MIKE SPENCER WINS DOC GRIFFIN MEMORIAL IN THE HISTORICAL RETURN TO DIRT AT ORANGE SHOW STADIUM!
MEMORIES ABOUND AS OLD TIMERS COME TO REFLECT ON THE DIRT DAYS AT ORANGE SHOW PRE 1964 AND THE NEW ERA!!!
April 27, 2013
By Ken Wagner
First and foremost, you all want to know what happened at the historic reopening of what is an amazing facility right in So Cal under our noses. Given Orange Show Stadium was built in 1947, the real highlight of the place is the stadium seating on both sides of the track, two concrete based tall grandstands that looked from the back side like buildings out of the past. It reminds me of the long closed San Jose grandstands that were really one of the best in the country. OSS seats 8000 plus with 2/3rds of the seats modern stadium types with comfy seat backs and arm rests like at Dodger stadium. The rest have seat backs as well. Wow, it blew me away on my first ever visit there a few weeks ago. I was literally amazed with the possibilities of packed house and sprint car racing raising the level of our sport with now two special facilities in the southland including the PAS, yikes I’m getting ahead of myself.
For my pics from OSS click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.
Getting new clay on the surface was just one of the puzzles that faced Scotty Burns when he took up this challenge, and the cost of the free clay was measured in the cost for trucks to move it. After a busy day doing a number of things that had to be completed before the first car hit the track, the first cars pushed excitedly off. Anybody expecting to lay down a race track, like the young man who built the racetrack named Kevin Walker did, and have it race ready and perfect, forget it, it doesn’t happen that way. The first cars sent roostertails of the silt in the clay behind them into the air, but with a lot of patience, watering the track, and many laps on it, it began to get better and better before the night ended for the racers and began for the night movers finishing the walls for Saturday night, while the rest of us went off to sleep.
Saturday was bright, windless and very nice out and the racers arrived in droves until 22 sprints, about 20 California Lightning cars, a bunch of focus cars began to ready their machines to race these hallowed grounds. The WRA had some of their beautiful cars present and would be part of the pageantry thru out the night. The sprint car drivers and crews took a lot of time to check out the very smooth dirt oval with the hopes it would be racy. Well, we knew it would be, but just how patient could these drivers be in order to be successful. The talk around the pits was some positive as they came to support Scotty and 410 racing, and some negative as some presumed it would be a disaster. Remember what assume means! Whatever, it was best to just get ready to race and do the job.
David Cardey set fast time for the event with Damion Gardner, Rip Williams, Cody Williams, Rickie Gaunt and then Mike Spencer eventually in the top six for the inversion in the feature. The only “incident” during the day was when an antique sprinter driven by Ken Hillberg got a little squirrelly on the slick ramp coming off the track and hit the wall going sideways, bringing out the EMT’s to check him out. He was only saying his back hurt. His neat car was battered a bit to say the least so I know that hurt more.
David Cardey won the first heat as the night got started with Damion Gardner and Matt Mitchell winning the last two. The 22 sprinters settled in as the night went on to give the crowd a great show. When 21 sprinters started the main there was high hopes and the action was fun to watch as they sorted out the track and their competition. There was a little dust, but the cream rose to the top as the more experienced drivers went forward as expected.
Mike Spencer started on the front row, after his qualifying lap was interrupted by a car coming to soon on the track ahead of him, and he soon moved out and the Demon quickly jumped in behind him. Midway thru the 30 lap main, Damion moved under the little red sucker for the lead, and it looked like he had the pass completed, but the scorer, who has the official call, said the entire field did not complete the lap after the pass, so he went back to second. Steve Ostling took the brunt of the heat, but the rule is everyone makes the full lap or we revert back to the last completed lap. Regardless, Damion stalked the leader the rest of the way and never got in position to make another pass as it was huggy pole the rest of the way. Spencer was patient as he stayed low on the bottom doing what he had to to win and ended up with the $4000 top prize that was posted. The purse was enhanced by his car owner Ron Chaffin who added $5000 to make the $4000 to win and $400 to start. Is that called poetic justice as it was the team’s first win of the year and was worth $1500 more than usual because of Chaffin? Probably not, but the smiles were bright in the winners circle.
