Best of 2004 by Bobby Gerould
review of the best is just one man’s opinion.
Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa. ...The home of the Nationals is wide and racy.
Virtually every seat in the house is a good one. Concessions are reasonable, and the staff
is friendly and efficient. They have a great scoreboard, and announcers who
know what is going on.
Oval Nationals. Perris Auto Speedway—Perris, CA. ...The race could not have
been scripted to have anymore drama than it did. Cory Kruseman passed Josh
Ford on the last lap to win $30,000.
Kinser. Kinser won the World of Outlaws championship. The Bloomington,
Indiana driver also captured his 500th career WoO A-Main.
Most Entertaining Driver: Tim Kaeding. Tim is worth the price of admission
more often than any driver we see race on a regular basis.
Most talent untapped: Steven
Paden. The midget driver deserves more backing. He was the 2003 USAC Western
Midget champion. This season, he won four features; two at Bakersfield, and
one each each at Ventura, and Perris.
Best cushion abuser: Tyler
Brown. ...Rookie midget racer is on the gas!
Best track food: Knoxville
Raceway. I sure like those
Best venue to do other stuff: Phoenix, AZ. If you go to races at
Manzanita Speedway or Phoenix International Raceway, there will be no
shortage of stuff to do. Great shopping and clubbing can be found in
Scottsdale, and the weather is hard to beat. Arizona State University and all
it’s college fun lies in nearby Tempe. The NFL, NBA, PGA, MLB, NASCAR, and
IRL all have events (teams) in Phoenix.
Best setting: Calistoga
Speedway. Yes, I liked Skagit, and Evergreen in Alger and Monroe Washington
respectively but I’ll still take Calistoga. The half-mile lies in the heart
of the Napa Valley, and is surrounded by mountains, trees, and blue sky.
Ventura Raceway also gets love from us.
Hotel of the Year: Hyatt
Regency. Bellevue, WA.
Feel good race of the year: Sparky Howard’s first main event win at Calistoga
Speedway was a night that will not be soon forgotten. Sparky lives a short
distance from the speedway in Santa Rosa, CA. He has raced at Calistoga for
19 years but never won a feature event until he nabbed the Tribute to Gary
Patterson in May.
Best group of youthful racers: USAC Western States Sprint Car series. Michael
Trimble, Brad Bumgarner, Destiney Hays, Greg Anderson, Mike Murgoitio, Brian
McClish, Tim Barber.
Best pavement race of the year: The Copper World for the USAC National and Western
Midgets at PIR was a barnburner won by J.J. Yeley.
Best racing ambassador: Johnny
Rodriguez. The 2004 USAC Western Midget champion was a symbol of
professionalism all season. Veteran officials praise ‘J-Rod’ for his respect
of their job.
Best Production: The
MOPAR Twin 25’s at Irwindale. From the MOPAR Twins to an armored car,
promoter Steve Lewis pulls out all the stops.
Best interviewee: Jeff
Shepard. Shepard can explain anything in common sense terms. He is funny and
Most fun to be around: Kevin
Pylant. Good times abound when Pyle is hanging out.
Red-eye of the Year: Our
buddy BF crashed so hard at Watsonville in a BCRA midget race that he
like a monster
several days later.
Best underdog achievement: Davey Key qualifying for the Gold Cup A-Main. Key
gets around Chico very well, and his under-funded team was on point at the
Comeback of the year: Billy
Albini. Brent Kaeding’s right hand man was out with throat cancer. After
treatments and serious down time, Billy returned to close the season
Most enthusiastic drivers— Enthusiasm is a gift from God. HammerDown! loves
the raceday demeanor of these guys who love every aspect of their racing
experience. Brad Bumgarner, Bruce St. James,
Peter Murphy, Mike Benson, Brian Brown, Chuck Gurney Jr., Randy
Hannagan, Brandon Wimmer, Brian Paulus, Sparky Howard, Jim Skinner, Steve
Kent, Davey Key, Tony Hunt, Greg Anderson, Brooke Tatnell, Daryn Pittman,
Charlie Louden, Korey Lovell, David Robinson Jr., Terry McCarl, Dennis Moore
Jr., Rickie Gaunt, Danny Smith, Jason Statler, Jason York, Rob Johnson.