The BK Bunny Hop
Random Races and Faces
August 17, 2011

All Thrill No Fill
Ranked #8 At Indiana Speed Week

My old man told me ďdonít believe anything you read and only half of what you seeĒ and itís been good advice. But I keep thinking back to May 21st when I was in Hanford, California watching Bud Kaeding torching a USAC West Coast 360 sprint car main. I was standing just inside turn three, maybe twenty feet from what I thought I saw. T-Man was next to me filming so maybe he got this. Anyhow, Kaeding is coming down that Giant Speedway backstretch and he was flying. Frisky Ryan Bernal was bedeviling the poor bastard, just right on his butt. They come winging into turn three and here are two lapped cars right on the turn three/four apex. Iím thinking this is maybe where Bud gets stuffed and Ryan gets the pass he has been demanding. Kaeding comes into this traffic jam right behind the guy on the bottom. In the lane right above them, the second lapped car is not leaving enough room for Bud to pass. He wasnít completely blocking, but his front wheels and Budís rear wheels were side by side. Just when I think Bud has to hit the brakes, he actually accelerates. ďOh noĒ, Iím thinking he is going to rear end the bottom car. But just as he accelerates he hits a rut and hops. And as he hops, he actually hops the whole damn car with forward momentum from the bottom lane to the middle lane, just clearing that second car by inches, passing the bottom car and just explodes out of turn four down the front stretch. Iím sitting there trying to process what I saw; I guess badass Bernal was also processing that win disappearing in front of himÖ

Mitchell Messing Around

Jonathan Henry: Riding Big Waves In Ventura

I almost missed Round Two of the All Coast Challenge in Ventura on June 25th. It was my sisterís special birthday (sheís just a kid) and my wife and I threw her a party at our home in Newbury Park. It was going well until my wife caught me watching the heat races on the Internet in the garage during the party. ďYouíre unbelievable,Ē she noted as she lit candles for the cake. I threw a white flag, did a lap and as the cake was sliced and delivered I was out the front door and up the freeway in time for the main event. Greg Taylor destroyed that main (from tenth) and the intensity of his drive reminded me of what it takes to win. But I remember the main sensation I felt that night was appreciation for all the new drivers that showed for the Challenge, guys that donít normally race Ventura; Richard VanderWeerd, Terry Nichols, Raymond Potter, Tony Everhart and Adam Frith-Smith come to mind. Somebody needs to thank these guys for making the haul and making things special. Car count was thirty-three, Greg banked 3K and is looking at a potential 10K payday on October 29th. My sister reports to me that she had a great time at her party. My wife is still looking at me funny...

#50 Team Wins Kindoll Classic

Leave Nothing On The Track

ďThe intensity of his drive reminded me of what it takes to winĒ. Gregís intensive focus on the checkered flag is a winnerís characteristic I have seen over and over this season. Your desire has to be stronger than everyone elseís will to win. Troy Rutherfordís brilliant race against Brent Camarillo on June 4th when he felt his integrity was at stake; his determination to win was naked in its ferocity. I remember Steve Conrad winning at Ventura on July 23rd, the way he just reached so deep and stuffed Greg Taylor for thirty laps. Steve told me after the race that he had revelation earlier in the week that Greg Taylor and Troy Rutherford come out every weekend and leave absolutely NOTHING on the track. Steve prides himself on clean and smooth driving, but he realized he needed to set that aside and focus on absolute determination to win. You know what else I remember: Steve thanked a lot of people that night but the first words out his mouth were ďMiller Freight LinesĒ. Personally, I miss those guysÖbring back the Bullet.

Guys Like Hubcap Mike Are the Soul of Local Racing

One of the Many Exciting Breakthroughs This Year

Thanks to Dan Kassik for his outstanding analysis of open wheel racing that we ran on June 11th. I hate to see that article slip away. His observations regarding the luxury of racing, simplifying classes and rules, embracing advertising and technology and the importance of portraying our sport in a positive light deserve more attention and discussion. Much of what he commented will come to pass. Jim Naylorís resurrection of Midget racing in Ventura is probably the most significant development this year. Don Kazarianís reduced sprint schedule seems to be sparking a better car and grandstand count. It also makes sense for sponsors and car owners considering how vicious the recession became. Steve Querico's careful scheduling at Victorville with respect to other tracks will hopefully pay dividends. Fascinating online analysis of manner and method available at Gentlemen, put away the flame-throwers, the guy is trying! And lastly, USACís 360 sanction and Chris Kearnsís savvy stewardship has resulted in a West Coast Sprintís class that is just smoking hot. VanderWeerdís dominating that battle but a long way to go. When I look at the young talent pool developing in Southern California (Williams, VanderWeerds, Camarillo, Bernal, Kershaw, Gardner, Roa, Faas, Gutierrez, Smith, ectÖ) combined with the more experienced shoes, how can you not be excited? Just a year ago, I thought sprint cars, both 410ís and 360ís, were on their deathbed. This year, I sense a Phoenix like rising from the ashes. Heard about Alta Wind Energy Center? Kern and Riverside Counties stand to get hit by Google and Citibank with hundreds of millions in investments in wind farms. That should float a few more cars. But the tracks still need to work together. Coordinate rules, equipment and schedules, create stars, rotate the shows. Between 360ís 410ís and Midgets, we have enough content. Christ, I sound like a broken record in the age of digital streamingÖ.

