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When the hometown hero returns home from the wars early to please his fans, and promptly gets DQ’d, you know it wasn’t a perfect weekend. But, watching Tony “Cowboy” Jones riding roughshod over the Gasman and the Demon for his 2nd win of the year, it was nearly perfect on the track. Adding 30 laps to the normally exciting SCRA program is tough getting in under curfew, but the gritty Wagsdash competitors shook off a shaky start and scored their own victory before the 10 PM curfew with Alan “The Bakersfield Cowboy” Ballard winning the 13th annual edition in front of an appreciative crowd.

Mrs Wags is too pooped to finish pics. Thursday!

The beautiful sunny day started off with the annual Mrs Wags Chili Feed and some of the usual Wagsdash hi-jenks. The pit stop contest was too early for the defending champions, so Will “the Thrill” Perkins crew won the event in their absence, in a hard fought battle with the eventual Wagsdash Champion team of Alan Ballard. The competitors have to change a tire and shock absorber, and the quickest to do it, wins. Then the sexy driver contest took off with the two lady drivers challenging the rowdy men drivers. Nadine Keller & Kim Lewis were not too keen on the idea at first, but were real troopers on the stage. As usual, it was like pulling teeth getting the male drivers on stage, but Julie Shiosaki, Terri Bliss and Fran Herdrich are veteran arm twisters, so it all worked out. The top four finalists included Rip Williams, yes I said the Ripper, Alan Ballard, Kim Lewis and the winner, Spunky Mike Spencer. Kim was workin’ the crowd when she got into it for the money, but young Spencer was the best cash grabber of the day, barely. I wonder who gave him the $100 bill? The one who collects the most money is declared the winner and the Wagsdash purse was the overall winner with the $880 raised, wow!

With 46 cars in the pits, it looked like a good night was about to happen. Ooops, only 45 now as word got around that Cory Kruseman had been disqualified for motor offset of less than an inch. More about that later. The racing was as good as it gets as the track was racy and the Cowboy just stepped on the gas until he won his 16th lifetime SCRA race with some hard racing and one major slide job for the lead. Tony Jones has not had the best of years in 2003 with broken motors, parts breaking or other cars whacking him, so when the team got a new Maxim chassis, things changed immediately.

The Podium Cowboy is now driving as well as ever and has two wins in a row, one on the small half mile of Perris and one on Ventura’s small bull ring. The big half-mile of Manzy is up next in two weeks, so we will see if he can make it a trifecta. Tony had fast time at 11.890 and ran 2nd in his heat, and in the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash, to line up on the front row of the main event. Driving the Ferreira Dairy, Standard Feeding, VGI Graphics, # 2 Maxim, the Cowboy was just plain hot every time he hit the track. While the feature action gave us some great and wild action, it was Jones alone on the top of the heap at the end, a winner again and a happy young driver when it was all over.

Richard Griffin had a pretty hot night himself winning his heat and the dash before running 2nd in the 30 lap main. It was the Gasman slicing and dicing with Tony, Troy Rutherford and Damion Gardner that made the crowd go wild. It was a fast track at Jim Naylor’s facility this week as the Temecula Valley Pipe and Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Circle C Marketing, # 50 car was lifting the wheels and putting on a show. Great run by the point leader who looks like he will garner another championship this season, unless something unforeseen happens. He is 138 points ahead of Rutherford, with the Demon only 31 points behind him.

Speaking of the Demon, Damion Gardner, he qualified 14th and just missed the dash. He ran 2nd in his heat to Rodney Argo and lined up 13th on the main event grid. He drove the Willis Machine, TCR, Gaerte, # 45 like normal and surged quickly up to third for the best passing job of the main event. Damion looks like he is ready to take names and hit hard in the big ones coming up. Keep your eye on him! Mike English jumped into the Moosemobile this week as Tom and Laurie Sertich returned after a two year layoff with great success. Mike had quick time until Jones stole it late in the order, ending up 2nd quick and the only other car besides Jones under 12 seconds. That’s fast! He ran 3rd in the Semi to make the main and finished 7th in the familiar turquoise blue and white # 92. Plans are for him to drive it again at the Kindoll Classic. Welcome back!

