Whatís Holding Up The Delay?
September 11, 2010

Don Gansen Took Ventura Saturday Night

I want this to scream. I am a kamikaze nutcase headed straight for your brain. First off, it would take a terminally ill family member to keep me away from a race. Thatís exactly what happened Saturday night. I was in Irvine with my beloved Uncle Dick celebrating his 72nd birthday and excellent life. Wife, children, grandchildren, nephews, niece, brother, friends and lifelong schoolmates all in attendance and showing honor. Hopefully Dick will be at the All Coast Challenge next month walking around with me. Be sure to say hi. Back at my track, the home fires were burning down the joint. Brother, miss a race and you miss a lot. Great rookie driver Don Gansen won his first VRA Sprint Car Main Event. Don has been threatening every week with the tenacious heart that characterizes his class act. He was driving the red-hot Steve Watt #81. Rob Kershaw continues to sketch his masterpiece, defining the new Senior Sprint paradigm. Angel Figueroa continues to stun the Pro Dwarfs. George Sack, Jr. won the Senior Dwarfs when Kent Benson DQíd. Tough Brennan Rogers was the VRA Junior Midget Winner. Hang in there, I going to get right back to the sprints in a minute. Destyn Garcia was the Mini Dwarf Piston winner. The Velasquez family had a stellar night with Tommy Velasquez III winning the Mini Dwarf Supercharger event, his brother Nick taking second and his father Tommy finishing top five in the Pro Dwarfs. Incredible racing family and a big part of the Ventura mystique! Bobby Bender aced Lightning Sprints. Let me give a special shout out and thanks to Doug Bushey for supporting surfnsprint.com.

TJ Smith Killing It In Central California

On August 28, 90 sprint cars raced under a Southern California landscape illuminated by the same moonlight at 3 different regions. That was sixteen cars at Santa Maria, forty-nine at Ventura and twenty-five in Perris. There is no lack of sprint cars. There is no lack of driver determination. There is no lack of will, resolve, spit, experience or thin haired Sputnik monkeys willing to lay it all on the line and thrill the most jaded fan. Whatís wrong with this picture? Letís start with promotion. Promoters are most hard-core fans on the planet. I would be hard pressed to name a single person that has bled more for sprint car racing than Don Kazarian. Don and his family have built the Perris Auto Speedway and inherited the soul of Ascot. It wasnít given to them; Don was in the trenches of Ascot with Bubby Jones winning feature after feature. Don Kazarian earned the right and was destined to build Perris. The more I read and the more I research, the more I am impressed at what he has accomplished. I suspect Don is still hoping in his heart of hearts that Perris can be profitable, but the history and odds are terrorizing him. His love runs deep for the sprints. But somehow that fan base has gotten in the marbles and that track is headed for the wall. We have to unite to help him. To the North, his nemesis is not Jim Naylor. Jim Naylor is his match, a tireless worker for open wheel racing and dirt track adventure. They share the same passion and suffer the same fate, lifelong hard work rewarded with pittance returns and thanks that never quite matches the Herculean efforts. Now further North, Chris Kearns has brought a renewed vigor to the fight, stepping up to a track that embodied the heart of local racing, bringing it in from the wilderness and circling the wagons. All three of these promoters excel in heart, define passion and carry the torch of open of wheel racing under heavy enemy fire. The only problem is that they each rule over small fiefdoms, manually bringing in the sheaves and husking the corn. Running under different rules exacerbates the problem. Worse yet, they cancel each other out in the precious big events that are the lifeblood of promotion and growth. I crave the lunar landscape of Perris and 410 space dragons. I survive on the ocean air of Ventura and draw my inspiration from the 360 surf sprints. I belong in Kearn country. Iím at peace with the rugged individuals that pour out of the great Valley and more desolate hinterlands. I barely have time to consider the fine promoters of Bakersfield, Hanford, Tulare and east to the land of the burning sun. But Iím shouting at everybody here. The dazzling array of drivers, crew chiefs, crew members, car owners and sponsors, buttressed by rapid fans and fools like me; the count is in the thousands. I cry like a baby when I think of the strength unrealized.

Don Kazarian, Sprint Car Giant

Letís talk about the tracks. I realize we are going to have different track sanctions. Iím okay with that. No promoter can survive without a consistent schedule and local fan base. Thereís no problem with 360 vs. 410. Four-tens arenít going away, they are the Major Leagues. But there is no problem with the three-sixties, they provide the entry-level access and offer the same thrills and chills to the average fan. Don must be considering the 360 programs very carefully at this point. I donít care if itís USAC or VRA, run a good show and I am there. 360's and 410's complement each other. Nobody should have to give up anything. But COORDINATE the big races. It kills me that the All Coast Challenge (which I sponsor) in Ventura is up against the Legends of Ascot at Perris on the same night. I know Don Weaver and the Michnowicz family and these are incredible people promoting a special cause. I am sick my event is interfering with their efforts. And we are both up against the Trophy Cup in Tulare, one of the most prestigious events on the 2010 calendar. All three are outstanding events appealing to a wide swatch of the constituency. Why are we bleeding each otherís events? Why not coordinate the schedules so at least three fans: me, myself and I can attend all three and put my hard earned cash in each promoterís pocket where it belongs. Thank God Iím not scheduled against the Nationals, I would have to miss my own event!

Jim Naylor At Induction Into Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame

And why the hell are we running under different rules! Why make it harder for core drivers like Sheridan, Rutherford or Faria to compete at any of these three tracks on any given night. If the West Coast Sprinters or 410ís arenít running that night, let Sheridan slide down to Ventura and slum with the rest of us without having to change restrictors or tires. Letís get together and make it work! I know the tire issue is huge, but for Godís sake somebody move off the dime. The ability to race different tracks at will without compounding the cost to the teams far outweigh differences in doctrine. Your doctrine is biting you in the ass. Fans will follow the drivers. Your car count will increase. Your fan base will increase. Offer discounts to driverís holding multiple sanctions. I donít know any driver that doesnít enjoy racing different tracks. But they need help.

Danny Sheridan, Let My People Race

The strength of Ventura is the consistency of the competition and the value of the Championship. To win at Ventura means something and is a huge incentive for these drivers. Itís an even bigger thing for the USAC/CRA prestige at Perris. Up in Santa Maria, Kearns is busy building the same recognition for the USAC West Coast Sprinters. Letís talk about the value of Champions once rules and schedules are coordinated. You have track champions and you have local regional champions. You have state champions. You have national region champions. You have National Champions. Teams are able to move up and down the food chain without having to reinvent the wheel. Tracks are able to advertise and promote races where several Champions are showing up. Champions and personality will create fans. Car count increases as drivers aspire to all different goals and levels. More buzz, more beer and more Bubbyís!

VRA Champion Kierce Returns From Exile To Ventura Saturday Night

I donít know Donny Gansen, but I have been watching carefully as he has scratched his way to the front of the rabid Ventura pack. You fans in Santa Maria really need to see him. I also look forward to the day when heíll strap into a 410 and smoke Perris. It canít be that hard to synchronize the rules and events in California, at least Southern California! Otherwise, we are just pit bulls, eyeball to eyeball, locked onto each otherís throats in a death grip. Kazarian, Naylor and Kearns, you have all done so much, but you need to take it to the next level here. You have all earned the right to fight for your track. Just realize the enemy is not your neighbor. He can have your back. We can all pull in the same direction. Iíll be your huckleberry. Hook me up. We want our front wheels crossed up and sliding, but please give us that great right rear. Hey, Iím just a nutty fan sitting here muttering to myself. Whatís holding up the delay?