Positivity - By Bobby Gerould
...Add to the list below of original WoO tracks; State Fair Speedway - Sedalia, MO. ...I was curious about which tracks still putting on WoO races in 2005 were originally alligned the World of Outlaws all the way back in 1978 when the series first started. Here is what I dug up: Eldora Speedway, Rossburg, OH., Calistoga Speedway, Calistoga, CA., Kokomo Speedway, Kokomo, IN., Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, IA., Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA., Manzanita Speedway, Phoenix, AZ, and Bloomington Speedway, Bloomington, IN. ...Josh Wise won the USAC Earl's Fast Qualifier Championship in the Silver Crown division by claiming the pole Friday night during qualifying at the "Four Crown Nationals." Wise will receive $5,000 for his accomplishment. All of the Earls Champions will be honored at USAC's banquet in Indianapolis. ...Brian Clauson, of Noblesville, Ind., made a successful return to Eldora with a fifth-place finish in the sprint car portion of the Four Crown. Clauson flipped his car on the first lap of hot laps at a June race and was making his first start at the track since then. Clauson also finished eighth in the Four Crown midget feature
Blake Johnson tips that Tyler Walker will fill in for the injured Jac Haudenschild during the USAC Valvoline National Series sprint car race at the "Four Crown Nationals" this Friday and Saturday. Walker will drive the second Hoffman Auto Racing entry. The California native will team with Jerry Coons Jr. who will drive the primary HAR entry. Hoffman Auto Racing is currently only 43 points out of first place leading Tony Stewart Racing (No.21) in the National Sprint Car division owner's standings. HAR is seeking their ninth and their second consecutive National Sprint Car Owner's title. ...Robbie Ray won the Ford Focus Nationals which were held over the weekend in the Midwest. Livermore, CA's Chris Veach finished second to represent Northern California very well. ...Did you know that in the World of Outlaws points, the Knoxville Nationals, Gold Cup, Kings Royal, and other big races only offer 'show-up' points? No matter where you finish, all competitors get the same amount of points. Steve Kinser would clearly be leading regardless but many positions behind Steve would be lots different had the those HUGE races counted as much as a one night stand in Cottage Grove, Oregon does. ...While I'm griping a bit, I want to reiterate how much I despise red flag fuel stops. The fantastic WoO show at Calistoga was lucky to have a great final 14 laps after the momentum of an entertaining race was stripped by a red flag for methanol on lap 16. I also do not agree with having an 'open-red' on such a fuel stop. It should be fuel only. ...Speaking of fuel... There is no better time to go the extra mile for loyal race fans than right now. The gasoline prices are seriously affecting lives across the board. Money for everything is tighter, and the trickle down will continue to reach the front gates, concession stands, and after race T-shirt sales. In the last four years all Californian's utility bills have probably doubled. Ditto for gas. The point is - try to think about the fans, and always remember that racing at the highest levels cannot occur without the support of the race fan. Hopefully the group, that is forming in the shadows, that may replace or challenge the DIRT Motorsports owned World of Outlaws Sprint Series, will keep all of the above points in mind. ...Oh - and one more... This applies to USAC as well... Racing coverage on the Outdoor Channel leaves alot to be desired. The graphic hunting commercials need to be shelved during racing hours. I'm a fan of Roger Crockett, not Davey Crockett. The problem is a mass marketing issue. You hinder the development of an audience of anything other than rugged outdoor types for your racing series when Bambi is being gunned down by a guy in a camouflage suit in between heat races. My wife has a fit each time these commercials come on. My guess is that my wife isn't the only sensitive person that cringes at the spots that run each week during WoO TV coverage. Hopefully USAC will have the foresight to put a 'no graphic hunting spots' clause in their contract with regard to coverage of the 2006 Silver Crown Series.
