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July 7, 2012

By Ken Wagner

On a surprisingly sunny yet not a baking hot day at the PAS, it all came together for a great day of racing and an entertaining feature to end it all early on a mid-week race night that scared me to think about if anyone would show up. They came, albeit late, and filled the place. The intermission fireworks went off at exactly 9 PM and Mike Spencer gave us some of his own fireworks this week by setting fast time ahead of the 28 car field. He then just missed winning his heat and rolling it all up in a red, white and blue holiday bundle with his 5th win of the year and 29th of his career, putting him in a tie with Rick Goudy, the 1979 CRA Champion.

For my pics of Perris click here to view. For Santa Maria Click here to view. Steve Lafond's Santa Maria pics click here to view. For Doug Allen's great pic's Click here to view those.

Mike’s fast time was nearly .3 quicker than second qualifier Rickie Gaunt’s time as he continues to run fast in the Bruce Bromme Jr prepared little red sucker. He blasted thru his heat only to be unable to catch the 10 lap winner, David Cardey, who was debuting the brand new Victory Chassis Moosemobile race car. Mike started 8th in the main and it took him 10 laps to chase down Cory Kruseman, but he did and then ran out to a big lead before Nic “The Flash” Faas caught him in the main with a lap to go. Mike continues to lead the points, now by 74, and looks like he is in a position to win his 5th title in a row.

Nic The Flash was on his game in the main event as he started 22nd, for an infraction I never heard about, and quietly, at first, moved thru the pack. Doesn’t he just look like a rocket ship in silver as he flies around the track? He had qualified 5th quick on the night and ran 4th in his heat where he would have normally started in the second row, but noooooo, he was last. Nic was on a roll as he passed car after car and put himself in position to win this one, if he could just catch the little red sucker! When the white flag came out, Nic was in position to use lap traffic for a pass to the win, but as they cleared turn two very close together with a lap car sandwiched between them and headed down the backstretch , a yellow flew as the Ripper was sitting backwards just past the turn two corner. Drat, or something like that! On the restart, Nic didn’t get a run at the winner and they finished that way with no suspense at all. What a blast it was watching Nic chasing after the little red sucker late in the race. Who knows what would have happened, but for now it’s only a thought, not reality.

Rad Brody Roa was on is game this week as he jumped on the podium from his starting spot back in the 5th row somewhere back there. He had qualified 7th this week in the family green machine and was unable to get by Ronnie Gardner for a transfer in his heat. Nevertheless, he won the semi and slipped back a bit on the start to tread there until a red flag stopped everything. From that point, he was a rad little rocket as he ran the top to perfection and closed in on the two leaders at the end, getting a strong 3rd on the 4th of July podium. His improvement continues as he continues to put the green machine in the middle of the lead pack every week now.

It was not a good week for the black machines of the Williams clan as there weekly war didn’t really get started. ran up front until an assisted late spin sent him back to a 16th place finish. Cody was running hot until he and another car got together. I didn’t see anything but his wild ride, as he did a little altitude check on the back stretch in a spectacular end over end crash. As soon as he stopped, he unbelted himself and jumped out on the racing surface to shake his fist, (couldn’t really see what he was shaking) at Troy Rutherford who drove around to turn four and stopped for the red. Meanwhile, Cody high tailed it over there and began to try and get to the driver of the white # 42, but to no avail. The crowd loved it like usual. Santa Maria sells a T-shirt that says “if you are going to fight, do it in front of the stands”! The only positive thing for the black team was Austin Williams who qualified 18th and won his heat. In the feature he had a stop, then turned it on and raced from the back up to 5th at the end. He and his dad and brother all won heat races on the same night for the first time in my memory. That’s a positive!

Matt Mitchell had 6th in qualifying and ran third in his heat. In the feature he was running the high groove hard and fast but got in trouble enough to stop and restart from the back. He was on a mission coming back thru the pack as there was action all over the place in this one to watch. Matt grabbed 6th on the last lap, then loaded up and drove straight thru to Indiana to race Friday night back there in preparation for the Indiana Sprint Week I will miss this year. Too hot and too grueling for this wag this time around, but good luck to Matt the Missile, hope he does well!

With Ryan Bernal out of the Kittle Kar, Ronnie Gardner got a one race shot in the little blue bugger’s seat. He took it real careful as he qualified 15th and was 4th in his heat. In the main he started 7th row and worked his way up to 6th before he got unlucky on the last lap. The car in front of him was suddenly slowing down and before he could charge around, he was pinned as two others saw an opening and pushed him back to 8th. Good job for the youngster, and I expect he will be in the car at Perris on the 28th.

The evening started out slow at the PAS as the grandstands looked pretty pathetic when qualifying started. Not to worry as the fireworks attraction eventually filled the place up and the main event was so exciting it was hard to pick where to watch. The fireworks went off at 9 pm and the 15 minute barrage was oohed and awed over until the lights came back on and we saw what we came for, thunder and lightning that only the traditional sprinters can provide.

I played around Torrance with Julie and Randy Shiosaki the next two days while working on my pics from Wednesday and took time out to go down to Orange County to have lunch with an old friend. I then got in the hauler Saturday morning as the Kittle Motorsports rig headed to Santa Maria for the West Coast vs ASCS race that was to happen. The War at the Shore was on tonight! The cool confines of the track so near the ocean was sooo nice to enjoy! I heard the 115 temp reports from my wife in Vegas, so I wanted to enjoy it while I could. Turns out there would be 28 cars here too, and plenty of action as it was the best race I’ve seen on the little bullring in some time.

Brody Roa came out early and set fast time at 15.678 in the # 91 green machine he drives the wheels off. Local favorite Danny Showtime Sheridan came out late and laid down 2nd quick on a track that wasn’t giving up much as qualifying went on. The crowd was good as stock car mania surged for most of the track time and we just waited for our open wheel wingless warrior wonders to appear each time.

Bud Kaeding won the first heat as Rick Ziehl took a wild ride when he rode over a wheel when the yellow appeared on a start, and couldn’t react quickly enough to miss his gnarly flight. Danny Faria, Jared Little and Nic Fass won the other three heats. Faas was driving one of the two Biggy owned cars. There were 8 regular CRA runners in the field and several others who run occasionally with our club.

The feature started with Kruseman and Hamlin on the front row. Justyne took the early lead for a lap, but the Kruiser took it from her quickly in a Josh Ford team car. Showtime Sheridan started 7th and in two laps was in 2nd after several very quick knifelike passes and showing how good he can be at his home track. He was clearly faster than the leader, but couldn’t get an opening for the pass as he chased away the early part of the race. Unfortunately, his brakes failed, YIKES, with 2/3rds of the race left to run! Now he had his hands full trying to still make a pass while behind him a rat pack of Brody Roa, Ryan Bernal and Hollywood Faria were warring with each other to see who would shoot down the wounded duck Sheridan to get to Kruseman. Not going to happen this night!

Danny was right on Kruser’s tail and the chasing rat pack was on him as the laps counted down. You could hear Danny’s motor starting to act up, sputtering and popping is the best description, but he was still hanging in there. Finally, Bernal had whacked Roa and Faria out of the way, not literally but with great precision, and was all over the little blue bugger’s # 18 fuel cell! How Showtime kept his spot and kept going is amazing, but they ended with Cory, Danny, Ryan, Faria and Roa all running on the wild side in that order. It was the best 360 race I’ve seen in a while and rivals any 410 race in excitement even though the lead never changed from lap one on. What a great night only punctuated by endless stock cars, and fun time for all, and it was so cool!

Ryan Bernal was a show of his own this week as he qualified well but was sent to the back when his car failed inspection. Sounds like NASCAR, but his error was not unhooking the adjustable shocks as they are not legal in this group. On one restart in the feature, they caught him jumping the start and sent him two spots back. You can’t keep this boy back as he roared up to third and was licking his chops when he saw the trouble Danny was in, but couldn’t take advantage, still landing on the podium for the pictures with the red clad trophy girl. An exciting few days ended on the ride back to the Shiosaki homestead. In the morning I left the pair on their couches watching Indy car racing on TV. I left the 70’s temps to head out across the desert and saw the Baker thermometer, that doesn’t do temps anymore, totally blank with my car gauge reading 118 sizzling degrees! It was only 115 at my house when I arrived! I saw more cars pulled over to the side with their hoods up than I have ever seen in all my trips to my Vegas home.

