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When the SCRA hits the track, something exciting always happens. This weekend it was never more evident when you put the cool and hot of it all together as the SCRA traveled to the cool beach scene in Ventura and then the desert hot scene of Perris for 90 total main event laps of very excellent racing. All this great entertainment as car counts continue to slide due to the economic strain and the silly season moves drivers around to other cars like always.

Mrs Wags Pics of Ventura are here. Her pics of Perris are now done Click here for them. . My weekend pics Is here.

Ventura Raceway is always a great setting as the small seaside oval provides plenty of action. This race was special because it was the rained out Jeff Bagley Classic known as the memorial for Paul & Helen Bagley’s son Jeff. Although there was little fanfare over the rescheduled classic during the night, but it now must include the two who started it for their son, Paul & Helen. They were tragically lost to us this year in a sprint car accident. Tom Schmeh came from the Knoxville Hall of Fame in Iowa to preside over the brief remembrance of the three who lost their lives in racing incidents. He read a thank you note from the Bagley family and we moved on to the main event.

Cory Kruseman was very good friends with all three Bagley family members and he told the crowd early it would be an honor to win this race. Cory had come home from the Midwest sprint trail to drive the Alexander # 4 car that was vacated by Super Rickie Gaunt recently. Rickie will be driving for Tony Smiley the rest of the year in the Arizona based car. Cory drove the Alexander Trucking, Ray’s Trucking, Larry Murakami Cont., Silver Stinger car to 2nd in his heat, then 2nd in the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash before starting next to Damion Gardner in the 40 lap main event. He passed Damion on lap 8 before the Gasman coolly got by for a few laps, then he reclaimed the lead and held off his nemesis when he visits (the fast Gasman) for the remainder of the race. He did a few brodies (oh you know, spinning burnouts) in the infield and was extremely happy to be the third annual winner of the classic he won one time before.

Richard Griffin was very active this weekend in the Little Red Sucker! He was 2nd quick in qualifying, ran 2nd in his heat, third in the dash and finished 2nd after leading for five laps early in the race. Richard made a go of it but didn’t run the bottom as well as the hometown hero this time. He didn’t run the top very well on one particular trip around the oval when he hit the wall, knocking two tires onto the track causing Tony Jones to spin to avoid and Troy Cline to flip and end his night. Tony came back for tenth, but must wonder what is it going to take to get a break. He has a brand new Maxim car and is anxious to let it out, as you will read about at Perris the next night. Later when a flying Danny Sheridan was closing on Griffin, who didn't have to go to the back after the wall banging incident, he hit the same two tires, but it stopped him on the track. He restarted to get a disappointing 14th, and the wonder of what if. He was the fastest car on the track for a few laps.

Rip William came on strong at the end of the longer than normal main to put the only Jack Jory entry of the night on the podium because Mike English is taking a little time off after the tour. Rip had the John Jory Corp, AMA Plastics, Tomarco Fasteners Systems # 3 rolling as he was the quick timer of the night at 12.174, then ran 5th in the dash and grabbed third from Steve Ostling at the end.

Damion Gardner had a little fire problem in this one. He had his tire catch on fire from the header flame and they had to change it during a red flag stop, thus putting him at the back when he was running 2nd at the time. That’s the rule, change a tire, go to the back. He came thru the pack to get 5th with a good drive thru the pack. The hard charger of the night was local 360 driver, Greg Taylor, who came from 18th to 6th on wild ride in his 360 powered # 7 owned by his father Rick. Greg is following the USAC West pavement series in addition to the VRA races this season.

A nasty crash destroyed the Mike Sala # 19 with Josh Wise in the seat, but he was OK yet very sore the next day after a checkout trip to the local hospital. He really banged the wall hard. Shiny tires went to Greg Bragg and Richard Griffin’s cars, but the awards would be the next night. We made Wagtimer Fran Herdrich cry when we had a surprise cake feeding after the race and presented her with an autographed helmet with drivers and pit people taking part. Happy big one Frannie!

