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 Posted: Friday Jun 1st, 2018 05:55 AM
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Don Martin II
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Parker Guiding Merced Speedway To Success


Merced, CA...There's something exciting happening at Merced Speedway this season. The racing on the quarter-mile clay oval is better than it has been for a while, numbers are up and the track has a good man guiding it to success. He's local businessman Ed Parker.

Ed already keeps himself very busy with his work, but racing is in his blood. He was a part of the Mini Truck class that the speedway had in the 1990s, and son Cody Parker is racing IMCA Sport Modifieds. When the track became available prior to 2016, Ed jumped at the chance to become a promoter.

He had much to learn, but he has been up to the challenge. He studies the current trends in the sport, attends several racing meetings during the year and applies that to what he does at the speedway. He also surrounds himself with people who are respected and know a few things about the sport.  This includes past NASCAR Regional champion Doug Williams as Race Director, track prep guru and Street Stock champion Tim Ragsdale and long time racer and speedway supporter Dale Falkenberg.

Earlier this season, Parker saw over 140 computers flock to the Speedway for the Bill Egleston Remembrance. A search of speedway records shows this to be the biggest car count ever at the track, topping the 120 plus car show they had under Parker last season. The racers want to race at Merced Speedway, which has had championship seasons every year since 1950.

The track still benefits from the truck division that long time promoter Chuck Griffin added to the lineup. Though the division is long gone, the Stone family got their start in the class. Brothers Troy and Ramie and cousin Paul Stone are running at the front of the IMCA Modified pack these days. Between Ramie and Paul, there are seven track championships, and both are feature winners this season. Family is key here. The Porter family is four generations strong at the Speedway, and Ryan is the latest family member out there mixing it up with the likes of two time champion Randy Brown, Darrell Hughes II, Justin Villanueva, Shane DeVolder and Ricky Thatcher.

The Thomas brothers are both IMCA Sport Modified winners this year. Tanner and Chase are just following in the footsteps of their three time Street Stock championship winning father Darren. Numbers are up in both classes this year.

With the Hobby Stocks, the FND Motorsports team fields three and sometimes four cars at each race. 2016 champion Michael Shearer is the team owner and two time champion Bruce "Bubba" Nelson is the chief mechanic. Bubba won the recent Sport Modified race, but he still enjoys driving a Hobby Stock now and then. Their wives are out there as well. Shannon Nelson leads a close point race with reigning champion Kodie Dean, and Kristie Shearer is still very much in the hunt.

The track is seeing a big increase in the Mini Stock car count this season,  while Mini Late Models and Valley Sportsman cars are also on the roster. Things are looking up at Merced Speedway, and it starts with having a  promoter like Parker inspiring people to come out and be a part of what's happening on any give Saturday night.

The speedway roars back to life on Wednesday, June 6th as part of the Merced County Fair. IMCA Modifieds will be there along with Hobby Stocks and Mini Late Models. On June 16th and 17th, the track hosts the Western States Dwarf Car Nationals with a field of over 60 racers from all over the West Coast anticipated. For more information on the happenings at the speedway, go to http://www.racemerced.com.



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