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The 100th win comes at Perris Auto Speedway and his new “100 hat” debuts.

By Ken Wagner 4/17/05

Rip Williams of Yorba Linda, California started 5th in the Valvoline USAC/CRA 30 lap main event at Perris Auto Speedway this week. The Ripper charged up and took the lead on lap nine and then pulled away to his historic 100th win. His very first sprint car win came at Ascot on Memorial day of 1983, so it took nearly 22 years to add 99 more, but Rip was extremely happy to get the biggest victory of his life. In the winners circle Rip said “the car was working real well tonight, it was real easy because the car, the crew and the sponsors did their job, and I did mine. I just kicked er’ in the tail a little bit and knew if I kept it nice and smooth I’d win the race.”! He is only 3 wins behind all time leader Dean Thompson.

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Rip drove the John Jory Corporation, Weld Wheels, Stinger, Shaver, black # 3 to fifth quick time, third in his heat and then started fifth in the main event. He was driving like he wanted to win real bad as he split traffic on more than one occasion, sometimes getting way too close to the competition, but he was ready for this win. He went to the front and pulled away from fast timer Damion Gardner and was never threatened once in the lead on lap 9. He made it clear that when he started racing, he and his dad made a pact that they would go for 100 and this was it. The victory padded his four point lead up to 30 and the beat goes on. Rumor has it there was a little bonus that had something to do with some hats?

Damion Gardner set fast time once again this race, his sixth out of seven races with qualifying. The opening race was lined up by a pill draw with no qualifying. On that “other night”, he was a very close 2nd quick timer! Damion had a new car out this week for the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Eagle, Shaver # 50 car. Even with the first time out, the Demon was second in his heat and started in his normal spot, eighth on the main event grid. The track was fast and a little narrow this week, so the “little red sucker” had to go high and low to get into second, but he just couldn’t reel the winner in this time. He will be appearing in a midget this coming weekend at Ventura, check it out.

Mike “King Kong” Kirby looked real strong this week in the La Villa Restaurant, Statewide Towing, Stinger, RC Performance number 4 car. He felt so good after finishing second in the Snap-on Tools Trophy Dash earlier that he felt “he had something for them tonight”! He ran fourth quick, third in his heat and started sixth in the feature. He was charging into third early in the race when he had to pull in the reins to avoid a car getting sideways, and lost about six spots. He worked his way back to third near race end, but needed a yellow to prove his point earlier. He is now 46 points behind the defending champ. He will be heading to Parump for a special 360 event this weekend.

First time racers with CRA this year included Kevin Urton, Rick Becker The Jim Ruth car with Jimmy Thornell in the seat plus a newcomer, Brandon Springstead. The first two were just getting out after plenty of off season preparations with Urton missing the main by one spot and Becker running 19th in the nightcap. The # 25 Ruth car was just finished and Thornell is happy to put it thru the paces. Brandon comes to us from 360 racing and put the beautiful blue # 36 car owned by mom and dad, John and Evelyn, thru it’s paces in his first 410 effort. He qualified near the back where you would expect and then ran 7th in his heat and 16th in the Semi for a good start for the rookie. Interesting enough, I met him last year when he was the store manager for a local auto parts store. He told me then he was coming, and here he is. They are a very low buck team who could use some help.

Ronnie Case and his rookie winning ride from last year have officially split the sheets as J J Ercse now drives the Don Blair owned # 33. Ronnie has been out shopping for a ride recently and drove the Steve Gresham owned # 07 car this week. He will debut his own # 8 car in two weeks with a 410 replacing the usual 360. He just missed the main and looks forward to the next race.

David Cardey continues to search for better results in a sprint car while he also dabbles in the NASCAR Grand National West division when he has time. This week he had the NoCal professor, Jimmy Sills, in his pit to help with set-ups and driving tips. He qualified right in the middle of the 36 car field, won his heat and came in 18th in the main. Last weekend, the young driver got his first top ten finish in the GN series at Mesa Marin in Bakersfield. This coming week, David will be in Phoenix to run the TV show on April 21st. It is live, so check him out in that full bodied monster.

Cory Kruseman had a really busy weekend starting in Bloomington, Indiana where he ran 6th on Friday night. A late flight back home put him at Perris to take the wheel of a brand new Bullitt car that replaced the TCR in Glenn Crossno’s # 38 racing machine. He finished 13th as they ironed the bugs a little, but he wasn’t done. Sunday would be his first Cory Kruseman Driving School day at Perris and he had a full schedule of participants ready to take on a faster track than Ventura provides for his school. Cory had Paul Newman and Eddie Wirth back in his school cars last week at Perris with two other famous big track drivers. Word is they all had a ball.

