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October 22, 2011

By Ken Wagner

Would you believe that 1) Wags went to a wing show? 2) that Kyle Larson blew away the 24 car field at the 18th Annual Trophy Cup, but didnít win, 3) that Jac Haudenschild came from out of nowhere to get the big bucks from Trophy Dave, 4) that Make a Wish foundation received $50,000 from Dave Pusateri and his band of Trophy Cup Wonder Workers, 5) that the drag racing super stars from the 60ís and their hot girls were at Famosa, but they sure donít look the same as back in their day, 6) that next year the trophy cup will add a night for non-wing racers (360 style that is), 7) and 2 years from now the Trophy Cup will pay $50,000 to win, itís a secret!

For my pics Click here to view. The Trophy Cup Wonder Workers Click here to view. Drags at Famosa Click here to view. Doug Allens work is here as usual click here to view.

Yes, I did attend the 18th annual Trophy Cup of my good friendís Dave and Muriel Pusateri but it didnít act like a wing race as the entire event was inverted by points earned and thus, the hot dogs had to race for it from the back! The Trophy Cup has always been an aggressive no nonsense approach to racing that is totally unheard of, except for the annual Wagsdash events of the past. This brainchild of Dave Pusateri has grown so big in stature; there is no way to describe what he has done for racing and the Make a Wish Foundation. Originally it was a 410 race the first 4 years, all of which I attended and was part of the working crew. The conflict between my race and the Trophy Cup then went on after that for years and it was rare when I was available to even go see Trophy Daveís world. This weekend was a blur as he and his wonder workers went non-stop on their quest to put money in the Make a Wish Foundation, this year $50,000, from early morning until 2 am both days.

The free Taco Bravo feed after the first night of racing was packed as Taco Bravo owner Dennis personally served 2500 Tacos to fans, with Dave assisting right beside him. A band played throughout the feed and everyone had a good time. The Spaghetti feed from La Villa Delicatessen started Saturday off at noon with the band playing again. The Trophy Dave Wonder Workers got it all handled as Spaghetti and meatballs and bread and cake and salad and so on were served out of the kitchen. Daveís two granddaughters, Jessica and Karlee, served the drinks for both feeds, as well as worked hard too, as this is truly a family affair. The auction went on and there were some WOO driver signed helmets as part of the money raising. Pretty amazing, but the bottom line was the Trophy Cup purse topped out over $90,000 with an additional $50,000 check for the Make a Wish Foundation presented to them on Saturday night.

Starting in 1994 with Ronnie Day the very first champion, this race has drawn all the biggieís to try and take home the big money. The vaunted outlaw stars came to take the money most of the years, but the local stars have won 14 of these events stunning the cherry pickers. The Kaeding family has won 7 times with Brent and Tim doing the most damage under one family banner. This yearís winner is now a 2 time champion, but itís a tough road to go to get the overall every year. Jac Haudenschild quietly surged up from 23rd starting spot to take the winners share home to Ohio, this time, barely edging Jonathan Allard and Brad Sweet. It was fun to watch!

OK, lets analyze my "would you believe" opening lines!
(1) Did I really go to a wing show, or how I was able to stay incognito during the two days hiding behind my camera? Many fans questioned me for being there, but my response was it wasnít like a wing race, there was plenty of passing and hard fought racing. It is the only wing show I attend anymore, even though there was a time in the 80ís I went to a lot of WOO shows, I learned my preference and have stuck to it. In those days they were really good, but dry slick racing sealed my absence.

(2) Kyle Larson just blew away the field, but he started too far forward to have a chance to win the overall. He was really great lapping up to 4th place in the 50 lap race with 24 cars starting. His wall banging incident on Friday night sealed his fate and a make it impossible to add this one to his impressive list of wins this season. He was hooked up and flying again.

(3) Jac Haudenschild played it cool as he came from the back of the field to pass Jonathan Allard on the last lap to win the $20,000 overall championship from him. He finished in 2nd place on the grid behind the winner, but wasnít in the same time zone to have a chance at Kool Kyle who was in charge from the start. Earlier it looked like Brad Sweet had them all covered as he marched thru the field right up to about 3rd place before banging the wall, thus losing his set-up and ended up falling back to 7th place. After a yellow with 2 laps to go, the restart looked like a motocross race to the first turn, with cars instead of bikes in every lane trying to squeeze their car to the lead.

(4) Dave Pusateriís Trophy Cup has earned over $600,000 for the Make a Wish Foundation and this yearís check of $50,000 is pretty amazing! Dave and wife Muriel direct a very seasoned group of committed workers who make it all happen from the feeds thru the auction and the running of the race. Itís all good and they were fabulous as usual.

(5) My trip to the annual Hot Rod Reunion on Sunday at the Famosa Dragstrip had some good and some bad. The old famous cars of the 60ís with, front motored top fuelerís smokiní down the strip, was once again magnificent! The musical sound of fuel burning Chrysler Hemiís was ferocious like I always loved, and with the smell of nitro just adding to it! The super stars of the era were there, some with their once hot girlfriends, and time has changed the landscape there, for sure! I loved seeing the old cars of my youth, but since it was Sunday, many had already left or were loading up when I went around early after arrival. It is a serious mecca for drag race lovers of the good old days! Next year Iíll try to make at least Saturday, hopefully.

(6) Big news from Trophy Dave happened when he announced next year there will be an additional night for 360 non wing racers. I hope the CRA boys are ready for that because I am told it will have a significant purse!

(7) The final announcement from Trophy Dave was the 20th annual Trophy cup in two years will be the last for him, but will pay the winner $50,000 to win the overall championship! Imagine that, a 360 race paying big bucks to the winner! Hopefully Trophy Dave will consider continuing on, but he has earned his planned retirement. He created something that I hope his Wonder Workers will continue it on!

