Roaring Quiet, Empty and Full
April 17, 2010

Christian Stoverís young handprints were all over Ventura Raceway Saturday night. From the Lightning Sprints to the Sprint Car Main, his memory was vivid, his influence expanding and a year after his untimely death, his star continues to rise. Ventura racing Chief of Staff Steve ďBiggieĒ Watts unleashed the new #81 Christian Stover Foundation Car. Matt Mitchell took it out and wiped the track. Christianís father Denny came up for the race after Biggie dedicated the car to Christian. I was lucky to talk to Denny about the Foundation and the kids they are helping. Denny told me flat out that itís painful. Painful to walk where Christian walked, tough to be everywhere that was important to Christian. But he is determined for Christianís life to fulfill itís destiny. Iím glad Denny came. Lightning Sprints, Vaulting go karts, irreverent Seniors, IMCA Modifieds with an attitude problem, AmsOil fever and true heart stuffed fans that suck up every speed soaked momentÖ.Everybody loves Ventura.

All Thrill No Fill
Matt Mitchell Steps Up

Lightning Fast Cory Ballard

Shout out loud to Josh Ford who won the monster Go Kart race! Rich Renken and Chad Theobald got air and thatís a story for their grandkids. Trevor Fitzgibbon is starring in his own Sport Compact reality show called Trading Paint! Chris Crompe led every lap of the crash shortened Modified race. Eight yellows cut it to ten laps! Bruce Douglas is pure business tempered with a love of racing. He got on the gas and dominated the Senior Sprint Main. Bruce brings that professional attitude to the track which benefits everyone. Cory Ballard took the Lightning Sprint Main. They will be back twice more this year. There will be a Christian Stover Memorial race at Perris on June 12th when they run both the Lightning Sprints and USAC CRA sprints. More details to follow.

Chris Crompe Stomped On It

Trevor Fitzgibbon Trades Paint

Around Town: I have to say that was one beautiful race at Perris a few weeks back. Congratulations to Greg Bragg and the inimitable Tom and Laurie Sertich. Iíve said it here before: the Moose scene is the racing lifestyle at itís purest. They bring the family atmosphere and everybodyís welcome. Horrible crash for Mike Spencer, but I thought I saw him relaxed and enjoying the race at Ventura this weekend. I think David Cardey is the man to beat at Perris this year. Just my opinion. But for me, the most inspiring action was Danny Sheridanís run for second. Just an amazing performance by Showtime and I thought he had something for Cardey at the end. Dannyís front hood has got a big empty spot, he lost a major sponsor in the recession and is now racing on nothing but heart. He is second in points because the Kittle Motor Sports Team puts him in contention every time they roll out. I know somebody out there wants to sponsor a great team. And how about that Tony Jones, and that Jimmy Crawford, and thatÖÖ.

Danny Sheridan is 2nd in USAC CRA Points

Biggie's Got Everybody Hooked Up

Youíve been around. You can go to most tracks and you are going to see talent stacked from the pole to the full. Venturaís no different, but it seems drivers everywhere have taken us to another level. This racing is so knuckle hard teeth jarring solid bold. You can walk any driver into this Dairy Queen and there is no guarantee they are going to get a milk shake. Nic Faas, the Kruseman protťgť, is on the pole. Greg Taylor to the outside. (I visited Gregís wife Leah, a very pregnant nine months, in the trailer prior to the main event. She was using a stopwatch and calculator to discern if there was any rhythm to her contractions. Yeah baby!) Brian and Brent Camarillo second row. Thatís classic. Troy Rutherford and Justin Kierce third row, the vet and the rookie. Josh Ford and Matt Mitchell on the fourth row, solid skill. Don Gansen and Steve Conrad fifth row. Further back Woodward, Thomson, Kierce, Espinoza Hendrix, Case, Cody Kershaw, Roa, Butcher and Nock. There are a couple of champions just in the back half. Green and its Faas out front but Taylor in charge. Faas puts up a fight but Taylor has a million laps in this ice cream factory. But here comes Brian Camarillo looking like the rising star everyone voted for. Not a kid anymore, just a hard working racer. Gas on, he is high on the cushion and low in the straights. Has to wrestle the lead from Taylor but gets it done. He grew up watching Taylor destroy this track every weekend. Younger brother Brent trying to hang, gets loose in the cushion and drives up the turn one billboard. His bionic GPS showed him the way back down but it was a hard landing. Woodward slowed for the yellow and Roa launched over his right rear. All three drivers are wrecked and hit the exit (one day we are going to see a Brent and Brian showdown). Green again and Brian leads the parade. Taylor in second, Ford in third on the bottom. Rutherford and Faas in the hunt. Camarillo is so hooked up, but Taylor and Ford are racing hard for second. Ford senses the bottom is slower and switches to the top. Faas brushes the wall in two and does it again a few laps later. Itís gathers him up for a yellow. Restart and Camarillo down the front knows Ford is coming. He slams the door on turn one so hard Ford canít get his fingers out in time. Fordís right front has nowhere to go, he overcompensates, spins and stops. I thought it was brilliant, not sure how Josh feels. Green with six laps to go and Camarillo knows their all coming now. Don Gansen has negotiated into second, Matt Mitchell is putting the scream to the 81 and now it gets interesting. Steve Watt has two cars battling in the top three. He is paid to put Brian and Brent Camarillo up front and Biggie loves his job. But Matt Mitchell driving the Christian Stover Dream Machine is also a labor of love and pride. Mitchell clears Gansen for second and Biggie is racing himself. More like the left hand is shooting the right foot and vice versa. Camarillo is the client, Stover is the guest of honor and Watt himself is sponsor (to the car he owns) to the Foundation. Mitchell is ignoring the delicious distinctions and driving the wheels off the thing. Ford is back on the bottom. Camarillo slides Mitchell, Mitchell slides the Agro man. They are hand-to-hand on the beach but something breaks for Camarillo and he goes to the infield with Hendrix. Matt Mitchell takes it home for Christian. Purse for this win and last weekendís Kruseman win go the Christian Stover Foundation. Camarillo has a long empty ride home. Biggie sees Bill Camarillo later in the week. Hey, Bill says, itís just racing. Rock steady Don Gansen in second. Kevin Kierce is hard charger in third from thirteenth! Points leader Troy Rutherford is fourth and hangs on to his lead. Sterling Steve Conrad is top five.

Matt Mitchell, Denny Stover, Steve (Biggie) Watt

The racetrack is empty. All the fury and the noise has been packed up and hauled away. Report filters in that Cory Kruseman wins in Bakersfield. Matt Mitchell heads out; but stops and tells me it was a special evening. Leah Taylor goes into labor right after the race and Greg takes her to the hospital. Someone tells me Danny Sheridan won in Santa Maria. Denny Stover gets a ride to the Oxnard airport and flies home to San Diego. For me, life and racing are hard to figure. Itís this roaring quiet, empty and full.

The Racing Life
Russell DeBlauw