Wagtimes Newsletter text


May 31, 2005

This weekend would be fast paced as we had a three day weekend with racing, some grandson baseball and go cart racing to keep us way too busy. Saturday morning dawned a little cloudy and pretty cool as we loaded the “boys” up for a short ride to the Wagsmobile parking place. This process is sure an aggravation because of the time it takes to load the car at the house, then drive the few miles to get there, then unload the car and load the Wagsmobile, then drive to Perris. Sometimes the 91 freeway is packed and sometimes its not. The traffic this AM was really quite tame as we motored towards Perris. We stopped at an ARCO gas station to fill up and spent only $2.25 a gallon for a record low in recent times. It has a 50 gallong tank, so multiply that by abo9ut 35 gallons it takes to do the turnaround each Perris race and you can see its not a cheap date. Arrival at the track saw motorhomes already parked in the camping area behind turn four, and this would be one of the four weekend’s camping would be allowed.

We got settled on a grassy spot and unloaded the mule. No lunch group today which is normal, so I busied myself getting some shine on the mule. Jimmy Keys came by to pick up his black autographed helmet he won in our auction at last years Wagsdash. Jimmy and his brother have been extremely supportive over the years in all forms of Wagsbucks and were both two of the great “bidders” over the years for our pics and other fund raising items. That helmet brought us $500 for the dash and I am very thankful to him for his help.

We had to meander around to find a way into the racetrack, with all the gates closed and locked, but I found a worker who let us in to the path that would get us there and we put down the one seat saver we have left. The other two seemed to have been “acquired” at the last race last year and haven’t been seen since. We took the dogs on a ride and found the Williams boys in the pit parking area who still love to see Dubya and Dusty. I think they would take them back if they could! They were searching for snakes I thought, but when they found a lizard, they scampered off to enjoy. We got the gate to the track from the campground unlocked and went back to the “house” to have lunch.

It was nearly 2 PM and we put on our racing duds and Mrs Wags and I went to the pit booth and signed in. When we rolled into the pits, there weren’t a lot of cars yet, but we found a few subjects to visit with as they started to come in slowly. RJ Johnson announced he wanted to get his profile in the USAC web page, so he filled out all the pertinent data and I sent it off to the main office.

I got around visiting with a bunch of drivers and pit people, something that gets cut down too much now with time always an issue, but I had a good time as Mrs Wags was taking some shots of things. I finally had to head out front and went off to feed the boys, then get in a few visits with the fans coming in the front gate. I got some time with Don Zabel and took a couple of his suggestions up to the press box, one where they couldn’t hear well in his seat location and a request for Scott to get the line-ups out before the cars fire when possible.

Up in the booth I went and got my gear hooked up, so the next trick was to get qualifying entered. As usual Damion Gardner had fast time at 16.502. Only 27 cars out this week, but the stands were packed. Danny Sheridan nailed the wall in his only qualifying attempt and beat up the car severely. He said it just suddenly went to the wall. The team began working on it until the semi and just made it to the line there as they missed the heats.

Steve Ostling won the trophy dash, the three lap quickie with the 4 fastest cars. David Cardey, Bobby Graham, Bobby Cody and Cory Kruseman won their heats with some fast action as the track seemed to be holding up. The semi saw Dan Hillberg run over a wheel and get launched into a wild spinning crash. He will be sore, but the car will need work and a lot of bolt-on parts. Mike Kirby won the 12 lapper with Danny Sheridan coming from the back to get the last transfer.

The main event lined up 22 cars and in this order: R. J. Johnson and Rip Williams, Rickie Gaunt and Mike Spencer, Steve Ostling and Tony Jones, Charles Davis Jr and Damion Gardner, Bobby Graham and Mike Kirby, Bobby Cody and Seth Wilson, Alan Ballard and Cory Kruseman, Tom Stansberry, and Jordan Hermansader, Rick Becker, and David Cardey, Ronnie Case, and Jimmy Crawford, Joshua Williams, and Danny Sheridan.