Talent Pool

Preserve the Memories

I dig memorial races. But when I die and come back, I want to be Chris Holt. Think about the thousands of race car drivers he has interviewed trackside in his life. His whole life is a party in a sprint car hall of fame reality show. Chris hates it when we single him out, so letís really bear down. Charming Belita Michnowicz (Legends of Ascot) writes to me ďThe guys who raced years ago are the legends that our drivers of today are patterned after. We need to remember these brave hero's of racing and we also need the younger generation to keep these memories alive.Ē For many of those drivers and friends who have passed, Chris continues to carry the torch. If you need any more clues, this dude is a modern day racing reverse Robin Hood that takes from all and distributes to the few and the fast. The Kindoll Classic was a textbook racing memorial where the vibes were so cool it completely air-conditioned the pits. To see hustling Ronnie Gardner pocket bucks for the Billy Wilkerson fast time was just the best. Nic Fass and the incredibly deserving Alexander team also picked up cash (again) for the Last Man Standing. Mike Spencer and that juggernaut #50 team came back from Indiana Speed Week with a top ten ranking and hosed the main event with blistering speed. Nobody gets out alive, we all return to ashes, but itís good to know guys like Chris have your back. When I see a dust cloud rise out of a turn four firefight, I figure thatís the dust of those ancestors, they are hovering there and they still want to race. Chris can see them and heís trying to tell us.

Ronnie Gardner Wins The Billy Wilkerson Fast Time Award

Trying To Make It All Work

Last Saturdayís USAC/CRA clay festival at Santa Maria was special. I can deal with it that only seventeen cars showed up. Hey, itís the end of summer; a lot of people are kicking it. Makes it hard for Chris Kearns though. Chris tells me it been a tough year, but frankly, I got a call from Ben Bernanke last week and he says the same thing. Even the bums down on Wall Street are complaining. When I saw Cory Kruseman, Mike Spencer, Danny Sheridan, Rip Williams and Rickie Gaunt in the pits, I would have paid twice to just see those five race. Throw in Faria, Faas, VanderWeerds, Gutierrez, Gardner and host of others, well Chris, I owe you money. To watch Austin Williams take the pole position and hold off a determined Danny Sheridan for his first USAC/CRA victory made everybody cherish the history and continuity of it all. Danny Sheridan owns that track and even his fans loved this race. There wasnít a lot of passing, but ungodly speed and a lot of wheel-to-wheel action. Especially notable was Ronnie Gardnerís battle with Danny Faria Jr. and then again with Danny Sheridan. Sheridan tells me he wanted to go to the top in turns one and two, he felt he had something for Austin, but Gardner kept showing him a wheel and he knew he couldnít relinquish the bottom. Austin almost dropped the ball a couple of times, but kept his mud together and actually pulled away from the field several times. Kudos to the Jory pit crew for giving the track itís equal and a million thanks to John Jory Corporation for bringing it week after week after week. Lastly, I think Santa Maria has the best dirt of any track Iíve ever been too. I think it was RichCee last week that astutely observed that Ascot and Ventura both profited and profit from their proximity to the ocean in elevated moisture content. I think you would have to add Santa Maria to that list. When the sun goes down, you can almost see that water table climb. Hang in there, Chris, without you, that historic track would already be gone.


God Bless The Car Owners

Iím trying to get to the track but the washing machine just overflowed. Didnít I fix that last year, spent all that stimulus money and now itís flooding again. My older daughter needs money to go to the Junior Olympics and my nine year old needs braces. How are you going to make it to the track now, big boy? Business is such a yo-yo I got whiplash. Iím sitting across the table from some lawyer trying to make a deal. Weíre negotiating some big dollar stuff but as heís talking at me, all I can think of is whether Faas will pull it off Saturday night. I travel through this world and there is danger to the left, danger to the right. I thought we were going down, but it might just be a speed bump. Racing will inspire you. You can get there from here. Better listen to what Ripís laying down. Then Iím just going to gas it up and do the BK Bunny Hop.

Austin Picks Up On What Ripís Laying Down