April 22: Tubbs Car Salutes Veterans; McQueen’s First Visit in BCRA Midgets

(041517 Merced, CA) Spc. Jerry Tubbs stands at attention next to his Camaro Hobby Stock painted to remember and thank those who served our country in the military . Tubbs was stationed in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. He races the car at Merced Speedway on Saturday night. Saturday,  April 15, 2017.  Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

 Spc. Jerry Tubbs stands at attention next to his Camaro Hobby Stock painted to remember and thank those who served our country in the military .Tubbs was stationed in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. He races the car at Merced Speedway on Saturday night. 

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

Jerry Tubbs was a senior at Atwater High School on Sept. 11, 2001. Like many Americans, his life was changed forever on that day.

More than 15 years later, Tubbs drives a Camaro hobby stock car at Merced Speedway. His car is a tribute to lives lost from that fateful day forward, and his artwork reflecting the history of his life as an American.

On Saturday night, his army-green racecar with military insignias is cheered for the moment he leaves his home in Winton and heads down Rt. 99 to the Speedway..

“People pass and wave, others give the thumbs up out of their windows,” says Tubbs. “I salute them back.”

September 11 made a lasting impression on Tubbs. He immediately started talking to recruiters. When he was ready to serve, he decided upon the Army National Guard. A truck driver by trade, he was assigned to the 1072nd Transportation Company of the California National Guard in Fresno.

(041517 Merced, CA) SPC Jerry Tubbs of Winton has a hand-painted list on the trunk lid of his Camaro Hobby Stock, listing those veterans he knew who lost their lives. He races the car in the Hobby Stock division at Merced Speedway on Saturday night.   Saturday,  April 15, 2017.  Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

 SPC Jerry Tubbs of Winton has a hand-painted list on the trunk lid of his Camaro Hobby Stock, listing those veterans he knew who lost their lives. He races the car in the Hobby Stock division at Merced Speedway on Saturday night. 

The 1072nd was soon sent to Afghanistan, assigned to the Northeast corner of the country to move a base.

“The U.S. soldiers were welcomed by the Afghans,” Tubbs explained. “They even helped our convoy when we had to change routes.”

Tubbs was injured when his truck hit a crater, and assigned to the kitchen where he checked credentials of Afghan workers who helped on the base. The locals even held a bazaar for the servicemen every week.

“For the most part they are cool people – they even took the time to be fluent in English” Tubbs said. “They are set in their ways, too, and Western society shouldn’t push its own agenda on them.”

The MOAB missile being dropped a week ago brought out many opinions.

“It was a warning shot to the world,” Tubbs feels. “We have a new president. We won’t roll over. We won’t back down. Understand –we need to get rid of Isis, the Taliban, and terrorists – not get rid of the whole Middle East.”

TRAGEDIES, REMEMBRANCES AND HONOR

(041517 Merced, CA) Jerry Tubbs has listed those whom he served with in Afghanistan on the back deck of the stock car he races at Merced Speedway.  Saturday,  April 15, 2017.  Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

 Tubbs has listed those whom he served with in Afghanistan on the back deck of the stock car he races at Merced Speedway. 

The first name scrawled on the trunk lid of Tubbs’ hobby stock is for Army Spec. Benjamin C. Pleitez, who died July 27, 2012.

“We were half way through our tour when we lost him,” Tubbs explained.

Pleitez was one of 2,346 soldiers who fought and died since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tubbs continued with a list of military members he personally knew who had been killed or passed away – including his grandfather, John Merritt, of Atwater. A soldier, a Merced Speedway racer, and a truck driver who went on to be a Captain in the Atwater Fire Department, Merritt died in 1998.

“I have followed in my grandfather’s footsteps,” Tubbs said. “I am pro military. I honor the fallen and honor the members still serving our country.”

The list of soldiers he served with is also on the car, along with other symbols of American Freedom.

“The National Guard is a great institution in our country,” he said. “The morale is high. We have each other and our families – the experience is a positive one. Sometimes a soldier may be hurt and others can’t see it. Just having someone thank a guardsman – or anyone in the military – for their service to our country – does go a long way.”

