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RONNIE "G" GARDNER WINS VICTORVILLE OPEN SPRINT CAR SHOW.

CAR COUNTS CONTINUE TO PUZZLE THIS WAG?

October 1, 2011

By Ken Wagner

I know there were less than 10 cars at this open show. I know it wasnít the best field of all time. I know times are tough in our local sprint car racing world, but friends, a win is a win! You must be a racer to understand what happened Saturday night as 9 cars went to the open show in Victorville to race and one came home with a victory! That person is the one and only Ronnie G! Give him some props, he had to beat not one, not two, but three Williams brothers!

Doug Allens work is here as usual click here to view.

Ronnie Gardner is a racer from a long line of family racers that have graced the So Cal tracks, and farther East, for many years. His grandfather Jack Sr and his brother Howard were winners back in their roadster and sprint car days. Both Howard and Jack Jr won Sprint races with CRA in 1957, now that's amazing! His dad Jeff and brothers Jimmy and Jack Jr have built many winning ďSledsĒ over the years after the Drake cars had served them well. They won two CRA championships with Brad Noffsinger (86 and 87) in the seat. They won a lot of races across the country and were fielding up to 4 sprint cars a race during some times of high energy, more than their fair share. As Ronnie finished his grandstand waiting period and became old enough to get in the pits, life for him changed drastically.

Ronnie spent untold hours working in the shop on the family cars and became really indispensable with his young mind full of knowledge and his new abilities as he was the new glue to the teams many successes. He had cousin Chet by his side until his passing, and now Chet is in his heart always. That duo was amazing as the two of them danced around the Gardner cars makng them fast with big smiles on their faces.

Ronnie was born too late in his family hierarchy as the economic times changed their racing fun immensely when the Gardner business didnít pass muster under the newĒ no work availableĒ guidelines and they closed the doors! All this happened just as Ronnie was realizing his dream, to drive a sprint car. It only bothers him when the once packed parts bins are empty and no cash in their racing budget to buy new stuff on demand like the old days. Still he didnít hold his head down and say oh poor me, NO! He and his dad and Uncle Jimmy, among many others, went on about their business of fielding a competitive sprint car for this deserving young man. Ronnie G has worked his way into a position to be a winner and regardless of how the budget goes, he and his dad always find a way to get to the track when they can, even though sometimes they have to wait a week or two to be ready again. Recently they rebuilt their motor and from the looks of things, it is pretty strong. This win is an indicator of things to come for this talented young man. Way to go ďGĒ.

A week off and watching more college football was my deal this past weekend. It wasnít as good as two weeks ago, but I can get into it. Itís just a shame that things are changing there as well as we see the big conferences line up to be in the best one, to make the most money, and the hell with tradition and rivalrys of the past.

When the dwindling car counts began last year, or really before that, I never imagined that my long time Wagsdash location at the greatest little track by the sea would be hit harder than most? Is there more to it than the economy or is something else in the wind. Regardless, car counts are definitely down at Ventura with 17, 14 and 15 enteries the last 3 events. These numbers are all time lows for the place that began to rock when the Thunder and Lightning cars made their first appearance years ago.

The two races that car counts surprised me the most this year in USAC/CRA events were Chico and Santa Maria. Chico because 49 cars were there, even if many were 360ís, but 49 cars, wow!!At Santa Maria only 18 showed up one Saturday and there were no competing tracks running sprint cars that weekend, whatís up with that? Thatís not all the surprises Iíve had this year because Perris continues to amaze me and have over 30 cars most races. Calistoga seems to have lost some of the luster coming off of the Big Event Vermiel weekend that has been in front of a packed house until this year. What was a very popular addition to the USAC/CRA schedlue 4 years ago up North, wasn't quite that way this time as the crowds and car counts were down. Less spectators may be partly because of the reserved seat cost ($30) and fewer cars mostly due to the no tow budget going on now. Only 8 CRA regulars made the long tow to Calistoga (25 total) and only 6 stayed to run Chico. Pretty sad, but recent years has taught us the CRA is not a traveling group anymore, they canít afford it!

Kyle Larson is tearing up the tracks he visits all over the country and word of his big time major victories is reaching everyone. The first visit to Eldora and a 3 race sweep surely shocked many, but after what he had already accomplished this summer, we should have had an inkling of what is to come from this young man. Is he the best ever? I canít make that judgment, but his wide range of successes has never been done like this before in my knowledge base mind. Wind Tunnel showcased him very well this week on TV as he has personality to go with his driving ability. He is entered in the Oval Nationals at the PAS, so I guess that alone might draw a crowd. I think Brent Kaeding has been behind a lot of his growth. On TV he said he wasn't as comfortable in the non-wing cars? You couldn't prove that to me as he has been very good this year without the cover up top.

Keep in mind my November 12 event and add to it. See you at the Fair this week in Perris, but I'm probably not doing any sharpshooting events for teddy bears. Maybe collecting WAG$CA$H will work!

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