BCRA Midgets April 21: Prickett Loves Merced Speedway Dirt


(041418 Merced, CA) Merced Speedway - Shannon Nelson at speed on the backstretch of Merced Speedway in her new Hobby Stock. Nelson finished second in her first feature driving the new car. Saturday, April 14, 2018. Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

Hobby Stocks have been added to Saturday’s schedule. Shannon Nelson at speed on the backstretch of Merced Speedway in her new Hobby Stock. Nelson finished second in her first feature driving the new car. Saturday,

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

The Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) traveling midget show makes its one and only stop of the season at Merced Speedway on Saturday night. The cars are small, the speeds are fast, and the drivers seem to be always in harm’s way.

Ask driver Dave Prickett of Fresno what the attraction is to driving the small 4-cylinder powered racecars and he’ll immediately point to the thrill of mastering the power to weight ratio. The cars have engines that produce 400 horsepower, yet they weigh only 900 lbs.

“Midgets are like bulls in a china chop. There is no down force on these cars – no wings or spoilers – its only tires on the track to control the cars,” he says with the experience of a 35 year old that has driven the cars since he was 14. “We run with just inches between each other on the track. There is rubbing, touching, and bumping – but we don’t take each other out intentionally by crashing. “

Prickett says as dirt builds up on the outside of the Merced Speedway quarter-mile oval, two lanes will develop – some cars will be better on the outside lane, others on the inside.

“The high (outside) line is for those who get on the gas harder,” says Prickett. “The low line is for the drivers who want to be more technical.”

The past president of the BCRA, Prickett explained that it was more than 15 years between the last midget show at Merced Speedway and the BCRA’s successful return to the track last season.

The BCRA will race on dirt and pavement tracks throughout California this season. Drivers come from throughout the state.

“I am primarily a dirt track guy,” Prickett says. “I’m excited for Saturday’s race. There is nothing like driving a midget on a quarter mile dirt track. Drivers will make changes to improve the cars throughout the race. There are shock absorber adjustments that can be changed from the cockpit as the race progresses and the track changes.”

As drivers find the fastest way around the track in the feature, the intensity of the racing will build. There will be 18 cars vying for victory lane in the main event.


Dave Prickett slides through the turns in his midget. Bryan Lugo Photo

“It’s not always the fastest guy on the first lap who wins the race,” Prickett says. “So many things can change in such a short period of time that there will most likely be a surprise winner.



The Merced Speedway Hobby Stock division has been added to the Saturday night program that also includes the BCRA Midget and Valley Sportsman divisions.

Last Saturday night, Watsonville’s Billy Nelson beat Atwater’s Shannon Nelson (no relation) and Michael Shearer to the finish line in a thrilling Hobby Stock main event.

Nelson, a pre-school teacher and mother of two, rose to the front row of a field of 24 Hobby Stocks, despite it being her first night out of the season and being behind the wheel of a brand new car.

“I never had a practice day this season – I was nervous about what could happen in a car that I never drove before,” Shannon Nelson said.

Shearer, who finished third, owns Nelson’s car.  Nelson’s husband, Bruce “Bubba” Nelson, works on Shearer’s race crew. “Bubba” Nelson’s drives an IMCA SportMod car numbered 4B and Shannon Nelson’s is numbered “’Lil 4B.”

“The new car fit me well – it was a lot easier to drive than last year’s car,” Shannon Nelson says. “I’m looking forward to see what we can do with it this week.”

Now there is a littler “4B” and perhaps a “4 BB” in the future. The couple’s eldest son, Bentley, 5, has started racing in a kid’s go-kart division at the Chowchilla Fairgrounds. His younger brother, Bryce, has also shown an interest in the family past time.


The speedway’s pit area will open at 2 p.m. The grandstand gates will open at 5 p.m. Cars will be on the track at 6 p.m., with racing beginning at 7 p.m.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10.00 for Military and Students with school ID, $5 for children 6-12 years old. Children under 6 years old are free. A family four-pack of ticket is $30.

Merced Speedway is located within the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced.