Positivity - By Bobby Gerould

January 2005

...Jim Richardson purchased a 410 engine and will make a run down to Perris this weekend for the USAC/CRA action. Jim is a fanatic for sprint car racing; having most recently raced on New Year's Day in Tucson, AZ.

...Copper World Classic Notes: Phoenix redeemed itself Sunday after a cold spell hit the southwestern metropolis Friday and Saturday making the Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway, and USAC/CRA races at Manzanita true western winter events. The chill factor was in full effect and the ground was saturated, which made feet a bit chillier. Local, Bruce St. James had issues with the temperature citing it "unacceptable". That is why I am in favor of a racing season that begins in March. Even in Phoenix in January it can be, and was, cold. Rain, and hail during the day Saturday had many at the "Big Track" (PIR) wondering if Manzanita Speedway would run later that night. The USAC / CRA competitors towed in from various spots and they would have been disappointed to not get a chance to race. Tough one. On one hand, cold conditions and a wet, washboard racetrack with infield puddles. On the other hand; racers who made the effort to be ready to race early in 2005. The call was made to race. They scrapped qualifying due to the late hour, which was the right decision as it neared 8 PM. …So it's within a few degrees of freezing at Manzy, and the track's infield concession stand, the only one in the infield, runs out of Coffee, and Hot Chocolate. Yo! Mr. Hot Chocolate Buyer Man, I knew to pack thermals for the Saturday night races with a simple cruise of the Weather Channel two days in advance. Then they ran out of all food. Hail in Phoenix? No nacho cheese? WtF? The infield Bar-B-Q Pit even took the night off, it was so frigid. In the name of accuracy, they did get re-stocked of hot chocolate and quesadillas at the infield concession later in the night. The topper for me was lining up all the cars on the front chute for driver introductions. After 11:00 PM. When the temperature was in the upper 30's or lower 40's. God made the rolling start expressly for these situations. The races ended at midnight. By the time you try to decompress, eat, and relax, it was pushing 2am, with an early wake-up call for the Sunday Copper World activities looming. Hope you don't have insomnia. …The racing was okay. Tracy Hines kept the 30 lap feature interesting as he charged from the rear of the field into the top five. …Ronnie Case raced a freshly painted Don Blair #33. Yes! The lime green is gone. …Tony Jones changed his number from 2 to 87. …Rick Williams of Castro Valley, CA. made his first trip to Manzy a good one. Williams finished fourth in his own #6. Williams is committed to the entire schedule for 2005, and he should be a factor in the battle for top-fives. We found out that Rick is really sharp as a mechanic; not just a cookie cutter driver. …Dave Darland won the feature event by just making laps. Darren Hagen had a big lead but crashed into the first car he encountered in traffic. Rickie Gaunt had nowhere to go and he plowed into Hagen's racer. That gave the lead to Darland, who proved again just how good and smooth he is. Dwight Chaney looks pretty smart for letting Darland drive his #42. …Peter Murphy flipped in the feature in the Tarlton & Son #21. After coming to a stop, he was hit by Damion Gardner's #50. Pete said he was okay despite a limp. …Gardner flipped hard in his heat after pushing up the track and hooking the cushion. He was charging forward and had locked up a transfer spot to the feature when the crash happened. …Cary Faas made his return in the Volcano Joe's Coffee #2 owned by Larry Woodward. Faas easily won his heat race but turned over in the A-Main. …Troy Rutherford said that the recent mudslides and deluge of rain near his Ojai home were no joke. Rutherford and his wife Leslie, and son Logan were land locked for three days with the only way out of their area being by helicopter. …Nadine Keller will ride #16 for 2005. …Jesse Hockett, a 2004 All-HammerDown! Team member will have great opportunity in 2005. He will run the entire USAC National dirt sprint schedule. Hockett said he felt more comfy in the Massey #2J this weekend now that the team has Wes-Mar power. The Missouri driver won his heat impressively.

…The Sunday morning sunshine was welcome to this cat. The PIR Copper World Classic was a four-race deal with the USAC National and Western Midgets up first. Spinouts and yellow flags marred the race. Truthfully, a couple dudes should not have been out there. The slowest car was three and a half seconds slower than the fastest. Check yourself. ...J.J. Yeley picked off the win in the 25-mile contest with a last lap last corner dive to bottom in traffic. Michael Lewis led the opening laps but had the horrible luck of running into debris on the track that caused his left side sway bar to dangle from his machine. He was called to the pits to have the dangling piece removed. He was then held on pit lane and lost a lap as the race went back to green. …Burney Lamar, grandson of Clyde Lamar, won one of the two NASCAR races on Sunday. Lamar is signed to a deal with Kevin Harvick. …I am overdue for giving praise to Ron Gregory. The Noblesville, IN racer has proven himself to be fast each time I've seen him race. The 21 year-old is learning from stepfather Gary Irvin, a USAC Silver Crown veteran. …Bobby Santos III hit the wall viciously during the 25-mile midget race. Santos was lucky to walk away from the scary accident. Dallen McKenney deserves praise for a strong weekend on the blacktop. The Clovis driver finished tenth vs. the National competition in the Midget finale. …Tyler Walker started 17th and finished third in the Silver Crown event. Walker said tire stagger is crucial at PIR in a Silver Crown car. He emphatically told us at Manzy Saturday night that even a half inch difference is noticeable. …Bud Kaeding will have an upcoming test with a major NASCAR team. After Daytona, the youngest Kaeding will get to run a Busch car at speed. Bud has been learning by attending driving schools in preperation for the big test. If all goes well, Bud will run some Busch races in the near future. Bud has also reconsidered, and will continue to race USAC National Sprint Car events. It was reported here that he would try the All-Stars. Bud said that at one point that is truly what he wanted to do. However, he has since changed his mind because of the continued success USAC drivers are having at advancing. Spotted: Amongst those not racing in Arizona but on hand were Steve Kinser, Kasey Kahne, Jason Meyers, The Shade Tree Mechanic Dave Bowman, Stu Murray, Cary Agajanian, Destiney Hays, Tommy Tarlton, Brandon Lane, and Brent Kaeding. ...Travel, Food and lodging: (Friday-Sunday January 28-30, 2005). …Kim & I flew Southwest Airlines from SMF to PHX. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on 51st Ave. It wasn't the best place or the worst, and the price was a racer's rate of $89 per night. The convenience of this hotel is that it sits between Manzanita and P.I.R. The bathroom in our room wasn't as clean as Kim wanted it to be. Most likely we will stay somewhere else next time. The Marriott I lodged at in November was only $10 more per night, and far superior. …We hit Champps Sport Bar on Friday evening to get a bite and watch the Sacramento Kings play in Houston on TV. Again, we highly recommend this place on Camelback. I had ribs and fries, and Kim had wrap of some sort. We both liked it. …I woke up hungry on Saturday and Kim went to Sonic to get us breakfast. I ate a couple bites of the breakfast burrito and decided to stop. At this location they put jalapeno peppers in the burrito. I wasn't feeling it. …We snacked at the PIR Press Room, which is always very nice. P.I.R. understands that a happy media member is more apt to spin positive. They feed you, and accommodate you in every reasonable way. Kudos to their staff. Saturday afternoon in advance of a Press Conference they had a fancy spread of seafood and desserts. Kim enjoyed the sword fish kabobs; I said thumbs down. We both like the prawns with Andoulle sausage filling. …After the Manzanita deal I sold out to a tired wife and we ate at Carl's Jr. I like to seek out the local late night eating spots but she was in no mood for driving around. The Western Crispy Chicken sandwich is pretty good I must admit. …A sandwich from the PIR pressroom handled it on Sunday. We raced to Sing High for Green Soup before our flight home. The soup was as good as ever, and we made it to the airport with time to spare. Southwest flew us back to Sacramento and then we drove back to Rocklin, home by 10:30 PM so Kim could get to bed in time to teach Monday morning.

We need more sponsors. If you want to advertise on this site, drop me a note. It is very affordable. ...An inside joke between race announcers was a souvenir pin from a racing team called AFR. It didn't take much thought to bend the true meaning of AFR. About mid season one year I was presented my own official AFR pin. It was fitting. I was headed for a gig of dutifully running around the pits in downtown Minneapolis, MN. at an SCCA road race I couldn't care less about. It was the worst kind of road course; a temporary street circuit. It was humid, and hot. It was the over the Fourth of July. Another Fuc*ing Race. ...That is why I love BIG races. They come with their own atmosphere, and local traditions. A big race is not AFR. We travel, for the first time in 2005, to Phoenix, AZ. for the Copper World Classic. To me, the Midget portion of the Copper World is a BIG Race. The Silver Crown is too. But the Midgets at PIR are a true proving ground. Jimmy Sills is famous for saying, "If you are comfortable at Phoenix in Midget, you aren't going very fast." The track's grandstands won't be all the way full but the intensity will be there. The drivers and teams understand that a good showing at the Copper World can catapult a career. Ask Jimmy Kite. Kite won the Silver Crown portion of the Classic and then jumped to Indy Cars. In recent years, Tony Stewart, J.J. Yeley, Mike Bliss, and Bobby East have shown off at PIR. I remember watching Kasey Kahne's first midget race at Phoenix and reporting on it for TNN's Race Day. The races on Sunday morning and afternoon are the first two points earning features in the 2005 Racers Racing Series. Both of these races should be televised but will not be. If you help us, we can make the RRS schedule a big enough deal that maybe a television production company would want to follow our schedule. The truth is, TV coverage is not cheap. I worked with some pretty heavyweight production groups in the 'good old days'. I know firsthand how expensive it is to travel a crew of, announcers, technicians, and cameramen. The positions on a TV production are skill positions as well. That means that the better you want your graphics to look, the more you pay for a good graphics person. Same with announcers, and camera operators. At bare bones, I think we could come up with a biweekly, 30-60 minute TV show that covers just sprint cars, midgets, and champ-dirt cars for about $15,000 per episode plus start-up fees. I have all this on paper if anyone out there wants to step up on behalf of the sport. The $15,000 can be recouped through the sales of advertising within the show. It would only work though if we had the right crew. I know I want Dean Mills to edit the thing. Dean has been kicking this idea around for years, and he is passionate about his work. I would want my dad to be involved. We would need an ad salesman with knowledge of the sprint car scene, and a producer / secretary to arrange logistics (Carol McMahan, you want the job?). A production manager, three camera operators, and partial access to a studio would be required as well. In my opinion, sprint car racing failed in the past on TV because the operation was not based or rooted by sprint car people. I think however that with the proper backing we could tackle it as an inside job. I would host and CO-produce the show, and Dean would edit it. The goal would be to show highlights of every RRS race, and those events worthy of being highlighted. We could do feature stories on the heroes of the past, present, and future. Basically, the TV show would mirror the HammerDownUSA.com web site while allowing us to do so much more.

