Loss is Never Easy…But…by: Jeff Gilder
This past week end we lost a dear friend in the racing community. John Ronald Pestana, age 57 died during a race at the All American Speedway in Roseville, CA. Ron Pestana was passionate about racing and his music. The music by Ron Pestana and the Pit Crew included songs that reflected his life-long love for auto racing. One of those songs, “Hot Lap My Ashes Away” describes just how much racing meant to him. The chorus says it all…“Racing is what I live for, it is the only life I’ve ever known, and if I die today, put my ashes in some speedy-dry and hot lap my ashes away”.
Although I’ve known Ron for a relatively short period of time, his passing really hit hard. To say he touched those of us who knew him would be an understatement. Full of energy, full of life, and certainly full of passion are common descriptions of Ron Pestana. One of my most fond memories was a late-night jam session in the hotel after our 2011 Columbia Speedway RacersReunion. Ron and Bill Bentley had flown from Concord, CA to attend our event.
Ron was doing just what he wanted and loved when his race car veered out of line and into the wall in the early stages of a spectator race. Report s indicate there were no skid marks possibly indicating that Ron’s car either had a mechanical problem or that perhaps he had a medical emergency leading to the crash. Either way, the car hit a tire barrier in front of the wall and Ron Pestana was pronounced dead at the scene by the paramedics who attended the accident.
Ron was an accomplished race driver. He won a championship at Altamont Motorsports Park in Tracy California in 2006. An investigation into the incident will surely follow and will hopefully shed more light onto the actual cause of his untimely death. But, Ron Pestana died doing something he sang about many times…racing on a short track on Saturday night. He has reached the ultimate victory lane and is probably singing to his heroes who passed before him, including one of those heroes he sang about…his father.
Rest in peace, my friend! You will be missed.