Check Out These Other Pages At Hoseheads
Bill W's Knoxville News Bill Wright
KO's Indiana Bullring Scene Kevin Oldham
From the Grandstand Ron Rodda
Wagsworld Ken Wagner
Keeping Track Dino Oberto
Tri-State Outlook Duane Hancock
Hawkeye Ovals Eric Arnold
Runnin The High Groove Paul KuyawaHoosier Race Report Danny Burton
I Just Wanna Race Brad Vores
Butts In The Bleachers Rusty Rogerson
Not Just Another Racing Column Pastor Dudley Balmer
Dirt Divas Camisha Miller
the PITS 2013Central PA
by Ken & Terry Wagner
THE YEAR 2013 WHERE THE CRA AND SPRINT CAR RACING WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS USUAL
November 25, 2013
By Ken Wagner
It has been pretty quiet around here in Wagsland since the Oval Nationals the last CRA race of the year. It’s going to get a lot quieter since I’ll pass on the midget mania at the PAS this week to wait for my annual trip to the Chili Bowl. It is also an annual week with my son Kevin and as a bonus, Mrs Wags is going this year. For this Wag, the 2013 season was my 28th in my commitment to excellence in sprint car racing. It seems like a lot longer, but it is what it is. It was also one of the most memorable years, and as Captain Obvious might say, there was some very good and some not very!
The sport, as well as all of us, has taken some beatings since the economic slowdown of the racing community’s cash, sponsors and available help that really started after the 911 disaster. Race teams and fans are not traveling much anymore, DUH, and even though gas prices have dropped in recent months, it hasn’t helped the 6 MPG haulers out there! There are many things that go into this brilliant observation and in my humble opinion; racing is not what it used to be! Look around, no sir, it is not even close, but I can’t complain about the racing on the track as the Thunder and Lightning is still there for me! It’s the politics and other stuff that amazes and disappoints me.
The key word in the whole racing world these days is SUPPORT. For whatever the reasons, neither the racers nor the fans are giving the sport the much needed total support like they used to. Perhaps the discretionary money and the higher prices to go see racing, is part of the cause. Maybe it is cheaper to stay home and watch pavement racing. Some even think if they are not out racing and spending money, they are actually making money? This year I might try that TV thing on race nights as my budget for 2014 is going to be way different than in the past now that we both are retired. And it is harder to leave my bride for about the 20 hours it takes me to drive to and return from a race.
Looking back the past 25 Wagtimes years there is so much to relive and be joyful about while the futuristic glimpse is really scary and no one knows what’s coming. For some of us we can look back to the days of “C” mains every race and plenty of cars with fans galore in the seats. Now we look to what we have today, it’s not even close, and it is a sad tale for some. This is reality TV my friends, up close and personal. Too many try to explain our current situation, but few have a clue, including me! So, let me try a few things on you. When Ascot closed in 1990 there were plenty of car owners and sprint cars ready to race every week. The grandstands looked full at most of the CRA events as people actually planned ahead and drove to the race tracks to watch great dirt track racing. When Ascot closed down with a promise there would be another Ascot very soon, CRA took its show on the road. Going out there was a new deal for most, but many race teams supported the new home track of Bakersfield and other California track visits plus Manzanita hosted as many as 7 or 8 races a year. The race count and car count was still up and healthy. Thank Frank Lewis for those days because he paid more money than today by a bunch and Ascot did not come back.
Let’s look at the decline of fans and cars over the years since say --- 1946. The fans are older now and I really have no more a clue than the visual that it looked better back then than today. Trust me that there were probably over 45 to 50 average car counts back then and the number of races was higher than today. The CRA Roadsters averaged 34 races a year from 1946 thru 1955 with 1947 having 89 sanctioned races? Then CRA history shows that from their inception in 1955 thru 1974 they averaged 33 races a year. From 1975 thru 1993 the CRA averaged 45 races a year. SCRA came along in 1994 thru 2004 and they averaged 38 races a year. Now comes USAC/CRA in 2004 and since then the average is 29 races a year, with the last five years shockingly only 22 a year. Ascot alone probably averaged about 30 races a year until they closed in 1990. Perris began averaging about 20 starting in 1996 with a high of 24 in 2001. When Manzanita closed in 2009, that average went down to 11, and that’s about the average to date. I might note that the September 11, 2001 disaster was the start of the decline of discretionary money in and around racing and other fun activities. That day started the trickle down effects that we still see today. So the declining race dates and race cars are now the norm in these times. Too many car owners with plenty of equipment are parked due to lack of funds and some wish they could sell their stuff! A lot of that comes from many racer businesses that tanked a few years ago and many are working for others now just to earn a living.
Car counts were amazing over the years, but recently it certainly has dwindled. Perris averaged 32 cars in 2013 with a high at the Ovals of 53 while the CRA averaged 28 on the road with about 10 CRA travelers out there to represent. And the crowds you ask? You will have to check with the promoters because I clearly can’t count, but to me the grandstands look like they are leaking! How do you feel about all this? Is it the apathy that our current American lifestyle receives with that economic decline, and can you or will you do something about it? My guess, NO, because it’s not anyone’s problem, right? Will it get fixed or is 360 spec racing coming for all?
If you want to talk support, how about the URA, did you support that? If they would have had the fans in the stands, that venture would have succeeded and Southern California racing would have grown! My theory was that it was time for a new deal and with no rules and two tracks that were racy and fun, how could it miss? Scott Burns had a dream, but the cornstalks didn’t grow and the stadium stayed empty as they did not come! It wasn’t for lack of trying as the Burns family and their supporters worked hard and got nothing but lip for their efforts. I figured wrongly that URA would bring out fans and cars that weren’t on the CRA docket currently. With all the grumpy unhappy USAC members around blowing steam, I reasoned there was room for both. Boy was I wrong! I can’t speak for the URA or its founder, but it looked like a great alternative to start some growth we really need now. No, I didn’t want to hurt the PAS or any of the other CRA venues, but only the PAS has decent crowds and support, while Santa Maria, Ocean, Tulare, Canyon, Yuma and the rest get little support from our fans or cars as the So Cal racing community just don’t go on the road. What do I know about support? I supported the CRA racers for over 20 years averaging over $30,000 per year paying out money to them that I collected (OPM), so don’t tell me I didn’t support them. There are few like me that plan and travel and creatively help our sport. What we the Wagtimer’s did was unique and appreciated by all who got the cash. That effort is over, but I am proud of what we did! All I know for sure is the good old days are gone. Whatever the new deal is, bring it on and tell me how it works, as I am totally lost!
I think I forgot to mention that the special bottle of Crown Royal that Austin Williams received for the Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger award was sponsored by Leroy Bedingfield and Jim Thurman, both from Kansas City, MO. Also the list of donators for the award included Hoseheads, the WRA as well as the Jar o’ change originator Steve Lafond, myself and a bunch of Wagtimer’s. The Wagtimes Wagsbucks $$$ total, as of today, is $ 615,332.01. Imagine that!
Oh yeah Trophy Dave beat it with his annual Trophy Cup event as he and his troops have donated nearly 1 million dollars to the Make A Wish Foundation over his 20 year cycle. They gave a check for $135,000 this year to the organization. That is nearly $1,000,000 in cash, wow! And that doesn’t include the purses which are the largest 360 payouts in the land. Whatever he’s doing, the place was packed for Saturday night’s finale and the car counts were large and they will keep doing it because the crowds love the passing! Imagine that!
Yes, it was a slow strung out frustrating racing year to me and it appears to be about the same thing coming in 2014 and I need some new interests to keep busy during the long breaks. Last year’s pauses drove me nuts and since I don’t like the thought of 360 racing taking over, I didn’t make any trips to see them. Maybe I just need new interests, but we will see. How does a WOO/CRA show sound at the PAS? Let me know.
Here are some of my observations from 2013. 1) Besides car counts and fan counts down, the biggest disappointment of the year is the failure of Scotty Burns United Racing Association.
2) The low yearly CRA race event count of 22 is disgraceful for a sport like ours. It’s no wonder the drivers run 360 events, they have to stay sharp to be competitive! Let’s convert those 360 events to 410, or is that the plan to kill the 410’s because the promoters don’t have to pay as much, even though it’s practically the same cost for the racers with a competitive 360.
3) The Alexander Racing Team nearly dominated the competition all year and they came within an excruciating spin of placing one/two in the championship points for the first time in history for any race team.
4) On the negative side, the little red sucker suffered a decade worth of problems in a season that took them out of the championship chase. With Bruce Bromme Jr suffering from too many ills as he missed a few race trips because of Docs orders, it just made it harder for the team as broken motors, flat tires and other maladies struck them during the season and they finished 2nd in points.
5) The Trophy Cup was the best race of the year, bar none, and all three nights were outstanding right up to the checkers. If the other racing associations really wanted to give the fans the best show on dirt, they would try that format of starting the best in the back, or would they! The outlaws couldn’t get off their front row starts long enough to agree. The local shows don’t have the guts!
6) The worst race of the year was Ocean Speedway when half the field crashed on the opening lap and the 5 restarts of it. On a positive note, nice guy Marty Hawkins came out of the fog with his first ever CRA win after the only hot dog left ran out of fuel on the last lap!
7) The most tragic thing of the year happened at Canyon Speedway where an EMT driving a push truck ran over Laurie Sertich and left the scene, and she still hasn’t recovered. I think she ran out of insurance benefits, as well.
8) David Cardey retiring is sad because he is so young and had so much to give.
9) Ronnie Gardner beating up on the USAC midget crowd winning a dozen races along the way was pretty hot. He is still trying to get his sprint car going fast, but had a great year as he is trying to achieve his dreams.
10) David Bezio showing some greatly improving driving skills, but had at least two expensive crashes slowing down his progress.
11) Rick Hendrix with his crew of one, his wife Yumi, winning the Senior championship at the PAS was fun to watch. She really works hard alongside of him so he can race.
12) The possibility of Ventura on the CRA schedule in 2014 is hopeful as the greatest little dirt track by the sea is an amazing place to see a race. If only our crowd would travel?
13) Nic Faas is the most improved driver in the CRA with Matt Mitchell not far behind as they lead the young studs to the front for the future.
14) The most disappointed driver of the year has to be Ryan Bernal because his talent didn’t take him where I assumed he was headed. Losing the Ford ride was a disaster for him as that was a great ride with a 410, 360 and a midget. He has not stepped up to the head of the class, yet! I haven’t heard his plans for 2014, but keep an eye on him no matter what he drives.
15) For me the Kittle Motorsports shutdown was very sad personally, but for the team it was an end of an era for the little blue bugger. The brothers Brian and Gary still have some # 18 stuff and could return, but for now maybe a 360 shot a few times could happen in their future, yet not likely. I can’t tell you how much fun it was being “part” of that “Krew” as we went down the road to each race. I’ll never get that close to racing again and it taught me once again, love what you got because it can be so gone – so quickly? It was a bummer this season going to the long ride event’s in No Cal on my own trying to entertain myself, but I made it. There is nothing like tooling down the road on your PC or watching TV!
16) The Chili Bowl scooter of Fred Hubbard’s that I rode at the Chili Bowl last year made that race so much more fun and hopefully, I’ll have that cool ride again this year when I arrive. I can’t explain how many miles a guy can walk in that indoor race facility for 5 nights, but for these old legs I can only tell you what fun it is riding around and not wearing myself out like in the past.
17) Tobey Sampson showing how much fun you can have racing, even if you don’t have top dollar equipment, after he made the podium in his Frankenstein Sprinter during the Ovals. The film was enjoyable if you weren’t there.
18) Hanging in the pits with the California Lightning Sprints as they obviously have fun racing is always enjoyable. Sort of brings back my early days in the pits and the attitude I saw back then.
19) The Chili Bowl is the best midget event of the year. Where else can you stay practically 24/7 in the pits rubbing elbows with the greatest drivers of our time and never have to leave? 4 nights of qualifying plus the Saturday alphabet soup main events is too long for most, but you can take a break? I usually try to go with my son to a B-ball game. If it’s in Tulsa, we can still see the main if we hurry over after the game. It marvels me to know it can be cold out and even snowing or icing up, and the show just goes on like it’s a summer day. Just remember not to forget anything in the car, it might be frozen, the car and whatever is in it.
20) R J Johnson beating the best of the non wingers at Canyon in March was fun to watch.
21) Kyle Larson winning the Calistoga finale and the Trophy Cup main event from the back is hard to beat as the highlight of the year. Both were exciting, but the Trophy Cup was phenomenal when he was not to be denied on the last lap and barely made it over the line after contact with another car trying to win, too! His dirt track days are about over and I’m thrilled to have seen him race. It was kinda like watching Jeff Gordan back in the day when he was beating the CRA on pavement like a drum at Mesa Marin, can you say he lapped everyone?
22) Visiting the Arizona Hall of fame in Phoenix is Steve Stroud’s BIG statement of support for racing in AZ. It is worth it to take a trip over there just to see what he has amassed inside that special building.
23) There were many highlights of the year for me personally, but the best was probably seeing Austin Williams eyes light up when he got two big bottles after he passed the most cars in the Oval Nationals finale. The $1000 in the Lafond jar of change and the big bottle of Crown Royal was pretty heavy to hold and smile for foto’s, as he was pleased but taxed to hold on to both.
24) Watching one of my best friends disappearing act where he left this world as a crew chief and was beamed off to Nashville, TN where he reassembled as a golfer and top dog executive leaving us all behind in his wake.
25) Losing Don Flanders and Don Blair the last year has been detrimental to the sport as both had so much to give and their time cut short. Don Blair had something up his sleeve still and hopefully his trust will begin to help the racers next year. The racing community will miss them both. I won’t list all the others that passed away in 2013, but we will miss them as well. The most recent was Ron Shipley a long time Wagtimes supporter and a great race fan. R.I.P.
26) I still can’t believe the Santa Maria fiasco where the promoter did not pay the URA purse in August, but was able to keep on going regardless and the next week paying another purse? That was the final straw that broke the camels back of the URA as Scott Burns and his backers lost their shirts trying to help sprint car racing. Oh well what will we say when we look back on this 7 race association? I am going to miss Orange Show Stadium, but it is sadly back like it was.
27) Do I keep going or is there an end to my year? Question: When a tree falls in our racing world, does anybody hear it?
28) And lastly my new little scooter gets a big Ok as it goes to the track on a rack on the back of Mrs Wags Morano! It has tall wheels to manage the dirt track paths, what a plus!! I am so thrilled!
Just sitting around thinking and it made me remember some CRA drivers of the days gone. That makes me think, where are they now? Kirk Alexander, Richard Alfaro, Rodney Argo, Stan Atherton, Tom Ball, Alan Ballard, Rick Becker, Jim Blenkarn, Billy Boat, Mike Boat, Brian Campbell, Dwight Cheney, Keith Chrisco, Troy Cline, Kim Craft, Glenn Crossno, Mitch Culp, Ron Didonato, Tom Downing, Bob East, Danny Ent, Jimmy Evans, Alex Gregoreas, Dan Hillberg, Dennis Howell Sr, Mike English, Cary Faas, Duane Feduska, Billy Felts, Elgin Freeman, Bobby George, George Gervais, Rick Goudy, Lance Gremett, Richard Griffin, Marc Hart, Richard Harvery Jr, Les Hawkins, Jack Hawley, Jeff Haywood, Jordan Hermansader, J Hicks, Rick Hinrichsen, Bob Hogle, Gary G Howard, Gary W Howard, Bubby Jones, Tony Jones, Nadine Keller, Walt Kennedy, Mike Kirby, Dale Laasko, Leonard Lee, Tommy Lee, Jerry Leet, Danny Lewis, Dwayne Marcum, Lealand McSpadden, Bob Meli, Jerry Meyer, Bobby Michnowicz, Blake Miller, Adam Mitchell, Mark Nation, Sonny Nutter, Jimmy Oskie, Steve Ostling, Brad Noffsinger, Wally Pankratz, Eddie Patterson, John Redican, Ed Reed, Bret Roa, Johnny Rodriguez, Jim Ruth, John Scott, Danny Sheridan, Tony Simon, Terry Singleton, Michael Smith, Mark Sokola, Ludwig Solberg, Mike Sweeney, Paul Sylvester, Dan Tedrick, Dean Thompson, Buster Venard, Jimmy Voitel, Keith Williamson, Harlan Willis, Hank Winter, Eddie Wirth, Josh Wise, J J Yeley and Charlie Zabinski. I am sure they found other things to do! Oh the memories and there are so many many more!
No race reports this week so I have put away my camera and put my attention on “other” things as the holidays approach. Thanksgiving is here and then a Merry Christmas is coming. In between there will be a few days on the road and I am sure plenty of B-ball games to keep me going. We will attend the Make A Wish lighting of the Trophy City home of Dave and Muriel Pusateri in San Jose. On the way home we will check in on the Darlin Dil’s and The Venard family near Reno. A trip to Phoenix seems in the plans for Joe & Ellen Ellis before the holiday. Xmas will be packed as most of the 14 grandkids will be around our house or in the neighborhood. Then Mrs Wags and I will head back to T-town for the Chili Bowl in January, and to see my kids in Missouri, and then down to Texas on the way home to visit her son Chris’ home with his wife and 4 girls waiting to fatten us up. February features a Wagtimes reunion and I hope we see a lot of smiling faces. High School B-ball playoffs is really a must for me, too! March is for March Madness and the joy it brings me. There is a lot to be thankful for, so let me sit here and ponder on that. In case I don’t pen anymore this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you all!
DAVE DARLAND IS NOW A THREE TIME OVAL NATIONAL CHAMPION AFTER WINNING THE 18TH ANNUAL EDITION!
DAMION GARDNER AND THE ALEXANDER RACING TEAM WIN THE 2013 CRA CHAMPIONSHIP!
BRYAN CLAUSON WINS 2013 USAC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN TONY STEWART'S # 20 SPRINT CAR!
NIC FAAS WINS OPENER AND STUBS HIS TOW IN FINALI WHILE MIKE SPENCER BEATS 360 FIELD AND TAKES OVER 2ND IN POINTS SATURDAY!
DAVID CARDEY RETIRES SAYING IT IS TIME TO MOVE ON AFTER HIS STORIED CAREER!
November 2, 2013
By Ken Wagner
Mike Spencer, Nic Faas and Dave Darland got all the atta boys this weekend as the 2013 edition of the Oval Nationals added a night with 360’s to the deal. Both Nic Faas and Dave Darland started on the front row of the Friday and Saturday mains, and neither looked back until the checkers flew. Faas had Chase Stockin following along for 30 laps, but each straightaway Nic would pull out to a larger lead heading forward, as he was uncatchable on this night. Saturday Dave Darland took off from the front row and played in traffic until it was over, with but a last gasp shot by runner-up Bryan Clauson at the flag for some added entertainment. These two had battled for their championship until last week at Canyon where Darland had too many bad breaks to overcome to beat the new champion. So coming in, both CRA and National Champions had already been decided.
For my latest pics here is Thursday's 360 Ovals click here to view. Here is Friday's Ovals click here to view. And Saturday's final Ovals click here to view.For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see. For Steve Lafonds Friday night pics click here to view
Opening night saw thirty five 360 sprint cars on the track putting on a great show for the small crowd who fought the LA traffic to get there. For most, the view on the track was as if it were a 410 show, because you can’t see the difference without a stop watch. Bryan Clauson chased down leader Mike Spencer and passed him for the lead. On the last lap Spencer took a shot at the leader coming around 3 and 4 and returned the favor for the win. Bryan then got locked into the cushion, then the wall, and then stopped. Matt Mitchell started 12th and finished 2nd with some high flying rim riding and could have used another lap to see if he could have pulled it off for a win. Brody Roa started in the back row and ended up 4th for the hard charger award of the night. It was a very worthy show to see and perhaps next year the travelers will come early.
The end of the year Oval Nationals event came and went without a storm or any fireworks we always expect from this classic yearly Indiana/California battle. Good sunny weather for three days was nice, windy conditions during the day and evening was not, but that didn’t have much to do with the racing I don’t think, as the track surface wasn’t ideal like normal for some windy reason. Being the most prestigious traditional race on the west coast each year, a lot of work goes into getting the track ready because of its importance, and this year was no exception. The PAS crew, Don and Rick particularly, were never off the blade or the tractor all weekend. It was unfortunate the best surface was for Thursday nights 360 event, but that’s what happens when the wind blows in the desert, you take what you get from Mother Nature.
The Ovals have become a tradition like none other in the west with the top traditional drivers from all over coming to play in our back yard. The visitors from the Midwest bring more experience on their resume as they race about 3 times as much as the local CRA boys, no cheese please for my wine as it’s a fact, yet it’s always anybody’s race. Normally the tacky track awaits all the competitors, but it wasn’t to be this year. Both nights the features were won from the front row, and that doesn’t bode well for the fans, except those whose favorite wins. As I have said many times, racing is when people pass each other, not play follow the leader like we saw this week. It was very dusty on Friday night, but not so on Saturday. Last year’s race was exciting to the finish, this year, hardly, but at least it wasn’t a crashfest and gave us a reasonable finishing time with much to remember.
Friday was too slick for my blood, and follow the leader was the routine for the night, unless you had big ones and took some chances. Saturday had more movement, but other than Bryan Clauson and hard charger Austin Williams, most played in the divot they created. You go to the races to see what will happen next, but this weekend gave us little to remember except the winners. There were 53 cars starting this event and they gave it their all in their quest for the black eagle trophy that was at the end of the rainbow.
There were 12 National drivers that came out this year with Jon Stanbrough driving the local Ford Motorsports # 73 car. There were 6 Arizona entries and the rest California cars, so we had a great car count. The National boys shined like normal taking most of the top 10 spots so there is room for improvement with the local boys.
David Cardey played this weekend out as his last time in a sprint car. No more Dirty Danita and her man on the track anymore. David has plans for some other type of racing, but no more dirt. His first win and all but one of them was at Perris. That “other” one was at Petaluma in June of 2009. Of his 9 CRA victories, the most notable were in his best year in 2010. He won the Salute to Indy and the Firecracker 30 that season as he won 4 times. He and his dad raced their own car until last year when they united with the Moose team of Tom and Laurie Sertich. Along the way he won several non-sanctioned races at Victorville including Don Blair’s last car owner victory. He won the URA opener this season at Victorville and one more URA run at the Orange Show Stadium before that association shut down. David was always one of the cars to beat when he raced, but his last gasp ending wasn’t one of the best memories he will carry with him.
David qualified 10th on the opening night and was 5th in his heat and 4th in the semi before a nasty crash in the feature killed that car. In the small motored back-up car on Saturday he didn’t get a qualifying lap in so started last in the semi and got the last transfer spot. He finished 21st in the main and walked off a happy and satisfied retired driver. He will concentrate on his son’s new driving career scheduled to get started probably next year, but for now, so long David, thanks for the memories and you will be missed!
David Bezio opened some eyes with his daring driving on Saturday after just missing the main on Friday. He got overanxious and crashed in his heat, but gave it a shot. He is very intense and will begin planning on next year right away. Ronnie Gardner didn’t have his best weekend after a sensational midget driving year, but he hasn’t driven a 410 but a few times this season. He was 8th in qualifying on Friday and made the mains both nights thru the semi’s. Verne Sweeney returned to the cockpit of his familiar red # 98 car. He was 3rd in his heat on Friday and made the main to run 21st. Saturday he missed the main by 2 spots, but had fun with a lot of hard work along the way.
