say there is NOTHING wrong with being a nostalgia division. Yes you can be a nostalgia division AND race hard. It is possible. The Hardtops do it at Antioch. I guarantee you when Terry DeCarlo, Tom Thompson and Dan Williams are out there, they are racing. I love the Sportsman division and the Hardtop division. The first division I ever saw race was the Sportsman class, and I have loved it ever since. I was bummed for a few years after it was dropped at Antioch.
I say, embrace the nostalgic past and be proud of it, while being a division that races hard. I'd also love to see more cars come out. I believe there are probably somewhere between 16-20 cars in the area, so let's get them out there.
But, you know, if the track were looking for Hardtops, I'm sure the Okie Bowl guys could deliver the cars if the Nor Cal guys didn't want to come out and play. Better yet, maybe a clash between the two groups?
Anyway, next race for Merced Speedway is Sunday, July 25th. Dirt Modifieds, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, 4 Bangers and IMCA Stock Cars. I'm assuming it's the IMCA Stock Car drivers from Hanford, where Loren DeArmond has been winning. They have 12 or so cars, so it will be interesting so see who comes out to play. I'll be looking forward to Make's press releases as the season moves along.