Friday, July 14, 2017

Antioch Speedway Preview, Merced Speedway Preview, Pit Stops

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Late Models, Spec Sprints Headline Antioch Speedway Show

Antioch, CA...The action is heating up with the July weather at Antioch Speedway.  A wide open All Star Series Wingless Spec Sprint battle has four winners in four races.  They are back to see if they can make it five this week.  The high powered DIRTcar Late Models also take their turn along with B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  It's going to be a great night of racing on the fast three-eight mile clay oval.

The 19th All Star Series Wingless Spec Sprint championship battle is still very much up in the air as the division is in the midst of a busy four race month.  After four races, 2014 Watsonville champion Bryan Grier, past Antioch and Chico champion Bob Newberry, past Chowchilla champion Brandon Burd and rookie Robert Floyd are the Main Event winners.  Alan Miranda is the point leader.  He's finished second in the last two races, but he's still in search of his first win.  Two of the drivers he was battling in points, Burd and Roy Fisher, skipped the most recent race to further shake up the standings. 

Ten points out of the lead is a man who has been supporting Spec Sprint racing since it started at Antioch in 1999, Rick Panfili.  Rick is also in search of his first win.  His fourth place finish last week has kept him within striking distance of the lead.  Floyd is the driver who has everybody talking.  Driving the old Jimmy Lavell car, Robert was running second last week when he made a late move and snatched the victory away from Miranda.  Coupled with his heat race victory. Floyd earned enough points to move to within eight of Panfili and 18 of Miranda.

Because there is so much racing left to do, Grier, Burd and Shannon Newton can not be counted out of the championship battle.  After finishing third last week, Grier is only 22 points behind Floyd.  Just 24 points out of third is Burd, while Newton, who has a pair of third place finishes, is 28 points out.  The other thing about the Spec Sprints is there is no clear favorite to win.   Most of the drivers out there have a legitimate shot at winning, and other drivers to keep an eye on this week include Jeremy Newberry, James East, Jeff Lee and rookie Abigail Gonderman.

The DIRTcar Late Model point battle finds the familiar sight of Jeff Decker battling Richard Papenhausen for the lead.  Decker won his second Main Event last time out to stretch his advantage to six points ahead of Papenhausen.  Papenhausen got a bit of a surprise last time when Kimo Oreta held him off for a career best second place finish.  Oreta is racing for "Rookie Of The Year" honors this season, and he won his first heat race in this division last time as well.  A Top 5 point season in the Sun Drop Racing #03 car isn't out of the question for the three time Hobby Stock champion. 

He trails Chester Kniss by 25 points in that battle for fifth, and he's poised to make his move this week as Kniss will not be racing.  However, Oreta isn't alone in the battle to take fifth from Kniss.  Ten points behind Kniss is Marysville competitor Joey Olschowka and 20 points back is 2016 "Rookie Of The Year" Mike Hynes.  Hynes had a fifth place finish in the opener, but his luck since then hasn't been good.  The Olschowka family has been burning up the racing scene in Northern California for years, and Joey is enjoying the Late Model competition in Antioch.  He'll be hoping to get a Top 5 finish next time out.

Actually, Kniss is in a battle with David Newquist and Shawn DeForest for third in the standings.  These three are the top candidates in the "who other than Decker and Papenhausen might win a feature" category.  DeForest has a second place finish this season, while Newquist has a third and a fourth.  Kniss leads the three with three Top 5's in four starts with a season best third.  The way the points stack up, Newquist holds just a six point advantage over DeForest and an eight point lead over Kniss.   Other drivers to watch for this week include Dennis Souza and Rob Norris.

The last time the B Modifieds raced, K.C. Keller was earning his sixth straight podium finish in third.  With a win, three seconds and a third, Keller maintains a 16 point advantage over reigning champion Trevor Clymens.  Clymens has three wins so far, but he's flirting with a move up to the A Modified division.  Though he's in a B Modified, Trevor has been earning respectable finishes with the faster division.  The championship battle appears to be between these two at the moment, but Chuck Golden still lurks within 34 points of the lead.  Golden was fourth last time out as he has one second among his five Top 5 finishes so far this season.  Golden is on the verge of his first win.