The first start had Tony Jones stopping against the wall going into turn one and a yellow flag flew. Then as the line-up was about ready for a total restart, Mike Spencer pulled into the work area and they weren’t working on it as the field blasted off without him. The track seemed to have two grooves and passing was happening. Cory passed Kirby and that chase started. Every time Mike sees his old car, he sees red and gets taller in the saddle. Up front Rip took the lead immediately and took off with RJ Johnson in tow and a few others looking to go fast.

Super Rickie takes second from the youngster and sets sail for the leader, meanwhile Jimmy Crawford gets sideways on the back stretch and loses control enough to have a soft rollover, but he is still on the trailer. The restart sees this order: Ripper, Super Rickie, RJ Johnson, Wilson, Gardner, Davis, Kruseman and Kirby. Cory is coming fast, but suddenly Seth Wilson nails the first turn wall hard and collects Damion Gardner and Charles Davis Jr. Davis is done after stuffing it into the wall above Seth’s wall stopping location, and Gardner has a bent front axle from stopping against the # 17 Warbird, but restarts at the back. The Kruser is now in 2nd with Rickie and RJ following. Sheridan is in 9th now and coming thru the pack hard. On lap 20 he is in 8th and suddenly slows, catching Hermansader unaware, and Jordan runs over him causing a flat on his car and both are done. Another restart with Ripper, Kruseman, Rickie, Johnson, Kirby, Ostling, Cody, Ballard and Graham in that order.

Cory takes the lead on lap 27 from the Ripper with Super Rickie soon getting 2nd with Rip, RJ and Kirby fighting for the podium. RJ is holding his own and keeping his position in the top 4 very well. Damion has struggled from the moment he restarted with the bent front axle, but he still somehow gets up to sixth in spite of the evil handling car. Rick Becker hits the wall and brings out another yellow. On the next restart Super Rickie dives under Cory going into turn one and appears to have the edge coming out of two, but suddenly loses power and drops back. The starter sends him off the track and then a red flag fuel stop is called. Rickie was in the pits at this time, and not allowed to go to the work area to fix his car. The timing was unlucky for Rickie, but rules, rules, rules – they always seem to get somebody.

With 16 laps to go, only 11 cars remain. Gardner got a little more attention to his front end and on the restart it was Cory, Johnson, Kirby, Ripper, Graham and Gardner in that order. On the restart Damion jumped quickly to fifth and looked to be on the move. He had plenty of time to chase the leaders down, but coming around turn four, the car got too sideways to correct and he spun out, and went to the trailer. The restart saw Kirby now in 2nd chasing the “other” little red sucker and moving very well. RJ, Ripper and Cardey restarted in that order with 4 laps to go.

Cory moved out with Kirby trying to keep up, but he had two things going wrong for him. One was the motor was acting up and the car died twice, once when he biked it and recovered and another time. So with a couple of laps to go, and the front four coming around turn four, RJ jumped high and was trying to pass Kirby as Ripper was coming on strong under him. When Kirby’s car stuttered, Ripper slid into him and as Kirby recovered, Rip went into third as RJ claimed 2nd. Cory crossed the line unchallenged and it was 7 cars finishing with RJ, Rip, Kirby, Cardey, Joshua Williams and Ronnie Case the lone cars left.

Cory won his third race of the year and broke the four race win streak of Damion. RJ had his best ever finish with CRA and only two days after he graduated from high school! Rip keeps on keeping his points lead as he added 14 points to his lead over Gardner. Kirby hung on and moved back into 4th place in the points chase. David Cardey had his best finish ever on a great ride in the 4 bar car and doesn’t look like he wants to visit the newer coil over car anytime soon. Joshua Williams made his first feature and got 6th for obviously his best ever finish. Ronnie case subbed a 7th place finish for the Blair team and we were done.

It was a painful race to watch with all the yellows and reds, but none of the incidents were driver serious, just car crunching. Cory dominated the race until Rickie made a move on him and the car died, then Kirby was doing his King Kong act until his problems arrived and finally RJ Johnson proved he can run with the big boys. It was an exciting night for some, and a bad one for many others, SOS just like normal. The full house was appreciated by the management and the next race is coming to Hanford.

