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99 Speedway 1946
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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!!

Holmes is champ
Escalon driver wins NASCAR Grand National West title

Escalon resident Eric Holmes gleefully holds up the winner's trophy after claiming the NASCAR Grand National West championship at Altamont Motorsports Park on Sunday.
ADRIAN MENDOZA/THE BEE
other pix by 99 Pix
By KELLY JONES
BEE STAFF WRITER

Last Updated: October 16, 2006, 05:54:31 AM PDT

TRACY Denied a major regional stock car title at Altamont Motorsports Park last month, Escalon's #62, Eric Holmes finally felt the champion's spotlight on Sunday.

Holmes finished fifth in the Altamont 200 while his main challengers faltered, which was good enough to keep his NASCAR Grand National West points lead on the final night.

Holmes became a little choked up while thanking his supporters in Victory Lane.

He led the most laps (123), and only a flat tire that required changing with 16 laps to go kept him from winning the race. El Cajon's Austin Cameron won the event.

"All the people that helped you, that's the biggest part, especially Allen," Holmes said of car owner Allen Beebe. "We used one car, one motor all year. He kind of did it for me, and I did it for him."

Modesto's #2, Mike David finished 13th. He entered the race trailing Holmes by 47 points. His best shot to win the title would have been to win the race and beat Holmes by eight positions. David finished second in the standings, 83 points behind Holmes for his best finish in six years on the tour.

"Second doesn't feel any better than fifth," David said. "My guys put their hearts into this. We had a good car. We had horrible racing luck (Sunday)."

Holmes has won plenty of big races over the years, but this is his first title in four attempts. He finished second in two series' standings. He came one point short of claiming the Southwest Series title, despite winning the final race at Altamont on Sept. 23. Holmes said he was "bummed" he didn't win the race Sunday.

"Last time here, I won the race but lost the championship," Holmes said, smiling. "Now I lost the race and won the championship."

It was a long but exciting night for the Central Valley drivers and an estimated crowd of 2,000. There were six lead changes among four drivers, and nine caution flags slowed the race for 55 laps.

David suffered two flat tires, the second after he slid into the infield rocks going into turn 3 on lap 182, thanks to oil spilled from Andrew Myers' car. David returned to the track, driving up into the wall going into turn 4.

The field parked in turn 1 while crews dried the track. Holmes' right back tire leaked while David's right front went down. Holmes gave up the lead to get his tire changed while David fell a lap down after his crew had a tire jack problem.

When the race resumed, sparks poured from under David's car due to a broken swaybar, he said. He was black-flagged with 10 laps to go but said he didn't realize how bad the damage was or that he was the one being sent off the track.

David stayed out until the final two laps, but officials stopped scoring him after 193 laps. He qualified fourth, led three laps and had to work his way through the field in the second half after cutting his right front tire with 10 laps to go before the break.

"There's just so many rocks that get kicked up on the track," David said. "No matter what, Eric was going to win. It sure would have been fun to race him for it instead."

Holmes, who turns 32 today, qualified fastest in 17.623 seconds around the half-mile oval.

"He just wanted to dominate, and he did," Beebe said. "I knew he could do it. The team really came together this year. They ran both series, worked a lot of weekends."

 

Escalon driver wins first title

SCOTT LINESBURGH
Record Staff Writer
Published Monday, Oct 16, 2006

TRACY - Sometimes it's OK to cry in auto racing.

Eric Holmes, #62, of Escalon was jubilant, proud and shed a few tears after he gave himself an early birthday present and clinched the NASCAR Grand National West championship Sunday at Altamont Motorsports Park.


Holmes led most of the race before suffering a flat tire late and finishing fifth, which was good enough to clinch his first title.

After the race, Holmes stood near his car while a stiff and cold breeze swirled around him and became choked up as he thought about what it took to finally get a championship.

"Yeah, it's pretty emotional," Holmes said. "I wasn't thinking really about myself. It's all the people that help you, I can't thank them enough. Everyone did so much."

Austin Cameron, #88, of El Cajon won the Grand National season finale in front of 1,910 fans after inheriting the lead on lap 184 from Holmes, whose right rear tire went flat during a red-flag stoppage. Holmes led 123 of the 200 laps.

"I was bummed because I wanted to win," Holmes said.

Holmes, who turns 32 today, was close to a title less than a month ago. He missed winning the NASCAR Southwest Series crown by a point after winning at Altamont on Sept. 23.

Winning races is nice, but championships are better.

"It's his first title, and I know how much it means to him," said Steve Holmes, Eric's father. "I'm very proud of him."

Mike David of Modesto trailed Holmes by 47 points before the race and was the only driver who could have caught him. But David suffered two flat tires and had other car problems before getting a black flag in lap 193 and finishing 13th.

"It was a rough weekend," David said. "No matter what, Eric would have won, but we would have liked to race him for it."

David suffered his second flat tire of the night at the same time Holmes had his flat, but Holmes was able to fix it and stay on the lead lap and David went down a lap.

Cameron was not seriously challenged during the final 16 laps and won $7,191.

"Bad luck happened (to Holmes), and we were there at the right place," Cameron said. "I congratulate Eric Holmes on winning the series title. He deserves it."

Rick Ruzbarsky of Tracy planned to race the Grand National event, but the timing chain on his engine broke during practice and he was forced to retire.

Joe Allen of Stockton had another strong run at Altamont and won the American Limited Stock Car main event. Allen has two wins and a second-place finish in three races at the track.

"We've done well here, and this was an exciting win," Allen said. "I haven't decided how much we'll run here next year, but this was a great win."

Jason Fensler of Wilton won the 200-lap latel model stock car race late Saturday night. Fensler earned $3,500 for his victory.

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh, at (209) 546-8281 or slinesbu@recordnet.com