Monday, August 30, 2010

A Few Thoughts On Merced's Big Show Last Sunday

Packed grandstands at Merced Speedway for a Sunday night race. The occasion was the $3,5000 to win race that attracted 35 racers to the quarter-mile clay oval. All in all, it was a good night for racing in Merced and it only served to illustrate how big this track can get. The best is yet to come, and kudos should go to John Soares Jr. and his crew for making it happen.
Photo By L&J Photography - please check out the site and support the cause.

Tom Sagmiller is winning rave reviews for his track prep work at Watsonville and now Merced. This is Tom at Merced. I'll let others discuss the significance of this and all the water under the bridge. Fact is, it's a good thing that Tom is involved. He's not well respected by the racers for nothing.

Photo By L&J Photography - please check out the site and support the cause.

Success at Merced Speedway

The show went on as scheduled Sunday night at Merced. I'd been reading updates on the forums and the got a call from my friend Joe Martinez, which was nice. He was thrilled by the turnout of fans for that race. By all accounts a success. I understand they advertised heavily, PLUS, they have Mike Adaskaveg writing and getting published in the Merced Sun-Star every week, and THAT helps tremendously. I'm not going to attempt a story, because Mike already wrote one. The Merced Speedway site already has one written by Mike. Just for the record as this stuff seems to disappear from the web, there were 35 cars. The Top 10 was:

Bobby Hogge IV ($3,500 winner - $8,000 for both nights), Robbie Sawyer, Paul Stone (in brother Steve's car), Troy Foulger, Jimmy Ray (from the back), Alex Stanford (From the back after a wreck), Scott Busby, Chris Shannon, Aaron Barnell, Mitch Enos.


Bobby Hogge IV won both nights, collecting $3,500 each and then the $1,000 bonus for an $8,000 weekend. It's only going to go back into their racing program, and Bobby plans an active open comp season in the weeks ahead. I doubt this is his last big win of the year, but what was nice for him on this occasion was his grandfather Joe Bailey was celebrating his birthday by doing what he usually does on race night, crewing for Bobby. This is truly a family racing effort with three generations represented most nights.

I know they missed 2002's high of 39 cars for the 9/11 Memorial race, but 35 was not bad at all. With the crowd that was there and the racing that took place, it was a good night. I just hope the locals racers realize that when they support shows like this, they are supporting racing and helping make the track bigger. They complained for years about the place, but now things are changing.

The buzz has been huge at this track all season long, and with exception of the second race, car count has been good. Attendance is doing okay, and the track is off to a good start. There is potential for so many good things to happen and a promoter willing to make things happen, so hopefully people get on board with him. I also hope the promoter stays focused and doesn't let a few bad apples ruin it for everybody. I remember when that happened before at the other track.

Merced Speedway is worth the effort. If I didn't believe that, I never would have gone there as much as I did, and now more things are being done. I'm just hoping this vibe continues. I know how good things felt at the other track back in 1998 and how good things got the next couple of years. It can happen again. People want to race and have fun and fans want to see a good show.

I salute the racers who came. Robby Sawyer with a strong second. Looks like Paul Stone is getting his car ready for Iowa, but Steve's car is pretty fast too as that third place finish would indicate. Nice to see Antioch point leader Troy Foulger come out and represent Contra Costa County with a fourth. Jimmy Ray showed why he is a champion in Texas and New Mexico with a drive from the back to fifth. That allowed him to salvage something out of the weekend and probably made the trip back home a little better.

I'm happy Mike is writing so much down there and spreading it around to the other classes. He's doing a great job for just jumping in there, and he will learn about the track's heritage and the names as he goes along. Unfortunately, nobody really keeps records of these tracks anymore, so even things that happened a few seasons ago get forgotten rather quickly, but Merced Speedway now has somebody writing good stories and getting them out there for people to read.

I understand the Merced Modifieds got to "ride into the danger zone" as John Meyers is announcing out there. Doesn't surprise me as many of the people from Antioch are working at Merced to get this thing going. I know John doesn't get recognized along with some of the greats in the game, but he truly loves what he does, and a can respect him for putting so many years into trying to help make it fun for the fans. Plus, I still remember most of his sayings, and let me just say, "I feel the need, the need for speed."

Tom Sagmiller has done a lot for racing, and it still pisses me off the way Chowchilla ended for him. It didn't surprise me that he ended up doing the track prep at Watsonville, because the man loves what he does and cares about the sport. It also didn't surprise me that John brought him into Merced, because having Tom involved only helps this thing get going faster. As I said, people respect Tom. He has built a much deserved reputation for his good track prep work.

Merced Speedway is lucky to have a guy like Tom involved with it, and I know he's happy to be doing his part to make things better there. I know that's all he really ever wanted for that track to begin with.