When John Fore was growing up, he always wanted to be a racer, but his dad cautioned him against it.
Now, years later, he’s the top runner in the race to be Rookie of the Year in the International Motor Contest Association SportMod division at Merced Speedway.
“My dad would tell me not to waste my money,” Fore says. “I would argue back that it is not a waste of money because it is fun, and you have to have fun in life.”
Fore dabbled in quad racing a few years back. His dad asked, “Why?”
The Chowchilla driver decided to become a pit crew member – something he could do to have fun and be involved in racing without spending money.
The desire to drive proved too strong to ignore. Fore, at age 46, became a stock car driver this year by partnering up with friend Bob Smith of Merced. The two purchased a SportMod car to share.
“When people asked why, I just told them because we had a room full of money,” he laughs. “Actually, sharing a car with Bob has been a way to race without spending much money. It is way less expensive than quad racing.”
Smith drove the car last year. Fore is driving this season, and they’ll split next season, driving 10 races each.
Fore’s goal for Rookie of the Year is attainable. A crack at the track championship is a long shot.
“I’m trying for a top-three position at the end of the season,” Fore explains. “I’m 21 points away from third. I would be so happy with that – especially never driving a race car before this year.”
The SportMod class, comprised of older modified stock cars driven by beginners, seasoned veterans and everyone in between, was developed by IMCA as a cost-effective division.
Fore, who repairs farm trucks and dairy farm equipment for a living, saw a future in the new division.
“Bob and I predicted a couple of seasons ago that the class would get bigger and bigger,” he adds. “Now, it is so popular that it is the best class to race in. It has become the premier racing division.”
Finishing fourth was a major accomplishment for Fore. He was running in the top three a few times this year and competitors spun out his car.
“I was mad,” he says. “But Bob calmed me down. He has the opposite personality. He told me, ‘That’s racing; time to move on and think about the next race.’ ”
Fore’s large following of family and friends supports him from the stands.
“I get a lot of encouragement,” he says. “With that and Bob being the calming force of our team, we should be good for the second half of the season.”
Saturday night at Merced Speedway – Four divisions of racing are on the schedule. There will be complete programs of qualifying races and a feature in each division.
The IMCA Modified and SportMod divisions will headline the show. The four-cylinder Mini Stock and winged retro Valley Sportsman divisions will join them.
Merced Speedway is located on the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Merced. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for children 6-12. A family four-pack admits two children and two adults for $30.
Racing begins at 7 p.m. The grandstand opens at 5.