Saturday night across America has changed; malt shops, sock hops and cruising the main street have been replaced by night clubs, online activities, and often times, general malaise. However, some people still know how to celebrate the weekend and support their hometown heroes. In Fernley, Nevada, last weekend, the race was on at the Fernley 95 Speedway.
Like a surreal cross between the Pixar animated film Cars, and a NASCAR race, the races at the Fernley 95 Speedway were charged with excitement at every turn. Fans watched their favorite cars and drivers as they listened to announcer, Roger Diez, broadcast the details of the race.
Not typically a fan of watching cars race around in a circle, I relate it to my younger days of being forced to go every Saturday because my father was a fan, I soon got caught up and began picking my favorite car, cheering it on to victory. Gasping collectively with the crowd when the yellow flag came out signaling a hazard on the track; cheering when the green flag would come back out indicating the race would resume; and finally standing and applauding when the checkered flag was waved signifying the end of the race.
In the end, it did not matter who won, most of the drivers were locals who lived within 30 miles of this small community and who raced for the thrill of it all on the weekends.
However, one young man, an 11-year-old who won in his division against other drivers, even the 60-something year old owner of the Speedway, seems to be taking the local racing world by storm, Diez comments on the boy, “He is going to be the next Jeff Gordon.”
There was one anxious moment during the races last Saturday; a driver during one event hit the wall, stopping the race immediately. Diez announced several times that fans needed to stay in their seats and not move towards the fence; however, tensions were high, as just four weeks earlier there was a tragic accident at the Speedway.
On May 25, two drivers were killed in a multi-car crash and another was treated at the scene for his injuries. Leroy Kay, 67, of Yerington, and David Richardson, 63, of Truckee, California, both lost their lives during the main event featuring the “dwarf” cars. According to witnesses, one car went out of control; hit a wall, causing a chain reaction.
Last week’s event was far less traumatic; the driver of car 11 was seen waving to the cheering and relieved crowd as his car was towed off the Speedway.
The Speedway is situated just a few miles south of Fernley on highway 95. The newly rebuilt grandstands provide some buffer from the Nevada winds. However, it is a good idea to bring a blanket or warm clothing, once the sun sets in the desert it cools off tremendously.
Prices are reasonable at $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and kids 6 – 12. They no longer allow outside food or beverages inside the gates, but concessions are kept at a budget-conscious level as well, $1 for a bottle of water with other snacks and drinks just as inexpensive.
The next Speedway event will be held on Friday, July 5, with KWS Sprints, Dwarf, and KWS Lites. For those who cannot be there for the race, Fernley 95 Speedway events, race results, and driver standings are broadcast on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM on Saturday mornings from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. with Todd Bruso.
For entertainment on the weekend, you cannot beat small town Saturday night. And the race is on!
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist