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 Press Release

MANZY CELEBRATES 51st ANNIVERSARY
By: Windy McDonald

Manzanita Speedway will be celebrating its 51st anniversary August 23-24 and that means that all eight divisions will be taking part in the two nights of racing while the fans will be reminiscing about the past years and the drivers responsible for Manzy's tag as "the track that action built".

Few tracks in the country have produced as many drivers who have gone on to earn respect on a national basis. Bill Cheesbourg used the 1955 Arizona Jalopy Racing Association championship to earn a ride in the Indy 500. Then Wayne Weiler followed Bill to Indianapolis after winning the 1957 championship. Don Davis won the 53 title and then won the 1959 California Racing Association championship and joined the others plus Manzy regular Roger McCluskey. Later, Ron Shuman and Lealand McSpadden used their Manzanita experience to rank among the top sprint car drivers in the nation. Now we have Manzy grads Billy Boat, J.J. Yeley and Jerry Coons, Jr. carrying the Arizona banner.
Manzanita was converted from a dog track to a quarter mile dirt track for auto racing in 1951 and the first race, won by Roe Mounts, was run on August 25th of that year. The famed half mile oval was added three years later and Cheesbourg won the first race on the big oval on November 21, 1954. The quarter mile track was stretched out to a very fast one third mile oval in 1986.

Manzanita has survived some ups and downs but each year expands it longevity and the oldest, continuously operated sports facility in the state. Keith Hall, who has operated the track since purchasing it prior to the 1966 season, credits the caliber of cars and drivers that have competed and those that are now competing for the ability to survive. "I cannot think of any track that operates a schedule such as ours," he says. "We run between 75-80 nights each year and even though we are in a very tough market, the competitive nature of our sport manages to keep the fans coming."

Each division will be out to impress the fans Friday and Saturday night. Super Stocks, Factory Stocks, Bombers and Dwarf Cars will be running trophy dashes and main events on the short track Friday night. If car counts make it necessary, semi mains will also be run.
The half miler will be used for both the Sprint Cars and Dirt Modifieds Saturday night while Midgets and Mini Sprints will race on the third mile track. Again, it will be basically trophy dashes and features except for those divisions with more than 24 cars.

The Super Stocks are headed by points leader George Fronsman and Don Costa who have each won five times. Anthony Madrid, Manzy's hottest driver with a total of 17 wins, tops the Factory Stock field, Wendell Fletcher will be seeking a third straight in the Bombers and Dino Soto is the top winner in the Desert Dwarf Cars with six wins.
Eric Wilkins leads the way in the non winged Sprint Cars as he has a commanding lead in the chase for the championship and has scored seven main event wins. One of his wins came on the half mile track but he will be facing both Charles Davis, Jr. and Jeremy Sherman who have tamed the big track. Davis and Sherman, regulars on the west coast Sprint Car circuit, have open dates with the Sprint Car Racing Association which allows them to help Manzy with its birthday celebration.

Terry Belcher is the favorite in the Dirt Modified race while R.J. Johnson is trying to become the youngest driving champion in Manzanita's long history. At only 15 years of age, Johnson is well out front in the Midget Car standings. Charles Mokry and Jeff Greszler are among the favorites in the Mini Sprints.
Race time each night is set for 8:00 p.m.

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