(041517 Merced, CA) Merced Speedway IMCA Modified All Star Tour -  .  Saturday,  April 15, 2017.  Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

BCRA MIDGETS ADDED TO SATURDAY NIGHT PROGRAM

The Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Midget Racers will be at Merced Speedway for the first time in many years. There will be a full field of the four-cylinder open-wheeled cars competing for a spot in the 24-car feature.

Bakersfield’s Shannon McQueen, 2011 BCRA champion and 2012 USAC Western States Midget Champion, will race in Merced for the first time.

“I’m excited to be going to a new track,” McQueen said. “I’ve been racing Midgets since 2004 and Merced hasn’t been on our schedule. We will make new fans that were never exposed to our type of racing. It should be a fantastic show.”

The midget car has 400 horsepower to propel 1050 lbs. on a 65” wheelbase.

“The power to weight ratio is one of the highest in oval racing,” McQueen explained. “That makes a midget one of the hardest cars to drive. The cars are ‘twitchy’ – meaning they react very quickly to the slightest steering wheel movement and acceleration and deceleration.”

The fast little cars are raced on tracks from 1/5th of a mile to ½ mile. McQueen held the half-mile record at Calistoga Speedway from 2009-2014.

“When we get to Merced Speedway, drivers will be looking for the right gear ratio – the ones who figure that out will be the fastest,” she said. “It is an advantage to know a lot of different tracks . If a driver raced on a track similar to Merced Speedway, the similarities could be a starting point for car set-up.”

SATURDAY NIGHT AT MERCED SPEEDWAY

(041517 Merced, CA) Merced Speedway IMCA Modified All Star Tour -  .  Saturday,  April 15, 2017.  Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

IMCA SportMods will be back in action this Saturday night at Merced Speedway.

On the Track: The BCRA Midget Division makes its only appearance of the season. The program will also include the Hobby Stock, IMCA SportMod and Valley Sportsman divisions. Each class of cars will have a complete program of qualifying races and a feature event.

Gates Open: Pit Area – 1 p.m., Grandstand 5 p.m.

Racing: Starts 7 p.m. will end approximately 10 p.m.

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.

April 15: IMCA All Star Tour

By Mike Adaskaveg

Merced Sun-Star

(040216) Merced Speedway - Ramie (left) and Paul Stone (right) (Photo by Mike Adaskaveg)

Mod Drivers Ramie (left) and Paul Stone.

Opening day jitters aren’t just for beginners.

All eyes will be on the veteran drivers of Merced Speedway’s semi-pro division Saturday night.

The International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Modified Division draws a national following, and the first race of the

season is the IMCA All Star Tour- thanks to rain that canceled two programs at the fairgrounds oval this season.

“The first race is always a jittery one,” says Ramie Stone, who won last year’s IMCA All Star Tour at the speedway. “I’m kind of nervous about that – I don’t want to see everyone tearing sheet metal off of each others’ cars.”

Stone, of Winton, first raced at Merced Speedway in 1996 and has four Modified Division championships. He charged from the back and won last year’s race by riding on the outside groove of the quarter-mile oval

“Knowing the track is important. I also had the advantage of starting behind the fastest cars,” Stone explains. “The cars in front stayed on the bottom. I just drove around them – you can’t pass them on the same spot they are on.”

This year, the track will most likely have a “heavier” surface – meaning the clay surface will hold moisture from rainwater.

“I perform better on a dry track,” Stone says. “My car is faster this year than it was last year. I’m hoping for a good run.”

The Stone family rivalry will also play a factor. Ramie Stone’s brother Troy and cousin Paul will most likely be in the mix.

“Paul was blistering fast last year,” Ramie Stone adds. “It would be great to have me and Paul battling it out to the finish – like in the days of old.”

 

PAUL STONE HOPES FOR SMOOTH ROLLING EVENT

 

With a racecar based in the Midwest and one locally, Paul Stone is hungry to race. His first big IMCA event in Iowa was rained out. Then, the All Star Tour opened in Chico last week with unwanted results. He was crashed into and did not finish the race.

“Hopefully, the rest of the drivers will get their heads on straight,” Stone says after his car was wrecked in Chico. “I’m spoiled by racing in the Midwest. I raced 11 weeks there without a dented wheel or a ruined body panel.”

