When the track was originally built it was set up with a football field in the center for Stockton city youth leagues use, and on October third, a driver by the name of Bob Wise of Sacramento scored six points by losing control off turn two and tearing down the north turn goal post.
Lemoine Frey collected three quick times to lead in the speed department in 48. Steves picked up six dash wins. Hawks notched five main wins to tie the division's all time best mark, and Valente ran off twelve main top five finishes to also tie the all time mark. George Pacheco was the top winner with fourteen overall victories. The top five best runners on the season were Pacheco, Frey, Hawks, Steves, and Ed Huntington of Oakland. Valente was the 1948 state Roadster champion, with none being crowned at 99.
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Almost all promoters and their press agents enjoy a somewhat dubious reputation as people who stretch the truth at times and in the records of 1949 I felt I found the 'top gun'. A story dated May 2nd., announced the opening of the new Oroville Speedway, second only in size to Indy. It went on to detail the American Racing Association (ARA) 'big car' racing event held that week in front of 15,000 cheering fans. Feeling that I had heard of most of the early tracks, I was highly interested in learning what had happened to the facility. After questioning several of the old guard and receiving blank stares, I made several phone calls to learn that the track was an 'already existing' half mile dirt fairground, and the race promoter was probably very lucky if 500 fans were on hand.
At 99 Stadium, Lemoine Frey is behind the wheel of a souped up Mercury built by Bob Goux, and on May 1st., he becomes the first driver to complete a four-way sweep, setting the fast time, and winning the heat, dash, and main. By 1996, only eleven other drivers will have done likewise.
Five track records are posted to the books this season, one by George Pacheco, and four by Frey, with the quickest falling to the 'Lodi Lighting" at 15.60 on May 29th.
Not only were the early years tough, they produced tough drivers, such as on the night of July 17th. when Roadster pilot Wade Halstead, city unknown, broke a water hose and stopped just past the flagstand. He was hit in the side full tilt by Al Berndt of Oakland sending Wade flying through the air. His body turned a couple of loops and landed on his back, he lay stunned for less than a minute before jumping up to return to the event unscratched.
A week later yet another of Stockton's tough guys and future 'heavyweight ' drivers makes his first showing in the standings with a third place semi main finish. That driver--'Jolting' Joe Giusti of Stockton, who will go onto fame in the coming years throughout the central valley.
August third of this year, a 250 lap race was staged with Al Neves of Oakland the winner in a 6-cylinder Ford in the time of one hour and thirty minutes, including one stop for gas and a single tire. In a day and age when the average worker was earning $30.00-$40.00 per week, the winner took home $450.00 (compare that to a $500.00 win of today at current values and you have a hard look at one of racings major problems in the 90's)
Lemoine Frey was in charge of the top numbers for fast times and dash wins this year. His four dash wins in a row becomes the division's all time best. Ed Huntington, George Pacheco, Gene Tessien, Bob Machin of Alameda, and Frey are the top overall scorers in 1949' with the state Roadster title going to Tessien.
During this year, Bob 'Barkie' Barkhimer created the California State Car Racing Association (CSCRA) and brought in a junior partner by the name of Jerry Piper, and together they launched into hardtop racing sanctions, which, unknown at that time, would spell the end of the Roadster era.
On September 7th., the first Hardtop event at 99 is staged with Dave Carter of Stockton taking the win. The hardtops of that era were 1935-1940 Fords and Mercury's, with a Mopar or two thrown in for mix. The engines could be bored to a maximum of 1/8th inch, increasing the Ford flathead from 220 to 240 cubic inches and the Mercury from 240 to 260 inches.
There were a total of four hardtop events staged before the close of the 49 season with drivers such as Dave Duncan and Chuck Tatum of Stockton, Mike Batnitch of San Jose, and Rod Zanoline of Healdsburg taking part in the action.
Barkhimer, ever on the lookout for a good promotion, put the six foot Tatum into a Willies sedan wearing a large black cowboy hat and billed him as 'T-Texas' Tatum. Chuck will go onto a colorful career in many forms of auto racing, and is today, retired and excellent health at the age of 70. Living in Stockton, he became a solid background expert for my research, and many of the early photos shown in this book are his.
Dave Duncan becomes the state Hardtop champion, and Dave Carter is the first 99 Speedway title holder based on season finish records only. (no points kept)
The 1950 season saw yet another battle between sanctioning bodies among the Roadster ranks. On one side was the Northern California Roadster Racing Association (NCRRA) and on the other was Roadster Racing Inc. (RRI). One body had 18 drivers under it's wings, the other 20, and neither could provide full shows at any track. Both bodies merged on July 26th. and became United Roadsters Inc. (URI).
Even with the new merger, only 16 cars showed up for the next Stockton event and the division was dropped from the weekly race schedule after ten events, leaving the Hardtops as the only division in action at 99 Stadium.
Lemoine Frey set the only Roadster record on the year and left the quick number standing at 15.30 and led the division in stats with two fast times, five dash wins, four main wins, four main top five runs, and nine total wins. Frey was followed in the stats by Bob Gonzales of Livermore, Bill Peters of Sacramento, and Ed Elisian.
The popularity of the Hardtops was shown on opening day as the track drew 3,400 fans and 41 cars. One week later, Dave Duncan lowered the track record to 18.45.
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