Positivity - By Bobby Gerould
...Altamont Raceway and Arena reps say a new billboard along the highway will help attract fans to their upgraded facility. ...I attended races there as a kid but I don't think I've been to Altamont since NARC used to run there. I know I saw Johnny Anderson, LeRoy Van Conett and Rendy Boldrini win races there in 1978. And I saw Jan Opperman race for Duke McMillen. I remember those races pretty well, as I sat next to my Dad who was announcing. According to the History of America's Speedways Past & Present by Allan Brown, Altamont was originally a dirt track in 1965. They paved that sucker in 1966. In recent times, CASA, a pavement sprint car sanction has been running races at Altamont. Nick Rescino Jr. was cleaning house there in 2004. ...Check out Gary Costa's interrogation of Bob Statler, father of reigning Golden State champion Jason Statler. ...HUGE thank you's to early Racer's Racing Series supporters, Eric Barnhill and Chris Luck. Barnhill owns the sprinter that Brad Sweet will run on the USAC National Sprint (dirt) schedule in 2005. Barnhill was the first to back our points 'series' this season, and we want to publicly say thank-you! ...G.L.R. Investments is presently the biggest backer of the 60-race National tour that combines big events in the winged, and non-winged world. ...Donny Schatz told us to donate his 2004 RRS earnings to charity. So - HammerDown! will do so on his behalf. ...The cat quick reactions of the best World of Outlaws drivers is a 'pleasure to watch' (as Robert Hubbard would say). We took in the two shows in Tulare, and Oildale, California this weekend. It is very healthy to see the Outlaws race on a sticky, tacky, short track. The drivers may not all like it. In fact, many despise California in the late winter. If I were a driver I probably wouldn't like it either. The clay pulls the horsepower straight to the surface, and the pilots hang on to their machines as the cars drive hard from the rear, trying to leap away from control. The racing is on the edge of disaster in each corner. The ground is soft, and deep with moisture. (Even with gummy bear tires at Bakersfield Speedway, the track was heavy all night long.) With a prominent rut in turn one at Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway the cars were taking some unpredictable corner entries. As a fan, I marvel at the way the drivers of winged sprint cars can correct, adjust, and drive out of trouble. ...Weekend thoughts: ...Schatz is one smooth driver. His qualifying lap at Tulare was picture perfect as he rode the cushion and controlled the throttle with precision. In the Thunderbowl feature, Schatz took what the race gave him but never tried to force the issue. Schatz's skill is not a revelation; he's been that good for awhile now. Seeing it firsthand again reinforces. At Oildale, Schatz started 20th and ended up eighth.
...Also on the card at Tulare were the SCRA non-wing 360's, a new venture for Ron Shuman's group. Sweet (Grass Valley, CA.), was entertaining in finishing second. He was passing dudes on the high-side with regularity. ...Tim Shaffer attacked the track at Tulare every time he hit the clay. I gush about Shaffer quite a bit but it's worth repeating that he is one of the best short track racers I've ever seen. To top it off, he's a nice guy too. ...Steven Williams deserves a nod for his SCRA heat race win. He won a heat that included Cory Kruseman, Damion Gardner, and Danny Sheridan. ...Kruseman won the SCRA feature event although he told us he is still adjusting to the Crossno #38. The chassis is different from what he was running in 2004 when he drove for Alexander Racing, and Tony Stewart. ...Jason Solwold was on the methanol all weekend. ...I enjoyed watching the race between Kyle Hirst and Kevin Swindell on the big stage in WoO action in the B-Main at Tulare. The two youngsters used to mix it up at Cycleland Speedway in karts. ...Brandon Wimmer showed his qualifying ability at Oildale. The high school kid is driving the Wimmer/Luck #7TW, that is being tuned by Joe Gaerte. ...Peter Murphy posted second quick at Oildale, subbing for Brooke Tatnell in the new Troy Renfro wrenched Rush Racing #8. ...Dennis Moore Jr. was worth the price of admission Friday night. He bucked through the holes like Ivan Stewart. ...Kraig Kinser was really good Saturday in running from 15th to fifth in the 35-lap feature. ...In the early season engine wars, builder Charlie Garrett is looking good. Craig Dollansky and Paul McMahan showed plenty of muscle under the hood. McMahan charged from eighth to second at Tulare before getting crossed-up by a lapper.