Ryan Bernal has recently been driving the # 56 Phulps car that Tony Hunt drove after leaving the Ford Motorsports # 73 team late in the season. On Thursday he put the car on the podium with a 3rd place finish in the 360 Ovals. Friday he qualified 9th, ran 4th in his heat to qualify for the main, but didn’t come out to race due to a motor problem and they parked the car for Saturday. He then jumped in the Ford Motorsports back-up car and qualified 21st, ran 4th in his heat and missed the transfer from the semi by one spot! He told me he hasn’t firmed up his ride for next year, but is talking. This talented young man needs a good ride and I hope it’s with CRA, but for his future, it probably will be in Indiana next year.
The Williams report this week has some good and some not so good. On Friday Rip and Austin ended up wanting to share the same spot on the track in the feature and were done while Cody ran 15th. Saturday, down one car, Cody was 22nd while Austin was the hard charger with 11th place finish coming from 26th. Austin received $300 from Tony Jones and $1000 and a bottle of Crown Royal from the Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award. Tony also handed out some cash to the push truck drivers.
Matt Mitchell ran second on Thursday night coming from the 7th row to get the runner-up spot and looking for more when the checkered flag flew. Friday he was 13th in qualifying, ran third in his heat and 8th in the feature. Saturday he was 17th in qualifying, ran 5th in his heat, 2nd in the semi and 17th in the main for an OK weekend. He is still getting used to his new car, but showed some fast laps along the way.
The silver bullets had some highs and some lows with the best being Nic Faas winning Friday night’s race from the pole running fast! The worst being Nic running 4th behind Mike Spencer most of the main until the last lap where he tried to push his luck for a pass and spun to a stop killing the motor. This put him in 16th at the end and allowed Spencer to leapfrog over him into 2nd place in points by 8, thus killing history which could have been the first time one team was first and second in points with CRA. Teammate Damion Gardner rolled double 7’s with 7th on Friday and 7th on Saturday after winning his heat. Big congratulations to Damion and the Alexander crew for their 2013 CRA Championship. It was Damion's 3rd and the Alexanders 2nd.
Mike Spencer had a great race on Thursday as he battled with Bryan Clauson for the win. He took the early lead and was passed by Bryan late in the race, but recovered to make the winning pass on the last lap. He drove the Priestley # 7 yellow car to the win and got a black eagle trophy for his efforts. Friday he was 2nd quick, 2nd in his heat and 5th in the main. He stepped it up a little on Saturday as he won the super dash and started on the pole. In the end he was on the podium in third and finished 2nd in points for the season.
Nick Drake, son of Jay Drake, is now racing on the USAC circuit with his step dad Troy Cline. He ran the whole circuit from their home in North Carolina and finished 15th in points as a rookie. He made the feature both nights and did well, rolling it on the trailer after changing the motor after Friday’s race.
The invaders had some good results besides Darland’s win. Chase Stockin had a 2nd and 4th, Brian Clauson the opposite with a 4th and 2nd, but he is the 2013 USAC National Champion. Brad Bacon ran 3rd and 5th. Tracy Hines had fast time on Saturday and ran 9th both nights. Jon Stanbrough was 13th and 8th on the weekend in the “strange” car. Kevin Thomas Jr was 11th and 6th as he looked stronger than his finishes.
I am not going to tell you it was the greatest racing, because it was not, but it was sprint car racing and I enjoyed it. I can’t speak about Saturday but the main as I was busy until then, yet it sounded good. The downside is little passing and it was just the way it was. With so many cars, it seems that the “other” classes could be run on Thursday with all sprint cars on Friday and Saturday. Just a thought as we ran over both nights and running the California Lightning last kept fans out of the pits longer and some probably went home.
Our favorite Okie Tobey Sampson made a big splash on the event as he won the “old timers” heat and ran 3rd in their main. He was so excited in victory circle that he said 3rd was as good as a win! Get excited why don’t ya! Tobey is known for his chassis repair and build work and can use some good times. Rick Hendrix won the season championship for the Seniors. Both the Seniors and California Lightning shows were fun to watch with Kevin Michnowicz winning Friday nights 20 lapper.
The now annual Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award was a success in my mind. Ant time you hand racers money, it is a winner! We collected a total $1600 to pass out. My apology to the Wagtimers as I didn’t get out there in time to have Chris Holt present the Lafond Jar of Change with $1000 in it to Austin Williams for his 26th to 11th run in the main event; the Wagtimers would have liked to have seen that in front of them. Austin also got the specially labeled bottle of Crown Royal; making it two years in a row he has received one of those libation awards. In addition we gave $500 to Richard Vander Weerd for his problems on Friday night. The Shiney Tire Award went to the Moose crew of David Cardey along with $100 for their hard work. Thank you to all who contributed, and those who bought Wagtimes T’s as it went into the pot as well, and to the Wagtimers who support this award each year. Thanks to you all. Now I’ll think about next year’s award and if we do it again.
The campground adventures were fun again this year. Carl Lattner and his daughter Teresa fed me twice. Carl’s pancakes are really great and light and fluffy. It was a good breakfast! He sez “don’t stir the batter too much” is his secret. Teresa sent me a Mexican dinner while I was working the Wagtimes booth and that was good, too. Visiting with all the motorhomer’s is always fun as I pass thru there with memories of my own from staying out there. I wonder why I don’t do it anymore??? Perhaps because I no longer own a motorhome? I could rent one like in the good old days with the Kittle Krew, aww man, the memories there! Gone but not forgotten! Staying in the hotel is milky toast like, but it’s the way it is. The campground wasn’t as jam packed as I remember, and I didn’t do any after-hours visiting like in the past, so I probably missed some drinkin’ and pole dancing?
How many ready the Wagsworld report of the fair race and believed it??? I thought it was funny!
Another year has gone by fast with a lot of memories and a lot to be thankful for. Good and bad, it’s time to think about next year and the commitment we all have to make so our sport can continue on. Think about that over the winter and come up with a plan to help, to get involved, to support the racing and to see the best damn racing in the world…Traditional Sprint Car Racing, it’s the best, you can’t beat it!!!!
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL & CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: November 2, 2013 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – 18th “Budweiser Oval Nationals” presented by All-Coast Construction
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Mike Spencer, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 7. Damion Gardner, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Jon Stanbrough, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Cory Kruseman, 12. Austin Williams, 13. Richard Vander Weerd, 14. C.J. Leary, 15. Brody Roa, 16. Bud Kaeding, 17. Nic Faas, 18. Matt Mitchell, 19. Robert Ballou, 20. R.J. Johnson, 21. Jace Vander Weerd, 22. David Cardey, 23. Cody Williams, 24. Justin Grant, 25. Ronnie Gardner, 26. Nick Drake, 27. Jake Swanson. NT ---------------------------------------- **Bezio flipped during the fourth qualifying heat. Grant flipped on lap 23 of the feature. FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-40 Darland.
FINAL AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-D.Gardner-1,300, 2-Spencer-1,167, 3-Faas-1,157, 4-Mitchell-866, 5-Kaeding-809, 6-A.Williams-796, 7-C.Williams-770, 8-Roa-701, 9-Bernal-557, 10-R.J. Johnson- 501.
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL & CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: November 1, 2013 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – 18th “Budweiser Oval Nationals” presented by All-Coast Construction
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Nic Faas, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Bryan Clauson, 5. Mike Spencer, 6. Damion Gardner, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Matt Mitchell, 9. Tracy Hines, 10. Justin Grant, 11. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 12. Bud Kaeding, 13. Jon Stanbrough, 14. C.J. Leary, 15. Cody Williams, 16. Danny Faria, Jr., 17. R.J. Johnson, 18. Brody Roa, 19. Chris Windom, 20. Nick Drake, 21. Verne Sweeney, 22. Ronnie Gardner, 23. Robert Ballou, 24. Austin Williams, 25. David Cardey, 26. Rip Williams. NT
**Niemela flipped during the semi. A.Williams & Cardey flipped on lap 5 of the Feature.
Kevin Thomas Jr FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Faas.
USAC WEST COAST & SOUTHWEST “SPECIAL EVENT” SPRINT RACE RESULTS: October 31, 2013 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – “360 Oval Nationals” – “Grudge Series”
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Matt Mitchell, 3. Ryan Bernal, 4. Brody Roa, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. R.J. Johnson, 7. Troy Rutherford, 8. Richard Vander Weerd, 9. Jace Vander Weerd, 10. Mike Martin, 11. Dennis Howell, 12. Bryan Clauson, 13. Tom Hendricks, 14. Bob Ream Jr., 15. Don Gansen, 16. Danny Faria Jr., 17. Charles Davis Jr., 18. Cory Kruseman, 19. Johnathon Henry, 20. Jimmy Crawford, 21. Landon Hurst, 22. Shon Deskins. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 R.Vander Weerd, Laps 5-19 Spencer, Laps 20-27 Clauson, Laps 28-30 Spencer.
KYLE LARSON CONTINUES HIS MASTRY OF OPEN WHEEL RACING BY WINNING $25,000 AT TROPHY DAVE PUSATERI’S 20TH ANNUAL TROPHY CUP.
TROHY DAVE PRESENTED MAKE A WISH A CHECK FOR $100,000 AND HIS 20 YEAR TOTAL WILL GO OVER ONE MILLION DOLLARS NEXT YEAR.
TIM KAEDING TAKES CONTROVERSIAL 30 LAP MAIN WIN FRIDAY AS TRANSPONDERS AND COMPUTERS PICKED THE WINNER.
RICHARD VANDER WEERD WINS PROBABLY THE LAST NON-WING TROPHY CUP EVENT IN TULARE OPENER THIS WEEK.
WAGTIMES/LAFOND HARD CHARGER AWARD TO BE PRESENTED AT THE PAS ON SATURDAY NIGHT OF THE OVAL NATIONALS.
October 19, 2013
By Ken Wagner
Three days of sprint car racing this weekend at Steve Faria’s Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway can be summed up as “all out racing” of the finest kind! Up’s and down’s were normal with the ebb and flow of the three days, and the last two days gave up some of the closest racing you will ever see in our lifetime. Trophy Dave’s 20th annual Trophy Cup was outstanding to the MAX with 81 cars doing battle!!! Kyle Larson’s win in the big 50 lapper on Saturday night was deemed both an awesome ending in looking back to the history of the “olden” days, and conversely was considered too rough for some pit-siders? It was awesome and you still can’t please em’ all, as this one was a barnburner! When Kyle dispatched 23 of the other 24 cars in the A main, there was but 5 laps to go on the last restart of the night and he was right on Brad Sweet’s tail. Driving Kasey Kahne’s car Brad had been a very fast leader for most of the race before the climatic ending.
For my latest pics, wait on it, I am slow. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see. For Steve Lafond's Friday Trophy Cup fotos click here to view. For Steve Lafond's Saturday Trophy Cup fotos click her to view.
Here’s where the mixed emotions of some pit-siders came into play. Some said it wasn’t good that the winner went for it all, and in their mind caused the wreck? Others said it was just good old time hard-nosed racing, and a breath of fresh air for the fans! It was obvious that Kyle was going all out to win this one and Brad was doing the same. As the two went by the white flag lap, Brad was leading, but Kyle put a slider on him going into turn two for his first brief lead. Brad cut back under him, and they went down the back stretch side by side, each straining to get the lead and the win. Brad went low into turn 3 and Kyle went up top where he had made most of his passes all night. As they came out of turn four going for the checkered flag, both driver’s were not about to let the other one take it, so neither one lifted or gave an inch as they were headed home. It looked like Brad was trying to move up to block, but Kyle got thru the tiny gap between him and the wall before he could close the door and “WHAM”!!! Yes, Virginia, they banged together with Brad getting the short end of it, as he came crashing to a stop and parked against the wall. Kyle wobbled on slowly from the impact as he didn’t fare much better. His mount was battered with a flat right rear tire and barely made it over the finish line. Kyle came to a stop where he would have parked it after a cool down lap and a bunch of spins with the steering wheel high in the air, like he normally did after a win. This time no theatrics as he was lucky to have made it across the line and the crowd was just taking it all in and going wild!
Kyle was pumped when he climbed out of his battered mount. He stood up on the race car cage and cheered; now having one of the two of his “most wanted” open wheel wins, the other being the Chili Bowl, he now had the Trophy Cup Eagle Championship Trophy in his hand! It was another amazing accomplishment for the young driver heading to a full time NASCAR ride next year. Kyle started 23rd and passed em’ all to win this one. You had to be there to see it and feel the magnificence of it all.
The opening ceremonies on Saturday night started with the National Anthem and then Trophy Dave and his giant group of volunteers presented the big check for $100,000 to the Make a Wish foundation from all their collection efforts of the last year. Now the grand total he has given Make a Wish is just under one million dollars after 20 years of the Trophy Cup. Also part of the ceremonies was Trophy Dave presenting Brent Kaeding a unique lighted # 69 sprint car, to hang on the wall of his race shop, for all the help and support he gave Trophy Dave over the 20 year history of the event. Then the promoter Steve Faria presented some slick looking jackets to Trophy Dave and his wife Muriel and others who had helped make this race what it is, including Dennis Roth and Junior Bowman. A nice framed poster of some of Trophy Dave’s many trophies was presented to him from a “fan” who wanted to remain anonymous because this presentation was all about Trophy Dave and what he had given racing in his career. The last thing was a nice flashy looking ring made personally for Trophy Dave with Make A Wish and the Trophy Cup on it and presented by Mike Andretta from him and Steve Faria. Finally, they honored Trophy Dave for what he has given racing over the years, yeah!
After those ceremonies, Kyle Larson won the bidding war for the group of 4 Kaeding helmets (Howard, Brent, Tim and Bud) put up for a live auction in front of the crowd. All four were in a specially designed see thru box created by Trophy Dave and were displayed for making more money for Make a Wish. Kyle won the three way bidding at $32,000 against a Tony Stewart, who bid on the phone, and the third bidder Rico Abreu who also wanted it. After his big win, Kyle would be short $7,000 to pick them up later and ship them off to the Hall of Fame in Knoxville after this win, but I doubt that he cared; he had won a big one.
It is unfortunate that Brad Sweet ended up with 14th place for his reward of leading from lap 19 convincingly until the very end, but it was a hell of a finish and I can appreciate the all or nothing attitude the two drivers exhibited as they went for it. There was no stopping Kyle! You don’t see many "big balls" finishes like this anymore, you know the win it or wear it attitude they showed us. It was pretty awesome in my mind, and yes it was wing racing, heavy on the “racing”, so no complaints watching this one. It’s the only wing race I go to these days and you can see why, it is non-stop action from opening night until they crown the winner one more time.
There was a lot more action to see, besides the latest amazing Kyle “did it again” show, with 24 other cars on the track as the 50 lapper played out. For instance when it all started at the green flag, Tim Kaeding and Kyle were side by side in row 12 with Rico Abreu and Jason Myers in row 11 just ahead of them. The four of them had the most points accrued and looked to have the best chance to win it all on the “get go” green flag start. There was one additional car behind them after Clyde Lamar paid $3500 for the opportunity to add Kevin Swindell to the tail. After Kyle had a brief battle with Tim, Meyers then led Kyle thru traffic for a long time before the young star was able to blow by him and continue on to the front. At the end Meyers still was 2nd in overall points for a good payday! Tim Kaeding who normally is known to dominate here, ended up in the points battle behind Kyle’s close racing buddy Rico Abreu who showed people he is not just a midget star, but also a sprint car star too with his podium 3rd place finish ahead of Tim! It was an awesome event for the packed house!
There were many more whose star shined on this full moon night of racing. Roger Crockett started up front and hung on to 2nd place in the main and 9th in the point’s bonus monies. Shane Golobic, Jonathan Allard, Kyle Hirst, Mason Moore and Terry McCarl were others who were fast and furious racing all night and each had good battles with the leaders that went by them. It wasn’t hard to keep track of those four back marker starters moving thru the pack and still keep an eye on the other good racing, but I was pretty busy keeping up. The earlier heats and qualifying races had some excitement of their own as the drivers gathered more points in the quest for starting farther in the back in the A Main. What a theory, race hard to earn points to start farther behind in the race, then go like the devil to gather more points gfor the best payday!
Given the fanali was actually unbelievable, there were two other nights to have fun watching. Thursday started out with high hopes as 44 non-wing cars pre-entered to have a shot at the $35,000 purse and only 29 showed up? Keep in mind what I have been saying all along is that my CRA stars, with few exceptions, don’t have 360 motors, so most of “my” guys weren’t there! It’s really too bad the Southland and Arizona boys didn’t get to represent, but it is the way it is. Considering what transpired this opening night, I doubt we will see a non wing night next year unless it turned into a 410 show or some way to have 360 and 410 compete somehow?
As this racing night went on and on and on, I was really frustrated as way too many crashes happened on a perfect non wing heavy track. Unfortunately, 4 drivers got a free ride to the hospital after some nasty looking endos. In hot laps it began when Kolby Araki took a wild toad ride after an encounter of the worst kind with another car. The delay by the track EMT’s to get him out of the car was long and the track fence got some welding attention while we waited. Then Ryan Bernal took the worst ride I have ever personally seen him take in qualifying and he too was painstakingly removed from his ride and shuffled off to the hospital. Marcus Niemela was another one who went for two rides, one now and one later. They all went home by the next day, but still it wasn’t pretty.
After the heats there were two features, a 20 lapper and then after a short break, a fully inverted 40 lapper. There were 16 cars upside down in the two features, more than I have ever seen, but the racing in between the delays was still fun to watch. Matt Mitchell started far enough back in the 40 lap main that when he took the lead early on and ran off from the pack, most of the serious point contenders from the back were either still back there or out of the race. It looked like he was a shoo-in for the Trophy Cup Championship until 4 cars crashed, and he was one of them. Too bad as he was sooooo fast no one was going to catch him in the Ford Motorsports # 73 car. Don’t know what happened as he was alone, but 3 other cars crashed around the track and stopped the action briefly before restarting, with him on the hook and done for the night. The team loaded up and forgot about the plans to run a wing car the next night.
This left it up to our CRA hopeful Richard Vander Weerd who went on to pass and beat all of them that were left, (11 of 21 at the finish) winning both the race and the Trophy Cup non wing title with some great moves and getting a $5000 payday. Congrats to him as his wins are accumulating in recent months, so much so that he may be the most improved driver in the Southland this year. Unfortunately, his brother Jace went out early in the big one. Jace ran strong with a wing the next two nights and just missed the big Saturday main by a couple of spots. Brody Roa ended up getting crashed out of the first main that Danny Faria Jr won as the handful of our guys had to cheer Richard on, there were so few of them.
Friday night was what it always is, a lot of cars, a lot of laps and after the follow the leader early heats, they got down to business. There were 81 cars qualifying and plenty of laps to entertain the faithful. Things were tough for those with late qualifying numbers as the track took a beating and only a couple from the last 40 on the clocks made the 24 fastest list. They took 48 into the six 8 car heats with the top 3 going to the A main directly. The rest had to go back and work their way forward from additional heats and prelim C and B mains. Brad Sweet blew a motor in his brand new Kasey Kahne # 2 and had more work than most to get in the main by winning the C main and transferring with the other 5 in the semi to the 30 lap main.
This nights A main would be kind of a tortoise and the hare affair as David Gravel would start on the front row of the 24 car field and go off to a big lead while Tim Kaeding started 10th and gave chase. There was plenty of good action as the first 12 were inverted by points and the race was on for more points. Tim and Kyle were both putting on a show, but Tim got to the leader easier (?) and was on his tail as the last lap white flag flew. They raced side by side that lap and when they crossed the finish line no one could agree who won. Most observers picked Gravel as he appeared to hold off the mighty Kaeding # 83 Roth car at the checkered flags. I could see the scoreboard, which is tied to the transponder computer, switch from Gravel to Kaeding in that last instant, but it didn’t look possible. Photog’s on the finish line had pics which seemed to say Gravel, but NOOOOOO it was Kaeding by a transponder decision and that was final. It was later explained to me that the transponder wire is not exactly on the finish line, but a little past it, and the transponders themselves are mounted near the back of the cars, so go figure. Kaeding did blow by the leader, but the question is in many minds did he do it before or after the finish line? It will be a bone of contention for years in these parts, but for now Tim Kaeding was the winner and point leader going into Saturday night’s A main.
Remembering back to the first few Trophy Cup races, I have plenty of great times to recall. It all started at San Jose Speedway with Trophy Dave’s harebrained idea that his friend Brent Kaeding would have to come from the back to win, and that was his goal. The slow start was just a perfect beginning as the racing was fabulous and the festivities fun to get it rolling. Ronnie Day won that first one and wasn’t at all happy about the format before his win, as was many of the competitors including Brent, but today they are all converts and believe in the race totally. The new event lived to see another day after the debut and grew tremendously in popularity and with the Make a Wish goal that Trophy Dave set, it is today one of the raciest and most popular events on the calendar each year for all race fans. The only races I missed was when the Wagsdash hit the Trophy Cup date, and that went on for a while, until now and there is no Wagsdash and I am free that weekend.
Brent Kaeding has won 4 Trophy Cup’s and his son Tim 3, so the Kaeding family has a third of the wins! Jac Haudenschild has won 2 times as did Jason Meyers. WOO regulars Mark Kinser and Brad Sweet are one time winners as the list of hot dog in the Trophy Cup over the years includes most of the best in the land. The race is a winner and even though Trophy Dave said last year that this year would be the last, he has announced he will continue on with help from all his long time hard working staff!
My weekend got a big boost as I recently acquired a little three wheel electric scooter that goes on a lift on the back on Mrs Wag’s car, so no more long walks on the road away from my Mule that lives at Perris. The new Mini-Mule is the cat’s meow, or whatever, as it is plenty fast and comfy to get around in and the battery is long lasting, so it will go on the road again this week to Canyon Raceway for the next to last race of the year for me. I got around the pits many times during the three days and got a number of pics that I will share, so many more than usual, like when I made limited walking trips thru the pits at Tulare.
I enjoyed everything that happen the three days as I hung by the pit gate as cars came in, watched from the grandstands each night and ate at the hot dog feed, the taco feed and the spaghetti feed that were sponsored and also raised money for Make a Wish. You name it, everything including the t-shirts the program, the auction and the candy passed out during the breaks all went to the Make a Wish $100,000 check. I had so much fun watching my friends orchestrate and put on the largest event of its kind in the world! I can’t wait until next year!
Well, the hopes and prayers of the local racing world were dashed a blow this past week when Scott Burns of Dirt Entertainment (I.E. URA) closed the doors indefinitely of both the Orange Show Stadium and Victorville Raceway. What started out to be one man with a dream to take sprint car racing back to the good old days, ended up on the cutting floor with him too far in debt without enough support to continue his cause. There are many reasons for this to happen and I for one am disappointed in the failure of his dream.
I had hoped that the URA would be successful and help grow the local sprint car world in both cars and fans without killing USAC, or 410’s, or Perris, but it was not to be. Scott had two helpers in Don Flanders and Walt Boyd who helped the start-up to this venture and the bumps along the way became boulders not to be scaled in the end. Scott is a retired sprint car driver away from our world for a number of years doing some motocross promoting as his son AJ raced and they worked together to do it. When he found out he could get Victorville back in 2011, his first stumbling block hit him after he was given a USAC Saturday race date in July of that year. After gearing up to put on this race by spending money, getting more dirt and working hard to make the place ready, the date got changed to a Sunday afternoon and it was all downhill after that, even though he was determined to make a go of his new association and ideas. He created a board of directors with experienced race people to help make it happen. He did many of the right things, but ultimately he did it his way and was hit hard with the results.
