June 26th, 2010
The All Coast Challenge Race 2

Jimmy ďNeutronĒ Crawford emerged ready from Steve Greshamís Willy Wonka Fast Factory after a week of intense preparations for the All Coast Challenge. Jimmy drew up a limited schedule early in the year and the Challenge was at the top of the list. Jimmyís home sits on a high ridge overlooking the Camarillo valley and on a clear day he can see that raceway. Saturday he rode down that long incline and put his plan into action. Nothingís guaranteed in racing, Steve and Jimmy have hit enough tracks in their long partnership to know that. But they executed like clockwork, good pill pick, front row outside Matt Mitchell and held that spot in a tough heat race that included Jonathan Henry and Danny Faria Jr. Massive invert of ten put all the first place finishes in rows three through five and catapulted Jimmy into the pole position. So far so good, but itís going to take more than that. Naylor did his part, cut the track right before the semis and provided a fast and relentless groove, reduced passing. But itís still not enough, now Jimmy has to execute thirty long laps with twenty two speed-swigging lunatics hard on his trail and determined to take him downÖ..

All Thrill No Fill
Jimmy Crawford Slams The Bank

Itís not hard to sponsor a race, basically you have to write a check. Much like a racecar, the secret is in the prep. Land a job, pull together some talent, make it happen, pay everybody a fair price and maybe make a profit. Put some away for a rainy day then head down to the track and blow your money like leaves on a fall day. I get lots of props for the Challenge but it makes me a little uncomfortable. First off, Iím new to racing. Really what business do I have putting on a race? When I stand next to life long commitments like Joe Richardson, I just want to shut up and pay attention. Second, you get an immense amount of credit for what is really not a lot of money. If you want to meet somebody spending a lot of money, head into the pits and talk to any car owner. But in some strange way, we all have a racing job and mine seems to be the Challenge. All Coast sponsors a race, Ray owns a racecar, Kevin drives it, Bruce makes it go fast and I write about it. Weíre all pretty happy with our jobs overall. But I still got this anxiety about itÖ..

Cody Kershaw

My buddy Austin Figueroa busted me for photos. ďWhat up dude?Ē he asked. ďNo Junior Midgets, no mods and barely any dwarfs. Youíre slacking!Ē I plead that I got no time but thatís not good enough and he not buying it. I swear itís true; time is like a thief in my head and it splits after it steals everything. I have so many killer photos and I canít even get them posted. Now that Challenge Race 2 is out of the way and we are going into that midsummer lull, I will try to get caught up, buddy. Iím actually thinking about making the photo downloads free. They donít make that much money and the drivers would get a lot of use out of it. Right now the site gets about two thousand unique hits a week, most of it driven by the articles. Give away pictures and that should go to about a hundred thousand. I worry about taking business from my photo buddies, but I donít think anybodyís counting on the pittance we get from photos. The world is shape shifting like a science fiction movie and Iím just trying to figure it out what itís saying. By the way, Austin took another first in Junior Midgets, despite an awesome effort by Devin McCree. Cody Majors took third and he maybe the most improved Junior Midget driver this year. He is second in points behind Austin and Devin is right there in third. My wife says the all the kidís driving is just the coolest thing about coming to the track! Iím not sure about that, but they are pretty neat. Austin Figueroa rocks, thatís for sure.

