MARCH 5, 2008 --- The official grand opening of the newly remodeled Manzanita
Speedway will be held Saturday night and a number of Phoenix dignitaries have
indicated that they will be in attendance. The track took on a new look as the
crews worked overtime in the off season to change the appearance and upgrade the
facility. A couple of "pre season" major events, the Copper on Dirt
and the World of Outlaw shows had fans oohing and aahing over the new look. Most
fans stressed that the track appearance belied the fact that Manzanita is
actually starting its 58th season with the new state of the art concession
stand. The four sections of the grandstand that still had wooden seats were also
replaced during the off season
An assortment of state and local representatives are expected to be in
attendance and cut the ceremonial tape to officially open the facility.
The Discount Tire American Sprint Car Series, Canyon Division, will share the
Saturday night card with the Arizona Mini Sprints as they open their part of the
2008 season. Two of the nation's top open wheel drivers will be challenging the
tough field of Arizona drivers with Jerry Coons, Jr., the winner of last year's
rich Western World Championships and Jesse Hockett who will be a team mate to
Charles Davis, Jr. in the Massey Truck and Tank repair sprinters. Coons has
claimed the USAC National Midget championships the past two years. He will be
driving the Rex Foster sprint that carried him to victory in the Roger McCluskey
Classic in Tucson at the close of the 2007 season.
R.J. Johnson will skip a USAC-CRA race on the west coast to take part in what
could be one of the best shows of the upcoming season.
While the last half of the 2007 season boiled down to a showdown each race
between two time champion and Davis, Jr. Between them they won 18 of the 20
events run last year. Sherman won seven of the first eight races and all of
Davis' wins came after he moved in Jim Massey's car in the last half of the
season. Even though he skipped one race early in the year he still managed to
finish second in the final point standings.
In addition to Sherman and Davis former champion Josh Pelkey, former mini
sprint champion Jeremy Reagles along with the 2007 AMRA midget champion Nathan
High, Mike Martin, Shon Deskins, Andy Reinbold and Seainn Hendricsen have
already pre entered the event.
Dwarf Cars, Factory Stocks, Bombers and Lady Stocks will get a jump on the
grand opening as they open their part of the 2008 season Friday night. Chris
Snyder, the defending Dwarf Car champion heads the field of an expected 30-35
cars while Jason Upton will begin defending his Factory Stock championship,
The grand opening will be run as a tribute to Jimmy Blanton a long time major
supporter of Manzanita. Blanton recently turned sixth and has been a race fan
for 57 years. As the owner of Arizona Race Mart Blanton has been a sponsor of
cars throughout the nation, has sponsored races locally and in his earlier years
raced sprints, super modifieds and late models. He is a member of the Arizona
Motorsports Hall of Fame, was named sportsman of the year in Western World races
and was a rookie of the year in midgets. He was also a recipient of the Rick
McDonald Memorial award for outstanding contribution to racing.