May 8th, 2010

We went over to the in-laws on Mother’s Day and had some coffee and cinnamon buns. “How were the races?” they asked? “Maybe some of the greatest races I’ve ever seen” I replied. “Oh, Mike” they all said, laughing, “that what you say every week!” They all thought it was amusing but I was actually smoldering deep down. Maybe I do say that, but it was really true this week. Or maybe every week the racing actually does get better, notching up a like giant Swiss watch gear into infinity. I know if these Ventura shoes drop another thirty years, it’s going to get so good we’re all gonna go insane. Well, I better keep that thought to myself. It’s tough on Sundays. You want to tell everybody everything but their eyes get glassy and they start looking for a door. So I just shut up and keep it to myself. It doesn’t get told and that starts bugging me. So I go home and start looking at my pictures and tapping on the keyboard. The wife says I’m spending too much time in front of the computer. She’s right about everything, but I want to tell you something…..

All Thrill No Fill
Rob Kershaw Brings The Spit and Polish

Where’s Saxton?!?! Undefeated Pro Dwarf driver Angel Figueroa rolls out for heat race #1, hits a rock and loses a tire. He’s done and starting sixteenth in the main. Four races down undefeated and we settle back in the grandstand and tell ourselves this should be interesting. His many friends and fans pack the stands for the Main. Lars Wolfe leads the pack and Michael Sweeny Jr. and Mike Lewis are right there. Yellow with Eric Moore and Mitch Hedrick mixing. Restart and Mike Lewis gets a huge jump. Wolfe is nipping at his heels while Steve Benson and Sweeny grapple right behind them. Ray Estrada is on the move passing Curt Cook. That dust cloud in the back is Angel Figueroa working his way up from the back. Lee Majors and Hedrick tangle in turn one for yellow number two. We are seven down with thirteen to go. Line up is Lewis (having another tremendous run), Wolfe, Benson, Estrada, Cook and Figueroa. Angel is ready to crack the top five and we are one-third into the run. Naylor is cognizant and talking it up, the crowd is buzzing. Green and Angel passes Cook for position five. Tom Stephens Sr. spins turn four for third yellow. Green and Wolfe takes it away from Lewis. Estrada and Benson crash and Estrada is done. We have our fifth restart and it’s Wolfe, Lewis and Figueroa in pitched battle. Everybody knows Angel can do this but Wolfe and Lewis aren’t going to roll over. We get another yellow when Benson, Stephens and Eric Moore daisy chain in turn two. Line up is Wolfe, Lewis, Figueroa, Cook and Thomas Velasquez. We are squirming in our seats. Huge acceleration and Figueroa is trying to pass on the outside. Lewis is throwing up energy shields but the Angel is burning holes in them. He passes on the outside in turn two and gets Wolfe in his sights. Too many yellows and they are showing the white flag in lap fourteen. Wolfe drives to the bottom, Figueroa to the top out of turn two. Drag race down the backstretch. Again Wolfe drives the bottom, desperately scratching, he knows the Angel is at the door. Angel is driving the outside line, hits turn four like destiny and scorches Wolfe’s hair as he passes at the checkered. From the back, shortened race, undefeated and now going for his sixth. I’ve been saying for years this may be the best driver in Ventura!

Figueroa Blames the Sadowski’s For Everything

The Senior Sprints had a tremendous Main but I am only allowed so many so words. The incredibly sensitive and kind Victor Davis had an excellent run. I would like to say more but his modesty prevents it. Rob Kershaw is a formidable threat every race and now leads the points. Veteran Jesse Denome climbed into Watt’s #69 and rocked the whole line up. Beautiful win by the reclusive Denome. Go Karts were everywhere, twenty-five karts with Chris Gibb taking the win. Santa Maria was off so Steve Lauer hits Ventura and knocks heads together in the IMCA Modifieds. Austin Rodarte still leads the points.

Cliff Warren Senior Sprints

It’s right before the main and I’m hanging at the loading ramp. Drivers keep coming by to look at the track and it was like we’re all in a secret country club. The deep beautiful darkening sky bellied by the completely comfortable crisp air. I can see people in the grandstands walking around eating popcorn and drinking their sodas. Naylor was ripping the track and all the right people were in the pits doing just the perfect last minute things. I’d see Biggie or Brian or Brent and it was like WE KNEW how good it was going to be tonight. We were giggling our heads off. “How you doing?” giggle giggle, “Oh… I’m good…” giggle giggle. “How’s work?” giggle, “Oh, fine”. The earth was spinning, dusk was falling but we were just killing time. We were waiting for Godot, waiting for the train, waiting for the man, waiting for the flag, that explosive moment when they throw green and this joint goes off like a thousand dollar bill in a Tijuana bar…..

