September 12th, 2009

Fall is killer. The greatest season of the year is almost upon us. I love fall because the big Pacific storms start shifting from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. Big gun drivers begin showing up from the east. The south swells of summer yield to the bigger and better north swells of winter. Local drivers step it up and prepare for the barbarians. As the weather tracks north we start seeing clean powerful west swell, puffed up even more by powerful offshore Santa Ana conditions. The memorial races start stacking up on the horizon. I see push trucks, fire trucks, dawn patrol, driver meetings, wetsuits and hotfoots, qualifying; clear skies and sunsets that stretch all the way out into space. Get ready for a tsunami of surf and sprint carsÖ.MOMMY!!!!!!

All Thrill No Fill
Ronnie Case and Cody Kershaw Race Into Fall

It really started two weeks ago with the Louis Vermeil Classic in Calistoga. Next up is the Kindoll Classic at Perris this weekend, September 19th. The faithful are starved and you can expect a vampire feast. Drift back to Ventura for the Jim Kierce Memorial on October 3. Kevin honors his fatherís memory with cash for the back of the pack. Next is the 24th Annual Bud Stanfield Memorial on October 10th at Santa Maria Speedway. This is a vintage memorial powered by sons Eddie and Allen and will feature West Coast Sprinters. That will be my opportunity this year to catch personal favorite Peter Murphy along with the Vanderweerds, Hamblin, Carlile and the rest of those nut cases. Then on October 24th I will be back in Ventura for the All Coast 360 Sprint Car Challenge. Thatís five grand to win. I heard a rumor that Jesse Hockett (2nd place last year) feels he has unfinished business thereÖ November 5th, 6th and 7th you are at Perris again for the freaking mother of all things fast, The Budweiser Oval Nationals. Then cruise up into the hinterlands of Tulare to the Thunderbowl Raceway for the Pacific Coast Nationals on November 14th and 15th (Saturday and Sunday). Then drop back over to Ventura on November 21 for the National USAC Midgets and Ford Focus Championship. Technically not sprints but youíll still go insane. The following weekend, November 28th, you are back in Perris for the Glenn Howard Memorial. This is an unbelievable payback to his dad and all sprinters by the inscrutable Steve Howard. Watch out for the box of free stickers! And letís not forget our friends in the high desert; Victorville Speedway hosts the Victorville Turkey Classic on Sunday, November 29th. In December, you hire a lawyer to respond to the divorce papers filed by your wife the week earlier. In January, you take any sanity, cash and hope you have left and sneak over to Tulsa Oklahoma for the 24th Annual Lucas Chili Bowl Nationals.

Austin Mero

Ventura was a plethora of good times and hard facts Saturday night. Troy Rutherford took control of the VRA Sprint race and ran it like a NFL super bowl quarterback. This gifted athlete (driving the Jim Cherry Carpet Coop) is back on his game with fast cars and street smarts. When Jimmy Crawford threatened on the bottom Troy slammed the door so hard the grandstands shook. Announcer Naylor wryly noted ďnobody has to tell Troy what to do.Ē Having missed two races at the beginning of the season, he will not catch Kevin Kierce for the championship. However, it is clear to me that these two juggernauts will be slugging for big cash on October 24. Unreal. Other notes include Jimmy Crawford, how great to have this guy back at Ventura. Strong second place finish. Matt Mitchell in third is another welcome addition to the Ventura scene. Underground legend Rick Hendrix was fourth. Kierce was top five. Most passes by Ronnie Case, an outstanding run from the very back (20th) to the sixth place finish. Espinoza looks smooth. Thirty-six cars; sprint car racing in Ventura is completely out of control.

Troy Rutherford and Car Owner Jim Cherry in Victory Lane

Other notes include another sixteen cars for the Senior Sprints: Jeff Culver is on fire with his second Main Event win in three races. Bruce Douglas kicked it for second putting him within ten points of Rob Kershaw. Two to go on that epic series. Mini Dwarfs! Kyle Peterson takes his second Piston victory in a row and thatís impressive. Ricky Lewis takes what seems like his 70,000th Supercharger victory. Oliver Blades is still chasing him down. Brennan Rogers nailed the VRA Junior Midgets. That kid looks like heís having a lot of fun. Over in the Sports Compact universe, rookie year driver Brandon Reta took the rear wheel main event and man, did that set off a party! Congratulations to Zach Peterson on his inaugural run. Your dad was so nervous I thought he was going to throw up in the pit stands! Great drive. Joel Chavez Jr. conquered the front wheel race. Twenty-one Go-Karts out there including rising USAC Midget star Josh Ford. David Pankratz spanked everybody. That was an impressive third place finish by Harlan Willis.

Brandon Reta Goes Off

But itís dwarfs I really want to talk about today. It was an amazing effort out there by Kent Benson driving in the Senior Dwarfs. Terrific battles between him and Bill Van Praag for the main event win. And how about Angel Figueroa? I really dig this guyís whole scene. After a year long campaign, driving new owner Joe Sadowskiís #15 (crew Chief Arnie Sadowski), he finally knocked off the red hot Ray Estrada for the Pro Dwarf Main Event. I canít say enough about Angel Figueroa. In a class that has produced volumes of great drivers (Saxton, Estrada, Van Praag, Niedzwiecki, Stevens) Angel Figueroa is a standout. Respected and feared by other drivers, he is a former CRA Dwarf Champion. Has a beautiful family and his son Austin is the current points leader for the VRA Junior Midgets. He is unassuming, fast and a racer at heart. Personally, Iím fastÖbut Iím no Angel.

Fast Crowd