“We’re mechanics by trade; everything we do, we do ourselves,” said Oroville hobby stock car driver Toby Merrifield. 

That sentiment is shared by surely everyone out and about Saturday during the test and tune finale at Marysville Raceway on Simpson Lane. 

Merrifield said there’s a lot to tune and test on a car leading up to a season. He’s in his third season in Marysville with his third car, a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (green). 

“There’s a lot of structural damage done (to these cars) during the season,” Merrifield said. “We buy them cheap and work on them.” 

Merrifield and his racing buddy Zach Lindgren were one of a number of racing groups formed on Saturday to perform the final tuneups leading up to a scheduled reopening of the 2021 racing season in Marysville. The schedule reads that the opener will be on Feb. 27 for Winged 360, Wingless Sprints and Crate sprints. 

Raceway Assistant Manager Jeszica Gage said in light of the ongoing public health threat surrounding COVID-19 it’s too soon to tell whether fans will be permitted into the facility later this month. 

Gage said the raceway is hoping for 100 fans in attendance like it had last year during each of its six scheduled runs. 

Marysville Raceway postponed the start of the 2020 season to mid-April due to COVID-19, in order to prepare for the precautionary guidelines surrounding public gatherings. 

Gage said all COVID guidelines remain in effect this season, including limited spread out attendance, facial coverings and sanitation procedures to be followed while inside the facility. 

“We can be spread out with sanitation booths available,” Gage said. 

If fans are allowed for the season opener, Gage said the front gate will open between 5 and  6 p.m. where fans can line up to enter on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

Weather permitting, there will be racing with or without fans on Feb. 27, Gage said. 

Merrifield said it’s an eerie feeling to run with an empty grandstand, especially when the driver exits the car. 

“You don’t hear the cheering,” he said. 

But it hasn’t stopped the duo’s love for the oval dirt track. During the COVID threat, Merrifield and Lindgren have traveled all across Northern California to run. 

“Whatever (track) is open we’re going to race,” Merrifield said. 

For more information visit www.marysvilleraceway.com.

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