Positivity - By Bobby Gerould
...Tulare's $30,000 purse for a one night sprint car race on June 12th is sure to be a race to see. Insiders tell us that all kinds of extracurricular activities are being planned for the event. With Tim Kaeding, Brent Kaeding, Dennis Moore Jr., Steve Kent, Blake Robertson, Jason Statler, and others entered, the race should be exciting. Brad Furr is a possibility too.
...Speaking of Furr, the thoughtful young man with the heavy right foot, is now working as owner operator of Big O Tires of San Jose. He and wife Lori purchased a new house in Santa Clara, CA., and are in the process of moving in. ...As usual, I spent the Memorial Day Weekend in Calistoga. I remember maybe twice in my life since I turned 16 years old when I have been somewhere else. The most regrettable was the weekend a few years back when I was in Lime Rock, CT. covering road racing. There is nothing wrong with Lime Rock. Don't get it twisted. The beautiful setting on the other end of the country rivals Calistoga for its natural beauty. But for me, and a few hundred others, Memorial weekends are to be spent watching sprint cars at Calistoga Speedway. As the years pass, the scene evolves. Once a cute little town in the Napa Valley, Calistoga is now a world class destination. Fine dining is everywhere you look. Bed and Breakfast joints, and cottages abound. Because of the small size of the town, finding something to eat after the races can be tough. Prices are steep. A plate of swine and fries after the Saturday night feature set me back $22 after a tip. The ribs were great, and live music was playing at the Hydro Bar & Grill on Lincoln Ave. The Calistoga Village Inn and Spa was our host. The room was allot like a Motel 6 room. No bath, just a shower. Good TV, with a remote that worked. Queen bed. The accommodations were fine for me. I didn't use the pool, or weight room, which I guess is what makes the place a "Spa". One might expect to pay in the $40-$50 range for such a room in Central California. But in the Napa Wine Country of Northern Cali, the rate was more than double that. ...We caught up with Dennis Moore Jr., Ashley Smith, and Trevor Green before being evicted from their Carlin Country Cottages pool area. Moore is still feeling the pain from his horrendous spill on a four-wheeler at the Pismo Beach sand dunes. DMJ admitted the ride was wicked. He, and some racing buddies including Tim Kaeding were enjoying a day off by riding wide open on the scenic west coast sand. Moore knew it was getting late, and time was short for the next thrill seeking accomplishment. After gassing it up a bigger than big dune, DMJ said he realized in midair that he was in trouble. "I said, Oh no. This is bad. ...I'm like, looking down saying oh sh*t." He stayed with the ATV and landed in a crater so far down that he didn't even want to estimate how far he dropped. The impact broke the front chin portion of a sprint racing Bell helmet. There was blood everywhere. Tim swears that Dennis was momentarily unconscious. DMJ says no. In fact, DMJ had to get the ATV back to the home base. He rode back. A trip to hospital for stitches in the chin led to X-rays revealing a broken leg, and bruised ribs. We asked Dennis what he thought the result would be when he headed up the bigger than big dune. In the free-spirited fashion that makes Moore a true one-of-a-kind, he said. "I didn't think." Reflecting, Dennis said that the only time he ever does think about the outcome of any life event, is when he gets hurt. Actually, his wife Heather said that to Dennis, and now DMJ thinks she is right. He also expressed a deep gratitude to Morrie Williams, his car owner that suddenly found his team without a driver for a month. "I told him straight up, that I was sorry for what happened. I screwed up". Ashley, the crew-chief and team manager for Williams, agreed. "He's the best car-owner you could wish for", said Ash. ...Trevor Green enjoyed racing at Calistoga. He has been over to the States since 1996, working as a driver and mechanic but this was his first shot at the world's most beautiful dirt track. The former Parametta Speedway champ won heats races on the half-mile. ...Tim Kaeding will head back to the Midwest after the Dirt Cup at Skagit on June 19th. Tim was unbelievable on Saturday night in his second career Calistoga win. ...BF, Bill Foland, will race at midget again at Watsonville in a few weeks. He, and all the Kaeding Performance team members are wishing for a speedy return of Billy Albini. Brent Kaeding's crew chief, and right-hand, has been stricken with throat cancer. Billy is undergoing radiation treatments, and chemotherapy, and times are really tough right now. He couldn't attend the races this weekend. The silver-haired Albini is a unique personality that keeps us smiling each time we visit with him. Seeing the #69 without Billy is like seeing the #69 without Brent. It just isn't right. Crew member Matt Britt said, "The Bacardi isn't getting any emptier", trying to lighten up an emotional scene in the BK camp all weekend. Billy and "BK" were using a phone to communicate during the night of racing. Billy can't talk right now so he would beep the phone a certain amount of times for yes, and another amount for no, as Brent asked him setup questions. We are praying hard for his good health. ...Brent drove as hard as we've seen him drive on Sunday night. The 12-time Golden State Champion ended up third behind Sparky Howard, and runner-up Blake Robertson. ......$2.29 a gallon for regular gasoline. ...George Hauge was on the wireless microphone all weekend. It added tremendously to the show. Andy Forsberg displayed a comfort level with being interviewed. By paying respect to the history of the half-mile, Forsberg earned new fans outside his generation. ...Tim Green arrived Sunday night for the Tribute to Gary Patterson race with his son Nick. Sparky Howard allowed Nick to wheel-pack the car. The 17 year-old Green is an accomplished kart racer that will be a huge addition to California's sprint car scene when he gets a shot to do so. He rides for Paul Tracy's karting team, and was selected by Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Run-Offs as one of the top-16 young karters in the nation.