That first race was a failure at the gate, partly due to free pit passes for all the race teams and the small fan attendance that Sunday. Whatever, he moved on with high hopes. When 2012 came along, Scott added the Orange Show Stadium to his promotions. I thought that place would be a home run, and it was for the 350 fans that showed up for the two events there. When he leased OSS he put dirt down and had new fencing coming, but plans didn’t go well. Don Flanders passing away hurt him more than anything as Don was all in on the Unlimited Sprint Car theory the URA presented. Don was committed to the OSS renovation, but he left no will with his plans spelled out when he was gone and Scott was forced to find other options to make it happen. The new fencing promised went the way of an argument over the scoreboard that had no controlling gear and the resulting 48 hours of scrambling to put up the minimum fencing wasn’t even done totally for the first event. Posts on the walls had to be covered with tires to make it safer for the racers, and so on, and so on. There was so much to do and the first race went off with mixed emotions on both sides of the fence, racers and fans with Scotty in the middle. Plenty of cars supported the URA that night, but limited fans in the 8000 seat stadium made me wonder what would it take to fill the place? He paid the racers cash that night as promised, but that would be hard to repeat after the only URA event staged at another track where the purse was not paid by that promoter and there is no word if that will ever happen. How could that happen? Search me; this is life as it happens, not what we plan. It was the fatal blow to Dirt Entertainment plans as it signaled the end of his efforts.
Scott did an enormous amount of research and talked to “smart” racing people in the beginning and came up with his own ideas on what would work in promoting his first love, 410 sprint cars. You had to hand it to him for his efforts as he went on with everything he had to make it work, and even though some said it wouldn’t work; he went forward towards his goals. Now sadly, it has come to this, the end for URA and what he imagined.
Scott had a good idea but needed more backing and way more paying fans, and that ultimately was his final downfall, no spectator gate, no racing. It was not to happen apparently, and today I still think Orange Show Stadium is a great racing venue. My views on URA was pretty simple with me thinking success by URA had to benefit racing in the Southland and particularly at nearby Perris, with more cars and fans getting involved with both tracks benefitting? Was I wrong? We will never know, because URA never really got off the ground in spite of several attempts at providing other than USAC non wing 410 racing? I just thought it would help to make better our low car counts and less than good spectator counts. I know most tracks are suffering with car counts and fans dwindling in these times, but the just completed Trophy Cup proves once again that special event races are the successful ones with weekly shows not getting the attendance to keep it going and growing.
I am sad for Scotty, the URA and all those hard working people who looked to give us more 410 racing in this year of only 22 races coming down from the years of 35 to 45 events a year. I’m also sad for what I thought he could accomplish, but it just means we must move on and find new ways to make it better. We must grow our sport or it won’t be a sport any more. Think about that! Is there anyone out there with a plan …….. that works … …… and will come forward…….. to make it happen???? Not likely!
Another sad thing to report is the once proud and successful Kittle Racing Team has now officially closed their doors and parked the operation. They emptied out the race shop and disbursed all the cars, equipment and hauler to whereever and they are done and gone fishing. Crew chief Randy is off in Nashville, Tenn watching Hee Haw and hockey, Jimbo is working on Steve Watt’s race cars while trying to empty a loca brewery, Paul is helping the little red sucker while residing on a mountain in Falbrooke, Already retired driver Danny is doing trash can service for Santa Maria, the last driver, Ronnie Gardner, has kiled it in midget racing this year, and the Kittle brothers are in limbo. Brother Gary still has visions of running his 360 and says they will be back. Brother Brian has a shot of Crown and a cigar in his hands for his weekly family barbeques. Alas, the team is down for the count for now. Me, I’m sad to be missing the fun times with the team, but will have fond memories of the trips and good times as they shared a little space for me on their road to the races. Just another of the teams gone in our dwindling list of race cars available.
Now for some good news! The Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award is on the move. We now have over $600 and a bottle of specially labeled Crown Royal whiskey ready to be awarded to a deserving hard charging local CRA racer on Saturday night at the Annual Oval Nationals November 2nd at Perris Auto Speedway. Steve Lafond, the originator of the Lafond Jar of Change that was presented each year at the Wagsdash, has added his collection of $$$$ to my paltry $140 of loose coins and we are anxiously awaiting to see who will add to the total, both at Canyon Speedway this weekend and at the Ovals next week. Look for me as I will be adding the sales of my new Wagtimes T-shirt to the pot as we try to reach last year’s $2500 we gave away. If the total goes high enough to split, we will award other categories like hard luck driver, shiniest tires, best appearing crew etc. etc just like the old Wagsbuck days. So it’s up to you Wagtimer’s, or others who like what we do, to meet my challenge and make this a worthy hard charger award for this year!
It seems like the year flew by again, and it feels like we are just getting started, but no, we are about to the end of the racing year. Imagine that, only 4 racing days left before the long break to next season. Now might be the time to get out to view a race in person for some of you that we have missed this season. The Ovals have added a 360 show on Thursday night, so come early and stay late, the year will end in a boom! See you all there with your change in tow, bring it to me!!!
RACING IS SLOW, ER… WAITING FOR RESPONSE, ER… LOOKING FOR MORE, ER…. VERY FRUSTRATING!!!!
THE WAGTIMES/LAFOND HARD CHARGER AWARD STILL LIVES SO GET INVOLVED!!!
October 2, 2013
By Ken Wagner
Nothing to report in my racing world this week because I have seen nothing in over two weeks and will see nothing for two more weeks, darn it. Pull up a chair and let my mind wander a little here. In my race watching career I have waited this long for the next 410 race only during the winter off time, so it’s really new to me and yes, very frustrating. Since my nearest 410 home track location these days is 240 miles, instead of 50 miles like the good ole’ days, and I don’t usually go to 360 races unless it is Ventura, so I am in a new and different world for these old eyes. What does that mean? Simple: for a guy who use to average 75 to 100 races a year back in the 80’s and 90’s, and who ratcheted it down after Y2K to 35 to 45, I am now suffering in the low 20’s and not happy about it! But it’s the way it is and as they say DEAL WITH IT, or find something else to do as many have, dammit!
The problem is I don’t want to find something else because I must have my CRA 410’s or else. In light of this "sign of the times" problem there are some solutions out there but all a long way off, time and distance wise. Consider my driving times as my home track is 3-1/2 hours from Wagsland so anything else is a long, longer trip. Without my very much missed Corvette, the drives are not mesmerizing anymore with the roar of the mighty motor of the slick little red bomb in my ear as I roll down the highway, and no the G35 is really nice as it is quieter and more comfortable, but just not the same! It’s just not as fun, yet I have satellite radio so I don’t lose the signal for my listening pleasure in Mrs Wags car, but only books on tape in my G 35 to keep my mind not on the drive so much and keeping it occupied as I travel.
Feeling sorry for me yet? Well living in Las Vegas just makes my race trips longer than when I was in Orange County, so I have to be a bit more dedicated, or just a-bit touched to continue this quest. My newly "she retired" budget will take some getting use to,but I'll make it work as we are now two bums without jobs with no descretionary incoming money any more. I guess I still have that “burning” feeling or loving feeling, if you listen to old time music, and still get pretty tingly excited as I near my racetrack that will feed my desires e v e r y t i m e! Yes, after the last nearly 40 years of thunder and lightning, it still makes me feel good seeing my 410 racing today! Wow, am I nuts or what?
Keep in mind that the Wagtimes was not a planned thing as I was merely a big time drag racing fan until Lions drag strip closed and made me mad. I saw some open wheel racing in Tulsa as I lived there int he early 70's, so then wandered into Ascot when I came home each trip and fell in love with those wicked cars on dirt, a love that has never dwindled, even today. The knowledge base for me in dirt track racing came quick and often as I left the confines of Ascot to venture out to Santa Maria, Baylands, Calistoga, Chico, Manzanita, Bakersfield, Hanford, Skagit, and more, then in 1985 to the Midwest for Eldora, I 70, Lakeside, Knoxville, and the so cool PA tracks, the marvel of it all overwhelmed me. The 4 week trip that my friend Harold Hubbs and I took in my mighty little 4 cylinder Toyota motor home that saw us see 28 races in 30 days in the mid 80’s with the famous Eldora Raceway our first stop, was absolutely incredible and still lives in my memory banks as the best racing trip I ever took!
Anyway, those many nights at Ascot and “that trip” made me write two epistles that started all this "Wags stuff". After my vaunted trip back east, I wrote a typical Wags grammarless version of the experiences and sent it to several that I met along the way and the response later prompted me to write a season ending Xmas letter to about 25 Ascot friends that I got addresses from and I sent it out under the name Wagswatch! When the racing season started, I continued to write and pass out a monthly Wagswatch as it was met with acceptance and eventually it turned into the Wagtimes newsletter that was paper and mailed to over 1000 people around the country until after the Y2K event cycled down our world. That rag was then converted to what it is today, an internet site created by Steve and Kim Lafond called Wags World. It had it's 12th year anniversary yesterday, October 1, can you believe it?You can see the Wagtimes history and how it all started by visiting Click here to read it. Eventually on the internet my Wagsworld stories took over the Wagtimes stories that were more folksy on paper. My writing was pretty not up to snuff in the English speaking world, but my style was just the plain stories of what I saw, what we did, what we ate, where we raced and everything interesting to me along the way. One of my former and valued Wagtimes readers, Gordon Hollenbeck, who has since passed away, use to read my paper stuff, red line the grammatical errors and give it to me to improve my writing. Some of what he taught me stuck, but not really much, I still just tell a story with whatever clutters up my mind at the time these days and throw in a few commas. I have never taken notes, so all those stories were written when I got home from wherever the races were, and I let it all out on paper. I don't have that total recall these days, but still remember enough to spin a yarn or two, or make it up if I forgot.
Anyway, in the early days The first Wagsbucks night was at Ascot in 1989 at the year ending Peabody race where Mrs Wags cooked chili and our first chili feed was born. We sold Wagtimes T-shirts created by Jerry Hudson’s talented graphics (he created the original logo from my stick figured drawing exceptionally well) and Brad Noffsinger printed them for us. We sold the shirts and collected $660 that night with Chris Holt presenting $560 to Cary Faas for just missing the main and $100 to Steve Foremost who just missed the Semi in front of the crowd and Wagsbucks was born that night. Later on it became a hard luck award for the little guys of our sport called Wagsbucks for lack of a better name, but it really worked fine anyway. The shirts were financed by Gene Tussing, one of the first “Wagtimers” who along with a few others with me were considering starting up a fan club. That didn’t really happen for many reasons, but Wagtimes was sort of a fan club with no rules and anyone could get involved with. Cary Agajanian, the Ascot promoter made it all possible by allowing me to start it there with his blessing and he supported it from the start. Obviously he gets a lot of credit as I did something I never expected to do, collect money from the fans and give to the racers and it worked exceptionally well at Ascot Park in those days! Too bad it closed, or we would have gone off the charts in our collections me thinks.
Over the 20 some odd years of Wagtimes history, we collected well over $600,000 that went directly to the racers click here to see most of the drivers who received the Wagsbucks). The Wagsdash event each year averaged about $18,000 of that total and that race was a hairbrained idea that was developed on a trip back from Manzanita with the Bogan’s on board and was very successful for over 20 years that we did it, so I really do miss it today. It’s time came to an end beginning after the 911 disaster changed the collection pattern and redirected the discretionary monies I depended on. None of this “Wags stiff” would have been possible without sooooooo many people helping me along the way, and the list of you is way too long for here, but you know who you are, so pat yourself on the back, it was, and hopefully still is, hundreds of you! And I never set out to get involved on any scale of what we did, it just magically happened. Nevertheless, the path I took that led me to here, makes me very satisfied and proud of what we did, and I now need something to make it all better and grow our sprint car racing back to what it was, back in the day not so long ago.
This accidental beginning of Wagtimes, and all that it meant to me and many others like I said, just happened and I am blessed with the success. Now we are in a different time and so many things add up to our problems of less fans, less race cars and less money we all have to play with. Discretionary money, that’s what I am talking about, and very few have it to throw around these days. The high cost of traveling and either racing or watching racing has dwindled our sport down to a very different look and feel in 2013. Can you say cutting back, and are you happy about it, or just going to allow it to go away? Do something, that is, go support your racing away from your cheap NASCAR TV watching.
What the hell happened? Bad things happened as many of the racing fraternity lost their businesses and some lost jobs and look where we are now, disaster is one word that comes to mind, but it was a long and painful journey that is not yet done for so many. The downturn in our economy is not the only racing enemy, as politics has always been there directing traffic that isn’t always the best for the racers. We can always use a good strong leader with our racing in mind, and only our racing in mind. We’ll see how it all turns out in the future, but for now remember to vote and go racing, two very important parts of the puzzle that has us all reeling.
Now that you have passed the racing 101 class as Wags knows it, let’s move on to the now! As I scaled down my Wagsbucks collections the last few years, and the Wagsdash fun ended, I have still tried to maintain the hard charger scheme that Steve Lafond started with his Lafond Jar of Change. It started way back and paid the driver, who passed the most cars every year in the Wagsdash, a nice little jar of change that was always heavy and reached over $1000 the last few races. The Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award is still alive, but could use your help! Last year we paid out over $2600 at the 2012 Oval Nationals and would like to do better this year! I have my trusty “counting jar” in my den at home, now up to over $130 of spare change I have fed it since last year’s race and it grows each week. Steve Lafond already told me he has far more than that, the devil he said, and looks for others to add to it. So here’s the deal, if you have spare change laying around, bring it to me whenever you see me. If you don’t, greenbacks work as well! So, if you like to get involved with the award, you can add to it, and we will see how much we can collect. If you live too far to see me, send me a check from wherever you are, made out to me: Ken Wagner, 429 Flores Circle, Las Vegas, NV 89123, and I swear I won’t go gamble it away here in sin city. Do it now as November 2 is just a month away. I’ll be at the Trophy Cup on Oct 17/19, so bring your change there, and if you miss me, The Ovals is on the way! I’ll see if I can’t get another specially labeled bottle of that Crown Royal to add to the hard chargers sippin’ stash.
It really does seem strange that we have only 4 racing dates left on the CRA schedule and one on the URA schedule this year with an annual trip to Tulare for the best wing show on the planet left for me. I hope to go to Ventura at least once before the end of the year, as my absence there is getting ridiculous as racing at the best little race track by the sea is always entertaining! Other than that, I’ll have to look forward to the Chili Bowl where my son Kevin and I have our annual reunion every year after the Xmas holidays.
But for the next two weeks I will be concentrating on my new scooter that I just ordered! click here. to view! It is for those long trips to tracks that I don’t want to go to the trouble of towing my mule to. It will fit right on the back of Mrs Wags Morano on a special rack! The new Mini-Wags Mule will be just what the doctor ordered to smooth out the long walks at my favorite race tracks. It is an electric 3 wheeler that should manage going over the dirt, mud, sand or whatever along the way. We will see how it goes and I am looking forward to getting it on the road with me. It will hopefully debut at Tulare and the Bakersfield reunion drags on the October 17/19 weekend festivities. I can’t wait.
Well now, I am going to post this so these of you who bitch when I don’t have anything new, will be pleased. Think about the Hard Charger Award and what you can do to help our racing!
KYLE LARSON COMES TO TOWN FOR $20,000 SWEEP ON SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LOUIE VERMEIL CLASSIC.
BUD KAEDING CHARGES TO WIN ON OPPENING NIGHT OF VERMEIL CLASSIC.
September 1, 2013
By Ken Wagner For you who have never been to Calistoga, or maybe haven’t been for a while, you missed out! Perhaps the overly crowded camping and parking areas was a clue or maybe the walk in crowd that packed the place settled the 6th annual Louie vermeil Classic into history as a real “EVENT” with a carnival like atmosphere and the best racing I’ve seen there since Tony Stewart made a midget run back in the day that was unreal as well. The newly doctored track surface, the guard rail down the front stretch protecting the pit people and the new catch fence all around are the featured changes thanks to the Abreu family that will make the future special at Calistoga. The resulting racing was remarkable both nights as “racing” is the key word from start to finish. Bud Kaeding was unstoppable on Saturday and Kyle Larson continues to live up to his superlative accolades as he was unreal in his march to the front in both the Midget and Sprint features on Sunday.
This year was a step up as 34 sprint cars and 25 midgets came to make the show what it was, amazing! With all the talk about the newly reworked track with a wider racing surface, more banking and some new clay, it was out there waiting to be proved as a good move, and it was. There was no practice on the new surface, so we all waited with baited breath and our fingers crossed, but when the curtain came down on Sunday night, it was all good and this was the best Louie Vermeil Classic yet! Ten cars towed from So Cal CRAland with only nine running when Rip Williams decided not to compete. There are a few more that run with us down south, but that still means 21 cars were local and not all were 410’s.
The wine tasting, beer tasting and autograph sessions were part of this “EVENT” that makes this place special. When you throw in the scenic wine country experience and then the view at the track, it is pretty spectacular. Sitting in the grandstands is mesmerizing even without the cars on the track. It’s really a blessing to have tracks like this and our 410’s running at them. Who knows what the future holds, but the money spent here means we’ll probably be back!
Now this trip up here was the first one for me without my riding with the Kittle Krew in their hauler, so it was way different from the get go. No lounging around watching TV or working on my computer while Paul Dean drives us to the races, no planned group events before the racing starts and no Brian and Kris Kittle feeds to keep us lively. Since Mrs Wags retired last week, she was good to go and our trip started out with a visit to the Lafond home in Campbell, CA before we hit Don “The” Barber’s house in Petaluma for a 3 day stay there with his new bride and her two daughters. That made it easy as we enjoyed the company and loved the racing. Dick Fry’s making sure I had the Artic Cat vehicle to get around just topped off a great weekend as we enjoyed their cookouts and the people who hang there.
I was surprised to see 34 cars, with some fairly new to wingless and some with limited experience, but they were here to race. Mike Spencer set fast time both days and was racing without crew chief Bruce Bromme Jr who was home a little under the weather. In the midgets Ronnie Gardner Set fast time both days, ran 3rd and 5th in his # 68 Midget and did double duty with his # 93 sprint car as well.
The opener was pretty exciting as Damion Gardner was hot at the start and took off to a good lead until Bud Kaeding showed up and snatched it away with his top groove antics. Gardner was running the bottom groove mostly, so when Bud went up around him, it was a race to the finish. The race between the two was great the last half of the 30 lapper with Damion trying to slide him every lap to no avail. Things got interesting near the end when Ryan Bernal slipped by Damion and then an “inadvertent red light” came on with a lap to go? The starter mishandled the light switches and we were left with a one lap shootout for the victory. Ryan’s right rear was going flat so the last restart saw Bud holding off Damion and Spencer at the line, and until they crossed, it was anybody’s race, it was sooooo close! Ryan fell to 4th and the crowd was buzzed about the inadvertent finish that ended a very racy feature.
Nic Faas overcame a very bad end over crash in a midget on Saturday. He caught a rut after reeling in the leaders, and yet was still able to run the sprint main after a long visit with the EMT group. He was chasing his teammate in the main for a long time, but dropped back to 5th before it was over. Ronnie Gardner got his tire popped by one Kyle Hirst and had to restart at the back. He came back to get 9th on a good run. He was also on the podium in the midget main with a third place finish there. The Williams boys ran 7th and 8th with Austin beating Cody at the end while dad watched from the pits.
Sunday had great expectations in the air as Kyle Larson and Bryan Clauson came to join the fun on Sunday night. Kyle would be in a Ford Motorsports entry and Bryan in a Mark Martin # 16 car. Kyle was amazing in the midget main running quickly from the third row to the lead and spent most of the race holding off Saturday nights winner, Rico Abreu. Kyle said in the winners circle “he was glad that was over so we can go party at Rico’s house”!
The Sunday main started with D J Johnson taking the lead from the pole and holding off the troops for 7 laps before Mike Spencer took over. Mike then took off and looked like he was going to cruise to a big win, but this was a night for Kyle Larson as he cut the half a track lead down each time around the big oval until he caught Mike. He gained a lot of ground by stroking it into the corners farther than the little red sucker was going and as Mike started to have problems with the turn one corner, Kyle was still overaggressive in trying to slide him there once he caught him. Kyle would go to the top into turn one while Mike would cut thru the middle and slide up in front for several laps. Then with a couple of laps to go, Kyle hit turn three at speed and shot under the little red sucker and headed out to look for the checkers and a second $10,000 check.
Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Bud Kaeding and Austin Williams were getting new life and on the last corner heading to the checkers, Bud and Austin blew by Spencer to grab podium slots and followed the talented winner who was not to be denied! Anyone who thanks Kyle “just has good equipment” better rethink that thought because he is incredible in the way he attacks the track and his opponents, no matter what he drives. He caught Spencer when everyone thought he was long gone in the sprints and his high groove rush to get the lead in the midgets brings back the Steve Kinser days of old when he ran above the cushion at Knoxville to pass 10 cars on the first lap more than once.
Kyle won $20,000 in the two races and was as gracious a winner as you can find. He acts like he has been there and you know what, he really has! It was his second CRA victory and additionally he got his first two Calistoga win’s . His success reminds me of Parnelli Jones racing history as he too never met a race car he couldn’t win in! You better go see him on dirt whenever you can before the NASCAR thing takes him away!
This trip was thoroughly enjoyable from all phases; from the scenic drive to and from Calistoga, the visiting with so many friends, the racing both nights, the wine tasting, the fun and good weather, it was all a blast from these eyes. The CRA season is almost done with only 3 race weekends left and I’m pretty sad about that, but it is what it is, so you best get on the road and support these guys because it’ll be over before you blink. The Glenn Howard Memorial is up next at the PAS on September 14th with only The Oval Nationals weekend left on their schedule. For some a trip to Canyon Raceway in Arizona could be there and a couple of URA events planned, so this year is about over and done!
I spent some time with my friends Trophy Dave and his wife Muriel Pusateri this week and talked about the upcoming 20th annual Trophy Cup in October. Trophy Dave started this huge event a few years after I started the Wagsdash with his help. His race has grown from a $40,000 purse to over $120,000 this year. He added non-wings last year and this year’s purse for my preferred style is over $32,000 and that’s for one night! So for all my friends who race these thunder and lightning cars, there are only 13 spots left in his non-wing Thursday night October 17 race and you need to get signed up! Get a grip, no get a 360 and enter. Find a motor and go get involved, it is a great format with some great racing for the fans. Check it out http://www.trophycup.org/ today and join the biggest paying night in California racing and stay for the next two nights, there is no better winged event.
9/01/13 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kyle Larson, 2. Bud Kaeding, 3. Austin Williams, 4. Mike Spencer, 5. Bradley Terrell, 6. Geoff Ensign, 7. Bryan Clauson, 8. Nic Faas, 9. Matt Mitchell, 10. Brody Roa, 11. Colby Copeland, 12. Chad Boespflug, 13. Andy Forsberg, 14. Cody Williams, 15. Ronnie Gardner, 16. Matt Streeter, 17. Terry Schank Jr., 18. Tony Hunt, 19. Tim Barber, 20. D.J. Johnson, 21. Kyle Hirst, 22. Damion Gardner. NT
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-19.504.
NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 2013 AMSOIL USAC CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Damion Gardner-1,042, 2-Nic Faas-935, 3-Mike Spencer-896, 4-Matt Mitchell-726, 5-Bud Kaeding-694, 6-Austin Williams-672, 7-Cody Williams-666, 8-Brody Roa-610, 9-Ryan Bernal-551, 10-Richard Vander Weerd-415.
8/31/13 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bud Kaeding, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. Mike Spencer, 4. Ryan Bernal, 5. Nic Faas, 6. Geoff Ensign, 7. Austin Williams, 8. Cody Williams, 9. Ronnie Gardner, 10. Colby Copeland, 11. Matt Mitchell, 12. Bradley Terrell, 13. Chad Boespflug, 14. Brody Roa, 15. Matt Streeter, 16. Tim Barber, 17. D.J. Johnson, 18. Mike Martin, 19. Terry Schank Jr., 20. Shauna Hogg, 21. Scott Hall, 22. Kyle Hirst, 23. Billy Aton. NT
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-20.085
SLICK NIC FAAS WINS 2ND CRA RACE OF THE YEAR MAKING QUICK WORK OF FIRECRACKER 30 AT THE PAS ON THE 4TH.
FIREWORKS IN THE SKY AT THE PAS THE NORMAL SPECTACULAR EXPLOSIONS.
July 4, 2013
By Ken Wagner
Nic Faas drives one of the two fast Alexander silver bullets very well and sometimes takes the back seat to his teammate, Damion Gardner, as the two of them have nearly dominated the competition this season. Together they have run in the top five positions all but one race (Tulare) with Damion ahead of him in 8 of those, but not this week! Starting 3rd on the main event grid, after winning his heat from the back, Nic showed his mettle as he was fast and furious rolling into the lead. For the last dozen or so laps he held off the 5 time CRA Champion Mike Spencer as they threaded their way thru traffic to the end of the 30 lap main event. Nic was on the gas from the get go and “fast” should be his moniker as in Fast Nic Faas! Nic was taking a few chances to squeeze his way around lap cars as he banged the cushion on more than one occasion and almost gave Spencer an opening on one of those heart stopping wheelstands, but he just kept it aimed for his goal, the checkered flag. Having his teammate to spur him on, Nic has come alive this year and been more consistent as he won his 8th all-time victory with CRA and all of them have been at Perris.
Mike Spencer looked like he is back to normal after some unbelievable hard times for the little red sucker the first half of the season with several motor explosions and an errant flat tire at the wrong time or two. He set his third fast time of the season with a hot pass of 16.341 and ran a close second in his heat to David Cardey. After the green flag start of the main, he worked his way methodically thru the hot dogs in front of him and then chased the winner hard thru lapped cars as the race was on! As remarkable as it sounds, out of the 12 races so far this season, he has only one win and four other podium finishes. The crew did well this week without crew chief Bruce Bromme Jr who was home on doctor’s orders from some painful injuries suffered in a fall that ultimately caused some serious infections that he has to get well from. He sounded great when I talked with him today and vows to be back by the August 9th date at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville.
David Cardey looked like he had something going when he led the first 16 laps, that is until Faas passed him on lap 17, where they touched wheels and Spencer was also able to get by an out of shape Moosemobile. David didn’t blink as he continued on to third with the Demon breathing down his neck. David was 5th quick and won the first heat before starting on the front row of the 30 lap main event. He lost the lead on that close pass, but charged for the flag in third place on the podium for the third time this season. In other action, David has won two of the five URA events this year and finished no worse than 5th there. The Victory Chassis seems to work just fine for the Moose people as David is charging hard every race.
Ronnie Gardner brought out his brand new "Sled" car this week and he says thanks to all who made that happen because it was a long wait getting it all together. Even when he has been off winning USAC midget shows and leads the points there, he always comes home to work on the car. To hear him tell it, getting this car together was as slow as molasses dripping off the table. He only got one qualifying lap when they missed their spot, but was 15th and started near the back of his heat that he won with some hard running. He started 14th in the main and worked his way to 8th keeping out of trouble and rolling the red, white and blue beauty back on the trailer and that made Grandpa Jack smile. Ronnie could be very good in this car as long as he has the $upport to get the car to the races often enough.
With a heavy heart Seth Wilson came to race this week after his mom passed away from a long illness. Deciding to race in her honor, he unloaded 2 cars and he and Ryan Devitt worked hard to do well. Seth was 17th and Ryan 19th as they fought a pesky fire stopping one of the two cars twice. They both qualified thru the semi and had their work cut out for them in the main.
Marcus Niemela qualified 21st and started in the back of the main, but ran it up to 10th for a good run. He was third in his heat as he continues to run with the 410’s. Matt Mitchell started 10th and drove hard to get 6th in the end after qualifying 12th and running 2nd in his heat. Austin Williams beat his dad and brother this race with a 7th place finish in the main. He qualified 9th, missed the transfer in his heat, but won the semi to get to the big show. His dad Rip was 9th and brother Cody dropped out finishing 20th. His brother Logan won the young guns feature in this family affair.
Toby “Okie” Sampson returned to the sprint car wars with a refurbished sprinter of his own design complete with pieces from a multitude of other sprint cars. Like most sprint car drivers of this world, Toby wants to race and with limited funds, it took a while to piece this one together. The California Lightning official ran 5th in his heat and dropped out early in the semi and ran the senior main later, but had a great time back in the saddle for a change.
Greg Alexander was one of the 13 cars qualifying in the 16’s and ran third in his heat. He had a good run in the main finishing 12th, but looked like he had more in him. Greg continues to run hard on his limited funding and yes, is related to the silver bullet Alexander’s. Cory Kruseman started on the pole and finished 5th this week in the beautiful yellow Mark Priestley car. He was 6th in qualifying and 3rd in his heat.
The warm day cooled off in the evening as the racing at the PAS is always fun to be there and watch. A little cool breeze helped the large crowd settle into enjoying both the racing and the fireworks. The annual “big show of brilliant color in the sky” was entertaining as usual and put on by the city of Perris. The 19 firefighters who lost their lives in a fire recently were honored in a ceremony with the 19 fastest drivers and the EMT firefighters lined up on the front stretch as God bless American and our National Anthem were sung with two planes smoking above the grandstands and hundreds of American flags few in the breeze all around the track. It was a beautiful sight to see and made me proud to be a part of it. It was Independence Day and we have our soldiers serving our country all over the world to thank for our prosperity and freedom! Oops, almost let my head get lost on my soapbox there, but let Freedom ring!
The month of July only has but one race on the schedule with Route 66 hosting the URA unlimited Sprint Cars on the 27th in Victorville. I’ll be there because it’s a 410 race and I guess I’m addicted to that flavor. Then August gets real busy with the CRA at Ocean Speedway the 9th, then Santa Maria the next night on a two race weekend. Add Perris on the 17th and the URA’s first visit to Santa Maria on the 24th and were not done yet. The annual Louie Vermeil Classic starts on the 31st and runs two nights at Calistoga Speedway where the Midgets $10,000 payout both nights was recently announced. It’s rare when the midgets cash more than sprints at an event, so I wonder what the sprints will be running for? With Steve Howard not doing his collecting for the first time for this event, who will step up and build the sprint car purse?
My new/old Wagtimes T-shirt arrived on the 4th and it is very bright with a yellow sprint car with the American flag background, and I like it more than when it was first released back in the last century. I ordered a few extras, but only have a few sizes. There are some children’s Large, a few Medium Adult and some Large and XL’s left. They are $15 each or 2 for $25 if you want some. E mail or text me and I’ll set em’ aside for you.
My granddaughter Zoie arrives from Missouri this coming Friday and one of her visit desires is to see Disneyland. I am looking for discount tickets and maybe some younger than me kids to go with her and wear themselves out at the park I use to love going to. Now it’s a chore, but I know she will love it.
Speaking of Mrs Wags, she is going to retire on August 30th in time for the Calistoga trip so she will be coming along to the races and we’ll try to visit all of our friends after the races when we hang around Northern California for a few days, look out. Maybe we’ll get to meet the Barber’s new wife? Just because she is retiring, I don’t expect her to keep up the hectic racing schedule I do, but she promises to go more often in the future.
Perris Firecracker 30 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Nic Faas, (3); 2. Mike Spencer, (6); 3. David Cardey, (2); 4. Damion Gardner, (5); 5. Cory Kruseman, (1); 6. Matt Mitchell, (12); 7. Austin Williams, (9); 8. Ronnie Gardner, (14); 9. Rip Williams, (4); 10. Markus Niemela, 11. Brody Roa, (10); 12. Greg Alexander, (8); 13. Josh Pelkey, (12); 14. R.J. Johnson, (14); 15. Rickie Gaunt, (7) 16. Matt Rossi, (20) 17. Seth Wilson, (16); 18. David Bezio, (17); 19. Ryan Devitt, (21); 20. Cody Williams, (15); 21. Kenny Perkins, (18); 22. Jay Waugh, (22). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-16 Cardey, Laps 17-30 Faas.
NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-D.Gardner-803, 2-Faas-759, 3-Spencer-628, 4-Bud Kaeding-564, 5-Mitchell-519, 6-A.Williams-461, 7-C.Williams-441, 8-Roa-420, 9-Ryan Bernal-359, 10-Johnson-330.
NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: August 9, 2013 – Watsonville, CA - Ocean Speedway
BRODY ROA TAKES CHARGE OF URA MAIN ON THE START AT THE MACRO AIR ORANGE SHOW STADIUM.
HOT DAY BECOMES A COOL NIGHT ON AND OFF THE TRACK AS RACING IS COOL IN SAN BERNARDINO!
June 29, 2013
By Ken Wagner
The Green Machine of Brody Roa rolled around the track for 30 laps and no one could change the outcome as Brody was on his game this week. Starting on the pole, Roa methodically circled the track with several hot dogs trying to move in on him, but in the end he stood tall in winners circle as he won his first URA main event. Marvelous Matt Mitchell gave Brody fits the first half of the race as Matt was on his fuel cell until he was nudged from behind and slipped back a few spots. After that Brody’s hands were full of David Cardey the rest of the way. Prior to this event, his best finish in the new URA was 4th as he qualified 8th and ran second in his heat.
David Cardey started 7th in the main after qualifying 2nd and fifth in his heat. He had his hands full getting to the front, but when he got there, Brody was too wide to pass and he settled for second. It was his 4th time on the podium with URA with two wins, a fifth and now his second runner-up.
Rip Williams made his first URA podium with a third place finish this week. He was 4th in his heat and had a great night on the track. He won the Williams War this week as his sons finishes were Cody 8th, Austin 12th and Logan 15th. The family t-shirt was released this week featuring the four cars on the back of the shirt. Pretty impressive and everyone will want one of these historic black T’s.
Seth Wilson is going thru tough times as his mom is in the hospital very ill. She has been there for several weeks and could use our prayers. Nevertheless, while his dad Steve is with her, Seth has her in his heart as he races. He had his best URA finish with 4th this week in the 30 lap main and was 6th in qualifying and won his heat!
The most exciting pass of the night was executed by Nic Faas in his heat race. He was running at the back, due to setting fast time at 14.054, and dogging teammate Damion Gardner when Damion went to pass another car and Nic slipped under both in a daring move and went on to win the heat. Damion’s car quit on him and he walked to the pits leaving the car to be wreckered off. Nic was awarded the Ron Schwarze $200 best passing award for total cars passed in the event.
Matt Mitchell will remember this night to be a battle with Damion in the main event. While pressing the leader hard, Matt was jostled from behind and went way sideways, but recovered to slide back into the mix as Damion took this opportunity and pulled up next to him looking to take the spot. Matt dove under him going into turn one and suddenly the Demon was parked backwards into the wall. It was his second spin and the black flag came out, but Damion didn’t take the hint and remained on the surface ready to race. After several laps of this communication problem, the race director Steve Ostling called for a red flag stop. Never seen that, but I think Damion had other ideas in his mind like retaliation maybe? After some more communication discussions, Damion finally went to the pits, a very unhappy racer, and we continued on. Unfortunately, the incident with only 6 laps to go, took Matt out of the up-front battle and he finished 6th.
David Bezio came to the track after a few expensive crashes curtailed his racing for a few weeks. I told him to keep it on all fours and he smiled. After the race he must have been smiling as he ran 7th from his 13th starting spot, passing the most cars in the feature, and rolling it on the trailer, hot dog! Great job by the young man.
Cody Swanson made his second impressive start in the 410 unlimited class another good one as he was 9th in qualifying, 3rd in his heat and 10th in the main event. Now where is his cousin Jake?? Cal Smith get kudos for representing the racers this week as he spent his morning at a local Home Depot displaying his car and talking to the many fans who came by encouraging them to come to the races. Some of them even mentioned Ascot as to where they had been race watching? Atta boy Cal we need to keep doing that!
Push trucks are a little rare at OSS and Skip and his boys could use a few recruits and some much needed help as they take care of getting the racers started. Most that do this are dedicated and are having fun. Pushing sprint cars is a not so easy to accomplish chore. Pushing the delicate race cars takes patience and skill. One man who is a dedicated photographer also brings his truck and does his duty during the night as he pushes in between shooting the great pics. Doug Allen has to be thanked for his trying to help everyone and still take those exciting shots of our favorites.
Ronnie Gardner won another Midget Main event this past week near Visalia. The young man is doing serious business with those little cars. Since his # 18 ride got parked, he has worked hard on his own ride and will bring the # 93 back out to Perris this week and frankly I can’t wait. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch him win under the fireworks that night!
The day was pretty warm in San Bernardino with temps above 105, yet when the sun went down, the air cooled down and the action was hot! To me that is exciting because I know at my doorstep in Vegas, if it’s 110 in the daytime, it’s 108 after dark, or close. It does go down after midnight, but cranks back up as dawn approaches. So with all that said, it wasn’t at all uncomfortable in the grandstands, especially when the sun went down. And the tacos were good!
It’s a short week as Perris presents its annual Firecracker 30 on Thursday. It will be another warm one, but if we can get the coach off his butt and on his 4 wheeler, all will be well! Come early and see the cars on the track and enjoy the fun of the drivers visiting with the fans, it’s all part of the show! The fireworks are as good as it gets, if you like that stuff, and always impresses me. Who will win? Don’t bet against the Silver Bullets as one of them will be storming the track and the other will be on the gas as well. The green machine will be ready to go as will the little red sucker, the Moosemobile, the black stealth Jory cars, maybe even the Super one, the 360 champ and many more! Go racing my friends and get thirsty!
I will have some new/old t-shirts with me as I am bringing back my favorite Wagtimes shirt from 20 years ago. The one with the yellow sprint car and American flag behind it is back!!! I’ll have a few extra’s so check it out, I’ll be wearing one.
July racing will be real quiet after the big 4th race at the PAS. Only one other 410 race and that is July 27th at Route 66 Motorplex with Unlimited Sprints, Limited Sprints (Ford Focus) and the California Lightning Sprints. Unless of course you go to the annual Indiana Sprint Week for 12 days? I gave that up a few years ago because of the heat, and of course the expense as my retired money doesn’t go as far as my working money did. I plan to make that short 15 minute trip up the huge hill to Victorville that seems to keep many from going there. Oh that’s right, I come from the other direction, so my bad, you guys are missing out. It takes 25 minutes from Orange Show Stadium, so it’s about the same as going to Perris from the I-10 and 215.
Think of all the people in the hospital, or ill at home, or unable to get out on our independence day celebrations. Don Weaver, Seth Wilson's Mom, Stubby Dils and many more need your prayers. Also R.I.P. to the 19 firefighters who lost their lives in Yarnell, Arizona recently.
URA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: June 29, 2013
Fast time: Nic Faas, 4, Alexander, 14.054. Heat winners Nic Faas, Kenny Perkins and Seth Wilson.
FEATURE: (30 laps) (starting positions in parenthesis) Winner Brody Roa,(1); 2. David Cardey, (7); 3. Rip Williams, (4); 4. Seth Wilson, (3); 5. Nic Faas, (6); 6. Matt Mitchell, (5); 7. David Bezio, (13); 8. Cody Williams, (11); 9. Kenny Perkins, (14); 10. Cody Swanson, (9); 11. Rick Hendrix, (16); 12. Austin Williams, (2); 13. Donny Gansen, (19); 14. Chris Gansen, (18); 15. Logan Williams, (15); 16. Cal Smith, (17); 17. Damion Gardner, (8); 18. A. J. Bender, (10); 19. Johnny Bluntach, (12); 20. Jon Kairot, (20).
NEW URA SPRINT POINTS: 1. David Cardey 110, 2. Matt Mitchell 78, 3. Nic Faas 78, 4. Rip Williams 71, 5. Damion Gardner 68. 6. Brody Roa 59, 7. Cody Williams 58, 8. Seth Wilson 52, 9. Kenny Perkins 51, 10. Austin Williams 47, 11.Logan Williams 42, 12. A J Bender 29.
Next URA Sprint Race: July 27, 2013 Rt 66 Motorplex.
DOUBLE TAP FOR DAMION GARDNER IN THE # 4A ALEXANDER SILVER BULLET AT OCEAN SPEEDWAY AND SANTA MARIA ON THIS FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND.
WAGS ON TOUR UNUSUALLY QUIET WITHOUT THE KITTLE RIG TAKING ME DOWN THE ROAD, BUT REWARDING NEVERTHELESS.
June 15, 2013
By Ken Wagner
It’s hard to relate all that went down over this Father’s Day weekend, but needless to say the CRA hit two tracks far from home and a surprising amount of CRA racecars made the trip for great racing with 14 and 15 of the 29 and 18 total car counts. Ocean Speedway was the best show of the two when passing was the norm and action was wheel to wheel with few cashes. Santa Maria was more difficult with a tough racy two groove track for everyone on a cool night. All that and Damion Gardner completed a sweep of fast times and victories with his signature all-out Demon type attack. In all that, Damion passed 5 time CRA champion Jimmy Oskie for 11th on the all-time So Cal win list with 55 total victories.
For my pics from Ocean click here to view. For my pics from Santa Maria click here to view. For Steve Lafonds foto's from Ocean click here to view. For Korie Lafonds foto's from Ocean click here to view. For Steve Lafonds foto's from Santa Maria click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.
Friday at the Watsonville near beach track saw 29 cars qualify and some great racing happened. Unfortunately the National invert 6 happened again making the run from 6th place a little easier than 8th, but it is what it is and Damion did it both nights. It wasn’t easy for the Demon as Nic Faas took the lead on the green Friday and looked gold for a win. He led 21 laps and had his minor issues with the turn four cushion a couple of times until a very fast Bud Kaeding, stalking him from the start, took the low road under him and then pulled away for 8 laps. Bud looked in control until a lap 27 flag stoppage and then it got real exciting. Bud still had the groove on the restart and Damion took a shot under him on the 28th lap, but no go. It took a lap for the Demon to get close again and under the white flag you could see the obvious was coming, a last gasp shot by the green stripped # 4A. When they came to the first turn corner the last time, Damion shot low under Bud and slid up in front of him with no room to spare. Bud checked up and that backed him off too far to make the pass back he needed as Damion took the green flag and opening shot on the road.
I had figured Damion would be on kill this weekend because he ran second at the last CRA race at The PAS and the most recent URA event at Macro Air Orange Show Stadium, and he doesn’t like second. His move was soooo close and yet it worked, so that’s racing. Some might say it wasn’t right or a fair shot, but to them Damion says SCOREBOARD, that’s all that counts. Bud said he left the door open as both wanted to win in honor of their friend Jason Leffler who passed away last week after they had both made an honoring lap for the redhead before the race.
It was a dramatic ending and is just one more race that makes this year way better than 2012 as the new blood running regularly with CRA has made it come back to amazing racing creating heroes, and that’s exactly what we have needed. This shot in the arm with Bud Kaeding and Damion Gardner running every race makes the bar higher for the regulars and especially for Champion Mike Spencer who has experienced more “bad luck” this season than the 5 years previous combined, me thinks! There is likely that a new champion will be crowned this season, but only half the season is done and the little red sucker ain’t out of it yet. I might mention the 181 point deficit won’t be easy to overcome, if at all, but we shall see what the little red sucker can do. This week they had a motor lock up at Ocean Speedway and the replacement motor lost the linkage on a restart and he was done in 20th. Then on Saturday at Santa Maria a flat front tire put them in the back to come up to 7th at the end.
Nic Faas was fast and furious for his 21 laps leading, but flirted with the turn four cushion a few times that slowed him a bit. He lost the lead on a restart and ended up on the podium in third for a good strong effort. Matt “Poster Boy” Mitchell had a great weekend with 4th and 5th as he looks fully recovered from his crash in Indiana last year. He is running traffic with the best of them and will win again soon if his efforts continue like he has. If you wonder about the poster boy comment, check any victory circle picture of him, his winning smile is just that and he represents the 410 boys very well!
Ryan Bernal had an interesting weekend. He drove two different cars with mixed results as he started on the pole both nights. Friday he had a restricted 410 so he could run for the “restricted” race point’s battle up north and according to crew chief Jimmy May, the motor loses over 100 horsepower with the restrictor plate in. He was 5th on the opening night and ran a regular 410 Saturday to an 11th place finish. Cory Kruseman was back from his busted shoulder from a race early in the year and shook it out with a 6th and 10th. The crew was glad to be back as the brothers Jason and Randy had a long layoff, too!
Richard Vander Weerd had a good weekend with 7th and 3rd for his great showing. He was really strong at Santa Maria and his brother Jace was 9th and 15th. Rip Williams beat his boys when Cody crashed hard on Friday and Austin had his problems following his brother out. Cody drove Rip’s car on Saturday to 6th and Austin got 8th.
I had a great time as Trophy Dave went to Ocean with me after a day in his shop to visit. The 45 minute ride took 2 hours, so we were late when we got there at 3:30. Trophy Dave got a chance to meet some of the CRA boys as we walked around and tried to drum up interest in the 360 non-wing version of the Trophy Cup night on Oct 17 at Tulare. The $33,000 purse is very tempting, but a lot of our boys don’t have a 360, so renting, borrowing or somehow getting one will be hard for some. Trophy Dave spends many weekends in his Placerville ”weekend” home and rarely goes to the races out there because of the “other” cars that run for the promoters pocket. Can’t blame them when only 20 or so sprint cars show up, you have to keep the fans happy with something. Trophy Dave is a lot like me in that it’s sprint car all the time for us.
It was lonely going on my own on this trip, but I spent time visiting with friends, so it wasn’t bad. Thanks Pat & LeeAnn for hosting me and Muriel and Dave as well. The trip from my Salinas motel down to Santa Maria was fast and Jocko’s, one of my favorite eating places, was packed. So I got a Jocko burger to go and ate it in the parking lot. I got checked in the pit booth and waltzed in with my mini-mule (a little carryall with wheels) following along behind me. After a short trip around the pits with fewer cars tonight, I walked up the steep hill and settled on my favorite perch there, a picnic table where I can sit and watch and shoot some pics over the fence, and that makes me happy! I visited with many who came by to see the guy in the red polka dot hat, and once again had fun at what has been one of my favorite tracks since the first time I came here. The new promoter Reuben and I visited a bit as he was plenty busy with his chores. It was a pleasant evening with some good racing and a lot of stockers! The tri-tip was new and great tasting!
Damion Gardner again swept fast time and the victory, but he was the only one who had a handle on the track. Danny Faria Jr grabbed 2nd as passing was a premium with the fast guys up front. We had a few different drivers show up and a bunch that didn’t travel south. Cotton Farmer is an alias for someone we all know, but is keeping a low profile on the track for now. A clue to his identity is his beautiful wife use to ride motocross. He had a tough night with a broken rear end and something else gone wrong in the main, but he had fun!
