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October 2, 2013

By Ken Wagner

Nothing to report in my racing world this week because I have seen nothing in over two weeks and will see nothing for two more weeks, darn it. Pull up a chair and let my mind wander a little here. In my race watching career I have waited this long for the next 410 race only during the winter off time, so itís really new to me and yes, very frustrating. Since my nearest 410 home track location these days is 240 miles, instead of 50 miles like the good oleí days, and I donít usually go to 360 races unless it is Ventura, so I am in a new and different world for these old eyes. What does that mean? Simple: for a guy who use to average 75 to 100 races a year back in the 80ís and 90ís, and who ratcheted it down after Y2K to 35 to 45, I am now suffering in the low 20ís and not happy about it! But itís the way it is and as they say DEAL WITH IT, or find something else to do as many have, dammit!

For my latest pics Click here to view. For Doug Allens quality photo's Click here to see.

The problem is I donít want to find something else because I must have my CRA 410ís or else. In light of this "sign of the times" problem there are some solutions out there but all a long way off, time and distance wise. Consider my driving times as my home track is 3-1/2 hours from Wagsland so anything else is a long, longer trip. Without my very much missed Corvette, the drives are not mesmerizing anymore with the roar of the mighty motor of the slick little red bomb in my ear as I roll down the highway, and no the G35 is really nice as it is quieter and more comfortable, but just not the same! Itís just not as fun, yet I have satellite radio so I donít lose the signal for my listening pleasure in Mrs Wags car, but only books on tape in my G 35 to keep my mind not on the drive so much and keeping it occupied as I travel.

Feeling sorry for me yet? Well living in Las Vegas just makes my race trips longer than when I was in Orange County, so I have to be a bit more dedicated, or just a-bit touched to continue this quest. My newly "she retired" budget will take some getting use to,but I'll make it work as we are now two bums without jobs with no descretionary incoming money any more. I guess I still have that ďburningĒ feeling or loving feeling, if you listen to old time music, and still get pretty tingly excited as I near my racetrack that will feed my desires e v e r y t i m e! Yes, after the last nearly 40 years of thunder and lightning, it still makes me feel good seeing my 410 racing today! Wow, am I nuts or what?

Keep in mind that the Wagtimes was not a planned thing as I was merely a big time drag racing fan until Lions drag strip closed and made me mad. I saw some open wheel racing in Tulsa as I lived there int he early 70's, so then wandered into Ascot when I came home each trip and fell in love with those wicked cars on dirt, a love that has never dwindled, even today. The knowledge base for me in dirt track racing came quick and often as I left the confines of Ascot to venture out to Santa Maria, Baylands, Calistoga, Chico, Manzanita, Bakersfield, Hanford, Skagit, and more, then in 1985 to the Midwest for Eldora, I 70, Lakeside, Knoxville, and the so cool PA tracks, the marvel of it all overwhelmed me. The 4 week trip that my friend Harold Hubbs and I took in my mighty little 4 cylinder Toyota motor home that saw us see 28 races in 30 days in the mid 80ís with the famous Eldora Raceway our first stop, was absolutely incredible and still lives in my memory banks as the best racing trip I ever took!

Anyway, those many nights at Ascot and ďthat tripĒ made me write two epistles that started all this "Wags stuff". After my vaunted trip back east, I wrote a typical Wags grammarless version of the experiences and sent it to several that I met along the way and the response later prompted me to write a season ending Xmas letter to about 25 Ascot friends that I got addresses from and I sent it out under the name Wagswatch! When the racing season started, I continued to write and pass out a monthly Wagswatch as it was met with acceptance and eventually it turned into the Wagtimes newsletter that was paper and mailed to over 1000 people around the country until after the Y2K event cycled down our world. That rag was then converted to what it is today, an internet site created by Steve and Kim Lafond called Wags World. It had it's 12th year anniversary yesterday, October 1, can you believe it?You can see the Wagtimes history and how it all started by visiting Click here to read it. Eventually on the internet my Wagsworld stories took over the Wagtimes stories that were more folksy on paper. My writing was pretty not up to snuff in the English speaking world, but my style was just the plain stories of what I saw, what we did, what we ate, where we raced and everything interesting to me along the way. One of my former and valued Wagtimes readers, Gordon Hollenbeck, who has since passed away, use to read my paper stuff, red line the grammatical errors and give it to me to improve my writing. Some of what he taught me stuck, but not really much, I still just tell a story with whatever clutters up my mind at the time these days and throw in a few commas. I have never taken notes, so all those stories were written when I got home from wherever the races were, and I let it all out on paper. I don't have that total recall these days, but still remember enough to spin a yarn or two, or make it up if I forgot.

