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April 6, 2013

By Ken Wagner

When you have 37 cars qualify, you know there is going to be some good racing. When you have four flips in the Main event, you know you have some over anxious drivers. When you have a few fast but inexperience drivers trying to prove themselves, you know helmets might come off, or not, for some extracurricular activity. When you have two of the top cars in the field come from the back, you know there is going to be some frantic entertainment. When you have the race long leader run out of gas with a lap or so to go, you have major disappointment. When you have all of these factors on one nearly perfect weather night, you have great racing some might even describe as ďlike the good old daysĒ and boy was it!!! When you are too lazy to come out and miss it, too bad, youíre the loser!

For my pics from Perris Click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.

The small only 6 inverted 23 car field stormed off on the first green of the 30 lap main event and the boys didnít make a lap, holy cow. Scratch Rip Williams and John Aden when they banged hard in turn 3 with Seth Wilson in that mix, but he came back to get 10th. It was starting to look like a full moon was out when the first restart took off. Immediately it was a ďshuffliní we will goĒ as Ryan Bernal was trying to move up to the top and banged Damion Gardnerís front end. Immediately, the Demon was missing some much needed steering capability and he began turning sideways and collected Mike Spencer and then several others got caught up in this melee so another red flag stop! On the next restart, with The Demon and Spencer now at the back, we made a few more laps before more ďIím charginí to the frontĒ activity stopped things again. Man! So thru all this David Cardey shook off a fast Markus Niemela from the start and maintained his lead each time from the pole for 28 laps without looking back.

With a lot of action going on, you couldnít help but to see a silver bullet and the little red sucker surging from the back of the pack! Damion was leading that charge going to the front, but Mike wasnít very far behind him, making broken header noises from his 1st lap incident. Cardey continued to lead every restart as Niemela fell back and eventually challenged the 4th turn wall, ending his quest to succeed this night. Nic Faas challenged the leader hard from early on and behind them, the two streaks of silver and red kept coming like street racers roaring thru freeway traffic zigzagging as if trying to light everyone up on their way by. What more could you ask for?

Nic Faas looked like he had something for the hard charging Moosemobile, but each time he made a run at Cardey, he came up with no room to pass, yet around and around they went putting on a great race for the lead. Meanwhile, back in the jungle, (remember that song?), the Demon was smoking a tad as the race neared the end with Spencer on his tail like in a chain race. They were fun to watch, as everyone was still trying to keep the battle for the lead in view. When Damion passed Bernal, the crowd roared as he got even. That was for third and with but a few laps to go, the race wasnít over yet! Many in the crowd were cheering on the Moosemobile because of their feelings for Mrs Mooseís extended hospital stay, but alas - it was not to be a happy ending for the Moose team. Cardey, who was super strong up to now, suddenly began slowing as he ran out of fuel and Faas quickly took advantage and passed him for the lead and as the while flag appeared Damion too was going to get by. The silver bullets finished one/two with Faas getting his 7th CRA win and a coasting Cardey barely held on to the last podium spot, and we were done. Man what a nail bitter, but once again, if you didnít see it, you didnít get that thunder and lightning rush the fans get in person!

The Alexander Racing team has been pretty close to spectacular with their results this year. In the AZ opener Nic Faas was 2nd with Damion Gardner 4th. The next night on Saturday was a rerun with the same finish by the silver bullets 2nd and 4th. The Perris opener saw Damion in 2nd and Faas third as they switched it around. This week Nic won a hard fought battle with a little help from an empty fuel cell, with Damion right behind him. That is 4 races with 1 win, 4 seconds, 1 third and 2 fourthís for the two cars, pretty amazing. Naturally they are one and two in the championship points with Nic the leader, but itís a long year ahead and there are some pretty strong chargers out there looking to unseat the silver twins.

There was more action from many in spite of what I have already described as others were rewarded for their efforts and some not so much due to the many shunts in the action. The Williams family continues to give us some exciting racing action, often racing each other for track position with no one giving an inch. Dad, Ripper, had a bad start this week when he was out before we got a lap in when he was the first car out. Cody put on a show as he ran up to 5th on his strong run for the night. His brother Austin raced his way into 8th at the end. The newest member, young Logan, made his first appearance at Perris with running in the Young Guns group and finished a strong second. I am told he will not emancipate, so will get his experience in the near future running here and in the open URA shows.

Mike Spencer has yet to get much luck this year as the 5 time CRA champion tries to get 2013 going. At the season opener in Arizona he was 5th the first night before his string of bad stuff started. The next night he had a flat tire in the main event and was stopped on the track hoping for a new tire and a restart when he was nailed by another car. Crew Chief Bruce Bromme Jr says they put that one in the dumpster with so much damage done to it. Amazingly, neither he nor the driver who hit him was hurt! At the Perris opener last month he was out front and leading handily when his crank broke with a puff of white smoke and sent him spinning to a stop on lap 7. This week he was fast timer at 16.095 and won his heat looking for another Dean Thompson sweep. Before a lap was barely in the books, he was caught up in a melee that put him in the work area and forced to restart in the back. He finished 6th, but he and the team know next time will put him up front like he belongs.

