Gonna try to do a quick update (yeah right!) if I can. Antioch Speedway had their first playday of 2013. Looks like the weather will be perfect for Antioch and Merced to hold playdays this weekend. As reported on the official site, Antioch and Merced are running Saturday nights this year, and Doug Williams is general manager at Merced Speedway.
To the second point, I don't know if John could have picked a better person to oversee the day to day at Merced than Mr. Williams. Doug hods the distinction of being the only driver from the four dirt tracks (Antioch, Merced, Watsonville and San Jose) to win the regional title who was not based in the Watsonville or San Jose area. Of course, I'm not counting out of state guys. This just speaks to the Watsonville domination and how special Doug's accomplishment was.
Doug has won many championships and knows what it takes to get it done. Having raced all over California, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to run a race track. Now, if some of the area drivers who can race will just get off of their high horse, shut up and support the track, maybe Merced can get back to the kind of car cunts they had around 2005. Remember the B Mains in the IMCA Modifieds?
To the first point, it's disappointing to see that both tracks are Saturday nights, but this may be good news for Ocean (Watsonville) Speedway racers. I would anticipate they will support some races. With Chowchilla now dark, Merced is well within their rights to take back the night that belonged to them for years anyway. Of course, this means there won't be as much back and forth between Antioch and Merced, but I would expect to see some.
Now, another point is IMCA sanctioning. Now that the vocal critics have their precious IMCA back at Merced, this will mean more cars again, right? I would hope so. I won't deny that it helped Merced in the past, but I've read the comments about how no IMCA is keeping racers away. Well, they'll have to come up with a new excuse this time. Of course, even back then, some drivers had a tendency to do their IMCA racing at Hanford, rather than Merced, so we'll see.
Antioch did open their gates for playday last week. It's a shame the grandstands weren't open for a free preview as Brynda was known to do when she ran the place. I might have even come for a peak myself. From the pictures, there were some pretty race cars. I noticed the Russell Shearer #84 car out there. Not sure if he's driving or his son, but I'm sure the car will be fast either way.
Chris Brown's #11 car was there. I must be getting old. I remember the days when Bob Brown and his brother Dennis raced Street Stocks at Antioch back in the early 80's and would sometimes work on their cars a few doors down from me at their parent's house. Those were the days. I'm telling you, Dennis and Bob were hard chargers and could run door to door with those amazing Bellando brothers (John and Dave). Now, if I could just find my time machine.
Anyway, Bob is crewing for his son, and I'm sure Chris made him proud with his top ten season last year. It's great to see new competition in the Hobby Shock division, which has been growing over the last two years. Promoter John Soares Jr. is even holding a 150 lap race for the class for big money this season. They deserve it. Now, if we could just get John to book a big show for the Wingless Spec Sprints.
The Four Bangers are doing their job, which is producing future talent for the other divisions. This is as it should be. Word is that Mike Shapiro and Sarah Leslie, the 2012 champion, are both moving up to Sport Mods this year. Look out Phil Indihar, you're getting more competition. Somehow, I doubt the Enduro star and defending Sport Mod champion would have it any other way. The more competition, the better.
2008 Dirt Modified champion Rob Norris was back for playday. Could he be the driver to beat Troy Foulger? While I'm not sure how IMCA sectioning will help the car count, which really wasn't that bad as it was, the point system could keep it close as long as the competition shows up for every race. Foulger is champion because he is a good driver, driving for a good team (Bowers Racing). I'm hoping for a close race, regardless of who wins in the end.
Last season's Super Stock runner up, Jim Freethy, made some laps and could be the driver to beat for that championship. Former Marysville Spec Sprint champion Chris Magoon was one of the Spec Sprint drivers getting some practice, while former Figure 8 champion and top ten Hobby stock racer Jim Robbins was back in action. Top five 2012 competitor Taylor Culbreath and Heath Culbreath brought their new trucks, which were as yet unnumbered.
There were 360 Sprints, Spec Sprints, Trucks, Super Stocks, Super Hobbys. IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and even a Hardtop making laps on Saturday. The weather made it a perfect day to put your car through the paces, and it looks like the weather may be accommodating for the next couple of weeks at least. Here's hoping this leads to a great 2013 season at Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway as well.