End-of-pavement racing at Orange Show Speedway

Where: Speedway, South E Street, San Bernardino

When: Meet-and-greet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, heat races at 4:30 p.m., start of the card at 6 p.m. Gates open 1 p.m.

Tickets: Adults, $15; seniors, military and students, $10.

SAN BERNARDINO - The Orange Show Speedway is on track to get dirty today, and with the dirt will come the beginning and end of new chapters for the track.

Tonight will be the end of pavement racing at the speedway, and the preparation of a new dirt track for the 2013 racing season.

Pavement racing at the track has a well-traveled history that brought communities and racers together.

Most of the races ever run at Orange Show Speedway were conducted during summer nights, with spectators in shorts, usually holding a drink and voicing an opinion.

It wasn't much different on the quarter-mile track. Local racers, inspired by the racing greats who had once competed on the same oval, were usually as hot as the weather.

For 63 years, there were many memories of the events at the track that first opened in 1947. However, the last two seasons haven't been as memorable as the venue pushed its state record streak to 65 years of continuous operations.

The figure will hit 66 years tonight, but in a much different way. Rather than summer, the lone race date of the year is in December. Today's event is being promoted by Dirt Entertainment, and at the end of racing, a large dump truck will roll onto the track and start the conversion from asphalt to dirt.

"It's going to be like an old-fashioned reunion," said Toni McCray, scheduled to drive a Super Late Model Car. While it's been a lengthy period of time since she's raced at the Orange Show, she and her family are well connected to the venue.

Her father, Rick, competed at the facility before his NASCAR career, and later returned to promote races from 2008 to 2019.

McCray is just one of the many successful racers who competed at the speedway. The alumni list also includes eight Indianapolis 500 winners - Bill Vukovich, Roger Ward, Jimmy Bryan, Troy Ruttman, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears and Al Unser Jr. Other great names include Ivan Baldwin, Gary Nelson and Ray Elder.

There were times when the tempers at the track and pit area were as hot as the temperatures.

"It's crazy down there. It's wacky. It's wild. It's raw and it's real," columnist Paul Oberjuerge wrote in 2007. "A bunch of overrevved guys in overrevved little vehicles racing on a quarter-mile track. You read that right. One-fourth of a mile, 440 yards. And about 20 yards wide.

"There's more fender-banging in one night at OSS than in 500 miles of a (NASCAR) Cup race. And when guys start swinging on each other, it's for real. It's not show. They're ticked. This isn't WWE."

Promoters Scott Miller and Scotty Burns don't have a solid idea of how many fans will be on hand. They initially thought they would have 30 entries, but the number is approaching 130.

Among the fans will be 87-year-old Gene Maxwell, who competed in a Ford-powered midget in the late 1940s.

"This is going to be a heckuva night of racing," said the Corona resident.