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October 10, 2011

By Ken Wagner

On a perfect day in the sun, we had a full day of racing including a 4 hour intermission for "fair play", and the evening turned out with a huge crowd watching Nic Faas make mincemeat of the 22 car field. He set quick time for the event on the early sun baked track, then started 8th in the feature and tracked down early leader Rickie Gaunt by halfway thru the 30 lap main event. After flying by Rickie on the high side, he quickly motored away, and he was running laps that included one that was the second fastest lap ever turned at Perris, the boy checked out! This win put him in 2nd place in the points, only 31 points behind the leader Mike Spencer. This also put him into the Legends of Ascot match race, worth over $8000, coming up on Friday night at the Oval Nationals 3 day event at Perris.

For my pics Click here to view. Doug Allens work is here as usual click here to view.

It tries your patience when things aren’t the normal way sometimes and this week’s fair “split show” was one of them. Normally I arrive about noon and spend some relaxing time getting blankets down then watching the racers arrive while I do some visiting and some pic taking. Not this week! The pits opened at 10 so I arrived at 9:30 and made my way inside the mass of parked vehicles of various fair parkers. Campers, trucks and cars that took a lot of space, left me with trying to get parked near the office for the day. Once I accomplished that, I hot footed it down to the infield where my trusty mule was ready from Beezer, and I did my usual routine and then settled into watching the goings on.

Hot laps was fun to watch as they squirrelled around on the wet surface until the track held the big tires. One thing of interest here was Rickie Gaunt looking to all the world like a throwback to the good old days when he had an open face helmet and a blue bandana covering his nose and mouth as he rolled around the track. Later he said he was just showing some respect for the drivers of the old days.

Qualifying was interesting as the first car out was quick time, and that at 16.37, no less. Daytime usually doesn’t allow that, but Quick Nic Faas ignored all that and blasted away. We had one tipover early that put Ray Potter and his crew working hard to get it fixed. They made it back but his night was not a fun one for hi and his crew. He was pushed back to his pit when his heat took off as he didn’t have something properly fixed, but returned for the semi where he spun, then took a quick flip coming out of turn 4 for the end of his night. Kenny Perkins qualified 15th, but nailed the wall in turn 4 and had to go on the trailer for the evening.

All in all it was a very dusty track in the sun as playing follow the leader sometimes meant you couldn’t see him???

Ronnie Gardner, fresh off his win at Victorville the week before, came out to qualify early in the day and it wouldn’t fire? Some little part broke? They hustled to fix it and he got in a slow 19th quick effort. In his heat he was going great for a lap or two when he went into a corner and it died. No fuel they surmised, but they spent the intermission chasing the problem, even mounting a different fuel tank. It ran OK in the semi for a transfer to the main, but would start back a ways.

The dusty heats brought back memories of those old fair day races and yet there was plenty of action to watch as the four heats provided that. The heat winners were Cory Kruseman, David Cardey, Matt Mitchell and Austin Williams as everyone was trying to see and make the transfer. One that didn't transfer was point leader Mike Spencer as Mike got involved in a dust devil and rode the wrecker to the pits.

We got thru all that and the 4 hour wait began. Some had work to do on their car, some took off for fair fun and others like me just found a few friends to visit with. I did grab a Martha Stewart hot dog at Pinks and that was an experience? There was sooooo much “stuff” on the thing that I had to dump a bunch in the trash just to eat the dog. Wow a plain jane model would have been better, if they had such a thing. The cost of fair food was pretty high, surprise, and similar like the regular fare there, as I suspect a family of four could spend a week’s wages just to eat!

Mercifully, the sun started down and the evening action was ready. Only a semi of 13 cars then the main event meant I would be on the road home early for a change. Spencer had a heat crash and started on the pole of the 12 lap race and won going away ahead of the “tall Guy” from Phoenix, Andrew Reinbold.

It wasn’t long after the semi ended, the feature lined up with a near full house cheering them on. Rickie Gaunt on the pole with Rip Williams on his outside followed by Greg Bragg, David Cardey, Cory Kruseman, Cody Williams, Matt Mitchell, Nic Faas, Mike Spencer and so on.

Rickie took the lead and the fight was on. By half way Faas was in second and looking for a way around Super Rickie. The high grove was where it was at, so Nic was running high trying to gain momentum, but Rickie held his line until, coming out of 4 on lap 15, he dropped enough that Nic was able to slide up and around him for the lead he would not give up. Before you could say Jackie Robinson, Nic’s lead was large, real large! He just lengthened it as he flew around lap cars and Rickie kept after him.

At the end Nic won with Rickie following along in good shape. Spencer grabbed third after a dogfight with Ripper, Bragg and Mitchell. Matt had hit the front stretch wall coming out of turn 4 midway in the race when he was going forward, and the car wasn’t the same after that and he finished 7th.