Wagtimes has been going now for 20 plus years with 20 Wagsdash’s, one WAG$CA$H event and a lot of money going directly to the racers. Can you say $600,000 from fans like you over the course of our history, what a proud accomplishment! I don’t know how it all started and I don’t have a clue how it was so successful over the years, but I do know there were many who made it work year after year by supporting my causes. And this all from the original idea of collecting a few bucks to buy a tire or two for a racer. It started in 1989 at Ascot Raceway during the annual year ending Peabody race. During that afternoon a few fans who wanted to help the racers shared some Chili, Mrs Wags first chili feed by the way. That night we sold some Jerry Hudson created Wagtimes T-shirts and collected $660 from fans with Chris Holts help over the microphone. His statement of having chili with us and being “gas propelled“ all night still sticks in my memory. Cary Faas was the first Wagsbucks recipient when he missed the main by one spot.

That was the last race of the year, so when the 1990 season started, Cary Agajanian encouraged me to develop a fan club and continue to collect money for the racers. We did the second part anyway, and with Ascot’s help from the announcers, we collected almost $12,000 of Wagsbucks that year and passed it out at intermission each race when Chris would present it to the lucky recipient in front of the grandstands. That is how it all began with Gene and Nancy Tussing, Larry and Myra Jolly, Robert Mayson and Terry and I in the beginning looking for a name for our group. We couldn’t agree on one we all liked so Wagtimes began complete with a paper newsletter that eventually went out to 1000 readers until the internet came along and made my life easier.

In 1991 we collected nearly $ 13,000 and $ 4811 was earmarked for the first Wagsdash which was to be run at Hanford, Ca, but curfew and an abbreviated 8 lap feature won by Jimmy Sills ended any chance of running that night. The President of CRA, Frank Lewis, was a major help to our cause in those days and he insisted we run it first thing the next night at Bakersfield. Ron Didonato was that first winner in what might have been the most restarted event in history, it was soooooo dragged out. The race paid $ 2000 to win and at least $100 to start until 1995 when it went up to $ 2500 to win and $ 500 to start. Over the years from then we averaged about $18,000 a Wagsdash with a high of $ 23,000 in 2000 and a low of $ 13,200 in 2010, the last year at Ventura.

It was always a marvelous fun day complete with Mrs Wags Chili, a racing auction, a bake sale, the sexy driver contest and more money making ideas that filled the cash purse for the racers. Fans came early to have chili with their heroes and it was always a real get together, something we lack as a group now. We honored, and were honored by, our Legends of Ascot Grand Marshals each year and the list included Jimmy Oskie, Lealand McSpadden, Bubby Jones, Buster Venard, Glenn Howard, Parneli Jones, Richard Griffin, Brad Noffsinger, Eddie Wirth, Walt James, John Redican and Bruce Bromme SR! Those are some historically famous people from our CRA heritage and we should all be proud.

So, I am sincerely trying to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped along the way for the tremendous success we had! It is mind blowing just thinking about it, but without all of you who helped out, it would have never been possible. Imagine a group that collected significant money for the racers with no “management fees” taken out, they got the full total collected every time. I am probably more proud of that fact than anything else we did. Last year’s $ 6580 collected for the new formatted WAG$CA$H event was a big come down even with all the economic problems we all had and a signal to me that this dog had run it’s course. Only 7 cars were in that event because of the low purse, but they mounted polka dot ribbons on their cages for the crowd to see their progress thru-out the night and Brody Roa became the champion. The uneducated crowd at Hanford didn’t have a clue, so nothing worked like normal for us and when I had only $1100 in the till for an event planned for August 11th at Santa Maria, I knew it was time to shut it down. Sadly, but I still have fond memories of it all, I say again thanks to everyone who made it happen! Most especially my wife Terry and the Wagtimer’s who supported us along the way and the Ventura track people led by Jim Naylor, it was a hell of a ride! And I can’t forget every one of you who put the cash in my hands to help the racer’s, you are the real heroes of this success story!

