Positivity - By Bobby Gerould
Greg Hodnett is hot again. He started out the weekend by winning the final 410 event of the season at Susquehanna, the next night he drove the Apple #12 to a win at Williams Grove and finished the weekend with a win at Selinsgrove. Along with the three wins in four races this past weekend Greg has won five out of his last eight races during the month of September. ...Dale Smith won his sixth 360 sprint car championship at Cottage Grove, Oregon. The big numbers include five titles in a row. Saturday 09/25/04, Smith captured his sixth feature event of the season. ...Rick Williams, Jon Stanbrough, Bud Kaeding, and Mike English are among the latest entries for the Perris Oval Nationals. The October 28-30, 2004 event offers $30,000 to the winner!
...Ventura was our weekend destination (September 25-26, 2004) to cover the USAC Western States Midgets and Ford Focus California South races. Also on the racing card was the VRA sprint cars. ...Fred Adams kindly hooked me up with a video tape of the Trigueiro Classic and a photo of a recent interview with A.J. Foyt IV. Fred is a hard working videographer and photographer that smiles often and loves his job. His enthusiasm for racing is visible. ...The track was super sticky and the cars were all hooked up. Among the VRA racers were familiar names Rodney Argo, Tom Stansberry, Greg Taylor, Wally Pankratz, and Clark Templeman III. Meanwhile we were introduced to the skills of Steve Conrad, Luis Espinoza, Rob Kershaw, Kevin Kierce, Ryan Devitt, and Mike Broome. Hopefully all of these guys will try their luck at the Perris Oval Nationals! ...The Midgets were bouncing off each other as the drivers tried to hammer it hard on the gummy clay. Wheelies, and endos ensued in a frustrating start to the feature. Steven Paden, the talented defending Western States midget champion, won the 30-lapper. Paden continues to impress me. ...Jim Naylor does a great job of interviewing drivers on the public address system during track down time. Amongst his guests on the mic on this Saturday night were Ashley Swanson, a lady racer winner in the Focus Midgets at Perris, and Pankratz. ...The sea air at Ventura is always refreshing. ...I flew on Southwest Airlines from Sacramento to Burbank, and then drove the National Rental Car to Ventura. Lodging for this one night deal was the Burbank Airport Hilton. The convenience of being just across the street from the airport was great and the room was clean and comfy. Parking was a bit of an issue because the hotel is at the Burbank convention center and they share a parking lot. That deducted from the experience. Also, no 24-hour room service which surprised me for a big city. Burbank is basically in L.A. ...I had a yucky foo foo pizza from the airport cafeteria/sports-bar that was grossly overpriced.
As the USAC Western States Midgets head down the homestretch, Johnny Rodriguez continues to lead the point standings over Wally Pankratz. The two will battle again this Saturday evening at Ventura. There are six races left in the season; three on dirt, three on pavement. Bobby East and Steven Paden each have three feature wins in the series this year. Double winners are Michael Lewis and Garrett Hansen. ...Over in the USAC Western States Sprint Car division, Michael Lewis has become the number two all-time career winner in just his second season! His six 2004 wins give him 12 for his career. Tony Hunt is the leader in career wins with 15, including one this season. Lewis leads his teammate Hunt by only two points heading into the final three races on the year. Tim Barber is the only other repeat winner outside of Lewis in the series so far. ...Fred Rahmer has had an incredible year. In the Media Camping Center #88, Rahmer clinched his fourth Susquehanna Speedway Park Sprint Car point title last week. In an event run on a Thursday night, Rahmer won every race he entered to cap his championship season. Rahmer’s win in the 25-lap 410 Sprint Car feature was his seventh of the season at SSP, 32nd overall, and 25th career SSP win.
