Record Staff Writer
April 02, 2011 12:05 AM
Ron Roach, a longtime NASCAR track official at Stockton 99 Speedway, died March 13 at age 64 and will be honored today during the track's season opener.
STOCKTON - Ron Roach spent the better part of his life at Stockton 99 Speedway, enjoying many good times and enduring one terrible incident that changed everything.
But according to his family, he loved the racing and noise on the track, and the camaraderie in the pits. Roach did everything from compete and officiate to paint numbers on the race cars.
Roach, a longtime NASCAR track official, passed away March 13 at the age of 64 after a long illness. The local racing community will return the affection and pay its respects at 6 p.m. today when Stockton 99 opens the 2011 season with a program of Super Stocks, B4s, Pro-4 Modifieds, Legends and the first race of the Enduro Series.
Racing program: Super Stocks, B4s, Pro-4 Modifieds, Legends and Enduro
Information: (209) 466-9999 , www.stockton99.com
Roach's family will hold a celebration of life at 2 p.m. on April 17, his birthday, at the Stockton Elks Lodge (8900 Thornton Road, Stockton).
"We've had so many people come forth and express their feelings and love for my father. It's been very heartwarming," said Roach's daughter, Chrissy Morris of Modesto.
"He truly loved the track and the people out there."
Stockton 99 promoter Tony Noceti said there will be a memorial program today for Roach, who was nicknamed "Bug" because of his last name.
"Ron was something special," Noceti said. "Guys like that are so important to the track. 'Bug' was out there a long time, and he had a lot of passion for the sport."
Roach began racing at Stockton 99 in the 1970s and later became one of the most respected flag men, or starters, on the West Coast. Roach was the victim of one of the most horrifying incidents at the track. On June 30, 1984, Roach was hit by a race car while officiating from the flagstand, which then was about 4 feet above the track on top of the wall. He was sent flying into the grandstand and was hospitalized for several weeks.
The late Johnny Unger of Stockton was involved in a collision with Kevin Gottula of Modesto, and Unger's car veered up the wall and collided with the stand and Roach.
"My dad saw it coming and tried to jump over the stand, but he didn't make it and the race car caught him," Morris said. "He landed 25 rows deep, and looked like a rag doll going through the air.
"And he never let go of the yellow flag in his hand."
One of Roach's close friends, veteran track official Earl Summers, said he looked "like a helicopter blade going into the stands. It was an ugly day for the track." Roach broke his right leg in 13 places, and had a broken pelvis, thigh and shoulder as well as internal injuries. He spent 34 days in the intensive-care unit and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
Despite the extent of his injuries, Roach was back at Stockton 99 for the season finale in September, and later designed a taller flagstand that is still in use today.
June Roach, his wife of 44 years, said she was worried when he said he wanted to return to the track, but understood his feelings. But she did make a request that he no longer went on the flagstand.
"Yes, it bothered me, but I would never deny him and say, 'No, you can't do that,' " June Roach said. "It was his choice. It meant a lot to him."
Roach returned to be a starter a few times over the next 25 years, but spent the majority of his time working in the pits at Stockton 99. He also worked at Delta Speedway and at the now-closed Altamont Raceway. He also painted the numbers and lettering on race cars as part of his business, Ron Roach Signs & Designs.
"Ron used to do the numbers and everything by hand, and later went to using a machine," Summers said. "He really enjoyed doing it, and racing was his life. He loved that place."
In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be sent to the Memorial Fund for Ron Roach at Bank of Stockton, Headquarters Branch, account No. 3210009183.Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Here's Ron in his flag stand during the flag salute and anthem at one of the last races at 99 in 2006.|
April 17, 1946 - March 13, 2011
Ron "Bug" Roach passed away peacefully at his home, where he was born and raised in Stockton, CA.
He is survived by his wife June of 44 years, daughter Chrissy Morris and granddaughter Stephanie Hoak, his mother Jeanne Croce, brothers Jim & Steve Roach and several nieces & nephews. He is preceded in death by father James Roach & sister, Judy Giannecchini.
Served in the Army 1964-1968. Ron Roach Signs & Designs lettered many racecars, business signs and buses over the years.
He worked for Delta Charter as a Tour Bus Driver and Trainer.
Ron was a longtime NASCAR Official & Flagman for Stockton 99, Altamont Speedway & Delta Speedway. He was a talented, dedicated and caring man, went above and beyond to make sure everything ran smoothly, whatever he was part of. Ron will be greatly missed by many!! We love you and will miss you deeply.
Please join us in remembering Ron at his Celebration of Life on Sunday, April 17, 2011, 2 p.m. at Stockton Elks Lodge, 8900 Thornton Road. The family requests in lieu of flowers that remembrances be sent to Memorial Fund for Ron Roach at Bank of Stockton, Headquarters Branch Account # 3210009183.
Here is an old web page from the Stockton 99 web site about Ron and his illness in 2007 with quotes about how we felt about Ron.
Friday October 5, 2007
We're very happy
Ron Roach is now home and in an extended recuperative stage. He should not have any visitors for a while because of his fragile condition, but thanks all of you for your thoughts and prayers, and has promised to return once his strength is regained and his wife gives him permission… See you all when I see ya…. Ron
Reported October 1, 2007
Ron Roach is in Intensive care at St Josephs Hospital in Stockton and is not doing very well, his Liver is not working properly from having Hepatitis C for many years. His Daughter doesn't think he will leave the Hospital. I hope something changes for the better.
Ron Roach was a great friend of 99 Speedway, having worked and played there for many years. He was our esteemed Pit Steward and flagman for many years, even after surviving a horrendous accident when a race car actually hit him throwing him into the stands! He also helped any way he could, serving as a carpenter, having built many parts of the Speedway from bleachers to pit official stands, as well as an artist, having done most of the Racers decals for their cars. He was awarded 99's "Sportsman of the Year" in 2001. Please have Ron and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and pray for a speedy recovery.
co-managing partner, Stockton 99 Speedway
"He has always been a dedicated hardworking great friend to
the racing community."
Ken Gross, former 99 Track Mgr.