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Racing anew at Orland Speedbowl
CLASSES: Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Hobby Stocks, Hartops, 600’s
TIMES: Grandstand opens, 5 p.m.; Hot laps, 5:15 p.m.; Races, 7 p.m.
TICKETS: $10 adults; $5 12-under and senior citizens; 6 under, free
Summer never truly begins until opening day at the races.
When auto racing returns to the Glenn County Fairgrounds on Saturday, devotees to the sport are going to see a new name, a newly resurfaced earthen track and new enthusiasm for continuing a tradition that has been a huge part of rural America for 100 years.
"Watching auto races from big wooden grandstands is something that you don't see much anymore," said racing promoter Mike McCaan, who took over the newly-named Orland Speedbowl. "So many of them are gone now, so it's a little piece of Americana."
Dirt track racing began in the United States before World War I and became widespread during the 1920s and 1930s.
Saturday night races on an oval track provided recreation and entertainment for small communities almost back to the invention of the automobile.
Most county fairs had auto races included as part of the entertainment.
McCaan, a racing promoter for 26 years, said he had his eye on the Orland track for just that reason.
"I did some racing here in the 1990s," McCaan said.
McCaan is originally from San Jose and now lives in Eugene, Ore.
He said he looked at a number of tracks available and found Orland's particularly appealing.
"The fair board and the fair manager have been great to work with," McCaan said. "For a Saturday night bowl ring, this one feels more homier, and the people here are more involved."
From the 1950s to the 1980s, grandstands at county fairs were typically packed on Saturday night, and the weekly auto races were a huge draw in small communities throughout the country.
By the 1990, the number of racing enthusiasts had declined dramatically as other forms of entertainment became more readily available, McCaan said.
"It's a different generation, so it's tough to get that enthusiasm back," McCaan said. "But I keep hearing what a great place Orland is, so I though it was time to jump back into the fire."
McCaan hopes people from all over the valley will come out to Orland Speedbowl, and fall back in love with auto racing.
Auto racing is considered affordable entertainment for a family.
Orland Speedbowl will have a concession booth, beer booth and souvenirs open during the races.
"We're going to go all out and make everyone feel real comfortable," McCaan said. ""Hopefully they will tell their friends, and they will tell their friends."
Racing at the Orland Speedbowl for the 2013 season will run through September.
Some of the divisions that will be running include Sprint Cars, Hardtops, Mini Trucks, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Hornets.
A typical evening of racing will include a variety of heats, or races leading up to a main event.
Racing on May 17 during the Glenn County Fair will include street stocks.
McCaan has scheduled a number of special events throughout the season.
Racing on June 1 and June 29 will include Limited Wing Sprints.
Racing on July 20 will include the Hunt Magento Sprint Series, and Aug. 24 will be the Olive Cup for Bay City Racing Association Midgets and Limited Wing Sprints.
The Hardtop Western Nations will be held Sept. 21.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or email@example.com.