Brings It All Every Time

Heart Attack

Justin Kierce on the pole and Kevin Kierce on the outside. Just another completely casual and cool scene in their racing universe. Steve Conrad and Cory Kruseman second row, smoking. Third row Brent Camarillo and Brian Camarillo side by side for the third week in a row (because they keep winning heat races). Fourth row, Josh Ford and Kenny Perkins, just because. Troy Rutherford buried in the fifth row, with Rick Hendrix for good company. Nobody past that made it to the top five except for Kenny Perkins (although Brody Roa gave it a hell of a run). Green flag and Kevin Kierce is a rocket out of turn two. The whole Calvary coming out of turn three gets wicked and weird but rights itself and continues. They complete the first lap but get hung up again with a cluster in turn four that gathers Tom Hendricks, Guy Woodward (so fast lately) and Don Gansen (huge bummer). Ganson and Woodward gone, Hendricks refires. Brian Camarillo is also broke down the back, hits the work area and then refires. Green and it’s Kierce & Son Racing, Inc. both high, Conrad in the bottom and Cory in the hunt. Conrad is pushing Justin, Justin is pushing his dad, actually tagging his rear end coming through turn four. Terrific speed, Conrad on the move and passes Justin on the bottom of turn four. Kierce, Conrad, Kierce (not fazed in the least and on the gas), Kruseman, Josh Ford, Brent Camarillo and, oh yeah, Troy Rutherford from ninth. Justin Kierce reclaims second but Conrad is threatening constantly. Kruseman drifts hard in turn two and loses real estate (working out that new Maxim). Rutherford is coming like Amtrak and takes fourth. It’s Kierce, Kierce, Conrad and Rutherford with Brent Camarillo hanging. Conrad under Justin in turn two. Now Conrad starts banging on Kevin’s door while Brent Camarillo gets past Troy Rutherford for fourth! Action exploding everywhere. Brian Camarillo, trying to work his way from the back flips hard lap thirteen in turn two but crawls out and walks away. Line up is Kierce, Conrad, Justin Kierce, Brent Camarillo, Rutherford, Ford and Kenny Perkins. Green and Rutherford on the gas. Terrific three-way battle with Kierce, Conrad and Rutherford under a blanket, but then Troy bikes in turn four and Brent Camarillo gets under. Troy races back to third and the troika continues. Troy just hammering the pedal and moves to second. Brent concedes nothing and clears Conrad for third. Camarillo slides Troy clean in two for second and sets up a huge run out of four. Kevin has the point. The whole freaking crowd has their mouths open as Camarillo drives hard into turn one, incredible car control as he takes speed and grinds the bottom (shades of Blake Miller) and clears both Kierce and Rutherford who are scratching for speed high in turn two. Brent Camarillo clearly in control of his life down the backstretch. He dominates with speed and agility for the next few laps as Rutherford wrestles second away from Kierce with sheer grit. Lap twenty-seven, Ronnie Case hits the wall, we are yellow and the cars stack up for a three-lap shootout! They put Rutherford back for uncompleted lap. Line up is Camarillo, Kierce, Rutherford, Ford and Conrad. Conrad tells me later the track went away faster than a friend who borrowed money. Jim Naylor is hanging from the rafters, screaming hoarse into the microphone and with thirty years of experience presciently telling the crowd “keep an eye on Rutherford, he ain’t quittin”…. Green and the savvy Kierce slides leader Camarillo. He is set up high in all the turns and Rutherford is on the bottom, clears Camarillo for second. White Flag. Kierce is through the middle in turns one and two. Rutherford comes in low through one and tries to slide the leader. Kierce drops under him in turn two, maintains the lead but I believe at this intersection the die was cast. Rutherford holds the high cards as they swoop down the backstretch, three wide, Rutherford on top, Kierce in the middle and Camarillo on the bottom. Although ten thousand horse power are roaring, I can hear the hard core fans like Pops Hammer and Dave Mahar clicking this image into their memory banks, timeless moment! Massive speed into turn three, Rutherford has the cushion as Kierce tries to thread the center (he needed the bottom but Camarillo had it filled), Camarillo starts to rotate on the bottom. The checkered flag is pumping as Rutherford accelerates out of four, Kierce with all his skill but just short on the speed needed. Camarillo gathers Kruseman as Josh Ford and Kenny Perkins clear for third and fourth, Rick Hendrix swerves to the infield to avoid Camarillo and takes top five, wait, correction, Brody Roa is fifth and hard charger! Everybody stumbles from the stands trying to process what they had just seen. Steve Conrad delivered. Brent Camarillo ran the greatest race of his young life. Kevin Kierce brings the whole package every time he races. But it was Troy Rutherford who took preparation, determination and put his naked heart on display for everybody to have a look. I got home about midnight, spent a couple hours downloading pics, emailed the results to Lance and crawled into bed around four am. “How was the race?” the wife whispered softly. “Untold,” I replied. Untold.

In Memory of Tom McCune