League of Champions
USAC/CRA at Ventura
September 25th, 2010

All Thrill No Fill
ďItís Not About Horsepower Here, Itís About RacingĒ

USAC/CRA delivered the mail Saturday. They came in like a low level bomber, detonated the mail bag right above ground zero and soaked a couple thousand frontier starved fans with all that is good and righteous about racing. The shock wave cratered the infield, traveled up the stands and rolled across the Southern California landscape. They may have felt it all the way back in Indiana. My phone and email was out of control the next few days as all my friends checked in and raved. I spent so much time at work talking about racing I should have fired myself! Yea, I was there. I saw the heroes, the jerks, tasted that chili, felt those 410ís through the bottom of my feet, tripped the surf fantastic, fought for position, heard the war stories and reveled in the sunburned Beach Boy vibrations. I just really want to thank somebody and I donít even know who to talk to. Freaking USAC nailed it for me. Steve Ostling runs a tight ship and commands the respect needed to control a fearless crew of the uncontrollable. Thirty-eight USAC/CRA cars showed up, maybe their best count of the year. Add seventeen VRA Senior Sprints and Ventura probably had the best sprint car count in the USA Saturday night. USAC officials were in the haulers talking to the VRA drivers, shaking their hands and thanking them for coming out to race. Donít think that didnít go over good. How do I thank Jim Naylor and the talented Ventura roustabouts? These guys have done so much for me, I could never thank them. Keith, Phil, Dave, Jammy, Mikey; every one of them a champion at my track. I was cracking up watching push truck drivers doing flips in their truck cabs as mind-blowing heats exploded around them. Twenty-four cars on the track and maybe the best 410 main in many years here! How about those sneaky Wagsters, feeding and cajoling me as they gently extracted a few dollars from my pocket and palmed it off to a driver that needed it more. Yíall never felt so good to be rolled. Then they lit the fuse on a couple of kids and knocked the whole joint out stone cold. I crawled through the wreckage afterwards and watched large groups of teams and fans laughing and chattering in the pits. It was like that Star Wars forest moon party with the ewoks! Hooked up with Spencer for a few minutes and Iím always amazed how sincere and soft-spoken this Champion is. Saw Tim Moon! Carne asada tacos with Conrad and Ferro at midnight and what else do you need? If this is the sad state of sprint car racing, hurt me.

The 360ís Were Well Represented, Jonathan Henry

VRA Senior Sprints were all about Cliff Warren Saturday night. Although the amazingly talented Gary Howard won, the tenacity, work ethic and hard earned skill exhibited by Cliff is what I go to the races for. Cleaned house with his heat race then took the main by storm and wrenched the lead from Gary on lap sixteen out of twenty. He was bound for glory but the hand of fate dealt him TWO last lap yellows. When Gary ďthe LegendĒ Howard is breathing down your back on a restart, you have to be perfect. Cliff was perfect for the first restart and come into the flag stand winning, only to be called back for a second yellow! As Gary explained to him afterwards, never repeat your strategy on the second restart. Gary saw him go to the bottom again, got a run and rocketed off the wall in turn two. Passed him in three and no charge for the lesson. Cliff took it all in good grace, but that had to hurt, buddy! Cliff will be back on October 2nd looking for that first win. Four-time Ventura Sprint Car Champion Gary Howard tells me that in this stinking economy, he will keep giving lessons as long as Naylor is writing those moonlight paychecks.

Brody Roa, Standing Tall

Hey, a special shout to our to our newest customer Matt Mussell and thanks for supporting surfnsprint.com! Canít wait to collect this weekís Loudpedal DVD. Mike Truex was hanging off a forklift above turn three scoring incredible footage. Mike Truex is consistently on the front line of sprint car racing and living to tell about it. Matt Mitchell was quick time (11.746) Saturday but Markus Niemela shocked the monkey with Steve Watt Enterprises #81 car (360 engine) for second fastest. Markus Niemela is the real deal and thanks to Polly Gallimore for your racing smarts and bringing us the talent. Top qualifiers were in the elevens, but nobody touched Blake Millerís 11 .675 hit back on October 25th, 2008. Not sure what the track record isÖHow cool to have uber racer D-Rod back home for this event, racing the 21x through the semiís and into the main. Dennis Rodriquez hung tough and finished twelfth after starting 22nd. Dennis and his beautiful wife are sorely missed since moving to the Mid West.

