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February 28, 2016

By Ken Wagner

Steve Lafonds Wagsland 2016 friday night fotos Click here to view. for Steve Lafonds Wagsland 2016 Saturday fotos Click here to view. For the pics of the Wags trophy in the Arizona Hall of fame and more shots there Click her to view. You'll find the trophy about halfway thru the link.

Wagsland 2016 was just a continuation of the old racing parties we use to hold in our home in Mission Viejo, CA where drivers, crewmen, car owners, Wagtimers and fans came to our house where we ate and got together to celebrate our racing exploits together. There was always a time for everyone in attendance to meet and greet everyone th3ere, and speak about themselves in racing, their goals and what the Wagtimes meant to them. The annual Wags fireside chat shared my thank you’s and goals for the future. It was always a warm part of the evening for everyone as they shared personal things with us all. Our small condo would have up to 75 people each year crammed in there, and it was fun. We sometimes presented a Wagtimes award like the Wagtimes promoter of the year award to Jim Naylor for what he did for our Wagsdash, the Wagtimes most popular driver we presented to Rip Williamswith his whole family there and much more. Having them in the house receiving out praise was special. The food was always spectacular with the dishes brought in.

Steve Lafonds Wagsland 2016 friday night fotos Click here to view. for Steve Lafonds Wagsland 2016 Saturday fotos Click here to view. For the pics of the Wags trophy in the Arizona Hall of fame and more shots there Click her to view. You'll find the trophy about halfway thru the link.

One of the oops moments happened one year when our Saturday night party was packed and fun until late in the night. The next day we were awakened by Cal Smith knocking on the door looking to party. In those days I always made out the invites individually by hand and his had the Sunday date on it? I goofed up. What to do? Well we invited them in, unloaded the fridge and had a mini party to end the weekend. Always something special going on with the Wags.

When we moved to Las Vegas , and after much thought, we decided to do it again in 2014. But realizing it was a long tow for everyone but us, we still invited a bunch and probably 20 or so agreed to make it. Nearly 30 made the trip and the packed house was just like the old days in Mission Viejo, with enthusiasm and Wagtimes fun for all. The giveaways included Wags t-shirts and Wagsdash posters and other racing memorabilia. That night we presented the lucky Wagtimer’s, Marty and Diane, the new Wagsbook that was a bound edition of what Wagtimes was all about with the Wagtimers and racers who made up the history featured inside. Another highlight of the weekend was the beautiful trophy that Trophy Dave made for us that featured all the Wagsdash winners and Grand Marshals of our events on it. The red and white polka dot posts on the trophy with the white eagle on top and complete with a red & white polka dot die cast sprinter was a big winner. It was later added to the Arizona Hall of Fame museum that Steve Stroud created and it rests alongside one of my polka dot hats that Steve requested from me. It is so sad to see him be taken away from us because not only was he a special person who gave us something we really needed, his passion made us thrilled to visit his museum each time and see what was new. He will be sorely missed and I can only say rest in peace. That was a surprising fun event and we vowed to do it again in two years.

Unfortunately this year for some it didn’t happen as physical problems and outside influences kept many away. Some examples were just part of getting older or responsibilities happened. Darleen and Stubby Dils couldn’t come because he got a virus and after all the recent history of his health problems, they couldn’t take a chance to get him sicker with a trip. Sonia Duffy was sad she had to be in South Dakota with her mother who is not doing well in her 90’s. Diane Keck and Marty Meler are still dealing with Marty’s two years of rehabilitation from several major injuries that has him now retired and moving very slow. One of our favorite Wagtimer’s Mark Thrasher was just not up to coming after over a year dealing with melanoma surgeries and chemo that has left him too weak to travel and enjoy himself. But he is cancer free and getting better every day. Belita Michnowicz was a last minute scratch when she fell and needs some “body shop repair” from her doctor. Lois Ward was coming with her. So the list went on and we all missed getting to see them, but we still did what we always did, talked racing and the fun times we experienced over the years until we were worn out and it was time to end it. Our friendships will never end and when we get together we remember those who missed out with fondness and look forward to the next opportunity to see them.