From the sea to the desert, seems wrong doesn’t it, but we were off in the morning to the 2nd half of the Labor day double header. Perris was what Perris is, very hot in the summer time, but we hopped for more great racing. Cory was off to a rained out Angel Park Midget show and Jeremy Sherman would take a shot at another win for the Alexander’s in their # 4 car.

The heat was normal, yet the track really couldn’t have been better, even after a steady breeze all afternoon seemed to dry it out some. Troy Rutherford got the only 16 second qualifying time at 16.962 as the 35 cars tried their luck in the heat. The lead in the main changed 5 times with two drivers leading twice before the old familiarRip Williams took charge on the bottom with 12 laps to go. From there, the Ripper pulled away to win his 61st SCRA victory and pull out of a tie that Cory Kruseman had created the night before.

Before that there was tons of action and most surprisingly, Jordan Hermansader provided most of it. Young Hermansader has been out of a ride for a long time. When Bobby Ferro decided to sort of retire recently, he asked Jordan to step into his car and see how it would go. Jordan has looked very good with an 8th and a 7th in two previous starts in the car in July. This time it was totally different as he won his heat and the dash to start on the pole of the 50 lap main. He chased down the early leader, Richard Griffin, to take the lead for 12 laps, then reclaimed the lead from Rutherford for two more laps before he probably got excited in the rare air up front and finished a credible 9th as the hot dogs shuffled him near the end. Great job by the youngster and it wasn’t the only one of the night.

Tony “Cowboy” Jones put on his spurs this race and never took them off, finishing 2nd in the Ferreira Dairy, Standard Feeding, VGI Graphics, # 2 Maxim. He ran the extreme top groove exclusively and later remarked he was hoping the bottom would wear out on Rip, but it didn’t. It was only his 2nd podium this season for the young man who lived on the podium last season. The new Maxim seems to be doing the job as he gets used to a new brand of chassis.

Charles Davis Jr made his first podium of the year with the SCRA as he put the moves on very well this week in the Ron’s Fuel Injection, Arizona Race Mart, Weld # 94 owned by his wife Gayle. The travlin’ man was in the hunt all night as he put some demon’s to rest just like Tony with this finish. The Gasman was 4th as he led for a while but faded late in the race. Mike Spencer, who started 14th, became the rabbit late in the race as he reeled in all but the top 4 on a great and smooth ride in the # 44 yellow car, and grabbed 5th.

Brian Venard brought out a new Ellis car, resplendent in Ellis blue complete with a new RC Performance bullet this week. Father Buster was all smiles as he and Brian showed off their new car. They were especially anxious for me to see one of the graphics on the side of the car. Among all the sponsor decals was a little running weenie dog with Wagtimes lettered on his back. Check it out, it is cool and so thoughtful of the Venard team to include us in their new toy. Check it out, it’s a hoot!

J Hicks received the $200 Wagsbucks this race because he destroyed his car. Although covered with a tarp, he told me after the races it was not a pretty sight as the cage folded up and he was one lucky dude! It all happened when a wheel came off the # 97 sprinter on a restart and that quick, he had a pile of junk that Wagsbucks won’t even come near in helping out. Shiny tire awards for the night went to the crews of Danny Sheridan and Wayne Marcum’s Jim Ruth owned # 25.

I guess my weekly tirade with USAC continues on. The USUCK club, as reported last week, has scheduled against the annual Oval Nationals and has caused major flack at the PAS and with its fans. Keep in mind that the paying customers have been staying away from SCRA races in general this year in bunches due to ecomomic strife we guess. The Oval Nationals was and is designed to showcase the best non-wing drivers in the country and help bring them all to California. That’s why they put up the big purse, in order to draw the best and pit them against the SCRA’s best. That is why the race pays $30,000 to win and $100,000 overall. They count on that purse to bring the crowds in and expect the big name drivers to show as well. The Indiana based club is at best a stepping stone to big $$$$$ racing, yet they continue to go it alone like they were the only club, and schedule on top of other majors at many opportunities. Don’t tell me it’s an accident, but perhaps they are too “uninformed or otherwise got their head up their proverbial butt” as they continue to step on anything the hard core fans might prefer as often as they want. Why do fans support that? Communication, something sadly lacking in racing with promoters, racers, race leaders and clubs, is what we really need now.

