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New 99 Speedway brings back old faces, big crowd

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New 99 Speedway brings back old faces, big crowd

Tim Spurgeon, of Danville, won the featured Western Late Model main event Sunday at the New Stockton 99 Speedway.

Photo by Dale Bosowski/


POSTED March 26, 2009 4:40 a.m.
It is often said that you can never go back home, but there are more than 4,200 fans and competitors who attended Sunday’s season-opening day event at the New Stockton 99 Speedway that would fervently disagree.

Despite the cool conditions and cloud cover, there were nothing but smiles and praise from everyone for Tony and Carol Noceti, of French Camp, for rescuing the historic 63-year-old, quarter-mile oval from the desolate, ghost town-like weed patch it had become since it closed on September 16, 2006.

There were a few glitches — the scoreboard was wired incorrectly and failed to operate and there were a few spots cordoned off where repair work was not yet complete — but nobody cared in the least.

“I can’t believe this day has finally come.” said Carol Noceti. “All the work has been worth it.”

And there was plenty of work including restored bleachers and fencing, fresh paint everywhere to new landscaping and new and improved concession booths.

“The funny thing is, what has gotten the most praise by far from everyone has been the renovated bathrooms,” laughed track public relations director Bill Poindexter.

There were also plenty of ex-racers on hand to check out the their old stomping grounds, including Johnny Brazil, who is still the record holder of the fastest lap in track history with a 11.899 second time in a Super Modified on June 1, 1985, and West Coast Hall of Fame member Jack McCoy.

Track land owners Bob Hunefeld and Ken Clapp were also on hand for the unveiling. The pair sold the facility at the height of the housing boom, but the deal fell through when the market collapsed shortly after.  
 
“They (Nocetis) have done a heck of job here. I can’t believe what they have accomplished,” praised Clapp, who also promoted the track from 1975 through its closing in 2006. “It seems a bit strange because the day I walked out of here in 2006 I never thought I would see it operate again.”

Despite his lifelong affiliation in racing, including being a close friend and advisor of NASCAR’s France family, Clapp had no desire to return to running the track.

“Not at all. Not at all. Bob Hunefeld and I are not as young as we used to be,” he laughed. “In fact, this may be the most fun I ever had here. I am a hands on person so I was always too busy to ever just enjoy the place.”

For the record, 2006 American Limited Stock Car (ALSC) track champion Chad Holman, of Valley Springs, made a triumphant return to track known as the “Little Bristol of the West” by winning Sunday’s ALSC main, 2002 California regional champion Scott Winters of Tracy took the win in the Grand American Modified feature and Tim Spurgeon, of Danville, took the featured Western Late Model main.

“When I first came out here for practice I was bumping and banging with the number 61 car and I got I my radio and said, ‘The 99 is back, just like the old days,’” said Spurgeon with a big smile. “This is huge. I always wanted to win a main event before it closed and never did so to win the first one back is really, really special.”

The New Stockton 99 Speedway will be back in action this Saturday night with another NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program with the Western Late Model, Grand American Modified, Street Stock and Bomber divisions.

Madera Speedway

Madera Speedway kicked off its 2009 schedule last Saturday with the 20th Annual Smokey Hanoian Classic.

Kyle Gottula, the 2008 HotWood 750 Series champion and the night’s fast qualifier was able to sneak past Roseville’s Eric Schmidt following a late race yellow caution restart on lap 48 to take the win in the featured Western Late Model class. Jacob Gomes, age 16 of Manteca, finished fifth in his late model debut.

“That was a good one. It got a little wild at the end, but I was really happy to get another chance at Schmidt,” said Gottula. “Picking up the win is great way to start the year.”

The second half of the scheduled Twin-50 lap feature for the late models at Madera was cancelled after a thunder shower pelted the track at the conclusion of the American Limited Stock Car main, which was won by Modesto’s Dennis Saunders Jr.

Madera will be in action this Saturday with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series program once again featuring the Western Late Models in Twin-50 lap features – weather permitting.

Merced Speedway

The area’s dirt ovals will also be in action this weekend. The Merced Speedway will be running on Saturday evening while drivers at Chowchilla Speedway will be flinging mud on Sunday afternoon.

To contact Dale Bosowski, e-mail dalebosowski@yahoo.com.

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