The “family” at ASA-sanctioned Meridian (ID) Speedway, including racers, crew members and others, have come together to make sure that Saturday’s (April 27) Hornet Enduro 200 is the best it can be.
Up to 84 Hornet racers will take the track to race in honor of Art “The Animal” Heath. The Nampa, ID, driver, a former Tates Hornets season champion at the quarter-mile oval, died Dec. 21 at the age of 42 in a single-car accident on Idaho highway 55.
“It’s pretty phenomenal,” Art’s wife, Stacy, said of the decision to run a tribute race. “It means a lot to all of us.”
His father, Art Sr., from Pocatello, will drive a white Ford Escort emblazoned with the trademark green flames and No. 84 that Art Jr. piloted on the way to earning another nickname, “Master of Disaster,” at the Meridian track.
“We haven’t had an enduro in a few years,” speedway managing partner Adam Nelson said. “We're looking forward to using the format again. It's crazy. No cautions, no holds barred. Couldn't be a better format when we're talking about the memory of the Master of Disaster, Art 'The Animal' Heath.”
Two of Heath’s former Hornet rivals—Thomas Harrod of Caldwell, ID, and Chuck Youngblood of Meridian—will have the vintage paint job ready for Saturday.
“I just would like to say thanks to everybody for everything. They’ve done so much,” Art Jr.’s wife, Stacy, said. “Tommy Harrod, Chuck Youngblood, Tony Flores and Lynn Sharp. (Western Idaho Racing Association) has helped me a lot.
“Monica is the only thing that has probably gotten me through.”
“Monica” is Art’s cousin, Monica Heath, whose registered hometown for Saturday’s entry list is Blackfoot.
Both Stacy and Monica returned to the racetrack on April 20 when the Hornets season opened.
“There were a lot of sad feelings: Missing him, wishing he was there,” Stacy said. “I don’t know if I’m honestly going to make it through the year. It’s too hard to catch yourself looking across the track, looking for him and him not being there.
“He was my painter, my husband, my mechanic, my everything.”
Stacy ran as high as second place in the opener last week, but made a strategic decision, leaving the track to preserve her car for Art’s memorial race.
“There was too much water on (the track),” she said. “I had the wrong size tires on (the car) and couldn’t hold the track.
“I didn’t want to take anybody out and miss this race.”
The fact that Stacy even made the opener a little more than four months after her husband’s passing was testament to the tight-knit racing community. Her engine blew up late last season.
“I’ve had a lot of help,” she said. “Meridian Speedway has been really great. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if I would have been there last week.”
The gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying after 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
For tickets and additional information, visit the track’s website, www.meridianspeedway.com.