Mike Kirby stole the exciting SCRA show this week when he had a chance to sub for the absent Super Rickie Gaunt. With Super Rickie off on a non-racing related wedding adventure, Mike had a chance to shine in the car that is a lot like the one he drove when he was part of the Alexander Trucking Team two years ago. Beating the Demon and the Gasman in front of the big crowd has to bring a smile for all. Mike Kirby was never gone, but he is certainly back now, and became a Super Sub for this week!
Mrs wags pics Click here!
It has been since October 5th of last season since Kirby has tasted the thrill of victory in a 410 sprint car with SCRA. He lost his family sponsorship at the end of last season when the Geurin's decided to retire and enjoy the good life without pouring their retirement in a racecar. Mike looked like he had several "deals" lined up for 2003, but didn't finalize anything that looked like it was right, until Buzz Shoemaker got both feet deep into racing. For years, Buzz has been restoring some of the finest antique sprint cars you could ever want to see or own, but late last year he bought a 360 sprint car and he and his son Doug have been having a ball racing. When it looked like Kirby might be available on a regular basis, they stepped it up for a 410 motor and Mike has been driving the orange # 0 for about 10 weeks now. On the side, Mike has been driving his big fast stock car in events here and there, and will continue to do that. He will be at a big stock car event next weekend in Reno when the SCRA runs again at the PAS on July 26. The Shoemaker team has not had the best of luck so far, but recent outings have been better and they look for much more in the future.
With an opportunity to sub in a car he really liked, the Alexander Trucking, Ray's Trucking, Larry Murakami Cont. silver # 4, the weekend seemed like a made for TV special with Kirby as the star. It's not like Mike has lost confidence in himself with so many missed races and DNF's, but this year has been almost a write off so far in a sprint car. Except for a 360 win at Bakersfield in Buzz's "other" car, his attitude was very low due to incomplete races, one after another, no matter how hard he tried. When Mike qualified 4th quick, he smiled and said "this could work"! Then he ran 2nd to Tony Jones in his heat and beat fast timer Rip Williams in the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash and he was ready for the main event. Starting on the pole is not often a sure thing, and it wasn't this night, but what he did was nothing less than teach the vets that he was back and ready to win.
When Mike led the Demon and the Gasman on a merry chase thru heavy lap traffic for more than half the race, it was a wild barnstorming effort by all three and highly entertaining for the fans. What can only be described as the best race of the year at Perris was action packed from the beginning to end. Those three literally put all their moves on the table every lap. Every time his followers would put a wheel near him, Kirby would slice thru a sudden opening in traffic and pull away. A lap 23 yellow flag took away the lap traffic fun and made the top three line up in single file for the final battle. Kirby just continued to pull away from both on two more restarts, and won a race in his friend Rickie's car. The happy winner was laughing in victory circle because he knew the next day he would be seeing Rickie in Laughlin as they planned to party hard in the casino's and on the water and enjoy this one with their family's. The team got a $100 bonus for winning from the pole from Del Mar Wire, a regular feature in SCRA this season.
The last two races have not been great for Damion Gardner in his quest to chase down the pointleader Griffin. Damion was involved in that 13 car pile-up three weeks ago and then a balky car didn't give him his usual forward thrusts he has become known for on Firecracker night. This week however, the Willis Machine, TCR, Gaerte, # 45 was ready for action. Damion had a tire shred in his heat and nailed the wall hard enough that the drag link came unhooked and the front end was hurt. He won the semi with a half lap lead at the end and started in the 4th row in the main, after Ostling dropped out with a motor problem. His charge to the front was pretty "Deamonlike" as he moved into a three way battle for the lead that lasted until he got that # 45 so sideways both ways (left and right as it appeared he had help) coming down the front chute, it was another miracle he didn't collect a few cars and somehow he kept going. His lightning fast reflexes didn't fail him as he lost several spots, but he went back to work and pulled up on the Gasman late in the race in third and showed us another slide job that seems to come from nowhere out of this guy. This one came on the last corner and gave him 2nd place over a surprised Gasman.
