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February 19, 2013

By Ken Wagner

As the 2013 racing season continues on into the starting stages, it was time to hit California for a short visit. After spending 14 weeks in lockdown in Vegas, except for a little Chili Bowl trip, it was time to break free, and I did. A quick trip down the 15 LA expressway to So Cal put me in some great weather and I took advantage. I arrived at the Shiosaki Roadhouse in Harbor City and before long we were headed to the Charthouse in Redondo Beach for dinner with Mike and Evelyn Clark. Randy drove while Julie and I rode along. A relaxing night with good food and a few libations made my Friday night a real winner.

For my NHRA Drags at Pomona Click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.

Saturday dawned nice and sunny and we headed to the NHRA drags at Pomona without Evelyn. The four of us had a short ride, with a Macdonaldís breakfast stop, and headed to the NHRA Museum. Julie had scored Ron Capps VIP tickets, so we had to pick them up there. After a few phone calls, and a wandering thru the museum, we headed off to gate 16 for our ďspecialĒ entrance. Gate 14 was easy to find, then 15 was there, but then more driving until we back tracked and found 16 out of sequence. Somebody named Dan found us as we parked and he gave us a ride to the NAPA Know How Ron Capps area. We met Ron and chatted a bit before it was time to wander towards the track to watch the hot Funny Cars and Top Fuelers blast down the track. Ron Capps was very personable and his eyes lit up as he shared his time with us and others who stepped in as we moved away. He qualified 6th for Sundayís funny car finals as it was a good day for the team on the track. He met Courtney Force in the final on Sunday and she got him, but thatís still a good result to start off his year. She had the number one qualifying pass so she was the one to beat.

The pit area is massive with the huge haulers parked side by side with all the big awnings protecting the work areas and the VIP seating areas for chow. These pit areas are all roped off to keep fans out, unless you have their VIP passes, so It was easy to check it all out. Rows and rows of fuelers, funny cars and all kinds of other drag type cars went on endlessly. Quite a veritable circus with people milling around, talking with team members and hitting the concession stands. Lots of beer and food as people were streaming in and out of the grandstands like perpetual motion characters; they never seem to sit still. Action on the track makes for some loud passes and ear plugs my friends were mandatory! Watching the hot cars smoke it to the other end was quick and ground pounding. Looking back to the early 60ís when I was a yearly attendee to this event; it has changed only in the extreme speeds as the place was packed even back then. The top fuelers and funny cars only run 1000 feet today instead of the full 1320 feet, but 3.75 and 330 MPH is way different than the 7.00 and 210 of that day. Todayís tickets are over $200 for the 3 day event with Sunday $90. Back in the day I remember paying $19 for the 3 days, YEAH THATíS CHANGED, but it was fun back then for me as I often stayed on the grounds and slept in my car!

The nice 80 degree sunshine day was very pleasant and we had a ball just taking it all in. I see the need for a scooter here, but somehow made it around and took it all in like I was a dog on a leash, you know over here and so on. We stole Mattís ďHaulin Assís golf cart for a little bit, but mostly wandered around when we werenít in the grandstands. Luckily, there werenít any crashes or oil downs to slow the show, but the two track scrubber vehicles had more track time than I thought they needed. Thanks to my friends for the fun day. Saturday night was Pa Pa Johnís pizza at Mikeís house while we watched the NASCAR 75 mile race and then the Supercross event from Dallas. Did you see the Bell kid do his high flying crash on the dirt?

Sunday was spent watching NASCAR history making Danica Patrickís pole qualifying number one, then a lunch burger created by Chef Randy with Julie and Aunt Linda enjoying it with me. My thanks to my hosts Julie and Randy for another fun time in LA when I can get away, and I look forward to the next time. After lunch I was on my way home. Well sort of as I had one stop before going back to Vegas.

I had been very anxious to see the ďNewĒ to me Orange Show Speedway since the Scotty Burns/Dirt Entertainment announcement that he would be promoting there this season after putting dirt down! He worked out some time for me to visit and I headed there. After getting a little help on the phone to find the place, I discovered how easy it was to get to. Itís just a long baseball throw to the 210 freeway from the back gate, why didnít I ever see the place. The track was paved for so many years; it was on my list of no goís like Saugus was, but now with dirt, I am all in!

At first glance it looked like a football stadium when I pulled up! Equal sized grandstands on both sides of the track give this place plenty of seats (8000) so you can pack the place and see it from every location. Both grandstands look like buildings from the outside with the underneath areas totally enclosed with storage, concessions, restrooms and other endless space thatís utilized. The uphill ramp tunnels take you to the seats like at Dodger stadium! On the front stretch a large press box is perched atop with air conditioning, rest room and more. The majority of the seats are stadium type with the seat flipping down to sit on. The rest have wooden seat backs as well and I can just see the place full of fans watching the action, itís a home run! A scoreboard in between turns one and two can be easily seen from all seats and the scenic mountains nearby adds to the ambiance. A paved pit area behind the back stretch has plenty of room for the haulers to make pit working areas and everything looks good out there. The dirt is down and needs to be worked some more before opening day, but it looks like racing on dirt at Orange Show will make my old long gone friend Mel Allen turn over in his grave, as he was the one who paved it a long time ago. Here are some picks to give you a first look at the place. Click here to see. You can get a better view on March 23 when the URA opening race happens. Thanks for the tour Scotty and AJ, I hope we get to see a lot of 41 sprint cars here in the future for a long time.

Just so you know how being on the road is, especially for some of you who donít like to travel, here is my list of tracks with the distance and drive time (dt) I face as I follow my favorite racers along the schedule of races this coming season. In my Vette you can maybe lower the dt a little as the red racer roars along with a mind of its own sometimes. Beginning with the Las Vegas track 15 miles and 30 minutes of dt from my house, here are the rest. Starting with the next closest Rt 66 Motorplex in Victorville 180 miles and 2 hours and 40 minutes dt, Orange Show in San Berdoo 205 miles and 3 hours dt, Perris 245 miles and 3 hours and 30 minutes of dt, Canyon is about 250 miles and 4 hours dt, Bakersfield is 275 miles and 4 hours and 20 minutes dt, Yuma, AZ is 290 miles and 5 hours dt, Ventura is 322 miles and 5 hours dt, Tulare is 340 miles and 5 hours and 20 minutes dt, Hanford is 362 miles and 5 hours and 45 minutes dt, Santa Maria is 390 miles and 6 hours and 30 minutes dt, Tucson (if I ever go there again), is 400 miles and 6 hours and 40 minutes dt, Watsonville is 505 miles and 8 hours dt, Petaluma is 592 miles and 9 hours 24 minutes dt, Chico is 652 miles and 10 hours and 22 minutes dt, Calistoga is 650 miles and 10 hours and 30 minutes dt. In addition two other race places I like to go to include Indy at 1845 miles and about 4 hours flying time and Tulsa at 1215 miles with 3 hours flying time. You have to double the miles and dt for the round trip to each track, so it will be some long hours on the road, but I go because I want to see what the racing will show me next! I am ready!

We are all about ready for the year to start. But unfortunately we have lost a good friend in Don Flanders. He was a likeable, quiet, fun race fan who put money in the hands of many racers over the years without any fanfare. He added to the Wagsdash and most other big races along the way. He didnít like the limelight, but his greenbacks were appreciated by many of our more needy racers. Don was 69 when he passed away peacefully at 3:35am Monday February 11, 2013. Don has donated his body to science and sadly no services will be held. His Brother Ken Flanders sends this note: ďanyone wanting to honor Don please make a donation in Don's name to Wags for Drivers/Car Owners in need of helpĒ. Send a check or money order to Ken Wagner, 429 Flores Circle, Las Vegas, NV 89123 and it will go into the Victorville RT. 66 Motorplex purse on March 16 and be distributed by me and his friends in the way he would have done it. You can be a part of it! Ken Flanders also added a quilt made of his t-shirts that is being made and we will sell raffle tickets on that. There will be a silent auction with many of Donís racing memorabilia available as well. Iíll have a list and some pics on that next week. All the money from these efforts will go to the needy racers in Donís name. To see how to help Click here to see!

In addition, Perris Auto Speedway will also honor Don on a date to be named later, and I will let you know how to get involved in that very soon. Honoring Don Flanders will include collecting money there to give to racers just like he did and a honoring lap or two by David Cardey, one of his most recent recipients in his last days.

I will be at Canyon Raceway on March 1/2 and will be collecting along with Big Fish and several other of Donís friends for the October 16 event at Victorville. Look for us to get involved. I am getting anxious to get this rocket ship on the road!

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