2011 USAC/CRA SCHEDULE GETTING TO FINAL STAGES AS VICTORVILLE TAKES 3 DATES
WINTER ENDING AS THE ROUND BALL COMES TO AN END WITH MARCH MADNESS ON THE WAY.
March 7, 2011
By Ken Wagner
Bang! Nevada High School playoffs. Bang! California High School playoffs. Bang! College conference tournaments start. Bang! CRA practice gets season near the start as it was a long winter for this Wag! After the USAC banquet in January, it was quiet on the racing scene, but my love for basketball knew no bounds. I am over 80 games at this point and there is more to come as the March Madness appears just around the corner.
My pics of the Kittle Krew build click here to see. Also pics of the Justice Brothers Museum visit click here to view.
I spent a week in LA to see the California high school basketball playoffs and watched a sprint car build at the Kittle Motorsports race shop, went to a few great restaurants and that was just one week. The rest of the down time was spent in Las Vegas Wagsland with plenty of games to go to.
The off season has allowed a detail analysis of the upcoming 2011 USAC/CRA schedule as we hope to follow. Added tracks this season are Hanford, Chico and Victorville. Gone are Las Vegas (no loss even though itís in my back yard), Tulare (racing from there moved to Hanford), Ventura, Tucson, Petaluma and of course Manzanita. There are a couple of possibilities that were hopeful, but not likely and would be just icing on the cake if they happen.
The schedule as it is today and subject to change:
Mar 12 Perris Auto Speedway, Mar 26 Victorville Auto Raceway, Apr 02 Perris Auto Speedway, Apr 16 TBA, May 07 Hanford, CA Giant Speedway, May 29 Victorville Auto Raceway, Jun 17 Watsonville, Ocean Speedway, Jun 18 Santa Maria Speedway, Jul 02 Perris Auto Speedway, Jul 23 TBA, Jul 30 Perris Auto Speedway , Aug 13 Santa Maria Speedway , Aug 20 Perris Auto Speedway, Sep 03 Calistoga Speedway, Sep 04 Calistoga Speedway, Sep 08 Chico, CA Silver Dollar Speedway, Sep 24 Perris Auto Speedway, Oct 08 Perris Auto Speedway, Oct 29 Victorville Auto Raceway, 03 Oval Nationals Perris Auto Speedway , Nov 04 Oval Nationals Perris Auto Speedway, Nov 05 Oval Nationals Perris Auto Speedway, Nov 12 Hanford, CA Giant Speedway.
I have never been in a position to see an actual build of a sprint car from the ground up, but this past week I got that chance. The experience was courtesy of the Kittle Krew with Brian Kittle, Randy and the crew of Jimbo, Ralph, Chad, Paul and the driver Danny ďShowtimeĒ Sheridan. When I arrived on Saturday the new ďblackĒ, not blue, Sheridan Race Car chassis was up on rolling supports and it began. So much was done over the several days I was there, I canít remember exactly the sequence of attachment, but it went very interesting to this non-mechanical observer. The front end and rear end were attached and then the dozens of cables, plastic tie wraps and more fitted in. The gas and brake pedals were installed, the refreshed motor slipped in after the firewall was bolted on and all kinds of fuel lines, and plug wires and fluids were involved. The driver seat was fitted, the fuel cell attached as the activity flourished. It can best be described like a bunch of fun loving guys dancing around the room, engineering each addition while they switched from laughing to extreme concentration as each decision was carefully engineered and then made.
There was no training going on as these guys had worked together for more than 5 years and each knew his role and what to do. Occasionally something didnít line up perfectly or the way they wanted, and was then readjusted, sometimes using a rubber mallet, or the band saw, or the grinder, or some other type of mechanical persuasion. It really was quite a moving drama from my limited perspective. Getting the rear-end lined up was a quizzical process until a smile and the word DONE was uttered. Seat belts were hooked up with side nets added and then the body started getting married to the chassis. It all fitted nicely and what made this car different was the body panels were blue was powder coated for the first time and wonít require painting so should be better when the rock chips happen.
A battery change in the tach, the motor getting fired and then replacement of plugs and liquids made this build near the end of the experience. The graphics began to appear and the front panel reinforced when it looked a little weak. You could tell by the smell it was fiberglass as that process went to end. A very interesting few days and it was ready for practice, but while they were breaking it in on Saturday at the PAS, I was at the Anaheim Convention Center watching the finals for the CIF Southern Section of high school basketball. There were six games and each was a championship tussle for that class. The sponsor decals will go on this week and Pace Lighting is back and the most prominent one on the race car. Rumor had it all went well on Saturday, so the proof in the pudding will be at the CRA opener this coming Saturday at the PAS! Dannyís comments about the new car after itís shakedown laps was ďwe are going to win some races this year!Ē You heard it here first!