Richard Griffin was very racy this week. He drove the Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Circle C Marketing # 50 to 3rd quick, and then won his heat. He started on the second row of the main and didn't take but a few seconds to jump on Kirby's tail and chase him for 30 laps. Kirby was the master, but Griffin was not far behind as he tried to find the way around for another win. Richard was aggressive and entertaining every time he hit the track. The SCRA point leader now has a 67 point lead over Troy Rutherford and over 100 over third place Gardner. Even though he was "jobbed" by Damion on the last lap, he could have won this thing if Kirby had given any openings earlier.
Rambo Rutherford made the top 5 for the 15th time this year finishing 4th from his 8th starting spot. His car was sharp in the shiny tire contest, but my girls didn't bless "Fronk" with his much wanted bottle. I know I am in trouble! Steve Ostling ran 4th in the Dash only to have the motor spit out some pushrods. No, they didn't go outside the motor, but were nowhere to be seen when the dents in the valve cover were noticed and they took a peek. They received the $200 Wagsbucks, but since Steve is ineligible for the dash, Ben Lancaster's car, driven by Brian Stanfill, will be added to the Wagsdash entry list. The last time I did this I forgot about Ben when I posted the final line-up, but he pointed out his # 14 wasn't up there to me. He reminded me of my embarrassing moment when I went by to tell him he's in this year's race, but sadly he said the motor was also internally rearranged and they would be gone for a bit to repair. Oh, and I forgot to mention I added Mel Murphy to the Wagsdash list last week after their troublesome night.
Rip Williams night was not a good one as the John Jory Corp # 3 Stinger came out firing with fast time at 16.702. He ran away with his heat race win and was 2nd in the dash. When the main started, he didn't last long and pulled in very quickly with a motor that didn't sound right and a red light blinking. Later I heard it was electrical, but didn't confirm. He would have been in the mix, but it was not to be. Teammate Mike English is looking good and reports he still has a little headache thing bothering him from his bad crash a few weeks ago, but might be out soon. He hopes he is better before the tour because he is the truck driver for the team for goodness sakes! Actually, he will be having a check-up this week and let the doctor tell him how his recovery is coming along. He hasn't missed any work and that might be why his head hurts, no time off!
Josh Ford had an awesome night in the Willis team car this week. Josh has one year of 360 action under his belt and now is 1/2 way thru his rookie SCRA season, and all I can say is he is improving every time out. He was 10th quick in the strawberry special and won his heat and started right behind his teammate in row five. He was on the move and had his best finish so far in 5th. "Spunky" Mike Spencer had a tough night. He was 11th in qualifying, but was 6th in his heat and ran 7th in the semi. Since Ostling dropped out, and lucky for him, they took 7 to the main. He did real well, getting as high as 4th, but a flat tire put him to the back. He recovered to get 11th, but was on the gas again.
Adam Mitchell was right behind Josh as he hooked it up to run a fine race this week. He was 6th in the dash and the main as his white charger was making some moves. Kevin Urton came out first on a sloppy track and still was 6th quick as all five above him came out much later when the track was better. He ran 7th and is enjoying this wingless stuff. Jordan Hermansader got married last week and showed up this week in Bob Ferro's # 91, repainted from red to black. Jordan has been gone for 8 months and did very well to get 8th. Bobby Graham got another shot in Glenn Crossno's # 38 car as regular driver Levi Jones was running USAC closer to home. He grabbed 9th and was doing well at the end.
Jack Dearmond Jr was out for a spin at the races this week. He came without the halo that has weighed on him heavily the last few months. He still has a neck brace but said that was much better. He looks good and says he gets another checkup soon and will report how his bones are doing. Hopefully all will be well. He spent the night in the pits and looked like he enjoyed it as he left soon after the race completed.
