Wagtimes Newsletter text


This is the week we work for all year, the week of Wagsdash. It all seems easy, but before the noon kick-off for chili happens, a lot goes on. In years past I would borrow a truck from work on Thursday and go home and load it up for three hours. With our big doghouse now, we didn’t need to do that this year. On Sunday I framed all the pics and got the auction items ready with sign up sheets and everything. During the week I loaded the van the night before and took the stuff to the boys doghouse at noon the next day. We park the motorhome fairly close to my work, so it doesn’t take long. We bought 20 huge cans of beans and 20 of tomato stuff and loaded it in the bed of the Mule. By Thursday noon, I had every thing needed all loaded and ready to go.

When Terry got home from work Thursday afternoon about 5:30, we loaded the car with the last items and the boys, then drove to the doghouse. A switch of the car for the Doghouse and we headed to Torrance. We hadn’t seen the Wagsdash t-shirt live until we arrived at Timeless and Bobby showed them off. I was pretty pleased! His son Kevin was helping to load the 8 big boxes into the already packed doghouse and now it was totally full! Remember we had the six 55 quart pots and all the cooking supplies, and the race supplies and more! Kevin played soccer until about 6 pm, so prior to the loading we had a chance to go to a nearby strikeless store and get a few food items, then we ate at a Popeye’s Chicken place before going to the shop.

We were on the road to Ventura by 7 pm and arrived there just after the Smart and Final closed, so we couldn’t load up the drinks as planned. On to the track where we got settled in the midway and we unloaded enough to make room to sleep. I had to cover it all in case it got “dewed” on, and it did overnight. And we were in dreamland before 10:30 pm. Boy was that much easier then the years before because by now I would normally be exhausted and we wouldn’t even be here yet!

Friday morning I had a lot to do!!! More unloading and getting things organized to go to the kitchen. What kitchen? We had been told we didn’t have a kitchen for the last three weeks because there were many fairground activities, but Jim Naylor guaranteed we would have one by race day. In fact, only the day before had he called and said we were hooked up with a kitchen and it was on the fairgrounds! The fairgrounds workers were in the midway asking what we needed, so we told them. Quickly a stage, some chairs, picnic tables and flat tables began arriving. I began moving the picnic tables around in the order we wanted while I waited for time to go to the kitchen. I got all the ones that weren’t stacked in order and knew we were ahead of schedule. I loaded as much on the mule as I could and we drove back to the new and different kitchen.

The cooking place we always used was right behind turn two of the racetrack and we could scoot around behind the turn one grandstands to get to it. This new one was way up front by the Fairground offices. No problem getting there today, but the home & garden show and the other exhibits going on were not heavily attended, so we could drive slowly thru the hand full of people milling about back there. The path was out the back gate of the track and right on “main” street, then going the distance to the McBride Hall and around back. There is an emergency exit from the fairgrounds near the far back right side that the road goes along the railroad tracks until it gets to the sign out front that was proudly saying Mrs Wags Chili Feed on it.

We unloaded the 40 cans, then I went back to get more cooking stuff. Next I needed to go get the drinks. We ran out last year, so we needed more this time. I talked Mark Thrasher into taking me in his pickup and off we went to Smart & Final. After some diligent shopping, we had 15 cases (30 bottles each) of water and about the same in pop. In addition to that we gathered cheese, relish, onions, mustard and ketchup and more. It filled the back of his truck to the brim. Back to the kitchen we went and unloaded the food stuff needed in there as Norm arrived with the meat from Cronies. Big thanks to Chuckie and his help here.

We took the drinks to the midway and began getting all that area organized. The tables were finished being put in order and the rest of the day we fine tuned our location, shared the new t-shirts with all who came to work and cooked the chili. We handed out th new flamed work shirts and everyone seemed pleased! Lots of work and thank goodness we didn’t have to bag the T’s this year, thanks Bobby. Jim & Fran, Joe & Ellen, Joy Paulson, Darleen & Tina, Mike & Evelyn, Norm, Kim Korie & Steve and Dubya and Dusty worked hard all day until it was time to go to Cronies for the Friday night bash.

We caught a ride with the Lafond’s and arrived at Cronies about 6 pm. Mike Clark & his bride Evelyn were already beering down as we parked in the corner and the night before the Wagsdash started. All who cooked and worked all day were there to enjoy and mellow out. Suddenly Nelson Stewart was in front of me saying hi! He and Cory’s crew chief, Bobby Barth were here in advance and Cory was on his way. Cory came in later with his dad Alan, his wife Carri and daughter Casie. You don’t know how thankful I felt as he is a busy guy and the tired traveler came for us. I owe him, and think about it, how many “stars” would do that for our group?

We generally ate and visited for several hours and our thanks to Dave and his crew working the night as they took care of us just fine! Many more came in to say hi and then it was time to go across the street to the Cold Stone Creamery, its tradition. When we finally broke away and went over, many had already got their ice cream and were ready to leave. Ellen Ellis had got too much, so passed her leftovers to Terry and I and my diet was saved with the few bites. Just as we were ready to walk back across the street, the Darlin’ Dils arrived and gave us the story of getting lost. I understand as the sign above the place was dark!

We, the Lafonds and us, crossed the street and my cell phone rang. I couldn’t get it “up” out of the holster and said something to that effect. So everyone only heard the “up” part and it was hard to not laugh. I finally got it up in my hand and it rang again. Mike Clark there and he was just asking a question and it was back to the track for us. We got thru the fence as the Lafond’s bedded down in their tent near the bathrooms. The boys were excited and we managed to water them and play with them for a bit and then sleep time. Of course they had slept all evening while we were out, so it was still PLAYTIME!

Morning of the 13th annual Wagsdash was bright and cheery. We began the unload and set-up of the auction items and the final set-up of the midway. I headed back to the kitchen and went thru the early morning crowd on “main street”. It was obvious we would not be able to go that way, so an alternate was provided. Mike borrowed the track red mule that used to be polka dotted every year for our use and I explained the route to him. It was out the back of the racetrack to Main and left down to the maintenance barn, then right going thru the gate onto the road that runs along the train track outside the fairgrounds. Follow that to the gate nearest the office and enter there. The kitchen was just around the corner and the massive crowds were not affected. The day provided more home & Garden show, more knife show and more other stuff, plus a hot rod and bike thing that filled all the extra room left. The main street booths had swap meet type car and bike stuff plus more radical clothing and it was going to be packed. So Mike had to follow this path as he brought the chili from the kitchen each trip.

Things were looking good as the bake sale gals arrived and filled up their area with lots of goodies at $1 a bag. The Wagtimes booth was ready with plenty of help and I had the PC set-up to make new auction sheets. I already prepared the sheets for everything I already had prior to our arrival, but there was more! I couldn’t see my screen worth a darn until I rigged a empty box to put it in. We ran out of ink for the printer, but I was prepared for that and Kim Lafond took over the chore of sheet making as I went off to do other stuff. You can’t imagine the work that goes in and the Wagtimer’s just make it happen effortlessly. I thought I was OK on supplies, but we appeared to be short of plates and the Darlin’ Dils offered to head out to get them. It was a long trip for them and it took a while, but they came back smiling.

As Noon arrived, soon so did some chili and the afternoon began. I had stuff to do and my grandson Tory snagged a ride with Sonia and her brood, so he was here to work as well. The annual chili feed brings together fans, racers and more together as they eat and enjoy the time just watching everything. I had to figure out who was racing for my Wagsdash lineup and then get some interested in the pit-stop contest. The first was easy as Lois Ward had the list of sign-in’s and I could see I was going to have several openings and I began to field the “what about me” and “what about my guy” requests during the day. The pit-stop contest was tough this year as the defending champs, Damion Gardner’s crew who swore they would defend, didn’t show up in time? Must have been the long distance from No Cal! We finally had three contestants, but the thing went off so fast the third didn’t have time to get to the line. Alan Ballard and Will Perkins put on a quick show and the Perkins team had the faster time. Thanks guys, I will have to try and do this line-up thing different next year.

The girls began the sexy driver deal and this show gets more fun every year. We had two VRA lady drivers added, as I sort of pleaded with them to do it. They really didn’t want to, but somehow they were up there on the stage and as Nadine Keller later told me, she was scared to death! Kim Lewis seemed fine with it but the night before at our Cronies deal she said NO WAY! They did great as the contest was narrowed down to four or five. Rip Williams, Mike Spencer, Kim Lewis and Alan Ballard were finalists. Now they had to do the money thing to see who wins. Rip was doing really well until he turned his money in too soon. The rest went on and when the final tally happened, it was young Mike Spencer who won. The top four were between $195 and $204, so it was very close. It raise $890 for the dash and thanks to Julie, Terri, Fran and all those who gathered up the contestants and made the show for the funseakers crowded into the midway.

There wasn’t much time left as the early curfew made 3:45 the battle cry to get out of the midway. The chili was almost gone and we even had a handful of drinks left, so we didn’t run out for the first time! Clean up was going on as the gates opened and the new wild halloween styled T-shirt was great. I was off again to invite the newbies to the dash and surprise, no one turned me down. The cars were on the track and qualifying was next as the night of racing began.

I had a few moments up with Jim Naylor to talk a bit about what was happening and saw very little action until the dash much later. We put Walt James at a table signing his poster and card for the fans as we celebrated him as the Grand Marshall for 2003. He was excited about it and spent a long time over there doing that for the many fans. Walt is 80 years old and still doing this racing thing. His followers had their cars all lined up in a special area right between the midway and the pits very accessible to the fans. Some great cars out there! Thanks to him and his WRA members for being part of the show.

No race report here as I already missed most of it, but was in the booth during the Passing Masters Dash and watched that Tony Jones go wild! I had more to do as I found out we would not have the usual intermission time to hawk the two helmets I had, so we quickly put them on the table and another silent auction deal was born. It wasn’t long before intermission and the 5 minute bell rang when the semi ended. What a zoo, but hen I was off getting my line-up finalized. Bobby Cody was one of the entry’s to our race, but had a bad crash in his heat and the chassis was done. J Hicks had some kind of motor problem and told me he was going to scratch. I gave Lois my line-up, but told her about Hicks problem and instructed her to wait until he officially told her. While I was standing there, one of his crewman came over and said hang on they needed to fire it up to see if it was going to be OK. They had borrowed the car from the Alexander’s to make the race and something was funny with the motor. Later they lined up on the tail, instead of the 18th spot, just in case they didn’t find the problem, but they fired the car and it sounded good and they were in!

We had the trophy, the check and our bodies in the mule by the push out area, as the main event went off . I could see very little, just some of the turn one to turn two area, from where we were, but I could see the Podium Cowboy charging hard on the top. Several yellows and a red interrupted the 30 lapper and time was moving on. The 10 o’clock curfew was in my mind, but Jones was the winner and we shuttled on down to the infield. I sent Tony a bottle of water as he was being interviewed and soon the Gasman was pouring some on him. Then the Demon grabbed it and took a swig as those three must have put on a great show!

We moved off to the middle area and climbed onto the back of the truck out there and was ready to watch another Wagsdash. Terry was her usual, all crazy and worried. The first start didn’t alleviate her fears as we had three attempts to get going, but when we did, it was racy, racy, racy as the boys in the back put on a show.

Mel Murphy led the first few laps and the car on the move was Brian Venard, He came from 15th to about 3rd before he and another car banged wheels and it stopped his forward movement. Alan Ballard started 7th, perhaps too close, and was in the lead pretty quickly. Jordan Hermansader then became the pursuer as he was reeling him in. As the race went on I had my eye on the clock, but we were doing good! As we got to five laps to go, and the passing had been great, J Hicks seemed to be in third. I didn’t really know as I am in the middle if the track spinning around like a clock and can’t hear a thing Naylor is screaming on the PA. Alan just kept running thru traffic and keeping out of harms way and won the 30, yes we got it all in, lap race as it came to an end with a car crashed in turn three.

The Wagtimers came for the group photo, Alan and his dad Earnie were thrilled and so was Terry and I as this is what the Wagsdash is all about. Another good effort and no walls knocked down, no bad crashes, except for Mark Heidenreich who did his the wall pretty hard. We gathered in the pits agfter the photo session and worked on the best passing job. I had Freddie’s worksheet, but we still screwed it up. We picked Chargin’ Charles Davis Jr for his run from the back, but the fact that J Hicks started on the tail on his own must have confused me. Charles got the bottle and the $380 in it and the photo op. Later, when I reviewed the official tally sheet, it was a tie and we dropped another $380 in Hicks envelope.

