Sprint Destiny
Perris Auto Speedway
May 28th, 2011

Matt Mitchell Delivers A Blockbuster

Dateline: Perris, CA

Bucking years of industry trending, Perris Auto Speedway delivered a blockbuster Memorial Day weekend, breaking car count and grandstand records across the board. Although too early to confirm that conditions are systemic and long lasting, the 410 summer opening at Perris combined with the healthy 360 car count a week earlier at Hanford bodes well for USAC West Coast efforts and delivered solid racing thrills to audiences two weeks running. Big shows are predicted for independent producers Victorville in early June and the VRA All Coast Challenge in Ventura scheduled for late June. Strong crowds at both of these events could signal the sea shift keen industry observers are looking for. Saturday’s breakout hit came about after producers tore up the predictable script, brought in new talent and turned the standard classic into a summer cliffhanger. Studio executives tossed the Mike Spencer happy ending and there was a rush of fast shoes to fill the marquee poster. Rising star Matt Mitchell, represented by the Nick Mitchell Agency and a host of talented wrenches, grabbed the lead role and delivered a knock out performance. Although Mitchell is now the considered frontrunner for Oscar Best Driver, there was a whole host of powerful supporting roles that gave this story depth, meaning and excitement….

Surfnsprint - Stuffed With Cars, Drivers and Legends
Stuffed With Cars, Drivers and Legends

Obviously, the most intriguing development was the mid race collapse of deuteragonist Mike Spencer in the storied Ron Chaffin #50. Mike started from the fourth row and had worked his way to second. Spencer qualified fast time and that car had all its marbles early in the race. The up front fight between Mitchell, Spencer and David Cardey was why we all go to watch. Mike told me trouble developed with smoking and a sudden loss of oil pressure. He pulled off instantly to try to preserve the engine and when I saw that crew post race, they were still poking around without any definitive answers. Ironically, this may provide the impetus that Mike, director Bruce Bromme and Production Chief Ron Chaffin need to chase down an elusive fourth consecutive Oscar. Any notion they’re losing their grip is sure to stoke the competitive fire that drives all three. Bruce Bromme leaves Thursday to be inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Following that, that trio will compete in Indiana Speed Week, competing in rapid-fire consecutive races. By the time they get back to California a few weeks from now, they should have their racing chops honed to sharp edge. Storyline editors are working furiously on the sequel.

Surfnsprint - David Bezio Puts In The Time
David Bezio Puts In The Time

The new script paradigm seems to be focusing on cars, car owners and crew chiefs. Greg Bragg’s powerful second place is a strong vindication of car owner’s Tom and Laurie Sertich’s dedication and passion poured into the #92 car. The Moose Production Company is bringing to the screen the biggest romantic adventure film of all time. Greg took no prisoners in a blistering drive towards the front. Only Mitchell’s time and space lock on setup kept Greg from running him down. Bragg continues to prove that he is one the most versatile performers of this generation and can nail any role.

Rock Solid Production Values

Super Rickie Gaunt brought the requisite superhero genre to the racing theater and destoyed every cartoon in sight as he delivered the #66 to the podium. The main event battles with Nic Faas and Austin Williams were scorching. Gaunt threatens to steal the show in every race he attends. Rickie stands for truth, justice and a damn good time in most race fans estimation. Town insiders are burning up digital phone lines with speculation that Super Rickie has been signed to portray the Navy Seal squad leader in Legendary Pictures upcoming war film “Team Sixty-Six”. The feel-good action flick will be filmed in Pakistan and is slated for release July 4th, 2012.

Cody Williams Will Be At Victorville For The Summer Sprint Car Spectacular June 11th

Every good storyline has an element of conflict and loss; Rip Williams was tearing up everything in sight and had stormed up to second, including an incredible pass on two of his own sons. For most of the race, all three of the Williams racers were in the top ten. In the heat of the battle, Rip clipped the berm coming into turn one and was uncharacteristically spun and parked. Although I regret not seeing Rip in his starring days, I would never trade this gripping reality show of a father bringing his kids into racing and showing them how a champion does it. Josh Brolin’s production company is pitching “The Rip Williams Story” around town, with Josh planning on playing the title role. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Johnny Depp of Racing

There’s a ton of other good drivers already cast for the sequel to Saturday's smash hit. Top five Blake Miller is the Comeback Kid from a series of nasty crashes and injuries. Also got to point out Nic Faas incredible run, crimped early by a rookie spin in turn two. Sent packing to the back, Faas mounted an incredible comeback and fought his way back to a fourth place finish. Nic Faas is ready for his close up. David Cardey was in the middle of all the battle scenes when his car quit for no reason. He told me post race he suspected a fuel problem. Screen credits also included Mike Spencer fast time, Austin Williams second fastest and young Ronnie Gardner third fast, proving he is ready for a starring role. Greg Alexander and Jace VanderWeerd were also prime time until their broadcasts were interrupted for technical difficulties. Congratulations to senior sprint car winner Brian Williams for anchoring the late night news. Too many other cast members to mention. Thanks to all the Perris Auto Speedway staff and USAC officials for an outstanding production, especially Jeff Kristensen and Raceway Video’s riveting documentary work.

Here’s One For The Homeboys
Surfnsprint - Here’s One For The Homeboys

Senior Sprint Driver Brian Williams Makes The Late News

Interior shot:
Its mid morning, sun drifting through Venetian blinds in a back lot studio executive’s office. Camera dollies in through open doorway and pans room where four earnest fans are pitching a mildly interested executive.
SoCalCowboy is talking animatedly:
“It’s what the audience wants, it’s got drama, action, thrills and spills. The protagonist overcomes years of hardship and unbeatable odds to finally win the main event, the promoter makes money and the fan finally gets respect!”
Turn 4 Rob chips in:
“Yeah, it’s the classic plot line, just when the promoters can’t last any more; just when the drivers are running on their last gallon of fuel, just when the fan’s hanging on his last nerve, the economy recovers, a series sponsor shows up and there is a resurgence of popularity for traditional non wing 410 racing with a healthy 360 class that provides for up and coming talent.”
TrpCrwn growls enthusiastically:
“Yeah, and none of those damn barn door wangers!”
Ralphie makes the final pitch:
“Yeah, the tracks have decided to work together, they synchronize the equipment, rules and schedules and everybody traveling and it’s like a major event when the stars come to your track and rock down the house!”
The Major Executive leans back in his chair, puts his hands behind his head and considers the notion.
“Hmmm….It could work, audiences respond well to the underdog, big shows, high-speed daredevils. What are you going to call it?”.
Turn 4 Rob leans forward intensely, the camera moves in for a close up…. He looks up, seems to focus his eyes on the future and sweeps his hand in front of him, like a banner headline across the movie poster. Speaking for the fan, speaking for the drivers, speaking for all of us, he whispers in a stage voice, “Sprint Destiny”.

Drivers and Starlet