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Stockton
99 Speedway 1946
(before completion)

 


Billy Vukovich at Stockton 99 Speedway in 1947.


Stockton 99 Speedway, Early Race. Note the goal posts in the infield, St. Mary's High School played football there!!

Stockton 99 ready to go with one final show

SCOTT LINESBURGH
Record Staff Writer
Published Saturday, Sep 16, 2006

The drivers at Stockton 99 Speedway are ready to rev their engines one more time and race toward an emotional goodbye.

It could be a wild night.

The 60-year-old track on Wilson Way will host its final races beginning at 6 p.m. today. Some competitors plan to do whatever it takes to win the final event, others are trying to secure championships and a few still won't accept that it's going to be over.

"I haven't seen the bull-dozers yet," said NASCAR Western Late Model driver Ron Strmiska Jr. of Manteca. "I've said all season that until I see the bulldozers in the parking lot, I won't completely believe that this place is going away."


Strmiska does plan to try to win the 100-lap WLM main event and try to secure at least one of two titles, just in case those bulldozers do show up.

The final scheduled program will feature the last round of the Hotwood 1,000 for the WLM competitors, a 100-lap StockCar Racing League race, the American Limited Stock Car and Powder Puff events, a fireworks display and a school bus demolition derby.

This could be a very long night.

"We'll try to move everything along, but we wanted to put on a really big final show," track promoter Ken Clapp said. "I don't think anyone will fault us for that."

There are likely to be fireworks in the sky and on the track. In the featured WLM race, three local guys will be vying for two titles among a field of drivers vying for the last win.

Guy Guibor of Manteca is trying to secure his first - and last - track title.

Guibor leads defending champion Pete Anderson Jr. of Stockton 969-942; Strmiska has 938.

Strmiska has a 720-719 lead over Anderson in the Hotwood points race, and they are the only drivers still eligible for the title.

Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove, a three-time Stockton 99 champion, said he knows everyone wants to win the final race. But he hopes people show respect for the title contenders.

"Everybody has been looking forward to this race all year. There is going to be so much adrenaline flowing and so much on the line, it is going to be huge," Byrd said. "The key for everybody will be to stay out of (the title contenders) way. Race hard, go for the win, but don't knock any of them out of it. This will be one race for everyone to mind their Ps and Qs, at least as far as they are concerned."

Track officials also are urging caution, but Anderson expects a typical Stockton 99 slugfest.

"You are going to have 15 drivers out here who can win the last one, and 15 more who think they can." Anderson said. "Then you will have us three trying to run up front points racing. I think it will be another night at Stockton."

Chris Monez of Turlock says he definitely is coming to Stockton to win.

"I use the term 'checkers or wreckers.' That doesn't mean we want to wreck anybody, but we do plan to go out, race on the edge and win it," Monez said. "There's no tomorrow.

"We certainly don't want to affect the points races, but second won't be good enough this time."

The final night also has prompted a few familiar faces to return. Harry Belletto of Modesto and Dave Philpott of Tracy will try to meet their goal of winning in the final season, and the SRL race is filled with former Stockton regulars.

Ken Boyd of Ceres, a five-time Late Model champion at Stockton 99, will be competing in the SRL race, along with Grand National driver Eric Holmes of Escalon, John Gaalswyk of Ripon and Steve and Jeff Belletto of Modesto.

"It will be a special night," Boyd said. "The best way to say goodbye to the track would be with a win, or at least a very strong showing."

Clapp said there will be more than 100 former drivers at the track for the finale, and Whitey Rich, who managed the track for 32 years and retired in 1990, will be in attendance. Rich lives in Grant's Pass, Ore.

"It's an honor Whitey is coming back, and it adds to a big night," Clapp said. "This is going to be very emotional for everyone."

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at 546-8281 or e-mail slinesbu@recordnet.com

Today's racing


Stockton 99 Speedway
Gates open: 2 p.m.
Qualifying: 4 p.m.
Green flag: 6:10 p.m.
Program: 100-lap races for NASCAR Western Late Model and StockCar Racing League; American Limited Stock Car, Powder Puff, school bus demolition derby and fireworks
Information: (209) 466-9999; stockton99speedway.com