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July 27, 2013

By Ken Wagner

So on a day that racing was scheduled to happen in San Bernardino, CA, and there isn't one, I now have no racing direction today! What to do, what to do, it kinda makes me at a loss for my desired fun. I feel like i've sinned and am in a confession box answering the question ďwhat have you to tell me, my sonĒ? Here we are in July and after regrettably missing Indiana Sprint Week by a stupid choice, I didnít know it would be 5 weeks or 35 days since my last fix until the next CRA race at Ocean Speedway, or I might have joined the Indiana invasion. Not that I didnít have some non-wing racing available in California, but when I didnít pull the string on a 12 hour turnaround to Ventura for some Midget action last week, I now feel double antsy, to say the least with two weeks until my next race.

For my pics from THE PAS click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see. Indiana Sprint week results: Fotos by Steve Lafond like you are there Click here to view.
The race results Click here to review.

Today I could take a ride to Canyon Speedway near Phoenix for the ďSummer SlamĒ, or dip into the dark side and hit Santa Maria for some winged action, yet thatís not me. Both are long drives from my desert palace with Santa Maria being over 13 hours to and fro and no, Iím not doing that. Here in the warm confines of lovely Las Vegas, we have some outstanding High School Basketball going on in town as three yearly summer tourneyís are lighting up 50 school gymnasiumís locally with 400 teams in town from all over the country, featuring many D 1 prospects ready to hit the major colleges after their senior year in the fall. I already saw 10 games this week and thoroughly enjoyed it like I always do. In those games there were over 16 states represented, so it really is from all over the country plus Canada and Austrailia. Watching the teams who work the ball around for a good shot to beat the teams who play ďwatch thisĒ with no plan in mind, is so fun to watch! Often the most talented players are the least likely to play team ball with their hog the ball attitudes, but they will learn or the next step is going to be rocky. Also in town starting today is the annual Legion state summer baseball playoffs kicking off, so I might check that out. The question is, inside or out, which is the most comfortable? Ha ha, you know that answer!

I already mentioned in this column previously I didnít want to go to Indiana in July like I had done for so many years because of the extreme heat and humidity and what it does to these old bones while hanging out in the pits and grandstands. It plain wears me out more than it used to, but I probably should have done it. Even though they have plenty of sprint cars back there, more than we do these days, the tracks are not always racer friendly and sometimes the dry slick win from the front doesnít please me as much as the old days. Since I only enjoyed this yearís edition thru printed results and fotoís from my Tear Off Heaven friend Steve Lafond, I canít tell you if the trip would have been worth it, but then sprint car racing is always worth it, so my bad. Woe is me, hand me some cheese to go with my whine!

Unlike most years the west coast sent few cars to this yearís 6 race shortened event with only the Vander Weerd brothers Jace and Richard getting in some experience and Ryan Bernal getting 5th as his best finish. Nothing spectacular for those three who went to race, but the stellar days of Kruseman and Yeley doing big damage back there is long gone. I suspect part of the reason we donít send many back there is the high cost of racing, like it hasnít always been that way, but really has amped up the expenses in these trying economic times. Even I in my retired state realize you canít go to them all anymore and the racerís understand the cost of going back there, thus they donít. In those old days when lots of California racers went back on tour, the cost was high even then as stories of spending $15,000 to $20,000 were the norm for the travel, the food and motels, the tires (both on the hauler and the race car) and the cost of breakage were more affordable (?) then. Myself I remember what it cost to be a fan and I had a job that always allowed it, so those are cherished memories.

Things are just different these days as I wait out the lull in my racing. Todayís race at Orange Show Stadium was to be a URA race and was cancelled ďdue to an unforeseen personal commitment within the organizationĒ and gave racers a little time off from the summer racing. I donít know if that is a sign of the times or not, but with the CRA Fair race at the PAS being cancelled because the fair wanted monster trucks makes it two blanks on my schedule this year of a lot less racing than normal. I canít help but wonder why, yet I know when the fans have time away from racing, they magically find other things to do and they seem to forget the next race!

This year I have travelled less than ever before for racing as there are less races and since I am so far from the epicenter of my CRA world, I donít get on the road every weekend like in the past. I think back from the 80ís thru about 2007 where CRA 410ís averaged about 40 races a year, we were travelling 3 weekends out of 4 going locally and flying or driving to places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri mostly. I venture it was probably 15,000 to 18,000 miles a year average or more on the road and a lot of fun. One year I took a trip to PA and back with my friend Harold Hubbs that we drove over 6000 miles in my 4 cylinder motorhome on that 4 week stretch that gave us 27 races and it was a blast! This year with 22 CRA races and about 8 URA events, itís not near as far, but the racing is still outstanding. So far I have driven about 75 hours to races at over 5500 miles and we are about half way thru the year. I expect to drive another 90 hours over 6500 miles for the rest of the schedule so itís still a long adventure following my love of the 410 non-winged racers.

My bride Mrs Wags is finally retiring at the end of August, just in time for the Calistoga trip so we will be on the road and hope to spend extra days with our NO Cal friends along the way. We probably will try the road thru Minden and Gardnerville, NV on the way home so look out, it could be a nice adventure after the racing. Of course this signals the ratcheting down of the travel as we will now be required to live off our retirement money and wonít have her salary to spice the pot. Everyone seems to wonder when they hit this stage of life if the retirement money will be enough, but as one sage retired person told me recently, you just learn how to cope with less money and I just canít wait for that!

Iím looking forward to more racing soon and will probably be on my own for the trip to Ocean and Santa Maria so I will probably drive to Ocean on Thursday and head home from Santa Maria Saturday night avoiding the extra motel stays as I try to begin adjusting my racing budget. But plans change and weíll see how it goes. Thanks for all the comments about my lack of writing recently, but as I explained, I got nuthiní to share without my racing. Oh for those who needed the extra sizes of my new Wagtimes shirts, Iíll have 2XL and 3XL plus a few hoodie and plain sweatshirts for cooler weather. To those who have wanted these, as soon as I get to California and get them, Iíll let you know!

TA TA, itís off to B-Ball now!!!!!

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