Wagtimes Newsletter text

WAGSDASH AND MORE AS THE YEAR WINDS DOWN.!!!!!

The trip to Manzy was changed after Terry decided to go. I wasnít wanting to go alone, but decided to when I found out I needed to sell laps for the Oval Nationals and figured I could get a little more dash money with t-shirts, the quilt and calendars. I was going alone until Terry asked if she could get Friday off and we were on, but just one day less of the three day Western World.

I hoped to get away from home by 2 or 3 in the afternoon on Thursday, but she worked until 5 and we left at 5:30. The traffic was Friday night heavy and it took forever to get to banning, about 70 miles from the house, and knowing we would miss the race, we stopped to eat at 7:30. By 9:30 we were nearing the Arizona boarder, and we got the call that the race was over, so I continued on. We arrived at the Ellis hacienda about 1:15 their time and were met with dogs and laughter. We stayed up to talk about the race and found out Jeremy had led this one until two flats put him out.

Some sleep greeted us and morning was fairly early as we had a appointment with Lealand & Janet McSpadden at 10 AM. We left the house about 9:30 and headed out to the PIR city that consists of 3,000 or so motorhomes. I had to call them on their cell for them to guide me in, but eventually I found their lane and saw Lealand sitting on his bicycle waiting for us. He led us to his parking space and we parked across from it. The big brown Class A was majestic as they greeted us and we talked 90 miles an hour catching up.

Inside was very nice and we settled in to talk about his health and much more. He looks great for a man who underwent radiation and the loss of weight that accompanies it. He had the smile and twinkle in his eye as he said it was just a day to day deal and he was up for it. He told about the effects on him and held a bottle of water for his thirst the whole time we were there. He had planned to retire before the cancer word happened and had just bought the motorhome two weeks before they found it. The plan was to take 6 months off and go travel, then work 6 months until full retirement time.

He told me how his hair was tested and what hey found was he was too acidic. He is on an alternative medicine now and feels better when he is on it. He said there are good cells and bad cells in all of us, and those who get bad things, it is a result of the bad cells getting loose in our bodies. He said the aluminum in deodorant is bad for us and we out it right under our arms to go directly into the bodies system. He said the best cancer fighting natural agent is B-17 and is found in the pits of apricots. Unfortunately, it is illegal to sell these pits processed, because the big drug companies canít patent them, so their money makes them almost impossible to get. You can by apricots and peel it out, but it is harder.

He talked about a lot of other natural things we should do for our health and said if they had to do it over, the radiation would not have happened. It took too much out of him and they still didnít find the parent cancer. His mood was serious and jovial at the same time as we discussed health and many things to give up. He was blown away by the response form friends and fans after the announcement was made he had a problem. He is so thankful for the support and was really surprised by it all because, as he said, he always raced for himself and against himself. He learned early in his career he should be polite to fans, but the real Lealand we knew was just a natural happening as the years went on. He had such charisma, everyone was blessed by his attention to them as they tried to adorn him with their love and adoration. He knows now, more than ever, how much that fan base means to him.

Janet had her little grandaughter to show off when their daughter, showed up. The 2 year old has great eyes and a smile that is mesmerizing, just like grandad and grandma. Lealand talked about some of his career and what he liked, noting that in some seasons he drove for as many as 20 car owners. He would fly in and run and fly home as a regular weekend event. He drove for the Bailey Bros, Frank Lewis, Reids Deisel and many more on a regular basis, but had time to run a little bit of everything. He had a knack for getting everything out of every car he drove. A prime example would be his championship year in CRA. The Gambler cars and Shaver motors were tired and one chassis, old Bertha, was his favorite even though he used it up a few times in crashes that didnít hurt him. He knew his car and what it was doing, so knew what he needed to change to make it faster.

The visit ended all too soon, but I will report he looked just fine and didnít miss a beat. Janet and Lealand have been through it all and are still fighting together each step of the way. Jim Naylor made me a banner for the Wagsdash that said ďhang in there TornadoĒ, and fans and racers at the dash signed it. I presented it to him and he got a great smile as he read some of the names on it. Our time up, we said goodbye and would our way back out of the PIR city and headed back towards Manzanita. We stopped at the Cracker Barrel nearby because when we called Joe & Ellen, their eating place was 25 minutes away and they were already eating.

We arrived at the track about 2:30 and pulled around to the pit sign in booth. Marshal Earl signed us in and we walked across the muddy track into the pits. It was a low car count because the field was split in half and we already missed the first night. I had a few t-shirts to deliver and one picture for Jim Fargo that he won at the auction. I dropped them off with Jimmy Blanton and moved on to pass out Wagsdash money for those who made the trip. I had the winners share and put that in Earnie Ballardís hands quickly for his sons big win. $2500 is a lot of money and both were smiling! Others along the way got theirs and when I gave Evelyn Pratt hers for driver Greg Bragg, she smiled and said be sure and bring the camera to Perris, something special was going to happen, but she couldnít tell us. I guess the announcement that she and husband Bill will be the Grand Marshall at the Oval Nationals is the big news for them!

It was overcast, but not cold as we wandered the pits. I listened to many stories like always and liked the attention the Wagsdash T-shirt was getting. We got a lot of positive comments on the ďhalloweenĒ special that was pretty unique and another thanks to Bobby Michnowicz and the Timeless workers for this wild one! There are a few left, so just call or e-mail me and I will set some aside for you. It was getting late and we drove over to the other side to go into the grandstands.

I stood around for a while and the bad news of the night was longtime friend and race fan Rich Zimmerman died the night before. They said he enjoyed the races on Friday night, even offered to buy Keith Hall a beer after the race, and went off with his friends to their local bar to celebrate a little more. He was found in the morning having passed away in the night. I always got a few Wagsbucks from him, no matter where we raced as he came to enjoy the races very often. He was only 61 and had plans to retire in Arizona maybe, but left us too soon.

When I went on into the grandstands, it was time for the racing. There were about 25 cars in the 410ís and a similar number for the 360ís. J J Yeley had fast time of 19.365 after teammate, Cory Kruseman, had it the night before at 18.669. Richard Griffin, Bill Rose in Glen Crossnoís 2nd car, and Jeff Slinkard won fast heats with some passing and plenty strung out. The Semi with 7 cars was won by Josh Wise. It was racy out there, but a narrow track as the cushion wasnít up very high. Observers around me said it was a little higher than the night before, but still hard to pass.

The main lined up and off they went. Richard Griffin was next to Mike Kirby as they went down the backstretch with the Gasman leading, but something strange happened around turn three. Kirby went to the top and motored around the Gasman and took a strong lead in the Alexander # 4 car. Tony Jones was hot footení it into third when he pulled over a few laps into the race and had to go to the work area. The crew magically touched the car and soon he was restarted on the back. As Kirby ran off on this one, Jones came flying through the pack and ended up in 7th, just one spot better than the required 8 for the transfer to Saturday nightís big one. J J Yeley didnít last more than a few laps as the car just wouldnít run and he pulled into the pits.

Tony Elliott hung in for third and Flyiní Brian Venard got his best finish ever with the 4th place finish. Brian had his familyís # 47 flying high in the groove. John Scott still in town form his new Indiana home, ran 5th. Josh Wise was 6th and Steve Ostling got the last spot in 8th. Josh Ford just missed, but he was lucky to be racing. On the opening night, Josh ran his dadís 360. Somewhere down the back stretch he got into what was described as a high flying crash that landed on all fours hard on the track. They put him on a backboard and then waited in the track ambulance for over 25 minutes for the real one to come and get him. He spent the night in the hospital undergoing tests to see if anything was broken, but he kept telling them he didnít want any drugs for pain because he was racing again that night. Josh was very sore from the blow that hit him in the back as the car settled on the track the day before, but he was racing, regardless.

We went into the pits as Bethany Thrasher presented the shiny tire awards to Tony Jones crew and Jimmy Crawford. We got in some good visits and decided it was time for a trip to Big Apple. We havenít been there in a long time, but it was so early, off we went. A few were in there as is the custom, including Dave & Lois Ward, Jim Wolfe and Richard Catlin, the Tony Jones crew, Diecast Mike, The Venards, and a few more. We were waited on by Tinker Bell and a ďseductiveĒ lady. Tinker bell was still in her costume, but the seductive one only described what she took off. Now in blue jeans, she was pretty cute and brought me some extra napkins for my slobbering? I had a salad and we ended the night and visits to drive back to the Hacienda.

I put a little results up, had some sherbert and we hit the sack about 2:30 or so. I didnít hear a thing until about 9:30 when the dogs, who had been doing their rain dance for a while, finally got me awake. We hung around the house until it was time to go eat and headed to a Lone Star meet for 1:30. Fran & Jim, Jim and Jan, Norm, Joe & Ellen, Mark & Bethany all enjoyed a little beef and some conversation about this and that. It had been sprinkling pretty consistently all morning and as we left the restaurant, it was still spitting.

When we arrived at the track, it was 3:30 and I sat in the van and listened to a football game while the rest went to the pits. The grey sky was dry now and I went inside with a sweatshirt on as it was getting cool out. I hung around the front for a while and then headed up to my seat. No qualifying this night as there would be two complete shows with everyone already in the line-up somewhere.

The C Main would have such notables as J J Yeley, Rip Williams, Tracy Hines, Alan Ballard, Casey Shuman and Boston Reid. The first four above transferred with Boston stopped on the track and done for the weekend. J J looked real fast as Rip chased hard for the 15 lapss. A long way to come for the fast young driver and no cigar! He is a good one, and hopefully will stay for the Ovals. Hines was in a Bob Price # 0 local car. That is half the ABC Sand & Rock ownership that J J drove for until this year. Dave Waltemath was the other half and these days he is off support amateur boxing. Anyone who knows Dave, knows whoever that boxer is, he will be a winner because Dave sure is.

The Semi was won by Josh Ford who took off and wasnít catchable as he powered to a big lead and 20 lap win. Imagine how his back felt. Jon Stanbrough was driving the Jack Yeley tuned Hagen other car and moved up to 2nd to make the cut. Damion Gardner had trouble on Thursday and recovered from a restart at the back to get 10th, but still had to run the semi and got 3rd. J J and Jeremy Sherman came from the back and finished in the top 8 to move on. It was a chore as the track was still pretty narrow and fast, so you had to really get with it. Jeremy ended up 6th and J J 8th. Troy Cline also came from back there to get 7th. It was a weaving pattern they did trying to get around cars going lickity split in the fast lane, but enjoyable. Missing were Rose, young Mat Neely from Indiana, Hines, Williams, Bragg, Ballard, and a few more. Jordan Hermansader was in a brand new Maxim that was boldly black and something happened to him as he was running strong in the first time out in it.

The 360 A main was all Jeremy as he started in the 2nd row and was leading before they got the flag in the air. He had Bob Ream Jr and Rickie Gaunt after him, but neither could make the pass on the local fast hero. It was his 8th in a row in the 360ís and he was ready to run the 410 main from the back. Rickie was in the Tony Smiley # 2 companion car to his 410 ride.

Mike Kirby and Bud Kaeding were on the front stretch to draw the invert. There were about 8 beer cans put on the track, each with one inversion number from 2 to 8. Mike had told me both of them would be drawing for their row, but that is not what they did. Mike let Bud do the draw and Bud made a little trip of it. There were several different Budweiser beers including Michalob, Bud Light and so on. Bud chose a Bud and it was 6. It put him and Mike on the third row and Tony Elliott and Tyler Walker on the front row.

When they took off, Tony Elliott grabbed the lead and stretched it out. J J lasted a lap or two before he stoped on the track and was pushed in for good. Sherman began his march and the Gasman reeled Tony in after passing a cushion jumping Walker. Kirby pulled off a little past half way with oil pressure problems, he reported later, and Kaeding was on the move. It was hard to watch the front as Jeremy was cutting a fast slice through traffic. Kaeding moved up on Griffin as he was trying vainly to pass the leader. Richard pulled even with Tony on lap 27, but the miss allowed Bud to move up and around the top of Griffin.

When Charles Davis Jr slowed going into turn one later in the race, it caused a chain reaction mess that resulted in several things. Cory Kruseman barely missed Charles and nailed the wall with his fuel cell. It caused the push bar to puncture a tire and he went to the work area. Josh Wise spun to a stop and went to the back. Brian Venard got smashed by the little black sucker and it dented in his fuel cell and beat up the push bar, but he returned. Everybody but Charles was back on the restart.

Before too long it was helicopter time for the little red sucker. Tyler Walker, the wing driver who rarely runs topless, got a little antsy and made a run on the Gasman down the back stretch, similar to what Richard does time and time again, but with one catch. He didnít finish the slide job and banged Richardís car hard enough to send it into the wall and spinning like a top. Tyler went on but John Scott came along and was unable to avoid the spinning car and they came together crashing until both cars stopped. I held my breath because this one could be bad. No, Richard climbed out of a destroyed race car and went to the pits. I heard it all from his fans and non-fans later. Some suggested it was payback time? Some said he had it coming? One said Richard should have backed off. His fans said it was on purpose. My thoughts are simple. Tyler made a bad decision to continue on when he too could see he wouldnít make it, but didnít take him out on purpose. Richard had the line and there was no way he could have backed off without taking them both out. Coming out of four, sure he could have done the crossover, but it was going into three and that is critical that you get by. Cory Kruseman did the same thing to Richard years ago and the crowd was very nasty afterwards, but Tyler didnít win because of it like Cory and I didnít think much about it.

In the meantime, I was watching Jeremy as he really put on the show. It didnít matter what hero was in front of him, he just went where they werenít on the track and passed them. It was wild to watch as he moved into third late in the race with a few laps to go. Tony was having problems getting thru turns three and four the last 10 laps or so and one bobble by him put Kaeding right on him. The last three laps had a few yellows and the restarts were interesting. When the white flag flew, it looked like Jeremy was going to pass them both, but a yellow flew again and the suspense continued. It took the MO from Jeremy and when the last lap saw no changes, it was Tony, Bud and Jeremy flying by in that order at the checkered flag. Walker and Venard dropped out with a lap to go as he ran as high as 6th most of the race. Venardís fuel was restricted due to his earlier incident and he couldnít get the car to finish the race.

The feature turned out to be pretty good because of the passing behind the leader more than his win and not as exciting as some of the SCRA races before it. Damion Gardner started 19th and quietly moved to the 4th spot and was in contention, had it been a 50 lapper. I hate races where there is only one leader, but the two time USAC champion held on very well ahead of some fast dudes. The track never dried out as it stayed smooth, but the passing that went on was by the most skillful and it took courage sometimes to make their move on the very fast track.

I was a little internally emotional over the Griffin crash and not really in the mood to go to the pits, but we had some work to do. We passed out the shiny tire awards to John Scott and Charlie Davis, plus handed Charlie his Rimmer long tow award. He has met George, so it was neat to see the smile on his face. I checked only a few before I decided I was done and we walked out to the car. Keith had wanted a meeting, but when we walked near him, he only waved and smiled and we left. We were the first back at the Hacienda and WHO LET THE DOGS OUT! We did and they were real glad.

A little bacon, and no lettuce, tomato sandwich as I toiled to put the results up and it was done. It was also very late as we palavered until nearly 3 am and I shut down. I said goodnight and was asleep before Terry could do the same and got in bed. Morning and the traffic by the PIR off ramps was very slow as we moved towards home. We passed a lot more haulers than usual as we made it home by 3:30 and I fell asleep at the PC while trying to put things into perspective. Later I got the Wagsworld story up and hit the sack knowing I would be bushed the next few days. I really didnít want to go because I knew I couldnít work that track anymore for Wagsbucks and stuff, but I guess as long as Terry was with me, it was OK. Hopefully now we can get some year ending work done at the PAS. I have about 5 sweatshirts left form the dash and a few dozen Tís. If you call or e-mail me your size, I will set aside what you want. I even have a few of those different styles that have the front on the back and just a small Wagsdash logo on the front, they are cool!

A Main finish
Tony Elliott, 2. Bud Kaeding, 3. Jeremy Sherman, 4. Damion Gardner, 5. Troy Rutherford, 6. Levi Jones, 7. Tony Jones, 8. Steve Ostling, 9. Cory Kruseman 10. Troy Cline, 11. Josh Wise, 12. Mike Spencer, 13. Adam Mitchell, 14. Josh Ford, 15. Tyler Walker, 16. Brian Venard, 17. Rickie Gaunt, 18. Richard Griffin, 19. Charles Davis, Jr. 20. John Scott, 21. Jon Stanbrough, 22. Brandon Lane, 23. Mike Kirby, 24. J.J. Yeley.

NWWC Points 1 Cory Kruseman 515, 2 Bud Kaeding 514, 3 J.J. Yeley 493, 4 Levi Jones 472, 5 Troy Rutherford 449, 6 Damion Gardner 437, 7 Richard Griffin 389, 8 Mike Spencer 285, 9 Rip Williams 272, 10 Josh Ford 240, 11 Mike English 230, 12 Boston Reid 211, 13 Alan Ballard 156, 14 Jimmy Crawford 150, 15 Charles Davis, Jr. 125, 16 Tony Jones 90, 17 Adam Mitchell 79, 18 Bob Ream, Jr. 69, 19 Rickie Gaunt 61, 20 Jac Haudenschild 58, 21 Seth Wilson 52, 22 Mel Murphy 35, 23 Ronnie Clark 29.

SCRA points as of 11/02/03
Richard Griffin 2083, 2. Troy Rutherford 1985, 3. Damion Gardner 1946, 4. Rip Williams 1708, 5. Steve Ostling 1283, 6. Mike Spencer 1263, 7. Tony Jones 1156, B. Rickie Gaunt 1101, 9. Josh Ford 1069, 10. Mike English 1004, 11. Cory Kruseman 967, 12. Levi Jones 946, 13. Adam Mitchell 888, 14. Alan Ballard 805, 15. Charles Davis, Jr 714, 16. Seth Wilson 628, 17. Verne Sweeney 601, 18. J.J. Yeley 592, 19. Brian Venard 588, 20. Mike Kirby 558.

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