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May 09, 2015

By Ken Wagner

WOW, an amazing day by any stretch of the imagination, as Big Mike’s All Coast Challenge II brought 50 sprint cars to Ventura with the promise of $5000 to win and $500 to start, just to get em all in the house. After a great day of visiting and watching the teams prepare to run, it was a perfect way to spend a day at the track by the sea. It was an awesome finish when Richard Vander Weerd quit playing around back in the pack with about 10 laps to go and switched from the preferred low line to head to the lonely top and away we go. It was an impressive run from 7th place to the front.

For mine and Mrs Wags pics Click here to view. For Steve Lafond's Tear off Heaven Fotos Click here to view. For stolen Lafond facebook pics Click here to view. For Darleen Dils facebook pics Click here to view. Mrs Wags I Phone pics Click here to view,

But first, the said luck story of the day. Danny Sheridan took a night off from his racing retirement of nearly 3 years to jump in a Rickie Gaunt owned car and after some shifty work in his heat, he started on the front row of the main event with Austin Williams. “Showtime” didn’t look like he lost anything when he jumped to the lead at the start and motored around smoothly on the bottom for over 30 laps where he met his nemesis, a lap car! When you are leading a race, the general rule is stay in the groove that got ya there. Danny did that very well, but he got bit when the said lap car stayed in his lane and “Showtime” waited a lap too long to make the move up around him, as the crowd saw Richard coming on strong behind him. Matt Mitchell must have seen what Richard was doing and jumped up top ahead of him to challenge the leader. Alas as Danny, Matt and Richard tried to use the only line above the lap car at the same time, Danny got stung as he was bumped from behind enough to spin him out! Egads, he led 35 laps and looked to upset the field, but alas he was on the hook with no cigar. And too bad, it would have been a stunning story!

So the restart without Danny put Mitchell in the lead with Richard on his tail ready to go the last 5 laps. Richard had come from about 7th running the top late in the race and roaring up around everyone in his sights. As he made his aggressive move on Matt and Danny, the unthinkable leader spinning out scenario happened when he tapped the leader. Nevertheless, Matt was up to the challenge as on the last restart, he was fast on the top keeping Richard back for 4 laps. On the white flag lap Richard had tried to go down low coming out of 4, but didn’t get the boost he needed, so he stayed up top on Matt’s tail going into turn three and when Matt didn’t try to block him low, Richard crossed down off the cushion and beat Matt by a wheel at the line for the $5000, what a finish! The crowd roars!

Since this was my first race of the year, planning for it came early when the schedule came out as I informed all the Wagtimers it was a perfect place to have a reunion of sorts for us and get together at the little beach side track where we had 12 scintillating years putting on the annual Wagsdash. When Friday night arrived before the big day, 3 other Wagtimer couples had made their way to Ventura to begin this fun weekend with Mrs Wags and I. Steve and Kim Lafond, Darleen and Stubby Dils and Joe and Ellen Ellis made the long drives from Northern California, Northern Nevada and Phoenix, AZ to meet up with us after we escaped Las Vegas for a couple of days. We met at the Pirates Restaurant on Victoria Rd in Oxnard and let the partying begin. That was the restaurant we went to on many occasions after we cooked the chili and relaxed before a number of Wagsdash’s. We had a great time and left thinking about race day and what fun we would have.

Knowing the pits opened at noon and an early racing start, we chose to do brunch at Carrows before heading to the track. Again the 8 of us chowed down and enjoyed some syrup and other breakfast goodies to get our day going. When we arrived at the track, Terry and I checked in with Mr Naylor who was ready for a good day and we borrowed “his” mule for our pit wanderings. After signing in, it was fun greeting old friends we haven’t seen for a while. Everyone wanted to talk with Mrs Wags because she doesn’t come around much anymore, and unfortunately it seems, neither do I.

Some interesting things were going on in the pits as we wandered by. Tobey Sampson stole my last wags sticker and promptly put it on his car. Maybe I need to make a few more for those who “clamor” for them??? Tobey was running the orange car in honor of Don Blair and having fun. Ronnie Case admitted he still has his Lafond Jar of Change hard charger award full of the change. He says it means something to him as he continues to want to race and move on in his life. Rip Williams still has that great smile as he watches his 3 sons continue to race each event. Car Owner John Jory still loves this racing stuff and doesn’t miss many races. He recently had back surgery and put up with the pain to travel to Ventura to see the show. I found out if you buy a Moose shirt, you get a bag of Moose candy, complete with logos and driver name on them! That Laurie, she goes all out! It was good to see my friend Julie and she was her busy self, running every which way to get her job done. Living in North Carolina must be OK as she still comes west for her racing. Tony Jones wandered into the pits with a Simpson bag in his hands. When he came over to say hi he had a big smile on his face and I knew he was up to something. He and I have been friends a long time, but don’t see each other much these days. Most of you know I have never tried to get stuff from drivers for myself personally, choosing to find items for my many auctions over the years to raise money for the racers. I did in fact want one special thing as the Wagsworld activities wound down and that was an old Tony Jones helmet! I asked Tony one day what it would take to get one and he said he would take care of me. As time went by it was always in my head, but both he and I weren’t going racing much, so I just kept thinking it would be great if it ever happened. I had another occasion where a driver promised me the trophy if he won that night, but after he did win, he gave it to his mom and apologized, but I knew that promise would never happen and accordingly I have forgot about it. Regardless I have never really desired anything but Tony’s helmet.

I have two helmets in my den and both are special to me. One is from Tom Downing after I packed the track in his car at Bakersfield (and fouled the plugs he later told me). It is white with red squares and is a fond memory of that hot time back in the day. The other is a Wagtimes model created by “hot Rod” Lynn Anderson after we auctioned off the first Wagtimes model years ago and I was sorry I didn’t bid on it. I asked him to create one for me, he did, and I love it. There were a lot of things in the Wagtimes auctions over the years that I would have loved, but I never felt comfortable in bidding on something that I got for the auctions against my many contributors. I did bid on a rear end clock that Jim Fargo made for the auction one year, and got it, after he kept bidding against me to get the donation up, and it hangs in my den. Most of the important “things” in racing that I have to remember and keep are the many kind words and thank you’s from a lot of racers who have been very big part of my life as the Wagtimes world revolved up to today.

Anyway, when Tony handed me the bag and told me it was mine, I just about died. I was so overwhelmed I almost forgot to open the bag to look at it, but I finally did. He said he carefully looked over his old helmet collection and wanted to give me one that meant something to him. The black beat up Simpson model was just such a meaningful memory for him, and it was in the bag! A special signing on the faceplate completed the gift, as I was in awe and almost speechless to get it. There are just so many momentous memories we get to have in this life and now I have one that will go with me from now on! The one thing I really wanted that money couldn’t buy, is now in my office to remind me of the friendship we have shared over the years and the memories I recall of his racing days. Thank you “Cowboy” Tony you made my day!

All the years of Wags stuff we did never allowed me to wear a driver’s shirt to the races because I was representing them, so it wasn’t possible. Oh, I wore them to the gym and around the house, but not to the races. Now in my new capacity of retired person, I can do it if I want. I had collected a few drivers T’s over the years and in looking at my stash to find some to wear, some of my favorites seem to be missing, or misplaced, or lost or something. I am sad because some of them I want, the drivers are retired like Lealand, Bubby, Buster, Brad Noffsinger, Eddie Wirth, Oskie and a few more ! I gathered up a few during the afternoon at Ventura, and all were my favorite color black, and I will drill for more when I go to my next race, which hasn’t been determined yet. I know the Calistoga “tour” is on my list and maybe the 4th of July, but my travel card doesn’t get much activity now. Later in the year, the Trophy Cup is my October venture and probably the Ovals. Thoughts about a Tucson trip are in my mind, and much as I like Kokomo, no Indy trips are in this year.

Jim Naylor announced that hand rails are coming to Ventura for us old timer’s who just can’t get it up to the top anymore. That is great news, now maybe some who are step challenged will be able to return and see the bullring racing that is always great at Ventura. Remember the battle between Damion Gardner and Allan Ballard back a few years ago on October 29, 2005. The unheralded Allen really went all out to win that one! Remember he won 2 Wagsdash’s, so Ventura was really good to him!

My hat's off to Big Mike for what he created this weekend. A great job and it is awesome for our 410 racing CRA world. Here's hoping this can be another jewel in racing in the years to come. Thanks Big Mike!

A big thanks to Jim Naylor for making my trip easy and allowing me to be The Wags for a day, it sure was fun hanging out in the announcers booth and watching the great racing and all that went on. Scott and Jim were interviewing lots of dignitaries and that was fun to watch. I was proud to see a lot of Wagtimers there and the time we spent with them was simply marvelous! Our next Wagtimes reunion get together could be Calistoga, or the Ovals or at Wagsland in January next year, who knows. Also a big thanks to all who came by to say hi to Mrs Wags and I and the list is long so I guess you didn’t forget us. Until next time, have a good one!

AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: May 9, 2015 – Ventura, California – Ventura Raceway – “All Coast Challenge”

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-12.351; 2. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-12.439; 3. Nic Faas, 73X, Ford-12.451; 4. Greg Taylor, 7T, Taylor-12.580; 5. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-12.632; 6. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-12.652; 7. Ronnie Gardner, 93, Gardner-12.663; 8. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-12.715; 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 73, Ford-12.743; 10. Danny Sheridan, 9. McDonald-12.758; 11. Chris Wakim, 81M, Watt-12.813; 12. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-12.824; 13. Mike Colegrove, 17, Colegrove-12.902; 14. Rickie Gaunt, 66, Miller-12.936; 15. Johnathon Henry, 47, Gansen-12.947; 16. Ryan Bernal, 56, Phulps-12.980; 17. Luke Boles, 56A, Boles-13.012; 18. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-13.026; 19. Tristan Guardino, 81, Watt-13.039; 20. Jake Swanson, 92, Sertich-13.064; 21. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-13.074; 22. Bruce Douglass, 13, Davis-13.079; 23. Jimmy Crawford, 51, Crawford-13.110; 24. Tom Hendricks, 14, Hendricks-13.189; 25. Troy Rutherford, 11, Rutherford-13.213; 26. Guy Woodward, 24, Woodward-13.228; 27. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-13.242; 28. Parker Colston, 64, Gore-13.251; 29. Shon Deskins, 20, Deskins-13.359; 30. Kyle Smith, 55X, Smith-13.461; 31. David Taylor, 74, Taylor-13.482; 32. Hobie Conway, 2K, Kruseman-13.492; 33. David Bezio, 37X, Bezio-13.529; 34. Josh Pelkey, 12, Allen-13.547; 35. Damion Gardner, 4, Alexander-13.569; 36. Danny Faria Jr., 17V, Bowman-13.594; 37. R.J. Johnson, 91, Ferro-13.599; 38. Trent Williams, 92M, Sertich-13.639; 39. Ron Bach, 49, Bach-13.649; 40. Logan Williams, 5, Jory-13.721; 41. Tony Everhart, 55, Everhart-13.807; 42. Rick Hendrix, 15, Hendrix-13.831; 43. Tobey Sampson, 12B, Blair-13.852; 44. Jeremy Ellertson, 98, Ellertson-13.898; 45. Cody Majors, 54, Majors-14.050; 46. Kyle Edwards, 39E, Edwards-14.057; 47. Luis Espinoza, 09, Espinoza-14.086; 48. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-14.271; 49. Cal Smith, 39, Cal Sun-14.490; 50. Mike Trottochau, 16, Trottochau-16.206.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Spencer, 2. Rutherford, 3. Mitchell, 4. R.Vander Weerd, 5. Colegrove, 6. Johnson, 7. Deskins, 8. Schuerenberg, 9. Bezio, 10. Boles. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Gaunt, 2. Sheridan, 3. Roa, 4. Pelkey, 5. T.Williams, 6. Douglass, 7. K.Smith, 8. Woodward, 9. Gansen, 10. Kruseman. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Crawford, 2. Guardino, 3. Henry, 4. Faas, 5. D.Gardner, 6. D.Taylor, 7. Wakim, 8. Bach, 9. R.Gardner, 10. C.Williams. NT

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hendricks, 2. Bernal, 3. A.Williams, 4. Faria, 5. Colston, 6. G.Taylor, 7. J.VanderWeerd. 8. Swanson, 9. Conway, 10. L.Williams. NT

C-MAIN: (8 laps) 1. T.Williams, 2. Johnson, 3. Conway, 4. D.Taylor, 5. Majors, 6. Bender, 7. Sampson, 8. Bach, 9. Bezio, 10. Trottachau, 11. L.Williams, 12. Everhart, 13. Edwards, 14. C.Smith, 15. Ellertson. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. G.Taylor, 2. Kruseman, 3. R.Gardner, 4. Colegrove, 5. Schuerenberg, 6. J.Vander Weerd, 7. Wakim, 8. Boles, 9. Woodward, 10. Douglass, 11. C.Williams, 12. K.Smith, 13. Johnson, 14. Gansen, 15. Deskins, 16. D.Taylor, 17. Conway, 18. Colston, 19. T.Williams. NT

FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Richard Vander Weerd, 2. Matt Mitchell, 3. Austin Williams, 4. Brody Roa, 5. Ronnie Gardner, 6. Greg Taylor, 7. Mike Spencer, 8. Jake Swanson, 9. Troy Rutherford, 10. Damion Gardner, 11. Cory Kruseman, 12. Jace Vander Weerd, 13. Tristan Guardino, 14. Mike Colegrove, 15. Johnathon Henry, 16. Tom Hendricks, 17. Danny Sheridan, 18. Josh Pelkey, 19. Ryan Bernal, 20. Hunter Schuerenberg, 21. Rickie Gaunt, 22. Danny Faria Jr., 23. Nic Faas, 24. Jimmy Crawford. NT

**Gansen flipped during the second heat. C. Williams flipped during the third heat. Everhart flipped during the C-Main. Faas and Bernal flipped during the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-35 Sheridan, Laps 36-39 Mitchell, Lap 40 R.Vander Weerd,

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: May 23 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway – “Salute To Indy”

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