John Soares Jr.'s quest to take over racing in Northern California just added another track to the mix. This time, it was announced that Soares and Oval Motorsports Inc. was awarded the contract through 2020. I'm not sure how he maintains his passion for the sport when things sometimes don't look so good, but I respect what he's trying to do.
Jack Stanford and his team should be proud for not letting Chowchilla die. They went against the odds by even reopening it, and they've had some good races there from what I've heard. I don't know what Jack will do next, but he is a man I continue to respect as a racer and promoter.
I find it interesting how they laughed when Tom Sagmiller said Chowchilla Speedway would be a great place to race. That was back in 2000. We've been through a few promoters there, but racing will continue in 2015. Chowchilla will race on Sundays. Antioch and Merced will run of Saturdays. This is according to Antioch Speedway's Facebook Page as of this posting.
There are people worrying what this means, but they are already saying they will allow guys some grace period for all the cars to conform to the rules. Chowchilla was already IMCA with Modifieds and Sport Mods, so that shouldn't be an issue. I don't think Mini Stocks or Pure Stocks were that much different than Merced since the drivers ran at both tracks.
As an advocate and activist for track unity the last half dozen years that I was involved in the sport, this could be a good thing. The problem we had was different people running different tracks wanting different things, and nobody was too willing to compromise. This is something I cover in my auto biography that I would like to publish if I am able to.
I was in the middle and spoke face to face with several of the principle players back then. I was ridiculed for caring, and that led to my burnout on the sport along with other factors. Looking back now, there was too much drama that had to be settled first. In the Valley, I only saw real compromise attempted on one side by Mr. Sagmiller. Chowchilla and Merced NEEDED unity and I will always wonder what would have happened in 2002 if Merced management had given it a chance for the good of racing.
John was skeptical, and from his perspective, I totally understand why. I think he later came to know that Tom was a good guy, but I did catch a lot of grief from him at the time for taking my stance in trying to unite Antioch and Chowchilla. From John's perspective as the one who pays the bills, I get it. It was somewhat ironic to see the two promoters work together later.
Now, John has Antoch, Merced and Chowchilla. He saved Merced Speedway from extinction, and Chowchilla needs that kind of leadership. Does he have all the answers? Who does, but he is a man with money to invest in trying to help a sport that is on the decline. I respect John for doing what he's doing and uniting three tracks under the same rules.
Does anybody want to sit down and talk with him now? I know two promoters I can think of who should want this, but one of them is probably too stubborn to do it. The other tried a little bit. The stronger in unity the tracks are, the better it is for the sport. However, they all need driver and fan support to really make it fly.
John is now the fifth promoter since 2000 to give Chowchilla Speedway a go. I would love to see a return of at least a couple of that track's traditions started by the original promoter. In any case, racing will continue, and I salute John & Donna and Oval Motorsports for being real promoters who love auto racing. I hope everybody bands together.
Oh, and drivers, it's legal to run CAM (Chowchilla, Antioch, Merced) in 2015...