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MIKE SPENCER REAPPEARS AT VENTURA WINNING FIRST RACE SINCE OCTOBER OF 2015

May 12, 2017

By Ken Wagner

It was time for our annual trip to the raciest little track by the sea this past weekend, and a fine time we had with friends, racing and of course food! Before the weekend was over we had a little rain, and some fine racing like usual, and a lonely ride home with my lady. Since our dog sitter had moved to Denver for a job, we needed help and Colton, one of our many grandkids, jumped in to take care of the three little furry creatures we love.

I'll add pics soon.

We loaded up our new Acura and headed out at 8 am on Friday towards the beaches of Ventura. I took a little different route than usual and instead of going down to the 210 freeway thru the LA traffic zone, we took Pear blossom road out of Victorville and it turned out shorter and quicker than the old way. Nothing unusual along the way and we arrived in town about 2 PM and stopped at Mimiís for lunch.It was way cloudy, normal for beach cities, so I wasnít bothered by weather.

Next, I had to go visit with the man who was extremely influential with making the Wagsdash a great event for years, Jim Naylor. Jimís business is all about creating race wear and banners and includes jackets and t-shirts and hats. The man even still does some pin striping and car lettering and artwork along the way. He is the proverbial one handed paper hanger as he does his business, runs the race track and volunteers art work around the town. If that isnít enough, he is remodeling his newly purchased home that he just moved into.

He looked good as he described his days and nights of work work work. He has a weekly radio racing show that you can add to the mess, so itís no surprise heís too busy to take a vacation. We talked about racing, the track and life in general for a while as he noted next year it will be 40 years running his business! He plans to move the shop nearer to his new home. The man has no boundaries as he charges thru life.

After checking in at our motel, we visited with Joe and Ellen Ellis for a while before heading to dinner at the Pirates Grog restaurant we have been going to for many years. Big Steve and Maggie arrived there before us and called to tell us there was a private party at 7:30, so we were out of luck. Since it was only 6 of us for dinner, unlike our much larger crowds of the past, we went to the Wood Ranch for some barbeque. Checking in saw a 35 to 40 minute wait, so I called another restaurant nearby, but a 45 minute wait was similar, so we decided to just wait where we were. It was merely 15 minutes and let the feast begin. A great visit with everybody enjoying the food and yakking so much it was late when we broke up to go to our appointed motels.

We kind of looked at the weather the last few days and it was no surprise when we woke up on Saturday morning with a heavy mist falling out doors. Off to breakfast, at the aforementioned Mimiís, with Mike and Marilyn Conklin who now live nearby in this beach town. He and I worked together at Kawasaki for nearly 30 years, so we were good friends. He was part of our monthly poker game that didnít last very long after I left the green machine world and a 25 plus year run of penny annie poker we enjoyed. It was all about the getting together as we often left work and hit a nearby restaurant, before going to the nights action place. We said goodbye to the Conklinís and head straight to the track, Jack, after a quick stop at Target to buy a phone charger since I left mine at home!

The track gates were opening when we arrived, so we parked and I unloaded my 3 wheel electric Wagsmobile so off I went to the pits while Mrs Wags went to put the seat savers down. The thing I remember most about the day was the greetings from everyone as I have been MIA for most of the last three years. Catching up was the order of the day as I was in my groove doing what I like best, yakking with friends. I didnít take many pics because I was too busy talking, but Iíll share the few when I get around to it.

Laurie Sertich was surprisingly sitting by her # 92 car driven by Jake Swanson when I rolled over to say hi. She had some serious heart maintenance very recently and still made the ride to support her team. She was visiting with everyone as we hashed a few things over before I moved on. Many visits with the usual suspects, as I rolled around the pits checking out the cars and the crews. An early pit meeting (2:45) meant they would be on the track by 3:30, so I had to hurry.

I talked with Ron Bach who has supported Ventura Raceway and Wagtimes for years. He still runs the Seniors sprint car class and has a midget that Bobby Michnowicz runs at the Chili Bowl each year. Ron is moving to Texas in the near future and doesnít know about racing down there, but he sez itís a good move and heís looking forward to it.

Visiting with the Jack Jory crew is always fun. I asked them if they raced each other different than everybody else. Logan and Cody said no, Austin, I didnít hear him say anything. There is competition amongst the three, but I think they are looking to win the race not beat each other up. They did a little ďtrash talkingĒ: but nothing worth mentioning. They really like racing, thatís for sure.

Got to visit with Eric Kaufman and Paul Dean, both came with Mike Spencer from the Bromme team after Jr passed away. The Gansen equipment looks as good as any out there, but last year was a write off with results not pleasing anyone on the team. Nevertheless, they work hard together with Mark Priesley, Mike Senior, Eric and the rest of the Gansen crew doing everything possible to win. Looks like they got something figured out as this yearís results are much better and winning this week should give them all a few smiles until the next race.

