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The economic times have really stretched budgets and made pressure a household name in our racing world of SCRA and beyond. It always seems to be that way, but more so now as the year winds down. For some it is even more grinding, take one driver for instance. When racing just seems like it’s too much work for the payback, and you spend more time fixin’ than racin’, and you travel more miles than the dollars you make, and you take some long hauls for nuthin’, but you never give up, that’s Charlie Davis JR in a nutshell! On a lightning fast big half mile at Manzanita this week there was a packed house and guess what happened that is very normal for these parts, a local boy won the 30 lap SCRA main. No, it wasn’t McSpadden, Shuman, Boat, Griffin or even Sherman, it was Charles Davis Jr! And, the celebratin’ won’t be done anytime soon!

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Charles Davis Jr has been winning races at Manzanita for years. His 360 efforts are becoming legendary as he can wheel around that quarter mile with the best of them. Charlie, however, has never been able to get over one small hump, the SCRA non wing series he has labored in for nearly 10 years. Jeremy Sherman and Richard Griffin have dominated the three previous races run at Manzy this season, with the Gasman winning two of the three. With Sherman at home waiting for his motor to return from refreshville, it was up to Griffin to uphold that record. And he tried, but no matter what he and the rest of the regular SCRA heroes threw at Chargin” Charles, it all came up short.

After Mike Kirby surrendered his early lead to Charles, and along came Rambo Rutherford, who had a flat tire soon after he marched quickly into the lead, Charlie played cat and mouse with the Gasman for the last 27 laps of the main event. Charlie, driving his Ron’s Fuel Injection, Arizona Race Mart, Weld, # 94, was fast all night, and so was Griffin, but every time Richard put a slider on Charlie, a yellow would come out or Charlie would just take back the lead. After setting fast time at Perris last week, and then discovering water in the oil, Charlie had to work double hard during the week to take the car apart and have the block fixed, so he could race this week. It seems like that is his “M O” this year, as he and his crew of few have fought to rebuild and reload regularly all season. His wife Gayle, his father Charles Sr and Fred Bryan are part of this some what of a Cinderella story that ended so well this time. It was Davis first ever win with SCRA and you can still hear the celebration going on!

Richard Griffin was determined to win this race in the Temecula Valley Pipe and Supply, Arizona Race Mart, Circle C Marketing, # 50 car. He won his heat and ran third in the JE Pistons Passing Masters Dash before starting on the 2nd row of the main. Usually that is a slam dunk for him, but this time he had somebody that wanted it more. He never officially led the race, but was ahead on more than one slide job, yet couldn’t get by the happy winner to stay before the checkers fell. It was somewhat of an upset, but Richard will tell you he tried his best to get by. It was a great race of speed up until the very end with the fast cars jousting at nearly 100 miles an hour each lap.

Damion “the Demon” Gardner was very quiet this week, but still got on the podium at the last minute. The Demon was 2nd quick, but couldn’t make the pass to the dash in his heat and had to run the Semi main in his Willis Machine, TCR, Gaerte, # 45. A 2nd there got him the 9th starting spot on the main event grid. He really had to work to move up as the fast track made everyone fast. In fact, it was so fast in qualifying that two cars sucked off individual plywood pieces from the Budweiser sign on the back stretch! Yes, two different 4 foot square plywood sections flew right off as cars went zooming by. Anyway, Damion grabbed third from Kirby on the last lap when he cut under him coming out of turn four and nosed him out at the line.

Mike Kirby looked strong enough to win again this week in his guest shot in Mark Alexander’s silver # 4, but had his hands full early in the race when the car was too tight. He used a red flag, caused by Mike Spencer’s 2nd wild crash in two races, to loosen it up a little. He was in the hunt until the last few laps when the car appeared to run out of fuel. There was 5 gallons still in the cell after the race, so it is a fuel pickup problem the team has experienced before. Mike will be back in Buzz Shoemaker’s two # 0 cars next week as the VRA and SCRA are on the double bill at the PAS.

