ANTIOCH, Calif. — IMCA Modifieds return to a pair of California race tracks in 2013.
Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods will also make their debut in mid-March at both Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway.
Both Saturday night venues are promoted by John Soares Jr., who helped his father bring the IMCA Modified division to the Golden State’s Petaluma Speedway more than two decades ago.
“We had more than 50 different modifieds and our average car count was 16-18 this year at Antioch. If we can add three or four cars a week next season, it would be great,” said Soares, himself a former modified driver. “With IMCA, drivers can run for state, regional or national championships as well as track championships if they want to.”
Doug Williams has been named the new general manager at Merced, where Soares hopes to see improved numbers as well.
Antioch, a three-eighths-mile high-banked clay oval is located on the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Merced is a big quarter-mile clay track, at the Merced County Fairgrounds in the San Joaquin Valley, approximately 100 miles southeast of Antioch on State Highway 99.
While the rules and point systems were selling points in bringing IMCA back, Soares also pointed to economics.
“Guys were spending $15,000 on engines and racing for $700 to win,” he said. “We have to stop that silliness.”
IMCA modifieds first ran at Merced in 1992 and as recently as 2009. The class was featured at Antioch for a single season, in 2004.
Both tracks are 60 feet wide so three- and even four-wide racing is the norm.
Antioch has 22 degree banking in the first set of turns and 19 degree banking in the second. IMCA modified drivers returning to Merced will find the track enlarged, with the backstretch wall removed and lighting moved to outside the racing surface. A new catch fence has been installed and the inner oval converted to a grass infield.
Approximately 20 point races will be on the 2013 schedule at Antioch. Merced will alternate Saturdays with Kings Speedway in Hanford.