Alan Ballard continues to run in the rare air with the CRA. He was third quick this week and won the Trophy Dash. He ran 14th in the Main and looked good all night as he continues to be a truly young charger with the club. Young Jordan Hermansader had a good run in the Moosemobile this week after starting 19th in the main, he ran it up to tenth for the hard charger of the week award. Great drive for the Tom and Laurie Sertich team who had fun this race, like you are supposed to!

Steve Farmer of the USAC home office paid his first visit to Perris Auto Speedway and came to talk about the new muffler rule for the USAC racers. Even though the local club had been investigating using two that meet the 95 DBA requirements, SpinTech and Extreme, the announcement of a Flowmaster ruling was not met with total happiness with the local racers, even though the USAC coffers will be increased by the vendor. The promise that the new muffler will be ready later in the year and the racers will get a free one to test was heard and more to come on this one.

Damion Gardner is cutting a wide path in many CRA events this season and there is more to the story besides crew chief Bruce Bromme Jr and the Demon’s favored Eagle chassis. When the Demon is on, no one can seemingly touch him, especially when he uses patience and stays out of trouble. The six fast times out of seven qualifying races should tell the story about how fast he is, but wait, there is more. When he came to the Ron Chaffin team he didn’t feel real comfortable in the car and after some time asked for a chassis change. That new car signaled the coming of his near domination at many events from that point on. He knew a change would make a difference, and the new Eagle immediately did, but wait, there’s more!

Last year he had some leather side panels about say 6 inches deep mounted high on the cage from front to back to shield the lights from his eyes during the night races. Many of us remember a lot of drivers using the 100 mile and hour tape during track packing in the late sun at Ascot over the years. Well the leather blockers were eventually ruled out and were gone, but wait, there’s more. Damion started using the fast tape up there to block the glare and even put sponsors on it, but the ruling went against him again and so it’s also gone. My traditional upbringing has always protested anything that blocks my view of the drivers sawing the wheel as they negotiate the track, or anything that changes the traditional look of my favorite race car, but yes wait, there’s more.

After the last race, he showed me why he likes something to shield the lights from his eyes. I put on his helmet and looked across the track towards the grandstands and every thing looked clear as a bell to me. Wait, there’s more! I then pulled the visor down and looked again. Now it looked like the grandstands were surrounded by a glare that made it “foggy” to my vision, hmmmmmm. I see said the blind man as I now understand what he has been telling me for weeks. It does degrade your vision at night with all the tear offs on the visor and imagine looking thru that mess while trying to run 100miles an hour on a dirt track. So for those who thought it was a speed secret, I wonder if others are affected by the glare. I’ll report on that later.

I had the great pleasure after the races Saturday night of meeting “Mousie” Marcellus of the Winged Express Fuel Altered from the 60’s that still runs the drag strips today. The famous car is one of two fuel altered’s that a die cast model was created of, and I have both! The famous driver, Willie Borsch passed away yet the team continues on at many of the nostalgia events during the year making incredible 200 mph smoky passes with that under 100 inch wheelbase roadster that boggles the mind. I assured Mousie that he and I had surely seen each other back in the early days of the roadster at Southern California dragstrips, but I wasn’t the gadabout person I am now back in those days. Mousie was impressed with our wingless racing and expressed a desire to share the car with our fans at some future event. I’ll let you know if that can be worked out.

A big tip of Wags hat this week goes to driver Mark Heidenreich when we had a few push trucks break down and he brought his dually out to help out during the main event. A big help it was and the guy who desperately needs more sponsorship showed he is willing to help others even though he missed making the main. Attaboy Mark!

Dwayne Marcum had one of the more levitating crashes this week when he launched, or was launched, the Prattmobile into a high flying hard crash that sent him to the local Riverside Community Hospital. He will be there for a few days while he begins recovery from a broken collarbone and other related injuries suffered in a crash like this. He will be locally for a few days before going home to Fresno to recover. He is in great spirits and can be reached at 981-486-6159 at the hospital and would welcome calls and well wishes while he recovers. The car’s cage had to be cut open to allow him to be removed via a backboard to insure no additional injuries would occur, so the car is history. If there were still Wagsbucks being collected, I know where that money would be going.

With a week off there is only one place to be, at Jim Naylor’s Ventura Raceway where I’ll get a view of the midgets I haven’t seen there since the days of Lealand McSpadden, Billy Boat and the famous Sleepy Tripp. It should be fun as there is nuthin’ like a midget at the raciest little track by the sea!