Golden can't get too comfortable in third.  Following his fifth place finish last time, Mark Garner is only 16 points behind him.  Randy Brown is 28 points back in fifth and hoping to improve on his season best fourth place finish.  Randy is also a multi time heat race winner this year.  Last time out, it was past Street Stock champion Todd Gomez winning his second Main Event of the season.  Gomez has raced Hobby Stocks, Street Stocks and Limited Late Models at the track, but he's in his rookie season in the B Modified division.  Since he's raced elsewhere, Todd is not in the point battle at Antioch, but he's certainly a threat to win when he's there.  Doff Cooksey may be back to see if he can improve on his second place finish from last time, and other racers to watch for include, Kevin Brown, Megan Ponciano and Mike Mates.

Last week, Hobby Stock point leader Chris Long came back to earth just a little bit as he DNF'ed the Main Event.  The good news for the driver with three wins and eight Top 3 finishes was that attrition was such that he still ended up ninth at the finish.  The bad news is that two time winner Brent Curran used a second place finish that night to move to within 24 points of the lead.  Curran is already leading the rookie battle by a good margin, but he's also very much in the championship hunt.  He hasn't won since the third point event of the season, and the talented second generation racer is looking to change that this week.

A win is very much on the radar of rookie Chris Bennett.  While some of the drivers near the top of the points are having their ups and downs, Bennett has been getting the Bob Hansen Tribute Car to the finish line consistently.  His fourth place finish last week was his best finish yet, and it keeps him 19 points ahead of Cameron Swank in the battle for third.  Bennett might need some breaks to go his way to catch Curran, who is 62 points ahead of him, but you never know what can happen between now and the end of the season.  Swank, meanwhile, has finished as high as second and is also a threat to get his first win.  Following more transmission woes last week, two time feature winner and 2010 champion Chris Sorensen is 16 points behind Swank in the race for fifth.

The Hobby Stocks have been bringing the car count, and they could see some B Mains this season if this trend continues.  Last time out, Robert Niven had his orange #69 car up near the front of the pack with an impressive third place finish.  This follows the second place effort he had at the previous race.  When you speak of who could win a Main Event next, you have to include Niven.  In the history of the Hobby Stock division, the husband and wife team of Brad and Melissa Myers has combined for over two dozen wins.  Melissa returned last week and added another win to her totals.  She is a two time Hobby Stock and one time Street Stock champion with 18 wins in the various classes in which she has competed through the years.  Whenever she races, you know she's a threat to win.  Other drivers to watch for this week include Jordan Swank, Frank Furtado, Lindsey Buirch, Russell Shearer, Billy Garner and two time Super Hobby Stock champion Gene Haney.

Dwarf Car racing is generally pretty exciting and is anything but boring.  Last week, there were two rollovers in one heat.  The controversial heat saw the end of the night for incoming point leader Mike Corsaro and Chris Becker and a black flag for eventual Main Event winner Danny Wagner.  It was a big hit to the point lead of Corsaro, who has one win, three seconds and a third this season.  With only five show up points added to Corsaro's totals, his lead shrank to just 17 points over his teammate and longtime Dwarf Car competitor Charlie Correia.  It's been a while since Charlie has won a Main Event, but he will need a win to improve on his championship chances.

David Michael Rosa is knocking on the door to that victory.  After his second runnerup finish in a row last week, Rosa is just four points behind Correia and 21 behind Corsaro.  Devan Kammermann is also in the hunt as the rookie trails Corsaro by 31 points.  This year is definitely a wide open battle in the Dwarf Car division, and other drivers to watch in the battle for wins are two time Street Stock champion David Rosa, Brandon Anderson, Chuck Conover and Brian Gray.  Anderson is coming off of back to back third place finishes, and Conover has three Top 3 finishes so far.

Saturday night's five division show at Antioch Speedway should provide plenty of excitement for the fans.  For further information, go to

IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks Back in Action 
At Merced Speedway

Merced, CA...The IMCA Sport Modifieds are in the middle of another great season of racing at Merced Speedway.  Saturday night marks their ninth race of the season.  Joining them this week will be the Hobby Stocks, California Sharp Mini Late Models and the Valley Sportsman division.