John Nock and Mark Chuhaloff in a Heat Race Battle

What an incredible lineup for the Challenge, thirty-eight cars clocked in, five heats, two semis and we are down to 23 monster drivers for the main event. As we mentioned, thatís Jimmy Crawford on the pole, Luis Espinoza to his right. Behind them Austin DeBlauw, Josh Ford, Matt Mitchell, Brent Camarillo, Greg Taylor, Kevin Kierce, Troy Rutherford and Brian Camarillo. And thatís just the first five rows. The stands are packed, maybe the best non-fair crowd Iíve ever seen there. Green flag and Crawford makes like a rabbit. Mitchell is strong, quickly passes two cars for second. Espinoza is hanging in third, but here comes Brent Camarillo. Ford is fifth and we see Kierce and Taylor tagging him. Mitchell is all over Crawford, but I donít think Jimmy even sees him, heís working on his plan. Heís gets a little out front. Itís Crawford, Mitchell, Camarillo, Espinoza and Ford. Itís fast, bloody fast with not much action on the bottom. Everybody is focused on hitting their marks and looking for a slide opportunity. Ford sees one and slides Espinoza, Luis is stuffed and Cody Kershaw also gets by him on the straight. Cody Kershaw, where the hell did he come from, started eleventh! He had to pass Brian Camarillo, Rutherford, Kierce and Taylor all in a few short laps. Epic. Mitchell drives the Christian Stover special a little too hard into the turn four cushion and flips hard on lap twelve. Driver ok. We are yellow and the train slows. Brent Camarillo tucks in behind Crawford and we are green again. Freaking fast, it looks like Camarillo might have something for the Neutron. Crawford has that Twister hooked up, but Camarillo is hugging him coming out of two and the crowd is enraptured watching them down the back. You can feel Brent willing that car forward, Hoosiers clutching for clay, but Crawford is the wily veteran and does not release the slack. Now Brent has been known to get in over his head, but here he is clean and solid. Suddenly there is a yard sale in turn two with Kyle Smith, Don Gansen and Greg Alexander. That gathers up Danny Faria Jr. (substituting for his buddy Wakim in the 9w) and we are yellow. DeBlauw to the pits, everyone else refires. The line up is Crawford, Camarillo, Ford, Kershaw and Espinoza. Thirteen laps completed, seventeen to go. Green and the rabbit is down that track, hounds in pursuit. I tear my eyes from the front and try to see what is happening further back. I saw Kierce and Ford bump hard, Kierce seemed to get the worst of it. Taylor and Rutherford are caught up in another classic battle, sliding the hell out of each other. Kershaw was smart to clear those cookies early! Brian Camarillo is still in the hunt right behind Kierce, who now hits the wall in four, staggers like a proud boxer and straightens out down the front stretch. The Champion lasts a few more laps but pulls off in round 27. Back up front, Crawford is precise and perfect in his plan. He drives to the flag with little to no error. Brent Camarillo is huge in second, fast, clean and brilliant. He avoids all Kamikaze temptations. His father leans back in the stands, smiles and reflects on the long road. Josh Ford takes the bottom to third. He has dedicated himself to Ventura this year and it is starting to pay off. He won the first Challenge race and Crawford came in third. Now they are reversed. By the margin of a heat race finish back in the first Challenge, Josh is leading Crawford in the Challenge point race by a thin ten points. See ya in October! Fourth place tonight is Cody Kershaw (eleventh to fourth), who shares the Sushi Fresh Hard Charger Award with Jonathan Henry (fifteenth to eighth). Cody is coming like a freight train. Relentless Rutherford in fifth. He started ninth and seems like he had to battle the whole world to get to fifth. He is first in VRA points, third in Challenge points. But Troy doesnít pay attention to points. He is fanatical about prep in the shop, then comes out every Saturday, kills for the fans and makes all his sponsors proud. Thatís just how he is.

Brent Camarillo Is Ready

All chattiness aside, I really have to thank Jim Naylor and the entire Ventura Raceway staff for just putting on the greatest events. Every time the Challenge rolls around, these folk bend over backwards to make it special. From Cliff and Jammy in the tower, to Phil and Dave in the flagstand, to Keith and Morris in the pits and every other living soul on that staff, thanks for every little thing. The stands were packed, the pits were full, the drivers were fast, the weather was epic. Thanks to all the car owners and teams for standing on it. I dig people that have a plan and execute. Congratulations to the Neutron.

Speedway Bikes, Engine Blocks, Checks, Trophies and Sprint Cars
Jimmy Crawford Inside Steve Greshamís Willy Wonka Fast Factory