...Steve Kinser is the fastest 50-year old in history right? I think so. Okay not in pure speed, I'm sure a drag racer or Indy 500 vet has gone faster literally but you know what I mean. Steve would outrace anyone. He's 50 and leads what I believe is the toughest auto racing circuit in the world. The World of Outlaws sprint cars race 100 nights a year and take on the best teams from every part of the USA and Australia. That started me wondering who is the fastest 49 year-old, 36 year-old or fastest 29 year-old. Using the Racer's Racing Series point standings as a guide, here is what we think: 59. Wally Pankratz. 54 - Keith Kauffman. 51. Rick Hendrix. 49 - Kenny Jacobs. 48 - Sammy Swindell. 47 - Danny Smith / Brent Kaeding 46 - Jac Haudenschild / Fred Rahmer. 45 - Danny Lasoski. 44. Steve Kent. 43. Tony Elliott. 42. Kelly Kinser. 41 - Mark Kinser. 40. Dale Blaney. 39 - Terry McCarl. 38 - Craig Dollansky (Lance Dewease, Dave Darland)). 37 - Tim Shaffer. 36. Jon Stanbrough. 35 - Jay Drake. 34. Cory Kruseman. 33 - Paul McMahan. 32 - Joey Saldana. 31 - Jason Sides. 30. Dave Steele. 29 - Jason Solwold (Jason Leffler). 28. Shane Stewart. 27 - Donny Schatz (J.J. Yeley). 26 - Daryn Pittman (Tim Kaeding). 25 - Jason Meyers (Tyler Walker, Michael Lewis). 24. Bud Kaeding (Kasey Kahne). 23 - Erin Crocker (Roger Crockett ). 22 - Levi Jones (Blake Feese). 21 - Jesse Hockett (Josh Wise, Chuck Gurney Jr.). 20. Ron Gregory. 19 - Kraig Kinser (Bobby East). 18. Tom Hessert (Brad Sweet) 17 - Brandon Wimmer (Lucas Wolfe). 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Cameron Dodson, Michael Hubert III)
...Donny Schatz added the Gold Cup to his impressive racing resume. The 27 year-old from Fargo, North Dakota has already won the Historical Big One, The National Open, Australia's Grand Annual Classic, and now the Gold Cup.
...It's 4:00 AM in Rocklin. Gold Cup Saturday. Tim Kaeding was so good at Chico in the second Gold Cup prelim that I am still shaking my head in amazement. He passed cars high and low. He attacked the track and never hesitated in traffic. He lapped Steve Kinser for cryin' out loud! He won his heat, he won his dash race, and he timed-in eleventh overall on a still greasy track. Kinser came out after Kaeding and ended up 21st in qualifying. Veteran racing folk that I respect used words like "amazing", and "supernatural" when describing Tim's Friday night run. BF said the boy is on a different planet. ...Since moving to Chico from West Capital Raceway in 1980, only two California drivers have won the Gold Cup. It has been a long time (1989) since Darrell Hanestad did it. Johnny Anderson won it 1980. The year that Hanestad 'got er done', the show was postponed by rain and ran on a Tuesday night. The full force of fans wasn't felt like it would be if a local won the Gold Cup on a Saturday night as Anderson did 24 years ago. Obviously, I am writing this at this hour because I really think it could happen. Tim Kaeding is that good. Donny Schatz, Craig Dollansky, Joey Saldana or Mark Kinser could spoil the California party. BTW, Anderson will pace the A-Main Saturday night. ......Food and Lodging for Calistoga, CA. - September 3-5, 2004 …Really, the reaction to writing about food and lodging on each trip has been surprising. The Village Inn and Spa was our host. The room was small and the air conditioning didn't work. It so happens that it was hotter than July this September Labor Day weekend. ...Friday night at Calistoga I made a mistake that I know better than to make. I left myself with nowhere to eat late in the sleepy tourist town. I had a late lunch but no dinner and did not take the time to eat at the track Friday. My buddy Mike Bannister invited me over for post-race grub at the place they were staying. "Big Mike", and his wife, Naomi always look out for me, and I had every intention of eating with them once I made my way to their spot. However, Johnny Gibson, my announcing partner for the weekend was also scheduled to stop by after the races. I haven't rapped with Gibson since Knoxville so we started bullshitting about racing. Lenny Kravitz was going to be performing live on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Next thing you know, an hour waiting on Lenny Kravitz has passed. Eventually Lenny rocked. Gibby left for Fairgrounds, and I made my way to the Bannister's spot. Ooops. Ghost town. Folks are asleep at the Carlin Country Cottages. I waited too long on Kravitz and missed dinner. What a dumb ass I am. I hit the main strip in Calistoga after 1am and landed at the gas station. A burrito (micro waved at the gas station!), chips, and Gatorade. Lunch Saturday and Sunday was a sandwich from the Palisades Market. Reigning as my current favorite sandwich in the world, the Palisades Market Club with Roast Beef is not to be missed! Toasted bread with roast beef, horseradish, bacon, avocado, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, ??? - It is the bomb! …After the races on Saturday night, we ate with the Bannisters. My wife had caught up with me now after missing Friday. Too bad the Bannister / Morrie and Katie spread wasn't available to all the tourists in Calistoga because it sure was good! I ate Teriyaki Chicken, Chicken salad, and some really good little desserts that Naomi made. Entertainment was provided by Dennis Moore Jr., and Ashley Smith who recounted a recent trip to an Outback Steakhouse in Billings, Montana. DMJ gave a large "Japanese-Canadian" man the Heimlich and saved the guys life. …Katie, of Katie's Country Kitchen fame, is going to start selling her cookies to the public soon. We will be sure to keep you informed on that! …Mike Wagner, the Pennsylvania ace that won the 360 Calistoga Cup in June will return to California for the Trophy Cup at Hanford. He will drive the Kumar #1k.
