By Candice Martin
Antioch, CA…As the dog days of summer continue, people are looking for a little bit of outdoor fun to enjoy with their family. One option this Saturday night will be auto racing at Antioch Speedway at the Contra Costa County Event Center.
The occasion this week is really special. It’s not just that the track will be offering the three IMCA sanctioned divisions, Modifieds, Sport Modifieds and Stock Cars. It’s not that the Wingless Spec Sprints or Print Club Mini Stocks will be there. Or even that the USAC Western States Midgets.
This Saturday night is Fan Appreciation Night, and the $20 ticket has been reduced to $5 for the occasion. This night will have a little bit of something for everybody to enjoy with giveaways and live music also on the agenda.
The occasion was inspired by longtime Antioch Speedway racer and supporter Ron Brown of Antioch. Ron has been coming to the track since the 1960s. Since the mid-1970’s, he’s competed in Sportsman cars, Stock Cars, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Modifieds, Super Stocks and even a Figure 8.
Brown is a two-time Super Stock champion who helped get cars to drivers who wanted to compete when the division was started back in 2000.
In the 1990s, he was awarded “Sportsman of the Year” honors due to his efforts to help other racers. Last year, he was honored as an inductee into the Antioch Speedway Hall of Fame.
Ron has seen it all. From the days of the 1960s and 70s when 2500 to 3,000 fans would show up on some nights, to the days now when we see a fraction of that attendance.
“It’s sad to see,” said Brown. “When people come to the track for a night of races, they find out how much fun it is. That one visit leads to another.”
Through the years, fans get older and trends change. People have more options of where to go with their entertainment dollars, and the track does what it can to keep the tradition that goes back since 1961 alive. People might choose to go to a movie, a restaurant or even just watch a race on TV rather than go to a race at the speedway.
Brown came up with an idea to get people to come out. This goes along with his helpful nature. He’s been known to help fix things at the speedway during the week.
He’ll check in multiple times during the week to make sure everything is okay. “I like to help where I can,” said Brown, who is also known to bring parts to other racers to help get them back at the track.
“I’m always willing to come out here and help make repairs when I can. We’ve got to keep this place alive.”
Oftentimes, Ron will show up at the speedway with one of his grandkids in tow. He’d like to have a speedway there for them to be a part of when they are old enough to race.
“The issue is getting everybody to come out and watch a race, ” Brown explained. “Watching the close racing a few feet away from you gets the adrenaline pumping. The kids get to meet the drivers after the races. It’s another thing families can do together in Antioch. It’s good family fun.”
Brown went to Promoter Chad Chadwick with an idea. “I asked him what was needed to give the fans a break, ” he explained. “What’s the cheapest ticket price we could come up with for a night at the races? It was decided that we would charge $5, and that’s how Fan Appreciation Night started.”
Brown committed to sponsoring the grandstands for the night, and people have come on board to help him offset that cost. He has been putting up posters and handing out tickets all around town.
“The community comes together at times like this,” said Brown with an enthusiastic smile. “We’re a big family out here.”
“We may race hard together on the track and sometimes there’s a little bit of contact, ” he added, “but at the end of the day we’re still part of the racing family.”
With all of that taken care of, Brown still wanted to offer more. “We’re going to give away bikes for the kids,” he revealed. “Right now, we have over 30 bikes and more coming. People are donating them, and that means a lot of kids are going to leave with bikes, not to mention Hot Wheels, candy and other goodies.”
There will be several fan friendly things happening, and there will also be a live band performing before the races. People will get an opportunity to see what the Speedway is all about.
“I know that there are people who have gone on with their lives and do other things,” claimed Brown. “A night like this gives them an opportunity to come back and see what they’ve been missing. That’s what the reduced ticket price is all about. Come on out here this Saturday and see what a great night of racing is all about”
Grandstands will open at 4:00, and the first race will fire off at 6:00. It’ll be non-stop action after that. Adult fans get in for $5, children 4 and under are free. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com or check out the Antioch Speedway by PROmotions Facebook page.