11th Grandchild makes and appearance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For Mr Wags pics from Ventura click here.
Since this week was dark for the SCRA, I already had plans to go to Ventura with Mrs Wags, unless a certain baby delivered. At 9 AM on Saturday the phone rang and it was our son Chris who told his mom that wife Vanessa was going into labor and she better hurry if she wanted to be there. After a hurried call to the always cheap *@##* airlines, I dropped her off at LAX and headed where else, but to Ventura for the VRA 360 races. The gray damp weather at our house was not like the beach at all. Ventura was bright and sunny, and a little windy, but nothing like we had been seeing at the races this year. It was on!
The long lines at the pit gate window allowed me to relax in the car for a bit with my race dog Dubya, before I headed into the pits. I thought the line would go down, but after an hour, I finally got in line. Biker Bruce was with Wiley Miller to lend a hand as Wiley would be running with the senior sprints this night. I took Mrs Wags camera with me in her absence, and started shooting a few pics. Eddie Wirth was in the house to run a Kruseman school car. He is such a pleasant gentleman and was looking forward to running again. His last outing ended with a car that wouldn't run, so he was ready. He is happy to be the Wagsdash Grand Marshall this year and will be very happy with the poster Mr Jim Naylor is working on honoring him.
Jimmy Crawford was focused on winning this race, and the VRA drivers were ready for the SCRA invasion of Mike Kirby, Cory Kruseman, Troy Rutherford and Tom Downing. Josh Ford had a companion car in his pits as younger brother Jake is now starting to run the bad boy cars. There would be nearly 40 sprint cars in the pits, with 17 Senior's, joined by modifieds and Dwarf cars. Who knows how many cars in the pits, but there would be a lot of action as they get with it here by requirement.
Buzz Shoemaker, and his son Doug, were here with his latest acquisition, a 360 sprint car. With the number 0 and the color Orange, it made this one bright and easy to spot. Buzz told the usual funny tale on how he got this one, but now he and Gale Forrester and Doug are off having fun with it. They put Gary W Howard in the car last week and he ran fifth here, so Mike Kirby would be putting his hands on the wheel tonight. I talked with Doug about his selling one of my favorites, the black King O lawn car, and he said Buzz can always build another one!
Troy Rutherford was back in the car he won in last week, the number 18j, so the fun ahead was coming for him. Jack Gardner Jr and Charlie Zabinski were hanging around to support their driver. Jack said they might even put together a 360 Sled for later races for Troy. Troy is still improving as a driver and has done very well in the Gardner Motorsports entry this year. His time in victory circle with the SCRA is coming again soon, so watch for it.
Tom Downing brought an old Meli chassis and his 360 motor out for the night. Jim Wells, the tireless crewman who toils hard every race, was with him. It seems that Tom won a Simpson helmet at the SCRA banquet this year and is puzzled what to do with it? The high dollar skid lid costs way too much, he says for his budget, and he was willing to trade it back to Simpson for a cheaper model, but was told they only give the top quality ones away and he was stuck with it. The high dollar helmet makes him nervous because his budget for them is a lot less. He said he might have it painted nice and then decide what to do with it.
Jim Naylor was his usual busy self and got his sound system all plugged in only to find some feedback that would puzzle him all night. I think he found the wireless mike as part or all of the problem later. His new track jackets are sure bright! All the track workers wore the brand new dayglow lime green jackets that were so easy to see, and they all looked proud to wear them. Jim not only works hard all day and night on race day, but his people do too, so he rewards them with sharp looking duds.
When the first heat blasted off, and I was up "guesting" in the announcers roost with him, it was fun to watch him get rolling early on. To say he went off when this great 10-lap event ran, would be an understatement. Remember the great call by him a few years ago that made the RPM Tonight and all the "great moment" reruns in later racing programs? The time where he screamed "they are going 4 wide and you can't do that at Ventura"!!! Well, this was part two of Mr Excitement goes crazy. This race was about as good as you can get when 5 cars swapped positions for the 4 transfers so many times that you would have to see the tape to accurately recall it. A race won by defending champion Gary A Howard from the back puts proof to the thriller. You have to add that Troy Rutherford, Chris Wakim, Josh Ford and Ronnie Case were in the mix to understand what happened as Jim made wild gyrations as he screamed the race call to the fans. The five road warriors all changed positions frequently, even several times on some laps, and each had a chance to win. The two car wild pass by Josh was maybe the most sensational, but the "in your face" moves in this one showed "Mr graduate of Ventura" Rutherford that these boys can race, too! Troy got second, but he had to earn it! Great show, but there was plenty of other excitement on the night that followed as we were not done.
