The roar in the pits and at the drop of the green flag is pure racing. Loud V-8 rumbles and the whine of the four-cylinders combine to produce a sweet melody for the dirt track, auto-racing fans.
Shady Oaks Speedway is a 1/3-mile oval built back in 1986 and has seen good days and bad days over the years. A renaissance of sorts is now underway under the new ownership of Bobby and Rosemary Stacy and their son, Keith. The family volunteered at the track for about two to three years before becoming owners.
The Stacys have owned the track for just about a year and will complete their first full year of racing in October.
“It’s been fun. My husband and I are both retired, but we work constantly here at the track. We’re happy, and we laugh and still giggle about things,” said Rosemary.
Their son, Keith, has joined them and helps out as much as possible. The work never ends, as once a meet is over, preparation for the next meet (the track runs every two weeks from March through October) begins.
There is a lot of skill in prepping the track for the races. It can’t be too wet or too dry. Cars on a too wet track will slide all over the place, just as they will if it’s too dry.
“It’s definitely an art to properly prep the track,” Rosemary said.
Small, dirt track racing across the country has seen its up and downs. With more media attention on the big NASCAR races and the like, the dirt track racers are having a tough time finding tracks on which to run.
The recent closure of the track in Edna has actually helped the Shady Oaks Speedways, as a few of the drivers who used to race in Edna have found their way to the Goliad raceway.
The Shady Oaks Speedway is not a money maker for the Stacys. Crowds have been getting better and, on a good weekend, the track will have about 75-80 drivers and cars to put on a show for about 350-400 fans.
“We just want it to break even,” said Rosemary.
The races themselves are pure dirt track racing; side by side, wheel to wheel and bumper to bumper. Crashes and bumps are commonplace and the old adage, “if you bring back a car after a race with no dents, you ain’t racing,” rings true.
Drivers and mechanics, most often a father and son team or brothers and cousins, prepare their cars at home in the family’s garage. Pit crews for the drivers include moms, daughters and girlfriends too. A couple of the ladies also get behind the wheel on any given Saturday night.
“Its a lot of fun and a big rush to be out there driving,” said race car driver Timothy Ressman.
Ressman drives a Monte Carlo with a big 350 cubic inch Chevrolet motor. The bright blue No. 32 leads the pack in the pro-stock class and was out front on Saturday night until a mechanical problem forced him to pull off the track during a caution.
The Shady Oaks Speedway provides a good racing venue for several classes of cars, beginning with an infield go-kart track for the youngsters and going all the way up to pro modified and prostock.
Almost all classes produce some “drifting” through the corners as the speed and weight of the cars fight against the centrifugal force of the dirt-banked curve. It’s the skill of the drivers that get them and their cars back on the straight home stretch heading toward the checkered flag. The racing is highly competitive with the drivers jockeying for position around each turn and down the straightaways.
Check out the Shady Oaks website for more information and to find out when to pay a visit to the Goliad track for a fun evening of local, dirt track auto racing at shadyoakspeedway.com or give them a call at (361) 645-8353.