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MRP’s 10th Great Taxi Cab Open is on!
Crush of support seen for continuing season.

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - March 18, 2013 --- The 10th Great Taxi Cab Open will be run as scheduled this Saturday night, despite the tragic events of last week. Former driver and car owner Dale Wondergem and Marcus Johnson were killed in an accident. The Johnson family, a party deeply affected by the tragedy, has offered continued support to racing in general. In a statement Sunday on behalf of his family, Don Johnson, who is the driver's father and victim's uncle, thanked the racing community for their thoughts and prayers. Marcus Johnson's father, Rob Johnson, told KPIX-TV that his son was helping out in the pit when something strange happened and the steering wheel came off and the car flew probably 100 to 150 feet and hit him. It was an unpredictable situation. The Johnson family has raced sprint cars for four decades.

In the face of this unhappy event, hundreds of fans, racers and the motorsport community in general including other racing promoters have overwhelmingly urged promoters Paul and Kathy Hawes to continue 2013 as scheduled. They will do just that. The general feeling forwarded is that Wondergem a 40-year veteran of the sport and the Johnson family, also with a 40-year history in the sport would not want this tragedy to be the catalyst that stops racing. The season will be dedicated to our two fallen friends.

NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car star, and former sprint car standout, Ricky Stenhouse had these thoughts as presented by ESPN on their website: "Two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. began his career in sprint cars at age 15. He said, “Current hotshot NASCAR racer Kyle Larson (who was involved in the big Daytona wreck recently), was racing sprint cars around California at 12 years old. (Larson won a sprint car feature event in 2011 at MRP). People who can afford to go race somewhere are going to find somewhere to race," Stenhouse said. "And the crews, the people in the pits? That's almost always your friends and your family. I read somewhere somebody said those people shouldn't have been in the pits. Well, this is how it's done. This is the way of life."

NASCAR star Kasey Kahne who won this past Sundays Cup Race at Bristol won sprint car main events at Marysville Raceway Park early in his illustrious career. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Marco Andretti and others in big time racing all came from a short track, dirt track sprint car racing background.

Saturday night Marysville Raceway Park will host the 10th running of the Great Taxi Cab Open for stock cars. The event will be headlined by the return of the mighty Limited Late Models. The show will also feature the wildly popular Super Stocks with their outrageous wings, panels and foils to help get around the fast, hooked up MRP clay aerodynamically. A Pure Stock/Hobby Stock open will be an extra added attraction.

Once again, as the only Stock Car race scheduled on this date, MRP expects a fine field of quality racecars at the facility. The latest winner in the Late Model class, Matt Michelli will have his hands full as veteran stock car star Jeff, “The O Man” Olschowka will be out to get one spot closer to the checkers this year. Olschowka was the runner-up in last year’s closely contested final event. Traveling Late Model hot shoe Tommy Tilford finished 3rd in that one. Tilford was at the most recent open practice at MRP apparently dialing in his familiar white #92 for Saturday’s race.

A surge of featured chauffeurs in this Saturday night’s event will include some of the brightest stars ever to shine in northern California stock car divisions and a large number of travelers. Former local champions Philip Shelby of Yuba City and Cory Hall also from Yuba City are expected be in the field along with the current title holder Brent Hall. In addition, a who’s who of dirt track stock car racing are expected including west coast racing legend Randy McDaniel, “Mr. Controversy” Jerry Bartlett, the always quick James Castleberry, veteran champion Leroy Perry, bay area super star Mitch Machado, high-side runner Jay Norton, the winged wonder Ray Trimble, “Fast Freddie” Ryland, local charger Ray Benkowski, champion driver Phil Moreno, the “Wheelie King” Jason England, cushion banger Les Friend and a dynamic host of others. 

Some of the drivers entered in the Super Stock class may elect to also enter the Late Model show. Olschowka ran both divisions last year and triumphed in the Super Stock portion of the show. Olschowka, as noted above, almost pulled “The Double” for the first time in the 10 race history of this event.

The Pure Stock/Hobby Stock open will be a curious mix of cars from several northern California tracks. This entry level class, historically also offers some serious slam-bang action.

Door handle to door handle racing “stock car style” will be worth a look this Saturday night.

Gates open at 5. Hot laps at 6.00. Racing will begin at 6.30.

The text is based on information we have at the time of its release from all media sources.

Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect.