The Importance of Insignificance
Ventura Raceway
April 16th, 2011

All Thrill, No Fill
Victor Would Go

Brawling all through that workweek, we arrived at that track a bit tuckered and unkempt. Taxed to death, we had already resolved the only two certainties in life. That left us hot under the collar, temperatures had spiked and I was looking forward to the Pacific air conditioning always afforded at Naylor’s Seaside Speed Emporium. It did not fail. That great body of water churned out comfort and charming views as easily as an Esslinger turns pistons. I’ve been on the road for a while and it was fantastic to be back and cruise this shoreline car lot. I’m mostly on the sprint thing these days, but I was tripping over good people and races all night long.

Kershaw Captain and Crew

Senior Sprints are having a Jimmy Johnson year. Rob Kershaw has brought the family and is showing the boys how it’s done. Bill Badger suffered a nasty flip in the main, but walked off under his own power. Hope you’re feeling better, Bill. Kershaw took the bottom groove and never gave anybody a chance. Bruce Douglas gave it his all, he did everything but crash Kershaw trying to get around him. Bruce, who excels on the bottom, finally took the high line and tried to pass by going around him. He doesn’t know how close he came. Bruce just needed to time the lapped cars a little bit better and he would have made the pass Rob got stuffed by traffic. I like both these guys, it unimportant to me who won; but it was significant to me that Bruce gave it everything, Kershaw kept his cool and man that was a show! On the final lap in frustration, Bruce bumped the back of Rob’s car coming into turn three. Coming out of four, Rob hung his finger out the window and brother we were cracking up. Check it out on Loudpedal Video.

Cluster Cluck in Turn Four

The go-karts are back and this is a kick in the head. Go-karts are the coolest and that is evidenced by the car count and the fan reaction. No Willy Wonka here, this is bare knuckles racing and little room for convention and courtesy. Probably the low cost of racing allows an “I’ll run right over you” mentality. The tower barks, the flagman shakes his yellow flag, drivers give everybody the bird and let it rip. Richard Renken can have a mouth on him but every year he comes out and backs it up. If there is anyone having more fun out there than Sir Richard Renken, I’m missing it.

Sir Richard Renken and the Roustabouts

Dwarfs don’t get any respect. They’ve been waiting a week for their points to be posted and I think they’re still waiting. I don’t know where Angel (the Jimmy Johnson of dwarf racing) was this week, but Kurt Cook gave it a real go. Unfortunately for him, Ray Estrada is back and badder than ever. I watched that main and I am always blown away by how hard these cars race. The speed coming from the front stretch, the leaning turn into one and two, the delicate leaning on the pedal fighting with physics, momentum and that beautiful low center of gravity. Like crabs and lobster, they cling to the bottom of the racing ladder, but seem to provide the most nourishment and richest taste. Insignificant? I don’t know that I know what that word means.

Ray Estrada Gets It Going

I don’t know much about Lightning Sprints, but I do know that point leader Kevin Michnowicz started in the back of his heat, passed five freaking cars before they got to turn two, ran into a cluster cluck at the end of the backstretch and that was the end of his car, his night and his point lead. Great things are coming for that multi generational racer. Dan Hilberg ran from the fourth row to second place and won the main event after first place Jarret Kramer failed tech. What I do know I am learning from reading press releases by Scott Daloisio Sports (909-226-7768). Scott has become the go to guy for the serious drivers, teams and associations wanting professional promotion and attitude. I also love the little historical and anecdotal bombs he drops on the boards every now and then.

Jack Parker Wins

It’s been a tough start for the Jack Parker IMCA Modified #55jr this year. Somebody moved his cheese and everybody had to get their heads wrapped around that. But Jack came roaring back Saturday night and clinched a hard fought modified main. Brad Prows took second and is now leading the points after four races. Austin Rodarte was third and trails Brad by a sneeze. Jack Parker winning the main event put a snap into the whole evening wherever I went. Everybody has a passion and respect for this team. That 55 car is legend.

Fits a PDF Screen Perfectly

Troy Rutherford again stomped the competition and we’ve got a problem. Can anyone beat Troy Rutherford at Ventura? With victory in four out of five races, Troy is having what Mike Spencer calls a ‘defining year”. It means the track is having a “Jimmie Johnson” year, a condition in which there is no drama, you pretty much know who is going to win before you park your car. That’s bad for a promoter, fans want a close race with surprises and twists and turns in the championship hunt. Troy tells me he’s racing for the money and he needs the money for racing. He takes a win and takes the money to his engine builder, parts house and buys more fuel. Steve “Cool Hand” Conrad led the first twelve laps until the bottom strategy imploded and he finished second. Ironically, the Senior Sprint main was won on the bottom and the Sprint main was won on the top. Third place Jonathan “Hammering” Henry gave a hell of a fight, bringing that “we try harder” ethic that us blue-collar race fans relate too. Henry almost caught Troy once, coming out of turn four and showed him a wheel I reckoned. Troy tells me no. “Never saw him, never knew he was there” he told me after the race. “What a minute”, I demanded, “you never knew that Henry was challenging you for the lead?” “Never”, he replied, “I had no idea who was behind me and where anybody might be. I run like I’m running from the cops. Even when I get to lapped cars, I’m passing them left and right, but I have no idea who they are and I don’t care.” I have to think about that a bit, I was sure he saw Jonathan coming and that was important motivation. But it was almost insignificant; at this point in time Troy is only racing himself. You need to go in the pits after a race and talk to Troy. He is relaxed, he is focused, and he is having fun. But he has got a fever that would scare a mother.

California Smoke Signals

I floated some digital flyers this week. I’m looking at all the technology and tools and talent laying around. When I was young, you’d print some flyers and put ‘em up on a telephone pole. Those flyers are gone and the poles are gone too. The new telephone pole is that digital PDA in your hand and I want to tack a bulletin on it. We need something small, evocative picture, a telling phrase and a banner headline. Needs to fit on that small screen in your hand. People can forward the news. A lot of people working hard on this racing wheel. Garcia sings “Small wheel turn by the fire and rod, big wheel turn by the grace of God” and Matthew 5:5 says “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” The weak shall become powerful and the ordinary shall become great. I say don’t rule my friends out; they might kick your butt one day. You can’t overestimate the importance of insignificance.

Troy Rutherford Wants To Thank Shark Engines