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This was going to be another hot one as Terry and I took the boys across the desert on Friday before the Manzy race this weekend. We took off about 12:30 and it wasn’t too long a trip as we arrived at the Ellis Hacienda by 6 pm after a 30 minute wait to go a mile on the 202 freeway that was blocked due to an accident. Dusty and Dubya got back with Max & Pepper as the four weenie dogs went off to play in the backyard like old friends while Joe & Ellen Ellis and we two settled into some conversation. Over the weekend Dusty found his way under the fence blocking the swimming pool off from the back yard. It is to keep children and dogs out, but my Dusty is a curious sort. Before too long it was time to go eat.

We met Jim & Fran Fargo, Big Steve & Maggie Kimmel and Fran & Jim Herdrich at the T-bone, a steakhouse fairly near Manzanita up on a ridge that afforded a nice view of the city lights. We got settled in and all ate some steak. It is under new owners so for me, it wasn’t what it used to be. The signature T-bone was about half the thickness of the old days, but the taste was OK. The beans and salad were fine, the pickled green beans were not. I checked the bowl to see if there were any pigs feet in there, but couldn’t find any. Some put the green things on their salad and it took some of the bite out. Jim & Jan gave me a Jimmy Bryan pit pass signed by him from his racing career. With no date, it still had to be in the 50’s and the framed auction item already has a $45 bid on it! A good time for all as we shared a few stories and finished the evening outside in the cooler night air saying good night.

Back at the hacienda, we settled down for a quiet time and then some rest. Morning happened, like normal, and before long we were off looking for stuff for a little 30th birthday celebration for Julie Shiosaki. We didn’t know it was the big 30 at the time, thinking that was what it was last year when a big gathering at the Suites for her went on. Anyway, we found some stuff and then headed over to Big Steve and Maggie’s place for breakfast. They live out in some far off place past Tempe going out the 60 freeway.

When we entered the back gate, Big Steve was in the pool swimming along and keeping an eye on his automatic pool cleaner as it did its job and his rubber ducky? Maggie was inside cooking away and soon we were inside relaxing where it was cooler. The house is very spread out with lots of indian motif and more. When breakfast hit the table we had sticky buns, eggs, cheesy potatoes, fruit, turkey sausage and some brauts plus fresh fruit. It took a while, but we made it thru the delightful meal that would hold us until a sandwich at the track much later in the evening.

We visited the “race room” and hung out for a while before it was time to go. I enjoyed Big Steve’s comfy chair, even though it swallowed me up and made me drowsy. Back at the hacienda, Terry took a nap while the rest of us hung out. Ellen climbed in the van as we snuck off from Joe and the four dogs to go to the track. We took Baseline all the way and noted many new homes and subdivisions had sprung up and lots of shopping along the four lane road that was just two lane and open ground mostly not too long ago. We parked at the back gate and walked into the pits. Ellen went off to sell her calendars and Terry to do her pictures while I was on a mission to get Julie’s card signed. It was one of those oversized type that had a big picture of a Beagle on the front looking real friendly. She passed by me several times, but I played it cool and looked innocent as I got B-day wishes right under her nose.

It looked like a short field as we came in early, but before it was done, some 32 cars finally unloaded plus more than a dozen antique sprinters, some from California and were WRA, plus a few locals. Billy Shuman was in a later model chevy powered one that we learned he and Lealand McSpadden both had driven in competition way back when. Bill also told me he has pictures of the car when they both drove it and some of the super modified that he, Lealand and brother Ron all drove. I am looking for pictures of the cars that Lealand drove and will do a Wags Web pictorial as I get them.

Plenty of heat out there and it finally drove me and my bride back to the other side to cool off. By then it was getting shadier and naturally it was cooler! We got inside and went up to our seats and settled in. I could see the pits and watched the action as they began pushing them off for packing the track. Later it was so smooth and fast it made everyone fast.

Qualifying is sometimes fun when cars continue to lower the quick time. The Demon was the first one out and he ran an 18.885 that looked good. Bob Ream Jr has made it his own fast time deal here as he set it for the Sokola Classic and the May visit. This time he snaked it down near the track record of 18.5 something with his own 18.661 that stood up as the fast one. The track looked super fast and the heats would bear that out. Mostly they were follow the leader, but a few passes happened that made eyes open.

Mike Spencer, Charles Davis Jr, Seth Wilson and Richard Griffin won the train style races. The semi and dash were more of the same with Gaunt and Kirby winning those. The antiques raced two times and put some hair on a few heads as they gassed it pretty hard on the smaller track. Billy Shuman easily won the sprinter “race” and Tony Simon allowed someone else to beat his faster midget as it looked like he waited for them each time and gave them a run at the end that fell short. Whatever, the line-up for the main would be: Kirby, Davis, Griffin, L. Jones, Venard, Rutherford, T. Jones and Ream. Ream pulled off in the dash with power steering fluid on his driving shoes and headed back to his pit to fix.

As the cars were getting pushed off and lining up, the red flag came out. It was Rip Williams on his head on the back stretch. I heard he hit a slick spot, but don’t really know. The car was banged up a little, but looked like they might have made it back, yet they were parked for the night. On the first start, Kirby took the lead and had a good battle with Charles Davis Jr. They fought it hard, but Mike took the lead and led the first four laps until a flipping Mike Spencer brought out a red flag. Spencer flew over a wheel and crashed hard at the end of the front straightaway.

On the restart Kirby kept it lower on the track and Charlie drove up around him. Kirby had a car that didn’t want to turn, but he hung on and stayed in the fight. Troy Rutherford now passed his way by Kirby and was ready for Davis. When he put the Manzy slider on Charlie, it was a monster move and he took the lead. Charlie ran back at him and regained the lead, but Rambo had other ideas. He took the lead back again and headed off to winland, until a few laps later when his left rear tire shreaded and he pulled to a stop on the track. Charlie took back the pole as Troy rejoined the fray in the back.

Here we go again with Charlie now having that Gasman on his tail. Richard was Richard as he pressed Chargin’ Charlie at every turn. When Griffin put his slider on Davis down the back stretch, it looked like it would be his third win of the year here, but NO! A yellow flag flew immediately and he had to go back. Charlie now knew very well he had his hands full. From this point it was follow the leader by these two and if you could have been in Charlie’s driving suit, it was probably getting very hot. Slowly he took more of a lead and was really putting it away with an expanding lead when another yellow happened. The crowd knew the Gasman was coming and so did Charlie, but he just ran his line and held him off to win his first SCRA 410 main ever. He and his crew were ecstatic as they celebrated mightily on the front stretch.

We headed down to the Alexander pit where Julie’s birthday would be celebrated. Fran cut the cake as Julie was smiling and we all had fun watching her turn 30. Much walking around the pits went on until it was time to head to the house. We got home to enjoy four lonely dogs showing off for their masters as I put the results up on the web. It was 2 am before we called it a night and the boys had me up at 7:30.

We were on the road by 9 am and pulled into home about 3 after a lunch stop. Terry took a nap and I fell asleep with my PC on my lap in the comfy couch in the living room. I guess we were tired. The dogs slept, too! Another week and another fun time in the Arizona desert. It won’t be long before the next trip there!

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