The Wagsdash line-up always has some surprises as some already qualified cars don’t always show and I go shopping for replacements. Of course, I am very popular during the last few days before the Wagsdash as all the wannabe’s are ready to get in the race. This year three cars didn’t show that I expected and one that I didn’t expect, arrived with his new #66. J Hicks drives for a very low buck team and I was surprised they got another car this soon, but later he showed why he came back with a great drive in the Wagsdash. With the field full early in the night, one of the newly invited drivers had his problems. Bobby Cody launched his car out the back exit and was done for the night. Enter Charles Davis Jr to the rescue as the last invitee.

The race started off a lot like the message board jokester predicted, yellow, yellow, yellow, and a lot like any race with more inexperienced drivers in it. That is the Wagsdash! It is for those who need the experience! It usually starts slow as they sort out their desire to win $2500 on the first lap. But, like usual, they always settled down, and after five laps had mercifully completed, it was a great race the rest of the way. “The Bakersfield Cowboy” was hot from his 7th starting spot and took the lead handily with a great march thru those in front of him, and he was never better on this track. Driving his dad, Earnie’s, Matrix, Dick’s Automotive, Quality Diesel Electric, # 97, “BC” really did a number on the boys as he threaded his way thru traffic and stayed out of trouble until the checkers fell. A great job and I still don’t know where the motor came from because he junked his only bullet at the last SCRA race. He is the youngest Wagsdash winner and was so happy he didn’t know what to do with himself in the winners circle. They got a little help from the Tony Jones team that pitted right next to them in one of the barn paths. Both winners parked right next to each other, how could that be?

Jordan Hermansader and J Hicks both did exceptionally well. Jordan passed from 16th to get 2nd and J Hicks came from 20th to get 3rd. Officially Hicks started 18th, but elected to go to the back to check out his motor. Later he proved it was working just fine and if there were a few more laps, I think he could have done more damage. Mark Heidenreich crashed hard on lap 3 and was done. Later he received a DVD player with surround sound as a hard luck award. He was sore, but no broken bones and will be fine, but his car is not!

For the second time in history, I made an error after the race on who was the hard charger to get the $380.86 in the Lafond Jar. A too quick study made Charles Davis Jr the winner and we gave him the bottle. Happy Charlie, but on further review, J Hicks tied him and the official “Freddie” report confirms it. So, I will pay J Hicks the same $380.86, as it was my mistake. We couldn’t have split the bottle anyway. Charlie also gets the Rimmer Long Tow Award from merry old England when we see him at Manzy next race. I know, I know, it was “lost” back at the booth.

So, Ventura Raceway had a big write-up in the LA Times motor racing section of their paper this past week advertising the Wagsdash and that Tony Stewart’s big Mopar racer, driven by popular hometown hero Cory Kruseman, would be racing on Saturday night. What a coup! All the advertising promo done by promoter Jim Naylor shouted the special news that the hometown hero who made good would be on the track for the fans entertainment on this Saturday night. Cory, along with his wife Carri and daughter Casie, took time out from his busy schedule to celebrate with the Wagtimer’s at the wild Cronies event the night before the Wagsdash and brought along Nelson Stewart, (Tony’s father) and his crew chief Bobby Barth. The later two drove the big rig all the way from Indiana just to make this race. This further advertised the big special event in front of a partisan sprint car crowd anxious to see the Mopar power under Cory’s boot in action the next day. The huge Mopar advertising rig was the first to park in the pits on Saturday morning, so everybody was happy? It would be an event to remember and it was on Wagsdash day!

It wasn’t long after the drivers meeting that the word leaked out that Cory’s car had been deemed illegal and the rig quickly backed out and was sent home. Can you say shock? The local hero was banished and a wheel hadn’t even been turned. Would it have turned out different if we only had 24 cars in the pits? So what’s next? Will Tony Stewart recall his car back to Indiana and keep J J from coming for the two big races ahead? Did it kill any chance that Tony might get involved with a car in SCRA? Did Nelson call his son Tony on Sunday morning, and what did he have to say about the SCRA and the welcome they received? What would have been different if Nelson had a good report? Will this hurt the NWWC this year at the Oval Nationals and the years to come? Was it a rule that could have been bypassed for this race and given the fans what they really wanted? Did Indiana runners John Scott and Levi Jones get the same scrutiny with their cars? Is it anybody’s business but the SCRA? Is the message board making a mockery of the whole thing? Is this the straw that broke the camels back. Should the SCRA not be the sanctioning body for the NWWC? These are just a few of the thoughts that went thru my mind, but I am not casting stones, only reporting the mood.

