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RAMS LOSE - RAMS LOSE - RAMS LOSE!!! Georgia who? Hurrah!

Racing is great, but I think I have found another hobby when I am not busy with my first love, sprint car racing! Since the end of the last season on November 17th, and by the time the SCRA kicks off this one on Saturday, I will have attended 30 high school basketball games and thrown in one college game to boot! Can you believe it, in just 2 months? I have always been an avid college basketball fan watching a ton of TV games, but watching these kids play in person is really refreshing and I am drawn to the excitement. No money for these young stars, just bragging rights and winning in front of all the cute girls, that is what it is all about. Saturday night, Mater Dei, a local team from nearby Santa Ana, beat the nations number 1 team from Virginia, Oak Hill Academy, by 12 points. That ended Oak Hill's 67 game winning streak. All this in front of a packed cheering house in the Long Beach Pyramid. Awesome, as the place went wild when the locals ran away with it! The night before, nearby Mission Viejo High School clinched their first league championship in 12 years by beating their arch rival in the last minute, for their 22nd win of the year. You think the crowd wasn't into it? Me too! One of our long time friends has a son, Travis Neison, who is the 6'8" star who has led them all year and will be at Santa Clara next year. The local playoffs start next week, so I guess I'll be busy a little longer. I am having fun now! Racing, oh yeah on to the news.

The start of the year for the SCRA kicks off at Perris this coming week with a rare day show event, so set your alarms, because the gates opening at 11 AM and will feature a battle between the SCRA and USAC champions, among many other top stars. J J Yeley will be in town to take on Cory Kruseman, and won't that be a fine how do you do! Look for Tony Jones and the Gasman to alter the outcome if their slicks work. Then we have 3 more weekends off before the first night event, and the season will be in high gear then.

In years past, the normal kickoff happened in conjunction with the Copper World at PIR in Phoenix at the end of January, but last year "they" changed the date! The race was moved six weeks forward and some of the many traveling fans that would normally fly in to start their season with us, and escape the cold weather back home, now will have to stay home for their own season opener's in many cases. The "powers that be" really can be crazy, can't they? I wonder how turning two big weekends into one has been financially for them at the big asphalt parking lot?

When we do hit Manzanita on March 15/16, it will be for the 2nd annual Gary Sokola Memorial. The moved and changed Copper will also be that weekend, but with IRL the feature show instead of the traditional open wheel classes that for years graced the mile track. Those midgets always scare me there anyway! I really don't like going to the pavement shows, but many fans do love it and now have to change their annual schedule. The SCRA will have a great year, so let's see what happens on the big half mile that weekend. You can be sure that Richard Griffin, Jeremy Sherman, J J Yeley and Charles Davis Jr will be protecting their turf!

That on again-off again scenario coming from the Gardner Motorsports camp was still swirling until recently, but has officially settled down as of now. The rumor's of their curtailing racing was just that, another winter talkfest, and all because Troy Rutherford was off looking for a ride. Business can always be up and down, as we have seen dramatically in the last four months after our nation's biggest tragedy in September. The Gardner's plumbing biz has supported the family's thirst for racing a long time, and will continue to do so in the future. They love racing and nothing can change that for the friendly family that works very hard to create the Sled's that run so well! From Brad Noffsinger's championship years with CRA to today's team that last year featured Rickie Gaunt, Troy Rutherford and Jimmy Gardner Jr, there is a long lineage that will continue to put the familiar blue and white # 96 at the front of the pack. Over the winter, the Gardner's plans were enough in the air that they felt the need to let Troy know his ride might not be there this season. That's how all this started, so Troy began shopping until recently when the Gardner's announced all is well and they would be back this season as usual. Troy will be running the bar car that was so successful the second half of the season. Naturally, The Gardner's shop will produce a new version as back up and they are all committed to win more often this season. They will have Troy in the # 96 car and have a companion second car that will carry the # 96X. Tony Elliott will be in the second car for the opener and the Sokola Memorial event at Phoenix.

There are many stories about equipment for sale in the SCRA circulating about now. Some are just trying to sell some of the used stuff as they update their racecars for the long season. Others might be looking at it differently, as many won't be able to race the whole year, and in some cases, not at all, so those planning retirement will try to sell everything. The difficult times and tightening of many business money belts, will dictate who runs when and how often in this group. This is not a new story as down through history, racing has proved to be expensive and only the most tenacious survive and can keep a car running competitively. I guess that's why the phone lines are burning up as racers try to nail down more sponsorship. GET INVOLVED!

