By Mike Adaskaveg
Merced Sun Star
Racing families pass on a love for fast cars from generation to generation – as evidenced in the pit area of Merced Speedway. Here, fathers and mothers teach youngsters to channel their desire to race at purpose-built facilities, where they safely can do so and have fun.
“Sharing stock car racing with a child is one of the greatest things you can do as a father,” offers Mike Hausmann, a Merced businessman who has raced alongside son Shane for 14 years and is serving as his crew chief.
“The ups and downs, the joy and the heartbreak – are all there in racing-just like they are in many sports,” explains Mike Hausmann. “Racing teaches you life’s lessons.”
Shane Hausmann, a winning driver in the hobby stock division, disappeared from the racing scene for more than a season. He had good reason to do so. His three daughters – Aubree, 2, and four month old twins Brooklynn and Brielle – became his top priority.
“Having children – especially twins – is a life changing experience,” Shane Hausman says. “You should have seen the look on my wife’s face when I told here I was taking the hobby stock out and racing this weekend.”
But his visit to the track put a smile on his dad’s face. Mike Hausmann is a happy dad, preparing his son’s car in the pits, just as he did time and time again over the years.
“It may be the only a night that we race this year, so we’re having fun,” Mike Hausmann adds.
For Atwater’s Darren Thomas, the pit area experience is much like Mike Hausmanns was 14 years earlier. Thomas, a Merced Speedway a multi-year track champ in the 1990’s, may soon be a car owner instead of driver. Sons Tanner and Chase want to drive SportMods.
Son Tanner is wide-eyed and anxious to help his dad with their IMCA SportMod.
“He’s working me right out of the driver’s seat,” laughs Thomas.
A drywall carpenter, Thomas commutes to jobsites in San Francisco from Atwater, leaving little time to work on his car. Tanner and Chase, have taken up the responsibilities associated with the racecar. They even prepare tires for the car during the week.
Tanner, 14, is a “cage” go-kart champ. The eighth grader at McSwain School hopes to be driving at Merced Speedway soon. On Sunday, his dad let him take the SportMod out for “mud packing”, which is when the cars slowly parade around the track to smooth the surface.
“It feels a lot different driving a big car,” says Tanner. “I can’t wait to drive dad’s car in a race.”
As the night progressed, the Haussmann’s found themelves in the Hobby Stock victory lane. The Thomas’s had a fun night, finishing fifth in the SportMod feature.
“We picked up right where we left off,” Mike Hausmann said. “It was a great night.”
This Week at Merced Speedway
A four-division program will see qualifying heats and features for the IMCA Modified, SportMods, Hobby Stock and Mini-Stock divisions this Sunday evening. The speedwaty will have a two week Labor Day break after Sunday’s event. The week after Labor day is IMCA Supernationals in Boone, Iowa. The organization does not sanction any racing throughout the country on that weekend because drivers from throughout the country compete in the Supernationals.
Merced Speedway is located inside the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced, Calif. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for children 6-12. A family four-pack of tickets admits two children and two adults for $32.
Racing begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The grandstand opens at 4:30 p.m.