Merced Speedway racers heralded the 2013 season with a large turnout of cars and drivers for the first of two practice days on Sunday March 17.
From wingless sprint cars to super stocks, modifieds to sport mods, mini and hobby stocks to dwarf cars and valley sportsman, the newly arranged pit area was bulging with cars.
There were plenty of new cars, and some favorites from previous seasons. Shane Hausmann brought out his new car, battling a few practice laps with the familiar hobby stock of Robbie Loquaci, before he was sidelined with an oil leak.
Ricky and Buddy Thatcher hauled down from the mountains with a fast new super stock. Dennis Simunovich of Holllister debuted the first purpose-built SportMod in the area. IMCA SportMods will be on the program this year, along with the headline division – IMCA modifieds. Nick “Pickle” Lawrence had his yellow SportMod sparkling. Alex Odishoo graduated to the SportMod division and had his new ride on the track.
The modified coral had some stellar new cars. Champion Bill Egleston unveiled a sharp new wrap on his modified. Ryan Porter loudly brought attention to cancer awareness on the side of his new modified. Mike Shearer’s pristine modified shined on the track.
Danny Malfatti’s wingless sprint was super-fast on the newly configured oval. Drivers raved about the newly widened racing surface.
“There’s plenty of room to race side by side,” commented Valley Sportsman champ Mike Hausmann. The retro look of the winged, chopped down early modified racecars certified Merced Speedway as the valley’s most historic track.
Josh Strickland was happy to bring out his mini-stock for the new season.
“The track is great, there are a lot of cars. Should be a good season,” he said as he headed for some practice laps.
“Let R Buck” was emblazoned across the back of his car in honor of his dad, Buckwheat Strickland, who passed away early last season from a heart attack.
Practice continues at 1 p.m. this Sunday, March 24, at Merced Speedway. The season opens March 29 with the World of Outlaws and the IMCA modifieds in a Friday night spectacular.