...Between Calistoga, Chico, and Stockton a billion thoughts raced through my mind. Maybe I'll remember 15 of them for you today. …The Chico track surface was cut with a higher degree of banking. I haven't been there since Gold Cup 2004, and it was instantly visible that the 'high-scary' side was truly that. A ledge, or lip, as some call it, developed around each corner. It made the high groove a hard place to run consistent laps. Drivers might make eight of ten laps good - but the other two laps were runs off the track or over the edge. It was the same track for everyone but the guys that prefer the high groove may as well have thrown out their Chico notes. The track in 2005 was faster and narrower. The track record fell to Craig Dollansky with a hard-charging run on Thursday night. …Friday night the track took rubber like I've never seen before at Chico. The wind was howling all day and that it would 'rubber up' was an easy call when I left my garage an hour and twenty-five minutes away. I just didn't expect it to be as severe as it was. Scott Gerkin nailed the correct compound of right rear tire (Hoosier 20) and Steve Kinser protected his rubber like a champion in their Friday win. …Thanks to Gaye and Walt Carmichael for saving us some seats in the pit stands each night! …Donny Schatz was strong on his preliminary night, coming from the back after a spin. He finished fourth in a display of passing that was fun to watch. …Joey Saldana was real good on the final night. The Woodward #2 pilot moved forward in the 40-lap feature, earning a fourth. …The total Gold Cup purse was over $163,000. …Roger Crockett had his best career run in the Gold Cup. …Tim Shaffer was spectacular again at Chico. I love watching that guy mash. …Jason Meyers was exciting all weekend. The Clovis driver ran the high groove more often than not and had some close calls racing off turn four with cars that were trying to race up to the narrow groove on the front chute. I saw LeRoy Van Conett, Shane Carson, Ron Albright, Shirley Kears, Knoxville writer Kathy Bell, Bill McCroskey, Brian Healey, Bid Ed Wilbur, Ed Watson, Ron Horton, and Brad Doty taking in the action at Chico. …Impressions. Robert Ballou puts the HammerDown! The 16 year-old Rocklin High School student won his Gold Cup heat race with a powerful high-groove run. …I am not familiar with Dean Alexander but I thought his qualifying laps were worthy of praise. …Brandon Wimmer suffered a cage bender in qualifying Friday night. He walked away. …Willie Croft was among the handful of locals that made the A-Main Saturday night. …Dennis Moore Jr. returned to the cockpit as Morrie Williams brought out a second #0 car. The car was scored as #0K. Get it? …Shain Matthews ran a flawless lap on Friday to earn second quick-time at 11.401 seconds. …Kerry Madsen, the 2005 Knoxville track champ was a surprise runner at Chico in the Main #35. ...
…At Stockton I was happy for Nick Rescino Jr. in his 100 lap win but I was disappointed by the lackluster turnout at the gate. I thought the buzz was there for a strong crowd. The 800 that showed up were hardcore race fans but apparently the locals and casual fans stayed away, watching NFL opening Sunday. Michael Lewis won the midget feature with his trademark decisive moves in traffic. …Michael Trimble backed up his second place run of 15 days prior with another runner-up at Stockton 99. …Jason McCord tipped that he hopes to be back for USAC Western Sprint Car racing at Irwindale in October. The Anderson, IN. driver finished third at Stockton. …Tony Hunt scored quick-time again in the Rosen midget. Hunt was/is racing with a broken tailbone suffered in the throttle-sticking crash of August 27th. …Dan Gundo told us that his midget is a former championship car of Marc DeBeaumont's. …71 year-old Floyd Alvis made his first start of 2005 at Stockton. He may have received the loudest ovation during driver introductions. …Bobby Santos made more than a few impressive maneuvers in the Western Speed #67. In his first Stockton 99 run, the Franklin, MA driver showed the ability to hustle a car. …Garratt Boyden of Santa Cruz looked as racy as I've ever seen him drive on Sunday. …Ben Petter of Kirkland, WA can also obviously race well. In his two Stockton visits he has two top-fives. …"You race with squirrels, you get your nuts cracked." - Brad Bumgarner when asked what happened in a four car sprint tangle. …Johnny Anderson and his bride Brenda were gracing the Stockton stands as well as Cheryl Starr. …Schatz was a cool cat to come to race at Stockton. He added star power with the likes of champions Lewis, Hunt, Robby Flock, Alvis, Thomas Meseraull, Rescino, and Tim Barber. Also roaming the grounds were Jimmy Sills, and Sammy Swindell. Sammy accompanied his 16 year-old son Kevin who was driving one of three Western Speed Midgets. …Lady racers Audra Sasselli, and Jenna Frazier scored a one-two result in the companion Ford Focus feature.…Food and lodging for September 8-11, 2005. I drove up and back to each event. I stopped in Oroville on Thursday for some Teriyaki Express. My fried rice was nothing I'll go back for. …Friday - Kim and I stopped at Round Table Pizza in Marysville, CA. Our pie to go was excellent. Post-race we dined at the Chili Feed. The Chili was served with salad, and bread. I liked it! It was chilly in Chico and Kim had some good Hot Chocolate from the Chico pit concession. …Saturday I had fries at the track. Still very good. Chico's French fries are big steak fries, deep fried with seasoning salt. They have long been a favorite. …I was surprised to see Coke products being poured at Silver Dollar which has long been a Pepsi joint. …At Stockton Kim and I had Johnsonville Brats for lunch. Jenna Frazier's Ford Focus team was doing a promotion where they set up a grill and gave away the brats. Excellent!
