2008 Local Tracks
STOCKTON 99 SPEEDWAY
Like old times: Track returns to NASCAR family
ByScott Linesburgh Record Staff Writer November 01, 2008 6:00 AM
STOCKTON - Stockton 99 Speedway made history 54 years ago when it joined NASCAR. On Friday, the largest auto racing organization in the United States welcomed the track back into the fold.
NASCAR official George Silvermann traveled from the headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., to Stockton to officially announce that Stockton 99, which is reopening in March after a two-year hiatus, again will be a NASCAR facility.
Track operators Carol and Tony Noceti also announced the Western Late Model class would lead its racing divisions, a figure-eight track will be formed, and track veterans Tim Gillit and Jack Houston will be chief steward and chief starter, respectively.
"Everything is coming together, and it's very exciting," Tony Noceti said. "It's an honor to be accepted back into NASCAR."
Stockton 99 began operations in 1947 and ran through 2006, when it was closed because of a real estate deal that later fell through. In 1954, the quarter-mile oval became the first NASCAR-sanctioned track west of the Mississippi River and stayed with the organization until it closed. The Nocetis made a deal with owners Bob Hunefeld and Ken Clapp to take over the track in August.
Silvermann, NASCAR's managing director of racing operations, said the track always was considered a "crown jewel" of short-track racing in the country and an important part of the organization's past and future.
"The reaction (to the re-opening) I've heard from a lot of people is deeply emotional," Silvermann said. "Even in Daytona, when the topic first came up that it looked like Stockton 99 might come back ... they couldn't believe it. They were very pleased."
Silvermann said he had a talk with Clapp, a retired NASCAR vice president, and official Bob Duvall took a trip to the track before the sanction was approved.
"I'd say this is pretty emotional," Clapp said.
Among those attending the news conference at the Clarion Suites and Inn on Waterloo Road were drivers Mike David of Modesto, David and Justin Philpott of Tracy and Eric Holmes of Escalon, the NASCAR Camping World Series West champion.
"We'll definitely come back out and run at Stockton 99," said David Philpott, a two-time track champion. "This is going to be real good."
The Nocetis announced the Western Late Model division will be joined by Grand American Modified, Street Stocks and Bombers, a new beginners class.
Gillit, 63, won several titles as a driver and a car owner, and Houston,74, has been an official for more than 50 years and has worked as high as the Nextel Cup circuit.
"I'm just really glad this place is back," Houston said. "If I can help them out, I'm glad to do it."
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.