WagsWorld text images



February 3, 2013

By Ken Wagner

As I pen this almost 30 sprint cars raced in Arizona without me and Bryan Clauson did his winning thing between raindrops, and an R J Johnson sighting on the podium, at the un-improvable Canyon Raceway north of Phoenix, AZ. It’s a shame that permanence is not part of that track, but it’s what they got and at least there’s that. My weekend included a lot of B Ball on the tube as I still have an infected ear that won’t release me from the antibiotics that are supposed to do the trick, NOT! It didn’t stop me from going to Tulsa, but has kept my dizziness nearer the home front for now.

A lot has happened and is happening since my last report of sorts, but there are two things that stick in my mind besides racing. When you lose someone, or think you are going to lose someone, it is not a good thing for your heart. Kenzo Okubo’s passing recently was heartbreaking for all that I shared with him over the years of our friendship. My ridiculous thinking that he was invincible and would always be around our racing world was dumb. You know how you take things for granted, right? When things change sometimes the shock is hard to gauge, but a little piece of you dies with it. What Kenzo gave racing was under the radar, but all who knew him benefitted from his largeness. He was a strong role model and never asked for anything, just kept on giving with that smile. He was an icon in my life and I regret not going to see him more often when he couldn’t drive any more. Rest in peace my friend, many will miss you!

As for my friend Don Flanders, I am overwhelmed with his extremely serious illness because of what he too gave me besides his friendship. No, not the money that he often supported the Wagtimes efforts with, but encouraging me to think about my racing world and get outside the box for the betterment of it. His idea of unlimited sprint cars hit my un-technical brain like a brick a few years back, it was so hard to imagine, yet I shared it with others with mixed results. Don wasn’t spewing out wild stuff to go faster like nitrous oxide, or nitro methane, or crazy wings or secret motor innards, he was merely attempting to find ways to save the racers money and still be highly competitive with the cheaper stuff or ideas. That’s all, he was just as anxious to see great racing while suggesting less costly speed items available today, not more expensive like history teaches us to keep up with the wealthier car owners. His ideas were all that and yet still he perceived it would give us the same racy thunder and lightning we all love. His comment about the right rear tire being one of the keys to stop the excessive spending was not new, just thought provoking! It’s true if you don’t have enough tire to utilize your expensive hot set-up, then you don’t need your hot set-up. Click here to review his ideas in letter form written to me.

Don Flanders has been around racing giving away money and helping racers and even promoters alike for many years. He rarely missed a CRA race because he was a fan, too! He used to send money to racers thru me after races because he didn’t want the attention, but he got over it and enjoyed handing it personally to them once he started going to the pits. He thinks long and hard about racing and does what he can because like many of us, he loves sprint car racing. Don is still in the hospital fighting for his life. Please say a prayer for this major sprint car supporter. Here is the most currant update on his condition from his brother Ken click here to read. Don is still in the Sharp Grossmont Hospital - 5555 Grossmont Center Dr, La Mesa, CA 91942 - Surgical ICU bed 8. Send him a card! NOW! Hopefully he will recover soon and get back to racing with us!

The ol’ schedule on the wall tells me our 2013 racing season is about to pop! The CRA has 23 events scheduled this year and the NEW URA 10 events on their docket. The low count for CRA is not new as we continue to struggle for locations and promoters who will pay for our 410’s on the road. The URA is stepping lightly on the CRA open dates so not to be “competition” at this point, while getting this new plan going! click here for the combined look of both associations! That gives us thirty three 410 ops to look forward to, with about 15 open dates for other open wheel events, and I am glad for the additional opportunities. Even though I drive a lot of miles to see my racing, and have missed very few CRA dates in the past, I’ll never log the miles Richard Griffin once did from Silver Springs, New Mexico to entertain us every race day. Oh but for a plane and a pilot, I could really get into that! I still look forward to each and every race that I go to, but traveling alone is not as much fun. It gives me a lot of time to think, but alas it is the way it is.

The new look CRA will be without Steve Ostling, or so we hear, because he quit in the heat of the night and they deemed him done. Don’t look now but the glue that has held the CRA “club” together is the Steve and Julie combo with Beezer and Sammy also working hard, and with the help of some other volunteers. It isn’t easy running a race, but they did it well. Anyone can be replaced and Beezer and Steve will be, but we will miss Steveo’s race knowledge tremendously. The former sprint car racer was doing very well in my opinion, but dealing with USAC can be very interesting, and one might understand why he might storm off. Hopefully, he will come back to help us this year, somehow. If not I will miss him. Nevertheless the look and feel of our CRA will be different with one former promoter and one current promoter running the shows while their leader is chasing the off road world back east. In fact, the west coast island of USAC is almost totally new as Tommy Hunt is gone as well along with a few others. I never got involved in who ran what, but Tommy was the answer man in California for years. Don’t get me wrong, the good old boys from Indiana are different in their racing philosophy and their main thrust is always Indiana, so what we have here on the west coast is not as important in their eyes. We must be on the ball to exist, so let’s make this year work!

As for the NEW URA, there is much to tell about that and the message board seems to cover a lot of it. I think Scotty Burns has the opportunity to help our racing and his direction is not to replace CRA, but to give us something new that looks to the future and help our racers and our fans. Starting the Route 66 Motorplex in Victorville was a start. I love the track and having our guys run there has been fun with past events very racy and the Gardner/ Faas events big buck$ for all. Along comes Scotty, the former CRA sprint car driver who has been there in more ways than one, with a dream. He opts to run a CRA sprint and midget show and was given a date that was rescinded later. Then he accepted the impossible, a Sunday day/night affair doomed to be a gate disaster, and it was, yet the racers supported him. But USAC was his fall back and they fell back to where there are hard feelings on both sides today. So much so that they are not willing to give Scotty any CRA races?

Given that recent history, Scotty decided he would create a new and forward thinking plan that would be good for racers and fans alike. He wanted to run sprints and midgets with good payouts creating good racing, just open the gates and the fans would come. Where have I heard that before? Is there a cornfield involved? His recent announcement Click here to read, laid out his ideas and direction going forward. First he is dumping dirt on the old paved Orange Show facility in San Bernardino, CA to give him two dirt tracks to run his ideas. This is an enormous undertaking, and he is well aware of that fact. He has added Santa Maria to run at least a 3 track series of open wheel racing. Ventura might get involved with some grudge racing I am told, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The URA features unlimited sprints and midgets and limited sprints and midgets, plus TQ’s added for an all open wheel show. All of his 10 events are in the gaps of the CRA schedule, so he won’t be going head to head with CRA 410’s. Will it work? I think so, and regardless, I look for more cars to come out of the garages and compete.

Does 2013 look good? Yes it does, but it still requires a lot of people getting their stuff together and getting on the road. Just like the old days, I wonder if the racers back in the day were rich? Hell no, they struggled just like today, but the key was they wanted to race! In today’s world, I think the fans will come back if there is something to see, and I think our racers can give it to them either at CRA or URA events.

One bright spot for our wingless warrior racers is the 2013 Trophy Cup in Tulare in October. The Thursday night non-wing portion of the winged 360 event has an added boost in the payout. Last year the purse was in the $20,000 range and Trophy Dave has almost doubled it to $35,000 for the one day show. Tell me my friends won’t go try and get themselves some of that! I know most of the 410 drivers don’t have a 360, but we shall see how that can be worked out. Put October 15 on you viewing and racing calendar, it will be worth it!

I expect there are more surprises coming and I expect good things to happen, so in a nutshell, if you like racing, let yourself be seen like I do, in supporting the thing you love.

Wagsworld Back Issues: