Saturday, July 20, 2013

Looking Back At The Ted Stofle Classic

Perhaps the greatest stock car driver in Merced Speedway history, Ted Stofle won the track championship in that division an amazing six years in a row from 1975 through 1980. He also collected three state titles along the way. Wherever Ted went in his #89m car, Merced, Watsonville, Madera, Antioch or elsewhere, he was one of the drivers to beat that night. He was still a young man in his 20's when his died in a tragic hunting accident in 1980.

A year later, Merced Speedway began holding a race in his honor. The Ted Stofle Classic ran 89 laps as a tribute to the man. The Stofle family also had his last Stock Car on display every year for this event, and it also served as pace car for the race. Everybody wanted to win this race

Doug McCoun, who won two straight Regional titles (1985-1986) and a National title along the way won the first event in 1981. He was on his way to doing it again in 1985 when a last lap pass netted Ray Morgan his second of three straight Stofle Classic wins. Jeff Silva used a last lap pass on Steve Hendren to win the 1989 race, his second straight win in this race.

In 1990, Chris Shannon drove Mike Palmburg's Cal Mod to a feature win and then jumped into his Late Model and won the big race as well. After Hendren won this race and the Tri Track championship in 1991, the race was switched to the Street Stocks in 1992. In what is probably a good trivia question, Pure Stock graduate Tom Key won that race in 1992 as Dell Humbert spun from second in the final turn going for the win.

Ted Stofle Classic Winners

1981 Doug McCoun
1982 Rene Krumm
1983 Dewayne Blunt *
1984 Ray Morgan
1985 Ray Morgan
1986 Ray Morgan
1987 Kevin Pylant
1988 Jeff Silva
1989 Jeff Silva
1990 Chris Shannon
1991 Steve Hendren
1992 Tom Key

* My records don't have most of the 1983 season, but according to a thread on Racing West's forum from early 2010, a poster (Otis Gleason?) indicated Blunt won this race for the biggest win of his career. He was top ten in points that season. If this information is incorrect, I'd welcome the documentation with the correct information. The idea is to keep the memory of these great racers and events alive.