Speaking of sponsorship needed, it looks like Danny Sheridan is shopping for a ride as the Moose Racing Team has closed down for now. Danny did a great job last year as the team had the normal expensive track experiences which seriously emptied the team coffers. Tom & Laurie Sertich are a low buck team that depend on a lot of smaller sponsors to get them through the season. Their second motor was borrowed, and it has moved on, so they know they can't run the season with just one, and don't have the funds to buy another. Before last year, they mainly tried to run as many races a season as possible, depending on the money in the kitty. Last year they stepped up and made the whole circuit with Danny in the driver' seat and had great results. This year they have already sent up the red flag for sponsor help and parked their car, and that sent Danny scurrying for a ride. This young man is ready to rock and roll, so let's hope "the Moose is loose" cry is heard again this year, or Danny can find a good ride to showcase his talents. Tom & Laurie have not given up hope, just closed the expense ledger with no big money help in site. Danny will be practicing in Ron Didonato's # 57 this Tuesday at practice at the PAS and we shall see where that leads. Tom and Laurie will be by the phone.

Cary Faas is coming back, again. Cary, the long time non-wing driver, who has appeared and dropped out several times over the years, has been attending to his business in recent years making very few appearances on the track. This season he is planning on running the first SCRA race at Perris, then add two wing shows with the WOO and see where it goes from there. He wants to make as many races this year as possible with the SCRA tour one of his hope to do's. Cary, is best remembered for winning the big Terre Haute race three times, but has had little success elsewhere. He has convincingly led several races over the years that ended in unexpected problems, so his talent has never been in question. Can he return and show the veteran SCRA or WOO drivers he has something left? Tune in, we shall see as his equipment is noted for always being the latest and sharp looking!

Listen up now and pay attention! The SCRA is going to try something new. They are looking to boost the SCRA Benevolent Fund that has been used to help many drivers, including Rusty McClure and currently George Gervais. The first hot deal out of the box is an auction of a Richard Griffin driving suit! The Gasman's popularity should make this a must have item for fans. Sherri Williby will be the administrator of the auction. All bids are to be FAXED to her at 562-804-9859. Please write (legibly) your name, address, phone number, and the bid amount in your fax. NO EMAIL BIDS WILL BE ACCEPTED. The auction has begun already, and will end at 8:00 PM (PST) on Friday, March 1st. The winner will be announced at the Perris race on March 2nd and need not be present. This will be a silent auction, so no amounts will be posted. However, Sherri will update the top bid periodically during the auction so the figure will climb higher. Keep bidding and realize the money will go to a very important cause in SCRA racing.

New mufflers are coming, new mufflers are coming! Well maybe some are the same old ones, but much more emphasis will be on keeping the noise down. It is a known fact that noise at our dirt tracks is the number one complaint item around the state of California. The 95 DBA level at 100 feet is going to be much stricter enforced this year. At Ventura Raceway, Jim Naylor has done extensive testing and the results are in. What has been creating problems at the"raciest little track by the sea" could potentially shut it down. This season the SCRA will be pro-active in fighting this incoming barrage of complaints by approving the four recommended mufflers for use at all SCRA events. They don't include the small "bullet" style straight thru mufflers. Four manufacturers products are on the approved list. They are: SpinTech # 1545, Extreme # 83535, Dynatech 75 # 012352 and Flowmaster # 943051. Hopefully, this will be a boost to the racing scene and keep it going at out favorite tracks we love to visit!

In addition to this, two other rules changes will be in effect in SCRA in 2002. A new 1250 minimum weight rule is 50 pounds less than last year, but there is no with or without the muffler distinction. Side visors will be OK, but no metal, carbon fiber or fiberglass allowed, and a vertical dimension of 5 inches max. So mufflers are important and the "peek-a-boo look on the sprinters that I don't like is now officially AOK. Oh well, I guess the sun is a problem?

I have reserved seat tickets for the expected sellout at the Oskaloosa $30,000 to win show on August 6th. They are $25 each and many are already spoken for. If you want to sit with the SCRA fans on the road, e-mail me at winglesswarriors@aol.com right away. I will have the tickets with me at the races this week, so track me down. Well, see ya in the sunshine, we hope, and remember……….when it's racetime……………it's WAGTIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And my third issue of Stock Car Mag? Don't bother me, I am trying to make it fit in my birdcage. It's missing something!

Check out my latest bio on Mike Kirby. The long time driver has many accomplishments and looks for more. Read about his figure 8's and more Here!

Play WAGSO! Start the year off and see how you match up with other prognosticators about SCRA racing. Pick the top five finishers in order at every SCRA race, plus the fast time driver and hard charger. It's fun and you can see how easy/hard it is and compete with others. Submit your pics by e-mail here before 10:00 am on race day, except for this Saturday when I need it by midnight Friday, and have some fun.

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