May 20: IMCA Mod Driver Jarod Fast on Being Fast


(050617 Merced Speedway - Merced, CA . Saturday, May 06, 2017. ©2014 Mike Adaskaveg.

Jarod Fast of is happy when he’s at Merced Speedway – even if it is while he is cleaning mud from his car after helping pack the track.

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

You can’t be slow when your name is Fast

Jarod Fast was destined to be fast from the moment he was born into Chowchilla’s Fast Family.

Fast to become a Hobby Stock track champion in 2009 at Chowchilla Speedway, Fast has since moved up to the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA)’s premier Modified Division at Merced Speedway. The IMCA Modifieds and SportMods headline this Saturday night’s show at the speedway.

Yes, Jarod Fast is learning to be fast again.

“As a kid growing up, I never played sports – I worked on cars,” Fast explains. “My dad, Dwayne, is a racer. I inherited his name and his desire to go fast.”

Not liking people calling him “Slow” as a joke, Fast channeled his energy to local dirt ovals. He’s been racing at Merced Speedway since 1997.

“I don’t have a win in the modified, and it has been a struggle – but we are getting there,” says Fast. “I’m trying to be fast again.”

Fast is at the track for every race. He and his crew – his dad, brother in law Keith Smith, and Jimmy Wood – toil over the car in search of progress. Racing is their hobby, their sport, and their enjoyment.

“Sure, it is frustrating for us – we have an older car, we’re trying to make it faster – but we are having fun,” Fast explains. “This (modified) is definitely more challenging than driving a Hobby Stock.”

Fast and his crew worked hard in the pits during the last scheduled IMCA event at Merced Speedway. They finished ninth in the 18 car main event, racing with fast company.

“We definitely hit on something – we are going in the right direction – we are getting faster,” Fast says. “I need to make the car work the best it can on the track before I can race hard and be side by side with other cars.”

Fast pits along side the faster cars of Troy and Ramey Stone.

“I’m picking their brains, and making small changes – not bigger changes,” Fast continues. “I’ve learned to take small steps.”

Fast’s car is a “low-budget” car. He changes older worn tires used in “hot laps” and heat races and puts his best tires on for the feature event.

“Everything on the car has been previously used,” Fast laughs. “The tires are the newest things on the car.”

The Fast crew is racing on a budget. They spend about $500 a month to race three times in Merced Speedway’s top division.

“It’s our sport – $500 is a reasonable amount to spend each month for having this much fun,” Fast affirms. “My goal is to run my line and be as fast as we can – not driving all over the place on the track and certainly not wrecking the car.”

During the week, fast is a school bus mechanic for the Chowchilla Union High School. After work, Fast and crew prepares their car for the weekend’s race in a converted carport.

“We keep racing in the modified division because it is a challenge,” Fast says. “We give 100 percent effort each time out – if we don’t improve, it’s not for lack of trying.”

For Fast, this year is a learning year.

“We’re learning as much as we can, and we are looking forward to next year,” says Fast. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t having fun.”

(041517 Merced, CA) Jarod Fast, making his old car go faster, at Merced Speedway in the IMCA Modified All Star Tour. Saturday, April 15, 2017. Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

Jarod Fast, making his old car go faster, at Merced Speedway in the recent IMCA Modified All Star Tour.


This Week at Merced Speedway


On the Track: IMCA Modified, IMCA SportMod, Valley Sportsman, Mini-Stock and Mini-Late Model divisions, each having heat races and a feature event.


Schedule: Grandstand opens at 5 p.m., Pits open at 2 p.m. Racing begins 7 p.m. The program lasts approximately three hours.


Admission: Adults $12.00; Children 6-12 yrs. old $5.00; Family Four Pack of tickets is $30. Children fewer than six are free.


Location: Merced Speedway is within the Merced County Fairgrounds 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Merced, Calif.


Note: This week’s program will be the last until the Merced County Fair races on Wednesday, June 7.