Rave On The Grave
The Battle At The Beach Race One
The All Coast Challenge Race One
Ventura Raceway
March 19th, 2011

Cory Kruseman Leads the Midgets Back to Ventura

Rutherford, Henry, Camarillo, Conrad, Stanbrough, Kierce and That’s Just One Heat

Don’t tempt the gods they say. Tempt them? We kicked sand in their face. Flipped ‘em the bird. Dropped our shorts, mooned and shook it. Jim Naylor woke up on the dreariest morning since gray was discovered, looked up at the black sky and whispered, “Race is on!” Drivers were on the move from Indiana to Ojai and all points in-between. Forget the All Coast Challenge, its fine and hanging tough but that wasn’t good enough. This knucklehead went out and dreamed up a new midget sanction, double-dared USAC to a race and suddenly it was raining midgets. Battle at the Beach or some corny thing, but who cares, it was brilliant. Not one main event but two blistering showdowns, sprints and midgets, teetering on the edge of weather and reason. You really had to be a lunatic to think it would actually go off. You were checked at the gate and only the most hardcore fans were allowed in the stands. They got membership points with heat after heat after heat of track perfection and driving inspiration. We’re talking quality, no off-brand drivers here. Kruseman, Spencer, Josett, Stanbrough, Swanson, Henry, Rutherford, Taylor; even the great Derek Buckley strolled down from the hills and showed them how it’s done. Things are strange, people are looking for work and radiation floats on the breeze. In the darkest of times, on the nastiest day, in the final waning desperate moments Naylor and his gang of staff, drivers and fans set it up and knocked it down. And when we were done, the skies split open and for twenty-four hours screamed foul.

Guy Woodward Moons the Flagmen and Fans

Only The Faithful

Midget main was excellent. Naylor was thrilled that the track’s size and the hard tire got the cars “off the pole” and racing all over the track. Lot’s of passing. Kruseman started third, went back to seventh or so and then fought back to the front. Jake Swanson’s Honda power plant stacked up nicely against Cory’s Esslinger with a second place finish. Props to Chris Ennis for a third place showing, Ennis is proving to be a formidable competitor. Jonathan “Hammering” Henry was amazing. Between this Midget race and the Sprint that followed, I would have to say that Jonathan Henry dominated overall and just killed in both events. Check him out in the red Graunstadt #88 just exploding down the backstretch on the Loudpedal Video. Cody Swanson was hard charger from seventeenth to seven. The whole Kruseman and Naylor BFF thing is paying dividends for left coast racing. Bruce Douglas (the real surfnsprint) along with Victor Davis and evergreen Bill Camarillo have been at the center of a core group pushing for Midget racing to come back to Ventura. With Cory, Steve Watt and Rick Taylor helping Naylor with test, tech and direction, Ventura is again becoming a church for speed. With the school, the shack and the championship experience, is Saint Cory is stacking the deck for himself? Maybe. But when you are baptized at Ascot, confirmed in Perris and ordained at the Chili Bowl, you don’t have a lot of ‘splaining to do. Puts his racing suit on one leg at a time and has to fight from the back just like everybody else. Bless these punks. Jim, Cory, Steve and many more are in the middle of life long commitments. They are bleeding on the cutting edge of open wheel racing. They’re taking us with them. Midgets are back at Ventura. Twelve races and I won’t miss one!

Robby Josett is Back Home

USAC’s Tommy Hunt and VRA’s Jim Naylor Just Want Good Racing

Troy Rutherford doesn’t take anything for granted. Tireless preparation wins races and when he rolled into Seaside Park Saturday, I don’t think he had a shred of doubt he was going to win. But when you have the current VRA Champion, the current USAC-CRA Champion and the King of Indiana all on the track, it’s the fans who win. Rain was misting, retreating and then pelting again as they pushed off that main. Jon Stanbrough had been very ill all evening but gave it a go from the seventh row. Mike Spencer challenged strongly from the second row, but faded to sixth when something happened to that car and he started going backwards. But it was Derek “the Animal” Buckley that delivered the drama, channeling the attitude and moves of the late, great Hockett. Rim riding on the walls, he repeatedly stalked and challenged race leader Rutherford. That track was greasing up as the rain got serious and Buckley couldn’t quite get the traction he needed to pass for the win. Throw in Greg Taylor up front also and you pretty much had the whole Ojai Mafia digging for the podium. But Hammering Henry crashed that party too, getting around Greg Taylor for third and stealing the last of the cash. Taylor fourth, Kruseman fifth. Brent Camarillo was hard charger; he was in everybody’s face all night! The All Coast Challenge rolls on, collecting bits and pieces of racing lore each year.

Mike Truex Is On the Front Line of the Digital Streaming Revolution

Hammering Henry Dominated

Had an early breakfast with John Henry, his son and a gaggle of friends. I don’t think you can find more forthright people. I dropped off Brudder Brett and dragged my sorry ass home in the early morning hours. I think I stood in that tank-less hot water stream forever, thinking about it all. The funny part is, I wasn’t really thinking about this race. I was thinking about the USAC West Coast Sprints. I really need to blast up the coast and see those guys! I want to meet TJ Smith; that guy goes off. So many incredible drivers in that group; my buddy Faria, Murphy, Pombo, Carlile, Alexander, Hamblin and those crazy spelling VanderWeerds. And how about Wes Guiterrez? Please bring back that Gothic paint job that was trashed at Tulare last year! This isn’t a sport, it’s a sickness. How can you reel exhausted in the shower at 2:00 am and all you are thinking about is the next race. Now it’s Thursday. Ventura is cancelled and Victorville is hopeful. That track is sick fast and the big dogs are rolling in. For God’s sake go out and support this new promoter and 410 racing. It’s going to be a party. The last time I was there David Cardey burned the place down. There seems to be a new optimism replacing last year’s depression session. Some great racers are missing in action; some people aren’t getting the rides they deserve. But the people I know aren’t going to tiptoe through the graveyard. Crank up the music. They are going to rave on the grave.

All Coast Spokesperson Brett Taylor Presents Troy Rutherford with the All Coast Trophy

Cory Wins with Mikey “The Master of All Things Midget” Evans