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99 Speedway Hoping To Get Races Back On Track
Eric “Bubba” Nascimento Jr., of Manteca, won the Late Model main event at Stockton 99 Speedway on Sunday, May 31. Photo By Jessica McAnelly/Jessie’s Fast Photos

Officials at the Stockton 99 Speedway decided to cancel the Saturday, June 6 Spears SRL Wild West Shootout program due to COVID-19 the concerns of San Joaquin County health officials. The event was going to be the opening race of the season with fans in attendance.

“The San Joaquin Board of Supervisors voted to shut me down and county officials called me and gave me option to shut down or they would take away my use permit and put me in jail,” explained track promoter Tony Noceti. “It was not much of an option.”

Also cancelled are the Ag Fest West Coast Nationals Tractor and Truck Pull on Saturday, June 13, and the Tribute to John Medina program scheduled for Saturday, June 20.

Noceti feels the county has not given him a fair shake. While several other California tracks have begun operations, local county officials refused to even talk to him in person or come out to observe a Sunday, May 31 event.

“I am really irritated. I feel like I am a criminal. We have some major issues here and I plan to go up to the governor’s office next week to settle this whole matter,” said Noceti. “This stuff is so politically driven. I am just a simple racer and a farmer, but I am on a mission now.”

On Sunday afternoon, May 31 the 99 hosted a five-division program featuring the Stockton Late Models along with a separate race for Madera and Roseville Late Models which run under different specs than Stockton’s division.

The program drew approximately 85 cars that were spread out in the pits and parking areas to limit the health risk to drivers and crew members. Temperature check points, face masks and sanitizers were made available and although general admission tickets were not sold, the grandstands were open to the participants to further limit risks.

“Everything was wonderful. The show went great and everyone was happy to be back out racing,” Noceti commented. “It was remarkable. Even the drivers that crashed were happy.”

Joey Iest, 17 of Madera, picked up his first career victory in the Open race while Eric Nascimento Jr., of Manteca, captured the 75-lap Stockton Late Model feature.

At this time, Saturday, July 4, will become the opening event for the 2020 racing season at the historic quarter-mile oval. Noceti has christened the comeback program as the JM Environmental 127 Protest Race featuring the Ron Strmiska Firecracker 125.

“We are planning the biggest fireworks show in the area that night. Everybody is invited out for a small donation of $30 to help us fight this,” said Noceti. “It is going to be a great event.”

Meanwhile, Madera Speedway hosted its opening race of the season with two divisions, Madera Late Models and Super Toyota Sedans, on Saturday, June 6. The grandstands were closed.

Madera also has similar events planned for the following two Saturdays, also without fans in the grandstands.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played havoc with national events in Northern California.

Sonoma Speedway has already thrown in the towel for this season by cancelling its two major racing events, the NHRA Sonoma Nationals and NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350.

On the other hand, WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca is moving forward with several events including the Monterey Historic Reunion on Aug. 13-16, Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Challenge on Sept. 4-6 and a NTT IndyCar Firestone GP of Monterey “Doubleheader Weekend” on Sept. 18-20. At this time, the track is planning on selling tickets to the public for all its events.

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Capturing the checkered flag for the Stockton Late Model main event, the ‘COVID 19 Come Back’ on May 31, Eric Nascimento Jr. of Manteca was all smiles following his victory. Photo By Jessica McAnelly/Jessie’s Fast Photos