...Calistoga Speedway was our destination this Labor Day weekend. The Harvest Classic for the World of Outlaws yielded some notes. …Craig Cormack, Vice President of Race Operations for the World of Outlaws stated that $820,000 in 2004 points fund moneys has been deposited and will be ready for distribution at season's end. To demonstrate the new 'upfront' approach, Cormack worked the pits informing each of his traveling teams of the certificate of deposit. Cormack also mentioned a Cup racetrack that has said they won't schedule World of Outlaws races in 2005. That track is Texas Motor Speedway. But as we reported already, others including a Midwest (Joliet) and an Eastern (Charlotte) track have inquired about an Outlaws return. The bottom line from my perspective again is that Cormack is good, and as Danny Lasoski told me, "They (Boundless) have lived up to every promise they made us so far." …A 'dirt-dust devil' wind storm wreaked havoc Sunday afternoon in the Stoga infield. It lifted top wings into the air and junked two of them belonging to Joey Saldana, and Daryn Pittman. Roger Crockett's team was also a victim. …Lasoski will start from the rear of the field at the next IROC race. That event will be held in Richmond, VA. "The Dude" has only practice laps at the joint that will host IROC's first short-track race. …Jim Skinner is a hero for letting Sparky Howard use his backup car after Sparky was a flip victim on Saturday night. The Skinner #73x allowed Howard to win the Scarborough Trophy as Calistoga Track Champion for 2004. …Earl Kelly was a surprise visitor. The driver of #08 in the late seventies and early eighties is still flying 747 airliners. He used to fly for Pan-Am but now flies 747 cargo jets to fun places like Qatar. The big man lives at Lake Tahoe now. …Mike Avilla hooked me up with a 1965 NARC race program he bought on EBAY. The very cool program will be scanned and you all will get to see some great pictures of drivers like Bill Sullivan, Wally Talbot, and Fred Hunt. …Stephen Allard impressed me this weekend at the big track. He's been winning races for a long time in the winged bullring scene but his big track experience is limited. That didn't matter. He had the HammerDown! All weekend in the Rod Tiner tuned K&M Motorsports #18. Allard was fifth quick on Friday. …Steve Kent filled in for Paul McMahan in the Selma Shell #11h at Calistoga. Pauly is getting closer to a return. …Tim Shaffer drove around the track with a fire under the hood and might have held on for a Saturday heat win had a yellow flag not come out for another driver's deal. When it did, Shaffer was forced to pull in and change engines. …Friday night Donny Schatz had to bail out of his car while his leg was on fire. Several crew members from various teams all tried to help smother the flames as Schatz rolled in the dirt off turn four. Eventually a fire extinguisher made it to save Schatz from serious injury. The tough 27 year-old from North Dakota hopped back into his car and won the next night's A-Main. …Lasoski's sixth career Calistoga win tied him for 18th on the all-time win list with Darrell Hanestad, and Jac Haudenschild. …Saying Kraig Kinser was impressive would be an understatement. The 19 year old son of the King took to Calistoga like he had grown up in Napa County. In his first trip to California as a racer, Kraig came to Stoga ranked seventh in the World of Outlaws points. Give him a chance to see all these tracks a time or two more and look out! He won at Cottage Grove, Oregon on the last day of August 2004 for his first ever WoO A-main win. …Brian Paulus hung coil springs on the rear of his #28 Friday night in the feature. He then charged from 17th to 3rd on a slick but racy surface. …Brandon Wimmer suffered a wicked back chute crash on Friday night that was a rude welcome to the half-mile. Brandon said the crash hurt more than previous spills, even at Eldora.