By Scott Linesburgh
Record Staff Writer
Some put their cars on the trailer on left. Others stayed in the infield and watched. But none of the Pure Stock drivers at Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday competed.
Twenty-six Pure Stock drivers refused to race, citing several issues as the reason for the boycott. The decision was made after track management adjusted the Pure Stock program because their tires were damaging the track, but other reasons cited included a new fee the drivers must pay this year.
Track manager Ken Gross said he's surprised and disappointed. The drivers said they won't return until their grievances are heard. And no one is sure how this will end.
"We feel we're being unfairly treated," Pure Stock driver Aimee Sullivan of Lodi said. "This has been coming."
The controversy started when the Pure Stock cars were practicing on the hot track, which was resealed in the offseason. The temperature reached 130 degrees on the track, and the Pure Stocks, which run hard, treaded tires, were pulling up some of the sealer.
Gross decided to adjust the program and move the Pure Stock main event to the end of the show. The trophy dash, heat races and time trials were eliminated, although the time trials later were granted. Informed all 26 cars would compete in the 40-lap main event, some drivers were upset.
"I think it's a safety thing," driver John Medina of Galt said. "It's dangerous to have that many cars in a race. But this division doesn't get a lot of respect, even though we had the largest car counts last year. It's time to stand up for ourselves."
The drivers assembled a list of complaints. Among the items was eliminating a $15 car entry fee in the division and a guarantee there would be time trials each week. The Pure Stock division has been at Stockton 99 for seven years and, as the track's beginner class, drivers don't get paid per race.
"We feel the fee is unfair because this division doesn't get paid for the races," Sullivan said. "The other divisions do get paid. And we want (time trials) at all the remaining races."
Gross said he believed he reached a compromise on the race program with the drivers but wouldn't make any decisions on items that didn't pertain to Saturday's events.
On the track, Wes Miller of Delhi won the Western Late Model 30-lap main event in front of a crowd of 1,114. Miller had much more fun than he did at the season opener last weekend, when he crashed on the first lap.
Jeff Belletto of Modesto led early but spun out on lap four, and Mark Welch of Orangevale was sent to the back for his part in the incident. Miller took over the lead and never relinquished it.
Dave Byrd of San Jose finished second, followed by Pete Anderson Jr. of Stockton, Harry Belletto of Modesto and Welch.
Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights won the Grand American Modified main. John Unger of Stockton was the division's fast qualifier with a lap of 14.365 seconds, and Steve Stacy of Stockton won the trophy dash.
Mark Bailey of San Lorenzo won the Legends feature. Michael Morrissey of Kings Beach was second in the main, won the trophy dash and heat race and was the fast qualifier at 17.733.
* To reach reporter Scott
phone 546-8281 or e-mail