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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
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!
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