Last note, Belita Michnowicz is off in Hawaii with two of her grandkids. Her son Bobby won the Focus race at Bakersfield Saturday night.


QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Damion Gardner, 50, Chaffin - 16.140, 2. Tracy Hines, 7, Priestley - 16.439, 3. Alan Ballard, 97, Ballard - 16.474, 4. Mike Kirby, 4, Alexander - 16.539, 5. Rip Williams, 3, Jory - 16.673, 6. Mike Spencer, 44, Engstrom - 16.683, 7. Bobby Graham, 14, Lancaster - 16.758, 8. Rickie Gaunt, 2A, Smiley - 16.759, 9. Charles Davis Jr, 8A, Smiley - 16.769, 10. Rodney Argo, 19, Argo - 16.815, 11. Josh Ford, 73, Ford - 16.830, 12. R. J. Johnson, 51AZ, Martin - 16.865, 13. Steve Ostling, 5, Keller - 16.900, 14. Tony Jones, 87, Vermeer/Ferreira - 16.900, 15. Dwayne Marcum, 12, Pratt - 16.912, 16. Dan Hillberg, 82, Hillberg - 16.959, 17. Bobby Cody, 41, Cody - 16.970, 18. David Cardey, 59, Giardina - 16.989, 19. Cory Kruseman, 38, Crossno - 17.047, 20. Rick Becker, 67, Becker - 17.092, 21. Jordan Hermansader, 92, Sertich - 17.174, 22. Kevin Urton, 51, Urton - 17.215, 23. Greg Bragg, 11, Wilkerson - 17.235, 24. Danny Sheridan, 18, Kittle - 17.271, 25. Randy Waitman, Y69, Waitman - 17.321, 26. Mark Heidenreich, 22, Heidenreich - 17.350, 27. Jimmy Crawford, 17C, Crawford - 17.367, 28. ® Joshua Williams, 34, Williams - 17.374, 29. J J Ercse, 33, Blair - 17.525, 30. Seth Wilson, 17, Racing Optics - 17.554, 31. Nadine Keller, 16, Keller - 17.595, 32. Tom Stansberry, 48, Bach - 17.610, 33. Danny Ebberts, 77, Acosta - 17.612, 34. Jimmy Thornell, 25, Ruth - 17.747, 35. Ronnie Case, 07, Gresham - 18.015, 36. Brandon Springstead, 36, Springstead - 19.282.

TROPHY DASH: (3 laps) 1. Alan Ballard, 2. Mike Kirby, 3. Damion Gardner, 4. Tracy Hines. Time 53.24

FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hermansader, 2. Gardner, 3. Williams, 4. Waitman, 5. Ebberts, 6. Ostling, 7. Ercse, 8. Davis 9. Cody. No time

SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Cardey, 2. Wilson, 3. Argo, 4. Hines, 5. Jones, 6. Urton, 7. Spencer, 8. Heidenreich, 9. Thornell. Time 2:55:09

THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Crawford, 2. Kruseman, 3. Ford, 4. Marcum, 5. Ballard, 6. Case, 7. Keller, 8. Bragg, 9. Graham. No time

FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Becker, 2. Gaunt, 3. Kirby, 4. Johnson, 5. Stansberry, 6. Hillberg, 7. Springstead, 8. Sheridan, 9. Williams.

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Spencer, 2. Davis 3. Jones, 4., Graham, 5. Ballard, 6. Hillberg, 7. Urton, 8. Cody. 9. Ercse, 10. Stansberry, 11. Case, 12. Thornell, 13. Ebberts, 14. Sheridan, 15. Keller, 16. Springstead, 17. Ostling, 18. Bragg, 19. Heidenreich. No time

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1.Rip Williams, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. Mike Kirby, 4. Rickie Gaunt, 5. Josh Ford, 6. Tracy Hines, 7. Rodney Argo, 8. Charles Davis Jr, 9. Tony Jones, 10. Jordan Hermansader, 11. Mike Spencer, 12. RJ Johnson, 13. Cory Kruseman, 14. Alan Ballard, 15. Bobby Graham, 16. Dan Hillberg, 17. Seth Wilson, 18. David Cardey, 19. Rick Becker, 20. Randy Waitman, 21. Jimmy Crawford, 22.Dwayne

NEW USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Rip Williams-463; 2-Davis-433; 3-Kirby-417; 4-Gardner-385; 5-Kruseman-378; 6-Gaunt-351; 7-Ford-310; 8-Wilson-233; 9-Jones-207; 10-Spencer-205.

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