Fast Face
March 4th, 2011

Champion Rutherford Brings It To The New Improved Ventura Raceway

Brutal winter. I thought I was going to escape the recessionary blues but I got a nuclear haircut just like everybody else. Buzz saw. Thank God Spring is here and weíre going racing. I was so worried last year that tracks and promoters were going to fold and that does not seem to be the case. Ventura has come roaring back and the added ingredients and list of improved features is stunning. At the top of the list is the new VRA Midget program. Jim Naylor, with the parental knowledge and grudging respect of USAC Midgets, is flying a new Midget sanction and it promises to be smoking. As far as I am concerned, there are two hotspots for open wheel racing in the nation this summer, one is Indiana and the other is Ventura. Thatís not a slam on the other excellent programs occurring in all directions, but if you are a hardcore Sprint and Midget driver and want a dozen opportunities to race both classes in one night and double down on potential winnings, Ventura is the place to be. Not to mention the fanís bargain discount with two, two, two shows in one. That opens up next week with the combination All Coast Challenge and VRA Midgets inaugural race both exploding the same night. Savvy drivers will have the chance to pull down up to 5K. Just got off the phone with the King of Indiana and he will be coming by to make it as difficult as possible for everybody. We donít need no stinking practice nights, this place just ignites.

Thereís Daytona and Thereís Ventura

Other brilliant changes include improved ocean dining. They got rid of the annoying street, trees and pedestrians. Pit crews now have an unobstructed surf check and opportunities for romantic walks on the beach. Not sure how itís all going to play out, but it sure feels good. I want to blast a welcome to Ray and Nellie Stansbury as new Ventura officials. Ray brings an incredible wealth of experience to tech and here is one dude you cannot snow. Nellie is in the tower helping with scoring and what I saw the first night brings the whole equation to a new and higher level. Transponders and radio for all sprints and midgets arrive this week and maybe we can now get rid of the whiners holding up the restarts. Get over it! Walt Johnson is helping Cliff Morgan with officiating and radio traffic and that bodes well also. Experienced USAC flagman Noel Dawson is on the pole and it just keeps getting better and better. Early message board reviews give the online streaming a big thumbs up; Brad Pitzele and Mike Truex are blazing that trail with digital viciousness.

Chris Olson Checks Me Out Checking Him Out

Check out the Mod Lites. Iím not big on fast food but even I like getting an In&Out Burger once in a while. These things are cheap and fast. Chris Olson got shore leave from the Navy, came out and lit one up. Those three that ran Saturday featured 1200cc. The junior kidís version with 600cc is coming out next, so you can set up your kid, switch engines as they get older, then move into Midgets and Sprints. Next thing you know, youíre little darling is conquering Napcar and moving into Formula Ones. Check in with Kevin Alverson, he is behind the big push.

Spooky Lewis

Before I forget, there were some awesome paint jobs out there Saturday night. Two that really slapped me in the face were Mike Lewisís #5 dwarf, just a spooky, chilled out checkerboard version this year. If he paints the interior and helmet to match, he will become the invisible driver. I got a picture here somewhere. Another fantastic job was that cute kid JD Brown in the mini dwarf. This charger is so sweet and wicked fast. Congratulations on his main event win and thanks to his parents for giving his car a paint job that matches how special the brat is. Thereís plenty more and weíll get into them all as the season marches on. I want to give the winners a nod, Peopleís Champion Troy Rutherford slayed the great Greg Taylor in a super clean yet thrilling finish. Get ready for the Marcus Niemele Experience; itís coming at you like Jimi Hendrix turned up to ten! Justin Kierce, son of reclusive legend Kevin Kierce, has what it takes and he will be in the fight. I heard they sat him down after the race. Just race, Justin and you will win. Strong performances also by Brandon Thomson and Josh Ford. A lot of great people missing, harsh economics show no mercy. Racing is just damn expensive. Also just have to mention Derek ďthe AnimalĒ Buckley. Derek brings soul and street credibility to every race he shows up at. Raising two twins at five months with his lovely wife Melinda, he managed to keep awake and destroyed his heat race, the first of the season. Well get to Angel Figueroa many times this season. Thanks for the t shirt, Joe! I want to write about everybody, hey, letís slow down, we got all year. I most of all want to write about the significant work being done by Corey Kruseman, Steve Watt and Rick Taylor on specifications and testing, but Iím going to need a whole article. Weíll get to that. These guys, along with Jim Naylor and his dedicated staff (hey Jammy and Julianne) are going to take us all to a place of credibility and national respect. Put on your fast face.

This Is The Team You Have To Beat This Year