We had a lot of visiting to do and then went back to the booth that was now waiting to be loaded into the Doghouse for the trip home. I need to hire some youngsters to do that loading for us next time as my crew was testy when I, the gadabout gaddus, finally returned. It all somehow got loaded and everyone took off for a good nights rest as we pulled around back and parked near the Lafond Hilton. We shared some pudding and then I tied down the Mule and we hit the sack. Morning happened, and I wasn’t really ready, but my gang was expecting me to show up for breakfast.

We drove to the Carrows where they have a back room area we use and it was an almost complete Wagtimer crowd, and very friendly in sharing the ups and downs of this years event. Some good and some “we’ll work on it” was reported and soon it was time for Fran & Jim to go home to Phoenix. They could have stayed longer because the last 30 mile of the trip was stalled going into Phoenix with some kind of blockage that delayed them a long time.

We gathered Tory up and headed to Wagsland. It was great having a little help in unloading for a change as he made it much easier to get everything out of the Doghouse into the Garage. Note I said in, not put away, as that would take me a few days to complete the process. I washed the filthy Mule and loaded it back on the trailer. We cleaned up and fooled arpound for a while, then it was time to take Jr home. We stopped to eat and then dropped him off late and got home too pooped to pop, and bow was my tired hanging out. It was a great event and later I discovered we made my goal of $18,000, just barely, so it was a total success.

A special thanks and tip of the Wags hat goes to Mark, Bethany and Ben Thrasher, Darleen & Tina Dils, Joe & Ellen Ellis, Norm Bogan, Fran & Jim Herdrich, Mike & Evelyn Clark, Jan & Jim Fargo, Steve, Korie & Kim Lafond, Sonia & Krista Bandy, Julie Shiosaki, Terri Bliss, Kari Alvarran, Tracey & Gerry Johnson, Jennifer Perry, Tory Clarett Jr, Thunderhead, Die-cast Garage and a host of other behind the scenes Wags helpers who make this race possible, and that includes Jim Naylor and his entire staff at Ventura Raceway and J N Designs and the SCRA officials who work a little extra to make our race the success it is.

FYI: The money raised for the Wagsdash came from the following sources: Lafond Jar of Change $380, Quilt $1428, Wagsdash donations $1542, Ellen Ellis Calendar $1720, Calendar ads $1900, Auction $3782, Bake sale $ 620, Sexy Driver $880, T-shirt ads $4820 and Pit 50/50 $340.

The individuals and business donators are: Jim & Jan Fargo, Tim Reilly, Don Read, Ray Vodden, Stan Perry, Joe & Ellen Ellis, Bill Barberie, Jon Clements, Robert Clements, Jim Thurman, Big Steve & Maggie Kimmel, Pat & Norm Bogan, Sonie & Krista Bandy, Gerry & Tracey Johnson, Keri Alvarren, Jim & Carol Wolfe, Jack Kraemer, Mike & Evelyn Clark, So Cal Performance, ABC Sand & Rock, Tramel Motorsports, Die-Cast Garage, Dale Frye, Dino Estrada, Jim & Fran Herdrich, Julie Shiosaki, Don Weaver, Alex Rutherford, The PAS, Hoseheads Allan Holland, Mike Truex, The Darlin Dils, Lois & Dave Ward, Big Jon & Scotty, Jack Gardner Jr, Anchors Away, Radiance Skincare, Ron Shipley, Jack Jory, Electrotech Coatings, Ron Schwarze, Steve Lafond, DJ Renwick, David Wolf, Stan Hanson, Ron Didonato, J B Heringhaus, Wilhelm Sprinkler Company, Geurin Mobile Home Services, Bill Camarillo, Chris Pederson, Lakeside Speedway, Glen & Carol Crossno, Namcy Ferreira, Mike English Racing, Gremett’s Cabinets, Hal Engstrom, Ken Urton, Dave Keller, AJ Reyer, Chris Dugan and many, many more.

Since Jim Naylor has added another year contract at the raceway to his 26 in a row, it looks like we will have the opportunity to run another Wagsdash if …………….. everything falls into place. I asked my group if they wanted to do it again, and the answer was YES. I asked them if they were sure, and the smiles were there, but they do work overtime to put my dream together every year. We did agree on one thing, if there is a tour, we, or me, will not be collecting tow money for it. Period. The NWWC provides tow money and that is good.

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