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Things Are Looking Up At Merced Speedway With Ed Parker As Promoter (Read 139 times)
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Things Are Looking Up At Merced Speedway With Ed Parker As Promoter
06/02/17 at 8:36am
 

Things Are Looking Up At Merced Speedway With Ed Parker As Promoter


Merced, CA...Some people may have underestimated Ed Parker when he stepped up and took over Merced Speedway as promoter in 2016.  There wasn't a lot in his racing back ground that might have had people nominating him for the job.  In fact, there were other names being thrown around as people who could lead the nearly 70 year old racing facility back to prominence.  But, Ed had a game plan.  He began working on that plan while the 2015 season was still in session.  He began putting people and resources in place to make it happen..  Everything was being planned out, from bringing Hall Of Fame racer Doug Williams in a Race Director, to Tim Ragsdale for track prep and Dale Falkenberg in promotions.

The 2016 season opened with lots of optimism, and the easy schedule Ed had booked led to big things happening that year.  Nobody was overbooked.  Drivers had much needed weeks off to make repairs and spend time with family.  This led to car count increases in IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and even the IMCA Modifieds.  In fact, when Legend's night came up in August that year, the Valley Sportsman division fielded eight cars.  Ed also indicated that a Hall Of Fame is being planned to honor the legends who have made this race track so great.

Merced tradition played a part in the panning of the schedule.  Williams had facilitated the return of the once very popular Ted Stofle Classic to honor perhaps California's greatest Stock Car driver of the 1970's.  He also played a part in making the Matt Van Hoecke Memorial Race happen.  Parker is a guy who very much gets it.  Racing history and tradition matters to him.  In the highest post at the speedway, you still get the impression that he is humbled by his position.  It's like every so often, in a quiet moment, you might find him pinching himself to see if he's truly the promoter of Merced Speedway.  Yes he is, and the track is better because of it.

Last year, Ed worked in conjunction with Kim Barcellos to bring back the popular Timmy Post Memorial race, a race that is coming up once again on July 1st.  Timmy was Kim's son and the grandson of Chuck & Marylee Griffin.  He died tragically in an automobile accident on graduation night 1999.  This race was the biggest race of the season at Merced Speedway from 1999 all the way to when the Griffin's ended their run as promoters at the end of 2009.  The racers were delighted to have this race back on the schedule as young Timmy was a beloved member of the Merced racing family.  The blue tow tractor he once rode is still there and is referred to as "Timmy's Tractor."

Parker and his staff work very hard to make each and every race special at Merced Speedway, and this doesn't just include the marquee races, but every race.  Car counts have exploded at times this year to a point where the parking lot was used for excess pitting.  The night of the All Star Series IMCA Modified race had over 40 cars, and with West Coast Sport Mod support, the IMCA Sport Modifieds had over 30 cars as well.  All told, there were over 100 cars in the pits that night.  Even if this is not a track record for car count, it's certainly the biggest count they've had in years.

The track is doing their traditional Merced County Fair race during the week again this year.  It features IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks on Wednesday, June 7th.  The Dwarf Car Nationals is coming to Merced Speedway on June 16th and 17th.  The track has never hosted this blowout Dwarf Car event that brings several Dwarf Car groups together.  Merced was actually the original home track of the NCDCA Dwarf Cars, which co hosts this WCDCA event along with SBDCA.  If you ever wanted to see a Dwarf Car race, this is the one to see.  June 24th gives the fans a taste of Motorcycle racing excitement when the AMA comes to town.  July 1st features the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks for the Timmy Post Memorial.  Legend's Night is another big race on August 12th, and there's more to follow all the way through October's John Fore Jr. Memorial Sport Modified race.

Another thing that sets Parker apart from others is his willingness to work with other tracks and even go dark as he's doing for Watsonville in August.  It's rare that you'll find a promoter struggling to not make conflicting dates with other tracks.  If something comes up, many promoters just do what they want.  Parker does his best to give Merced Speedway the best opportunity for success and work with others.  This is one of many reasons that the track is having a resurgence in popularity.  It will only get better with the way Ed Parker is running things.

If you haven't been to Merced, the June 7th County Fair race is a good opportunity to check it out.  IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks are doing well these days, and the fair is a good back drop to the program.  You can get a corn dog, check out the midway and then watch some great racing.  For more information on coming events, go to www.racemerced.com.
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Former announcer and magazine publisher and co-founder of Spec Sprints... Fighting to preserve racing history and honor the greats who made it so special... As long as we still have local race tracks, the sport has a future... Let's make it a good one!
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