I was plum tuckered out after passing thru the pits to my car and so instead of going back in to visit, I headed on home where I arrived around 4:30 am. Call me well done as it was fun and we get to do it again in August on this same path. Next race on my calendar is at the Macro Air Orange Show Stadium for URA Sprint Car racing on June 29. Then it’s on to the 4th of July race at the PAS. After that a quiet month of July, so hit these two and take a rest.
Santa Maria June 15 Feature: (30 laps) Winner Damion Gardner, 2. Danny Faria Jr., 3. Richard Vander Weerd, 4. Nic Faas, 5. Matt Mitchell, 6. Cody Williams, 7. Mike Spencer, 8. Austin Williams, 9. Jace Vander Weerd, 10. Cory Kruseman, 11. Ryan Bernal, 12. D.J. Johnson, 13. Cody Swanson, 14. A.J. Bender, 15. Markus Niemela, 16. Brody Roa, 17. Cotton Farmer, 18. Bud Kaeding. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Faria, Lap 5 Bernal, Laps 6-16 Faria, Laps 17-30 Gardner.
Ocean Speedway June 14 Feature: (30 laps) Winner Damion Gardner, 2. Bud Kaeding, 3. Nic Faas, 4. Matt Mitchell, 5. Ryan Bernal, 6. Cory Kruseman, 7. Richard Vander Weerd, 8. Markus Niemela, 9. Austin Liggett, 10. Geoff Ensign, 11. Colby Copeland, 12. Brody Roa, 13. Danny Faria, 14. D.J. Johnson, 15. Jace Vander Weerd, 16. Rip Williams, 17. Tony Hunt, 18. Austin Williams, 19. Cody Williams, 20. Mike Spencer, 21. Shane Golobic, 22. Shauna Hogg, 23. Colton Slack. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Faas, Laps 22-29 Kaeding, Lap 30 Gardner.
NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Gardner-739, 2-Faas-688, 3-Kaeding-564, 4-Spencer-558, 5-Mitchell-467, 6-C.Williams-423, 7-A.Williams-415, 8-Roa-384, 9-Bernal-359, 10-R.Vander Weerd-309.
NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: July 4, 2013 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway
MATT MITCHELL THRILLS THE CROWD WITH HIS LAST SLIDE JOB AROUND THE LAST CORNER TO WIN THE SALUTE TO INDY 30 LAPPER AT THE PAS.
JUNE FIRST THE URA FEATURES THE 1ST ANNUAL DON BLAIR CUP AT MACRO AIR ORANGE SHOW STADIUM IN SAN BERNARDINO, CA
May 25, 2013
By Ken Wagner
On a surprisingly nice day in the desert at Perris Auto Speedway, 23 cars checked in and when it was all over and done, Matt Mitchell was the crowd favorite winner after holding off Damion Gardner at the flag. The lead was swapped a few times as the Demon surged by him, only to have Mighty Matt return the favor running the high groove. Once it got so exciting when lap traffic allowed Damion to take the right road and put Matt behind him, but up jumped the red flag and he had to go back. On the last lap the Demon rolled by Matt and took his car high into turn three, but Mighty Matt was saving his ultimate weapon for this move, the last slide job, and it worked for his 5th all time CRA win and boy was he pumped!
There is something magical about a race when it goes down to the wire and the crowd stands to cheer the wild ending! Forget that the winner officially led every lap, because that is not nearly the story!! Forget the point leader chased the winner furiously for nearly the whole race and passed him several times, but it didn’t stick. Matt Mitchell was a former winner of the Salute to Indy when he arrived and qualified 5th early on. He started on the front row next to Bud Kaeding, a formidable competitor who is getting closer to his first win this season, after winning his heat. Matt took the lead immediately and set off towards the checkered flag, but it was not easy. Damion was on his tail very quickly and took many shots at the eventual winner on the low side right up until the end. What a great race it was.
With 23 cars in the house, and then one who didn’t make the call, three heats were fun and a feature that kept the fans on the edge of their seats. It doesn’t take big car counts to make for good racing, it just takes the usual fast sprint cars and you turn them loose. Anyone that doesn’t see the speed and beauty of these 410 monsters, doesn’t get it, nor will they. On a weekend that the major big money racing organizations presented their product on TV, the best of their lot was an Indy lights four wide finish. The Indy 500 was dicey with 68 lead passes, but had a crash with 3 laps to go and it was over before the end. Up until that point it was enjoyable to watch, but yellow/checkers don’t work for me. The popular winner cruised slowly around the track to the end to get his milk bath. In our race, it was balls to the wall until the checkers flew, big difference, and it was live!
Damion Gardner was 4th quick in qualifying and won the first heat with a flourish in his # 4A Alexander silver bullet. He was quick to jump behind the streaking # 37 with Matt doing the hard work, and chased hard for most of the race. He was just a tad behind at the finish, but until they crossed the line, the race was very much up for grabs. Damion still leads the points deal ahead of his teammate Nic Faas by 31 points. David Cardey started 9th and worked his way onto the podium after winning the third heat in his Victory Chassied Moosemobile.
Bud Kaeding continues to run up front this week after qualifying 6th and running 4th in his heat. He battled Mitchell on the start and ended up 4th with another good solid run. Nic Faas was quick time and ended up 5th in his silver bullet Alexander # 4 car. Mike Spencer’s night started out horrible when the bullet in his # 50 Ron Chaffin car went up in smoke in qualifying before he got in a time. The crew swapped the motor out and he started last on the main event grid. Mike said it was interesting going thru the pack, but he ended up 6th with the best passing job for the week.
Jake Swanson got a chance to run this week in a second Brody Roa car. He was 11th quick and led his heat until an untimely spin put him back. He ended up running 9th, one ahead of his team car. Ronnie Gardner has been killing them jn his USAC midget ride winning a bunch of races in the little Eslinger motored # 68. The Kittle Motorsports # 18 made a rare appearance with Ronnie in the seat and they were having fun. Ronnie was 10th quick, but had a spark plug break in his heat. He started in the 6th row of the main and worked his way up to 7th until the last lap where a car in front of him slowed into the wall and sent him back to 12th. The little blue bugger will only make occasional appearances unless some new sponsorship shows up.
Ryan Bernal took a break from dominating the USAC 360 series, but had little luck this week. He was 3rd quick, ran 3rd in his heat and was dicing it up late in the race when he got upside down to end his night. The Williams boys had their problems finishing last in the 30 lap main as Rip had a problem that needed the shop to fix and he didn’t turn a wheel on the night. On separate incidents, both Cody and Austin were interrupted by other cars wanting their space.
The URA will present the 1st annual Don Blair Cup at the newly sponsored Macro Air Orange Show Stadium in San Bernardino this Saturday June 1st. URA point leader David Cardey will be there to defend his position against the recent May 11 URA winner, Matt Mitchell, a race run at Victorville’s RT 66 Motorplex. URA Unlimited Sprints will be joined by the URA Limited (Focus) Midgets, IMCA Super Stocks, and the CDCRA Dwarfs. It will be fair night at the track and the gates opens at 3:30 PM. Fun for all and great racing too!
I am looking for a sponsor for the Don Blair Cup and it is a nice one. Call me.
Coming up will be the annual Watsonville/Santa Maria double for CRA June 14/15 and I’m looking into an easy way to do this. We shall see! It’s always fun to go up there. See ya at the races!
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: May 25, 2013 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – “Salute to Indy”
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-16.331; 2. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-16.440 ;3. Ryan Bernal, 73, Ford-16.448; 4. Damion Gardner, 4a, Alexander-16.467; 5. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-16.523; 6. Bud Kaeding, 29, Bowman-16.542; 7. Rickie Gaunt, 66, Miller-16.587; 8. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-16.599; 9. David Cardey, 92, Sertich-16.612; 10. Ronnie Gardner, 18, Kittle-16.700; 11. Jake Swanson, 9, BR-16.762; 12. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-16.815; 13. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-16.894; 14. Kenny Perkins, 0k, Perkins-16.982; 15. Seth Wilson, 1x, Wilson-17.040; 16. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-17.130; 17. Johnny Bluntach, 58, Bluntach-17.214; 18. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-17.320; 19. Jesse Denome, 81, Watt-17.668; 20. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-17.842; 21. Mike Collins, 04, Collins-18.080; 22. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-26.136; 23. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. D.Gardner, 2. R.Vander Weerd, 3. Gaunt, 4. Spencer, 5. Faas, 6. J.Vander Weerd, 7. Denome, 8. R.Gardner. NT
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Mitchell, 2. Perkins, 3. A.Williams, 4. C.Williams, 5. Swanson, 6. Bluntach, 7. Gansen. NT
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Cardey, 2. Wilson, 3. Bernal, 4. Kaeding, 5. Roa, 6. Bender. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Matt Mitchell, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. David Cardey, 4. Bud Kaeding, 5. Nic Faas, 6, Mike Spencer, 7. Rickie Gaunt, 8. Seth Wilson, 9. Jake Swanson, 10. Brody Roa, 11. Jace Vander Weerd, 12. Ronnie Gardner, 13. Richard Vander Weerd, 14. Kenny Perkins, 15. Johnny Bluntach, 16. Chris Gansen, 17. A.J. Bender, 18. Jesse Denome, 19. Ryan Bernal, 20. Cody Williams, 21. Austin Williams. NT
**Bernal flipped on lap 27 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Mitchell.
NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-D.Gardner-596, 2-Faas-565, 3-Spencer-484, 4-Kaeding-472, 5-Mitchell-357, 6-C.Williams-349, 7-A.Williams-347, 8-Roa-324, 9-R.J. Johnson-300, 10-Bernal-267.
NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: June 14, 2013 – Watsonville, CA – Ocean Speedway
DAMION GARDNER WINS 30 LAP DON FLANDERS CLASSIC AT THE PAS WITH A DEAN THOMPSON SWEEP.
DAVID CARDEY PLANTS DON FLANDERS ON THE PERRIS CLAY FOR HISTORY
May 4, 2013
By Ken Wagner
Another night of great racing blessed the PAS as Don Flanders was honored as Damion Gardner set fast time, won his heat and tracked down the little red sucker and won going away in the 30 lapepr for another Dean Thompson sweep. Having the Demon in the house now has raised the level for the other competitors, a lot like he did when he showed up at Perris years ago without a wing and a prayer. Quickly, Damion fit in then and now he is more than fitting in as they have a new target to shoot for.
It has been 7 races in this season in CRA and the dual silver bullet Alexander cars have yet to finish worse than 4th. Wow, this week is was the 4th time they both were on the podium, but Damion was relentless as he won his 3rd CRA race in a row. His car has a new sound to me as he highballs it on the top and roars around the track. My spies tell me he has a new special header that is horsepower plus and the config of the header pipes going thru the muffler is what makes this sound a bit different to me. Damion pulled to within one win of 5 time champion Jimmy Oskie on the all-time So Cal list.
<b<="" b=""> came in 3rd quick and won his heat before finishing 2nd in the 30 lap main event. He had a great battle with Nic Faas who chased him hard before roaring around him midway thru the race and then bobbling slightly awhere Mike regained his finishing spot. After a rough first four races, Mike has been on the podium the last three as he starts doing what he does normally, he goes to the front! </b
Don’t feel sorry for Nic Faas as he continues to perform extremely well in the “other” Alexander silver bullet car. Nic has one win, two fast times and 7 podium finishes as he runs it hard each week. This is obviously his best year so far and having a veteran teammate to mix it up each week, his focus is drastically improved this season over last. The two silver bullets are very close and Nic is equally impressive as he continues to improve. His pass of the little red sucker was classic and gives you a feeling of what is to come. He can flat out drive and is second in points and is like a gunslinger each week as his quick draw leaves a lasting impression. It is great watching the weekly battles and Nic will be in every one of them.
Cody Williams led the first three laps before slipping back to 4th and still had a strong run as he won the Williams war this week. He beat his team cars of Austin (5th) and his dad Ripper (6th) as the three of them made a fast black line of speed around the track. Cody and his brother are real players this year as they both continue to improve and grab their own headlines while following in the still rolling footsteps of their father. It won’t be long until younger brother Logan starts giving them fits. This really will be a fearsome foresome when they are on the track together.
What can I say about Markus Niemela that can give you a look and feel of this man from Finland. Marcus started driving sprints with the VRA of Ventura and has stepped up to run with the CRA and the big bad 410’s. Marcus is getting really fast as he has started on the front row the last two races and has been clearly able to run up there for a time. His skill level has taken a couple of hits as he improves and doesn’t want to back off, which can cause problems with his high speed wall action. All eyes are on him now as he drives Biggies car hard every race. Experience is the only thing keeping him from finishing up front and even from his first win, but keep an eye on him, he is something to watch.
Bud Kaeding again had some problems this week, but after qualifying 13th and running 4th in his heat, he encountered a problem in the main early on and had to go to the work area before starting on the tail. Coming from the back he looked great as he ran it up to 8th for his best finish at Perris this season. His best of the year with CRA was 2nd at Yuma. Look out for this young man as he is still 4th in points with all the problems he’s had.
Mrs Moose was in the house for the first time since her horrendous accident at Canyon in Arizona. She looked great and was enthused to think she got to see her car race on the track instead of on a screen. Unfortunately her driver David Cardey had someone punch his left rear tire and he had to come from the back to earn 10th with some aggressive driving from that point. This team is locked and loaded and ready for their first CRA win this season, count on it. They won the historical first ever URA main event recently at Victorville.
We had a good field of cars from Arizona this week as R J Johnson got the best finish of the travelers with 12th. Mike Martin was 13th after running 2nd in his heat. Charles Davis Jr was third in his heat before pulling off in the main with a problem that left him at 17th. Josh Pelkey drove the Allen owned, bright dayglow orange, # 12a to 2nd in the semi and 21st in the main when he too went out early. There was one other car from AZ that unloaded, but since I didn’t see anything but the feature I don’t know his name or how he did.
The Don Flanders Classic went on as there were many notables in honoring the man many never got to know personally. His family was there with his brother Ken and his wife Diane, his daughter Ellen and granddaughter Ashley and a few of his work friends as they came to honor him. Ellen and Ashley went up to the flagstand to throw the green for the main and enjoyed that. Brother Ken was interviewed and said how proud he was of the Classic’s honoring his brother. The end of the silent auction featuring some of Don’s books and the raffle of the t-shirt quilt made by Diane finished up with raising $715. The quilt was actually won by a friend of Don’s named Mike D. In Don’s name $400 was passed to David Bezio who destroyed his car on a nasty crash, and Gary Potter who beat his car up in his own bad crash. Thank you to all who participated from his family, myself and my helpers.
This weekend on May 11 will be the third URA event is the series at Victorville as racers and fans get another look at Scotty Burns brainchild. The first event there was won by David Cardey and he will be back to test the best of the rest. The wide little oval is racy and fun for the fans. That little hill up to Victorville is really only 10 minutes, and you can make it, so go on treat yourself and come see me.
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Damion Gardner, 2. Mike Spencer, 3. Nic Faas, 4. Cody Williams, 5. Austin Williams, 6. Rip Williams, 7. Markus Niemela, 8. Bud Kaeding, 9. Richard Vander Weerd, 10. David Cardey, 11. Matt Mitchell, 12. R.J. Johnson, 13. Mike Martin, 14. Jace Vander Weerd, 15. Brody Roa, 16. A.J. Bender, 17. Charles Davis Jr., 18. Seth Wilson, 19. Jesse Denome, 20. Billy Blinn, 21. Josh Pelkey, 22. Austin Smith. NT
NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Gardner-471, 2-Faas-459, 3-Spencer-363, 4-Kaeding-356, 5-Johnson-300, 6-C.Williams-300, 7-A.Williams-276, 8-Roa-250, 9-Davis-232, 10-Mitchell-231.
NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: May 18, 2013 – Tulare (CA) Thunderbowl Speedway
THE DEMON SWEEPS YUMA SAND PIT CLEAN WITH TWO DOMINATING CRA VICTORIES THIS WEEK.
WITH ONLY 17 CARS IN THE PITS, RACING WAS ACTUALLY VERY GOOD WITH TWO 36 LAP FEATURES.
April 20, 2013
By Ken Wagner
How does one car and one two car team dominate a weekend against only 17 cars? Simple, the same as the prior 4 races that started this year out. The Alexander team got fast time both days, started on the front row both days and won both days. Damion was pulling away with the Faas team car running second and 4th just like the prior 4 races where 4th was the worst finish of the two silver bullets. So add it up: three wins, 3 fast times, 5 runner-up finishes, one 3rd place spot and three 4th place finishes in 6 races. Can you spell WOW! Winning both nights is just icing on the cake!
For my pics from Yuma coming soon. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.
Damion Gardner was blistering hot in his # 4A Alexander silver bullet with his high flying, up against the boards, on the top of the cushion action that separated him from the rest of the field every time he hit the track. On the first night he won the new dash added because of the low car count and used his pole position in the main to flick off the challengers and win going away with teammate Nic Faas, the fast timer both days, closing in on him at the end. Damion just ran the high line and only came down off his perch to split traffic like he was surgeon on a motorcycle and gave the crowd reason to gasp occasionally.
On the second night he had to work a bit harder as Bud Kaeding gave him a run for his money when Bud won the dash and led the first 6 laps before succumbing to the “silver bullet blast” right on by him. Damion again did his death defying lap traffic moves that looked risky and exciting as he weaved his way thru the pack. The two wins leave him only two behind 11th place Jimmy Oskie who has 54 on the all-time So Cal list. The two time CRA champion looked invincible in his new ride for the year and we can only guess about this year’s championship chase that he leads the points after 6 of 22 races.
Nic Faas had a great weekend himself as he was quick time both days setting what I think was a new track record on Friday with a 16.451, over 3 tenths quicker than his quick time here last year. He was 2nd in his heat, the dash and the feature on Friday as he chased the Demon. Saturday he was still quick time with 2nd in his heat 6th in the dash and 4th in the main. The “Other” silver bullet will be in the commentary this season regardless of who leads the other. Nic has had his time in front and now the Demon, so the color silver is the story so far this season, but the little red sucker is not going away.
As for the two 36 lap features, let’s talk about that. I am glad they added the dashes to give the fans a few more laps of entertainment, but I hate dashes that reward the drivers in their feature line-up. They need to be just dashes with no change to the feature line-up. Damion was thrilled because he had a chance to put on a great show by winning one dash and getting second in the other, so he was on the front row for both features. It’s like giving candy to a baby, easy money for the fast silver bullet. I wanted him to do it again in the feature coming from his real line-up spot, but it was not to be. The features were really 6 laps run with a break and then the 30 lap finish, not good for me. I object to any dashes like this and since you know the outlaws do it every race, which alone is enough fodder to keep us from doing it, so our fans get better shows.
Bud Kaeding is one of the best non wing drivers in the land, but his recent results with the CRA have been less than satisfying to him! He was really hot in Mike Martin’s Maxim car this weekend and nearly took the Saturday night win with his great moves. Bud was 4th and 2nd in the two features after a lone 3rd at Canyon earlier in the year was his best. Bud is one of the drivers who will be in the championship mix this season as he can give the other CRA hot dogs fits. He told me not to worry as he has confidence and knows he will be jumping the podium regularly this season.
Mike Spencer hasn’t had a very good start to his year in the Bruce Bromme Jr crewed little red sucker, but don’t worry about him, he will still be the car to beat. He was still fast with his 4th and 2nd quick qualifying times, a heat win and 2nd in the other heat and two podium third place finishes this weekend. He was making a run in Saturday’s feature after gaining 2nd place, but the car seem to go a bit high out of turn three allowing Kaeding to regain 2nd from him near the end. Mike still has his 5 time championship moves and the other “boys” will have to be consistent to beat him.
Matt Mitchell was 10th and 7th this weekend as he didn’t suffer any obvious maladies. He has some better times coming up as he comes back from a serious crash last season that hurt his vision. The boy can drive and I think you will be seeing more out of him soon. The Williams clan were one down the opening night as the Ripper was ill and just watched. He drove Saturday and was 9th. Cody Williams was 7th and 13th for his efforts and brother Austin was 11th and 8th as they didn’t get it going like normal. Young Green Machine driver Brody Roa was 8th and 10th with a broken motor the first night. My young friend A J Bender had nothing to write home about as he flipped both nights, one in the 360 car and one in the 410 car, but only the cars suffered as he was fine and the machines were not. He and his dad work awful hard to keep his cars running and could use a little help here! David Bezio came a long way to run hard both nights, but left probably feeling a little lost, but didn’t ding his car like at Perris a few weeks ago..
Six Arizona cars supported this year’s Yuma efforts. R J Johnson and Charles Davis Jr swapped positions the two nights as Charles got 5th the first night and R J 5th the second night in their own little Arizona battle. R J won his heat on Friday and looked really fast. Mike Martin won a heat on Saturday and ran 9th and 14 in the two features. Bob Ream Jr came away with two 12th place finishes in his sharp looking orange sprinter. He said he hadn’t driven a 410 in a while but looked good in his fun weekend run. Matt Rossi was another AZ traveler, but had his problems with 14th and 11th on the two nights. It was nice to see AZ support the CRA, but we obviously needed more from somewhere.
Interesting that last year some cars didn’t come to Yuma because…. Number 1 reason? Too far for only one night of racing? So with two nights of racing this time, why did fewer CRA guys tow? It’s not about THE economy anymore; it’s about reality of saving money by doing nothing it seems. There were 6 AZ cars running with one of those having a California driver with his own engine, so the numbers were too few regardless. Supporting your organization is a key reason to its success and we saw little support on the road again. With the progression, or regression, what can we expect from the big Calistoga event this season where last year we had 8 CRA travelers, who came in 5 trailers, to run against 22 local cars. Pretty sad that it has come to this, but hey no one makes money racing. Now with Steve Howard not in a position to raise the extra money for the event like he always had, and with Greg Sower in limbo about his great support for the event, I wonder who could do that to ensure there is more money for the racers. I am thinking about that.
Man what an interesting weekend as I wasn’t planning on driving the 300 mile two lane lonely trip alone until I hooked up with the Racing Optics Seth Wilson Racing team who are living in Las Vegas these days. I sold the Vette last week and lamented that trip without my red bomb, but it all worked out. When I called to see if they had an extra seat, success! Steve Wilson made it an easy trip as he treated me like I was one of the family and I didn’t have to work on the car! We left on Thursday night and arrived at the Cocopah Casino by 7 am on Friday morning. After a shower, some food and a little fooling around in the casino, we went right to the track. Like all trips in a hauler, things happen. Somehow the batteries took a dump in the trailer and a quick trip to wally world to get new ones was the start. They also noted a trailer tire problem when one of the tires was losing air slowly, but they had a spare.
Their weekend was a bit of a nightmare on Friday night as Seth Wilson was 9th fast and was forced into the wall, you know no man flinches on the opening lap, and that started a weekend nightmare of rebuilding the car. The front end and Jacob’s ladder were the first replacements before he went back out in the main. The night was not to be good after the drive train suffered a massive problem that could have been a problem for Seth’s legs, but a spare torque tube wasn’t in the extra supplies in the trailer. Until they found out Mike Martin had the parts they needed, it looked like we were loading up to go home early.