The Wagtimes shiny tire awards this week were tough. Many cars did their best to garner it, but as it turns out, the guy who shined my Wagsmule tires up earlier in the day did the same for the Gasman's # 50 car and the girls picked him as the winner. They didn't know about the mule at the time, but Eric Kaufman was proud of his work. Randy Waitman's crew got the runner-up bottle as about a dozen more were in the running. A great display as Rutherford, Mitchell, Urton, Hermansader, Tony Jones, Bragg, Nation, Williams and a few more were on the shiny showcase for the week. Nice job everybody!
By now you have probably heard about Don Weaver's quest for a Legend's of Ascot revival/reunion on October 4th at the PAS. Many of you will remember the Gilmore Roars party every year that brought in money for injured racers for over 30 years and was an invitation only event! That event ended two years ago, and since then Don has been working on a replacement with some added features. Don is looking to spotlight the CRA history makers during the Ascot years that include drivers, mechanics and other personalities that made our sport what it is today. This effort is wide in scope, but the first year is designed to get started by having a get together to honor the initial inductee's into a Southern California Hall of Fame and continue on to perhaps have a real museum for the CRA history that is so rich. And you can be a part of it!
Already Weaver had a little "all star balloting" effort that put five famous names into this years inauguration ceremonies. J.C. Agajanian, Parnelli Jones, Allan Heath, Ray Sheets and Harry Schooler will be the first to go in, and many other greats will be eligible in next years event, so if you are one of those "legends", don't worry your time will come!! This is the start of something that could be very big in our local racing and will make great strides towards a possible museum that all fans can enjoy.
Weaver has the October 4th day all planned out for everyone's enjoyment. For only $35 you can get admission to that nights great SCRA race, plus a bench racing snack time starting at 11 AM, followed by lunch at 1:00 PM with tri tip, chicken, baked beans, salad and a roll with a drink before the ceremonies that start at 2:30. There will be some other special inaugural goodies included in the fee for prepaid admissions, ONLY. There will also be a collectors item program that is a must for all! This event is a bargain and is open to all who want to come and enjoy the inaugural event. There will be many cars from the old days on display so bring your cameras. Currently there is a drawing for a mini-Sheby motorcycle that is great and can be seen in Mrs Wags pics on Wagsweb. it's a sharp bike and only a few hundred were made. You can be a part of all this by sending a check for $35, made out to Gator Supply-Legends, to: P.O. Box 5331, Torrance, CA 90510. Or call 310-549-3562 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Send a donation if you can't make it.
Now that North Vernon is back on the schedule, I am glad because I will see four Indiana Sprint races this coming week while the SCRA is dark. Traveling to the hot lands of Indiana is always fun, but we'll take along some cool drinks and stay in the shade as I travel with Mike Clark and Jack Kraemer. See ya at Perris on July 26 when there will be two main events for SCRA!!!!
A FEATURE (30 Laps)
1. Mike Kirby. 2. Damion Gardner. 3. Richard Griffin. 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Josh Ford. 6. Adam Mitchell. 7. Kevin Urton. 8. Jordan Hermansader. 9. Bobby Graham. 10. Tony Jones. 11. Mike Spencer. 12. Alan Ballard. 13. Verne Sweeney. 14. Greg Bragg. 15. Lance Gremett. 16. Randy Waitman. 17. J Hicks. 18. Seth Wilson, 19. Mark Nation. 20. Mark Heidenreich. 21. Brian Venard. 22. Rip Williams.
Laps Led: Kirby 1-30
SCRA POINT STANDINGS
1. Richard Griffin 1050 2. Troy Rutherford 983, 3. Damion Gardner 945, 4. Rip Williams 862, 5. Mike Spencer 742, 6. Steve Ostling 735, 7. Rickie Gaunt 687, 8. Mike English 548, 9. Tony Jones 511, 10. Adam Mitchell 491, 11. Josh Ford 435, 12. Verne Sweeney 412, 13. Levi Jones 364, 14. Alan Ballard 359, 15. Lance Gremett 321, 16. Bryan Stanfill 315, 17. Bobby Cody 291, 18. Brian Venard 289, 19. Cory Kruseman 285, 20. Jimmy Crawford 270.