Mean Streak Sport
September 26, 2009

Ventura, CA

Devastating sprint car crash at Ventura Saturday night involved eight cars, four of which flipped, one of which took serious air. Thank God everybody walked away. These guys and frames are built tough. But the real hurt is to these budget racers who have suffered a stunning cross chop to the throat. Drivers like John Nock, Jonathan Henry, Tyler Edwards and Steve Conrad typify the spirit of local track racing with limited resources. My head was aching for Henry and that beautiful Ellis they had just dialed in. I watched John Nock finish loading his wrecked car on the trailer and cinch it down. “It can be fixed, right?” I lamely offered from a safe distance. He didn’t even bother to look at me as he muttered dispassionately “sure (pause) anything can be fixed.” I never in my life felt so stupid…

Austin Rodarte
2009 Ventura Raceway IMCA Modified Champion

Austin Rodarte put the Modified season to bed Saturday night! That whole Rodarte gang is a kick in the head! This racing class is so beautiful… I could watch Randy McGraw all day long; so completely insane on the gas. Prows, Redman, Parker, Smith, Bowman, Tucker, Bulpitt….throw in some sheet metal, solid block, raw talent. Bare minimum of courtesy and no common sense. That’s a party and everybody needed a designated driver to get home. Thanks and we’ll see you titans in the spring…. Congratulations, Austin.

Austin Rodarte In The Thick of It

Bill VanPraag put on a hell of a Senior Dwarf show Saturday, cleanly beating last year’s champion Kevin Alverson. Mike Neal is everywhere, but mostly up front. Calvo also looking sharp. Lee Majors is tearing up the Pro Dwarfs. He couldn’t quite get it done against Estrada, but who can?! The two biggest threats, Figueroa and Benson crashed out early. Figueroa almost raced back. Eric Moore flipped. Somebody put a sea anchor on Estrada. Congratulations Joey Freshour on that big Supercharger victory. Mom’s proud of you! Joe Snyder got the Piston victory, such a great competitor. Trevor Fitzgibbon again in the rear wheel sports. Joel Chavez Jr. took the front wheel win. Dad’s proud of you. Dennis Simunovich won the VRA Junior Focus Midgets but Casey Martinez gave him a real run. Taylor Ferns got the hook. Austin Figueroa styled for a Junior Midget victory. David Pankratz continues to dominate the go-carts. Oh yeah, Rutherford took the Sprint trophy.

Joey Freshour Gets Interviewed After His Main Event Win
That’s IMCA Great Randy McGraw Directly Behind Him

Kevin Kierce is tough as leather, but the guy really has a heart the size of a main event. This coming Saturday is the third running of the Jim Kierce Memorial, a senior sprint event for the guys flying under the radar. Last year’s winner was Ron Butler, who had a sterling career as fabricator and wrench for Carroll Shelby. Ron still has many of the original production machines at his amazing shop in the mountains outside of Ojai. I’ve been to that shop and marveled at the memorabilia, tooling and leftover Shelby’s lying around. Ron likes nothing better than “going sideways in the dirt” and has been a regular for many years at Ventura. Took a terrific crash at the beginning of the season and has been laying off the racing. I really miss his loose grin and historical perspective. I hope he comes down from the mountain this weekend and gets with his friends.

Ron Butler
Ron Butler Before His Last Race March 21st, 2009

Saturday’s crash was a racing incident in my opinion. Everybody on the gas in tight quarters and soupy conditions. Four cars got upside down (Henry, Edwards, Nock, Conrad) and three cars got spun (Ford, Brent Camarillo and Mitchell). Mitchell had been fast all night. Woodward somehow got out with just some biking. I heard Conrad was hammer down coming out of two when his throttle stuck. He came into that crash full bore catching Camarillo like a skyhook on a nasty flight deck. I was impressed with how fast Brent Camarillo got out of his damaged car and ran to help Steve. In times of crisis you really see a person’s true character. I always liked that kid. I hate to see my friends in harms way. I hate to see financial carnage. I am drawn to the thrill and the risk, but this can be a mean streak sport.

The Art of Pride and Care