Sunday, February 22, 2015

What About Pearsonville Speedway Or Ernie Purssell Speedway?

We do have a new DCRR Racing Radio show right here:

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 13 by GenWhat

Here's the information on how to order the books or support the History Preservation Project

First Of All...

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

More on the Short Track History Preservation Project and the first book planned by clicking here.

Being just a bit restless today, I've been searching the archives.  I'm feeling nostalgic and also looking for news of other tracks from the past returning.  Recently, I was looking for information on Altamont Raceway.  I covered racing there for a few seasons, and I enjoyed being there.  It's closed now.  According to their Facebook Page,  there's no news of any kind of change there.

Then, I started looking up Pearsonville.  I actually have an older post here where I look back at some of the final point races there and have a couple of Gary Jacob's old stories that were featured in the magazine at the time.  Pearsonville used to run a Turkey Classic for Stock Car racing.  Sadly, that track has been abandoned.  If Rocky Hill Speedway can come back, maybe one day Pearsonvile will too.

There is a Facebook Page remembering Pearsonville Speedway.   There's lots of vintage pictures from the early 1980s and even a few videos were linked.  I had seen some haunting pictures of the track that are still on the internet, showing how things are run down a bit these days.

On the Facebook Page, I noticed a video of the wrecking yard there.  All of those old cars just sitting there rusting away.  Some of them could be made into race cars.  I imagined those cars back when people used to drive them.  And that old track...  I think of the father and son going to the track together for the first time and enjoying a hot dog and a coke.  Maybe they saw a crash or a good finish, but it was a cherished memory between the two.

The big races they had that people wanted to win.  Many of those racers only raced there.  They have scrap books of pictures and articles.  Maybe some of them don't even have that, but just the memories of those times.  And now, Pearsonville Speedway sits there wasting away.  It makes me sad to think about it.

I actually have a video in my collection that Gary Jacob gave me from one of those big Pearsonville races.  That was one of the events he had marked on his calender every year.  He was a man who went to at least a race every week, and we still feel the impact of his absence.  When he died, a lot of race tracks lost a man who spread the world about their activity.

Now comes the other track, Ernie Purssell Memorial Speedway in Grass Valley.  I recall reading the results of their races in Wheels, and seeing the pictures.  Super Modifieds, Super Stocks and Mini Stocks.  They ran Dirt Modifieds, Sprint Cars and Street Stocks.

I'm sure I can't do justice to this track, but names like Shoopman, Cordery, Youngman and Main jump out at me.  Grass Valley gave the NCMA race dates when that club needed them desperately, and I have videos of that.  They had that red clay that was really sticky.  Beautiful scenery of the trees around the track.  It was a really nice track.  It was also a track I got to see on a couple of occasions thanks to Gary Jacob.

Mel Hall was a past racer there and then became promoter, and these were Labor Day and Memorial Day Weekend events.  Four race weekends for me.  Watsonville, Antioch, Santa Maria and then Grass Valley, thanks to Gary going out of his way for me.  Kevin Urton was the big Sprint Car star at the time. I enjoyed my time there.

Sadly, this track went the way of so many tracks.  They closed it down. It was a sad day for fans who had attended races there for years.  It was unnecessary too.  That track NEVER should have been closed in the first place.  Mel ended up at Marysville.  Being the amazing promoter that he was, he led that track to some really good seasons in the 1990's and into the next decade.

What I don't understand and will NEVER understand is why people have to lobby to close down good race tracks.  For a few hours one night a week during the spring and summer months, cars roar to life on oval tracks all across the country.  I know it can be loud, but it's not that big a deal.  Lots of effort is made to quiet these cars down. I don't know if noise is what got Grass Valley or not.  I just know it was closed.

This unique baseball diamond of a race track with the red clay and the trees in a way was an attraction for people to come to Grass Valley for a weekend getaway.  They held some big events at this track through the years that attracted drivers from all over the state and out of the state.

I noticed there was a movement to revive the track again and a Facebook Page was created.  Sadly, you get one or two people into this kind of an effort, they realize there is lots of work to do, they get overwhelmed and the idea dies.  You have several people on the sidelines talking about how cool this idea is, but none of them do much but talk.  They aren't even sure what to do.  The idea fades.

I noticed the suggestion that Brad Sweet get recruited for this revival effort.  Isn't he from Grass Valley?  I recall announcing some of his races in the BCRA Midget Lites.  He was fast then too.  I also recall that Brad has played a big part in  bringing the World Of Outlaws back to Placerville, so he still cares about us Californians and the racing that we enjoy.