Am I done? Will I try something else? Is Wagtimes over? NO! First of all I am putting the $1175 ( yes, I was still given money this past week for “the” cause) up for a year end Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award to be presented at the last race of the year. With help, I plan to add to the figure so we might have enough for several racers with perhaps a shiney tire, hard luck and maybe even best appearing car or some such Wags nonsense! It will go to the racers to end the season. Next year we will see what happens.

I’ll see you at the next CRA race and maybe one before that, so good night now!

FYI: Here is a list of the Wagdash winners from 1991: Ron Didonato, Steve Ostling, Bobby Michnowicz, Rodney Argo, Troy Newsome, Mike English, Jimmy Voitel, Marc Hart (2), J Hicks, Jarrett Chaney, Danny Sheridan, Alan Ballard (2), Ronnie Case, Blake Miller (2), Austin Mero and Brody Roa.

AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE RESULTS: July 4, 2012 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway - "Firecracker 30"

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Mike Spencer, 50, Chaffin-16.237; 2. Rickie Gaunt, 66, Miller-16.521; 3. Troy Rutherford, 42, Cheney-16.647; 4. Ryan Bernal, 73, Ford-16.719; 5. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-16.724; 6. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-16.730; 7. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-16.747; 8. Seth Wilson, 1X, Wilson-16.762; 9. R.J. Johnson, 51, Martin-16.773; 10. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-16.829; 11. Rip Williams, 3, Jory-16.910; 12. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-16.942; 13. David Cardey, 92, Sertich-16.964; 14. Greg Alexander, 72, Tyler-16.985; 15. Ronnie Gardner, 18, Kittle-17.001; 16. J.J. Ercse, 36, Springstead-17.169; 17. A.J. Bender, 11, Bender-17.257; 18. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-17.468; 19. David Bezio, 37X, Bezio-17.488; 20. Corey Ballard, 20, Ballard-17.557; 21. Kenny Perkins, 0K, Perkins-17.700; 22. Bobby Bender, 12, Bender-17.805; 23. Adam Frith-Smith, 62A, Frith-Smith-17.965; 24. Cal Smith, 39, Cal Sun-18.142; 25. Patrick Clark, 71k, Kruseman-18.352; 26. Gary Potter, 6, Potter-18.619; 27. Jerry Welton, 62, Welton-18.673; 28. Jon Kairot, 0, Perkins-18.670.

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Cardey, 2. Spencer, 3. Johnson, 4. Faas, 5. Perkins, 6. Clark, 7. A.J. Bender. NT

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. A.Williams, 2. Alexander, 3. Mitchell, 4. Kruseman, 5. B.Bender, 6. Potter, 7. Gaunt. NT

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. R.Williams, 2. Bezio, 3. Rutherford, 4. Gardner, 5. Roa, 6. Frith-Smith, 7. Welton. NT

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. C.Williams, 2. Bernal, 3. Wilson, 4. Ballard, 5. Smith, 6. Kairot, 7. Ercse. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Roa, 2. Perkins, 3. Ercse, 4. B.Bender, 5. Clark, 6. Kairot, 7. Gaunt, 8. Potter, 9. Frith-Smith, 10. Smith. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Mike Spencer, 2. Nic Faas, 3. Brody Roa, 4. Ryan Bernal, 5. Austin Williams, 6. Matt Mitchell, 7. Cory Kruseman, 8. Ronnie Gardner, 9. R.J. Johnson, 10. David Bezio, 11. Greg Alexander, 12. Corey Ballard, 13. Bobby Bender, 14. David Cardey, 15. Patrick Clark, 16. Rip Williams, 17. Troy Rutherford, 18. Kenny Perkins, 19. Seth Wilson, 20. Cody Williams, 21. J.J. Ercse, 22. Jon Kairot. NT

**C.Williams and Ballard flipped during the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-10 Kruseman, Laps 11-30 Spencer.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: Spencer-609, 2-Faas-535, 3-A.Williams-480, 4-Mitchell-461, 5-Bernal-458, 6-Roa-419, 7-Kruseman-375, 8-R.Williams-375, 9-Wilson-313, 10-C.Williams-308.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: July 28 – Perris (CA) Auto Speedway

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