Local race car driver and Merced Speedway regular Bill Egleston died after an on-track accident in a recent race at the Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, fellow racers confirmed on Tuesday.
Egleston was 53 years old and lived in Atwater.
Egleston was racing during the International Motor Contest Association Modified main event on Saturday night when his car rode up the wall on the backside and flipped over during the second lap, according to former Merced Speedway promoter Doug Williams, who watched the race online. While Egleston’s car was turned upside down on the track, another car collided with Egleston’s car on the driver side.
“We extend our condolences to Bill’s family,” said IMCA President Brett Root in a statement on IMCA.com. “Bill was one of those drivers who made a positive impression on everyone. This is a sad set of circumstances.”
Local Merced Speedway drivers were saddened to hear the news.
“So many of my friends have talked about Bill since it happened,” said Paul Stone, who was friends and raced against Egleston for years. “I’m at a total loss about the whole thing.”
“My son Justin looked up to him,” said fellow Merced Speedway driver Mike Villanueva. “He just started racing and he had a soft spot for Bill. When he heard about Bill he really took it hard. I’m going to miss the competitiveness on and off the track. The friendship we had on and off the track. He always had jokes to tell.
“He always made his way to my car whether I had a good night or a bad one. He would tell me to try harder or give me praise if it was due.”
Egleston began racing in the IMCA division in 2007. He had raced in other divisions at the Merced Speedway prior to graduating to the IMCA division. He won the 2012 IMCA division championship at the Merced Speedway.
“When I think of him, I just picture ourselves at the race track, sitting in the pits, chatting,” Stone said. “He was always asking questions, whether it was about shocks or the suspension. What do I need to do to make the car faster this week? I’d tell him, ‘Bill, just drive the car.’”
Like Stone, Egleston often traveled around the West Coast to other race tracks to compete at bigger races.
“He’s probably the most passionate racer out there in the pits,” said Williams, who was the track manager at Merced Speedway 2013-14 and the race director the past two seasons. “Bill never had a bad week. He was always up. He was a positive person to be around. That’s probably why he was one of the most popular guys out there.”
Williams said Egleston and his wife Maria Garza-Egleston were always looking for ways to help out at the track.
When the Merced Speedway hosted an Easter egg hunt for the kids, the Eglestons’ donated bikes to give to the kids.
“They went to Walmart and bought bikes so that we could have a drawing to give bikes to the kids,” Williams said.
Away from the Speedway, Egleston owned B & M Trucking.
Villanueva said he was always bragging about his kids, Kimberly and Michael.
Stone says he’ll miss all the conversations he would have with Egleston in the pit area at the Merced Speedway.
“We just had a lot in common,” Stone said. “We were both trying to get our pilots license. We were both in the trucking business. We’d talk about church, God, trucking, politics, racing. I never had a bad conversation with him. He was just a good guy and a good friend. He’s definitely somebody who will be missed.”