Dave Price: Toller still enjoys racing
While Sherm Toller admits that he’s had to slow down his daily lifestyle a little bit at age 64, he remains as enthusiastic as ever when it comes to watching auto racing on Saturday nights.
Tonight is going to be a little extra special, though, because the Grass Valley man will be recognized for his many years of contributions to the local racing community when “Sherm Toller Night” is held at Twin Cities Speedway in Marysville.
He will be recognized on a night when five classes will run at the quarter-mile dirt track, with qualifying scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m., followed by racing at 7. For Toller, this certainly is a special occasion.
“I’ve never had anything like this happen to me,” he said. “Greg Kerns (track promoter) called me back in January and said, ‘Before you look at the schedule, I’ve got to tell you something.’ He said he didn’t want any static from me, just to make sure I would be there on the 20th of May. I told him, ‘I’ll be there. I’m always there.'”
He doesn’t do this for the recognition by any means.
“I’ve been involved with racing since I was 5. I love the sport and I do whatever I can to help out,” Toller said.
Toller is a familiar sight at Twin Cities Speedway as the infield announcer – “Ron Albright is the announcer in the booth and I’m down on the infield” – and his wife, Loree Toller, is the scorekeeper. Their two daughters, Sheree and Kaylee Toller, are even active in auto racing – particularly Sprint Cars.
“It’s been a family tradition with us,” Toller said. ” It’s a good family sport and you can’t beat that. My wife loves racing. We raised our girls with it, and now, they can talk more sprint cars than I can.”
Toller was active for many years at old Ernie Purssell Memorial Speedway at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, where he wore many hats – from advance man and publicist to announcer. After the track closed down about seven years ago, Toller turned his attention to Twin Cities Speedway and began making weekly treks to Marysville for Saturday night racing.
Toller always preferred racing on dirt tracks like Ernie Purssell and Twin Cities rather than asphalt.
“I prefer clay, American dirt, or whatever you want to call it,” Toller said. “”I like the sliding … just hit the throttle and don’t touch the brake.”
Failing kidneys have slowed Toller somewhat these past three years, but he’s not allowed that to stop him.
“I’d like to do more, but I’m 64, and now that I’m tied to this dialysis machine so I’ve got to slow it down a little,” he said.
Born and raised in Grass Valley, Toller graduated from Nevada Union High School in 1961 and joined the Navy. He spent the next dozen years in Southern California – and spent time racing quarter-, half- and three-quarter midgets – before he came back home to get married and raise a family.
He’s not about to give up his front row view of racing by any means.
“That’s a No. 1 priority now that I’m retired,” Toller said with a chuckle. “I’ve got to have some fun.”
There just isn’t anything to beat Saturday Night Lights.
“There’s nothing like short track Saturday night racing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s out there. That’s what keeps the sport going. These local tracks are the feeders for the big tracks for the national events.
“If you like auto racing, you should go.”
To contact sports editor Dave Price, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
Know & Go
Where: Twin Cities Speedway, Marysville (1468 Simpson Lane)
Track: 1/4-mile clay oval
Divisions: Winged Pacific Sprints, Hunt Wingless Sprints, Ministocks, NorCal Dwarf Cars,
Riebes Racing Series Stock Cars
Times: Pits opens at 3 p.m., gates at 5, qualifying at 6:15 p.m., racing: 7 p.m.
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