From Bill Sullivan, Racing for the Troops
WEST SACRAMENTO, CA – At the conclusion of the 2009 racing season, veteran driver Bobby McMahan of Elk Grove accomplished a missing accolade on his racing resume; a championship title at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. For McMahan the title meant far more then the trophy and the bragging rights, it was final achievement with veteran car owner and his dear friend Steve Harris by his side.
This weekend, McMahan will face one of his most challenging races when he takes to the banks of Silver Dollar Speedway for the season opening Mini Gold Cup. However, it’s not the competition that will be in McMahan’s mind. Nor is it the fear of being rusty after a long winter. Friday will be the first time McMahan climbs behind the wheel of a Racing for the Troops #26b sprint car since the passing of Harris last month.
“Steve had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve known,” said McMahan. “He would do whatever he could to help out his friends. He gave us all the tools we needed with this racing team and he loved this sport. It’s going to be hard to go back to Chico knowing he is gone but I know he’ll be watching over us from a great vantage point.”
Last season, McMahan returned to full time racing after a several year layoff to spend time with his family and his kids as they grew into their teen years. After jumping back behind the wheel part time in late 2008, the former Northern Auto Racing Club and USAC top runner agreed to make it a fulltime effort in 2009 as one of three drivers from the Racing for the Troops’ stable. However, the decision to return to the seat wasn’t all up to McMahan and the invitation from Harris illustrated the late businessman’s true spirit and will always be a memorable moment to McMahan.
“Steve called Linda, my wife, before he even asked me to drive for him. He wanted to make sure it was ok with her and the family before he made the offer,” said McMahan. “So everyone pretty much knew about it before I even did. Then he came to me and told me it was ok with her if I drove for his team and he wanted me in the car. He always had a plan in his head.”
During the 2009 racing season, Harris was battling cancer in his final stages. In fact, according to his son Kyle, McMahan’s teammate, he was beating the odds of the illness far longer then doctors had ever predicted. During the year, McMahan and the younger Harris raced together with fellow teammate Sean Becker in the Friday night championship at Silver Dollar Speedway in a season they all will long cherish. McMahan claimed the title, Becker finished in fifth place and Kyle placed eighth in his first full year of racing. Steve Harris was then presented with the track’s Humanitarian Award for his contribution the sport and his community support to America’s Troops and Veterans.
“It was a bittersweet year for us, we all knew how ill Steve was,” said McMahan. “But to see him continue on the way he did was inspiring for all of us. He never gave up and he fought all the way to the end. He lived life to its fullest one day at a time.”
Despite the heavy heart he will carry along with his teammates, McMahan is ready to lead the team back to the battlefield for the high paying season opener. While he greatly misses Harris he will look to continue the legacy of Harris in the sport of area sprint car racing at the arena that meant so much to them in 2009.
“We will be there and ready to race,” said McMahan. “It’s what Steve wanted us to do and what he planned for. If one of us can get to victory lane or a podium finish that would be a great tribute but just being there, racing, is tribute in itself to the man that never gave up. We’re not giving up anytime soon.”
In the wake of Harris’ passing, the entire team has been very busy in recent weeks relocating their racing operations and preparing all three of the team cars and back up cars for the year to come. McMahan’s #26b ART chassis is assembled and waiting for the talents of area graphic artist Matt Fontaine to apply the finishing touches in the coming days.
“I’ve always driven a Maxim car but Steve really wanted me to run an ART car late last year,” said McMahan. “So that’s taken some time to get everything positioned in the car with the new chassis but we will be ready, we pretty much just need to make it pretty now.”
Following the Mini Gold Cup, McMahan and Harris will begin traveling the state for their outlaw style campaign. Some of the larger races they plan to commit to include the annual Mark Forni Classic at Placerville Speedway and the Louie Vermeil USAC event at Calistoga Speedway in August. They plan weekly appearances throughout the year at Silver Dollar, Marysville, Placerville, Ocean Speedway, Petaluma, Antioch, Quincy and more. Becker will compete along with the team as his schedule permits; he will also be driving for championship car owner Scott Miller in the Civil War Series.
“It’s taken a lot of work to get ready for this weekend,” adds McMahan. “We’ve had a lot of help and I really want to thank our entire team, Scott Miller’s team and everyone who pitched in. I can’t possibly list them all. It was great.”
Steve Harris Racing and the Racing for the Troops sprint car team has a number of marketing partners for the 2010 racing season. Proud supporters of the team include World Environmental Energy Incorporated, C & H Service Disabled Veterans Enterprises, Benic Enterprises, Butler Built Seats, SS Racing, Art Enterprises and Redline Oil.
The team is proud to continue it’s support of military veterans and active duty service members, educating the public on the needs of those returning from war and supporting activities which provide resources to America’s active military, veterans and their families. They invite all the race fans to their pit area following the races where they will have brand new t-shirts for sale as early as Friday night and look forward to meeting new fans. You can earn more about the team’s mission by visiting their website at www.racingforthetroops.com.