Dave Arce: Truck and Trailer Stolen Before Race

Dave Arce: Truck and Trailer Stolen Before Race

As his team woke up to meet for breakfast at the hotel they stayed at, Dave Arce found his truck and trailer had been stolen outside the Comfort Suites in Bakersfield, California. Arce planned to compete that day with driver Jimmy Dickerson behind the wheel of his ride for the Spears Modified Series event at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield.

It felt like déjà vu all over again for Arce. Two weeks prior, thieves broke into his trailer outside his shop. After that, Arce beefed up security for his rig. He secured the trailer to his Chevy 3500 dually with a hitch lock. The trailer also had a wraparound wheel lock and newly installed pins and locks in each corner of the back door.

“Friends had loaned me tools and parts to get to this weekend’s race,” said Arce, of El Cajon, California.

The team shared what had happened to their hauler on Facebook, complete with photos of the truck and trailer taken the day before. Thanks to folks on Facebook, within a couple of hours they found the trailer in a remote area overlooking oil fields. Johnny Blodgett, a crew chief on the Spears Modified Series circuit, took Arce’s crew to the location.

“The trailer was there without my truck,” Arce said. “The side door was pried open, but the car was still inside.”

However, other parts and equipment were missing, including a brand-new Gale Force machine, mounted tires, and assorted tools and equipment (some of which were those loaned to him).

“Even though my mind was somewhere else, my crew was saying, ‘Hook it up to Johnny’s truck. We’ve got to get to the racetrack,’” said Arce.

The crew took the trailer to Kern County Raceway Park. Then, they got a call from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. They had found the truck four miles away from the trailer.

“We pulled up and saw the truck was mangled,” Arce said. “It had broken windows and the steering column [had] wires everywhere. Our spare engine was still in the bed, untouched.”

Thieves had hot-wired the truck and left this mess after they discarded the vehicle.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Dave Arce

Dave Arce and team hauled the race car to the track to compete as planned. Fellow competitors loaned them equipment to get through the day. Dickerson qualified fourth and finished fifth.

“Word got out and there was an outpouring of kindness like we have never experienced before,” said Arce. “Everyone wanted to help us, loaning us tools and parts.”

Chris Dalton, a senior police officer for the Bakersfield Police Department and a racer himself (see “Chris Dalton: His Message to the Community”), was part of the effort to locate Arce’s stolen hauler.

“Things rarely turn out this way,” Dalton said. “The fact that all this happened in one day, and all those people helped Dave make that race — from police officers, to citizens, and fellow racers — I would say it was a Christmas miracle.”

Note: The theft is still under investigation by the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Department. As of Monday, officers are following up on leads, tracing the stolen goods taken from Arce’s trailer.

After recovering the trailer and race car, Arce’s team competed that same day in the Spears Modified Series event at Kern County Raceway Park. With Jimmy Dickerson behind the wheel, they finished fifth.
Photo Credit: Tom Macht