After the races I had to go down and congratulate RJ Johnson on his good ride. I found out Danny had not replaced one part in the driveshaft that eventually caused it to quit on him, or he would have done better with a car that was coming fast from the back. Damion was happy he finished, but I got to see the reason he struggled so much and the pic of the axle with be in Mrs Wags pics elsewhere. Damion is a warrior and he is already looking forward to Hanford, a place he won both races we had theret last year.

Cory and Glenn were extremely happy with the win and it showed on their faces. Mike Kirby overcame some motor problems and fuel starving at the end to get 4th, but once again deserved more as he was fast in the Lance Jennings owned Stinger chassis from last year. After more yuks around, we had to go find the wagsmobile to see if the dogs had left us anything to snack on. They were like normal, happy to see us and as Terry walked them around in the grass, I loaded up the mule and settled on the PC to get the results sent off like normal. We were tired and hit the sack.

The first thing I knew in the 6 AM morning light was Dusty was licking my chops and Dubya was talking to me, both encouraging me to get up and take them out. Grrrrrrrrr*#*%$#@@##! OK, OK and off we went. Dusty has to sniff and touch every blade of grass in the universe, while Dubya is content to just move along and see what’s going on taking a break now and then. I checked the gates and they were padlocked, so we had to drive over to the parking lot and get someone to open the gate so we could get on the road. The lake traffic was packed in front of the racetrack, moving ever so slow towards their day at Lake Perris. I made a gap in the line and drove on back towards the home of the Wagsmobile. We got unloaded and home by 9 AM and after a great breakfast by Mrs Wags, we both fell asleep, and even though we had to go get our grandson Tory and head to the Field of Dreams Park in Chino and watch Hunter play baseball. Each diamond is a smaller replica of a major league ballpark, so cool for the kids.

Later in the Sunday afternoon sun, we had gathered up Tory out in Fontana and went to the special ballpark in Chino where Hunter’s Wildcats won 6 to 0. He had another game to play, but Tory, Christopher, Terry and I left to head on to eat and home. We had a steak at Outback and got home about 10 pm. Hunter’s team won their 4th in a row during dinner, this one 14 to 2, so would play at 1:30 on Monday afternoon. A soon as we got home, the two grandsons headed off to the pool as I finished up my press stuff and then hit the sack. No clue on their return, but they are big boys now.

Monday morning was again too early courtesy of you know who, but we had a lot to do anyway. After getting the night owls up and cleaned up, I took Christopher for a ride in the Vette and even let him drive it. Then we went to where I have the old black Honda that will be Tory’s when he gets a license and insurance. He and Christopher headed off around the parking lot at Kawasaki while Terry and I watched. Tory is getting use to driving with a clutch and it has been fun watching him progress with his little driving experience at all. His family has put him off so long, but now he will be going to college and needs a ride. We did a little parallel parking practice and he caught on pretty good.

On to the Field of Dreams ball park again. This time Hunter’s team won 8 to 5. They would have to play again to see who would be in the championship game, but first we had to take Tory home to get ready to go to work. He has a job now! That took about an hour and when we arrived back at the park; Hunter’s team was leading 6 to 2 in the 4th. They go 6 innings, so more playing happened. When his team changed pitchers, they still led the score was 9 to 6. Somehow the other team scored 3 times to tie it up in the last inning, but his team couldn’t score in the bottom of the inning. No score in the 7th and in the eighth, with two outs and a runner on third, a line drive foul down the first base line was hit. The umpire called it in and it was 10 to 9! You can imagine some of the Wildcat parents went nuts, but this is a kids game, isn’t it? So Hunter’s Wildcats got two on in the bottom of the 8th with no outs. They stole a base each so with runners on 2nd and third, the batter hit a hard line drive to right field and it looked like it would be over, but the fielder made an amazing diving catch, awesome, and jumped up and doubled the kid off second, aaaarrrrgg. So close, but so far. With the tying run on third, the batter struck out and the Wildcats sadly loaded up for the 3 hour ride home to Las Vegas.

We left and went out to Norco for the Norco National Speedway 25 lap Memorial day tribute, a story to be told under a separate photo byline. Look for it! It was a good weekend, but very tiring as we never had a chance to relax for three days, but it beats watching reality TV at home like some old folks do. Did I say that? See ya at Hanford, if you travel.

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