Saturday morning the crew including dad Steve were hard at work on the rebuild as a lot of things got bent and broken from the wall encounter and the drive train explosion. I of course was like the good son sleeping late and doing breakfast with friends and some stealing of Indian money at the slots before venturing outside in the heat to watch the last few repairs being completed before they loaded up and we headed to the track to do it again. This time Seth was 12th quick coming out last on a very slick track. He had a flat in his heat and started last in the feature. He had the car in 10th when a red came out with five laps to go and with no open red, the right rear going flat tire, wasn’t much help as he slipped back to 15th at the end with 4 lbs. of pressure in the sad tire. Best part of the night, rolling the car on the trailer with no new repair problems. My friends didn’t come by to get me for a late night snack like the night before, so I headed back to the casino and went to gamble a little. Then Steve and I visited until about 1:30 and it was time for some sleep so we could get up early and head home. NOT! Seth called to say meet him at the hauler as we were going home now! That’s how my weekend finished as I was home by 10 AM Sunday and enjoyed my Sunday ritual feed with the family where the two new great grand babies were the highlight of the day.
The grand reopening of the new dirt track in town, Orange Show Stadium, should be a barn burner on this coming Saturday April 27. Scotty Burns of Dirt entertainment has taken over the facility and put clay down on the pavement that was laid down in 1964. New fencing and some paint makes this place a real deal. Add 8000 plus seats with stadium type good ones and you have a home run! You have to come see this historic event as it will give us two top notch race tracks in the riverside area of Southern California. Perris is the leader in the quest for great short track dirt track racing and I think OSS will be added to the mix. With 9 racing weekends at Perris, this leaves us plenty of open dates for other tracks to showcase the finest drivers in the southland.
The opener will feature $4000 to win and $400 to start the feature in honor of Doc Griffin, father of 5 time Champion Richard Griffin. Doc passed away recently and the drivers and fans will honor him in the first annual event. For those who want a teaser, Friday night will be a practice giving the racers a chance to check it out before the big event. Put this one on your calendar as it is a must see event!
The racing season gets going all out now and the Don Flanders Classic will be May 4th at Perris giving the fans and racers a night to say goodbye to the man who few knew enough to know how good he was for our racing. Don started out racing an AA/Gas Supercharged Willys in the old days at Lions Drag Strip where he was as successful as his limited check book could make him. Later he owned the 911 sprint car that featured a see thru hood and firewall that turned heads and eventually became a street legal sprinter. When that effort ended, he came up with a data base that funded his benevolent cash helping of our race teams. His big heart was felt thru out the pits and now we go on without him. His family will be there at Perris to visit with his friends as we try to raise a little money for his night to give away to the racers just like he would have. Come by our booth and get involved with the silent auction of many of his racing books and memorabilia, buy a raffle ticket for the neat quilt his sister-in-law made out of some of his racing t-shirts and generally just donate to this honoring cause of Don Flanders. There are so many causes these days, but this one is important to many of us.
See ya at the races!
ALEXANDER SILVER BULLETS SHOOT DOWN MOOSEMOBILE AT THE PAS! NIC FAAS AND DAMION GARDNER SHINE!
ON A WILD FLIPPING NIGHT, THE DEMON RESTARTS AT THE BACK OF THE 23 CAR FIELD AND COMES BACK TO NAB 2ND PLACE.
April 6, 2013
By Ken Wagner
When you have 37 cars qualify, you know there is going to be some good racing. When you have four flips in the Main event, you know you have some over anxious drivers. When you have a few fast but inexperience drivers trying to prove themselves, you know helmets might come off, or not, for some extracurricular activity. When you have two of the top cars in the field come from the back, you know there is going to be some frantic entertainment. When you have the race long leader run out of gas with a lap or so to go, you have major disappointment. When you have all of these factors on one nearly perfect weather night, you have great racing some might even describe as “like the good old days” and boy was it!!! When you are too lazy to come out and miss it, too bad, you’re the loser!
The small only 6 inverted 23 car field stormed off on the first green of the 30 lap main event and the boys didn’t make a lap, holy cow. Scratch Rip Williams and John Aden when they banged hard in turn 3 with Seth Wilson in that mix, but he came back to get 10th. It was starting to look like a full moon was out when the first restart took off. Immediately it was a “shufflin’ we will go” as Ryan Bernal was trying to move up to the top and banged Damion Gardner’s front end. Immediately, the Demon was missing some much needed steering capability and he began turning sideways and collected Mike Spencer and then several others got caught up in this melee so another red flag stop! On the next restart, with The Demon and Spencer now at the back, we made a few more laps before more “I’m chargin’ to the front” activity stopped things again. Man! So thru all this David Cardey shook off a fast Markus Niemela from the start and maintained his lead each time from the pole for 28 laps without looking back.
With a lot of action going on, you couldn’t help but to see a silver bullet and the little red sucker surging from the back of the pack! Damion was leading that charge going to the front, but Mike wasn’t very far behind him, making broken header noises from his 1st lap incident. Cardey continued to lead every restart as Niemela fell back and eventually challenged the 4th turn wall, ending his quest to succeed this night. Nic Faas challenged the leader hard from early on and behind them, the two streaks of silver and red kept coming like street racers roaring thru freeway traffic zigzagging as if trying to light everyone up on their way by. What more could you ask for?
Nic Faas looked like he had something for the hard charging Moosemobile, but each time he made a run at Cardey, he came up with no room to pass, yet around and around they went putting on a great race for the lead. Meanwhile, back in the jungle, (remember that song?), the Demon was smoking a tad as the race neared the end with Spencer on his tail like in a chain race. They were fun to watch, as everyone was still trying to keep the battle for the lead in view. When Damion passed Bernal, the crowd roared as he got even. That was for third and with but a few laps to go, the race wasn’t over yet! Many in the crowd were cheering on the Moosemobile because of their feelings for Mrs Moose’s extended hospital stay, but alas - it was not to be a happy ending for the Moose team. Cardey, who was super strong up to now, suddenly began slowing as he ran out of fuel and Faas quickly took advantage and passed him for the lead and as the while flag appeared Damion too was going to get by. The silver bullets finished one/two with Faas getting his 7th CRA win and a coasting Cardey barely held on to the last podium spot, and we were done. Man what a nail bitter, but once again, if you didn’t see it, you didn’t get that thunder and lightning rush the fans get in person!
The Alexander Racing team has been pretty close to spectacular with their results this year. In the AZ opener Nic Faas was 2nd with Damion Gardner 4th. The next night on Saturday was a rerun with the same finish by the silver bullets 2nd and 4th. The Perris opener saw Damion in 2nd and Faas third as they switched it around. This week Nic won a hard fought battle with a little help from an empty fuel cell, with Damion right behind him. That is 4 races with 1 win, 4 seconds, 1 third and 2 fourth’s for the two cars, pretty amazing. Naturally they are one and two in the championship points with Nic the leader, but it’s a long year ahead and there are some pretty strong chargers out there looking to unseat the silver twins.
There was more action from many in spite of what I have already described as others were rewarded for their efforts and some not so much due to the many shunts in the action. The Williams family continues to give us some exciting racing action, often racing each other for track position with no one giving an inch. Dad, Ripper, had a bad start this week when he was out before we got a lap in when he was the first car out. Cody put on a show as he ran up to 5th on his strong run for the night. His brother Austin raced his way into 8th at the end. The newest member, young Logan, made his first appearance at Perris with running in the Young Guns group and finished a strong second. I am told he will not emancipate, so will get his experience in the near future running here and in the open URA shows.
Mike Spencer has yet to get much luck this year as the 5 time CRA champion tries to get 2013 going. At the season opener in Arizona he was 5th the first night before his string of bad stuff started. The next night he had a flat tire in the main event and was stopped on the track hoping for a new tire and a restart when he was nailed by another car. Crew Chief Bruce Bromme Jr says they put that one in the dumpster with so much damage done to it. Amazingly, neither he nor the driver who hit him was hurt! At the Perris opener last month he was out front and leading handily when his crank broke with a puff of white smoke and sent him spinning to a stop on lap 7. This week he was fast timer at 16.095 and won his heat looking for another Dean Thompson sweep. Before a lap was barely in the books, he was caught up in a melee that put him in the work area and forced to restart in the back. He finished 6th, but he and the team know next time will put him up front like he belongs.
Brody Roa continues to impress as he and his family put the # 91 green mamba on the track each week ready to win. Brody was second quick this week, but had to take a side trip thru the semi to qualify for the main. He started on the 4th row and made 7th place his finishing spot. A very supportive family is there for him every week as he continues to learn and will get another win soon. Ryan Bernal didn’t like the rebuilt car last time out, so Jimmy May and his crew built him a new Spike for this week’s action. He was 6th quick and started in the middle of the 6 car invert and ran hard all night finishing 4th on the night. His potential is really awesome, but remember, he is just out of high school, so even though he is one of the top drivers with CRA, he still has things to learn and can win in a lightning flash, so watch out for the youngster each race.
We are so lucky to have Bud Kaeding running with us this year. His resume includes plenty of wins both in California and back east with the USAC Indiana clan. He has won the Oval Nationals more than once and has proven his skills over and over. His start this year hasn’t been what he expected, but his 9th place finish showed he has stepped it up and could beat the CRA hot dogs any time soon. He is one of the hot dogs, so don’t be surprised when he is standing tall on the podium.
Seth Wilson hasn’t had a lot of luck this season himself with a 16th and 21st and one not start in three mains so far. His new coil over car is taking some getting used to, but this week after an opening lap shunt, he restarted and came back to 10th for his best drive of the year. It was good to see our Arizona visitors come over as R J Johnson got caught up in a crash with 17th a disappointment for him. The Magic Man Mike Martin crashed in the semi, but took a free pass to the feature and got 11th.
Matt Stewart one time sprint car driver and more recently accomplished and battered motocross victim, returned to the dirt track this week with a new venture with his family, Colette and Dennis, and the McWilliams, Ed and Alexandria just in time for today. Matt is just a racer and his new car was just completed this week. He had some newbie problems and didn’t make the main, but looked happy with his efforts in the silver # 27 car.
Marcus Niemela has stepped up his driving after running a 360 at Ventura for a few years. He is definitely fast and was 7th quick in his Steve Watt owned car and started on the front row of the main. He liked the fast line, but seemed to be in love with running on or over the cushion on more than one occasion. I missed his owie, but heard his encounter was into the wall out of turn four along with a mix of another car or two.
The year started out with a tragedy beyond belief when Mrs Moose, Laurie Sertich, got run over in the pits at Canyon Speedway Park on a practice night. The CRA community was shocked to hear this numbing news and the gory details of the push truck driver not knowing he hit her, an ambulance wasn’t in the house, it was dark where she was hit and the whirlwind ride to the ER was beyond traumatic and sickening to all. Husband Tom was with her thru all that nasty business, including in the trauma center when they started patching her up. Her rehab is still going on today, while that night with all she was going thru, she told their team to GO RACING! Who does that after what she was dealing with?
The past 5 weeks have been disaster for Tom and Laurie as he has had to shuffle back and forth from home to Arizona each weekend to be with her. The trauma to her legs was horrific and the original estimate of one year recovery in Arizona is down to about 6 months, but insurance being what it is, she can’t come back home to rehab, and will have to stay there for the duration until she is released. I am sure Tom and Laurie could use some love and help as the long road ahead is murky at best. She is now in the Ridgecrest Healthcare Center, ATTN: Mrs Moose, 16640 North 38th street, Phoenix, AZ 85032. Any cards or letters and more will be appreciated by this long time sprint car team owners that have supported CRA forever. Give a little love and Mrs Moose will have a smile on her face as she faces the long road back.
Don Flanders Classic is coming to Perris on May 4th. Just a reminder that we will be honoring the man’s great works for our racing community with plenty of opportunities to raise money in his name to be passed out that night to the racers as if he were doing it himself, like he did for many years. Most people have no idea what he was doing under the radar when he passed money to many racers who needed the help with no fanfare. Don was an enthusiastic fan who happened to put his money to good use without any desire for any credit. This special man will be honored that night so you can be there. Click here to see how to get involved!
My red Vette probably made maybe its last run to Perris this week as it is up for sale and I thought it was gone last week, but the guy backed out. With 185,000 steady miles on my beauty, many are not understandably interested, but the car is still strong and a fun car to have and enjoy driving. The 16 plus year life of fun in the car leaves the 1996 model with rubber and interior not as pristine as it once was. I was asking $5000 for it, but will take less if anyone wants to tinker and bring it back to like new.
The next CRA race is at Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Arizona with a two race weekend on tap. You can stay at a nearby casino and see some good racing while enjoying the weekend on a mini vacation. Maybe I’ll see you there?
My old college won the Division II basketball championship this week. I went to Drury College in Springfield, Mo back in the early 60’s and that was a long time ago. I don’t have any memorabilia from those days, but it’s neat that they win their first one 50 years after I was there. My son Kevin and daughter Jill still live there, so maybe I’ll score something from this historic happening. What has your college done for you?
BRYAN CLAUSON DOES PERRIS OPENER FOR 7TH CRA VICTORY LIFETIME.
COLD NIGHT WITH PITS OUTSIDE MADE IT ALL DOABLE AFTER MAJOR RAINSTORMS HIT PERRIS.
March 9, 2013
By Ken Wagner
I had reservations about seeing any racing this weekend as I crested the hill out of the Nevada state line and drove thru 33 degree temperature and some blowing snow in my face. It warmed up to 40ish when I hit the LA Basin, so I was still concerned with misting rain and lots of clouds. When I hit Harbor City and my Shiosaki hotel, it looked OK, but you never know with Mother Nature! My host Randy and I had dinner at a little Long Beach restaurant named 555 East American Steakhouse and the steak and stuff was awesome, followed by the overtime win of the Lakers back at the house and our thoughts that if no racing the next day, maybe we’d find something else to do.
Saturday dawned sunny and Randy and I picked up crewman Jeremy and headed to pick up the hauler and go to the race shop and load up. Normally that is all done, but since this was a spur of the moment to go press the depleted budget, there was work to be done. The 9 am Perris announcement that the race would go on, let the day start normal for a racing Saturday. The Kittle Motorsports team was hurt late last year by Pat Kehoe’s passing and the family’s decision to pull the Pace sponsorship. Without sufficient backing, the winter was spent pondering the future and nothing had appeared to help the team, yet. The decision to run opening day was so late and spontaneous, that little had been done over the winter, but the car was there and Randy decided why not, let’s go race.
With everything loaded it was off to the track less the usual truck driver Paul Dean. He has recently moved with his wife to Fallbrook down near San Diego in what he described as a scenic hideaway so nice that his wife gets up every day and says she enjoys it so much, she thinks she has to check out, as like she’s off on a vacation hideaway. Anyway, it’s out of the way for Paul to come and get the truck and go racing then take it back and drive home, so he met us there. You get the picture! Randy did a marvelous job, even though one emergency stop was made along the way.
Arrival at the track was before noon and the pits would be out in the paved area back behind and to the right of the turn one grandstands. The normal pit parking and entry to the track was locked up with the plan to open around 4 pm after the drivers meeting, giving the very wet dirt surface a little more time to dry out. Since we were the first to arrive, we had the pick of parking places, so Randy put it close to where the path to the track was, and the day began.
I had to go visit my Mule, which had been hidden under a tarp since the Oval Nationals, thanks PAS, and see if it would even start. But first, the top of the cage somehow always collects water and makes my little cover sink lower with the added bulk. Last year I forgot and when I drove off the cascading water drenched me. Too smart for that this year, I just stood back and slowly let it drain down and away from me. Well it started for sure, surprise, and now I am moving to get some water and wipe it down, Getting the mud and dirt off and making it shine a little. Then I had to get the seat savers down for the Wagtimer’s who said they would be there.
As the little blue bugger race car was getting unloaded, in came many haulers bringing in 37 Sprint Cars and 11 Senior Sprint Cars to fill the pits. I began my get along and visit phase of the night. It was great seeing all the cars and drivers that would make the night memorable for fans and racers alike. Perhaps it’s one of my favorite things and often I don’t get around to everyone, but I do my best and have a lot of fun. Push truck driver Skip had his side windows marked in white with a message “get well Laurie” on them! There was an enormous amount of concern for her and the circumstances that put her in the hospital on FebruARY 28. Later the online race included a few minutes of the fans cheering her on for her to see.
Because it was so muddy in the pits and race track area, I chose to go forget that and instead head to the grandstands when the cars were about ready to hot lap. I already did my ride-around the nearly dry asphalt pits, so I didn’t miss anything. Qualifying was happening on a well prepared track and Bryan Clauson took the quickest pass at 16.392 with Ronnie Gardner taking the little blue bugger around in 3rd quick behind Damion Gardner. About half the 37 cars were in within a second, so there would be 4 heats.
I don’t know when it happened, but the invert is now 6 in the heats and the Main and as a fan I don’t like it, but I won’t get on my soap box because I try to spend my time working on things I can do something about. But…… it’s just two less cars the fast guy has to pass to win, that’s all I am saying. I would rather it be 12 like in PA where they did that for years, but that ain't happening! The less the invert, the more like the outlaws we become, and we all know how I feel about that. Yes, as my friend informed me, all the major racing associations line up thier cars with the fastest to the front, but this is thunder and lightning, not pavement pounding, so it is different to me. Besides, they have hours and pit stops to catch the leaders there.
The heats were about half and half, two real racy and two follow the leader, but they were racing and the 2013 season was started! Matt Mitchell didn’t qualify as fast as normal, so his front row starting spot earned him a win as his big thumper motor just roars around the track. Ryan Bernal came back from a skirmish with Cory Kruseman to get second as Cory’s car was on the hook and he had an injured shoulder because of it. Too hard to tell what happened from my vantage point, but the touched wheels and Cory went into a violent spin to a stop and he was done for the night.
R J Johnson fresh from his 2nd all-time CRA win at Canyon last wek, won the second heat with Richard Vander Weerd, and Mike Martin getting the last two. Austin Williams had visual fire problems with his motor in his heat that turned out to be fixable as he won the Semi going away. Along the way his hood shattered into a few pieces and he had to borrow one. His black car with a Kittle blue hood on looked a little like a scrap made Quilt in some ways, but he was still fast!
Mike Spencer had "only" 5th quick, but under the new line-up he was on the front row. Oh my, like giving candy to a baby for the 5 time CRA champion. In the feature, he was pulling away from the pack when a puff of white smoke appeared and he spun to a stop in front of the pack. Gads, but he was done with severe motor ails and Bryan Clauson assumed the lead on the restart that he wasn’t about to squander.
Bryan had worked his way from the close 3rd row to get second and spent the next 23 laps being chased by the two Silver Bullets of the Alexander racing stables Damion Gardner and Nic Faas. Try as they might, they couldn’t catch the “Clever Clauson”, and settled for a podium visit with him at the end. The wild and wooley action really consisted of the starting 6 plus a strong run by Rickie Gaunt who zoomed up to 4th and the fun was had watching them banging among themselves. Cody Williams made a last gasp pass of Ronnie Gardner for 5th as he was moving well at the end. Ronnie had a strong night but no word on when the # 18 car will be back on the track. Ronnie will be running his fast midget in between his 410 rides, or maybe it’s the other way around as he will jump in a 410 when he has a ride.
A couple of crashes slowed the proceedings, the most spectacular being a high flier by David Bezio when he climbed the wall coming out of three and looked for a second like he might slip on over the very tall fence. When he came down he was fine, but the car was beat up on all four corners, and was done. Ryan Bernal had a bucking bronco especially coming out of turn one, and eventually succumbed to the wall after running fast up front. J J Ercse looks like he has a new hot rod that will run, with a 410 in it no less, so he’ll be one to watch. He got caught up in a 4 car shuffle that spit him and three others out in the pits on a hook.
It was a very cool night in the grandstands without the usual hard blowing wind, but you needed jackets and blankets to stay warm and most had them. Naturally, I forgot as I thought I was in paradise and didn’t need them! It was marvelous watching the race without the distraction of the haulers breaking my sight of the back stretch, maybe having the pits moved is a good idea after all. Just think, they could allow fans to go to the pits like at NHRA events where one ticket gets you all in everywhere. It looks so easy with a quick access from the grandstands and checking out your favorite drivers and then back up to watch the next “round”.
Mel Murphy of Circle Track racing supplies has taken over the parts, supplies and tire support at the tracks from So Cal who closed the doors. Steve Howard has recovered from his serious hospital stay, but still closed his business. Evelyn Pratt sent a recorded message to everyone saying she wished everyone well, but couldn’t make it to the track on this night.
David Cardey’s night started with a few laps in honor of Don Flanders before the racing started. His night ended when he didn't come out for the main. Don Flanders was always under the radar as he consistently passed out money to Cardey and many others who he deemed needed the extra bucks. Sometimes it was for the first guy out of the main or the first driver to miss the transfer by one spot, or someone who crashed their car like David Bezio this week, Don was always there ready to help. In addition he added money to the special events at the PAS like the Glenn Howard, the Ovals, the Legends and others. Also he was a big Wagsbucks and Wagsdash supporter and often handed me money for a specific driver after the races. He didn't want any attention, it wasn’t about that at all, so often no one knew where the money came from that they received. Perris will honor Don on May 4th with the Don Flanders Classic and there will be opportunities for fans and pit people to add money to the Don Flanders Racer Bucks plan to pay the racers that night in his honor.
This weekend at Rt 66 Motorplex in Victorville, Big Fish and his Arizona friends will be there to honor Don Flanders also as the track will honor him with the Don Flanders night. The Arizona clan raised over $700 last week at Canyon Speedway Park and will be collecting more on Saturday night to pass on to the racers in Don's honor. Don’s brother Ken and family will be there to meet and greet the fans and racers as Don will be remembered. There will be a silent auction and a t-shirt quilt raffle with some of Don’s racing shirts on it. All the money raised on Saturday goes into the Don Flanders racer bucks presented that night. The quilt and silent auction will continue raising money until the PAS May 4th date where both end. Come and get involved and sign the Don Flanders banner, it will be fun.
It was a good start to the season, even though the PAS officials had their hands full, there were no blips visible and it turned out to be another good solid racing night. I think the fans who went to the pits liked the fact that they didn’t have to get muddy to get there. There were a couple of paint theme changes with Seth Wilson and David Bezio being the most obvious and Matt Mitchell adding a little bright red stripe to spiff up his # 37 car. The Alexander’s adding a Silver Bullet to their arsenal with Damion Gardner in the seat will help to change the makeup of the CRA world, just like long ago when he appeared on the So Cal scene. Bud Kaeding running with the CRA is big! Ryan Bernal’s presence in the Ford Motorsports # 73 is also big! Now if someone would step in to replace the Pace sponsorship for the Kittle Motorsports team, Ronnie Gardner could show his amazing potential, too! So what I am saying is we have the best chance to step up our on track race action and give the fans even more reason to come out and watch. We need the fans to get to the track! It could be a banner year if the rest of the hard chargers of CRA continue to improve and press the front runners. Too bad the “Clever Clauson” doesn’t have the time to stay on the coast and run with us, that would shake em up!
OK, see you at Victorville this weekend as it is a new beginning for Scotty Burns and his URA with unlimited Sprints and Midgets. Come and see what that means and support his way to give sprint car racing a boost. What will that mean, how can we not want to see? Be there, I will.
Oops, Mrs Wags sez I missed something important! While I was off having a grand time, she was home awaitin' the arrival of our 13th grandchild Brody. Actually he's a Great Grandson who arrived on Friday March 8 at 7.8 pounds and 20-1/2 inches long. My Grandson Christopher and His Lady Lorena produced a cutie. Any more and you have to talk to Mrs Wags, the expert on grandbabies. Click here to see Brody. TA TA!