Five drivers have won IMCA Sport Modified Main Events so far this year, but there are some good drivers knocking on the door to their first wins.  Third ranked Jeremy Hoff has won at the speedway in previous seasons, and he was fifth in the big Timmy Post Memorial Race.  Hoff is still within 14 points of second place Rick Diaz, who has won the lion's share of the races so far.  Diaz has four wins.  The only repeat winner so far this year trails the consistent one time winner Fred Ryland by 35 points as he has missed a race this season.

Another driver looking for his first win of the season is Tim Elias.  Tim is only six points behind Hoff, and he's also had some Top 5 success this year.  The Thomas brothers, Chase and Tanner, are fifth and sixth, respectively, in points.  Earlier this year, Tanner had an impressive run in third and looked like he might win that race.  Brother Chase was a feature winner last year, and either one of them could win soon, perhaps even this Saturday night.  Getting a win at Merced Speedway is certainly an achievement this year as the track has one of the most competitive Sport Mod shows anywhere in the state.  Other drivers to watch for this week include Chuck Weir, Paul Espino, Cody Parker and T.J. Etchison.  Etchison, Weir and State point leader Shane DeVolder are also Main Event winners this year.

Hobby Stock racing at Merced Speedway has a similar storyline as they enter their ninth race of the season.  Several fast racers are looking to visit the winner's circle this year.  It's actually a bit surprising that past Chowchilla Mini Stock champion Robbie Loquaci hasn't won yet this year.  He's been fast, and one night earlier this season saw him running in contention when his engine caught fire.   Despite a bit of bad luck, Loquaci is three points behind three time winner Garrett Corn in the race for second.  Robbie is also 40 points out of the lead, which is currently held by three time winner Kodie Dean.

Austin Van Hoff has won Main Events at Merced in the past, but he's been shut out so far this year.  As with Loquaci, who he trails by 14 points, Van Hoff could be a winner on any given week.  Saturday could be the night for past point runnerup Kristie Shearer.  Kristie was a three time winner in 2015, but that win has eluded her so far this season.  Shearer's teammate, Shannon Nelson, one time winner and 2015 champion Kevin Joaquin, James Stockton, Mike Stockton, Darren Miguel and Tony Peffer are other drivers to watch for this week.  Last time out, two time champion Bruce "Bubba" Nelson won the Main Event, and he would certainly be a threat to win again if he races this week.

The Valley Sportsman division has been hurting just a bit for cars this year.  Last time out, we saw a pair of legends in the field as Watsonville Hall Of Famer Jerry Cecil and Johnny Brazil competed.  Jeff Bristow won the Main Event that night.  It's unknown who might be racing, but others who may be there include somebody in Kenny Birdsong's car, Eric Sealy, Shannon Fry and two time champion Mike Friesen.  This is the final tuneup race for this division before Legend's Night on August 12th.

The California Sharp Mini Late Models are getting their break in the state at Merced Speedway.  Michael Shearer is the car dealer, and he's fielding the first cars in this division.  Last week featured a good battle between eventual winner Tommy Bostic and Raul Rodriguez Jr., won by Bostic.  Tim Vaught and Riley Jeppesen are feature winners this year, and both are anticipated along with Tim Crews and Ian Shearer.  Ian got a chance to race against his father, Michael, and he held him off for a third place finish last week.  These cars get around the track petty well, and there is lots of potential for this division as car count grows.

With IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks back in action, this should be a great night of racing.  For further information, go to

Pit Stops

The idea of Bay Area Hardtops at Antioch Speedway was an easy one.  This is the track that gave the modern era of the Northern California Hardtop effort their first Bay Area dates about a decade ago.  The movement itself was launched back in 2002 when Mike McCann, Chuck Prather and their group from Banks, Oregon made a weekend visit in September to Orland and Sacramento Raceway.  Interestingly enough, Steve Lemley won both races in a black #4 car that is now part of the Clifford Racing Team.  That particular car helped launch OTRO in Roseburg back in 1988.  Prather began running Sacramento and Roseville races for a couple of years before bringing his Hardtops to Coos Bay when be bought that track, but the Hardtop fire in California was ignited.

