SAN BERNARDINO, California -- Orange Show Speedway turned 60 this week.
So, with apologies to Phil Vassar, who wrote it, and Tim McGraw, who recorded it, a slightly modified version of “My Next 30 Years” seems in order to honor the oldest race track in the state of California. All together now:
“We think we’ll take a moment, celebrate its age, the ending of an era and the turning of a page; Now it’s time to focus in on where it goes from here, Lord have mercy that’s another 60 years.”
The quarter-mile oval on the grounds of the National Orange Show Events Center held its first race on May 1, 1947. That race was on dirt and featured open-wheel Midgets. This Saturday (May 5), when the second 60 years get under way, stock cars racing on a paved, slightly-banked surface will provide the excitement, as has been the case throughout recent memory.
Five classes – Hype Manufacturing Super Late Models, Soboba Casino Pro 4’s, Aflac Factory Fours, Stock Cars USA and Jr. Mini StocKars – are on the schedule.
Spectator gates will open and qualifying will begin at 5 p.m. with the first race at 6:30 p.m. “Orange Show Speedway Live” will be broadcast on KTDD (AM 1350) and simulcast on the Internet at www.nixacountry.com at 8 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and over) and juniors (13-16), and $2 for children (6-12). Active military personnel and veterans with military identification are admitted free of charge.
In May and June, members of the California Department of Forestry (CDF) and California Department of Corrections (CDC) who present their badges at the speedway ticket office can receive up to four free tickets, courtesy of Orange Show Speedway management.
Speedway historian Don Harkey recently provided an overview of that inaugural race 60 years ago. The United Racing Association Midgets were the attraction. The fast qualifier was Mack Hellings, Claude Herrick took the first checkered flag when he won the Trophy Dash and “Daring “ Bill Zaring captured the first main event. Hellings made four Indianapolis 500 starts before he was killed in an airplane crash in Kern County, Calif., in 1951 and Zaring passed away on May 29, 2003, at 85.
One of Zaring’s wins, in the 1950 Turkey Night Grand Prix, came in the final race at Gilmore Stadium. That’s one of the many tracks that have been closed up and plowed under in the 60 years that Orange Show Speedway has constantly provided family entertainment for its spectators and intense competition for its racers.
That history is on display in the speedway store and museum in the form of memorabilia and programs, most of them donated by the late Dick Fryer, who had missed only a handful of races in 45 years before he passed away on April 2 at 83.
The demanding quarter-mile that provided so much pleasure for Fryer and others continues to be a valuable training ground for young drivers like Charles Price (20), Travis Stockman (20), Brian Becker (20), Kyle McGrady (14), and Spencer Samaro (17), and a place to appreciate the skills of veterans like reigning Super Late Model champion Glen Cummings, 52, who two weeks ago won the 90th main event of his 30-year career.
So all together again: “ … our next 60 years we’re gonna have some fun …”
Racing at Orange Show Speedway is sponsored by Lucas Oil, Blackhawk Protection, Hype Manufacturing, Del Taco, Aflac Insurance, KTTD radio (AM 1350), Leno’s Rico Taco, Soboba Casino, Budweiser, Hoosier Racing Tires, Frank’s Radio Service, Torco Racing Fuels, Parker Pumper/BSR West, Eibach Springs, JP Striping, Center Chevrolet, Pepsi, Matich Coporation, La Salle Medical Associates, L. Curti Truck and Equipment, One Stop Landscape Supply, Extreme Exhibits & Logistics, Little Green Onions and the San Bernardino County Sun.
For further information, contact Jim Short at 951-203-2649 or firstname.lastname@example.org, call Orange Show Speedway at 909-888-6788, X438, or visit the web site at www.nosevents.com.