Brody Roa Get To Hang With Richard ďthe GasmanĒ Griffin

Speaking of Steve ďBiggieĒ Watt, he blew my mind Saturday night. Biggie was the matchmaker bringing Jesse Hockett to Ventura for two consecutive All Coast Challenges. This year Steve is reaching deep again and bringing Jon Stanbrough to Ventura on October 23rd for the 2011 All Coast Challenge. I didnít think I heard Biggie right so I wrote Jonís number on the back of my hand and called him Sunday. ďYeah, Iím thereĒ he drawled with that Land of Lincoln intonation, ĒSounds like an exciting raceĒ. Jon has been carving a victory trail across the heartland of America this summer and now rides the crazy train to the coast. I think heíll find his kind of people here. Steve Watt, Jim Naylor and All Coast Construction are committed to bringing notorious talent to this event. Itís good for the fans; itís a Challenge for the racers and adds to the California late season pull. All roads lead to Perris. I will reporting on the Budweiser Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway this November 4th, 5th and 6th. Brudder Brett and I will be there camping for three days in the newly restored SurfnSprint Airstream. Now that should be a party! Iíll be the guy in the back frantically editing pictures while Brett entertains the ladies up front!

Mike Truex Comes Back From The Front Line

Loudpedalís epic highlights open this week with twenty-four slumbering giants motoring around turn two and headed for the starting cone. Josh Ford takes his pole position and gets out clean. Ronnie Gardner is next (starting front row) but the whole world (200 online viewers) can see 2nd row Cory Kruseman is defiantly on the gas. Itís Ford on the bottom, Kruseman high, Gardner third with Champion Mike Spencer on the move in fourth (started seventh). Fast time Matt Mitchell gets turned around in turn one, gathers Rip Williams and Troy Rutherford and we are yellow, the first of four. Chris Wakim, starting fourteenth after a raucous semi with Jimmy Crawford, breaks his steering box and pulls off. The track is slick, fast and passing seems possible everywhere. Mitchell is done, Kenny Perkins is done and Champion Rip and Troy to the back. Green and Ford, Kruseman and Gardner are all low on the entry. Spencer starts smacking that cushion up high. He gets the grip he needs and passes Gardner on the backstretch. Suddenly Mike English, subbing for Blake Miller (wedding), gets on his back and gathers Jonathan Henry. Jonathanís amazing bad luck streak at Ventura continues but heíll be back on the 23rd. They used to throw money at him here. They put Spencer back in fourth. Three laps down and the car count is reduced to nineteen. Green and Ford sticks with the bottom. Bad move, Cory finds speed at the top and passes at the flag stand. Ford stuffs Spencer on the backstretch and maintains second. Theyíre all going high as crash damaged Rip pulls into the infield. Simultaneously his son Cody gets sucked into the turn-two crash wall and we are yellow. Seventeen cars left and we havenít really got this puppy up to speed yet. I look at the lineup and see Tony Jones (starting fourth) has recovered his slow start and is back in fourth. Green and Cory flings high. Josh is on the bottom and then slides Spencer out of two. Tony Jones has hit his mark perfect and clears both of them on the bottom out of two. It is a horse race down the back between Jones, Ford and Spencer. The hair is tingling on the back of my neck; this is what we came for! The Cowboy digs in and we are racing! Kruseman out front and Jones scorching in second. Mike Spencer has ripped third from Ford, Gardner maintaining in fifth. Cory picks up some distance and Spencer is hounding Jones. The incredible Greg Bragg has moved from nineteenth to fourth and Ford and Garner are under attack from Brandon Thomson, literally driving his Grandpaís 360 to challenge these 410ís. Brody Roa is also in a 360 and dive-bombing. Yellow again and I think it was a debris caution. Green and the whole pack is up on the cushion. Itís Kruseman reeled in, Jones, Spencer, Bragg, Ford, Gardner, Brody Roa and hereís Sheridan! Heavy traffic now and Kruseman is dashing everywhere. Kruseman, Jones and Spencer and traffic is dictating their lines. Spencer takes some buckshot; Jonesí rear end breaks loose coming out of two. They both persevere. Brandon Thomson is sliding Ford and slamming the cushion. Itís Kruseman, Spencer, and Jones and here comes Thomson. Bragg is back a little, Sheridan and Troy are moving up and Brady Roa is going to be top ten. Checkers for Kruseman, Jones (terrorizing the front runners again), Spencer, Slamming Brandon Thomson, Josh Ford, Danny Sheridan, Troy Rutherford, Ronnie Gardner (constantly improving), Brody Roa and top ten for Jimmy Crawford (on a provisional). It was hard, fast, fun and filled with good racing. So cool to see three Champions lined up on the podium, Chris Holt had his hands full and appreciation flowed in all directions. The Kruser told me later, ďItís not about horsepower here, itís about being smart, and itís about racingĒ. Tony Jones says ďLetís race here twenty times a yearĒ. Thanks for wearing the T-shirt Tony. Itís a point of pride for us.