A trip to Calistoga over Labor Day weekend is a tradition for me. Three days of World of Outlaws sprint car racing on the historic dirt half-mile is a treat for the sprint car fan. The setting is beautiful, and this year the weather ideal for the late summer season. It chilled off just enough to warrant a sweatshirt at night, and the daytime temps were reasonable - getting up to about 90 degrees. I kind of feel like we were overdue for a great race at `Stoga - and the reward was a Sunday night finale that will resonate for a good while as one of the best of the decade. Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser were the best all weekend, and the hope was that those two would battle for the win. That is exactly what happened. But the way it went down is what made it special. Schatz led the first half of the race - only to be caught by Kinser in traffic. A lap 16 red flag for fuel was the only downer - but as it turned out - it saved Schatz. During the 'open-red' for fuel - which seems ridiculous to begin with, Schatz was able to plug a right rear tire that was going down. The fixed flat and whatever adjustments each team made led to a fierce fight on the track with Kinser running low in turns one and two - and high at the other end. Schatz was taking the long way around - especially in turn one and two where the cushion was on the concrete wall. After repeated attempts, Schatz finally made his 'balls to the wall' effort pay off when he crossed under Kinser in turn four on lap 27 to inch in front. I witnessed a packed house crowd, standing and cheering loudly for the two talented racers. …Kinser added another paragraph or two to his legend with his Saturday performance. In the chapter titled 'Salvaging Races; the Key to Earning Points, and Winning Championships', Kinser will tell of driving from the back to fourth with a bent frame. The King of the Outlaws was leading the Saturday feature when he encountered a crash ahead of him in turn four. He slid his car sideways and tried to avoid the a tangle with lapped cars but the hole was too tight so he crashed into the side of two tangled cars. The tail tank was crunched with the rear nerf-bar sticking up like a cat's tail. The frame was bent badly enough that the car would be retired after the night of racing. But… Kinser, when many would have walked away - and deemed the car unraceable, directed the crew to fix the car as best as possible for a restart at the rear of the 20 plus remaining on the speedway. With a damaged sprinter, Kinser showed why he is a 19-time WoO champion, and 12-time winner of the Knoxville Nationals. He threw caution to the wind, and willed his #11 past 16 cars to finish fourth. He was so high in turn four, I though he was going to knock the wall down. It was the kind of performance where you go shake the guy's hand after the races. Eating a bowl of chili in his trailer about a half-hour after the Saturday feature, Kinser was smiling and tipped to us that the Sunday final would require a new frame under the Quaker State colors. He was rightfully proud. The perseverance of Kinser gave his team enough event points to lock into a front row starting spot for the dash on Sunday. …Jason Solwold impressed the heck out of me. The Mount Vernon Washington driver made his first Calistoga visit, and immediately looked comfy. He tried different lines, and never seemed content to just 'make laps'. He was hustling the car. Solwold is 30 years old and has two Skagit Speedway 360 titles to go with a 1998 NST Champion ship. …Tim Shaffer is a pleasure to watch. Call me a huge believer in Shaffer's ability. He attacks the track and repeatedly gives us the impression that he gets as much out of a car as any driver we know of. …Steve Kent earned the most points in the five Calistoga races in 2005. That gives the driver formerly known as 'The Sock' seven Scarborough Trophies. …Stephen Allard walked away from a nasty flip in turn four Friday night. The crash broke Stephen's frame in three separate areas (that I saw). …Brooke Tatnell again showed his toughness, racing with a broken right hand. He took a rock to the top of his right paw on Saturday night yet completed the 25-lap prelim, driving one handed. A trip to the crash house between Sat and Sunday racing proved the hand was indeed broken. Tatnell showed up at the track Sunday in a soft cast, heavily bandaged. He told us "If you have to break a hand the right one is the one to break because you drive more with your left hand on ovals." That's tough. …Shane Stewart wound up ninth on Sunday. It was the Oklahoma driver's first `Stoga run. …Schatz is going to run the sprint car portion of the Twin 100's at Stockton 99 Speedway Sunday September 11, 2005. The USAC Western event may also see a drive by Joey Saldana. …A cool race fan marched all the way up the Calistoga grandstand steps to hand me a variety of 1977 issues of Racing Wheels, and Western Racing News. I appreciate it very much. I was able to update a few things from `77 that I didn't know. …Joe Montana was in the `Stoga stands Sunday. He owns a Napa Valley home. …Food and Lodging for the weekend (Sept. 2-4, 2005). …Drove up Friday. Hit Popeye's in Dixon for some chicken strips and Cajun rice. Always good. …We stayed at the Calistoga Spa which is a nice place just off the main drag in downtown Calistoga. After the races Friday and Saturday we dined with our friends the Bannister's. Big Mike and Naomi cooked up some fabulous pork tenderloin, bar-b-q shrimp, chicken, salads and great desserts. For lunch I had the Palisades Market ham and proscuitto quiche which was excellent.