Will this idea have any legs to stand on?  It takes leadership and a willingness to put the time in.  Having a guy like Brad to put in a word or two would certainly help.  For anybody saying you can't do it in this day and age, how do you account for the return of Rocky Hill Speedway, the creation of Hayfork Speedway or even Chowchilla Speedway?  It can happen if enough people commit.

Now comes something that had a spark of potential of making racing happen again in Grass Valley....

I did notice a post on the Facebook Page that somebody made.  They mentioned that they had contacted the fair manger and had a detailed e-mail response.  I'm going to respond to what this person said, but first I have to wonder.  Wouldn't it have been helpful to the cause to post that e-mail so that people knew what the status of things were?  Anyway.

Nina posted:

I emailed the CEO of the fairgrounds with my questions and she got back to me very quickly. She was very nice and sent me a long detailed email of the obstacles. To sum it up, the noise from the track interferes with the other events on the grounds such as music festivals, concerts, home and garden shows, etc. These events take place all throughout the year and bring in a tremendous amount of revenue for the fairgrounds.

Okay, that's fine.  The concerns are noise and scheduling.  Guess what?  This can all be addressed in a proposal to the fairgrounds.  By my way of thinking, this can be done even without a perspective promoter if a group of locals wants to take a stand.  I mean, you are establishing some of the ground rules of what it would take to get racing back in Grass Valley.

Once that is known, perspective promoters have an understanding of what needs to be done.  This would be an effort just to get the commitment that the fairgrounds would be willing to bring racing back to Grass Valley under certain circumstances.  It's a start.  Anyway...

Noise is an issue.  Okay, fair enough, but there are ways to address this.  End earlier than curfew.  Maybe 10:30 or 10.  Run the Mini Stocks and quieter cars last so there's not as much noise.  Conduct research into the best mufflers to use.  I know die hards complain about cars not sounding like race cars, but would you rather have racing, or not?

The Fairgrounds makes money from other things too?  Really?  I would have never guessed.  Seriously, this is about scheduling.  If you can get 20 events, you take it.  If you can get 16, you take it.  As long as it's reasonable and they honor their agreements of the dates you have, it's reasonable.  None of this is that unreasonable or unworkable.

Nina Concluded:

She said she would love to see racing come back and grew up watching it there! However, a viable solution has not been thought of to make it work. She even invited me to come meet with her if I wanted too. Very nice lady...

Nina, Nina, Nina.  The door was open.  You could have walked through and started something, girl.  It sounds like this is NOT an impossible situation.  You just have to engage in the political dance.  Evidently, the fair manager at the time was a racing fan.  That's good to know.

You have somebody there who is willing to talk.  Maybe you aren't the one who wants to lead this, although it already sounds like you were building up a repoire with the fair manager.  Still, you have proven that this is not an impossible situation.  It just takes effort.  It can be done.

The other thing I notice about what they were doing to revive the track is they were to hung up on procedural things. They were trying to create a Board Of Directors and that sort of thing, and that distracts from the effort at hand.  You need two or three dedicated people and others who will help when asked to do certain things.  The goal should be to get the guidelines on what it would take to bring racing back and the idea that the fair board is willing to entertain the idea of racing in Grass Valley again.

Without that sort of agreement, nobody would bother to try to get that track.  It would be a waste of time.  Unless the people who had started this movement themselves wanted to be the promoters, there's no need to go through a bunch of b.s. for what needs to be an effort just to get the fair board to say that they would accept a race rack again and what sort of things need to be done to make that happen.

Nina actually made the most progress of anybody I saw on that page. At least she spoke with the fair manager, who apparently said she liked racing and used to attend the races.  That's how it starts folks.  Save the creating a Board Of Directors garbage for when it's time to put together a team to actually rebuild and run a race track.  Until you know it can happen, all of that board talk is just a distraction.

Really, you need to go the fair board meetings and get on the agenda to discuss what it would take to make racing happen again.  Speaking with the fair manager and meeting with her is a very good place to start.  Nina reached out to her, but I wonder if anybody actually tried to meet with her?

Imagine a track roaring to life in Grass Valley once again.  360 Sprints or even Wingless Spec Sprints.  Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  Maybe a Civil War Race, the BCRA, Nor Cal Dwarf Cars and other visiting groups.  It can happen.  Will it happen?  That's for the people to decide.

It's nice to see a Facebook Page devoted to this track.  However, if they want the track back, they need to make a real effort.  It only takes one person who knows what they are doing to get the ball rolling once again.  You get a clear indication that they would accept racing at the fairgrounds again, and somebody with the money would be willing to step in and negotiate a contract with the fairgrounds.