Positivity - By Bobby Gerould

June 2004

...We are in the process of upgrading our operating system and High Speed connection. We thank you for your patience during this process that will ultimately make HammerDown! better. ...Our buddy Billy Foland had his bell rung pretty good at Watsonville Speedway Friday night. Bill flipped the Don and Linda O'Keefe midget from turn four to the flagstand in his heat race. 'BF' is okay. We talked Saturday night after BF took in the Spanky Matthews Memorial at Hanford. BF has some red-eye after the BCRA sanctioned crash. ...Steve Kent won the Hanford race. ...Tim Kaeding finished second to Jac Haudenschild in his first ever run at Eldora Speedway. No shame in that. ...The newest, and best item in the HammerDown! Online Store is a hooded sweatshirt with the HammerDown! logo screen printed on the front. Racer, and former California Rebel Cup champion, Craig Stidham did the sweatshirts for us, and we are very pleased with the outcome. If you enjoy HammerDownUSA.com, you can support us with a purchase. (SEE the new sweatshirt here) ...Read about the World of Outlaws TV production, and Dean Mills in a Washington newspaper. ...We made a return trip to Ventura Raceway at Seaside Park this Saturday (June 19, 2004) for USAC Western States Midgets. The little cars were fun to watch. Garrett Hansen was flying in his heat on the top of the track but unfortunately had ignition box woes, keeping him out of the feature. We were shocked to find out that Jerome Rodela did not have any dirt wins in USAC racing coming into Saturday. The 23 year-old from El Monte, CA. made his second visit to Ventura a good one, winning the 30-lap feature. In an unusual scheduling quirk, the BCRA midgets were running 'just down the road' off of Highway 101 at Santa Maria Speedway. The fields split (13 BCRA, 17 USAC). Hopefully next season a combine will occur at one or both fine speedways. The weather is perfect on the Central Coast of California. While the valley's are hot and dry, a trip to Santa Maria or Ventura becomes a fantastic refresher. It makes sense to me to do a July or August Midsummer two-day race. Run one place Friday, and the other on Saturday. Make it a two-year deal where each track gets a Saturday date. Maybe USAC & BCRA together with the USAC/CRA sprint cars. The point is to get some bang for your buck with two nights of racing, and a Sunday off to enjoy the beach, go to church, or do whatever. Race fans would dig it. Race teams would grumble less about long tows for "one night of racing". ...Racing season is getting ready to hit the hyperspeed button. The All-Star sprints have ten races in ten days coming up, while the World of Outlaws Sprint Series will race 20 of the next 31 nights. Nobody asked me but that is too much. Some teams will try to save some parts and pieces for the biggest events in August. But with that many races on the schedule leading into August, the guess here is that many teams will limp into the Kings Royal, Silver Cup, and Knoxville Nationals. ...The Racers Racing Series (RRS) will award points at 12 races in the next 31 days. (Listed below)

...P.J. Chesson will race for Mo Nunn in the Infinity Pro Series event at Kansas Speedway July 3rd. Chesson tested at the IRL open test at Milwaukee. ...Randy Hannagan shed his wings to compete in the Buckeye Nationals for USAC National sprints. He finished 9th at Lima, OH. ...Bud Kaeding won the Buckeye points championship. ...Jimmy Sills was among the competitors at the Dirt Cup. ...Chuck Gurney Jr. broke the Calistoga Speedway 360 sprint track record during Saturday's Calistoga Cup. In Brian Sperry's sprinter, Gurney Jr. turned a lap of 17.846 seconds. Mike Wagner won the feature. Sparky Howard has taken the lead in the Calistoga Scarborough Trophy point standings.

...Sean Becker won the Golden State Challenge feature event at Placerville last Saturday. Becker, who lives in Sacramento, is a future star in our eyes. He won his first GSC race last year at Chico, and is expanding his horizons in 2004 with a traveling schedule. He currently is fifth in the Golden State points. Like any driver, Becker needs laps. When he gets the experience that only comes with seat-time we expect Becker will be a champion caliber racer. Kevin Pylant told Bill Sullivan following the Placerville race, "I have to give Sean Becker credit. That team looks like they have been racing with this series for ten years." ...Tim Kaeding won his fifth GSC feature of 2004 at Watsonville Speedway 24 hours prior to the P-Ville race. ...Dennis Roth's hiring of Mark & Karl Kinser is great for sprint car racing. Roth has had almost everybody who's anybody in his seat and under his hood. No one questions Karl's genius. Mark has proven he can get it done. The vastly underrated driver has 152 career A-main wins with the World of Outlaws, plus two WoO Championships, and three Knoxville Nationals wins. He's won the Gold Cup, the Kings Royal, the Historical Big One, the Silver Cup (at least five times), and the Eagle Nationals. My eyes have witnessed Mark winning enough to rank him in the top five all-time among drivers I've seen compete. Roth knows that with the Knoxville Nationals, and the Silver Cup looming in the not so distant future that his team will have a great shot at stealing some loot during the "month of money". ...Tim Shaffer, meanwhile, takes over the #6 car now being tuned by Davey Whitworth. Shaffer is a great racer too that may just need a change of scenery. ...Brian Brown, who was doing a god job in the car, is looking for a ride. ...Music is a good thing. Put some on next time you are doing your job. It might help you see situations in a more positive light. Mike Stern, the fabulous New York guitarist, is keeping me company for this edition of Positivity. The Sunday night, Monday morning digestion of a long ass drive to Bakersfield might not be as brightly colored otherwise. : )))) Kim and I left Friday night from Rocklin and stayed in Fresno. The Raddisson at the Civic Center was nice but I became spoiled many years ago. I like to have handy access to food 24 hours a day; like Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, or my home. As it turns out, guests at this Hotel cannot get room service after 10PM. It is so freakin' hot on Friday that Kim and I decide to wait for the darkness to drive to Fresneck. Otherwise, a too long, boring drive would suck the wind out of me for Saturday. We would drive home the four and a half hours after the races. So anyway, Friday night we drive. We make it to Fresno a bit after midnight. Sure enough, I'm hungry. Kim goes to sleep, and I'm out the door in search of food at 2:00 am. Clueless in downtown Fresno, I begin to kill time and look for food. Alberto's 24 hour Mexican food drive through is a possibility. I spy a Denny's about three miles down the road. There must be more, I think. I call Kim to tell her it's going to be awhile while I look some more. Cruising Fresno, CA. just as the bars let out is a pretty dark experience. I see drunks, homeless people, and nothing that looks inviting. The new stadium in Fresno where they play minor league baseball is nice. Selland Arena, the home of midget races from days gone by is spotted right next door to where we are staying. But mostly, I see a depressed Central California. It makes one wonder what city planners expect an outsider to think when visiting the "Civic Center" of their city. The drive is proof that downtown in a mid-major city isn't all good. Dayton Ohio came to mind. A local Taco joint was jumping off but at this time of night, a Taco didn't sound right. Dig? So I decided on Dennys. Yuck. I get out the car and a guy, obviously wasted, straps his helmet and gets ready to ride away on a motorcycle. I look at him, he looks at me. He gets all excited because I have on a sprint car shirt. He points to the shirt, gives me a thumbs up, expresses that he can't speak, and then smiles and rides off. I asked for a club sandwich, and of course didn't check my order as I walked to the car. I get a couple minutes away and reach for part of my sando. It's a chicken breast sandwich with nothing on it. Like a bad Waffle House deal. I'm not going back. It's after 3 am, when I get some sleep. The next day we go racing. Off to Bakersfield, we stop off the path to hit DiCicco's Italian restaurant in Visalia. Highly recommended! The brushetta is on point, and they refill our Mountain Dew without having to ask. Smarty Jones is getting ready to run, and we must find a TV. We hit a Red Robin to watch the Belmont. A number of folks are there for the same reason. Smarty looks like he's gonna get him a 'chicken dinner' but he fades in the stretch and loses. ...We make it to Oildale and the track is noticeably bumpy in wheel-packing. It will be a test tonight. Fitness of the driver, and fitness of the car will be paramount. A rough racetrack will happen during the course of a season. How a driver responds tells you one more thing about him or her. It was especially eye-opening for the "entry level" Ford Focus Midget drivers. Not only was the track rutted, but it was also tacky, and fast! Focus winner Chris Rahe put his car on the cushion and flew! This was not entry level racing. These cats were earning their stripes. Along with Rahe, we have been steadily impressed by Bradley Galedridge, Josh Lakatos and Nick Morago. Lakatos had a night to forget. He bailed hard in turn two, twice. The Focus crash was probably about as quick as a flip can happen. He dug in and barrel-rolled. The Midget crash was grinding. In both cases, Lakatos had the HammerDown! and that makes a crash easier to accept (I think). I really have been dazzled by the Midgets on the Bakersfield Speedway. If you don't mash, and control your car at the same time, a good result is not possible. The stock cars were running as a separate class, and they dug up moisture that left the track heavy and narrow for the Midget features. The drivers got a good workout in the mild weather. I don't want to get carried away but I'm telling you that Jerome Rodela and Tyler Brown drive as hard in a midget at Bakersfield as you you will see anyone drive all season. ...Johnny Rodriguez, Mike Spencer and Robby Flock showed the best ability on this night to be fast yet somewhat under control. J-Rod was expert at getting into turn one on the high side during restarts. He used the move time and again to gain track space. Flock put his car wherever in needed to be showing the hunger that winners possess. The feature was long, and we didn't get back to Rocklin until 4:00 AM. Only a very interesting guest on the Coast to Coast AM radio show with Art Bell kept us awake. ...Jon Allard scored a seventh place finish at Eldora Speedway in the World of Outlaws event June 5th. That is the Chico driver's best WoO finish this season, his rookie year with the traveling series.

...Kevin Swindell, son of Amy and Sammy, will race a big kart event at the new track operated by Mark Dismore. Kevin is as sharp as they come. ...Maxim race chassis had an unbelievably good start to the 2004 racing season. The first 22 A-Main winners in World of Outlaws events were Maxim-shod teams. ...Keep an eye out, and an ear open for 16 year old Cameron Dodson. The sprint car driver from Indiana has three feature wins to his credit already.

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