Page Jones is featured by Michael Harker. Read it here! ...After 36 years of attending auto races, and as a native Californian, it is hard to imagine that I never made it to Ventura Raceway at Seaside Park. Finally! I did it. Our USAC writing duties took us to the short and racy 1/5 mile track that I had seen on TV several times. The race I witnessed was a USAC/CRA sprint car show that was done at two minutes past nine o'clock in the PM. A 30 lap non-stopper was exciting in the sense that the battle for all positions beyond first was good. Rip Williams absolutely smushed the competition, driving the Sharon Jory #3. Ripper is 48 years old and looked as sharp as ever, dicing through traffic like a Ginsu. The track was 'ripped' and watered right before the start of the feature or it may have ended before the sun set over the nearby Pacific Ocean. When we say nearby, it's no joke. As you look out over the top of the grandstands away from the speedway, the mighty ocean of blue lies literally about two football fields away. You can smell the seaweed. The track is probably better suited for midgets but the twisting sprinters put on a fine show. Damion Gardner exhibited some serious skills as he climbed from 16th starting position into 4th in the feature that lasted a hair over six minutes. 'DG' put the HammerDown! In the Ron Chaffin #50 that is widely considered to be one of the finest rides in non-wing sprint car racing. … Like something under the hood that you can't put a finger on, computer issues have had HammerDown! in a state of DNF. We are still working to correct some bugs.
...Oildale, California was our latest stop for the USAC Western States Midgets at Bakersfield Speedway. The last time I watched a race at the tight "1/3" mile, it was winged sprint cars, which I came away thinking were just too big for this little track. New track operators had the place looking clean, and the scoreboard was tuned with all lights working. The surrounding area is nothing very picturesque. The dried up oil fields, and dry land just a few minutes from Highway 99 is the kind of place you only drive through to go to a race track. Midgets are perfect at Bakersfield Speedway. I mean perfect! The bank is good for the little zingers, and driver skill is paramount. The track would be an ideal place to host a major national midget race. (How long before the Ford Focus Nationals appear somewhere?) ...Steven Paden proved his ability with a strong drive that impressed all I chatted with. Likewise, Danny Stratton, and Jerome Rodela were on the hammer. ...Matt Mitchell, a 17 year-old rookie also proved he's no punk. Mitchell was aggressive in a manner that made us think that if he can slow down a bit, he'll be faster. ... We found the concession vendors very friendly, and the Frito Boat was loaded with chili and cheese. But in a move that defies logic, they used the mini-corn chips like in the lunch sized bags. Fritos does make dipping chips ya know. The choices were basically Fried Burrito, French Fries, Burgers, Hot Dogs, or a Tri-Tip sandwich. A baked potato was also offered! Mountain Dew flows from the beverage stand, always a good thing. How could it have been better? While Bakersfield Speedway scored race fan points for offering the spuds, and the Tri-tip they, and darn near every racetrack in the USA , could use some creative choices at the concession stands. Can I get a chicken sandwich? A turkey leg? How about something over steamed white rice? Look around at the next race you attend. We are some fat festers. That said, why doesn't anyone sell freshly baked goods at the track? After my Frito Boat I would certainly enjoy some fresh strawberry shortcake.
Fred Rahmer is one win from 300 for his amazing career. The Pennsylvania "Driver of the Decade" (1990-1999) has three wins already this season and leads the points at Lincoln Speedway. ...HammerDown! spies tell us that Garrett Ishii did a superb job in winning the California Rebel Cup feature at Hanford Saturday (May 1, 2004). Garrett started by racing Micro Midgets and then turned to running sprinters in 1998 after seeing them on TV when the World of Outlaws were on the former TNN. The cool customer from Caruthers, CA. is the son of a farmer. His Dad Jerry owns the always good looking #71 that Garrett drives. ...Shasta Speedway is now called Shasta Raceway Park. The Anderson, CA. racetrack will host the beautiful USAC Western States Sprint Cars this Saturday (May 8). The track underwent a revision recently and is now longer. The paved joint was listed as a 1/3 mile but after the work it is now a higher banked 3/8 mile oval. Both the front and back stretches of the track have been extended 105 feet. Turns three and four were rebuilt with a progressive banking. Also a new paved pit area will welcome the racers.