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Can anyone take the Toller Crown from Burt?
MRP looks better than ever with improvements

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - February 6, 2012 --- The footballs are all headed to storage and the tires are starting to be mounted. Spring’s around the corner and Paul and Kathy Hawes’ Marysville Raceway Park has a sparkling new face. The 3rd Sherm Toller Classic will kick off the 2012 season.

The mild winter has allowed the scheduled winter work at MRP to accelerate to completion. The new configuration of the turn 3-4 complex is completed and ready to go. The complex has a tall, new plywood wall above the crash wall that offers a number of benefits. The wall will have a significant impact on the problem of the setting sun in late June through the 1st week in August. MRP has been plagued with its east-west layout forever. The sun will now drop behind the wall earlier and higher, thus the heretofore necessity of “sun-breaks” could be a thing of the past. Being a former driver himself, once again promoter Hawes takes a look at a problem and tries to manage it for the benefit of the drivers. 

When this observer examined the track from the grandstand, recently, there is a visual component that appeared almost as an accidental additional benefit. Under the lights with a bright white wall behind the moving cars as they slide through the turn, they are simply brighter and the entire track surface is easier to see. The track light “bounces” off of the wall. It is a real fan friendly improvement and the drivers will likely find a vast improvement in visibility. The sensation of speed as observed from the grandstand is really improved as well. The sprinters look like they’re flying through 3 and 4 against the white backdrop.

This next item may be the biggest benefit from this new construction. The wall will also retain the moist clay thrown up by the churning open wheels and drop it right back onto the high side of the track. It looks like that will create a pretty nice “cushion” for high-side runners to lean against and present more opportunities to pass. I can’t wait to see a group of quality sprinters leaning on it in the heat of battle.

Another benefit will be the sound. This observer was impressed with the throaty roar of a twisted V8 as the sound bounces off of that wall. It can really get your attention while at the same time keeping things quieter for MRP’s neighbors.

This improvement is only one example of the thinking going into the improvements at MRP for ‘12. While most promoters are trying to squeeze through these difficult times by pinching every penny, promoter Hawes continues to aggressively pursue with his time and his wallet ways to improve the facility for the 6th consecutive year. Promoter Hawes has also addressed concerns about the surface as he and race director Craig Hall examine and pursue any positive ideas in that direction. They are working feverishly to address the concerns of drivers and car owners.

MRP is now one of the nicest short tracks in the west from a fan friendly perspective. The programs have been ultra-competitive and the concessions offered make MRP a fabulous place to have a race-day dinner. Great Mexican cuisine, Debbie’s Restaurant and a superb, friendly beer garden are highlights of this racetrack midway that features the finest racetrack food and beverages available, period.

The 1st presentation of 2012 will be the 3rd Sherm Toller Memorial Race. We’ll be switching on the lights for this great event on Saturday night March 3rd. It’s a 360 sprint car only show featuring the mighty winged 360s and a special show for the wingless spec sprints. The $2500 to win winged car race has been presented on 2 previous occasions in honor of Toller who was a fixture at MRP. Only 1 driver has ever won this prestigious event. Grass Valley’s Jeremy Burt, the 2007 MRP winged sprint car champ has triumphed in both editions of this event. On both occasions Burt carried the checkered flag in pre-race salutes to Toller’s memory.

Almost every winged sprint car of note will be on the grounds on March 3rd to grab the honors in this 3rd presentation of one of MRP’s cornerstone events. Just this afternoon this observer saw one of Washington’s brightest stars, Logan Forler, aboard Harley Van Dyke’s wicked fast #5h. Forler was running hard getting used to his new ride in preparing for the Toller race. Some 35 others are expected to challenge Burt and end his stranglehold on $2500 paydays at the Toller Memorial. 

Champion drivers in the winged 360 division that will challenge Burt include Korey Lovell (5 time MRP Champ), Andy Forsberg (Civil War, Silver Dollar and Placerville champ), Mike Monahan (MRP Champ), and Colby Wiesz (3-time MRP champ and 2-time Placerville champ). Ad Billy Wallace (2010 MRP champ and 2-time Placerville champ/multiple Civil War victories at MRP), Brent Dothage (3-time MRP champ) and a few others like local hot shoe Brandon Dozier or top gun Andy Gregg and you’ve got a 1st class war going on. An impressive group of newcomers including lady star Reyna Krueger, former rookie of the year Garry Burdick and last year’s rookie of the year William Fielding will also be looking for their biggest paydays in this one. Additional championship caliber entries from Washington, Oregon and Nevada will be at MRP for this one. A similar number of wingless cars have voiced their intent to participate in that division’s $1000 to win companion feature.

More on all of this later. Stay tuned, it’s about to get noisy once again at Marysville Raceway Park…can’t wait!

IMPORTANT: 2012 minor releases must be signed by parents for all minors entering the pits. 

Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect. The text is based on information we have at the time of its release