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Greetings race fans.
My name is Jim Shiels, the author of this book. And as such, welcome to the fifty year history of Stockton 99 Speedway, a track rich in tradition and racing legend. Although my love affair with auto racing began in my pre-teens at weekend asphalt and dirt bullrings in central Michigan, I did not arrive at Stockton 99 until the summer of 1979. It was the night of the July Firecracker 100 and just before the final lights were shut off, a truck and trailer bearing an unlettered, all white, 'store built' Buick Apollo came over the back exit and into the infield. A sort of hush hit the crowd for just a split second, and almost as quickly I picked up on fans saying "Reed's here". The driver who wrought that strange magic over-the crowd lined up for the main after the fireworks and finished third in his untested racer to become one of my first heroes at the track. My entire adult life to that point had been spent working in newspaper circulation, a field that makes wse of numbers and record keeping, and as such it was only a matter of-time before I began making notes on records, wins, and drivers 'just for the fun of it'. At the same time I took it upon myself to become more knowledgeable about the track through many hours of questions directed at track manager Whitey Rich, a man who would turn out to be one of my closest (and still is) racing friends. At that time, the Lodi News Sentinel did not publish any of Stockton's stories and results due to their untimely arrival in Lodi by mail. I took charge of seeing that the results were on time and slowly started writing a few words about the events each week, which as it tums out, was the beginning of my present day duties in area auto racing. In 1981, Dusty Fraser retired from Stockton 99 as it's media rep and I stepped into the slot, making use of the new pressbox built the previous off season on top of the main snack bar. Other than a listing of past champions, I quickly found that no records existed of the early years of the track's history, and set about to fill in the missing gaps. I just as quickly found out just how long the project would take, and settled for only recapping the current Late Model division from 1973 forward. In the day and age before xerox and computer, even this took many months of hand written paperwork to complete before I felt I had the facts necessary to provide the reporters with an answer to every question. As much as I loved being able to answer those questions, the need for older history never seemed important enough to warrant the extreme effort necessary to obtain them, and I settled into a weekly rhythm of watching--recording--and enjoying the weekly shows at Stockton. The move forward with the records came quite by accident and in fact through a family history project that sent me to the library to discover that the micro-film machines of today have xerox capabilities that take 20 minutes of handwriting down to 20 seconds of copy wore That coupled with my entry in the world of computers provided the spark that rekindled the interest in Stockton's history. Starting in mid summer of 1996 I made seven trips to the Stockton library recording 3-4 years per trip to finally arrive with the missing 26 years which now lay on my desk in the form of 692 pages of xerox. Those pages eventually became 166 computer files, 337 pages of hard copy data, and the basis for this book. In refining the records, many problems became apparent, and some will remain so throughout this book. The constant misspelling of driver names by the early reporters was the biggest single problem I faced, and as such, they have undoubtedly contributed to the same driver being listed as two separate ones in many season's. (i.e. Les Reed and Les Reid are most likly the same person) In many season's there were brother combinations running at the track and there was nothing more frustrating than finding Johnny, Manuel, and Charlie Sanchez racing on the same night, than to have a reporter list the winner as simply 'Sanchez'. Some race stories would contain full names, cities, and finish positions of all events, while the next week would simply say that "Smith-Jones-Hawks-Valente-and Sanchez were the winners at Stockton (winners of what). Sad also, is the fact, that only winners, top finishers, and hard crashers made the paper and on many nights with 50 or more cars at the track, I would only find the names of ten to fifteen. That thought alone makes me believe that my fifty year all time roster of 2, 207 drivers is lacking by a measureable volume in it's end result. Late in the project I blindly stumbled on the fact that old method of screening photos at five dollars or more each, had long been replaced by high tech color copy equipment that could do the same thing at less than a dollar. This led to the addition of the many photos in the book. But even then, the original quality has made the end product less than what I desired, and for that I apologize in advance . If the project has taught me one thing, it's the fact that the only real records are 'the real records' and anything less is incomplete. The final line on the records listed throughout this book measure out below. Fast times 1947-1996 2,089 taken 1,686 recorded 403 missing 19.3 % lost Dash events 1947-1996 2,135 run 2.079 recorded 56 missing 2.7 % lost Main events 1947-1996 2,119 run 2,102 recorded 17 missing 0.9 % lost The missing information comes mainly from the years 1947 through 1978, with the years after that coming from my own personal records which show a combined Fast Dash-Main loss of 0.2 % But even in the final line, those records missing will not serve to make a driver any less or more than he was, nor could yearly championships be effected. One simply has to say to himself, "they ain't perfect...but there all we got". And with that in hand, let's take a look at fifty years of turning left at 99.
W.J. 'JIM' SHIELS 1996

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