...Food and Lodging for the weekend: I drove to Visalia from Rocklin Thursday night and stayed at the Radisson. The Visalia Radisson is always nice. The accommodations were comfy even if the TV was small. I are at Haru on Friday for lunch. A Japanese restaurant near the outlet mall in Tulare, Haru offered some tasty chicken teriyaki over rice at a budget price. At the track, I had a Thunderbowl Raceway linguica sandwich. Good stuff! But I sure wish the Thunderbowl had Mountain Dew. ...I made the quick one hour drive south to Bakersfield after the Tulare event. The races ended late, near 12:20 am, and by the time I got paid (infield announcing), and chatted with friends, It was well after 1 am. ...Stayed at the Ramada Limited in Bakersfield, arriving at 2:20 AM. I had a choice of Del Taco or Denny's. I didn't feel like sitting down to eat and staring at strangers so I drove through the Del Taco deal, and ate a late night burrito. Yuck. Enraptured in VH-1's 'Black in the 80's', I didn't doze off 'til about 5:30 am. ...Saturday afternoon was in full effect by the time I became aware again. At the track I ate a nacho lunch. Yuck. No dinner, I ate a girl scout cookie that car owner Dave Helm offered. After the races, at about 12:30 am - I finally ate some food; selling out on Del Taco again. YUCK. The saving grace was Chris Rock on Comedy Central's "Secret Stash".
Bad news from the World of Outlaws front; Craig Cormack resigned his post as Vice President of Racing Operations for the sprint car series. Cormack was viewed by HammerDown! as a big positive for the series. It will be interesting to see what happens next as Dirt MotorSports, the series owners, look for a new leader of what we consider to be the world's most entertaining racing series. ...Robert Ballou is ready for his sophomore season of sprint car racing. Check out his website at http://www.balloumotorsports.com/index.html ...Greg Anderson is busy preparing for his sophomore season as a sprint car driver. He posted a USAC Western States win at Meridian Speedway in Boise, Idahao, as a rookie. Anderson stripped his Eagle sprinter bare and rebuilt it over the Winter, proving he is well grounded as a mechanic. Between CASA, and USAC, Anderson scored five 'top-five', and nine 'top-ten' finishes. Anderson and the USAC stars will open their season in Boise this year. The two-day show in April should be excellent. ...Danny Sheridan will be among the many chasing SCRA 360 cash at Thunderbowl Raceway February 25th. Sheridan had nine feature event wins, and ten quick-time efforts in 15 starts in a non-winged 360 sprinter in 2004. The non-wingers will compliment the World of Outlaws, with the 360 top prize being $3,200. That makes that show a must see! We are happy to be involved as infield announcer at both WoO races in Tulare, and Oildale on the 25th and 26th. Thanks to Don Sharp and Jason Meyers for believing an experienced infield announcer can be a help in creating a quality show for the fans, and for paying to have one there. ...Hope to see you there! ...Ricci Faria is the latest to be quizzed by Gary Costa. The Indianapolis Star comes through with some more good reading. This time - it's about Kraig Kinser. Read it here.
...Danny Lasoski won the East Bay Winter Nationals feature Saturday night. Craig Dollansky was second, Sammy Swindell third, Terry McCarl fourth, and Greg Wilson fifth. ...Check out Gary Costa's interrogation of B.F. ...A&A Motorsports and Andy Forsberg have a new website. Check out www.AAMotorsports.net. ...The World of Outlaws are gearing up for a end of the month visit to California. Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, and Bakersfield Speedway will host the Greatest Show on dirt on February 25th, and 26th. ...Look for Sean Becker behind the wheel of the McMillen #10 in 2005. They will start with the Central California WoO events. ...Both shows promise to be real barnburners. The high banked short tracks should bring out the best in the drivers we consider to be the best in the world.