One of the tracks lighter moments came on May 19th., as a large rabbit jumped over the back straight wall on the white flag lap of the night's third beat He quickly moved to the inside line and kept a torrid pace through turns three and four and down the frontchute, finally being scored seventh in the nine car finishing field.
Joe Giusti was the most kissed driver on the season, picking up seven dash wins, and sharing three feature victories with Blackwell and Charlie Sanchez. Giusti, Ed Andreeta of Modesto, Chuck Allen of Crows Landing, and Brazil are the top stat men on the year, with Back Wenzel taking the 99 crown, and Brazil notching the state title.
In a conversation several years ago, before his
death, Buck talked about these days in his 40 Ford Coupe, telling of the five dollar
recapped tires, ten dollar pistons, and ring and gasket sets that sold for under five
dollars a set, as compared to the high cost of racing in the present era.
As close as memories once again fall, the off season this year taught track owners another hard lesson in off season maintenance. Showing up a week or two before each season to ready the track always meant hacking down the high grass and weeds in the infield. But this year it was to be different A local farmer convinced management that allowing him to graze his large herd of goats would keep the grass down The problem management failed to foresee was the natural biological function that occurred after the goats ate the grass, and pre-season lawn mower duties were traded in for several days of wheelbarrow and shovel duties.
New rules came into play this season that allowed the Hardtops to be changed in any way to improve handling, including shorter springs, wedges, any type shock absorber, faster steering, and any size tire. Engines remained stock in bore, but heads could be filled and reground to give higher compression. The engines could also be fitted with lightweight flywheels and racing cams.
The walls in each end of the track were now made of cement, while the front and back walls remain as 2x12 planks, and Whitey Rich comes on board as the Chief Official, with a gentleman named Jack Lewis taking over the flagging duties.
Joe Giusti sets a division all time standard with
eight fast times on the year, and picks off seven feature victories and twenty-four total
wins. Ed Andreeta of Modesto, the 1956 Rookie of the year, in a 40 Ford Coupe, is the man
with the best point total at season's end to claim the championship crown in only his
second season of competition. Ed also adds Merced and Modesto championships to his racing
resume before he retires in 1959, an amazing feat in just five years of competition.
Other top runners on the season included Johnny Brazil, Jerry King of Manteca in a 34
dodge 6-cylinder, and Chuck Allen. Several Powder Puff races were held this season with
Gloria Hacker of Stockton being named the season champion. Back Wenzel took the state
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