Wagtimes Newsletter text


June 23, 2007

This trip to the PAS would be Mrs Wags first in a while. Her work schedule and other stuff has made my run down the 15 a lonely one at times. We were up early enough to get the trash out, fix some travel food and load up. She is uncomfortable on the long hauls in my Vette, so we took her van and left about 10 AM.

It is about 245 mile down the desert road with little to slow you. Not many chippies out today but with my bride in the car, we only averaged 75 as she took a little nap. There was one traffic accident going North on the 15 that was obvious as we went by. The helicopter with spinning blades over on the other side was very noticeable. A bunch of ambulances with lights flashing were also there, but I am not one of the lookey looís who have to slow and gawk, so donít have a clue on what was going on. After a quick pit stop at a Mickey Dís to get some ice tea for the Mrs, we continued on taking the 15 south to the 60 and on to the track. I hate that interchange, but have learned to stay left until we actually get to the off ramp to the 60 and either jump over as others are coming on, or go to the next off ramp and double back thru town to get to the 60 that way. Itís a mess any way you do it.

Since the office moves at the track, the race track offices are the old fair ground offices I think, the big entrance gates are now always closed and we have to go in the pit entrance. It used to be easy to just drive in behind the grandstands and put the seat savers down, then go to the pit parking, but not anymore. We arrived in the pit parking lot about 2 PM and parked the van. I ran over to get the Mule fired up. I keep it covered up and hidden back behind the offices. It is very nice for them to allow me to keep there thus eliminating the towing in and out each race.

There was a fairly big line of haulers from the pit booth on back and all ready to get in the pits. We loaded our gear in the mule and headed to the grandstands to put the seat saver down. Terry went up to do that as I went to the restroom. I park the mule in the shade out there and wipe it down each week as the dust settles pretty goon on the red rover even with a cover on it.

Lois Ward was sitting under the grandstands in the shade with Marsha, a girl we have known a long time who always works the Legends of Ascot event. Lois generally catches a ride with the J Hicks rig as she doesnít like going alone since her husband Dave passed away recently. Lois worked last with the SCRA, but did the same with the CRA for many years.

We then went and signed in to get in the pits and our day at the races began. The weather was warm, but not nearly as hot at out Vegas home, so it wasnít overpowering. I went in the office to visit with Kim Donner for a moment and she reminded me to drink my Gatorade. Years ago I had been struggling with the heat at the PAS and she suggested I try the stuff. I can tell you that after one particularly light headed experience where I needed a little help to get to my cooler and drink a bottle of Gatorade, I never leave home without it!

The haulers roll into the pits and go for their favored parking spots. Generally people honor them, but on some of the more crowded races, visitors might grab one unknowing. There was on day some years ago that a certain car owner decided to get under Ripís skin. Ripís John Jory hauler is always parked on the front stretch to the left of the mid track entrance. It is almost across from the starters stand and that is where we always see the black rig. On this particular day, this car owner, who shall remain nameless, pulled his rig right there in Ripís spot and waited. Here comes the black rig and there was some palavering. The jokester got his laugh and moved off to his normal spot and all was well again. Superstitious? Well I rekon!

The early birds are different these days as the passing of Bill Pratt gave room for others to be the one. The Moosemobile, The Stansberryís the Crossno contingent are some of those who are always here, and yes Ripper as well. As we rolled down in the lowered pit area you could see the Ziegler rig on the left and more as we headed in to the middle.

Walking the pits is always fun as we visit with many old friends and meet new ones. Since Mrs Wags hadnít been here for awhile, she got a little cornered here in there as people wanted to catch up. In the early afternoon there is some tom foolery going on before the game faces appear and the drivers get strapped in. Some drivers are very accessible early and some not. Most are and what they get up to can be fun to watch. The TV crew was in the Gardner pit with camera and announcers doing some pre race stuff. The little gal who shares the announcing chores was messing with Rickie Gaunt and Blake Miller. She even had Blake on her lap for one part of the interview, so they seemed to be having fun. Rickie has a new bright driving suit!

Tony Jones and Danny Sheridan told of their exploits at the drag strip the night before. Jones said his borrowed racer was fast but you had to concentrate on keeping it in gear and shifting. They both said the shutoff area came up too quick, but had a ball running each other. Tony was sad because his grandma died in the morning and he later dedicated his win to her. It was his dadís mom, so Bubby Jones was in loss too.

We visited with Dennis Stewart, one time driver and father of Matt Stewart. Dennis is helping Tony Everhart and having a ball. He says Matt is trying to get a new business started and they are looking for either a buyer of their car or a sponsor, whichever comes first. In the meantime Matt is working on finding a ride and getting his Corvette parts biz going. He also reps products like Spintech Mufflers and other race items.

I tried to keep up with Mrs Wags, but she kept disappearing on me. When the cars started moving to the push-off area to fire and pack the track, we finally moved along to the K-rail in the push off area to take a few pics. For many years my motto was ďwhen the cars fire, get out of the pits and into the grandstands.Ē Part of that was to always be able to greet the fans as they come in to help collect Wagsbucks and get in my visits with friends out there. Now that I donít do much of that anymore, I sort of got involved with this camera stuff and it is fun. Terry was the photographer and we got her some good Canon stuff and good lenses at more than moderate prices. This was after going thru several phases of digital cameraís that were limited. With the Canon Rebel she had all she needed, but there was just on problem, weight. The camera got to heavy for her arthritic hands, so one of those cigarette sized Canon Powershot SD 500 models, actually two as we bought a back-up, came about. That worked great and it has an even higher quality than the Rebel, just not the flexibility of more lenses. Any way, I tried it out when she got her new one, and it just stuck to my hands. Now I keep asking Doug Allen for more training and I am able to do some amazing things with it. So there we were as the cars were gassiní it up and we were taking shots of them.

When that was done, and it was time for qualifying, we headed out front and went up in the stands to watch. Along the way Don Flanders stopped me and gave me some money for the hard luck guy that night, bless him. This man was known for the clear see-thru hood on his 911 sprinter back before Perris. He has always been a supporter and will be getting involved with the Wagsdash like usual. Itís people like him that kept me going over the years. There are many more, but times are changing and discretionary money is not as available as it once was.

Up in the stands were Lois and Marsha on one side, Krista and David with Bethany and Braden on my side with former travel mate Norm Bogan in front. Later Carey Davis showed up and we had a small but fun group to watch the races with.

The feature was exciting as the Ford of Rodney Argo took the lead right away for two laps until Blake Miller took him on a slide job. Blake led until his tire started going down. As he slowed Mike Spencer got into him and stopped on the track. They both returned. Argo restarted in front and Tony Jones was on him. Rodney kept a good line and Jones couldnít get up around him for many attempts, until Jones crossed under him and took the lead for the last time. He went on to win his third of the year and dedicated it to his Grandma who passed away that day.

Afterwards, we hit the road and drove straight home. It was a quiet ride and I was home by 1:30 and asleep by 2 AM. Another good one and the 4th coming up.

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