It appears that the PAS also has another formidable big deal at a nearby parking lot race facility on the same Oval Nationals date. The Big I place also has that stepitis disease, scheduling some NASCAR whatever event that will make things difficult for the track that has spent millions of dollars to give the fans the best dirt racing facility possible in the Southland. With the smaller crowds like they have had this season, and in this economic crunched world, it is hard to believe the Kazarian's continue to pour more money into this top facility and for what, other clubs and promoters to step on them and fans to stay away. How much longer can they fight to give sprint car fans what they want?

It likely that the PAS will announce this week the moving of the Oval Nationals date up one week to allow all the racers and fans a chance to reschedule and be part of the National event that this has become. And another thing, I hope the PAS schedules a sprint car race on Thanksgiving, maybe that would send a message, and we would all support it, right? Perhaps that is a great question because people in general are less than smart about important things in this world and remember: the price of the shady lady doesn’t change a thing, they are still what they are!

You all know what happens when the racing product is not supported by the fans don’t you? The product is replaced by something else. Will this mean the cheaper 360’s will replace the 410’s as so many predict here in the southland? Or will the modifieds, stockers and dwarf cars take over? Gawd, I hope not, but the powers to be better start working on the grand plan to make it work or you and I will be missing the SCRA 410’s in the future as world wide wrestling or beer commercials will be the hot item instead of what we love. Think about it, what is happening in racing besides it is becoming too expensive for more and more racers? And why is that? Lightweight pieces, more horsepower motors, new fangled sway bars, illegal traction control is that what is driving this bus?

With all that said, I guess you wonder what I am thinking about it all? I know one thing for sure, we need to find the marketing key that will allow our beloved 410’s to continue on and the fans to pour in to support it. Most don’t believe it, but the fans are what makes this sport go, not the sponsors whose money is very much needed. It looked like last year the SCRA and the PAS were at odds and the season in doubt. I am betting it will be a worse negotiating time this year because of many things, with the smaller attendance being one of the main ones. Remember,when Baylands up North ruled the roost and NARC struggled because the big dogs skipped NARC events on Saturday nights to race at Baylands. NARC would have been gone sooner, in my opinion, if Baylands hadn't closed. This could happen here if the PAS wants to start their own "sprint car club" I.E. PRA! This is not a cheap sport, nor will few racers make money at it, but they love it and we must work on the future of our racing and not ignore the signs and be priced out of it. Perhaps a general membership meeting like the SCRA used to hold, at a hall where the car owners and sharp minded businessmen can talk about what is really needed to keep moving forward and make sure it can all be like normal in the years to come. Questions like should the SCRA go on tour, shouldn’t there be more TV, shouldn’t the business success of the SCRA support the club and not the tour, Why not a fan club for SCRA, why are we not scheduling Santa Maria, Hanford and Bakersfield, local tracks much closer than Manzanita, have we priced the club too high now, will Ventura be on the schedule next year, or even perhaps, this year, and the question of the week “will there be a Wagsdash 2003?!!!!!” And with that, I bid you goodnight.

2003 SCRA DRIVER POINT STANDINGS as of: 08/31/03
1. Richard Griffin 1748, 2. Troy Rutherford 1653, 3. Damion Gardner 1614, 4. Rip Williams 1465, 5. Mike Spencer 1090, 6. Steve Ostling 966, 7. Rickie Gaunt 886, 8. Mike English 838, 9. Tony Jones 799, 10. 4 Cory Kruseman 798, 11. Josh Ford 789, 12. Levi Jones 750, 13. Adam Mitchell 699, 14. Alan Ballard 652, 15. J.J. Yeley 552, 16. Verne Sweeney 503, 17. Jimmy Crawford 503, 18. Seth Wilson 482, 19. Bryan Stanfill 462, 20. Charles Davis, Jr 419.

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