Since it appears that there will not be an official Wagsdash this year without the beloved Ventura Raceway, I am looking to make it a mini-Wagsdash in the following way. I will continue to collect money for those who still want to support the dash activities and at a late year event will set out the many auction items I collect to add to the purse. The auction will be run by selling tickets to be placed in a container in front of the item the purchaser wants to get in the draw that night. In other words buy a raffle ticket, put it in the box for the item you want and look for your winning ticket number to claim the item. All the money collected like always will be paid out in various ways that might include the hard charger, the best appearing crew and car, and other Wags ways for the low buck guys. Since I donít know how much I will collect, I will set up a scale with various possible payouts and announce the final plan prior to a Wags race day. I donít know about a chili feed, and we will not do any games at this point. I will play it by ear as the year goes along, but I doubt we will have a full 20 lap dash and those who will be eligible will be placed on a Wags list to choose from for the payout of the money. My reasoning is that tracks already have their year set and I donít have a place, but itís most likely to happen at the PAS if itís possible. Of course, if I donít have much money by then, we will see how to give it away. I have a lot of great and nicely framed pics from Mike Clark who is clearing out his stash, that all will like. Iíll start putting pics up of them as the year goes along. And maybe we will do some auctions several times along the way. Anyway, letís see how it goes before I close the doors on this 20 year saga Iíve been on. Send me your comments, if you wish.
As most know Jack Kraemer passed away recently and his close friend and traveling buddy Mike Clark and a bunch of Jackís friends are planning a Jack Kraemer Memorial event scheduled for Terre Haute during the annual Indiana Sprint week in July. Money will be collected by many of his friends to add to a Hard Charger award at that event. You can get involved by giving me money when you see me, or when the list is posted, give it to his friends, or mail it to Mike Clark when the press release is posted. Jack is well known in USAC racing and was much loved by many as he shared his chicken livers, pork tenderloins, beer and much more at many Indiana race tracks with his many friends. Jackís Camp Thirsty was well known around the racing circuits he followed, including California. Think about getting involved if you knew Jack.
I donít have any news that you donít already know, but noted that Nic Faas is taking over the reins of the Alexander Brothers silver steed this season. This young man can drive and I am sure he and his new team will hit the winners circle in the car on more than one occasion. I havenít heard if Tony Jones has retired again or is looking for a ride? I hope the latter, but donít have any inside info about the famous Cowboy racer as word is he is ďtaking a year off to be with his familyĒ.
Lance Jennings is joining the CRA in a publicist position. He has been working extensively with the 360 racers last year and takes on a new challenge to help grow the CRA we know needs it! He is a hard worker and I am sure his results will be a great addition to our local racing boys. He is looking for sponsors of various CRA payouts like heat race winners and feature additions in product or cash. Contact him to help.
The Girls of CRA will be one short this year as Nellie Stansberry will join her husband Ray to work for Ventura Raceway this season. It will be easier for the couple as it guarantee their going together to the races each week instead of being at different tracks like the years before. The trio of Nellie, Julie Shiosaki and Shelley Ostling will be a duo this year, but will do fine I am told.
I had a chance to go to the Justice Brothers museum in Duarte this past week with my friend Mike Clark. I was having chrome wheels put on my G 35 and Mike picked me up at the Performance Plus Tire shop in Long Beach, CA where I dropped it off and we were on our way. The place looks unlike a museum as we pulled up, but when you approach the front door, you can see cars thru the glass walls. Entry into the museum immediately showcases a lot of sprint cars, midgets, some go carts, plenty of gas pumps, an airplane hanging from the ceiling, a stock car hooked sideways on a wall, trophies and lots of pictures. There is no admission to the place and you are allowed to wander around the two rooms in the main office area and one big warehouse next door.
We met Ed Justice Jr and he sure looks like the pictures of his father on the walls. There were some cars I remember, especially the JFK car of Jimmy Oskie, the Buster Venard driven Bud and June Lewis car, the yellow Blair car with Billy Wilkerson as the crew chief, as were several others wrenched by him in there, and some famous oldies. There was some Buzz Shoemaker rebuilt cars around the museum as his work has always been the best! I saw a potato farmerís Funny car, the well known driver named Larry Minor, was the most non-oval car in the place except for a lot of nice street rods scattered around. There were so many pictures of all kinds of famous people, both racers and non racers, that I could have spent another hour there if we could have gotten closer to some. Many were behind the yellow tape barriers that were in front of some of the cars so no access and it was too far away for most eyes to scope very well. We were greeted as if we were important and you could see they were proud of the place and nobody followed you around on the self tour, so you could relax and enjoy the many racy items around the place. I have never been in a museum that didnít have someone keeping an eye on you!
It took some time to wander, take pictures and check everything out because there were a lot of cars in there! When we finally had our fill, we headed back towards Long Beach. We stopped in Belmont shores at Legends, a sports bar once owned by Dennis Harrah who was one of the Fearsome Foursome from the LA Rams of the 60ís. Then we checked out my new wheels and they were awesome as I drove it away from the tire shop. At last I have a little BLING on my car now to go with the red! While the Kittle Krew did their final touches to the race car and loaded the trailer for the practice the next day, Mike and his wife Evelyn, plus myselfand Randyís wife Julie went to Gladstones down by the beach for some fish and cocktails. The boss man from the tire shop was there eating with his family and he sent a bottle of wine over for his good customer Mike who sent me to his shop. The halibut was really good and I had an Almond Joy martini and it tasted just like it sounded, yummy. After dinner I remembered Julie raved about the Key Lime Pie martini next door at PF Changs, so we had to go over there and check that out, didnít we? All in all we had a good time on the eve of the racing seasons start.
Alright form a line on the left and hit the racing trail starting March 12th at the PAS and followed two weeks later at Victorville for the first of 3 events to be held there this year. Check that place out, it is a three wide track that provides great racing and itís only a short ride up to the high desert! See you all at the races!
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