Wagtimes Newsletter text


April 12, 2009

On Friday morning, Mrs Wags and I, sans the three mutts, picked up grandson Tory for the 6 hour trip to Tempe and the Ellis Hacienda. The goal was to see the last race at Manzy and it would be Tory’s first time there. With that in mind, we snail paced it over the many different highways towards Phoenix. With my recent history of driver school events, I thought I would try a trip at the speed limit…. Man, what a drag!!! So, we left at 9:30 am and arrived in Tempe after 3:30pm with but one quick gas/potty stop. Talk about forever! From Vegas you generally try to avoid the dam and go the longer, but shorter time way around. This trip takes several highways, unlike the 10 from LA to Phoenix. We got gas in California on the interstate 40 for $2.99. As soon as we crossed into Arizona, the price went down to $2.07???? Later in Phoenix it was $1.86 when we filled up to go home.

Pics from the trip Click here to see no racing.

Coming down highway 93, we took the Carefree highway across to hwy 17 and south to the 101 loop and encountered other snail paced auto’s packing the in construction roads. That wasn’t all that fun. Arrival at the Ellis Hacienda, we were greeted by their dogs Max and Pepper, looking for our dogs no doubt, Joe & Ellen and JD Cormack, who was in from Kansas City to view the last rites of Manzy as well, plus JD’s friend John Cooper who was snowbirding from Kansas. We relaxed and visited until it was time to go eat.

Dinner was at the Lone Star somewhere not too far away where we and the total of 18 Wagtimes diners would meet for a bite. Mark, Janelle, Bethanny, Kaitlin, and Ben Thrasher, Marv & Sherry, Fran & Jim, Jeff and Carrie McSpadden, JD and his friend John cooper, Joe & Ellen, Tory and us. We had our own room to mess up and ate and talked furiously for a long time. It was good to see many of them, but it was time to go back to the hacienda.

When we arrived there, Everyone else took off for the track to catch a little of Friday action, but I chose rest and my book instead. I read until lights out and off to snoozeland I went.

Morning had JD’s verson of the 51’ flood as rain had done it’s work all night. We got up and around for breakfast, knowing the weatherman’s version was dry after five pm, but the track was soaked and they were pumping water out. The Cracker Barrel nearby was lunch for the six of us. Some shopping did go on, but it wasn’t much as the gang got out of there. Soon we had the news that the race had been called for the night, so we all headed for the light rail and were going on an adventure downtown and back. Along the way Tory, Terry and I decided to go to the baseball game at the Diamondback covered stadium and we got off there. Joe, JD and Ellen went on to find a car show and dinner.

We three got good seats down low on the Dodger side and watched the 11 – 2 win by our blue crew. There is a lot to watch at the MLB games and the cover overhead meant no rain on our parade. There is even a swimming pool in right field? The game took off and the D’back pitcher got 5 strikeouts by the third inning? They posted them on the board using the Circle K logo and I didn’t like that much. When the 2nd baseman for the Dodgers came up, Orlando Hudson, they booo’ed him loud. Seems as though he was a D’back the last three years and they didn’t offer him a contract this year, thus the free agent moved to the Dodgers. He stepped up and blasted one into the right field pavilion for more boo’s. From there it was all blue as they had an 11 – 0 lead and were cruising. When it was over, we walked back outside and got on the light rail again to head for our car that was parked back at the starting point, the end of the line.

Hungry, we were, so an Islands was the target and I found it! After that, back to the Hacienda to hear stories about their day and then some shut eye. We knew we were going home because the race would not start until 2pm and Tory had to be at work by 9, so 2 from 9 equals 7, minus drive time and we had no time to waste . We said bye to the race goers and did the return trip in 6 hours. We went directly to uncle Rob’s house where daughters Missy had prepared an Easter dinner for the whole family. The boys played basketball a long time and we hung around the pool until my tired was hanging out and we went on home to rest up for my busy week. Wow, wasn’t that fun. It’s not the longest trip I took for a rainout race, nor to see a MLB game, but it was somewhat of a dud and I missed seeing the end of a major racetrack. The word was there were maybe’s in the air, but I can’t count on it, so adios Manzy, you were a good thing for a long time.

My memories of Manzy are many:

Watching Lealand McSpadden blow away the Western field and then crashing

Staying over during the Western to see the finali on Sunday and driving straight thru to home in Mission Viejo and going to work. I don’t remember who won,

Dave Darland winning in Ben Lancasters car.

Watching Billy Boat come from the 8th row to win and then getting dq’d when his car was too offset.

Watching Bruce Bromme Jr and driver Bullet Bob Walker walking the track before his first time on the track, then watching him run down the backstretch and straight into the wall. He forgot, egads no wing.

Any time Lealand McSpadden raced there.

Patrick Nalon’s awesome announcing style, he made the half mile come alive.

The many “crazy” Western World presentations with a lot of hay, wagons and cowboy wear.

Steve Ostling crashing out on 35th avenue after winning the 2nd Wagsdash the night before.

Troy Cline’s crash into the junk yard when he landed on a pipe truck and almost impaled himself.

J J Yeley’s crash over the fence into the junk yard and landing where the night watchman lived, destroying the lean to.

Ed Reed winning his only CRA race of his career when everyone else changed tires.

A particular two day show where Richard Griffin and J J Yeley swapped wins and J J’s car owner whooped it up both nights in the grandstands with the great racing he saw. A real fun car owner that Dave Waltemath.

The night Bubby Jones won his last race at Manzy on a comeback effort against Jac Haudenschild.

Camping on the property and shopping in the weird grocery store across the street. That night Mike Clark lost his 85 Buick in the parking lot and Larry Clark lost his racing rig in the pit parking lot.

Working in the announcer’s booth where it all happens was interesting.

I still remember the many CRA races with the likes of Lealand McSpadden, Billy Boat, Richard Griffin and Ron Shuman the most exciting of all I saw.

I remember Keith Hall and his eccentric ways, but his tracks were always tacky and racy.

And finally, I remember the scene of a packed pits many times over and the racing that was once very special.

If Manzanita can remain a race track, that’s great. Although I didn’t go to every non wing 410 race there, I went to many over the last 25 years and have fond memories of almost every one. There was a lot more memories, but that's enough for now.

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