Of the two nights of racing, the only thing that didnít make Saturday better than Friday was Kyle Larson started too close to the front! Seriously, if he doesnít bang the wall Friday, he would have been in the back and that might have made the outcome a little different. It was great racing, even if it was winged! Imagine the WOO or the USAC/CRA trying this format. The Wagsdash has always done an inversion, but that is only one small event each year.

I really enjoyed my time with Trophy Dave and all his people, they made me feel at home. I sat near Grove Hill who only tapes this race now in his retirement from behind the video lens. I was able to take it all in and it was all fun. There were a lot of great racers out there among the 70 who entered and we didnít even miss the WOO regulars who had to go to Talladega to race an added in event after being told it was OK to run the Trophy Cup. Politics? Who knows, but those who ran put on an awesome show. I am ready now to head to Canyon Raceway north of Phoenix for more great racing this weekend.

I am slowly getting in the funds for this yearís WAG$CA$H event, but thanks to a lot of folks, it is coming. Namely Doug Allen, Mike Fink, Greg Kaz, A & A Machine, Don Flanders, Steve Lafond, Hub Cap Mike, Mike Clark and a few more. The total now is $2130.00 and rising. It doesnít include the change for the Lafond Jar of change Hard Charger Award which should be over $500 by now.

Let me make the format a little clearer for you. I call it WAG$CA$H and it is ďTHE Race within a raceĒ. It all happens on November 12th at Hanfordís Giant Raceway. It is very simple! The eligible drivers low buck drivers, will race the USAC/CRA show like they would normally do. They tow up there and put on their red & white polka dot flags, (thatís how you can keep track of them) then they qualify, run the heats and run the main event like normal doing the best they can. Just another normal race night and the normal CRA payout will occur from their results, but there is the bonus WAG$CA$H money to be paid out as well. It will work just as if they had run a Wagsdash like the last 20 years, except they donít run any extra laps. For the WAG$CA$H payoff, the highest finishing eligible driver gets the championís trophy and the biggest bucks and so on down thru the other eligible drivers. The biggest bonus is they donít have to race an extra race using up gas, tires and other stuff. Itís a race within a race and you can keep track of the WAG$CA$H drivers with their red and white polka dot flags! There will be the shiny tire award and other Wags type of awards made, depending on the purse like always.

The eligible drivers so far are: Ronnie Gardner, David Bezio, Jerry Welton, Bobby Bender, Johnny Bluntach, Johnny McCall, Brody Roa, Tony Everhart and Kenny Perkins. Three more will be added to the field by the end of the Oval Nationals to make 12 seeded in for that night. Their car owners will get at least $200 for running that day. If the purse gets over $8,000, I will add additional low buck driverís names from those who show up and pay them for their results that night.

The purse will rise thru the on-line auction, the calendar sales, the 50/50 sales, and the money still to come from more sponsors that we need! Consider getting involved. You can go to http://wagtimes.com/wagsauction2011.html and bid on an item, please. You can send a check or money order to me made out to Wagtimes, 429 Flores Circle, Las Vegas, NV 89123. You can bring me your cache of change for the hard charger and you can show up and watch two main events in one at Hanford, November 12!!!! Itís the last 410 race of the year at a great race track!

I got to go to Bakersfield and the 20th annual Hot Rod Reunion Sunday morning at Famosa Dragstrip and it was obvious I missed a lot as many were loading up while others were gone! I traversed thru the show area where the hot cars were left and then into the pits where lots of stuff was for sale. After about 3 hours of dragging my tired butt around, I found the High Speed Motorsports pit area and sat down with Walt Stevens, an NHRA hall of fame driver and visited for a long but. Their AA front motored fueler had been blowing motors earlier in the year, so they backed up and started from scratch with a new crew chief and some serious testing. So far they are on track and havenít blown up anything. They were about to make one more pass, but I was on the long road home before they hit the staging lanes, if indeed they did. It was a short day for me with a 5 plus hour drive home, but I stayed as long as I could and watched a lot. Boy, for some of us old 60ís drag fans, this is a must see event.

I met Greg and Billy Willis wandering around the AAA booth and found out they are Danny Sheridan fans, imagine that! Billy is Gregís father and drove sprint cars back in his day under the name of Billy Clark. His son Greg was enthusiastic about the drags as he ran off to watch while dad and I got acquainted. He said he raced against Tommy Hinnershitz back in the day. They are regular PAS attendees.

Next stop Canyon Raceway near Phoenix, so I hope to see many of you there. After that the Oval Nationals and itís time to end the year at Hanford the next week. Thatís 6 nights of racing in three weeks, can you dig it!

10/22/11 50 lap Main Event Trophy Cup:
Kyle Larson, Jac Haudenschild, Roger Crocket, Jonathan Allard, Tommy Tarlton, Shane Golobic, Brad Sweet, Stevie Smith, Peter Murphy, Randy Hannagan, Bud Kaeding, Steven Kent, Trey Starks, Rico Aubrey, Tim Kaeding, Bobby McMahan, Jason Statler, Brent Kaeding, Smith, Jayme Barnes, Justyn Cox, Justin Sanders, Evan Suggs and Kyle Hirst.

Friday nights, "A" Main finish: winner Stevie Smith, Bud Kaeding, T. Kaeding, Cox, Sweet, Haudenschild, Hannagan, Rico Abreu, J. Allard, Bobby McMahon, Brent Kaeding, Shane Golobic, Andy Forsberg, Jason Statler, Starks, Stevwen Kent, Larson, Sanders, Kyle Hirst, Craig Smith.

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