You Are The Race
June 19, 2010

All Thrill No Fill
Danny Miller Is the Play

Raj said it best. About eleven sprint car races for twelve bucks. Felt his money was well invested. Thatís about as good as it gets in this stinking economy. And all that cool ocean air was thrown in for free. I tell you what I loved about last Saturday night. It was watching that maniac Naylor groom that track. I know a lot of people hate it, but I need the freaking break. I shoot all the heat races until the sun goes down. Thatís about two hundred races. If he starts right in with main events, I donít get any dinner, no portraits, no talk story in the pits, no break whatsoever. So Iím up in the tower with Truex and weíre watching the sun go down and weíre watching this insane man groom the track like itís a damn Shick commercial. The Boss doesnít send out his crew, he does it himself. Thatís him in the Cat Grader, thatís him in the water truck. He doesnít trust anyone else to get it right. He letís Phil or Morris help a little bit, but thatís the promoter combing the entire mess for the Main Events like his life depended on it. Talk about pride of ownership. And after all the racers have killed in the Main Events, Iíll tell you the sweetest part of it. After all the trophies have been handed out and the grandstands are empty, I get back in the tower, get on my laptop and Iím sending photos and results to Lance so he can post. Iím sitting up there all alone in that empty tower and here comes that grader again! In the middle of the night heís grading for Coryís Sunday school or the rodeo or I donít know what. Iím shaking my head and I can see his girlfriend standing behind him in the cab, rubbing his shoulders and keeping him company as he goes around and around that track. Now thatís loveÖ.

Nothing But Love

Iíve been watching the Rodarte family for years tearing up this racetrack from one end to the other. When I first got involved it was Rowdy Rick Rodarte dominating the street, he was the baddest dog in that heap of mongrel Modifieds. Iíve seen a lot of great drivers in the meantime, including McGraw, Redman and Parker. But it is especially cool to watch to watch the old man shepherd his pups Austin and Aaron onto the track and cut em loose. Austin was the 2009 IMCA Modified Champion and last Saturday night Aaron got his first Main Event Win. In the winnerís circle, Rick wanted to make sure the car number got in the picture, but I was more concerned with the dynamics of the family, Rick the father at the center with proud arms wrapped around a son on each side. I love pictures like this, where itís more than a victory shot. You canít get sloppy and sentimental with a crowd like this, but I look at this picture and I see a proud racing family celebrating a moment that will never pass again, the kidís first win. Epic moment piled onto a heap of epic moments at Ventura.

Papa and Sons

There are a couple more people that really stood up and shined this weekend. Gary Howard, whatís up with that guy? The Rip Van Winkle of Ventura Sprint Cars got up one morning and climbed back into a Kershaw time machine. He ripped a Senior Sprint second place finish two weeks ago behind Rob Kershaw and decided he didnít like the view. He came back this weekend and checked out the view from the front. He told me heís not getting back into driving, but how can you stop talent like this. Just another amazing character wandering around in the pits. Hats off to Kevin Alverson for wining another Senior Dwarf Car Main Event. In his spare time Alverson helps out race promoters by building race barns for them and shrugging off the credit. Ventura now has a really beautiful race barn where Naylor stashes all his trucks and toys out of the weather. Kevin is also a fast foot in a sprint; I saw his first sprint race in Santa Maria last year and several here in Ventura. I have to go meet his car owners; they also put David Cardey in the car on occasion. George Ito spanked the Go-Karts. George is the car owner behind Josh Ford. Josh is studying for a Masterís degree in strawberries, so Ito put Troy Rutherford in the 410 car at Perris a few weeks back. Good on Troy, Iíd like to see more of that. But donít forget about Josh; he won the last All Coast 360 Challenge and will be back this weekend and up front. Greg Taylorís beautiful wife Leah brought their baby Maddie to the track for the first time, so Greg puffed up and got his girls a trophy. Uber fast Brian Camarillo in second and Rickís Gate Works put Rick Hendrix in third. Special shout out to Brent and Robin and baby Ashlyn. She showed up on Fatherís Day. What a lucky guy.

Gary Howard Wakes Up

This joint really is about the people. Naylor keeps telling me the track doesnít matter (except the grooming I guess), the cars donít matter and the gate is worthless. ďItís the peopleĒ he keeps telling me like I didnít hear him the first time. Hey, I get it. When I was a kid I ran away and joined the Renaissance Faire. It was a whole village created around a great center stage where actors would get up and spout Shakespeare and Machiavelli. Fans would show up, get blasted and cheer anything that amused them. I and my delinquent friends were picking up the trash, parking the cars and cleaning the portable toilets. But slowly this weird osmosis occurred, where the actors and the village became the stage and all of us misfits became the play. Everybody started coming to see us! I get the same feeling when Iím at this raceway. I float from the pit booth to the infield and Iím surrounded by incredible cast characters. From the wrench turning the nut to the nut driving the car, we all seem to star in each otherís racing movie. Some play their parts so well while others struggle with dialog and motivation. I donít shoot cars, I shoot people. You are driving a push truck, but you are really setting up the conflict for the protagonist. The audience swoons, the heroes rise and the villains fall. We all ran away and joined the track. Screw what the program says, forget the winnerís circle, you are the race.

Incredible Cast