Positivity - By Bobby Gerould

June 2005

...The Stockton June 25th event for USAC Western Sprint Cars was fun. It felt good to have only an hour drive to my racing destination. Audra Sasselli drove a sprint car for Ted Finkenbinder. She was trying it for the first time - and she outqualified a bunch of veteran drivers.

...Food and lodging for Santa Maria, CA. June 17-19, 2005.Kim and I stayed at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Santa Maria. We've always liked this place that is less than five minutes from the track - just off Highway 101 at the Broadway exit. The place is always clean albeit a bit pricey. We made a mandatory stop at Jocko's in Nipomo for dinner which was really good. The late Doug Fort - Santa Maria promoter, always told us to dine at Jocko's for the best steaks in the region. We've been going back ever since the first try several years ago. They cook their meat over oak coals outdoors. The family style setting is like eating at the Elk's Lodge. We bumped into Rip Williams at Jockos. We also were surprised to see Annie Owen dining in Nipomo. She is involved this year with Tim Green's son Nick who is doing very well running pavement sprint cars. …Kim's pork chops were like the size of four chops together! They tasted great. I had a steak sandwich that was slightly overcooked but still tasty. The fries were mediocre - almost mushy. …Saturday afternoon we ventured to the Pismo Beach Car Show. In the streets, and open-air of Pismo, the show was packed. We had clam chowder from Brad's Restaurant. Pretty good. …At the track - I tried a Torta. It is basically a piece of grilled bread with meat, and beans on it. Very tasty. …No Mountain Dew at Santa Maria Speedway : (( …Post race - we hit a pizza place - I don't remember the name - but the pie was okay.

The road is catching up with me. After four straight weekends of racing in Calistoga, Roseburg Oregon, Eureka, and Santa Maria - I am tired. I'm not complaining. I'm just tired. Santa Maria is a 12 hour round trip from Rocklin. I don't mind the drive too much simply because I enjoy the Santa Maria Speedway and the coastal weather. It was like 71 degrees over the weekend in Santa Maria. Perfect. The track is maybe the cleanest dirt track that the USAC Western Midgets race at. The staff is friendly and the concessions are top-notch for a speedway. The double dip show of midgets and USAC/CRA Sprint Cars drew the largest crowd in the last three years to the track. The midgets at Santa Maria are awesome! The 1/3-mile size, we are quickly learning, is the perfect configuration for midgets. You would have thought these cats were racing at Eldora. They were throwing caution to the wind; winding up the little cars while using the banking as a brake. While I personally felt a few young racers were carried away and did some rough driving, I was also thoroughly entertained. Tyler Brown won the feature after watching the top four cars in front of him get wiped out in one back straightaway. After a post heat-race chat from USAC officials, Stephen Graves kept his nose clean and finished second in the feature. …The first heat race for the midgets at Santa Maria is easily my "Heat Race of the Year" so far. Dallen McKenney won it as four and sometimes five cars engaged in a war that I swore must have offered $50,000 to win. Scott Pierovich, Jerome Rodela, Garrett Hansen, Rob Russell, Quinton Sall, Robby Flock, and Brad Gaeldridge were the participants. …Sall was very impressive for a guy in his fourth midget start. The 16 year-old just finished his sophomore year in high school. He is a former National Quarter Midget driving champion. …Russell was great in the feature, starting 17th and finishing third. In the hand full of times I've seen him drive - he has been strong. …In the sprint car feature, Davey Pombo put on the best show. He was rim-riding and going forward while others were content to drive through the slick. Pombo finished fifth. ...Steve Kinser swept both nights of the Eagle Nationals at Eagle NE. There will never be another driver that accomplishes what Steve has in his career. He should be getting more National media attention than he does. Sports Illustrated, and ESPN should be profiling the "King of the Outlaws" on any show or publication where the word 'legend' is used. One can learn lots about the correct way to race just by paying attention to what Kinser says in his winner's interviews. “I was trying not to get to the lapped cars,” Kinser said after the Eagle win. “Once it laid that rubber around the bottom, it’s not much fun to race in because there’s only one groove. It’s hard for anybody to pass you and it’s hard for me to pass anybody else. My big concern then was just taking it easy on my tire. I had a little softer tire than what I probably should have had on. I was back-pedaling from before halfway, saving the tire.”

...Just for giggles and because I like to keep lists - I am figuring out what tracks I've been to in the past, and also trying to note the feature winner. I'm retracing my racing roots. It is a task I've been working on for years, and will continue to complete as the months pass. So far, I know I've seen 1,204 events at 83 different tracks in my 37 years. I am still digging. The top ten tracks as far as known number of attended race dates are:

  1. Silver Dollar Speedway, Chico, CA. (229)
  2. Calistoga Speedway - Calistoga, CA. (164)
  3. West Capital Raceway / Capitol Speedway - W. Sacramento, CA. (153)
  4. Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, IA. (76)
  5. San Jose Speedway - San Jose, CA. (57)
  6. Kings Speedway - Hanford, CA. (56)
  7. Baylands Raceway Park - Fremont, CA. (43)
  8. Santa Maria Speedway - Santa Maria, CA (38)
  9. Placerville Speedway - Placerville, CA. (30)
  10. Eldora Speedway - Rossburg, OH. (24)
  11. Thunderbowl Raceway - Tulare, CA (23)
  12. Petaluma Fairgrounds Speedway - Petaluma, CA. (21)
  13. Antioch Speedway - Antioch, CA. (20)
  14. Manzanita Speedway - Phoenix, AZ. (18)
  15. Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track - Las Vegas, NV. (16)

A major earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck off the coast of Northern California this evening (June 14, 2005). That is wild considering the folks who felt the quake the most were in Roseburg, OR; where we were two weeks ago. The quake itself was centered near Humboldt County where we were for the first time this past weekend. …The first time visit to Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka, CA. was interesting on many levels. ...The track is fast but difficult to pass on. However, the raw speed carried by the USAC Western States Sprint Cars on the 3/8's-mile paved oval was entertaining and hair-raising to watch. The cars would haul ass down the back chute and then have to deal with a tight fourth turn; deceiving many into over powering into turn three. Cody Veenstra won the race and he did a nice job of withholding a serious challenge from Tony Hunt, and Kody Swanson. Veenstra is a 19 year-old who has been racing sprint cars since age 16. However, he never ventured out of Idaho until this season. His previous racing experience is in the dirt-karts. Veenstra said he raced the karts for eight years. His father still races Super Modifieds. …The grandstand at the Eureka Fairgrounds was built in the 1930's. Under the grandstand is a fabulous redwood floor that gives the track a unique distinction. As first-time visitors we found the concession stand to be quick and well-run. The food was typical of a racetrack. Burgers, Hot Dogs, Nachos, soda, candy, etc.,,, I had the chili-nachos which were very good. …I always harp on poorly lit racetracks so take this with a grain of salt. Turn three at Eureka was very dark. …Hunt was as aggressive as I've ever seen him. He repeatedly put his car in the right position early in the 40-lap contest, coming from fifth to second. …Swanson was fantastic again. The kid has skills. In his first five rookie races in a sprint car, Swanson has a seventh at Turkey Night (Irwindale), two seconds (Meridian, ID., and Eureka, CA), a third (Meridian), and a win in Roseburg, OR. He told us Saturday night following the feature that wants to be known as a clean racer throughout his career. He showed maturity seldom seen from a teenager when we he rolled his car into the trailer with a solid second Saturday night. He had the chance to punt Veenstra but he did not. …Michael Trimble started seventh and finished third in another strong outing. At age 18, Trimble has a full plate of driving chores. He'll be in action at Santa Maria this Saturday in a USAC Western Midget twin bill with the USAC/CRA series. The team also has a new dirt sprint car. Trimble says he likes Shasta Raceway Park, and Irwindale the best so far among the tracks he's raced at. …Destiney Hays qualified third quick and then garnered Hard Charger honors. Fresh off of a pavement midget ride for Bob East over Memorial Day weekend in Indiana, Hays raced confidently from 15th to eighth at Eureka. She will do several more USAC National Midget events in 2005 while continuing to compete in the USAC Western Sprint Cars. Her next race is the June 25th event at Stockton 99 Speedway. …Mike Murgoitio was the quick qualifier. The 2004 series Rookie of the Year started sixth and finished fourth in the feature. He drives one of the former 2004 Western Speed sprinters.

...Food & Lodging for the trip to Eureka (June 11-12, 2005). …The lesson learned this weekend is to NEVER take Highway 36. Now don't get it twisted, I'm all for a good curvy road but this was ridiculous. I trusted MapQuest. It said to take this road that had wifey feeling ill, and even had your boy stopping for two stretches. It was a climb through the Northern California mountains from Red Bluff to Highway 101 just south of Eureka. The scenery was great and the air was fresh but the road was too tough for the HammerDownUSA.com Infiniti. It took five hours plus to get there from Saturday am to late afternoon. We stayed at the Best Western Humboldt Bay Inn which was billed as a three-star place. I'll disagree. Our King bed room had a small queen, and a small bathroom. It was borderline clean and the maid staff disturbed even though the "Do not" sign was on the door. …We dined post-race at The Village Pantry in Eureka. My Club Sandwich was decent and the fries were good. Kim's breakfast plate brought some undercooked and pasty pancakes. She made the call that we would not go back to that joint. …I was surprised in general at how depressed the entire Northern Coast of California is. As we traveled home on 101 Sunday - I was startled at how un-corporate, and how seemingly behind the times this region is. The natural beauty is at-times stunning. It took longer, (six hours) to get home on Sunday as we took a longer but less irritating route. The redwood trees truly are giants. The size of the tree trunks are so big you can actually drive a car through them. The weather was chilly on Saturday night but Sunday it was a perfect 65 degrees! ...Peace to Mesa Marin Raceway (1977-2005). The Bakersfield Racetrack that took away Billy Vukovich III in 1990 will close in October. The owner is going to build houses where the track lies. It is too bad for the many die hard race fans of the Southern Central Valley who deserve to have a track. Mesa Marin held many big events including stops by the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I was fortunate to have worked a TV-race there and it will remain as a great memory of days past. The slick-track for go-karts located adjacent to Mesa Marin was also a place for fun. We would often hit the kart track whenever we were in Oildale for sprint car races. ...Gary Costa talked with Jo Anne Kaeding. Read the interrogation here. ...Brent Kaeding swept the weekend of winged racing in Nor-Cal. He won at Watsonville Friday night, and then again at Placerville Saturday. The week prior, Brent won at Calistoga, and had a second at the big half-mile. ...Jason Meyers won the WoO visit to Sharon Speedway. Paul McMahan finished second.