Levi Jones drove the wheels off of Glenn Crossno’s # 38 Twister this week. He was as high as third as he searched for the path to the front before finishing a close 5th on the night. He was 2nd in his heat and 4th in the dash on a great ride. Super Rickie Gaunt made the Tony Smiley # 2A go forward this week. His new ride is fast and he finished 7th giving the Extreme Chassis car a workout.

If you noticed a new blue car with a cute “Dirty Dawg” Daucshund decal on the side going fast again this week, that is Brian Venard. He has been making the family Ellis Chassis perform better each time out since the car was built while the SCRA was on tour. He was 10th last week and then ran third in his heat after getting 9th quick this week. He ran his 2nd dash in a row and finished 5th before ending up 8th on the fast half mile. Smile Grandma Rosie, looks like things are looking up for your grandson.

When Troy “Rambo” Rutherford was third in qualifying, then ran 3rd in his heat and 6th in the dash, you knew he would be a factor in this race. He certainly was after the main started as he marched right into the lead on lap 7 with a “Gasman like” pass on leader Charlie coming out of turn four, awesome! Charlie got him right back, but Rambo came back to get the lead again, then he had a flat tire while he was stretching it out. No, not the right rear thumper would suspect, but the left rear and we all figured he ran over something. He came from the back to get his umpteenth top 10 of the year with a 9th at the end.

Trouble found a few this week as usual. Mike Spencer got upside down for the 2nd week in a row, as I noted earlier, when he went flying down the end of the front stretch and climbed the wall after going over a wheel. It was nasty looking, but he walked back to the pits visibly upset! They had the car repaired, it appeared, before loading up to go home later. We will add him to the Wagsdash, but without passing any Wagsbucks to the team since we fell short of the $200 minimum.

Another upset driver this week was the Cowboy, Tony Jones. He was 4th in his heat, 7th in the dash and was running well in the main when a rear end busted and he coasted to a stop. He was 2nd at the time and looking for more. Rip Williams night was over before it started in the main. After fighting a problem early in the night that appeared to be getting the power to the ground, Rip looked like they were ready as the cars pushed off for the main. Suddenly a red flag appeared and he was on his head. I missed it, but he was wreckered to his pit area and done for the night. Brandon Lane, Indiana visitor Jonathan Vennard, and Bob Ream Jr all suffered some type of maladies and each pulled off early.

A big day is planned at the SCRA/VRA double header at the PAS this week with the Legends of Ascot sold out party starting early in the afternoon that features bench racing, good food and some of the sports heavy hitters getting recognized for their great careers. Then the big 410’s and mighty 360’s will put on two full shows for the fans. Perhaps this is a must see weekend before a series of must see events that are lined up and ready to head our way as the year finishes off.

Next up is the 13th annual Wagsdash at Ventura on October 18th beginning with free chili at noon and featuring Walt James and his band of beautiful antique cars that will be the highlight of that evening. Walt is the 2003 Wagsdash Grand Marshall and we will celebrate his many years of racing history that night. Then comes the Oval Nationals on it’s new date of November 13/15 and the $30,000 winners share. And for the finishing touch of the season, get involved with the Kindoll Classic, the last night at Perris where you can put lap money up for the racers to earn. See “the Princess”, Carole Wolfe, in the car # 29 pits of Steve Ostling, she will be glad to take your name and dollars.

SCRA points as of 9/28/03
1. Richard Griffin 1880 2. Troy Rutherford 1756 3. Damion Gardner 1743 4. Rip Williams 1574 5. Mike Spencer 1193 6. Steve Ostling 1097 7. Rickie Gaunt 991 8. Tony Jones 919 9. Josh Ford 909 10. Mike English 904 11. Cory Kruseman 868 12. Adam Mitchell 809 13. Levi Jones 807 14. Alan Ballard 747 15. Seth Wilson 577 16. Charles Davis, Jr 567 17. J.J. Yeley 552 18. Verne Sweeney 546 19. Jimmy Crawford 503 20. Brian Stanfill 478.

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