Drivers will get their first feel for the new pavement at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway in Saturday’s first round of season-opening races.
Not content with a racing program that attracted 45,000 fans in 2009, speedway operators moved forward in the off-season with the first full repaving of the quarter-mile oval since the 1960s. The new pavement was donated by co-operator Don Newman in memory of his son. Newman operates the track with Al Russell and Adam Nelson.
The NAPA Latemodel Sportsman, ESI Express ASA Modifieds, Project Filter Pro-4s, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving School Street Stocks and Tates Hornets will be the first classes to hit the revamped track Saturday night.
Racers who sampled the pavement in last weekend’s test and tunes and Thursday night’s first practice session comment on the improved grip on the track. Throw in added banking, and the new surface is sure to produce faster times this season.
Nelson said that with the new configuration will come a new record book, freezing qualifying records such as Nampa driver Melissa Weaver’s fast time of 15.315 seconds last year in Street Stocks in perpetuity.
Gates open Saturday at 4 p.m. and racing starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adult general admission, $7.50 for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, and $4 for children ages 7-11. Advance tickets are available at participating Treasure Valley NAPA Auto Parts stores.
Season passes for the 29-race schedule also are now available through the speedway office — $239 for adults, $185 for senior citizens and military personnel and $152 for children 7-11.
Get more information about the track by visiting www.meridianspeedway.com or calling 888-2813.
Saturday’s program is the first chance for fans to see all the improvements at the speedway, including a new 600-square-foot rest room in the pit area, replacing Port-a-Potties that spectators in the north end grandstands had used for years. Crews have completed the two-year project to replace all the track lighting with new stadium lights, and there is new pavement in the main entry and midway. The pit area also has new asphalt.
Saturday is only the beginning for Meridian Speedway’s 59th year. A second season opener is set for April 24 to unveil points races for the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars, the Pepsi Sprintcars, Domino’s Legends and Mini Stocks.
There are changes in the divisions for 2010 as well. Pepsi Sprintcars is the new name for the popular non-winged sprintcars. The Late Model Lites are now known as the Project Filter Pro-4s. Operators have combined the Late Model and Super Stocks divisions of 2009 into the NAPA Latemodel Sportsman class.
The USAC sprintcars will return after an absence, closing the season with a Sept. 17-18 two-day show.
Other tours back from 2009 include the Carbon X Rocky Mountain Challenge Series stock cars, the ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Series and the Intermountain Vintage Sprintcars and the West Coast Vintage Sprintcars.
Drivers will be racing for civic pride in the new Hometown Team Racing Series, which debuts May 1 along with the Thunder Dogs.
Jr. Stingers, the speedway’s entry-level racing class for pre-teens and teenagers, makes its debut on May 8.