Add another race that the two Alexander silver bullets were up front looking for another win. Now it’s 8 races and still no worse than 4th for either car. This week both Damion in second place and Nic Faas were on the podium. Faas made a late charge to get him on the magic presentation box. Pretty good for this “low buck team” who must be smiling, even with all the extra hard work.
Super Rickie Gaunt came to play and grabbed 4th for his good moves around the new clay oval. Dynamite David Cardey got 5th and those two battled race long for bragging rights amongst themselves on this night. Corey Ballard had a great night after spinning out and coming back to get 7th at the end. He said he liked it slick! Wally Pankratz, the retired driver we all know, came out to do double duty in a Focus midget and a sprint car. He was 8th in his yellow sprinter. Austin won the Williams war this week when he finished 6th. Cody was 16th after a late spin and restart and Logan ran 17th after pulling off with a problem. Ripper broke a torque tube I think, and was also done too early.
Don Gansen had a brand new car out and a motor that they drove all night to get the day before. They fired up for the main, but pulled to the infield with a problem and were the first car out on the night. Others were part of the new deal as Seth Wilson came down early from Vegas town to practice and be a part of it to get 14th. Matt Mitchell was 11th after also coming for practice. The Perkins clan were out in force having fun as Kenny Perkins was the best of their lot in the main with 9th. Brandon Thomson drove the Don Blair entry to 10th. There will be an announcement about a Don Blair fete coming soon to OSS, so look for it.
Cal Smith and Tony Everhart, two who miss few CRA races, were 18th and 20th as they were having fun. Cal was the first to hit the new dirt surface and, as he told me later, the first to do a 360 spin and continue on!!! Everyone will have a story to tell about this event. The programs sold out so if you missed one, that was one to keep.
Now that you know who won the opening dirt track show at the amazingly fabulous Orange Show Stadium, let’s talk about how they got there. When Scotty Burns left sprint car racing years ago, he left with a bad taste in his mouth from some partnership problems and a broken pocketbook due to “life” such as it was. Losing his bright young son Broc due to a freak drowning incident was catastrophic in his world and left him and his family shattered. In time his youngest son AJ began to do the motocross thing and the two of them had a bond that brought him back to reality. Somehow he began promoting various bike races and AJ was growing in to a nice young man with the zest for his own two wheel racing that he still loves today. One day they came to Ventura to see his forgotten sprints and somehow Scotty began dreaming about what he could do promoting sprint car racing. Orange Show Stadium popped up on his radar and suddenly his desire to make a better mousetrap for his old sprint car world had him looking into leasing the OSS facility to promote a sprint and midget race there. Unfortunately OSS decided to do rodeo’s instead and that’s how Victorville got started because it was available, Imagine what that was like, out of the blue!
At this time Scotty was pressed both financially and knowledge based to make this happen. How does a former sprint car driver evolve into a promoter and learn the ropes all by himself??? Without a doubt he had a lot of shoulders to lean on as many influential people got involved and helped him to see thru the forest to his goal. First he did the obvious as he tried to get on board with USAC and was given a race date just before the 4th of July. But oh no, a few weeks later the powers to be cancelled that because they are the powers to be. A Sunday day race possibility was tendered him, and after careful consideration with no reason to do a day Sunday race, he took it with the offer of help that unfortunately didn’t work out that way. If it worked he and USAC could make it a win-win deal. It was so not going to happen race fans as the racers supported him, but not enough fans in the stands, and he lost his proverbial shirt and then some on this one. He didn’t give up and began to analyze if 2013 could be a co-operative op for another try with USAC.
We all know that failed, so he resolved his USAC “problem” with them and URA was born. Thanks to big time help from two big time open wheel fans Don Flanders and Walt Boyd, Scotty continued on with his dream and hope for good racing under his own banner. With an unlimited sprint and midget concept he announced what he was doing and at the same time took on the Orange Show Stadium, as they called him back for another look, as a second track to feature his ideas. He waited until all the schedules were announced and then issued an 8 race schedule that included Victorville, Orange Show and Santa Maria. He was starting with a hope and a dream and a family of followers who believed his plan was worthy. The URA opener at Victorville was deemed a success as he paid a slightly bumped up purse and paid in cash after the race.
Now came the biggest challenge in his young life as he began the conversion of the paved surface of OSS over to dirt for his beloved dirt track sprint cars. Simple right, just scatter a little dirt on the surface and open the doors? No, friends, it wasn’t even close, but it didn’t deter him, and that put a huge monkey on his back and began the path to what we saw on Saturday night. We saw an enthusiastic good positive crowd come to see the start of something magical and certainly historic. He is determined to make this URA work.
There were way too many little segments that had to be completed before the first sprint race there, and the last week was beyond imaginable that he and his family and minions of helpers got it done. New K rail, new fencing, new sound system, new clay and on and on, it was a never ending quest that was one of just taking the baby steps until the project was complete. He hustled a lot of players to supply things he needed and fought to keep them on his schedule to finish before this past Friday’s practice night. He only knew one thing, it wasn’t going to get done without his total dedication and direction.
Was it all done on Friday when everyone started to arrive? No, it wasn’t, but not for the lack of trying and even though it looked a little bleak early in the day, the Dirt Entertainment crew just never gave up, even working all night to get the fence to the point that they could race. It was not something that most of us could have done, but Scotty’s quest was his dedicated dream and desire to make it happen so he never gave up, no matter what arrows were slung from the other side, or what date slippage his supplies took, and then he built it and they came!
Thru out the two days leading up to lights out on Saturday, there was a look of determination in the eyes of most who came to be a part of this. It was like an old time revival in some ways as the racers came, looked, talked, prepared their cars and raced until the end and smiles were all around. People actually glowed when they talked about what was going on as they knew it was something special happening and they wanted to be part of it. I enjoyed the attitudes interacting with me as I tooled my mule around the big facility listening and taking it all in, it was fun. It will only get better as the future looks bright and Scotty and his crew will tweak the place and make the next time out even better for all. Now if we can get the fans to swarm in, all will be well.
Major congratulations to Scotty, A J, April, Bud, Cassie, Kyle, Mikey, Tyler, Carole, Steve Miller, Doug Bushey and many more who were part of this effort. It wasn’t quite like building a new facility from the ground up, and we all know that is impossible in these times in California, but it was like starting over with everything that had to be done. And another thing, Perris didn’t turn into the ugly stepsister as that place is still the bomb for our racing and OSS will only get better by emulating them. Look at it this way, now we have two outstanding places to see our sprints within a short drive between, now let’s support both of them.
On the docket next for Dirt Entertainment and Scotty’s continual dream is to form an organization to monitor and lead the URA. What he wants is something similar to the CRA “CLUB”, before SCRA, with officers and board members from the car owners, drivers, pit people and “smart” (race savvy) people in sprint car racing. These people would govern and lead the URA into the future and Scotty can go back to being a promoter. There is something to be said about our racers having a say in their much loved sport. Anyone with that savvy outlook to the future and wanting to be a part of it, get in touch with Dirt Entertainment and get involved.
The Don Flanders Classic is in ready to go this weekend at the PAS as we honor a fellow sprint car fan with some hoopla and attention. This event will feature some collected money from fans and friends of his that will be presented to the racers after the race in the manner that Don used to do himself. There will be a booth featuring a t-shirt quilt and some silent auction items from Don’s collection, so come by and get involved. Help make it a fitting tribute for Don!