Speaking of which, the next Wagtimes reunion opportunity will be at Ventura Raceway on March 7th as the CRA makes their annual visit to Jim Naylor’s racy little track by the sea. The Wagtimer’s who can come a day early will meet at the Pirate Restaurant on Victoria Road in Oxnard where we always go on Friday night to enjoy food and grog. I’ll let you know the time soon enough and everyone is invited to come share the fun. Just let me know you are coming so we can get reservations.

There were a number of other Wagtimers that due to life’s great challenges, just couldn’t get away for the long trip to Vegas, so we were left with the Fabulous Five who made it. On Thursday night we thought we might just call it off, but after thinking it over, we thought the show must go on and are glad we did. Fran and Jim Herdrich, Steve and Kim Lafond and Tracey Johnson, whose hubby is in Minnesota working in the ice and snow doing electrical stuff, they all made it. The feeling was still the same as the seven of us had the usual Friday night dinner out at the “Keg” before Saturday’s festivities. We had Italian food catered from our favorite local place with Lasagna, Chicken Marsala and, by a late special request, chicken Alfrado, plus the normal chips N dips, shrimp cocktails, some California rolls, Cookies , cake and ice cream and some after dinner todies. Thanks to Fran for her special dips she brought! Some wine, beer and a bottle of Fireball was enjoyed by many. Mrs Wags was seen drinking the dregs from the bottle of Fireball not wanting it to go to waste, she said? We had some of our family come by because there was way too much food, with 4 great grandkids, 4 grandkid and two daughters coming to chow down and visit with our group. And there’s still a ton of food left…………………..

As usual at one of our Wagsland events, we had a Wags Quiz and some prizes for the winners. The quizzes are typically about Wagtimes major events and accomplishments. It was getting really difficult to get the test taken, then graded to move on with the evening. I got carried away and jumped on my bride when she tried to argue a point in the answers and I was less than graceful to her. I apologized poorly, but we got the right answers out and Trace Johnson beat Steve Lafond by one correct answer and the prizes were gathered by the six who took the test. A Wagtimes sweatshirt, a Windy McDonald Arizona history book, A small Wagtimes die cast car packaged like it came from the store, a few posters, a Hall of Fame calendar, a CRA decal and patch and a brass non wing belt buckle were the best of them. It was a fitting end to the planned events.

Here is the test with the test answers at the end of this blog:
This is history as I know it, maybe some of you remember, too! I know most don’t have the answers on the tip of their brain like I do, but take the test and see. All these answers and much more can be found on wagtimes.com.

1) The very first paper Wagtimes was dated: A) Feb - 1975, B) May – 1985 C) Dec - 1987 D) Nov - 1889.

2 When was the very first Mrs Wags Chili Feed. A) Jan - 1991, B) Dec - 1989, C) Nov - 1988, D) May - 1995.

3 There are 324 drivers who have won races in CRA. Who is the 324th driver on the list? A) Cody Williams, B) Rich Vogler, C) Charlie Zabinski, D) Verne Sweeney.

4 Of the 15 individuals in the Hall of Fame, from CRA and not drivers, who was the last one in. A) Bruce Bromme Jr, B) Ron Shaver, C) Gary Sokola, D) Mike Arthur

5 Bubby Jones and his son Tony won 3 CRA championships between them. How many CRA victories did they have total? A ) 75, B) 117, C) 99, D) 101

6 Rip Williams won only one CRA Championship but had the most victories thru the SCRA ERA. Was it: A ) 64, B) 59, C) 35, or 7 Lealand McSpadden won 2 CRA championships with 92 victories. How many races did he win with the old CRA? A) 82, B) 77, C) 99, D) 80

8 Damion Gardner won 5 CRA championships with the most SCRA Victories. How many did he win? A) 45, B) 55, C) 65, D) 63

9 What year was the first Wagsdash run? A) 1989, B)1991, C) 1990, D) 1992

10 Where was the first Wagsdash scheduled to be run? A) Ascot, B) Bakersfield C) Hanford, D) Ventura

11 Where was the first Wagsdash actually run. A) Ascot, B) Bakersfield, C) Hanford, D) Ventura. Why?

12 What was the total purse collected for the very first Wagsdash? A) $2411, B) 3059 C) 4810.77 D) 3332.21

13 What is the grand total of Wagsbucks collected for the racers? A) $100,000.15 B) $500,334.99, C) $618,429.81, D) $599234.89

14 What was the largest Wagsdash purse total. it was in 2000. A) $19,005 B) $21,012, C) $22,222, D) $23,000. After 911 the purses went down every year as discretionary money dried up.