Anyway, in the early days The first Wagsbucks night was at Ascot in 1989 at the year ending Peabody race where Mrs Wags cooked chili and our first chili feed was born. We sold Wagtimes T-shirts created by Jerry Hudsonís talented graphics (he created the original logo from my stick figured drawing exceptionally well) and Brad Noffsinger printed them for us. We sold the shirts and collected $660 that night with Chris Holt presenting $560 to Cary Faas for just missing the main and $100 to Steve Foremost who just missed the Semi in front of the crowd and Wagsbucks was born that night. Later on it became a hard luck award for the little guys of our sport called Wagsbucks for lack of a better name, but it really worked fine anyway. The shirts were financed by Gene Tussing, one of the first ďWagtimersĒ who along with a few others with me were considering starting up a fan club. That didnít really happen for many reasons, but Wagtimes was sort of a fan club with no rules and anyone could get involved with. Cary Agajanian, the Ascot promoter made it all possible by allowing me to start it there with his blessing and he supported it from the start. Obviously he gets a lot of credit as I did something I never expected to do, collect money from the fans and give to the racers and it worked exceptionally well at Ascot Park in those days! Too bad it closed, or we would have gone off the charts in our collections me thinks.

Over the 20 some odd years of Wagtimes history, we collected well over $600,000 that went directly to the racers click here to see most of the drivers who received the Wagsbucks). The Wagsdash event each year averaged about $18,000 of that total and that race was a hairbrained idea that was developed on a trip back from Manzanita with the Boganís on board and was very successful for over 20 years that we did it, so I really do miss it today. Itís time came to an end beginning after the 911 disaster changed the collection pattern and redirected the discretionary monies I depended on. None of this ďWags stiffĒ would have been possible without sooooooo many people helping me along the way, and the list of you is way too long for here, but you know who you are, so pat yourself on the back, it was, and hopefully still is, hundreds of you! And I never set out to get involved on any scale of what we did, it just magically happened. Nevertheless, the path I took that led me to here, makes me very satisfied and proud of what we did, and I now need something to make it all better and grow our sprint car racing back to what it was, back in the day not so long ago.

This accidental beginning of Wagtimes, and all that it meant to me and many others like I said, just happened and I am blessed with the success. Now we are in a different time and so many things add up to our problems of less fans, less race cars and less money we all have to play with. Discretionary money, thatís what I am talking about, and very few have it to throw around these days. The high cost of traveling and either racing or watching racing has dwindled our sport down to a very different look and feel in 2013. Can you say cutting back, and are you happy about it, or just going to allow it to go away? Do something, that is, go support your racing away from your cheap NASCAR TV watching.

What the hell happened? Bad things happened as many of the racing fraternity lost their businesses and some lost jobs and look where we are now, disaster is one word that comes to mind, but it was a long and painful journey that is not yet done for so many. The downturn in our economy is not the only racing enemy, as politics has always been there directing traffic that isnít always the best for the racers. We can always use a good strong leader with our racing in mind, and only our racing in mind. Weíll see how it all turns out in the future, but for now remember to vote and go racing, two very important parts of the puzzle that has us all reeling.

Now that you have passed the racing 101 class as Wags knows it, letís move on to the now! As I scaled down my Wagsbucks collections the last few years, and the Wagsdash fun ended, I have still tried to maintain the hard charger scheme that Steve Lafond started with his Lafond Jar of Change. It started way back and paid the driver, who passed the most cars every year in the Wagsdash, a nice little jar of change that was always heavy and reached over $1000 the last few races. The Wagtimes/Lafond Hard Charger Award is still alive, but could use your help! Last year we paid out over $2600 at the 2012 Oval Nationals and would like to do better this year! I have my trusty ďcounting jarĒ in my den at home, now up to over $130 of spare change I have fed it since last yearís race and it grows each week. Steve Lafond already told me he has far more than that, the devil he said, and looks for others to add to it. So hereís the deal, if you have spare change laying around, bring it to me whenever you see me. If you donít, greenbacks work as well! So, if you like to get involved with the award, you can add to it, and we will see how much we can collect. If you live too far to see me, send me a check from wherever you are, made out to me: Ken Wagner, 429 Flores Circle, Las Vegas, NV 89123, and I swear I wonít go gamble it away here in sin city. Do it now as November 2 is just a month away. Iíll be at the Trophy Cup on Oct 17/19, so bring your change there, and if you miss me, The Ovals is on the way! Iíll see if I canít get another specially labeled bottle of that Crown Royal to add to the hard chargers sippiní stash.

It really does seem strange that we have only 4 racing dates left on the CRA schedule and one on the URA schedule this year with an annual trip to Tulare for the best wing show on the planet left for me. I hope to go to Ventura at least once before the end of the year, as my absence there is getting ridiculous as racing at the best little race track by the sea is always entertaining! Other than that, Iíll have to look forward to the Chili Bowl where my son Kevin and I have our annual reunion every year after the Xmas holidays.

But for the next two weeks I will be concentrating on my new scooter that I just ordered! click here. to view! It is for those long trips to tracks that I donít want to go to the trouble of towing my mule to. It will fit right on the back of Mrs Wags Morano on a special rack! The new Mini-Wags Mule will be just what the doctor ordered to smooth out the long walks at my favorite race tracks. It is an electric 3 wheeler that should manage going over the dirt, mud, sand or whatever along the way. We will see how it goes and I am looking forward to getting it on the road with me. It will hopefully debut at Tulare and the Bakersfield reunion drags on the October 17/19 weekend festivities. I canít wait.

Well now, I am going to post this so these of you who bitch when I donít have anything new, will be pleased. Think about the Hard Charger Award and what you can do to help our racing!

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