On Monday morning, a large crowd packed the El Toro Memorial Park to pay tribute to two racing friends who went that extra mile to support our racing for so many years, in spite of losing their son Jeff in 1989. The graveside service gave many the chance to say goodbye to the two friends. We will go on, like tradition commands, but we won't forget them.
The 2003 season is just now getting rolling back East, but in many ways it is still just getting started here in SCRAland for many. The long season and the two long trips are in the air of decision for most race teams. With only 6 events completed so far, as we head into May, another rainout this past week showed us who is in control here, Mother Nature. May has never been a problem in Southern California, as so few rainouts happen after the traditional April showers. In six completed SCRA events, including two road trips, a two-day show at Manzanita and one night at Tulare, the car counts are down a little. Some teams are not ready yet, some drivers don't have rides, and we have lost two more to USAC in the Midwest, so it is truly a new deal. With the car count low total of 31 and a high of 45, the average is a respectable 38+, so we are doing well.
Richard Griffin leads the points at this juncture and we all know he is the one to beat as usual, but there are a few mild surprises in the leader board behind him. Troy Rutherford has been extremely consistent with one victory, a second, a third and the rest 4th place finishes. He has been right up front in Mark Priestley's yellow # 7 sprinter each race. This puts him 2nd in points, just 10 points behind the leader. Damion Gardner had a slow start jumping in the Harlan Willis # 45 car, but in the last four races he has won three of them and sits 3rd in points. The team has settled in with everyone wondering if he can keep up the outstanding driving. The answer is yes, so the boys will have to step up to keep up!
On the other side of the coin is Tony Jones. Still trying to get it going, his luck hasn't been good so far with one runner-up and one other top 5 finish so far. He has missed two features and valuable points, so his 10th place spot isn't too bad, considering. With so many outstanding drivers, he will have to get his spurs on and be the Cowboy he can be the rest of the season, so watch him fly!
Bubby Jones is fast improving from the stroke he experienced a few weeks ago. His doctors say he will continue to get better, but he is still grumping around from being laid up. He gets around ok, but it wears him out, so the news is good and he is on the road to recovery. He has been to the races recently, and will be continuing to go where he loves on Saturdays. Cards can reach him at 4581 Pedley Rd., Riverside Ca. 92509.
Lealand McSpadden has now started his radiation treatments, having just completed his first week of six that will search and destroy the cancer still around. They are concentrating on his neck and so far he is doing well. This is not an easy treatment, so get well wishes are appreciated by him and his wife Janet. Cards can reach him at 16231 E. Via De Palmas, Gilbert, AZ 85297.
Jack Dearmond Jr went home from the hospital last week with his halo on. Jack's crash at the PAS on April 26 was a racing accident that hurt him seriously. He was along for the ride, once the car got up and began flipping end over end, and doesn't remember the crash at all. He has two broken bones in his neck, and two more in his back, plus a few busted ribs that is creating a lot of pain for him. After first considering surgery on his neck, the doctors then decided it was too dangerous to operate and put him in the halo to keep his head from moving around. The plan is to wait three months to allow the critical broken bones to heal, and that will be iffy since the shattered bone will have to glue itself back together. When the halo comes off, the docs will decide what is needed to be done. He too could use a perky card to cheer him up during this long recovery period. Send to: Jack DeArmond, P.O. Box 934, Norco, CA 91760.
The SCRA watch for our drivers back in the Midwest shows some positive signs for fans here in the southland as Eldora and Winchester USAC events were run over the weekend. Perhaps the two fastest and toughest tracks for all USAC competitors, everyone can now relax for a while. J J Yeley did the best with two 5th place finishes and is 2nd in sprint car points behind Tracy Hines to date. Jay Drake was next with 9th and 6th place finishes, followed by Cory Kruseman 10th and 15th, Levi Jones 15th and 11th and John Scott with a missed feature and an 18th at wild Winchester. It's a tough battle back there with so many different tracks and different drivers to contend with.
I got my 2003 edition of the National Speedway Directory and it is going to be very useful so I remind you to get yours. The popular pocket-sized 592 page book lists over 1,420 auto racing facilities located in the U.S. and Canada. The comprehensive information includes phone numbers, addresses, directions to get to the tracks, webpages, nights of operation, etc. for oval tracks, dragstrips and road courses. It also has extensive data on the various sanctions, print and internet publications and racing related museums. The new edition of the National Speedway Directory is available by sending a check or money order for $12.00 (which includes postage) for one copy to: National Speedway Directory, PO Box 448, Comstock Park, MI 49321-0448. They do not accept credit card or COD orders.
This week is in Phoenix at Manzanita Speedway before coming back for two weeks at the PAS. The incomplete races last week will be added to the July 26 event with the B starting at 6 pm, followed by the A main and then the regular show. No word on the rescheduling of the Bagley memorial, but there is an open date on May 25, after the PAS holiday race?????