15 What year did we not run a Wagsdash because Ventura did not run CRA? A) 2007, B)2008, C) 2009, D) 2010

16 How much Wagsbucks was collected the very first time when we did it at Ascot? A )$250, B)$660, C)$425 and D) $599

17 Who got the first Wagsbucks payout? A) Cal Smith, B) Rip Williams, C) Cary Faas, D) Brent Kaeding

18 How many Wagsdash events did we host? A) 20, B) 18, C) 19, D) 15

19 Who won the first Wagsdash? A) Steve Ostling, B) Ron Didonato, C) Bobby Michnowicz, D) Rodney Argo

20 Wagsdash 14 winner was the highest finishing Wags picked driver. Who? A) David Cardey, B) Sean Buckley, C) Blake Miller, D) Ronnie Case

21 Who won the only Big Dog Dash we ever ran? A) Rip Williams, B) Mike Kirby, C) Tony Jones, D) Mike English

22 Who was the first Lafond Jar of Change Hard Charger Award winner with $200 A) Harlan Willis, B) Gary Howard, C) Ron Didonato, D) Bobby Michnowicz

23 The Paper Wagtimes went away in 2000 when who created the Wagsweb? A) SCRA Fan's Lance, B) Wags, C) Steve and Kim Lafond, D) Jack Frost

24 Who won the Wagtimes Most Popular Driver award the most? A) Rip Williams B) Tony Jones, C) Lealand McSpadden, D) Mike Kirby

25 Who Won the Wagtimes Best Appearing Car award 4 times in 4 different cars? A) Brian Vernard, B) Danny Sheridan, C) John Scott, D) Mike English

26 What was the the biggest winners share in the 20 years of Wagsdash's? A) $2000, B) $ 2500, C) $3000, D) $3500

27 What is the highest hard charger award total In Lafond history? A) $1000, B) $1010, C) $1026, D) $ 1071.55

28 Who received the latest Lafond Jar and a handle of Crown Royal at Perris A) Damion Gardner, B) Rickie Gaunt, C) R J Johnson, D) Austin Williams

29 Who won the last Wagsdash? A) Brandon Thomson, B) Dennis Howell, C) Wags, D) Brody Roa

30 What was unusual about the last gasp at Hanford Wag$ca$h race?

All thru the Wagtimes years from 1987 to date, a lot of very important milestones took place that furthered our history with Wagsbucks, Wagsdash’s and special collections for injured drivers along the way. These Wagsland parties were just the tip of the iceberg as what started out as a Christmas letter to nearby fans in the grandstands of Ascot Raceway, turned out to be much more than I ever envisioned and has made a different kind of history in sprint car racing that no other group of fans ever accomplished. We did something unique and all the Wagtimer’s involved can look back and smile, knowing we made a difference! My pride in what we did is still uppermost in my mind as I slowly shut down my Wagsworld efforts to move into the twilight of my life. Perhaps this new “blogging” thing will keep me involved in our racing lives until I learn to play the piano and become successful at something other than racing. yuk yuk!

My thanks to all who came as you all know I can’t live without my friends the Wagtimer’s who mean so much to Terry and I. We talked about the possibility of tryng to put together another reunion, but maybe a gathering nearer Perris on a race weekend would be more prudent. Whatever!

This being my first blog effort, the next one will probably be about the way it all got started in the Wagsworld of things. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come., I hope!

Answers to the quiz. How many did you get. Tracey Johnson got 17. 1 - C, 2 - C, 3 - C, 4 - D, 5 - B, 6 - D, 7 - A, 8 - D, 9 - B, 10 - C, 11 - B, 12 - C, 13 - C, 14 - D, 15 - C, 16 - B, 17 - C, 18 - A, 19 - B, 20 - D, 21 - C, 22 - A, 23 - C, 24 - B, 25 - D, 26 - C, 27 - D, 28 - C, 29 - D, 30 - the 7 Wags cars had polka dot streamers on them to keep track as the races for the small $7000 purse we collected..

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