John M. Soares ran an occasional Hardtop race in the 1960s, and his father was a two time BCRA Hardtop champion and BCRA Hall Of Famer.  When he was approached by a few racers wanting dates, he opened his gates to them.  That early roster included Conrad Cavallero, twin brother Carmen Cavallero, Mike McClure, Tommy Thomson and Dan Williams.  The Cavallero brothers raced Stock Cars and Sportsman cars for years, and there was also a Vallejo Speedway connection early on.  Conrad fielded a replica car of the great Johnny Franklin, while McClure's car was a replica of Leroy Geving.

It gets even better.  Tommy Thomson was fielding the car that he actually ran at Vallejo Speedway and won races with in the 1970's.  He and another past Vallejo Speedway Hardtop racer, Terry DeCarlo Sr., shared the driving duties.  Dan Williams, a star of Mini Stock and Dwarf Car racing, like Tommy, is still a part of the Bay Area movement.  The California Hardtop Association has had it's changes through the years.  It's developed more of a Roseville-Placerville flavor to it as more drivers hail from that area, and it's still going strong.  As time has passed by, the drivers in the group have had a preference for racing up north with occasional visits to the Bay Area.

However, the Bay Area drivers want more dates locally, and Soares has been willing to give them those dates.  Dave Mackey is a Hardtop fanatic.  He fondly recalls watching the division compete at Vallejo Speedway and watching his heroes, such as Larry Damitz, Phil Pedlar and Gene Dudley.  Mackey's car is a replica of one of the Dudley cars.  He's gone so far as to buy a hauler and paint it the same colors as the Hardtop.  He enlisted Sprint Car ace Sparky Howard for that.  In fact, word is that Sparky may join the ranks of the Hardtop division in the next year or so.  Howard just recently won a Wingless Spec Sprint race at Petaluma.

Mackey was hearing from other racers who wanted to have more races in Antioch, so he began communicating with Soares on the matter.  He got five dates, but there was a problem.  The cars weren't ready.  Dave's #1 car was ready, and the #100 car driven by Larry Damitz in the past was also ready with Kimo Oreta now driving.  Thomson had heart surgery before the season.  Thankfully, he's on the road to recovery and slowly getting the #39 ready to go.  Doug Braudrick is still putting the finishing touches on a car that is a tribute to one of the cars owned by his father.  Ken Retzloff continues work on his #17 car, and Gene Haney is still putting a motor in the #37 car that he purchased from Bill McLaughlin prior to the season.  But, there is a Bay Area contingent of Hardtops and this includes cars owned by Williams, Steve Cloyes and Spenser Nice.

Really, the Bay Area Hardtop group is about strengthening the car base in the Bay Area in a way that the California Hardtop Association has done in the Sacramento-Placerville area with so many good racers like Jason Armstrong, Dennis Armstrong, Ken Clifford, Jason Clifford, Joe Shenefield, Joe Hopp, Russ Kraft, Ron Ruiz, Dan Whitney and John Turner.  It's encouraging drivers to come out and compete.  There are certainly discussions that will be had in the future, such as what should be considered a Hardtop, but keeping this movement going is what is really important. 

There are some key dates coming up.  The California Hardtop group loves racing at Placerville Speedway, and there's a big date coming on July 22nd.  They also have the annual trek to Calistoga on Labor Day weekend.  The next date at Antioch is August 19th, but the big date is the Chet Thomson Memorial on September 9th.  This was a race that had its beginnings at Vallejo Speedway and honored the late Chet Thomson.  The past Hardtop champion is the father of Tommy Thomson.  Mackey and T. Thomson decided to bring this race back, and a 14 car field supported the first one last year.

It's all about preserving the heritage of a style of racing that was prevalent in the 1950's through the 1960's.  They ran these cars at Vallejo all the way to 1978.  The racers take a lot of pride in their cars and they way they are presented.  Mackey is very proud of his #1 car and he should be.  It's a show piece car.  The Braudrick car will be the same, and we hope to see it soon.  Seeing Thomson wheel the #39 car that he raced at Vallejo is a real treat.  Bay Area Hardtops live on.  Antioch Speedway has been a proud supporter of this revival since day one, and there are other division boosters.