...Tracy Hines says of the Copper World Classic midget race to publicist Misha Giesert, "Some guys will be really fast at the very beginning of the race, but you need a good setup for all 25 laps in order to be there at the end. Being in a good position at the end of those 25 laps is what can make or break your race. I think we'll be in good shape this weekend, as Phoenix is a horsepower track and we're definitely at an advantage with our Gary Stanton-built Mopar engines." Hines is gearing up for a 2005 that includes NASCAR Craftsman Truck Racing and 30 open-wheel events. "Our goal is to win at least 10 open-wheel races this season, which would be 1/3 of the races I hope to compete in," Hines said. "I'd also like to get my first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win this year, or at least have consistent top-five and top-10 finishes." ...Kevin Swindell became the youngest driver in World of Outlaws Sprint Series history to record a top six finish in an A Main event. Prior to coming to Australia to race, the younger Swindell had only run two sprint car races with a 410 engine. On January 2nd, the third generation driver finished 5th in a non-WoO event, passing seventeen cars in the $50,000 race. Three nights later, Kevin "Bulldog" Swindell passed thirteen cars to finish 3rd for his first podium finish in Australia. He was joined on the podium by the winner of the event, his father, Sammy Swindell. Three nights later, Kevin Swindell scored a 5th place finish while his dad won again. Sammy told PR Man Blake Johnson, "Each time we have moved him to the next level, he has handled it without any problem. ..."He just has that ability to feel the car and know what it needs. It's really amazing to watch just how good he is already."

1984 is updated, as is 1987. Check out the feature winners in USAC / CRA in 2004. ...Gary Costa did an interview with Kevin Kierce, a racer from the non-winged 360 ranks. You can read it here. ...The most accessed driver pages so far in 2005 are here. ...Dave Darland will be driving for veteran Southern California owner/driver Dwight Cheney in various early 2005 USAC/CRA events. The All-HammerDown! Team driver is confirmed for the Perris day show, Saturday February 5th. Jon Stanbrough will also be in the casa. ...Cool new photo from the grandstands of Jimmy Boyd at the 1973 Gold Cup. Boyd crushed the field that day. ...Cleanup is a reality of web sites. We are touching up outdated archived pages. 2000 champions is such a page.