Laurie “Mrs Moose” Sertich is now home. There is some good and bad in that statement. Being home must be a blessing and that’s good, but Laurie’s personal insurance ran out in Arizona, so they had no option but to release her, and her recovery is not done. She still needs extensive therapy and they are trying to get that going now that she is here, but it hasn’t happened as of Saturday. There is no racer insurance to draw from, so even though the moosemobile can still go racing, at her insistence, because of the sponsors, they can surely use any help people can give for her recovery. Send her a card to 6782 Marilyn Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92647 to cheer her up, all will be much appreciated!
For those of you that have been having a problem getting to Wagsworld, the site is not bad, and there are no viruses! The site was hijacked a few months ago by a hacker and I got that fixed right away with my provider, but have been unable to prove to Google that I own the site, even though I placed a link with their suggested data out there to prove it was mine, they haven’t removed the warning. There is nothing wrong with the site and it has no virus, it just was tagged by Google for the hijacking. I need some help to get to them to fix this problem as I have done everything I know how to do. Can someone point me the way, please!!!
I had a little problem holding on to my camera this weekend and the resulting drops broke the camera glass viewer and the awesome 28 x 300 lens. When I told a famous crew chief about my $5000 mishap, he said “Now you know how a car owner feels?” and he’s right! Both I think are repairable, but the pics I took over the weekend are not in the usual format and I have to deal with that first before I can post them. It never ends sometimes. Yesterday my internet dropped off and in my logical fixing of the problem I accidently switched off the WIFI button and spent 15 hours researching until my grandson came over and flipped the switch in two seconds and I was back on track. Will I ever learn?
Well as the heat starts building here and in the southland, summer is almost upon us. Hopefully we can all go racing and have fun. I can’t wait. Mrs Wags was will actually be making the trip down to Perris this weekend, so come say high, she will be in the booth.
URA - ORANGE SHOW STADIUM – "DOC" GRIFFIN MEMORIAL – APRIL 27, 2013 – RACE RESULTS
Unlimited Sprint Main
Position / Car # / Name / Hometown / Car Owner
(1) 50 / Mike Spencer / Temecula, CA / Ron Chaffin; (2) 4a / Damion Gardner / Concord, CA / Mark Alexander; (3) 4 / Nic Faas / Huntington Beach, CA / Mark Alexander; (4) 66 / Rickie Gaunt / Torrance, CA / David Miller; (5) 92 / David Cardey / Riverside, CA / Tom & Laurie Sertich; (6) 2 / Austin Williams / Yorba Linda, CA / Jack Jory; (7) 20 / Corey Ballard / Orange, CA / Jan Ballard; (8) 2x / Wally Pankratz / Orange, CA / Ray Swan; (9) 0k / Kenny Perkins / Oak Hills, CA / Bill Perkins; (10) 12 / Brandon Thomson / Norwalk, CA / Jim Blakesley; (11) 37 / Matt Mitchell / Yorba Linda, CA / J.W. Mitchell; (12) 4g / Chris Gansen / Verdemont Heights, CA / Gansen Engineering; (13) 16 / Tom Harper / Agoura Hills, CA / Tom Harper; (14) 1x / Seth Wilson / Las Vegas, NV / Seth Wilson; (15) 1 / Chancellor Tiscareno / Menifee, CA / Bill Perkins; (16) 44 / Cody Williams / Yorba Linda, CA / Jack Jory; (17) 3x / Logan Williams / Yorba Linda, CA / Jack Jory; (18) 39 / Cal Smith / Phelan, CA / Cal-Sun Racing; (19) 3 / Rip Williams / Yorba Linda, CA / Jack Jory; (20) 55 / Tony Everhart / El Cajon, CA / Tony Everhart; (21) 0 / Chase Catania / El Cajon, CA / Bill Perkins; (22) 7g / Don Gansen / Verdemont Heights, CA / Gansen Engineering
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