by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – Dan Lowther and Lee Hackney found shelter in the same car hauler during the rainy second preseason practice at ASA-sanctioned Meridian2013 MS LM-Lowther Hackney Speedway.

In terms of goals for the 2013 campaign, that trailer may be the only common ground for the two NAPA Late Model racers.

Lowther, who spent last season trying to stay ahead of bad luck, has his sights set on a championship run and a busy season. Hackney, on the other hand, is the consummate weekend warrior. If he has the backing, he’ll be at the track. If he doesn’t, he’ll wait until he does.

Both will be in the pits again for Saturday’s Stockcar Opener. The Meridian Speedway season begins with races in all of its stockcar divisions – NAPA Late Models, Coors Super Stocks, Project Filter Pro-4s, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks, the TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks and the Jr. Stingers.

Saturday night will mark the debut of Coors and TEAM Mazda Subaru as division sponsors at the historic quarter-mile oval.

The season opener also means the first Westby’s Bike Races 4 Kids of the year.

The gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.

Race tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for military personnel with ID and senior citizens 62 and older and $6 for children ages 7-11. Children 6 and younger get in free. A family ticket good for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 is $30.

Buy tickets or get information on how to register a child for the bike races at www.meridianspeedway.com.

While Hackney is comfortable with being a part-time racer, Lowther will try to dethrone Dylan Caldwell of Nampa, Idaho, who won his first track championship in 2012. That pursuit will be part of a busy spring and summer for Lowther, who also races high-end remote control cars when he gets a chance.

“We’re going to get back into motorcycle racing – flat track,” the married father of two said. “We’ll do some of that so the family can go.”

Flat-track racing will take the Lowther clan to Washington state and California.

Last year at Meridian Speedway, the fifth-year Late Model driver managed to finish second in the points.

“Our biggest goal this year is to try to win the championship we’ve been staring at for so long,” Lowther said.

No one could blame the Boise resident, who will turn 33 on April 25, if he felt snakebit in his quest, even if he was blessed with a main event victory five days after the birth of his son, Cole, last August.

During last year’s Bill Crow Memorial, Lowther looked destined for a victory when his engine began misfiring. He was in the lead when a sparkplug burned up, causing one engine cylinder to stop working.

Meridian’s John Dillon capitalized and took the checkered flag, but Lowther still grabbed second place despite running on seven cylinders.

The experience taught him a valuable racer’s lesson.

“Now we have really, really good plug wires,” the 11-year driver said.

And then there’s perseverance.

“If something happened, we didn’t let it bog us down,” he said. “We just kept looking forward.”

Hackney learned the lessons Lowther is experiencing years ago. The 43-year-old Boise driver finished on top in the Modifieds division in back-to-back years in 1994 and 1995.

He has been chasing gold in the Late Models for about seven years. Hackney finished 10th in the Meridian standings in 2012 while getting comfortable with a new racear.

“I raced part-time last year and basically used it as a learning year,” the 25-year racer said. “I was learning a new car.”

That’s probably the most nerve-racking part of Hackney’s job, though. He says being a part-timer means less stress.

“Way less,” he said. “I’ve always been a low-buck guy. I race when I afford it. That’s just how it is.”

 

Meridian Speedway

2012 championship recap

ASA Modifieds – Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho

Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints – Mike Murgoitio, Meridian, Idaho

Pepsi Sprintcars champion – Casey Tillman, Kuna, Idaho

NAPA Late Models champion – Dylan Caldwell, Nampa, Idaho

Project Filter Pro-4s champion – Jim Bailey, Middleton, Idaho

Coors Super Stocks – Dennis Brodigan, Nampa, Idaho

College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks champion – Chad Bess, Nampa, Idaho

Domino’s Pizza Legends champion – Phyl Zubizareta, Garden City, Idaho

TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks champion – Larry Hull III, Boise, Idaho

Budweiser B Modifieds champion – Jay Cook, Nampa, Idaho

Tates Hornets champion – Colton Nelson, Meridian, Idaho

Hornet 100 Series champion – Nelson

Thunder Dogs champion – Sledgehammer (David Jolley, Nampa, Idaho)

Jr. Stingers champion – Riley Rogers, Meridian, Idaho

 

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