Imperial Highway
Perris Auto Speedway
July 31st, 2010

All Thrill No Fill
Cal Smith Has A Perris Attitude

Into The Future

Steve Howard had some old issues of Open Wheel so I made the trip down to Downey and pulled into So Cal Performance. Driving through the archetypical architecture, low slung and run down single story commercial filled with liquor stores and strip malls, Iím blowing the dust off my earliest memories. These are storied streets, steeped in the history and lore of Southern California aerospace and auto. Firestone Boulevard, Imperial Highway, Rosecrans Avenue. I get where Iím going but Iím not sure where I am. Steve dragged out a couple of boxes and we made a deal. I never knew Glenn Howard, but his presence is so palpable he could have been standing there. I look at a display case full of stickers, hats and a thousand clues. Iím imagining the legions of drivers, car owners and crewmember that have shuffled past this counter over the last thirty years. Itís two oíclock and Steve tells me Iím the third customer today. The room itself is a museum and the ancient artifacts, b&w photos with scribbling and signatures, are on the walls. Two photos, side by side, catch my attention in particular. One depicts the closing day of Ascot. The other is an aerial shot of the opening of Perris Auto Speedway in 1995 or so. Outside, the Imperial Highway runs west to east. If you face west you can see the ghost of Ascot. Face east beyond the highway and you can see Perris. This room seems to act as a time tunnel, a cultural junction box where the two tracks stretch to meet each other.

Greg Bragg, The Second Biggest Story In Perris This Year

Signed Limited Edition Prints At Zanzabuku Lounge Benefit Sunday August 22nd

Twenty-three cars in the main event. They pull off a precise and beautiful four wide and we are ready for the main event under perfect skies and temperature. Iím hanging with Biggie and we are speculating the first two rows are powerful. Blake Miller on the pole with Mike Spencer next to him. David Cardey right behind him with Cory Kruseman to his right. We continue to speculate these four will be hard to beat, its funny how correct yet imprecise we turned out to be. Green flag and Spencer is right out front. Miller, Cardey and Kruseman file in right behind him. The track is fast and they maintain an even keel and distance. Kruseman starts pushing to best Cardey but Cardey responds with dramatic lifting out of turn four and holding his position. Spencer starts pulling away slightly as Miller, Cardey and Kruseman maintain. Matt Mitchell seems to really be on the gas and moves up to fifth over Nic Faas. Further back I see Gregg Bragg, the frickking Williams family and Danny Sheridan all pulling and in contention. We are getting into back markers and laps are clicking off. Our first yellow as Jimmy Crawford slops to a stop in turns one and two. Blew a fuel line. Dennis Howell and Josh Ford also seem to be gone. They line up for the green and it seems not much has changed. Mitchell has improved his lot but everyone else seems to be where they started. The track is too good for passing. Green and hammer down. After some modest brawling, Cardey clears Miller who then comes under assault by Cory Kruseman. However Cory himself is under heavy pressure from Mitchell especially coming out of turn four. The pace is dramatic and it seems everyone is lifting out of four. Heavy traffic and Spencer is driving hard into one and passing traffic on the outside. Cardey is remarkably closing the gap and what looked like a runaway is turning into a nail biter! Spencer gets stuck behind a lapper coming into three; Cardey smells blood and closes the gap. Third spot hot shoe Mitchell seems to have the fastest car but is smoking like a schoolboy. Five laps to go and Cardey makes his move. He has caught Spencer on the front straight and they both bomb into turn one. Spencer is loose and higher. Cardey drives to the bottom with too much speed but miraculously sticks it and beats Spencer down the back. Cardey is under Spencer and set up for the classic slide coming out of three. He executes perfectly, jams Spencer in turn four, gains the upper hand down the front stretch and appears to be firmly in control. Everybody adjusts their perception and Cardey and Spencer resume parallel speed. Itís Cardey, Spencer, Mitchell, Bragg and Kruseman. Apparently Mitchell blows an engine, collects hard charging Bragg down the back and Kruseman takes the third spot with Miller chasing him. As I run over to the flag stand, its Cardey, Spencer, Kruseman and Miller, the original front four. Nic Faas completes the top five. Another classic Cardey come from behind in the final laps mind blower!

Matt Mitchell Was Blazing

Take Me Home

Perris feels so relaxed in the summertime. I think about David Cardeyís four in a row hot streak, matching Tony Jones. Corey did a record six in a row back when he won fifteen races in one season. Steve Howard tells me Bubba Jones once had an incredible 23-race streak at a track in Springfield, Illinois. They finally brought in bounty hunters to end it. I ask Cardey if he sets up the car for the end of the race. ďNoĒ, he replies, ďyou have to be up front as soon as possible, but somehow this car just seems to come in at the endĒ. I was going to get his right footís opinion but jubilant family and friends surrounded him. Thumbing through dog-eared magazines, Iím drifting in the past but I need to be here now. Iím amazed at how often Ascot bumps up against Perris. Indiana rubs up against the Golden State. 410ís are being seduced by the willowy 360ís. There are many tracks and options for all the different racing vehicles, personalities and philosophies. I know the good ole days are gone, but tremendous drivers like Spencer, Kruseman, Mitchell, Sheridan, Bragg and Miller conjure all the magic I need. So Cal Performance is golden in the California sunset, but Circle Track Performance rises in the East. The Williams factor is now 3 to the power of x. Last, but not least, this Cardey persona is huge. In this economic gloom it delivers hope against all odds. Doomed to miss the championship because of budget, always seeming to come from behind, a common everyman with an almost aristocratic posture; David Cardey has become the dark prince of Perris and is barreling down his own Imperial Highway.

Delivering Hope