Eddie Wirth was a victim in his senior heat when a car spun in front of him and sent him climbing the wall, and later accepting a ride in the Kawasaki mule to the pits, after the car stopped bouncing. Being Cory's car, and he was in the booth when it happened, while his wife Carrie was just going into the grandstands, so they both saw it and winced together. Cory later said it was damaged with expensive bolt on's needed to make it good, but not this night.
Cory announced he will have his new two-seater out on April 20th, another dark SCRA night, so a big crowd will be expected to vie for a ride in it. $100 gets you 5 laps in the wild Kruser "two-pack" machine built by TCR, so get in line. He gave a free ride away to the first person who had his daughter's birthday. A fan quickly claimed that and then Ron Kershaw, driver and owner of the car Gary A Howard drives, showed up a little late with the same birthday. June 26 was the winner, so Jim interviewed Ron and urged him to plan on buying a ride!
Jim Cherry owns the Carpet Coop # 11 Dwarf car that Rob Anderson has driven for years. Jim has been a longtime Wagsdash sponsor and Wagtimes reader. He had some serious health problems that kept him away from his carpet business and put his daughter in the work seat. Recently, has gone back to work and is back doing what he loves, working on his racecar. This race wasn't real good for his team when his driver took the lead in the Main Event, and just as quickly, pulled off the track, ending his night.
Ron Bach won the senior sprints with a great drive as these "old timers really are putting on a great show. Midway through the race, there was a red flag and Jim Porter, the defending champion, and current point leader, Wiley Miller, were both put to the back from their one/two leading positions because they passed the crash scene on a red flag stop. I wonder what would happen if the SCRA started calling that one on those who rush to the work area?
Noise has been a problem at Ventura, and all fairground tracks, for a long time. This is not a new subject in my columns, but an update is due. Jim and a number of muffler manufacturers have been testing to get some relief from this problem and several were approved. The SCRA has followed suit with mandating the use of these mufflers. Some engine builders seem to have noisier engines and I guess their customers have a tougher road to follow. The sprints are doing very well for the most part, but tonight it was pointed out that some of the Dwarf cars are now louder and need adjusting. Interesting, but all engines have some unique properties and some require "special" attention. This serious problem must be taken care of to make sure we are still racing in the years to come at our dirt tracks in California.
OK, the main finally lined up, and from the start it was obvious the slicker than usual track was not going to allow the famous dicing this place normally gives the fans. In fact, only one pass for the lead was made during the 30 laps. And that was by eventual winner Greg Taylor who came from the third row. That doesn't mean bad racing at all as there were some besides Greg who really worked it hard behind the top two. Cory was out before the first green fell as he was hooked off the work area with a serious problem. Mike Kirby started 13th on the grid and took Buzz's "Orange Crate" up to 5th before he pulled off on a red flag and didn't return. Arrrrgh, he was fun to watch pitch it in the turns on the bottom!
But, Greg was relentless as he worked to get the lead, yet Jimmy Crawford looked like a winner until he stuttered coming around turn four and left an opening that was quickly jumped on. Ronnie Case got on his top earlier, but came back to restart, only to go out when his push bar fell off. Chris Wakim had to start at the rear after an infraction, I think he stopped after firing for the main, but came back to get 7th , I think. Great action there, as he moved thru the pack. Our boy, "upside" Downing, had a smooth night and got 10th with some hard fought driving, and rolled it on the trailer for the first time in two trips here to my memory.
Allan Ballard is a 16 year old sophomore in high school and he drives a sprint car. The young man's # 94 sprint car is orange and black and looks sharp under the lights. He is just starting and comes from go-carts to this big step, and looked real good until someone tried to saw off his front end with a near pass? Nice kid who wants to race and win, look for him at Ventura, he will be the one improving each week.
Dale Frye has a deal for everyone you need to check out on his web page. He is raffling off some of his work, great drawings he has done of Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell, with all the proceeds going to the Leukemia charity. In fact all his work, except the outstanding drawings he has done for the Wagsdash the last several years, goes to that charity. Take a chance and check it out, he needs the help. Go on his web page or see him at the track at Perris next week. The final drawing is set for the end of this month. His work is outstanding and it's almost stealing for the $10 raffle cost.
Look for me at The PAS this week and I need help with my Wagsbucks weekly collections. Catch me and my clipboard out front and talk to me about what Wagsbucks really is, money for the lowbuck teams! The collections are dipping and need a boost. I will have that speedpass I mentioned last race that goes to the drawing winner from all who donate $10 or more. The weather will be perfect and Mrs Wags says " she will be there with bells on. Be there and ask Buzz about his new fun playtoy!