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JULY 1: FREE Admission -Timmy Post Memorial Spectacular! Fireworks, IMCA Modifieds and SportMods, and Hobby Stocks

(060717) Merced Speedway - New generation driver Chase Thomas, (21T) of Atwater, 18 years old, works his way through the fourth turn at Merced Speedway, with Randy Brewer of Hilmar (87) in the inside lane. Anthony Giuliani (15) of Morgan Hill and Merced's Josh Hensley (86) are in the front row. (Merced, CA) (Photo by Mike Adaskaveg)

IMCA SportMods Back in Action!  – New generation driver Chase Thomas, (21T) of Atwater, 18 years old, works his way through the fourth turn at Merced Speedway, with Randy Brewer of Hilmar (87) in the inside lane. Anthony Giuliani (15) of Morgan Hill and Merced’s Josh Hensley (86) are in the front row.

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

Merced Speedway owner Ed Parker remembers circling date of the first July race on his calendar when he was a young racer.

“It was the big event of the year at the speedway – fireworks, racing – and the whole city was there,” Parker says. “It was time to make sure my car looked perfect. Drivers were there to race for prestige – and an extra special trophy.”

When Parker took over ownership of the speedway two years ago, he brought back the 4th of July tradition. The Friends of Merced Speedway now helps raise funds for the fireworks. Last year, nearly 5,000 Merced residents enjoyed the program at no cost.

Saturday night, the speedway’s Fourth of July weekend celebration will also honor the memory of Tim Post, a well-liked local teen who was killed in an automobile accident in 1999. Parker has the band “Wack A Mole” performing on the midway and has added extra food concessions for the anticipated crowd.

“It will be a complete community event we are giving to the people of Merced,” Parker says. “It’s a very special night. We can host more than 6,000 people.”

(041517) Merced Speedway - Troy Stone of Winton slides his new IMCA modified through the first and second turns at Merced Speedway. Stone, whose birthday is July 4th, has won the Independence Day special five times in his career. (Merced, CA) (Photo by Mike Adaskaveg)

Birthday Boy! – Troy Stone of Winton slides his new IMCA modified through the first and second turns at Merced Speedway. Stone, whose birthday is July 4th, has won the Independence Day special five times in his career.

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, TOO

Driver Troy Stone of Winton was born on the 4th of July. He’ll be competing in the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Modified Division on Saturday night.

“Every year it is a major event for me,” he laughs. “The race has special meaning for me. I’ve won on my birthday weekend five times.”

Stone is hoping to take home one of the big trophies this year donated by Bob Smith, a racer who owns a Merced truck repair business.

“I’ve been working on my car all week,” Stone, who keeps his car in a garage attached to his home, explains. “I’m changing shock absorbers, and making adjustments. I feel I have the right combination to win. I just don’t want to crash.”

(041517) Merced Speedway - 15-year-old Tanner Thomas of Atwater, one of the new generation of drivers in the IMCA SportMod Division at Merced Speedway, cleans his modified after practice laps. His brother Chase's car is parked behind his. (Merced, CA) (Photo by Mike Adaskaveg)

CLEAN AND MEAN _ 15-year-old Tanner Thomas of Atwater, one of the new generation of drivers in the IMCA SportMod Division at Merced Speedway, cleans his modified after practice laps. His brother Chase’s car is parked behind his.

A YOUNG GENERATION RACES IN MEMORY OF TIMMY POST

Chase Thomas, 18, and his bother, Tanner, 15, are racing in the IMCA SportMod division of the Tim Post Memorial. They were born after Post’s passing, but their father, Darren, is from the generation that raced at the track when previous owners Chuck and Marylee Griffin ran the speedway. Post was their grandson.

“Timmy always liked the local drivers,” Thomas recalls. He was personable, and wanted to help anyone – but he had a soft spot for the hometown boys. Now the drivers who were Post’s age 19 years ago are learning about him and are pumped up for the event.”

(060717) Merced Speedway - Garrett Corn of Cathey's Valley moves in on Josh Strickland (44) and Michael Shearer (67J) during Hobby Stock action at Merced Speedway. This Saturday, there will be special bonuses to Hobby Stock drivers in memory of Tim Post. (Merced, CA) (Photo by Mike Adaskaveg)

Bonuses for Hobby Stock Drivers – Garrett Corn of Cathey’s Valley moves in on Josh Strickland (44) and Michael Shearer (67J) during Hobby Stock action at Merced Speedway. This Saturday, there will be special bonuses to Hobby Stock drivers in memory of Tim Post.

Neil Barcellos is Tim Post’s brother. He was nine when he lost the sibling he most looked up to. Post’s tractor is still used at the speedway.

“It’s a piece of equipment you can’t put a price on,” Barcellos says of the old Ford tractor. “When I saw anyone else drive it, it broke my heart.”

Now, Barcellos drives that tractor. He and his grandparents, the Griffins, have been busy this week raising funds for the race. The money will go to the “little guys” who make the weekly show exciting.

The top 10 Hobby Stock drivers are locked into starting positions. A drawing will take place to give extra money to the field of Hobby Stock drivers. The last place finisher will receive a bonus.

“We want to give special bonuses to the drivers. There will be a hard charger cash award for the driver in each of the three divisions who passes the most cars,” says Barcellos. “We want to put some money into the back of the pack. Timmy would have wanted us to give something to the drivers that support the speedway every week but have few wins or top finishes.”

TIMMY  POST MEMORIAL FREE FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION

When: Saturday, July 1

Gates Open: 4 p.m.

Entertainment: Wack A Mole Performs Under the Grandstand

Food: Available for Purchase from Concession Stands and Food Trucks

Racing: IMCA Modifieds, IMCA SportMods, and Hobby Stocks

Schedule: IMCA Modified Feature – 8:30 p.m.; Fireworks 9:15 p.m.; Hobby Stock and IMCA SportMod features follow fireworks