(August 19) Manzanita Speedway will be celebrating its 57th birthday this
weekend and every class of cars will be part of the birthday bash.
Although the track has undergone a complete face lift since the track was
sold to Mel and Bobby Martin last year the racing has not changed except for a
few track records being set. The Martinís took over the track last year and
their first race was the Anniversary race so they too will be celebrating their
The track has come a long way since it opened August 25, 1951 as a home for
the Arizona Jalopy Racing Association. A dog track was converted into a quarter
mile track at the urging of drivers and owners who were unhappy with South
Mountain Speedway. One of those helping with the transaction was Mel Martin. The
half mile track, one of the most respected track in the nation, came into being
in November of 1954 when attendance dropped off for the weekly shows.
Looking at the track one would never believe that the track is 57 years old
making it the longest running sports venue in the state. There are few, if any,
tracks whose drivers have graduated to the big time. Bill Cheesbourg made the
move in 1956 after winning the driving championship in 1955. Wayne Weiler headed
to Indy after winning the championship at Manzy and raced at Indy in 1960 &
Ď61 but was injured in a race later and that ended his career. Roger McCluskey
and Don Davis also made the jump to the Indy Cars. Dee Jones raced USAC Sprints
and Indy Cars from 1964-1971 and Darrell Dockery spent one year on the Indy Car
circuit. Later Billy Boat and JJ Yeley raced in the 500 as well as other Indy
Car Races. JJ later made the move to NASCAR. Ronnie Shuman, Lealand McSpadden,
Billy Shuman and Jerry McClung also represented Arizona in both USAC and Ronnie
raced with the World of Outlaws. Chad Boat, at age 16 became the youngest driver
to win a USAC sprint car race earlier this year.
There may be drivers racing this weekend that also make the big move. However
many of the drivers, although still in their twenties, are now considered too
old to make the move. Jeremy Sherman, Charles Davis, Jr. and R.J. Johnson are in
that group. However the sprint cars have several youngsters that show
improvement each time the take the track and Zack Sawyer and Derek Sell are
young enough to succeed.
Anthony Madrid leads the BRA/UMP dirt car modifieds into action Friday night
and will be sharing the one third mile oval with SCRA sport modifieds, Desert
Dwarf Cars, SCRA factory stocks and bombers. Garrett Funk, a 17 year old rookie
is a runaway points leader in the sport modifieds and Matt Martinez has
overtaken two time champion Bobby Taylor to lead factory stock points by four
points. Chris Snyder, the defending dwarf car champion holds a 90 point lead
over JJ LeMoine as he goes for another championship.
The Saturday night card features the American Sprint Car Series on the half
mile track for only the fourth time this year. Jeremy Sherman has won two times
and Andy Reinbold got his first ever main event win in the other. Sherman is on
a roll as he has put together eight ASCS wins plus one win with the USAC/CRA and
has virtually wrapped up a record fourth consecutive sprint car championship.
His win on August 9th, coupled with an eighth place finish by Charles Davis, Jr.
gives him a 96 point lead with ten races, including three nights in the Western
World Championships remaining on the 2008 schedule.
Kiley Fellers will be seeking his tenth win of the season with the Arizona
Mini Sprints as he has put together four consecutive wins that has put him far
ahead of second ranked Josh Castro. Fellers enters the anniversary race 485
point lead. His last two wins have come in races without the wings and the next
four races, including Saturday night are also without the airfoils.
The AMRA midgets are hoping for an increase in car count in their part of the
Saturday night show. Terry Goodwin is the points leader. They have only four
races remaining on their 2008 schedule.
Gates open each night at 6:00 with racing scheduled to start at 7:30.