Mikey Slaney, whose family goes back to the old Vallejo Speedway, stepped up to help support Hardtop racing at the most recent Antioch Speedway event.  Everybody who ran a sticker for his business, Extreme Scaffolding & Swing Stage Inc., received a $25 bonus to start.  Mikey didn't even make a big deal out of it.  He just casually announced it in a Bay Area Hardtops Facebook thread because he wanted to support the group.  Mackey won the most recent race, but that really wasn't what Dave was focused on.  He was happy that the six racers were there, and he was greatly appreciative of the support of the Armstrong team and Ron Ruiz for showing up.  J. Armstrong declined a ride in a Pure Stock at his home track in Placerville just because he committed to Antioch after the Petaluma race, which he won.

An era of cooperation when possible between both groups will be a good thing to the overall health of both groups.  Most of the competitors bring a good attitude to the race track, such as Ken Clifford.  Ken is constantly sharing videos of the races with everybody on Facebook and keeping the buzz going.  It's about having fun and giving the fans a show.  Having California Hardtops and Bay Area Hardtops is a good thing as it promotes one of the neatest types of race cars ever.  Here's to bigger and better things for Hardtops in the future.

We never did get confirmation as to what the purse was for Antioch Speedway's Jerry Hetrick Memorial A Modified race.  There was a rumor floating around a few days prior that the pay was $2,000 to win, and the fact that Bobby Hogge IV showed up to support the race would seem to confirm the purse was good.  Antioch had a DIRTcar Late Model race scheduled initially, but Promoter John M. Soares called his racers during the week to cancel.  It might not have been a bad idea to give the guys that extra week to regroup, but there was also a possibility that Hogge might have brought his Late Model to put on a show for the fans.  The good thing is that Antioch even has a Late Model show as this form of racing has seen its better days.

Hogge reached a milestone.  We couldn't tell you how many wins the third generation leadfoot has racked up through the years.  Championships aren't even on his radar these days.  Hogge is a bounty hunter, out to win the big purse money, and the competition knows they are in for a battle anytime that #2 car is there.  We do know that Bobby has won 70 Main Events between Late Models and A Modifieds at Antioch, and he's a three time Antioch champion.  The Hogge team may not even think about the impact they have at these race tracks or where their win totals at each race track rank among the others.  Bobby reached his 70th win at Antioch last week.  To put it into perspective, only three drivers have won at least 70.  The other two, J.D. Willis and Scott Busby, are tied at 72.  It seems likely that Hogge will eventually pass the other two, and the time frame in which this might happen is dependent upon when he chooses to come back.

The Hogge family is at the top of the list of families with Main Event wins at Antioch Speedway.  It's easy to forget just how good his father was when you watch Bobby race.  Bobby Hogge III could have continued to add to his win totals, but when Bobby IV turned 16, the elder Hogge stepped aside and became a crew chief.  To have the talent the younger Hogge has and the words of wisdom and expertise offered by his father and grandfather, he was starting out ahead of most rookies.  Big Bobby won 40 Late Model Main Events at Antioch alone along with two track championships there and a hard fought NASCAR Regional crown.  To watch Bobby III thread the needle on his way to the front, you knew you were in the presence of greatness.

The Main Event win lists in each regular division this year at Antioch have no less than three different names.  The Late Models and B Modifieds are both at three.  The other six classes have at least four different winners.  This means that as we are just past the halfway point of the season, there are over 30 different feature winners in the regular classes.  All of the divisions are pretty competitive, and that means you never know who might win from week to week.  The Late Model class might be the most difficult division for the regulars to get a win in, because it's usually two time champions Jeff Decker and Richard Papenhausen or somebody coming in for a visit.  Any regular who can beat these two will know that they earned it.