Stone is looking forward to Saturday night.

“I’m itching to race and as a racer I’m looking forward to driving at my home track, racing with my family and friends,” he adds. “I just dread getting wrecked. I’m looking forward to racing.”

(031117 Merced, CA) IMCA Modified driver DJ Shannon, a senior at Merced High School, practices in March at Merced Speedway. Saturday, March 11, 2017. Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

IMCA Modified driver DJ Shannon, a senior at Merced High School, practices in March at Merced Speedway. .

BIG NAMES IN CALIFORNIA RACING CONVERGE ON MERCED

 

Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas hasn’t raced at Merced Speedway for two seasons. He’s considered to be one of the top stars of California IMCA Modified racing.

“The added incentive of the All Star tour will make the competition better,” Hogge IV says. “I’m looking forward to racing at Merced Speedway again – it’s always a lot of fun to race there.”

Hogge IV cited the track’s quarter mile track – which is smaller and tighter than many of the state’s tracks.

“It’s really busy on the track,” Hogge IV reasons. “The track is small and tight – that’s what makes dirt racing fun. A driver really has to stay on top of things.”

Troy Foulger of Martinez agrees with Hogge IV.

“The IMCA All Star Tour is growing bigger and bigger,” says Foulger. “The cars are competitive, which makes racing as much fun for the drivers as it is for the fans.”

 

CHRIS SHANNON RETURNS TO RACE AGAINST SON DJ

(031117 Merced, CA) D.J. Shannon, left, and his dad, 2011 Champion Chris Shannon, right, will race against each other this season in the IMCA Modified division at Merced Speedway. D.J. is the third generation of Shannons to race at Merced Speedway. Saturday, March 11, 2017. Staff photo by Mike Adaskaveg.

D.J. Shannon, left, and his dad, 2011 Champion Chris Shannon, right, will race against each other this season in the IMCA Modified division at Merced Speedway. D.J. is the third generation of Shannons to race at Merced Speedway.

Merced High School senior DJ Shannon will have an entirely new perspective on racing this season.

His dad, Chris Shannon, who began racing in 1981, returns to the modified division after a short hiatus. He is the 2011 track champion, winning 10 races that year.

Chgris Shannon took time off to work with his dad, Jerry, at their pump business during the drought crisis. They returned last year to coach son DJ who began racing in the IMCA Modified division.

“He was giving me advice last year and this year I have to race against him,” laughs DJ Shannon. “He told me that he would put my grandmother into the wall for a win, so he would definitely do it to me. I hope he was just kidding.”

The Shannons have different racing styles.

“My style is a little ore aggressive than his,” DJ Shannon says. “He picks and choses when he wants to pass someone. He waits and makes his move. I throw my car into the turn and hope to make the pass. I’m learning what I can and can’t do – what abilities my car has and I have.”

The Shannons watched the IMCA All Star Tour last season. This year they’ll hopefully both be in the feature event. More than 40 cars are expected. Only 20 will be in the feature. There will be a “B” main event for the excess cars.

“I was racing with DJ last week in Bakersfield and he was in front of me. I caught myself watching him and forgetting that I was racing,” says Chris Shannon. “One of the greatest things for me is to see my son out there in front of me. His grandfather is a racer, too, and he drove and owned cars in the 70’s and 80’s.”

For Chris Shannon and DJ Shannon and their crew, Saturday night will be a memorable one – no matter what happens on the track.

“It’s n honor for me to get to race with my dad, along with the best of the best drivers in California,” DJ Shannon says.

 

SATURDAY NIGHT AT MERCED SPEEDWAY

 

On the Track: A large field of cars is expected, as IMCA SportMods, Hobby Stocks, and Mini-Stocks will join the IMCA Modifieds. The IMCA SportMods will have an increased purse, which will draw cars from afar. Each division will have qualifying heat races and a feature event. Depending upon car counts; there could be two features for the IMCA Modified and IMCA SportMod divisions.

 

Gates Open: Pit Area – 1 p.m., Grandstand 5 p.m.

 

Racing: Starts 7 p.m. will end approximately 10 p.m.

 

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.