Bobby Michnowicz Added to the Classic Vibe

Ken Wags threw down yet another Wagsdash and true to form it was a smoker. Brody Roaís name has been whispered all over Ventura and finally the quiet racer stood up and shouted ďIím standing right here!Ē Classic knock down race between him and the inexhaustible Brandon Thomson. Everyone has known for years that Brandon needs a ride, I like the way he comes out and slams the point home in the big races. What do you look for in a racer? Forget the checkbook, pedigree, fears, tears and jeers. I look for heart. Brandon has so much heart itís tearing his chest open. He met his match in Brody Roa, who has the tongues of fire trailing from his own highly developed sense of purpose. It was like watching two panthers in a speed run. For much of the Wagsdash, the first three cars were 91 (Brody Roa), 92 (Brandon Thomson) and 93 (Ronnie Gardner)! Come on, what are the odds? Roa won it flat out clean and lean. Thomson proud in second, Dennis Howell excellent in third, Greg Bragg and Kenny Perkins finishing top five. Wags. What a long strange trip itís been.

The Chairman of the Board Comes to Ventura

One last shameless plug for the All Coast 360 Challenge October 23rd at Ventura Raceway. You never know with a race, you pays your money and you takes your chances. But a lot of people hard at work here to deliver a stunning race event. The race will pay $5,000 to win and another $5,000 to the point leader of the three race series. It will be a minimum of $300 to start. Twenty-three cars expected in the Main Event. Josh Ford is in fine shape to take $10,000 home; he is leading the All Coast points and is consistent top five almost every week. But not so fast, Jimmy Crawford is also right there in points and talent. But perhaps the biggest impact of the evening could be Troy Rutherford, who has the chance to win the race, win the points money and lock up the VRA 2011 Sprint Car Championship all in one evening. But it is a Challenge! Stanbrough will be standing on it. More surprises may show up! Donít bet against the homeboys, Taylor, Hendrix, Kierce, Kershawís, Camarilloís and ThomsonÖ. Letís get this hash cooked!

All Eyes Will Be On Brandon Thomson At The All Coast Challenge

Maybe because times are tough, I feel like we are swimming in an ocean of abundance and affection. Peter Murphy is racing for Breast Cancer Awareness in Tulare this weekend. Legends of Ascot at Perris October 23rd. Pacific Nationals will light up the Central Valley. Cotton Classic. The magnificent and spectacular Oval Nationals in November. The Midget Fall Classic in Ventura! You think itís a ballet, but sometimes itís the herky jerky. Who can tell the difference? Weíre all busting in and busting out. Itís a secret society, the fans are out of control but the waitress never knows your name. Whatever, pick up the menu, itís time to eat. You are now being seated with the League of Champions.

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