A Modifieds had a double digit win list last season, and they check in with five winners so far this year.  It's not surprising to see the names of Hogge, Busby (two), Nick DeCarlo (two) and Kellen Chadwick (two) on that list.  Chester Kniss is also a winner this year.  Hobby Stocks have two time winners in Chris Sorensen and Brent Curran as well as three time winner Chris Long.  Add Michael Cooper and two time champion Melissa Myers and you have five winners.  With 16-18 cars showing up each race, you have some good drivers still looking for their first win.  B Modifieds have three winners in point leader K.C. Keller, reigning champion Trevor Clymens (three) and Todd Gomez (two).  It will be interesting to see who might join them.  Mark Garner will be hoping he's next.  He's already on the Limited Late Model winner's list along with two time champion Mike Gustafson and reigning Petaluma champion Matt While.  Only two time winner Kimo Oreta is a multi time winner so far, while title hopeful Jim Freethy searches for his first.

The lure of a $1,200 payday has four different Winged 360 Sprint Car winners in five races.  There's two time winner Kyle Offill along with Dustin Golobic, Tyler Seavey and multi time Marysville champion Colby Wiesz.  Dwarf Cars now have five winners.  Two time champion Danny Wagner and Adam Teves check in with two each.  Reigning champion Kevin Miraglio, 2015 champion David Teves and point leader Mike Corsaro each have one.  There is a group of eager drivers closing in on their first win in this exciting class.

We remain very pleased to see Wingless Spec Sprints still hanging tough at Antioch Speedway in their 19th season.  This is the track at which it started, and there's been an effort in recent years to keep the costs down in order to encourage more support.  The division is in the midst of a four race month, and the four races so far have been won by Bryan Grier, Brandon Burd, Bob Newberry and rookie Robert Floyd.  The competition has been close this year, and there are some drivers hot on the trail of their first wins.  You have to watch out for division original Rick Panfili, Alan Miranda and Shannon Newton.  Their time in the winner's circle could come soon.

At Merced Speedway, there are a pair of races to go in July before the track comes up on a two week summer break.  IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks are racing this week along with California Sharp Mini Late Models and the Sportsman class.  The Sport Mods and Hobbys are back a week later along with IMCA Modifieds and a big double point Mini Stock race.  Merced can get pretty hot, and promoter Ed Parker had already picked out the last week of July to take a break.  He had a race on the first week of August of 2016, but he was asked by racers if he could cancel so that they could support the Mike Cecil Memorial race in Watsonville.  Watsonville is normally a Friday night venue, but they run this big race on Saturday.  Rather than compete with the other track, Parker went dark last year and will do so again this year.  He's also going dark later this year to allow racers to support the Pat Pettit Memorial Shoot Out in Watsonville.

It's been 20 years since we lost Mike Cecil.  Cecil was the son of Watsonville Speedway Hall Of Fame member (yes, they have one) Jerry Cecil.  Mike was one of the top Street Stock racers and a winner of the big 100 lap race.  He loved running the big long distance race, so when he died, this race was dedicated to him.  It ran as a 100 lapper for over a decade.  The Cecil family has worked to make this a big night at the track, and American Stocks are featured as this is the closest class to what Mike raced.  IMCA Modifieds and Sport Modifieds are also on the card, and they all run for more money.  The IMCA Modified race is also a big All Star Series race.  The Cecil's are working on bringing in fan giveaways, contingency prizes for the racers and all of that.  Ryland Racing is raffling off a chassis, and proceeds go to the race.  The Mike Cecil Memorial happens at Watsonville on August 5th.  This one will be the biggest one yet.

While we're on the subject of special big races, there's also the Sixth Annual Johnny Soares Classic at Petaluma Speedway on August 12th.  The featured division is the Wingless Spec Sprints, and it happens to be the third race of the Shoot Out Series and a C&H Hunt Series race as well.  Winning the race named after the legendary long time Petaluma promoter will be a career highlight.  As if that's not enough, an All Star Series IMCA Modified race is also on the schedule along with Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks and Jake's Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks.