RT6 66 MOTORPLEX STARTS URA OFF WITH A POPULAR DAVID CARDEY WIN FOR MRS MOOSE!
DON FLANDERS WAS REMEMBERED AS THE FANS SURRENDERED $1300 FOR THE RACERS.
March 16, 2013
By Ken Wagner
If you thought unlimited sprints and midgets meant blower’s and turbo’s and other unconventional bolt-ons for the opening URA event, you will never know what was under the covers on 18 sprint cars taking part in the historical event last Saturday night. What we do know is that the fans who came to see the first ever URA event were the one’s who got it, and later they were cooled off by a strong cool wind, yet they didn’t leave until they saw it all!
What they saw was a nice wide racing surface with no ruts and a battle for the only chance at the first ever win of a new era event. The racers that came had visions of something new and maybe an alternative opportunity for 410 racing in the existing sprint car world in So Cal, and they were the big story of the night. The racy track gave up some scintillating action from the elite 18 who came to play and the fans enjoyed it all.
David Cardey chased the leader, Damion Gardner the entire race in his Moosemobile ride. The # 92 was fast from the get-go, and he pressed the issue, passing him at least once and pulling next to him several times, until he moved by him with a couple of laps to go. The emotional outpouring from the team in the winners circle could be felt by all who knew how Laurie Sertich, Mrs Moose, had been injured seriously in Arizona at Canyon Raceway Park a few weeks ago, and the stories of what she went thru so far in her recovery. She was talking to one of the crew the last lap of the race and we know she was excited! David’s win was very popular and should help Laurie’s recovery a lot!
The only down side of the night, besides the wind, was the lack of those fans who chose to stay home and miss out, and I wonder why. I also wonder why some might have gone to a wing show, that is what it is, they didn’t get it, and that’s that. Victorville will do it again this coming Saturday night, so go check it out, the purse is equal to the USAC/CRA purse so the racers have no reason to not come out and get it. and the fans should support the racers, who got paid after the races, by the way.
The day was nice and sunny and warm, but when the winds picked up later, the answer was “it is the desert” so let’s play on. They ran 3 heats when the sprinters got on the track with some having their first experience on the track. Damion Gardner was a first timer and he managed to bang the wall hard enough to go off on the hook, but came back later to run 3rd.
The call was by announcer Doug Bushey as the feature started out with Damion and Ripper on the front row followed by Cardey and Cody with Nic in the third row. Damion took charge right away and took the lead with Cardey jumping up behind him. They went around the oval like they were tied with a chain and on one occasion, Cardey took the lead only to have the Demon quickly come back by him. Cardey pressed him every lap until Damion faltered and David roared by to take the white flag and win the first ever URA main event.
Action was exciting on the track as everyone was fighting for the best they could do and the end came with excitement for the Cardey/Sertich Moosemobile team. There were other open wheel cars with TQ’s, Midgets and a few others to test the URA rule book. A good night of racing and the fans who came enjoyed themselves.
I think the Williams clan enjoyed themselves as the father and son trio became the fearsome foursome with Logan Williams on the track with Ripper, Cody and Austin for the first time. Logan looked pretty racy and made no mistakes I saw, as he was smooth in running his heat and then the 30 lap main event. He ran 11th behind Ripper and Cody and ahead of Austin who got in an incident and was done early. This means the first time the Fearsome foursome raced together in a sanctioned event, Ripper beat his boys and Logan finished ahead of one of his brothers. Pretty special if you ask me.
A shockingly sad story out of the pits came to us early in the afternoon. I had spent a good 45 minutes or so with Bobby Kimbrough before he had to go to the pits to interview David Cardey. Bobby gives his best to everyone he goes by and is a photographer and Technical Editor for Power Automedia in Murrieta, CA. Imagine my shock after hearing someone had a stroke in the pits and it turned out to be Bobby. The word on him was he was “saved” in the pits and had a stint put in at the hospital later. My best to him with a speedy recovery, everyone was asking about him. Get well Bobby!
The Victorville track is a family affair and everyone has a piece of the pie while Scotty Burns is the boss, that is if his wife April isn’t around! You know the drill as Scotty is working the two tracks hard and it ain’t easy! His mom and dad have chores, his son A J has chores and so do others not in the family to make it work. And if it were told, Don Flanders was a part of the family as is Walt Boyd. Both had a lot to do with getting both tracks up and started with their business sense and sponsoring efforts. It takes a lot to do all that is required for a race track and nobody has much time to do much else. Scotty could use some help and anyone wanting to volunteer to help, e-mail him at dirtentertainment.com! By the way, all the racers were paid at the track by 11 pm on Saturday night.
This was the first trip by Mrs Wags racing in a while. She woke up and said she felt good and wanted to go. Lucky I didn’t have a date for the ride down there, HA! She is feeling much better these days and the 2-1/2 hour trip wasn’t too bad. The whole day was enjoyable up until the wind blew, but she was a trooper and stuck it out. It’s nice to have my racing buddy with me for a change.
The Don Flanders Night went well as we honored the man for his good works in racing. Don passed away February 12, 2013. We sold raffle tickets for the Don Flanders quilt, watched fans sign up for auction items and collected donations for the Racer Bucks we collected to honor Don. Before the night was over, we had $1300 in hand and were poised to pass it out. First we allocated $500 to the Moose team to help with their Mrs Moose get well fund as she is still in the hospital recovering from a serious injury 3 weeks ago. The first car out, Adam Frith-Smith, received $400 and Seth Wilson was deemed the hard luck driver of the night and received $400. A very good ending to the first part of the Don Flanders honors that will conclude at Perris on May 4th.
Until then, we will continue to sell raffle tickets and sign up people in the silent auction and collect any donations from fans and friends who want to be involved. I will be at Victorville this week, then Perris April 6, Cocopah in Yuma April 19 and 20, Orange Show Stadium on April 27 before the final night at Perris and the Don Flanders Classic scheduled for May 4th. That night the silent auction will end and the quilt will be drawn for. I doubt the silent auction will be set up again until the last night, but you can track it on wagtimes.com at click here to view and e-mail any new bids. Thanks to all who participated.
It was a short ride home in comparison to many of my jaunts and I enjoyed everything but Bobby’s escapade. I had fun and enjoyed visiting with Ken Flanders, Don’s brother, and his wife Diane during the day. They will be at Perris on May 4th. The season has started, so let’s all get going and see some racing. See you at RT 66 this weekend!
BRYAN CLAUSON AND R J JOHNSON OPEN THE YEAR AT CANYON SPEEDWAY’S “COPPER ON DIRT” WITH USAC/CRA VICTORIES.
BRYAN CLAUSON SWEEPS THE MIDGET MAINS AS KYLE LARSON IMPRESSES BOTH NIGHTS.
March 3, 2013
By Ken Wagner
Before I get too far in my Arizona report, let’s talk about Canyon Speedway Park a little bit. Years ago the “old” CRA raced there in between Manzanita visits occasionally. The biggest obstacle was driving the totally unimproved path to the track and hope the rocks didn’t whack your wheels or paint job too bad. The track was darker than most, but there was some racing going on. I remember the backstretch being moved farther back and temporary lighting brought in and still it was a track a lot of spectators and drivers didn’t like. They had a big Winter WOO deal there back then, but I didn’t trek over for it from LA. All in all it was another track to race at and part of the charm (????) was nothing permanent could live out there. No running water, no electricity and nothing modern from the nearby community of Peoria. Everything had to be brought in, and a big generator supplied the power to lights et al, and there was dirt track racing.
Canyon, on first glance, doesn’t look much different today, even though there have been plenty of improvements at the facility. Still, they have the same tight grandstands, and everything still comes in on a truck, but the tracks racier, and they have “suites” for a few fans wishing to get out of the elements and the racing can be very, very good. I don’t know what specifically drew the crowds this weekend besides maybe NASCAR being in town, but the grandstands were packed on Friday and overloaded Saturday. They even had some NASCAR stars out to run the “other” classes including Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace.
Friday’s track for the Midget and Sprint mains was the best I’ve seen it there. The fact they worked it a little before the finale made a big difference and we saw a lot of passing and excitement during both mains. Bryan Clauson showed why he is deadly here as he worked his way into the lead of the sprint main with his tenacious ability and won his umpteenth victory here in the last few years. He also swept the Midget mains on both nights, what a driver! Saturday was a little different as they didn’t work the surface before the mains, so we had a high grove super highway that allowed not as much passing and the one significant pass on the start, that made all the difference in the world, was made by winner R J Johnson when he slipped between the front row from his second row starting spot, and went by Bruce St James after a lap to grab his 2nd all-time CRA win. Talk about running the high line as he had runner-up Nic Faas glued to him the entire race like a mini freight train circling the raceway.
Seriously, I wasn’t looking forward to another lonely trip across a desert to see my guys run, but after my friend Don Flanders passed away and the Arizona Big Fish Society decided to raise money in his honor, I agreed to be part of that action and headed southeast to Peoria, AZ on Friday morning. A cool 255 miles in less than 5 hours was broken up by a static noisy radio when it was on. Man, I need one of those satellite radios, don’t I? Anyway the nice and sunny and warm, but not hot, weather greeted me and after lunch with Mike Clark at a Logan’s roadhouse, we headed to the track prepared for who knows, at least some good racing.
The last time I was at Canyon, I had trouble with my drag along box, my Mule Jr, of all my camera stuff and more when mud kept clogging up the tiny wheels until they wouldn’t turn and I was dragging it like it was a box without wheels. Where is my mule when I need it? Recently I found a new rolling tote and put the box on it and it worked great. So off I went to do the walk around and see who or what’s new and begin my day. Along with 27 sprint cars there were about 20 or so midgets in the house. I won’t mention the “other” two classes, but they were there too with their fans as well later. There were 15 regular CRA travelers for this one, so maybe 2 day shows are the answer for the travelers, as that was more than we usually get on the road.
First thing I saw after moving by some of the “other” cars was a new Maxim # 1 in blue and white with some red scalloped striping? Seth Wilson’s new ride for 2013 is brand new and a big change for him. No more black paint job or coil over shock’s for this driver as they are trying something new! He missed the main on Friday, but qualified in the middle of the pack on Saturday before finishing 2nd in his heat and 16th in the main. When this team gets use to the changes, look for some front running by the “Mohawk Man”!
Seeing two silver bullets lined up in the pits is not unusual, as The Alexander Racing Team has done that for a while. Having two drivers hit the track to race in them is unusual, as Damion Gardner has joined the team and will be one to watch. The team was consistent this weekend as Nic Faas was 2nd both nights and Damion, someone familiar to us all, was 4th both nights. The additional car for the same small crew seemed to work fine as both cars were fast and running up front. Nic seemed to be driven a little bit and I imagine having Damion there probably lit a little fire under his helmet as his driving was pretty fast and furious. His move up and around Hunter Schuerenberg for the lead was masterful early on Friday night and only the sage veteran Bryan Clauson kept him from his first win of the year. Look out for this team as we start the year off with more “heroes” than past years.
In amongst our regular CRA runners, it was great to see the likes of Charles Davis Jr, R J Johnson, the Magic Man Mike Martin (who whipped the boys last year in a 360 here), Bruce St James, and a few other locals, plus J J Yeley stopping by between his NASCAR duties, it was a fun time.
There was plenty of good racing going on as Bud Kaeding ran 3rd, on a slide job by the Demon, and 6th in the two features. The little rascal Ryan Bernal started his season off with 7th and 5th. Visitor Hunter Scheurenberg ran 9th after leading the opening night and followed that up in Bob Ream’s bright # 8 car with a 7th. Super Rickie Gaunt was trading slide jobs along his path to 12th and 8th after he told me he really enjoyed this racing. Local hot dog Charles Davis Jr ran 6th and 9th as he was on the gas. Brody Roa struggled a little, but 11th and 10th will get his year started. David Cardey had a flat right front tire while running up front on Friday and finished 17th. He improved to 12th on Saturday as the Moosemobile looks ready to do some damage this year. Don’t forget the black three cars of the Williams clan as they all three drove hard but Cody scored the best with 10th and 15th as Austin went 13th and 18th and Ripper 19th and 14th. Cory Kruseman was 14th and 20th to start the year. Matt Mitchell was 8th on Friday and crash out to 22nd on Saturday. Mike Spencer ran a strong 5th on Friday and pulled off to a 23rd place finish on Saturday. Our own NASCAR driver J J Yeley had his troubles with 21st on Friday and an improved 13th on Saturday before he went back to the big paved rack for another good run there on Sunday. It was a good weekend for most and now Perris opens and we get on with it for 2013.
When you add Damion’s return to west coast racing and with the hope that Bud Kaeding runs the whole schedule, things are looking up! It’s good that Matt Mitchell is back in the mix after his eye healed, and Ryan Bernalstaying in the strong Ford Motorsports entry this season, plus a stronger Brody Roa, a ready to rock n’ roll David Cardey, a rejuvenated Rickie Gaunt off the off road trail, plus Cory Kruseman, the ”black line” of Ripper, Cody and Austin Williams, plus David Bezio and Seth Wilson swapping colors, we have a lot to look forward to. Oh, I didn’t forget about the 5 time CRA champion Mike Spencer as he will try to rappel all of them during the year and he has to be unseated before we see a new champion beating out the little red sucker. Will the little blue bugger return to the track and when? Can things look any better for the CRA this year? Maybe with some more visitors like Clauson and the Midwest boys, it will continue to bring more suspense back to CRA main events and give us what we all want, Big Time traditional sprint car racing at its best! When you throw in the new URA adventure that too could make things better as well. I am ready to roll back my odometer and hit the road again this year with the hopes we don’t have our champion set at midyear like last year.
Midget excitement was fun this weekend with Kyle Larson coming by to entertain us was fun. Due to contract Kyle can’t run those vicious non-wing sprinters anymore, but he can jump in the NASCAR pavement pounders where they never crash hard. Even though Bryan Clauson swept the two features, Kyle ran a close second the first night and surprisingly showed up in time to start in the back of Saturday night’s event and run up to 5th. Ronnie Gardner was on the podium Friday night with the two big time drivers and pulled off the track before Saturday’s event even started.
Two Don Flanders Memorial events will happen after his passing recently. One will be at Victorville on March 16 and the “Don Flanders Classic” at Perris on May 4th. The Big Fish Society collections, in honor of Don, was at Canyon this past weekend, and totaled $610 and is rising. This Saturday night at Perris I will be collecting in Don’s honor for the May 4 event as we will keep the cash for both events separate. In both event night’s, Don’s brother Ken and family will attend to meet and greet Don’s racing family and the final payouts will happen. The money will be given in memory of Don and the way he distributed his own money. We will decide as a group on who gets the money with things like first car out of the main, or the first car who misses the main, or a hard luck owner of the night, or a low buck hard charger etc. etc. Don’s friends encourage you to get involved! I will have raffle tickets for the Don Flanders T-shirt Quilt with me. Also a silent auction of memorabilia form his racing collection will be posted later this week and it will begin online and appear at Victorville and Perris with the quilt and all items going to the lucky one at Perris May 4. If you don’t find me, mail me, Ken Wagner, a check to 429 Flores Circle, Las Vegas, NV 89123 and I promise I won’t go gambling with it.
The Orange Show Speedway opener has been moved due to safety concerns. Here is the press release click here to read. The gist of it is the horrendous crash at Daytona made Scotty Burns and his people take a second look at how much fencing was really needed. The planned opener has been moved from March 23rd to April 27 to give them time to plan and implement their findings. The March 23rd event has been moved to Route 66 Motorplex.
Laurie Sertich, the Moose Racing Team leader and holiday design expert, suffered serious injuries at the practice night of Copper on Dirt at Canyon Speedway Park in Arizona when she was hit by a push truck. The injuries are serious as you can imagine, and she will be looking at a long convalescence until she’s good as new. She was in ICU until Sunday afternoon and will be there until she can travel home to recover. You can send her a card or some nice flowers to brighten up her days! Send to Laurie Sertich, in care of John C Lincoln Medical Center, 250 E Dunlap Ave, Room 537-b, Phoenix, AZ 85020. Get well Laurie, everyone is praying for you.
See you at Perris this week as we continue on in what appears to be a great season. Don’t miss out, get in the car on Saturday!
A LITTLE DRAGS AT POMONA, SOME NICE WEATHER AND A VISIT TO THE LATEST DIRT TRACK IN SO CAL.
DON FLANDERS RACER BUCKS COLLECTIONS JUST STARTING IN HIS HONOR!!
February 19, 2013
By Ken Wagner
As the 2013 racing season continues on into the starting stages, it was time to hit California for a short visit. After spending 14 weeks in lockdown in Vegas, except for a little Chili Bowl trip, it was time to break free, and I did. A quick trip down the 15 LA expressway to So Cal put me in some great weather and I took advantage. I arrived at the Shiosaki Roadhouse in Harbor City and before long we were headed to the Charthouse in Redondo Beach for dinner with Mike and Evelyn Clark. Randy drove while Julie and I rode along. A relaxing night with good food and a few libations made my Friday night a real winner.
Saturday dawned nice and sunny and we headed to the NHRA drags at Pomona without Evelyn. The four of us had a short ride, with a Macdonald’s breakfast stop, and headed to the NHRA Museum. Julie had scored Ron Capps VIP tickets, so we had to pick them up there. After a few phone calls, and a wandering thru the museum, we headed off to gate 16 for our “special” entrance. Gate 14 was easy to find, then 15 was there, but then more driving until we back tracked and found 16 out of sequence. Somebody named Dan found us as we parked and he gave us a ride to the NAPA Know How Ron Capps area. We met Ron and chatted a bit before it was time to wander towards the track to watch the hot Funny Cars and Top Fuelers blast down the track. Ron Capps was very personable and his eyes lit up as he shared his time with us and others who stepped in as we moved away. He qualified 6th for Sunday’s funny car finals as it was a good day for the team on the track. He met Courtney Force in the final on Sunday and she got him, but that’s still a good result to start off his year. She had the number one qualifying pass so she was the one to beat.
The pit area is massive with the huge haulers parked side by side with all the big awnings protecting the work areas and the VIP seating areas for chow. These pit areas are all roped off to keep fans out, unless you have their VIP passes, so It was easy to check it all out. Rows and rows of fuelers, funny cars and all kinds of other drag type cars went on endlessly. Quite a veritable circus with people milling around, talking with team members and hitting the concession stands. Lots of beer and food as people were streaming in and out of the grandstands like perpetual motion characters; they never seem to sit still. Action on the track makes for some loud passes and ear plugs my friends were mandatory! Watching the hot cars smoke it to the other end was quick and ground pounding. Looking back to the early 60’s when I was a yearly attendee to this event; it has changed only in the extreme speeds as the place was packed even back then. The top fuelers and funny cars only run 1000 feet today instead of the full 1320 feet, but 3.75 and 330 MPH is way different than the 7.00 and 210 of that day. Today’s tickets are over $200 for the 3 day event with Sunday $90. Back in the day I remember paying $19 for the 3 days, YEAH THAT’S CHANGED, but it was fun back then for me as I often stayed on the grounds and slept in my car!
The nice 80 degree sunshine day was very pleasant and we had a ball just taking it all in. I see the need for a scooter here, but somehow made it around and took it all in like I was a dog on a leash, you know over here and so on. We stole Matt’s “Haulin Ass’s golf cart for a little bit, but mostly wandered around when we weren’t in the grandstands. Luckily, there weren’t any crashes or oil downs to slow the show, but the two track scrubber vehicles had more track time than I thought they needed. Thanks to my friends for the fun day. Saturday night was Pa Pa John’s pizza at Mike’s house while we watched the NASCAR 75 mile race and then the Supercross event from Dallas. Did you see the Bell kid do his high flying crash on the dirt?
Sunday was spent watching NASCAR history making Danica Patrick’s pole qualifying number one, then a lunch burger created by Chef Randy with Julie and Aunt Linda enjoying it with me. My thanks to my hosts Julie and Randy for another fun time in LA when I can get away, and I look forward to the next time. After lunch I was on my way home. Well sort of as I had one stop before going back to Vegas.
I had been very anxious to see the “New” to me Orange Show Speedway since the Scotty Burns/Dirt Entertainment announcement that he would be promoting there this season after putting dirt down! He worked out some time for me to visit and I headed there. After getting a little help on the phone to find the place, I discovered how easy it was to get to. It’s just a long baseball throw to the 210 freeway from the back gate, why didn’t I ever see the place. The track was paved for so many years; it was on my list of no go’s like Saugus was, but now with dirt, I am all in!
At first glance it looked like a football stadium when I pulled up! Equal sized grandstands on both sides of the track give this place plenty of seats (8000) so you can pack the place and see it from every location. Both grandstands look like buildings from the outside with the underneath areas totally enclosed with storage, concessions, restrooms and other endless space that’s utilized. The uphill ramp tunnels take you to the seats like at Dodger stadium! On the front stretch a large press box is perched atop with air conditioning, rest room and more. The majority of the seats are stadium type with the seat flipping down to sit on. The rest have wooden seat backs as well and I can just see the place full of fans watching the action, it’s a home run! A scoreboard in between turns one and two can be easily seen from all seats and the scenic mountains nearby adds to the ambiance. A paved pit area behind the back stretch has plenty of room for the haulers to make pit working areas and everything looks good out there. The dirt is down and needs to be worked some more before opening day, but it looks like racing on dirt at Orange Show will make my old long gone friend Mel Allen turn over in his grave, as he was the one who paved it a long time ago. Here are some picks to give you a first look at the place. Click here to see. You can get a better view on March 23 when the URA opening race happens. Thanks for the tour Scotty and AJ, I hope we get to see a lot of 41 sprint cars here in the future for a long time.
Just so you know how being on the road is, especially for some of you who don’t like to travel, here is my list of tracks with the distance and drive time (dt) I face as I follow my favorite racers along the schedule of races this coming season. In my Vette you can maybe lower the dt a little as the red racer roars along with a mind of its own sometimes. Beginning with the Las Vegas track 15 miles and 30 minutes of dt from my house, here are the rest. Starting with the next closest Rt 66 Motorplex in Victorville 180 miles and 2 hours and 40 minutes dt, Orange Show in San Berdoo 205 miles and 3 hours dt, Perris 245 miles and 3 hours and 30 minutes of dt, Canyon is about 250 miles and 4 hours dt, Bakersfield is 275 miles and 4 hours and 20 minutes dt, Yuma, AZ is 290 miles and 5 hours dt, Ventura is 322 miles and 5 hours dt, Tulare is 340 miles and 5 hours and 20 minutes dt, Hanford is 362 miles and 5 hours and 45 minutes dt, Santa Maria is 390 miles and 6 hours and 30 minutes dt, Tucson (if I ever go there again), is 400 miles and 6 hours and 40 minutes dt, Watsonville is 505 miles and 8 hours dt, Petaluma is 592 miles and 9 hours 24 minutes dt, Chico is 652 miles and 10 hours and 22 minutes dt, Calistoga is 650 miles and 10 hours and 30 minutes dt. In addition two other race places I like to go to include Indy at 1845 miles and about 4 hours flying time and Tulsa at 1215 miles with 3 hours flying time. You have to double the miles and dt for the round trip to each track, so it will be some long hours on the road, but I go because I want to see what the racing will show me next! I am ready!
