Be Here Now
Perris Auto Speedway
September 24, 2011

Ronnie Gardner Wins The Trophy Dash At The Glenn Howard Memorial

Perris popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly Saturday night. No special occasion, just a homecoming dance after Calistoga and Chico in the weeks previous. I talked with promoter Don Kazarian and he seemed pleased with the car count (32 sprints) and the almost full stands. I think Don’s decision this year to cut the schedule and reduce the amount of races synched perfectly with the tsunamic recession, which has especially devastated the kind folk of Riverside and the Inland Empire. “The days of racing every weekend are over” he informed me, “at least for the time being.”


The Animal Is Unleashed At Perris


Matthew Shedarowich Is Gaining Valuable Seat Time

However, there will be great racing at both Ventura and Victorville this weekend. Get out and enjoy yourself… Santa Maria promoter Chris Kearns has announced that next year the USAC West Coast 360’s will adopt the Hoosier Medium (durameter reading of 48) as the required right rear. This weekend Ventura Raceway will be testing that tire with an eye towards replacing the twenty-plus year Hoosier VRA Tire (durameter reading of 65) with the Hoosier Medium. That will add a little speed in Ventura’s tight turns and go a long way towards synchronizing equipment for West Coast 360’s. Jim Naylor is concerned about the higher price of the Mediums, about $26 more. Naylor also tells me next year he will be adopting the ASCS point system for all races. This will give more passing points in the heat races and alleviate the pill pick hangovers. Top sixteen points will transfer to main and B main will supply the balance. Inverts will continue. He will slightly reduce the sprint car schedule and increase the midget schedule, perhaps alternating weekends and rarely running the two together. He will schedule more motorcycle shows and place them where other tracks have significant sprint shows in a determined effort not to undermine the other promoters. Tells me he recognizes the aggravation of too many classes and is going to work on reducing that. There is even more information, but my head’s already exploding. This writer (and many others) will continue pushing the local promoters to work together to coordinate schedules.


Jay Waugh Has Some S'plaining To Do


Champions Richard Griffin and Mike Spencer Catch Up

Perris Main Event: The high performance and low drama Greg Bragg on the pole. Gets a good run on the green but the tower calls them back for a restart. They throw the flag again and front row David Cardey matches Bragg down the front. Cardey gets under Bragg in turn three, Austin Williams gets under Cardey, Nic Faas clears Rip and Bragg regains the lead launching out of four. It’s Bragg, Austin Williams, Cardey and Faas. Rip is fifth with Danny Sheridan, Rickie Gaunt and Mike Spencer pounding the back door! Rip takes that fifth and trades up with David Cardey for fourth. Looks like Dynamite missed the set up. Sheridan in front of the Ripper and here comes Matt Mitchell into view getting past Spencer for seventh. Bragg is out front but two of the hottest kids in town, Austin and Nic, are biting at his heels. Those kids bang wheels coming out of turn two and we all flash on the fisticuffs flurry in Calistoga. This is not a bad thing; many great rivalries have taken seed in shallower dirt than this. Bragg refuses to relinquish and we are yellow when Bobby Bender comes to a stop on track, they push him to the work area. The track is ridiculously fast. Bragg is perfect, fast and first, but its clear Williams and Faas are headed to the front. The line up is Bragg, Williams, Faas, Sheridan, Ripper, Super Rickie, Mitchell and the Spence. The restart off the cone is so fast it just fills you with pride and wonder. Spencer immediately clears Mitchell back in seventh and Faas takes second away from Austin. There is a cluster of braking in turn four and everything gets kinda shaky. Faas almost parks it in turn two but redeems himself with an insanely fast pass in turn three for the lead (“never lifted” Holt tells me later). I remember Mike Arthur telling me before the race “Faas is the car”. Sheridan and Mitchell had capitalized on the cluster and its now Faas, Bragg, Williams, Sheridan, Mitchell, Gardner (in a freshened engine), Gaunt and Spencer. Looking back to the front, Faas has disappeared into the future and the rest of them are left to race each other. Heavy traffic as Austin takes second over Bragg and here comes Mitchell. Faas is a full one-quarter track out ahead. Matt Mitchell, in an increasingly off-hand manner, is now second and slicing through the markers looking for clues. But Faas is now lapping the back half of the top ten and those are all names you would recognize. Jay Waugh from New Zealand is in the Kruseman 21K and he wads it up on the front straightaway (broken axle, not really his fault), we are red. The tower calls for them all to heel, they line them up without the lappers. Didn’t matter. Despite Matt Mitchell inspired driving and Austin Williams’ ascending star, Alexander Racing put a car on the track and driver behind the wheel that just destroyed the competition. Nic Faas owned the night and the cowboy ghost rides again. Top five finish: Faas (can win at will), Mitchell (hitting his stride coming into the Nationals), Williams (this year’s best development), Sheridan (the best of Sheridan is back) and Bragg (rock steady).


Chris Holt Interviews Steve Howard As Don Kazarin Joins Them


Everybody Loves A Winner

Perris is such a gift. For all its brawn, thunder and roar it still seems delicate to me, almost priceless or fragile, like diamonds and memories. I think of the passionate people in the stands and the pits enjoying the sights and the sounds and the smell. They know it’s ethereal, that it can all disappear like a car going over the fence at Manzanita. Moose Racing, NCJune, turn4Rob, harryfan, Bigfish, Buzzard, watkinsgrady, SBRacing, dirtface, Derp, wallscraper; we’re all chanting the same mantra. Be here now.


The Alexander Racing Team is Back



Extra Fuel