It was a pretty good feature for the big crowd and as the checkers flew you could hear the loud cheers for one Nic Faas as I think the crowd has found themselves a new hero to cheer on. He was impressive for the second race in a row and don’t look for him to slow down as the motor was a brand new one just in from an Indiana motor shop, and it hit very hard. As I said earlier, he had the 2nd quickest time ever at the PAS.

Brody Roa was the highest finishing 360, again, this week and ran too fast for the fast timer to get by him in his heat. Imagine a 360 VS 410 battle that went on there under the sun. Nic got even later, didn’t he! I was pooped after all that and took out of there to be home by 12:30!!!

My trip to California started early on Thursday when I went into Montebello for a visitation for Don Blair. He had passed away the week before just a day shy of reaching his 90th birthday. The well known man who was a lot of things to many people, was laid to rest the next day in a private ceremony. He goes way back in history in racing and loved the sprint cars until the day he died. He won the car owner Championship while running CRA in 1974. Even today, Don still owned a sprint car, the most recently driven by Matthew Shedarowich.

During the visitation a large crowd of former employee’s were there to say good bye. Don was remembered by many of them and others who shared stories of life with the man who is gone from us now. He gave many of them their first job and sometimes their livelihood. He was known for his thriftiness, so it is no surprise that he left a trust that is set up to help the sprint car racers financially and details of that will be announced in the near future.

Don to me was that slow walking friendly guy who never passed me by without a quick story and handing me Wagsbucks. He also donated things to the hall of fame and often talked about how to make things better. Up until he was bedridden, he often sent money to me for some of the drivers who missed the show that night, with encouraging words for them to come back again. Not Wagsbucks, but he wouldn’t let me tell them where it came from, so I called it Goodbucks! There is a Blair reunion at the NHRA Museum in Pomona in November on the 8th. Rest in peace Don, you will be remembered for along time!

No racing this week for me as things start popping next week. It starts with the Trophy Cup in Tulare where my friend Trophy Dave puts on one of the most amazing races in the country, a race that has been singled out as one of the best in the country. It features two days of point earning for 80 winged 360’s with the finale starting the entire field inverted. The point leader starts in the back and has a lot of company! There can be two winners that night, but the feature winner doesn’t often get the big cash and overall win. The final point leader, no matter where he finishes, is the Trophy Cup Champion and it can get real fun watching the fast boys from the back try to go forward. Even though it is a wing race, it is not the outlaws, so expect so exciting action if you go see this event.

One of my favorite events of the year is on that weekend as well. The annual Reunion drags at Bakersfield, featuring front motored top fueler’s and a lot of hot cars on display and racing on the track will be there for 3 days. Unfortunately, I can only go Sunday, missing the cacklefest darn it, so that will be my ticket after the Friday and Saturday fun at nearby Tulare.

The following weekend will be the Parker Store Hall of Fame Classic at Canyon Raceway in Arizona. Two days of USAC/CRA racing at a track the CRA once visited in the early 90’s. It was a racy place and I understand some improvements have been made. We should have time for a Wagtimes luncheon on Saturday, so beware.

The Oval Nationals is the following weekend with three days of ground pounding action and I will be there for every lap and fun times. Then WAG$CA$H 2011 “THE race within a race” on November 12 and I am planning on handing a lot of money out to the low buck racers that night. Pay attention, there will be a test.

Congrats to Richard VanderWeerd for winning the USAC West Coast Sprint Car Championship last week. He made the Wind Tunnel TV show and that’s hot! Somebody from out west besides the sensational Kyle Larson is nice since we don’t see much of our stuff on there!

See ya along the way. Questions? 949-981-5497. Answers? We both have them!!

QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Nic Faas, 4, Alexander-16.370.

CRA 10/8/11 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Nic Faas, 2. Rickie Gaunt, 3. Mike Spencer, 4. Rip Williams, 5. Greg Bragg, 6. Cory Kruseman, 7. Matt Mitchell, 8. Austin Williams, 9. R.J. Johnson, 10. Cody Williams, 11. John Aden, 12. Brody Roa, 13. Verne Sweeney, 14. Josh Pelkey, 15. David Bezio, 16. Andrew Reinbold, 17. Dakoda Kershaw, 18. Ronnie Gardner, 19. Royal Adderson, 20. Corey Ballard, 21. Cal Smith, 22. David Cardey. NT

**Perkins flipped during qualifying. R.Potter flipped during the semi.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-14 Gaunt, Laps 15-30 Faas.

NEW AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT POINTS: 1-Spencer-930; 2-Faas-899; 2-Mitchell-891; 4-A.Williams-678; 5-Bragg-615; 6-C.Williams-545; 7-Danny Sheridan-471; 8-R.Williams-467; 9-Gaunt-451; 10-Cardey-443.

NEXT AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT RACE: October 28 – Peoria, AZ - Canyon Speedway Park

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