OK To Dream Again
March 2012

Marcus Niemela at Bakersfield
Marcus Niemela at Bakersfield: OK To Dream Again

I highly recommend the Holiday Inn Express in North Bakersfield. Brett and I scored two queen-size beds for $91 all in. Brand new building, the front desk knew our name at 11:30 pm when we staggered in after a ripping event at Bakersfield Speedway. Top-notch room, clean shower with endless hot water, super nice beds with extra pillows and youíre basically living like a king. Excellent breakfast facility with personal TV screens in the booths and a hot pot of personal coffee and they toss you a to-go cup when you leave. That fresh brewed got me all the way back to the coast. The one bleeding blessing of this receeding recession is that everyone realizes you have to treat your customers with quality, service and respect. People have choices, your product has to be compellingly good, scratch that, it has to be freaking excellent.

Nic Faas Wins the Sokola Shootout in Perris
Nic Faas Wins the Sokola Shootout in Perris

Derek Buckley: Celebrating the Racing Lifestyle
Derek Buckley: Celebrating the Racing Lifestyle

We were cocked and loaded for Tulare when the whole thing took a dump. My business has been in a bad dream for a couple of years now. Iím twisting and turning in the passenger seat afraid to fall back asleep. Ventura is also waking up from a bad dream. Jim candidly tells me he knows he has made mistakes and is working hard to turn it around. We just knocked out another All Coast Challenge last week and it was a good time. Mike Spencer jumped in one of Coryís school cars, hooked up with the crafty Harlan Willis, put that 2.5K in his peace pipe and smoked it. But the real thrill was the relaxed atmosphere and sense of fun everywhere you turned. Great to see Troy Rutherford laughing, on top of his game and just being Troy. A couple of haters still on the message board but real racers sleep with Ventura. Sheís a tattooed sea mermaid who likes to bite. Her real strength is Midgets and Jimís program for 2012 should be stunning. Ventura has such a rich history. Her best days are ahead.

Mike Spencer and Harlan Willis Celebrate in Ventura
Mike Spencer and Harlan Willis Celebrate in Ventura


Build It and They Will Come

Back to Bakersfield for the first time in a couple of years. Scott Schweitzer seemed pleased with over 1300 paying customers and pits stuffed with sprint cars and modified. On a slick surface in a hard wind USAC West Coast 360 drivers conducted a bar brawl with several cars experiencing violent results. Greg Taylorís brand new car was basically totaled in squeeze play down the front straightaway. The main event almost went green/white/checkers, providing a dazzling display of racing from Brody Roa in a cat and mouse chase as he attempted to get away from the unrelenting Bud Kaeding. After twenty-seven laps of thrilling driving from both, Brody was gathered by a freeway fender bender. Bud cagily picked his way through the mess and survived Matt Mitchell for the win. Interestingly, two of the top five belonged to one owner, Steve Watt and two belonged to another owner, Josh Ford Racing. Schweitzer tells this will be his only USAC West Coast 360 sprint car event this year. He says he has to get them in the spring or the fall, too hot in the summer for most drivers to travel inland. Driving out of the Central Valley, over a Cajon Pass uncharacteristically shrouded in rain and mist, I experience a recurring sense of regret. I love the spare beauty of the farmland and ranching, the uncomplicated architecture and the fast cars. Those are good people.

Brody Roa
Brody Roa Is Coming

Ventura
Dreaming in Ventura

They were killing it in Perris, thatís a fast track that just got faster. Faas and that crew of mad scientists have found quicksilver in that mud and turned that whole scene on its head. You could almost hear the #50 car snoring in retirement, nestled comfortably under its quilt of trophies when suddenly the question became compelling. Nic Faasí blistering run at the Oval Nationals accompanied by the shrieking stars of Mitchell, Bernal and others blindsided the rumored retirement of iconic car owner Ron Chaffin. Chaffin, Brome and Spencer are nothing else if they are not racers. Not only would a fifth championship be difficult, it would be a blockbuster of immense pride and satisfaction. I believe they were tempted with the most competitive season of their careers, shook off the narcotic of success and Bruce is up in the race barn putting real bullets in the gun. Mark Alexander and I were talking about what a difference a year makes! Itís like somebody tossed a grenade in a Cracker Jack box of possibilities. Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo are still grinning like idiots on the front of the box, but all hell is about to break loose. Buzzard is driving and weíre a long way from the track. I stretch out and sleep; here comes the flying candied popcorn, peanuts and prizes. No worries, ok to dream again.

Itís The Buster and Ziggy Story in Bakersfield
Itís The Buster and Ziggy Story in Bakersfield