October 5 and 6: Ed Parker’s Season Ending Big Show: The John Fore Dirt Car Nationals

Merced Speedway 2018 Tack Champ Darrell Hughes expects stiff competition at this weekends Fore Dirt Nationals. 

By Mike Adaskaveg

Special to the Sun-Star

Having a blockbuster event to end the Merced Speedway racing season was a plan put into place by the late Ed Parker, owner of the speedway. Friday and Saturday night, the last racing program that Parker had promoted – The John Fore Dirt Nationals –  will take place as scheduled.

“I’m excited to see some of the best competition in the state coming to race with us for a chance to win the John Fore Dirt Nationals,” says Darrell Hughes of Manteca, the speedway’s 2018 IMCA Modified division champion.  “The race is going to be a tough one to win. I am hoping to qualify for the show – and I will see how things go from there.”

Parker negotiated the move of the Dirt Nationals from Tulare to Merced. He combined the Third Annual John Fore, Jr. Memorial with the Dirt Nationals into a huge show for the Modified, SportMod, Mini-stock, and Hobby Stock divisions.

Ed Parker was Excited to end the season with the Dirt Nationals.

Parker, who died unexpectedly in July, was excited for this weekend’s John Fore Dirt Nationals. He was proud that Merced Speedway had returned to local and national prominence, and felt a big race that included drivers from all of the region’s dirt tracks, would be an event fans would love.

John Fore, who repaired farm equipment, died in a work-related accident. He was a SportMod driver at the Speedway.

Top drivers from Oregon to Arizona are expected to race with Merced Speedway’s regulars.

“We’ll be there for sure,” says SportMod driver Fred Ryland of Brentwood. He and his wife Patti competed with Fore in the division. “It is a great tribute to John Fore. Saturday’s race is the largest paying event of the year in California for the SportMods. Friday program also pays well. John would have been proud that Merced Speedway has this race.”

A close friend of Fore’s, Bob Smith, helped raise contributions to boost the purse for the event. Smith, who runs a truck repair business in Merced, shared a SportMod with Fore early in their racing careers.

“The race is a celebration,” says Smith. “Those who knew John knew he was a kind person. He was happy to help others, and was always excited about racing.”

The Fore family will present trophies on Saturday night.

“I appreciate how Ed and the racing community has continued to honor John,” says John Fore’s widow, Lisa, of Chowchilla. “John’s memory is still very much alive.”

The friends and family of Fore have an annual scholarship in place for an Agriculture student at Chowchilla High School.

(081818) Merced Speedway – Patti Ryland of Brentwood (7) races Jarrod Mounce (05) in the IMCA SportMod diivision. Ryland and her husband, Fred, will be competing in the John Fore Dirt Nationals Friday and Saturday night at Merced Speedway.

Friday night’s program will have a different format the weekly programs at the speedway. There will be sets of heats – the second in each set having an inverted starting order. Points will be awarded for finishing position and cars passed. The top 12 cars in each division will be in the Friday feature events. The top six cars from each Friday feature will take the top six starting positions in Saturday night’s main events. The remaining 16 cars will qualify for each Saturday night feature from heat races that night.

When You Go:

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

Friday Night:

The racing program begins at 7 p.m. and usually concludes at 10 p.m.

The pit gate opens at 2 p.m. and the grandstand gate opens at 5 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 pack of two adult and two child tickets is $30.

Sat. Night:

The racing program begins at 7 p.m. and usually concludes at 10 p.m.

Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for military and students, $10 for children 6-12. Children five and under are free. A family pack of two adult and two child tickets is $45.