Take nothing away from Tony Jones super win or the great Wagsdash event put on later, the whole race day was tainted by this decision, right or wrong, and it took away from our day. I remember the argument when the SCRA car owners wanted to know why USAC could run the offsets in the SCRA points NWWC events. The answer was, because that’s the way it is back there and if we want them to run with us, we need to bend a little. Didn’t we just get the reverse of that here on the left coast. Oh well, rules are rules and if it’s your football, you play the game the way you want to, that is until another bully comes along. Enough, it is what it is, but is it over? Since I wasn’t involved in this decision, I don’t know anything, now do I?

Down goes the soap box and up comes the attaboy’s. My thanks to all who helped us put this Wagsdash event together, and particularly my friends and fellow Wagtimer’s Mike and Evelyn Clark, Sonia & Krista Bandy, Fran & Jim Herdrich, Norm Bogan, Darleen & Tina Dils, Julie Shiosaki, Joe & Ellen Ellis, Jim & Jan Fargo, Tory Clarett, Terri Bliss, Jennifer Perry, Steve, Kim & Korie Lafond, Tracey and Gerry Johnson, Kari Alvarran, Mark, Ben & Bethany Thrasher. To Jim Naylor and his staff and all the SCRA officials who orchestrated “the toughest 30 laps in racing, at the raciest little track by the sea”, my hats off to all of you! To all who donated to the many fund raisers, the sponsors on the calendar and the event T-shirt, my thanks to all of you, your race was spectacular! It was the best one of them all!

I will be at Manzanita next week with Mrs Wags Quilt and a few t-shirts hoping to set up a booth, so look for me. We are almost out of t-shirts, so if you missed getting one, call me to see if I have your size!!! Also the lap money for the Oval Nationals is filling up, get on board and either e-mail me at winglesswarriors@aol.com or call at 949-472-9247 to get in the program and have a chance in the drawing for a NASCAR hood from the PAS. The top three get the $5,000 extra raised.

This one took a while to write. I guess I am just disappointed about the way things went, but not about the racing, it was awesome. I only hope we are racing at Ventura next season and the years to come, but there is a big question mark on that story. I was already unhappy this year over getting the Wagsdash scheduled against the Trophy Cup that my friend Trophy Dave puts on every year. I want to support him because he does me. I worked hard to get off his date, and still ended up on it again. He did build a beautiful trophy, didn’t he!!! When a celebrity like Cory comes to your special event because you ask him, and then doesn’t even get to run the next day, well the highs and lows in racing are sometimes met coming and going. All in all, it was a beautiful weekend for the Wagtimes workers and me.

A FEATURE (30 Laps)
1. Tony Jones. 2. Richard Griffin. 3, Damion Gardner. 4. Troy Rutherford. 5. Josh Ford. 6. Mike Kirby. 7. Mike English. 8. John Scott. 9. Levi Jones. 10. Steve Ostling. 11, Rip Williams. 12, Charles Davis, Jr. 13. Rodney Argo. 14. Greg Bragg. 15. Marc Hart, 16. Alan Ballard. 17. Verne Sweeney. 18. Richard McCormick. 19. Bobby Graham. 20. Jordan Hermansader. Laps Led: Rutherford 1, Griffin 2, Rutherford 3-6, Griffin 7-21, T. Jones 22-30.

SCRA points as of 10/18/03
Richard Griffin 2015, 2. Troy Rutherford, 1877 3. Damion Gardner, 1846 4. Rip Williams 1682, 5. Mike Spencer, 1199 6. Steve Ostling, 1197, 7. Tony Jones 1066, 8. Rickie Gaunt 1040, 9. Josh Ford 1010, 10. Mike English 1004, 11. Cory Kruseman 868, 12. Levi Jones 850, 13. Adam Mitchell 823, 14. Alan Ballard 778 15. Charles Davis, Jr 651, 16. Seth Wilson 628, 17. Verne Sweeney 601 18. J.J. Yeley 552, 19. Brian Venard 526, 20. Jimmy Crawford 503.

WAGSDASH (30 laps)
1. Alan Ballard, 2. Jordan Hermansader, 3. J Hicks, 4. Charles Davis Jr., 5. Mike Spencer, 6. Greg Bragg, 7. Brian Venard, 8. Danny Sheridan, 9. Will Perkins, 10. Seth Wilson, 11. Cal Smith, 12. Jimmy Crawford, 13. Steve Venard, 14. Ronnie Case, 15. Mel Murphy, 16. Chris Tramel, 17. Duane Marcum, 18. Dan Hilberg, 19. Mark Heidenreich, 20. Gary W. Howard.

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