By Mike Adaskaveg
A schoolteacher and a racecar shop owner are in a fight to the finish for the Merced Speedway Hobby Stock Championship. Husband and wife Michael and Kristie Shearer are at the top of their class, which is featured along with IMCA SportMods, Mini-Stocks and Junior Stock Go-Karts this Saturday night at the speedway
What started as sharing a common recreational activity for the shearers has turned into serious competition between the two.
After last weekend’s feature, Michael leads Kristie by 25 points. With racing being one of the few sports offering a level playing field for men and women, Kristie could top her husband in the weeks to come.
“She knows what to do to be in first place,” Michael Shearer says, smiling as he stands beside his wife in the pit area. “I give her a hard time, but it’s only to push her to beat me.”
Kristie shows strength in dealing with jibes from her husband.
“He’s got a big head now that he’s in the lead for the championship,” she fires back – albeit with a smile. “I’m tired of being in second place and I’m trying my best to beat him for the championship. It is doable.”
The Shearers have been racing together for six years.
“But we started racing against each other for the last four,” laughs Kristie, who is a fourth grade teacher at McSwain School in Atwater. “Yes, we trade comments back and forth all week long.”
Michael likes it that way.
“It is all in good fun, but at the race track, if she beats me, it’s a win for me, too,” he laughs.
“I admit, he does take care of my car and makes sure everything is perfect,” she says. “I show up to drive.”
The couple has two children, daughter Hayley and son Ian. Ian, 10, is already driving Junior Outlaw Go-Karts.
The Shearers moved to Atwater recently, where Michael cares for his stable of seven racecars. Shearer family members and friends race the cars at Merced Speedway.
Michael’s mom, Margie Mejia, is an avid race fan and helps support her son’s racing endeavors.
Mejia, who is Tribal Chair Woman for the Lytton Rancheria, sponsored the Timmy Post Memorial program last Saturday night. She asked to to help new track owner Ed Parker resurrect the annual Fourth of July fireworks display and make it a free admission event.
On Saturday, the grandstand was filled to near capacity, harkening to the speedway’s heyday decades ago.
Mejia’s Benevolence Continues Saturday Night
Merced’s Ron Penrod, 66, was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer. He raced at Merced Speedway more than 40 years ago and wanted a few more laps around the track before he started chemotherapy.
His wife, Lucy, casually mentioned his wishes to friend Mejia.
“Margie (Mejia) called my wife and said her son, Michael, has a car for me to drive this Saturday night,” Penrod explained. “They said they would have my old number, 83, on the car.”
Shearer worked hard over the last two weeks to put a new body on one of his cars and number and letter it as if it were Penrod’s car.
Penrod is excited for the chance to race again.
“The doctors told me I’m strong enough to receive the highest amount of chemotherapy. They are surgically implanting it into my chest next week,” Penrod explained. “Saturday will be very special to me. I don’t even know Michael Shearer, and barely know Margie (Mejia), but they have to be great people.”
(Pernod, right, and his #83 in a photo from the 1980s.)
Saturday Night At Merced Speedway
The leaders of the IMCA SportMod division, Chowchilla’s Rick Diaz and Winton’s Steve Stone are now sharing the lead in the championship tally, each with 256 points. Merced’s Josh Hensley moved up to third with 232 points after a strong finish last Saturday night.
The SportMod, Hobby Stock, Mini Stock, and Jr. Stock Go Kart divisions will each have qualifying races and a feature event.
Racing begins at 7 p.m. Grandstand Opens at 5 p.m.
Program will be approximately 3 hours or less.
Seniors 65 and older $10.00
Students with an ID – 13 to 17 – $10.00
Children 6 to 2 $5.00
Kids 5 and under FREE
Family Pack 2 adults and 2 children $30.