Here is some stuff I learned this weekend. …Andy Forsberg is getting married. The two-time California Civil War champion popped that question to his girlfriend Candace over the Holidays. The date is tentatively set for February 2006. Forsberg reports that his car owner Flori Filipich has a new Maxim in his shop. …We found out about that at Troy Hennig's wedding. The Chico announcer stood tall in the pocket and said I do to the former Kylie Greene who is Johnny Rodriguez's sister in law. Rodriguez is planning on running the entire USAC National Midget dirt schedule. He will also make some cameos in Wisconsin with the Badger Midgets. …If you read this space with any regularity (and we hope you do), you know that we preach and preach about how important it is to have a desire to race. If you want to advance in this sport you must be willing to spread your wings and fly into alternate area codes. Why? Here is an example. Chico racer Jason York will have a new sponsor on the side of his #25 in 2005. York hooked up with Joe Chicago's restaurant. York, who is mostly seen with a wing on in Northern California, hustled down to deep Southern California to win at Perris in USAC/CRA action last summer. Jason and wife Julie made a return trip for the Perris Oval Nationals in October and although Jason was tired he reluctantly showed up early Saturday for a driver autograph session and 'meet and greet' deal with the fans. Out of the blue, York was approached by a gentleman who heard York interviewed on the P.A. the night previous. The man asked York several questions as Jason stood between two big name pilots. In a sprint car racer's dream, the guy said something to the effect of, "So what would it take to put my logo on your car?" Next thing you know, the York's accepted the man's offer and had cash in hand to help equip their team for 2005. …We attended the Tony Hunt Kart Challenge at the impressive RPM Kart indoor facility in Sacramento. The former Ice House skating rink is now a first-class racing place that also houses a Subway sandwich shop. Plasma TV's everywhere you look dot the expansive building that includes two kart tracks. It really blew me away. The level of custom detail, down to logo imprinted carpet in the conference room had me questioning if I was really at an 'open-to-the-public' race place. The smiles from all the drivers were confirmation of how much fun they were having. We urge you all to visit RPM, located right off the Highway 50 Bradshaw exit. …Michael Lewis, the 2003 USAC Western Sprint Car Champion and former Turkey Night winner, will concentrate his 2005 efforts at all the USAC National pavement events. Sprint, Silver Crown, and Midget divisions will see Lewis on the blacktops in the orange Western Speed Racing colors. Lewis can't wait to return to Winchester (Indiana) to run the high banks. …The Western Speed sprint cars that will stay west of the Rockies in 2005 will be wheeled by Tony Hunt, and Western States Rookie of the Year (2004) Mike Murgoitio (pronounced Ma-gerty-O). …Mike Henry, another former winged 360 champion, is in between rides at present. He is looking for an opportunity to race in 2005. If your team needs a guy who stands up in the chair you should contact Mike. …Destiney Hays has a big week in front of her. The 21 year-old is being courted by a major American auto-maker that will fly her to North Carolina this weekend for a series of tests. Her 2005 plans are still up in the air somewhat as she waits to gauge how serious these big-timers are. The winner of a USAC Western Sprint Car race in Las Vegas in her rookie season would still very much like to ease the burden on her parents who are presently $upporting her racing endeavors. Destiney says she just wants to race as much as possible in `05. Dirt, pavement, winged, non-winged, midgets, sprints, Silver Crown; she doesn't care. She will also be networking at Phoenix International Raceway's Copper World Classic. …Jimmy Sills said that LeRoy VanConnett's Chili Bowl flip was pretty nasty. 70 year-old LeRoy caught the inside berm and flipped hard enough to break his arm. Sills said LeRoy also had a bit of a bruised face. …Johnny Anderson and his wife Brenda were at RPM as well. Brenda is hoping for a huge turnout at the West Capital Raceway Alumni picnic which is slated for July 16th at 3:00 PM at Roseville's (CA.) All-American Speedway. For more info you can reach Brenda at (916) 944-1443. Johnny seemed to be doing okay after injuring his back prior to Christmas. …You know me, I am the last guy you would expect to be plugging a pint-sized, under aged driver. BUT…I saw Kyle Larson, a 12 year-old from Elk Grove, CA., compete for the first time this weekend. This kid amazed me. He was patient and fast, and drove like a seasoned veteran, turning lap times quicker than most of the adult racers on hand. …HammerDown! Race Gear is selling well at Hunt's Race World in Fair Oaks, CA. Our first retail store outside of the online store gives us hope that more racing gift shops will want to get in on the deal.

Tony Elliott, an All-HammerDown! Team member will flip the script in 2005. Elliott will switch his considerable non-wing racing skills to running with the wing on. Tony plans on running the All Star Circuit of Champions for Ray Pullins. The Chillicothe, Ohio based team will use Maxim chassis and Fisher Engines as their tools. ...New Zealand's Michael Pickens was named 2005 Chili Bowl Rookie of the Year. The Kiwi pilot drove from 19th to 6th in the A feature. ...The technology age allows one to track a plethora of statistics. Through URCHIN Site Statistics we can track the number of sessions initiated at each driver index page. This allows our site, based on the West Coast, to gauge a driver's popularity by the number of page views they are receiving. While hardly scientific, the resulting list below of the top 100 drivers is both interesting and fun to ponder. For the year 2004, the most popular driver in our index was Kasey Kahne. The Washington ace generated 5186 page views to outdistance Erin Crocker who ran second at 4114. Legendary champions Sammy Swindell, and Steve Kinser ranked third and fourth. Tyler Walker completed the top five for 2004. Drivers' pages on www.HammerDownUSA.com are dedicated to sprint car, midget, and Silver Crown pilots, both past and present.

The top 100 driver pages for HammerDownUSA.com in 2004.

Check out the newly revised BCRA website at: www.BCRAracing.com

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