When Merced comes back on August 12th, it will be Legend's Night.  Since Doug Williams brought this event to the schedule in 2014, it's been very important.  It's gotten bigger each year.  Last year saw the inclusion of a Legend's Breakfast the Friday morning before race day.  All accounts were that this was a big success, and hints were given that a Hall Of Fame might begin in the future.  No official announcement has been made in that regard.  Last year they honored Jerry Holzer as the legend that he is, and it was hinted at that we could refer to people like Dennis Moomjean, Vern Willhoite, Ted Stofle and George Steitz as future Hall Of Famers.  It's this writer's hope that the future is this year for these four deserving racers, and you can add he voice of Merced Speedway, Johnny Sass, while you're at it.

The Sportsman division becomes a featured class on Legend's Night.  Car count has struggled for the class that was brought back by long time Merced Promoter and future Hall Of Famer Chuck Griffin.  The year was 1999, and the class has held at least one race at the track each year since.  Jeff Bristow and Kenny Birdsong have had their cars at the track this year.  It's been a difficult year for reigning champion Birdsong with what he's going through with his health, but we all send our thoughts and prayers to him.  Kenny is still sending his Rod Poor Tribute Car to the track, and we expect that will probably be the case again for this race.  We anticipate a big turnout for the class as past champions Mike Friesen and Mark Odgers, Shannon Fry, Jeff West and Eric Sealy should be among the other drivers there.  Traditionally, legends get behind the wheel of these cars and drive a couple of laps before parking on the front stretch to be interviewed by the announcer. 

Legend's Night is just one of the special night's still planned for Merced Speedway this year.  Also on the schedule on September 23rd is a race that long time Merced competitors will not want to miss.  It's the Matt Von Hoecke Race For A Cure Fundraiser.  Matt's business, Matt & Glass, was where the racers went to get their parts, their fuel and their race car bodies.  He was a long time supporter of the race track.  As a side note, he's the one who made it possible for this writer to start announcing at Merced Speedway with Johnny Sass.  When he died, the community mourned.  Racers still proudly run a Matt & Glass sticker on their cars to this day.  IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and a double point race for Hobby Stocks are all on the schedule that night.

Merced Speedway will close the season on October 7th with one of the biggest Sport Modified races anywhere on the West Coast, the Second Annual John Fore Jr. Memorial Race.  Bob Smith Truck Repair is sponsoring the night.  Smith sponsored some amazing trophies for the Timmy Post Memorial Race on July 1st this year as he had done last year.  In addition to the Sport Mods, this race will also feature Hobby Stocks and draw a curtain on what has been a great 68th season of racing at Merced Speedway.

It's a whole crew of people who make racing so special at Merced Speedway, but at the top is Promoter Ed Parker.  Parker has continued the push started by Doug Williams, who is still Race Director, to honor the great tradition and heritage of this race track.  These special nights of racing make the Merced County Fairgrounds racing facility a destination place for fans and drivers, and Parker is constantly looking at ways to make things better and keep it going strong.

In a final note, the Alameda County Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena roared with the sound of car motors last week.  This included six four cylinder motors as Mini Stock racers towed all the way from Porterville to run the small track Figure 8 races there for three nights in a row.  Racers like the Schwartzenberger brothers, Andy Boydstun, Kit Murphy, Steven Scott and Chris Rutledge supported this event.  Races like this one and the big Agri-Race in the Salinas Rodeo Arena might make people wonder about the feasibility of a Rodeo Arena Figure 8 or Agri-Race (depending on arena size) tour of the various venues.  The fans received this third annual event pretty well, and there are several fairs, such as Los Banos, Sonora, Turlock, Mariposa, Woodland, Calaveras and others that could host similar events. 

An enterprising promoter might start negotiating with fair managers about doing similar events.  Because of the size of the area, more than six cars becomes a bit crowded, meaning you have the beginnings of a show at six cars.  A group of 12 or so willing competitors could headline an event, and if you had drivers who came to race in the spirit of what this is, it could become a regular added attraction for the fair.  There's always money budgeted for such entertainment.  The trick is negotiating and finding out what you can get from fair management to make it happen.  It's an interesting idea.  All it will take is the right person to come along and see what they can do.  There are racers willing to support such a show, and the Hornet/Mini Stock is the least expensive type of Stock Car to prepare.