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June 30: FREE FIREWORKS AND RACING! – Margie Mejia’s Love for Merced Speedway

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun Star

The local racing scene was thrown into uncertainty when Merced Speedway owner and promoter Ed Parker passed away unexpectedly last week. The uncertainty was short-lived as  Atwater’s Margie Mejia stepped up with her personal money to guarantee the free Independence Day celebration  would take place Saturday night.

Soft spoken and humble, Mejia shuns publicity. She’s been a behind the scenes supporter of Merced Speedway and never looked for recognition.

“I’ve been going to Merced Speedway since I was a child,” she says. “It’s home and family for me.”

When Mejia’s son Michael Shearer started racing, Mejia was excited to see her family represented on the track. Now, Mejia’s daughter-in-law. Kristie and grandson Ian are also racing on the quarter mile dirt track.

After a successful first season as promoter, the late Ed Parker, left, honored Margie Mejia of Atwater, right, at Merced Speedway’s Awards banquet. Mejia is credited with the rebirth of the free Independence Day races and fireworks three years ago. The program will go on as scheduled this Saturday night. Photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

“When young people are busy doing something positive – even if it is  working on cars and racing at a supervised track instead of being on the streets – it is all good,” she says. “The racing family is supportive of newcomers. It is a great family to be part of.”

Mejia’s love of the annual tradition of a fireworks display at the track drove her to convince Parker to continue what was started years ago.

“Way back years and years ago, all of Merced County and beyond went to the free fireworks show,” Mejia says. “It was tradition for many years. Then, the economy failed. Businesses closed. The fireworks displays stopped.”

Three years ago, Mejia met with Parker and convinced him to re-new the tradition.

“After the first year, my sons told me how proud they were of me because the fireworks display is so special, and I helped get it back,” Mejia says.

The fireworks show is not cheap. Nor is putting on a full program of racing at no charge to the community.

“Ed agreed with me – the only way to revive the tradition was to do it at no cost to the community – it was our way of giving back to the community,” says Mejia. “To see entire families together, happy and smiling, gives me a good feeling.”

Mejia reiterates that doesn’t want the credit.

“Ed (Parker) spent a lot of hours rebuilding this track. There are more cars and more drivers, and he wanted to see it become like it used to be in the 70s and 80s,” Mejia says. “I’m really proud of the racing family – everyone has stepped up, offering to keep things going while we deal with the loss of a great guy.”

The racing family has stepped up to help Ed Parker’s 18 year old son, Cody prepare for Sautrday night’s race. He drives the car he and his dad worked on in the IMCA Sport Mod division.

 

“We will continue the work that Ed began,” says Mejia. “I feel blessed that I  have the ability to help make it happen.

 

RACING UPDATE

 

Race Director Bill Volz is working with Cody Parker, who will take over as owner and promoter of the Speedway.

Cody may be young in age, but he is older in experience – thanks to his dad,” says Volz. “We wil continue Ed’s legacy of putting on an awesome show for the drivers and fans and will help Cody with whatever needs to be accomplished.”

Saturday’s Independence Day Celebration will include qualifying races and a feature event for the IMCA Modified, IMCA SportMod, Hobby Stock and Mini Late Model Divisions.

The pit area will open at 2 p.m. The grandstand will open at 5 p.m. The free program of racing and fireworks will begin at 7 p.m. The fireworks show will take place after dark.

 

SERVICE FOR PARKER

 

There will be a Celebration of Ed Parker’s Life on Friday, July 6 at 11 a.m. in Half Dome Hall at the Merced County Fairgrounds.