Microclimates
Victorville Raceway Park
Inaugural Race USAC/CRA 410ís
March 26, 2011


The Chairman of the Board Rips Victorville

ďCome one, come allĒ barked the promoter, ďWe have our own climate up hereĒ. That sounded good. We came like bumping turtles, dragging ourselves off of the dreary valley floor and rising like fish feeding at bits of sunlight. We plugged into the Pear Blossom Highway and pulled ourselves hand over fist, eastward, under mountain peaks buried in snow, mystic with clouds and shafts of sunlight. We skipped all that Fontana freeway crap and motored eastward, enjoying the slow pace and getting reacquainted with Joshua Trees, scrub brush and weird wandering Lassieís. We came across Victorville like some grand desert flower, the citizens were well-equipped cowboys and smiling faces wrote me down like I was at some friendly Berlin checkpoint.

Every Track Shows Itís Own Beauty


Works So Hard It Looks Easy

If you do nothing else this year, check out Mike Spencerís high-speed drifting and all alone lifestyle. This is it. This is the man at the top of his game, defining his purpose and destroying all doubts. Last year was too soon, next year might be too late. He has the attitude, the team, the car and will to execute his ďdefiningí wish. I canít speak for Mike, but it seems his stated desire to race at the highest level is actually happening. He is approaching a place where there is really nothing to discuss, nothing to debate. Watching his commanding performance in Victorville last Saturday night was so powerful, so intense, I could have gone home and called it quits for the rest of the year. He didnít take the lead, he expected it, he whistled and it came running. He was ruthless in execution yet soft and subtle when he wanted to be. First he laid back, almost disinterested, he surveyed those frontrunners and let that hand crafted machine moan. When he was bored with this, he suddenly darted to the front, passing on the outside of everyone, I mean he blasted around everybody, never even bothered to drive under! Once out front, he stretched his lead and arched his back like some feline fast freaky cat. Bobbled once, almost lost it, maybe just to psyche the crowd a little bit. But as I watched him repeatedly roll into turn four, sliding, gripping, turning like a precise Swiss watch in the middle of a shit storm, the art and the science and the coolness was so perfect I was struck dumb.


Ed Schwarz is the Flying Fossil


Against All Odds

If you do nothing else this year, check out David Cardeyís high speed pursuit of meaning, measure and victory when confronted with one the great sprint drivers and conundrums of all time. Typically a driver of Davidís caliber would be dominating local and regional pursuits. But the devilish hand of fate decided Davidís lot must be trickier, an almost cruel and imperceptible card trick, the brilliance of talent confronted with overwhelming obstacles. Yes, you are great, but first solve this cube soul puzzle before youíre allowed to cross the Rubicon. He is Microsoft and you are Apple. He is the palace guard and you are the rebel forces. Rather than whine and slouch and retreat, David Cardey seems to be craving and rising to the challenge. The further behind this driver starts, the more purposeful and radical his driving becomes. His desire takes over and that forward explosion shocks and awes us. Thatís what I saw happen when David had his celebrated turn two pass under Rickie Gaunt and pissed him off. Rickie got bumped and I too would have been annoyed. But I donít think David ever even saw Rickie in front of him. He only sees red in front of him. He had a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time. He was after Spencer; everything else was just dust and details in the way. I need that passion and abandon. I get up each morning to impossible odds. Davidís driving makes me understand what the hell Iím doing everyday.


Cardey and Gaunt Discuss Feelings


Blake

I donít think I really have the heart for sprint car racing. When people like Rick Hendrix, Danny Sheridan and Seth Wilson get on their heads and get hurt, my heart gets up in my throat, I get scared for everything and I question savagely what we are really doing out here. To see good people get badly hurt doesnít work for me. So maybe Iím not cut out for this. Dannyís crash was so brutal, intense and long lasting I was amazed to see him crawl out. It kills me how hard that team struggles to field an outstanding car and now weíre all standing there like dicks staring at an expensive pile of trash. Ten minutes later Wilson launched from the same spot and endured an equally devastating series of rolls. He wasnít so lucky and was dragged out of the car with a methanol soaked suit and shattered kneecap. Although I only know Seth casually, he sent me a gracious note a few days before the race telling me how lucky he was to be a sprint car driver. So Iím struggling with that sentiment and the reality of things that go bad in a hurry. I donít have any snappy answers, just grinding anxiety.


Sheridan Bracing


Sheridan Walks

The whole thing was a whirling dervish of clay, talent, flames and hot chocolate. That cold desert wind goes though you like a bad economic forecast. It sees everything youíre thinking like some weird weather x-ray. That promoter is right, it is different up here. His Sergeant Pepper fire truck was cool, but how about that smoking Blake Miller. How about that Nic Faas? That son of a gun was coming like Thorís thunderbolt down that track. Some things are just right and that kid is just perfect with the Alexanderís. He is going to lead them past the lost and found. Back to that glory spot that they and Tony Jones carved out of nothing. Clouds scudded and collided as we rolled down the highway into the normal chaos. We flip thanks to Mr. Promoter Man and USAC, thatís some kind of magic carpet ride. Forecast is wet and windy. Rickie was storming and five minutes later Rickie was fine. Brian Camarillo leans back and thinks about life. Ronnie Gardner just keeps giving. We are all circling and mixing and affecting each other, like microclimates.


Reaching For The Sky