We are all about ready for the year to start. But unfortunately we have lost a good friend in Don Flanders. He was a likeable, quiet, fun race fan who put money in the hands of many racers over the years without any fanfare. He added to the Wagsdash and most other big races along the way. He didn’t like the limelight, but his greenbacks were appreciated by many of our more needy racers. Don was 69 when he passed away peacefully at 3:35am Monday February 11, 2013. Don has donated his body to science and sadly no services will be held. His Brother Ken Flanders sends this note: “anyone wanting to honor Don please make a donation in Don's name to Wags for Drivers/Car Owners in need of help”. Send a check or money order to Ken Wagner, 429 Flores Circle, Las Vegas, NV 89123 and it will go into the Victorville RT. 66 Motorplex purse on March 16 and be distributed by me and his friends in the way he would have done it. You can be a part of it! Ken Flanders also added a quilt made of his t-shirts that is being made and we will sell raffle tickets on that. There will be a silent auction with many of Don’s racing memorabilia available as well. I’ll have a list and some pics on that next week. All the money from these efforts will go to the needy racers in Don’s name. To see how to help Click here to see!
In addition, Perris Auto Speedway will also honor Don on a date to be named later, and I will let you know how to get involved in that very soon. Honoring Don Flanders will include collecting money there to give to racers just like he did and a honoring lap or two by David Cardey, one of his most recent recipients in his last days.
I will be at Canyon Raceway on March 1/2 and will be collecting along with Big Fish and several other of Don’s friends for the October 16 event at Victorville. Look for us to get involved. I am getting anxious to get this rocket ship on the road!
I think it’s a good thing because there are few people like Don who put their money out for others. There are few like the Strawberry King around and it’s a shame Don is gone.
SWINDELL LOCK ON CHILI BOWL CONTINUES AS JUNIOR BEATS FATHER WHILE THE BEST OF THE REST FLAIL AWAY!
ANNUAL TRIP FOR THIS WAG WAS THE USUAL, FUN, TIRING, FOOD FILLED AND PLENTY OF VISITING.
January 19, 2013
By Ken Wagner
The 27th annual Chili Bowl trip was a lot of fun and some great racing, but the Kevin Swindell 4th win in a row was not met with excitement by many fans. If you were a Swindell fan, Nirvana, if not it was “anybody but Swindell” bandied about as we all knew the results before it started on Saturday night. Obviously the #1 and # 39 cars were head and heals above the rest with their seemingly effortless moves to the front all week and the top spot on the podium was done in black 3 times before the finale and continued the last night. I heard many people disgustingly say they wouldn’t be back, but wanted to be there when the Swindell’s were beat! Kinda brings back memories of the Steve and Karl Kinser shows in the Outlaw world back in the day.
My Chili Bowl Pics are Tuesday Click here to view. Wednesday Click here to view. Thursday Click here to view. Friday Click here to view. Saturday Click here to view. For Doug Allen's work Click here to view those.
I had intended to be in Tulsa on the Saturday before the start of the 5 day marathon, but spotted a great B Ball tourney in Las Vegas that day so changed my flight to Monday. Unfortunately, I got very sick with the flu, so they said, and was unable to rally for 8 games that day. Resting up I took my infected ear on the plane with a pocketful of antibiotics to Tulsa on Monday afternoon. My friend Mike Clark got on my flight and we were in T-Town about 5:30 PM. After renting a car we two headed to a new to us steakhouse called Spudders where Don The Barber, Trucker Frank, Suitcase and ”Goug” waited on us. The place is rustic decorated with a lot of oilfield stuff including gas pumps and signs of the oil industry. A big Scudder was outside by the front door, it’s the thing that digs the hole and then brings the oil to the top. Anyway, I ate there twice and a better steak you will never have, at any price, it was that good.
After dinner Mike dropped me at my Tulsa home where my old roommate Tony Mishler lives. Tony and another friend named Ron Tunin and myself lived together back in the early 70’s until I met my bride of soon to be 38 years and we got married and came back to California. I now stay at his place, and my son Kevin comes to town so we can spend this time together each year. Morning brought my reunion with an old favorite food place that closed downtown and reopened recently near Tony’s called Nelson’s Buffeteria. Chicken fried steak and chicken with gravy was a big favorite when I lived there and it is still great! Kevin arrived around noon and off we went to the Tulsa Expo Center where this week’s excitement would begin and end.
After getting checked in with our pit passes, Kevin took off for parts unknown and I began my first walk around the massive indoor race track facility. When I finally found my way to the John Golobic trailer and found my old friend Fred, I borrowed a scooter that really made my week. Fred had asked me last year if I would like to use one of his scooters and I declined because I was too stupid to realize the benefits. After walking my butt off in the 2012 Chili Bowl and realizing I could use some help for these old legs, I agreed to try it this year. I used it every day and returned it each night where it was charged up for the next day for me. It makes me want one. It made my getting around each day so easy, I wasn’t exhausted like in the past. Anyway, it was very nice to get the use and I am very thankful for the opportunity. It got me everywhere except down on the track and what a deal! Thanks Fred, I might have to get me one!
Each day of the Chili Bowl was spent pretty much the same as Kevin and I would eat, he would drop me off at the track and he and his friend Tom would go off to play while I rode around on my borrowed scooter, took pics and visited with a lot of nice people, my racing friends many of whom I wouldn’t see again until next January.
The first two nights I had the pleasure of sitting up in the “suites” seats, the ones above the front stretch grandstands that have an unblocked view, as Bill Merian couldn’t make it and that was a pleasure. You can see everything from up there, unlike my usual seats where everyone stands up in front of you at the slightest evidence of an incident, of which there were plenty, and you have no clue of what happened. Up top I was able to use my long lens and capture a few pics, but the reality is you have to be lucky to capture anything worthy and anything close to the fence is unusable when shooting thru it. I didn’t take my camera in the last three days as it really isn’t worth the effort shooting thru the fence and the standing people, but the first two days, simply amazing!
Besides the racing Kevin and I had time to go to a used book store, ship home said books bought, and generally have a good visit together. We ate at Nelson’s Buffeteria several times, Ted’s excellent Mexican restaurant, the Cracker Barrel, Ron’s burgers and Charleston’s for our culinary dining. The usual feasting added more pounds to my upcoming diet plans, but it was all worth it.
Now a little about the racing I saw, keeping in mind that the Chili Bowl is “vision overload”, so I’ll do a little recall. Unfortunately, this year won’t go down as one of the best, unless you drive a unique black Swindell car or are a Swindell fan, as the qualifier nights were all won by the pole sitter and the finale was won by Kevin Swindell from the 2nd starting spot on the front row, which had “the” two black cars who had earned their perch up there. So unless you were watching the “other” hard chargers, you might have gone away a little bit disappointed with the lack of suspense in the racing.
Don’t get me wrong, the black duo was dominating in every way as they won every race they entered no matter where they started, and that’s DOMINATION! With Kevin adding his 4th Chili Bowl driller and winning the race of Champions as well, it was a Tennessee sweep of grand proportions. Together they have won 9 of the 27 Chili Bowls and anyway you cut it, that is amazing! They obviously have something nobody else has, and I won’t say they are the best drivers out there, just making what works beat the best for the last 4 years. And for those who said they aren’t coming back next year, don’t you want to be there when someone beats them?
During the 5 nights of competition, there was plenty of action from a number of great drivers as many of the other champions did some amazing things just to get a chance at a driller, or in many cases another driller. A driller is the cool trophy the winner gets each year, and for those of us that like it, you can buy a hat pin of the design. Anyway, our west coast drivers did very well with 11 of the starting 24 from out our way. The best was Brad Sweet in third place followed by Jerry Coons Jr and Shane Golobic also in the top ten. Many more were just an incident away from making the big dance, but maybe next year. The popular winter event brings out a lot of cars to race. With nearly 270 midgets in the house and high hopes for a chance at the measly $10,000 winner’s prize, and it could be more. In that ongoing cluster of cars, yes there are a lot of cluster f’s during the week, don’t we all know it? You have to have luck, skill, a great car and a lot of luck to get through it all, did I mention luck?
Each year many rookie’s show up for their maiden attempts at fame, and their inexperience puts them in harm’s way a lot and creates some of the skirmishes that ruin a lot of hopes. This race is run “what you brung” with no rules to speak of, just no ski’s for tires? The action is “no holds barred” and you can see it often enough on the track when a driver will literally bang another one out of the way to get the spot and move on. No fines or penalties, unless you hit the cone on a restart, so it’s an ever moving scale as drivers take others out, on purpose and of course accidently, with the offended drivers being towed back to the pits for some expensive repairs before they try it again. Since the officials are mute on incidents, there are a lot more “bull in a china closet” jousts than usual, thus the “you need a lot of luck” to survive! The bold drivers are the winning drivers, but that is not why Kevin Swindell won for sure. When you are faster, you don’t have to take the brash approach, just be patient.
Sometimes I wonder if they could invert 8 in the finale or more? At least the winner would probably have to race a little more to get to the front, thus giving the fans a better race to watch. The format would have to be changed to make it work to stop sandbagging, like the Trophy Cup that rewards the best efforts and doesn’t allow any room to do less, and that’s not likely. I for one hate front row winners, even when it’s somebody I like. I used to suggest some drivers go to the back for our enjoyment, like the time Lealand McSpadden (the Chili Bowl Grand Marshal) started in the rear due to a flat tire or something, at Lincoln, PA in a CRA race and surged thru the dust to get second and didn’t know if he won or not. I am just saying on our dream racing list, a Trophy Cup chili Bowl would be boss, think about it!
Now, on to the action, it’s a week after the fact, so here are the highlights I remember. The first heat right out of the box on Tuesday night was won by Casey Shuman from the second row with his cousin Rick Shuman running 9th. The second heat saw me zooming in on Bobby Michnowicz with my camera as he rounded turn 4 to take the green. His right front shock said “oh no you don’t” as it exploded and the right side tilting car got upside down immediately. While he was rebuilding the car, his wife Wendy was looking under the turn four grandstands for the offending parts, and she found some, too! You'll find the pics on my tuesday night photos page. Click here to check it out! Chris Windom won this battle from his 6th starting spot. The third heat started Marcus Niemela on a very good chili Bowl run as he finished 2nd on his way to the Saturday night main. He was very impressive to this wag as he drove hard and did great his two nights of racing. Brendon Bright won the heat. The fourth heat was good as Kyle Larson was his usual impressive self. He stared 8th and ran it up to 2nd in this one behind Sam Hafertepe Jr who started on the pole. Kyle would have the fans standing and cheering on Saturday night, but I am getting ahead of myself. There were three California boys in the next heat with Sean Dodenhoff winning the 8 lapper ahead of <b<="" b="">. Matt Mitchell ran fourth and it was good to see the young man back from his serious eye injury from last year’s Indiana Sprint Week crash that was made famous on Speed Week. Welcome back Matt, your fans missed you! R J Johnson, from Arizona, won the next heat with aggressive driving from the 4th starting spot. Another California boy P.J. Jones won the 7th heat from the pole beating out Josh Lakatos from Pasadena, CA. P J, the son of one of the most famous drivers of all time, Parnelli Jones, looked sharp in his win. The last heat was won by Shon Deskins from Arizona to keep the west coast flavor rolling. </b
The four A Features ran and Marcus Niemela won the first one. The driver who lives in Santa Barbara, but is from Finland, was pretty sharp beating out Smoke for a great victory! Kyle Larson was second in the 2nd A.
Sammy Swindell started on the pole of the race of champions, bur Kevin rolled from the 2nd row to beat J J Yeley, who had the lead and made just one mistake, thus Kevin won. J J was on his game and got by Sammy before finishing 2nd.
Tyler Walker did the “excuse me” move by pinning Bobby Michnowicz to the wall and claiming the last qualifying spot in the 2nd C Feature on the last lap. Matt Mitchell got the last transfer from the first B feature to move on to the Tuesday feature. Zach Daum gets kudos for coming from 14th starting spot to win the 2nd B feature, great job! P J Jones got the last transfer.
In the A main Kyle Larson started on the pole and took off! Brady Bacon shuffled backwards from his 2nd row starting spot, then when everyone went to the bottom, Brady rolled em all up and around the leader who was in a middle line. Kyle was no dummy as he made a daring pass under the other young Beady and took the win as he held the fast line on top the rest of the way.
Wednesday night was fun as well as more action was there in front of us. The track is always part of the show as sometimes there is only one groove as it went in the Saturday finale, but the racers adjust. Local boy Dustin Morgan took the first heat with Josh Pelkey claiming 3rd in the ABC Motorsports entry. Fast guy Steve Sussex Jr came from 6th to win the second heat looking fast in the Arizona car. The third heat saw a driver from Washington, Gary Taylor rule the 8 lapper ahead of CRA Champion Mike Spencer. NASCAR star Kasey Kahne went nowhere starting in 6th and finishing there. Jac Haudenschild looked 2nd tier fast (you know not 1st tier like Sammy and Kevin but as good as the rest of the best) and he pulled away from Danny Stratton for the win in the 4th heat. Shane Golobic, a California boy whose star shines brighter every time I see him run, blew away the 5th heat competitors and 2nd place finisher, the notable Brad Kuhn who wins a lot of Midget races around the land. Ooops I forgot Sammy Swindell was 2nd in the 6th heat behind Thomas Meseraull, but he came from the 5th stating spot as Messeraull was the pole sitter. In the 7th heat, Damion Gardner came from 7th to get up to third ahead of Jace Vander Weerd who was making his second Chili Bowl start. Riverside, CA’s Darren Hagen pulled off the last heat race win of the night on a flag to flag win from the pole.
The first A qualifier saw Gary taylor win from 4th and Matt Streeter third and Jace Vander Weerd 5th. Darren Hagen won the second “A” ahead of Shane Golobic. Damion Gardner and Mike Spencer ran 2nd and 3rd behind Jac Haudenschild in the 3rd A. And of course, Sammy came from 6th to win the last one ahead of Kuhn.
Kasey Kahne hung on for the win in the 1st C Main as 6 cars went out on the hook! He was one of 5 who didn’t finish the 1st B Main. The second C saw 4 more hooked off as Wes McIntyre won the 12 lapper. Bobby East won the 1st B feature ahead of WOO veteran Johnny Herrera. Jace Vander Weerd Looked good winning the 2nd B ahead of Danny Stratton.
The A Main started Sammy Swindell on the pole and saw Sammy pull away from Damion Gardner to win another one. Notably Bryan Clauson came from 13th to 7th ahead of Mike Spencer. Wow and it was only day two of five!
Thursday night started with a bang as I missed a couple of heats because we went to eat late. J J Yeley won the 2nd heat from the pole as Troy Rutherford tried to reel him in to no avail. Four cars took the hook-n-ride to the pits, crestfallen I am sure. Brad Sweet showed us his fast machine winning the 3rd heat. Young Richard Vander Weerd was 4th. Kevin Swindell came from 5th to win the 5th heat ahead of Tracy Hines. Bud Kaeding mustered 4th from his 8th starting spot in heat 6. Tim Kent was last in the heat, but if you knew the story how he got there, you would be amazed. They “windowed” the block on Monday nights practice. That’s what Brian Harvey’s son Cody told me when I saw them on Tuesday. The Harvey Motorsports entry would be done unless… grandpa Harvey invested in a new motor? That he did and the two days of buying a new one, getting all the right pieces to install it in their chassis and some help from Mike Sala to get it set up so they could just compete on Thursday was a whirlwind for them all. Just another behind the scenes look at one team that weathered it all and got to race. In the 7th heat, the ABC Motorsports second entry featured Nic Faas and he ran wire to wire for the win! Big time drivers Cole Whitt and Jason Leffler ran 3rd and 4th as the west coast continued to do well. The last heat was all Jerry Coons Jr as he came from his 5th starting spot to win handily. Dennis Howell Sold his # 62 Fontana midget to Mike Sala and Mike let him drive it in the Chili Bowl. He ran from 8th to 4th smoothly and looked forward to a good week.
Californian Tanner Swanson came from 10th to win the first C main, WOW! Troy Rutherford won the 1st B Main ahead of Billy Pauch jr. His father use to give the CRA fits during the CRA Pennsylvania tours! Brad Noffsinger was running his first open wheel race in he said 20 years, (could it be that long as he looks just like he did back in his CRA championship years). He was in one of those “incidents”, and went end over end several times. He was busy the next two days rebuilding and getting ready for Saturday. The second B saw Dennis Howell The A Main had guess who on the pole, young mister Swindell and he didn’t let any grass frow under his wheels to win another qualifying main. Brad Sweet giave it his best, but settled for 2nd with Tim McCreadie putting on a show coming from his 15th starting spot to 3rd place and made the slick track work for him. Outstanding!!! I thought he was a lapped car, but after watching him, he was on a run! Behind the winner, it was some good racing. Back to the house and some cheers hoisted for a bit.
The opening heat on Friday saw California Woo Champion driver Jason Meyers win ahead of another CA boy Brett Felkins. Former USAC Champion Levi Jones won the 2nd heat from the front row. Ronnie Gardner had new Esslinger power under the hood as he ran from 6th to third looking good! USAC youngster Chase Stockton won the 3rd heat as super youngster Ryan Bernal crashed into the wall after a rubbing incident with another driver that took his front end away from the steering wheel. Remember Alex Schutte from his Kruseman rent a ride? He ran a strong 4th in the 4th heat. In the 5th heat Taylor Simas from Orland, CA beat Chad Boat out for 2nd place as Chad came from 9th. Rick Hendrix came from 7th to get 3rd in the 6th heat. Cory Kruseman proved the old adage “I’d rather be lucky than good” when he crashed early in heat 7 and appeared done for the race. He went to the work area and fixed something, but on the restart it wasn’t working very well so ended back on the X for more repairs. As the restart took off without him, a car crashed hard and gave him the time to come back all fixed and get 2nd to get more points than he looked like he would get.
The first A qualifier saw “Big G” Ronnie Gardner win the 10 lapper ahead of perennial top dog Dave Darland. The Mustache man Jon Stanbrough ran second in the 2nd A. Chad Boat was definitely on the 2nd tier hot cars group as he came from 6th to win the 3rd A. Levi Jones beat Cory Kruseman to the checkered flag to win the last A.
Ryan Bernal had his work cut out for himself as he started 10th in the first C and moved up to 3rd for a good job. Alex Schutte won the first B as Bernal came from 15th to 3rd again. Fairfield, CA’s Tim Barber won the 2nd B with some good work to beat Derrick Meyers from Illinois who came from 16th!
What we saw with Chad Boat so far was even tuned up more for the A Main. Even though he started on the pole, now a pole winner for the 4th night in a row, He ran away from the pack. Cory Kruseman was 2nd ahead of Double D Dave Darland. Ryan Bernal came from 21st to 10th with a few incidents and that makes 30 cars he passed in 3 events, talk about getting little out of a lot, he was smokin’! Unfortunately for Ronnie Gardner, he got screwed. He had started 7th and patiently worked up to third with five laps to go. On the restart, the overanxious gremlins took over. First a Kruser sighting bumped him out of the way where he was nailed by another car and then had a flying Bubba Altig land on top of him, ending his night. Where was his luck? Somebody else had it.
Saturday’s always are a problem because racing starts at noon with the alphabet features from K on up to the big A Main??? I can’t sit thru it all so I usually just tool around and visit and watch the results and talk with winners and losers. I was dropped off at the track by my son after breakfast for another scooter ride of fun! I managed to do this meandering thru the pits and shopping area many times, so I saw a lot of people. Sitting on the scooter sure made the visiting easy! About 4:30 the boys called and said it was time to eat so off we went to Spudders for another big boy beef feed. Again it was the best steak and we took our time so as to avoid the long intermission from the alphabet features that would be done by 6 pm. We planned on a 7 pm return thinking the racing would be ready to go, WRONG!
After watching the parade of states and the pitiful Frisbee exhibition by the drivers trying to throw them over the short fences to the grandstands, it was tooooooooooo looooong! Finally it was race time and off they went with the C features about 8 pm. To check all the west coast driver results Click here to view! There too, is the link to the full results at chilibowl.com.
The track became pretty touchy as the many laps of the day and rework of it didn’t really make it great. There would be 6 transfer to the B features and Bobby East won the first C from the pole, it’s getting old isn’t it? Bud Kaeding was the only CA driver of the 6 that transferred with a 3rd place finish. Of the six CA drivers in the second C, Alex Schutte won with Richard Vander Weerd 2nd and Rico Abreu got the last transfer as he moved up 3 spots to get it.
The two B’s up next were ready. Washington’s Gary Taylor won the first B from the pole. Mike Spencer got 3rd and Marcus Niemela came from 10th to 4th on a good run to move on. Jerry Coons Jr took the pole in the second B and motored to a big win. He was followed by Shane Golobic and Jason Meyers all 3 going to the BIG SHOW! A note here, all winners in the A thru the first E, were on the front row. See the pattern, and see the condition of the track. Hard to pass someone in the groove after 4 days of pounding on famous the dirt track that is parked outside on the fairgrounds the rest of the year. Out of 89 events run in 5 days this week, 51 were won from the front row and that is over 57%! Before the main, the track was again worked and watered. They do the best they can, but it is a monumental task to make it work.
Father and son were on the front row with Chad Boat and Kyle Larson behind them. On the green, Sammy took the lead and Kyle took after him. For about 15 laps it was as exciting a race as you can see. After Kyle took the lead, Kevin took it from him and the two really put on a show for about 8 or 10 laps or so. With the crowd on it’s feet screaming for Kyle, the two passed each other at each corner until Kyle suddenly tried to come back on Kevin out of turn 4 and barely spun the car to a stop. Silence, as the crowd was shattered! On the next restart, with Kyle in the back, the track quickly became a one groove affair and no one could get after Kevin, even his father who was effectively keeping everyone else behind him, whether he was trying to or not.
There were some in the back who moved up pretty good: Bryan Clauson from 20th to 8th, Billy Wease from 22nd to 9th, Marcus Niemela from 19th to 11th, and Shane Golobic from 16th to 7th. A lot of that was before lap 20 of the 55 lap main when there were two grooves in the race honoring Donny Ray Crawford’s memory. So if you were watching behind the top 3 or 4, there was some good action.
The Chili Bowl is the premier Midget race of every year. While all other events have lost fans and race cars, this one continues to shine. You just have to go there and realize it is the most unique racing event in the country. Nobody else can boast of the biggest stars from all of racing’s organization’s including the wingless and winged sprinters, NASCAR and more, it is amazing! Nowhere else can you rub elbows with today’s stars and many of our retired champions of the past and importantly to many of us, the fans both friends or not. And that is why the big dollar teams have 4 and 5 cars with the best equipment and the best drivers are asked to drive. For me I get to merge into the landscape and observe it all. I get to talk to racers, crewmembers, old timers and even promoters, it’s a blast!!! I can be just a fan having fun and don’t have to do anything, just let it happen. The racing is like always some good and some not so good, but it’s all good in racing. If you haven’t been to T-Town for this event, plan ahead, nothing runs against it and the cool people are always there.
I relaxed on Sunday, watched some football with my old roomie at the Goldmine bar and then headed out to Las Vegas in the morning. Loved the trip and wished we didn’t know who was going to win. That’s all I got, whew!
Web at wagtimes.com A
Copyright © 2013 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce
anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers,
writers or webmaster.
Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042
Checkout Wags Web at wagtimes.com
A Hosehead Production
Copyright © 2013 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers, writers or webmaster.
Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042