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March 7, 2016

By Ken Wagner

The 1st Annual Manzanita Reunion was held at the Steve Stroud Arizona Open Wheel Museum in Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend. Steve Stroud had such a brilliant vision that he created this museum for himself and all of us, and it is magnificent! The work, time, energy and cubic dollars it took to accomplish this task was amazing. He got us to this point, but sadly, now that he is gone, Mickey Meyer and the board of directors have a HUGE job ahead to keep it going. If Steve were still with us, he would have taken care of it. Alas, he left it in our hands and will meet us up there when our time comes.

For Manzanita Reunion pics by Mrs Wags Click here to view. I wandered around the museum and visited for several hours and watched many famous Arizona race people as the day rolled on. They held an auction and a 50/50 deal to entertain us all. But the gist of the day for me was talking about Steve Stroud and his museum and where it was going without him. Watching Lealand McSpadden work the crowd was fun. Listening to many who said hi was important, and just taking it all in.

I found out some startling discoveries at the reunion that you need to know! Most of us thought the Museum property was owned by the great man, yet the monthly rental I heard bandied about was $14,000 a month, yikes! Unfortunately, he did not own the museum buildings! And worse yet, the lease is done at the end of this year, 2016! With no wiggle room, the museum has to move. So in a little over 9 months a new showplace must be found so the museum can come to life in a bigger venue. They need some real help to make this happen. Some said the Indian reservation location where the drag strip is, has a big casino building not in use????

Why am I concerned, itís not my museum? Because simply, it is my museum and all of yours, too! For those of us who are not Arizona residents with that rich Arizona racing lore background behind us, the story of our CRA racers we are so fond of is in there! We all have skin in this game and everyone needs to step up to support what Steve built, or it will blow away into thousands of garages, lost to our kids and grandkids of the future. For you Arizonianís, the challenge lamp is lit, so get moving.

The museum needs to find significant dollars to pay the rent, find a new home, and fund the future of our history and we need to start now. I have a few challenges to all of you: 1) Join the museum Ė a lifetime membership Is but $250 Ė I did when it became available 2) Send a donation, no matter the size, and continue to do it in the future like tithing in church. 3) Get involved in the museum fundraisers by volunteering to help 4) Talk to friends and business people to find other $$ from like thinking race fans. 5) Get involved, now. Steveís legacy needs your help and tight now!

In the future there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved to help this great cause. But for now, call the museum at 602-481-3232 to help. Send contributions to Arizona Open Wheel Racing Museum@ 3534 East Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040. Or go to the Museum web site to see whatís new. http://www.azracingmuseum.org. you can even drop in and get excited.

I had no eyes on the Perris opening this weekend while I was in Arizona, only questions about what happened. Didnít even get the usual photoís from my friend Doug, but by viewing the line-ups and results it must have appeared tame with the winner, Bryan Clauson, coming from 6th starting spot and the next four almost staying in their starting spot with pole sitter Richard Vander Weerd running 2nd after leading 13 laps. Bryan continueís to school all who oppose him as he is one of the best and Iím sure it was fun to watch him dominate the locals. Damion Gardner had no qualifying time and was shown last on the final tally? Too bad they donít have a person to tell the story so we can get a feeling of a race not seen. Many questions, but Iíll just have to wait to talk to a fan who has answers. The next CRA raace is only 5 weeks away. Maybe the 360ís are an answer?

The night before in Las Vegas, the USAC 360ís had 36 cars and 5 different leaders before Bryan Clauson won that one. I could have stayed home, but I felt supporting the museum a better idea.

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