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The Good Ol’ Days At Shasta Speedway

Last Sunday’s sunny weather reminded me that, back in the good ol’ days, Shasta Speedway began its season on the first full weekend in March with an open competition stock car race. The feature event was run on Sunday afternoon, and I remember watching NASCAR star Mark Martin, Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope and countless West Coast legends at the March open comp race. Huge fields of racecars and full grandstands were routine.

The fairgrounds track, now called Shasta Raceway Park, continues to host a big stock car event every October, but the early March open comp race faded away in the late 1990s. I’m sure the weather had something to do with it, as early March in these parts can range anywhere from spectacular to miserable. My pal Gary Jacob, a Turlock-based racing writer who died a few years ago, probably never missed one of those March openers back in the day. I myself used to catch the opener at the San Jose fairgrounds track on Saturday night, grab a few hours sleep somewhere, and still arrive by noon on Sunday at Shasta. Yeah, I was nuts (and much younger) back then, but the racing really was that good in those days.

Much about short track auto racing has changed since then, very little of it for the better. But we’re lucky to have Shasta Speedway Raceway Park still around. Fairgrounds tracks in towns like Gridley and Grass Valley are long gone. Shasta begins its 2010 season with a two-day event on March 26 and 27. Visit the track website at www.shastaracewaypark.net.

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• Mercy Hospice is hosting two free workshops on loss and grief starting at 6:30 p.m. tonight, March 9. Hospice Chaplain Ray Hemenway will discuss fundamentals of the grieving process and helping the bereaved find comfort and meaning during tonight’s session. At the March 16 workshop, therapist Lynn Fritz will address gender and cultural differences in grief, as well as “disenfranchised grief.” Pre-registration is suggested, but you may sign up at the door as well. The programs are set for the Shasta Senior Nutrition Program office on the Mercy Oaks campus, 100 Mercy Oaks Drive, off College View Drive, in Redding. Details: 245-4070.

• Vegetable quesadillas? Don’t quesadillas require gobs of cheese and greasy meat? Not according to your friends at Healthy Shasta, Shasta Coalition for Activity and Nutrition, and Sav-Mor Foods. The Sav-Mor store at Westwood Village, 6536 Westside Road, is scheduled to  host a healthy cooking demonstration from 3 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10. The menu will include, yes, vegetable quesadillas. There will also be free goodie bags, and a dietitian and a master gardener will be on hand to answer questions. Details at 245-6639.

• For years, the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office has offered a financial management course to bad-check writers in lieu of prosecution –- after the rubber-check author has paid restitution. The money management course is now available online, which District Attorney Jerry Benito says will cut expenses for his office and participants. For more information, visit www.da.co.shasta.ca.us.

Paul Shigley is editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and co-author of Guide to California Planning, a reference book and college text. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley can be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.