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Strmiska gets checkered flag for Hall of Fame

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Strmiska gets checkered flag for Hall of Fame

Retired race car driver Ron Strmiska, Sr. will be among those inducted into the Manteca Sports Heroes Hall of Distinction on Saturday.

VINCE REMBULAT/ The Bulletin/


POSTED February 24, 2009 4:21 a.m.
Ron Strmiska Sr. is the patriarch to a family of race car drivers.
His two sons, Ron Jr. and Ryan, are racers. Ross, Ron Sr.’s 22-year-old grandson, competes in the stock car circuit.
His example is blazing forth a family tradition.
“I’ve always had good help and sponsorship,” said the older Strmiska. “Those are two things you need to become a racer.”
A retired race car driver since 2000, Strmiska is part of the Manteca Sports Heroes Hall of Distinction Class of 2009. The second-ever group also includes retired sports official Robert “Bob” Scharmann, Major League Baseball catcher Ken Huckaby, coach Mike Morenzone, former San Francisco 49er pass-catcher/administrator R.C. “Alley-Oop” Owens, East Union High athletic director Bill Stricker, pro golfer Kevin Wentworth, and the East Union High 2006-07 girls’ golf team.
No doubt, Strmiska, 67, was thrilled about the news of his induction from the nomination committee. He’s planning to make Saturday’s special event at the Big League Dream Sports Complex a family affair, bringing in 15 of those closest to him.
Incidentally, Strmiska once owned the property adjacent to the BLD sports facility.
He moved to Manteca from Tracy in 1964. Four years earlier, Strmiska, who attended Tracy High, married the former Retha Whitmire.
They had three children. Included are Ron Jr., Shelly and Ryan.
Ron Jr. and his wife, Dana, have three children – Robert, Richard and Ross – while Shelly and her husband, Bob, also have three children: Darcy, Daniel and Drew.
Ryan and his wife, Roxanne, have a son, Chase, and five foster kids. Sadly, they lost another son, Ian, 7, in Nov. 2006 to neuroblastoma.
“Ian was grandpa’s No. 1 race ran,” said Ron Sr.
Ronald Strmiska, Sr. was born on June 12, 1941 in Soldiers Grove, WI. His family – included were his parents, Floyd and Mabel, and a sister, Carol – moved west in 1942, settling in nearby Banta.
He had hoped to restore old cars but ended up racing. His first car was purchased in Elko, Nev., driving the 1957 Chevy all the way home.
Strmiska’s racing career began in 1970.
He mostly raced in old Stockton 99 Speedway, but also competed in Madera, Roseville, Tracy (Altamont Speedway), Carson City, Anderson and Phoenix.
Strmiska was happy to hear that Stockton 99, which had been closed for some time, will be back in operation come this year. He’s hoping to see his sons or grandson compete there at some point during the upcoming season.
It’s been years since Strmiska last completed. But these days, he prefers to support his sons and grandson when they take the oval.
“I have more fun watching them compete,” he said.
But in his days, Strmiska had his moments of crossing the checkered flag, winning 30 main events, 73 heat races, 35 dash races and establishing fast times on 30 occasions.
He saved his best performances for the July 4 events.
Usually, those races were worth double points while attracting more fans than usual for the fireworks spectacular.
“I think I enjoyed racing in front of the bigger crowds,” he said.
In addition, Strmiska worked 28 years for the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, retiring in Oct. 2003.
For more information on the Hall of Distinction awards dinner, call (209) 823-7229.
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