Mike was 6th quick, ran 3rd in his heat and started near the front and jumped to 3rd behind A J Bender and Cody Williams. Mike took the lead on lap3 after Cody had a tire go down, probably from contact with the first leader A J Bender, who spun out while leading and collected some attention from the pack roaring after him. Cody started the lap 2 restart leading before he had to put on a new tire and restart at the back. Mike then led until the checkers with some sharp moves and pulled away a little at the end.

I talked with Brody Roa and Jake Swanson as they were relaxing together before the drivers meeting. Both have been running hard with good results and love to beat each other. I suggested they run together for the win in front tonight, not about to pick a winner. Brody said fine, but they should finish in number order, and definitely not inverted!. IE. 91 Brody and 92 Jake! Brody was 2nd quick, ran 4th in his heat to transfer and finished third in the main. He passed Damion late in the race, but the Demon diamonded off the corner on him and retook the spot. Jake was 11th quick and won his heat before finishing 11th in the feature.

Danny Sheridan turned up in a Ford Motorsports # 71 car and had his problems. When he hit the track in warmups, the car stuttered. When he qualified, he was 9th with a better sound from under the bonnet. He finished 7th in his heat and 6th in the semi to start mid pack. After a couple of problems with some bumper cars, he finished 19th and he was done for the night. Chris Gansen drove a red # 4 version of the winning team car to 10th place after qualifying 13th and running 3rd in his heat.

Before long, it was time to climb into the grandstands and I warned my wife I wasnít prepared to go to the top like we always did, just half way would be fine, as my legs donít ďdo dat no moĒ. I had a bag of blankets and our jackets and my camera to take up and as I walked out of the tunnel and went to the right, the cars hit the track and bean spraying me with mud! Whatever, unfortunately I had too much in my arms and stepped on a jacket and plunged head first on the mud base area. No problem, not hurt, but needed help from above. I was rescued and finally made it to my seat, thanks Jeremiah.

Qualifying began for the 25 cars and the track looked good as the times went from fast timer Logan Williams at 12.114 up to 13.491 for the last car whom shall remain nameless because I donít remember him. FYI, this time by Logan is Ĺ second quicker than last year. Brody Roa and Damion Gardner were right behind Logan with a 360 with Troy Rutherford in 4th. Last trip here a year ago saw that same Rutherford 360 beat the 410ís for the win.

For the first time in my memory, and give me a break here, all 3 Williams cars were in the same heat? Logan Williams had a great 5th place finish in the feature and I donít know if thatís his best CRA run, but there goes my memory bank again, closed for repairs! That also means he beat his brothers, so his earlier words were his conviction for the night. His brother Austin was 6th and Cody 14th as they all finished and rolled emí on the trailer!

Damion was 3rd quick, won his heat and chased the winner, Mike Spencer for 27 laps, but never found the move he needed for another win. Max Adams used his 360 to run 4th and prove a good 360 is very competitive on the little bull ring. The night was pretty cold with the wind blowing, but we made it thru as the action warmed us up. It was a good night of racing and we left there thinking about the action. Well, we didnít quite leave right away. I had plans to go shake Spencerís hand and a few more, but suddenly my flaky knee got me.

I was slowly and carefully going down the stairs holding onto the hand rail like I always do. When I slowly stepped down again, and my leg said oh no you donít, and gave up the ghost. I held on tight as I suddenly sunk on my other leg forcing that knee to max out, and yes Iíve done this before, and yes it hurts like a %$@#%$. I now was about to do a header down the rest of the steps, maybe a dozen or so, when an unknown gentleman saw my plight and scurried over to keep me upright and helped me slowly get to the bottom. Thank you kind sir, I was so flustered I didnít get his name. That knee problem happens every so often and makes me think twice about going into the grandstands anymore. So, the pain sent me to the car to recover, because it takes 30 minute before I can concentrate again.

We headed to Carrows to eat drink and be a little crazy like after all the races here. We were the six from the night before plus Jeramiah and Pat and Lee Ann Normoyle, A burger and a lot of chatter before it was time to go. The race was over at 9 PM, so it wasnít late like a normal race, and we were in bed by midnight. A small but enthusiastic crowd was fun. I snail walked in and out wishing I could ride my scooter!

Everybody was on the rode early in the morning, so we had a Big Mac breakfast on the go. It was a pleasant ride as we were home by 2 PM and ready to rest. As for my legs, it took most of the week to get my stability back, but like always it goes away, but I will remember this one. It was great to see everyone and Iím looking forward to Calistoga as my next trio, unless the Santa Maria 4th of July race tempts me.

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