It was a heart break not forgotten when Dakota Albright missed winning the memorial race in honor of his father, Wayne, at Merced Speedway a year ago.
The Fifth Annual Wayne Albright Memorial for Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Midget Lite racers is featured this Saturday night as the speedway resumes its schedule after a two-week summer break.
The speedway’s Hobby Stock and Valley Sportsman classes will share the program, which includes a demonstration race dubbed the “Legends of Kearney Bowl” featuring restored supermodifieds from the 1960s and 70s.
A DAD’S INSPIRATION
Albright, a parts salesman for Peterbuilt in Turlock, lost his dad during a 2014 dream trip to Oklahoma’s Chili Bowl, the country’s largest event for motorcycle engine powered cars, similar to the Midget Lites.
Wayne Albright had contracted H1N1 Flu, and was being driven back to California when he died in New Mexico. His son continued racing with the help of friend Marshall Sexton of Ceres and uncle Jim Reep of Oakdale.
“Racing was always a father-son thing. Doing it without dad would be tough, but my family encouraged me to go on. We won the first race we entered in after dad’s passing,” says Dakota Albright says. “I took that as a good sign - to keep on racing. We never got a win in his memorial events – last year was the closest – we led most of the way.”
It was an electronic setback that cost Albright the race in which a win would mean so much to him. He was racing side by side with Charlie Caraccilo of Oakdale on the outside. Caraccilo had a minute edge on him going over the start-finish line with seven laps to go. Halfway around the track, a caution flag flew while Albright was clearly in the lead. However, since Caraccilo was shown as leader the last time by the start finish line, he got the pole position in front of Albright on the restart and won the race.
“I was really bummed out – and very upset. I had a good car and a good chance to win,” Albright said. “For him to pass me I would have had to make a mistake – and I was confident that would not happen. Instead, Charlie won because of electronics. Things like that happen – I guess it is a racing deal.”
This Saturday night, Albright will try for the fifth time to get the elusive win of his dad’s memorial race. There will be a purse with $1,035 going to the winner, progressively down to $135 for the last car to start the race. The award money
ends in 35 in honor of Wayne Albright’s car number.
“It is fitting that it is the biggest race of the season,” Dakota Albright says. “He was on the board of directors of the BCRA and it was his dream to see the division grow to one of the biggest racing classes in California.”
As for Saturday night, Albright will focus on the top spot again.
“Maybe things will be different this year,” he says. “I’m looking on the positive side – and trying for that win.”
MEMORIAL FOR ED PARKER GROWS
Another racing son is spearheading a large tribute race to take place at Merced Speedway in two weeks.
Cody Parker, 18, who races in the IMCA SportMod division has organized an event in honor of his father that will have a large purse structure, prizes and contingency money for drivers entered. Ed Parker, owner and promoter of the speedway, passed away unexpectedly two months ago.
“My dad was a great, positive influence to everyone around him,” says Cody Parker. “He loved Merced and wanted the Speedway to be the pride of the City, as it was when he was young. He made improvements at the track and in its program so the Speedway would be a big part of the local community and its economy. He took pride in maintaining excellence in everything he did.”
The IMCA Modified, IMCA SportMod, Hobby Stock and Mini Stock Divisions will have enhanced purses, in addition to prizes and contingencies donated by local and national businesses.
“We would like to see racers from across California and beyond at this tribute race,” Parker says.
The race will take place on Saturday, August 18.
WHEN YOU GO
The racing program begins at 7 p.m. and usually concludes at 10 p.m. The pit gate opens at 2 p.m. and the grandstand gate opens at 5 p.m.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10.00 for Military and Students with school ID, $5 for children 6-12 years old. Children under 6 years old are free. A family four-pack of ticket is $30.