Brody Roa continues to impress as he and his family put the # 91 green mamba on the track each week ready to win. Brody was second quick this week, but had to take a side trip thru the semi to qualify for the main. He started on the 4th row and made 7th place his finishing spot. A very supportive family is there for him every week as he continues to learn and will get another win soon. Ryan Bernal didnít like the rebuilt car last time out, so Jimmy May and his crew built him a new Spike for this weekís action. He was 6th quick and started in the middle of the 6 car invert and ran hard all night finishing 4th on the night. His potential is really awesome, but remember, he is just out of high school, so even though he is one of the top drivers with CRA, he still has things to learn and can win in a lightning flash, so watch out for the youngster each race.

We are so lucky to have Bud Kaeding running with us this year. His resume includes plenty of wins both in California and back east with the USAC Indiana clan. He has won the Oval Nationals more than once and has proven his skills over and over. His start this year hasnít been what he expected, but his 9th place finish showed he has stepped it up and could beat the CRA hot dogs any time soon. He is one of the hot dogs, so donít be surprised when he is standing tall on the podium.

Seth Wilson hasnít had a lot of luck this season himself with a 16th and 21st and one not start in three mains so far. His new coil over car is taking some getting used to, but this week after an opening lap shunt, he restarted and came back to 10th for his best drive of the year. It was good to see our Arizona visitors come over as R J Johnson got caught up in a crash with 17th a disappointment for him. The Magic Man Mike Martin crashed in the semi, but took a free pass to the feature and got 11th.

Matt Stewart one time sprint car driver and more recently accomplished and battered motocross victim, returned to the dirt track this week with a new venture with his family, Colette and Dennis, and the McWilliams, Ed and Alexandria just in time for today. Matt is just a racer and his new car was just completed this week. He had some newbie problems and didnít make the main, but looked happy with his efforts in the silver # 27 car.

Marcus Niemela has stepped up his driving after running a 360 at Ventura for a few years. He is definitely fast and was 7th quick in his Steve Watt owned car and started on the front row of the main. He liked the fast line, but seemed to be in love with running on or over the cushion on more than one occasion. I missed his owie, but heard his encounter was into the wall out of turn four along with a mix of another car or two.

The year started out with a tragedy beyond belief when Mrs Moose, Laurie Sertich, got run over in the pits at Canyon Speedway Park on a practice night. The CRA community was shocked to hear this numbing news and the gory details of the push truck driver not knowing he hit her, an ambulance wasnít in the house, it was dark where she was hit and the whirlwind ride to the ER was beyond traumatic and sickening to all. Husband Tom was with her thru all that nasty business, including in the trauma center when they started patching her up. Her rehab is still going on today, while that night with all she was going thru, she told their team to GO RACING! Who does that after what she was dealing with?

The past 5 weeks have been disaster for Tom and Laurie as he has had to shuffle back and forth from home to Arizona each weekend to be with her. The trauma to her legs was horrific and the original estimate of one year recovery in Arizona is down to about 6 months, but insurance being what it is, she canít come back home to rehab, and will have to stay there for the duration until she is released. I am sure Tom and Laurie could use some love and help as the long road ahead is murky at best. She is now in the Ridgecrest Healthcare Center, ATTN: Mrs Moose, 16640 North 38th street, Phoenix, AZ 85032. Any cards or letters and more will be appreciated by this long time sprint car team owners that have supported CRA forever. Give a little love and Mrs Moose will have a smile on her face as she faces the long road back.

Don Flanders Classic is coming to Perris on May 4th. Just a reminder that we will be honoring the manís great works for our racing community with plenty of opportunities to raise money in his name to be passed out that night to the racers as if he were doing it himself, like he did for many years. Most people have no idea what he was doing under the radar when he passed money to many racers who needed the help with no fanfare. Don was an enthusiastic fan who happened to put his money to good use without any desire for any credit. This special man will be honored that night so you can be there. Click here to see how to get involved!

My red Vette probably made maybe its last run to Perris this week as it is up for sale and I thought it was gone last week, but the guy backed out. With 185,000 steady miles on my beauty, many are not understandably interested, but the car is still strong and a fun car to have and enjoy driving. The 16 plus year life of fun in the car leaves the 1996 model with rubber and interior not as pristine as it once was. I was asking $5000 for it, but will take less if anyone wants to tinker and bring it back to like new.

The next CRA race is at Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Arizona with a two race weekend on tap. You can stay at a nearby casino and see some good racing while enjoying the weekend on a mini vacation. Maybe Iíll see you there?

My old college won the Division II basketball championship this week. I went to Drury College in Springfield, Mo back in the early 60ís and that was a long time ago. I donít have any memorabilia from those days, but itís neat that they win their first one 50 years after I was there. My son Kevin and daughter Jill still live there, so maybe Iíll score something from this historic happening. What has your college done for you?

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