...Racing lingo, terminology, whatever you want to call it, never fails to amuse me. Some of the imaginative things we hear from racers are repeated and giggled at race shops, and offices everywhere. A glossary might help. The Chair? That is the driver's seat. Fonzi? The cool character from the TV show Happy Days lived upstairs. So - anyone that runs the top of the track or "upstairs" is Fonzi. …Likewise, those drivers that run the bottom of the track are referred to as LaVerne and Shirly. The two TV characters from the Laverne & Shirly show lived "downstairs" in a basement. Also, a "Catfish" which dwells on the lower part of the water is a low groove racer. A driver that is scraping the wall, they are so high, is a driver George & Weezy would be proud of. George & Weezy were the main characters in the TV show, The Jefferson's. They moved on up to a 'deluxe apartment in the sky'. …A "fester" is a playful term for someone who shows up, races, but never wins. Or…a Fester could be a race fan with only racing on their brain. A race fan with a deep love for racing could be called a 'racing fester'. You might call your buddy a fester just for fun, or you might be irritated by the "festers in the way". A large mass of racing folk is called a 'mess of festers'. …"Squirrel" - Like the darty nut eater, a squirrel is all over the place. - Also referred to in these parts as a Rolling Chicane or a Roving Roadblock are those about to be lapped but racing with the leader(s). …"Liberaced" - being hit from behind. …"Planting Corn" is a wheelie so high that the rear nerf digs into the track, leaving an indention in the dirt that would be perfect for placing seeds. …A 'Tuna' or 'Tuna Boat' is a driver or slow car. You'll also frequently hear a car referred to as a 'penalty box'. That is a car that has a history of being slow, or having consistent problems. …A driver racing near the wall or fence is on the 'warning track'. …'HammerDown!' is most often used to describe a fast driver that always appears to give his or her best effort even if it means reaching beyond what may be the perceived limit. …Any driver with his or her uniform still on twenty minutes after the feature race is a "Bettenhausen". The reference is to Gary Bettenhausen, a champion racer who apparently loved wearing his uniform.

...What it is. We made a deep, six hour and ten minute, drive to Roseburg, Oregon for my first ever visit to Douglas County Speedway. The 3/8's-mile paved track hosted the Casey Diemert Memorial race Saturday June 4th, 2005. Please understand I like all forms of racing. I prefer sprint cars on dirt, so keep that in mind when reading any review I give of a paved place. Rare is the pavement track that has the banking to truly excite me. The county fairgrounds track in Roseburg is a slightly banked track that made passing very difficult. That being said, the USAC Western Sprint Cars put on a pretty good show. The cool late afternoon temperatures were great, and the track is directly off of Interstate 5. The hills in the background make for a fantastic setting. The grandstand is huge. ...Kody Swanson impressed me both on and off the track. We chatted after qualifying, and again after the feature race that he won. From Kingsburg, CA., Swanson speaks well, and certainly has shown great ability. He finished seventh on Thanksgiving night 2004 in his USAC Western Sprint debut. He and his racer dad Mike decided to skip the Ford Focus division as an entry level for Kody. Instead he raced eight Grand American Modified events before jumping into sprints. He and little brother Tanner grew up at Madera cheering for their dad who drove Super Modifieds, and Late Models. Kody now leads the USAC Western Sprint Car point standings after three of 12 races. ...Brad Bumgarner ran well at Roseburg. The Chico driver has new black tee-shirts that have been a hit in early 2005. Brad is going to get a chance to race a midget soon. ...Michael Trimble had an impressive race Saturday night. He showed patience and was rewarded with a top-five finish. ...Shauna Hogg, fresh off of leading laps in the Little 500, was a heat race winner at Roseburg. ...All the drivers signed autographs in the stands after their heat races. ...Food and Lodging for the weekend June 3-5, 2005 - ...Drove to Redding, CA. from Rocklin on Friday night (actually Saturday from midnight to 3 am). I stayed at he Hilton Garden Inn in Redding which is very new, and very clean! I liked it alot. The room had a microwave and mini-frig. Saturday I stopped at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford, OR. to grab lunch to go from Edo, a Japanese fast food place. Sukiyaki Beef over rice was just okay. At the track, after a 3 hour and 40 minute ride from Redding, I had a "Sausage Dog" which was pretty good. ...I sampled some Umpqua Berry Ice Cream at the Speedway that was quite tasty. ...Too tired to get food after the races, I sold out to the frozen burrito and corn chips in the motel lobby pantry.

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