By Bill Foland
Mountain View, CA. 03/02/03
...It is with a heavy heart and big tears in my eyes that I must write this column in honor of "Boston" Bob Blair who lost his battle with an illness. Bob was one of the good guys in the sport, he would tell you what he felt at any time and didn't care what everybody else thought of him or his opinions. I learned so much reading his columns in Racing Wheels over the years and I just wish I could have had the chance to see him one more time. The last time I saw him was last year when he made his annual trek to California for the World Of Outlaws. I did get a chance to talk to him a few days ago as he was in the hospital and very sick but still had that great humor that we all came to know and love. I hope that the package that I sent him got to him and he was able to enjoy the contents. I know that Bob is up there with his hero Richie Evans and now he can go to any race he wants to and I can smile knowing that he did everything that he ever wanted to do in racing. I will never forget that shit eating grin that you always got from Bob. He was a true racer, a great columnist, a fan and a great friend. I will miss you Bob, my thoughts and prayers are with you always.
It has been a week now since I witnessed one of the most talked about races in the past several years. In case you don't know what I am talking about, it is the World Of Outlaws 2003 season opener and it took place at the King's Speedway in Hanford, California. For me to sit here and try to rehash what I saw would be difficult, because I am still trying to figure out how a "local" could spank the mighty World Of Outlaws like Tim Kaeding did.
When I say spank I mean he whipped them like Kerr dogs, took no prisoners in traffic and completely wiped out the entire field and passed two of the best Sprint Car drivers in history when he drove by both Steve and Mark Kinser to take home the $10,000 prize. Sure the money is good, but Tim Kaeding's first A-Main win against the WoO will always be special to him and his entire team. To me it just looked like Tim was in his own race and it didn't matter who was in front of him, they were soon to be behind him. If it weren't for a couple of yellow flags, Tim most likely would have lapped up to the top five. It was one of those times when you could hear the crowd over the loud racecars every time Tim made a move or went for another high side pass. The only other time I could remember a "local" spanking the field of WoO guys like that was a night at Chico during the 1991 Mini-Gold Cup when Tim's dad Brent took to the top side and came from 13th to beat the Outlaws on his home turf.
Tim and the entire Terry Cowan team headed by Rod Tiner should be very proud of what they accomplished because beating the outlaws in something that comes very rarely so savor this moment until the next opportunity comes around. In the past few years it has become tougher and tougher to beat the mighty outlaws with their lightweight cars and motors. But most likely the main reason is they race so often, it is their job and they do it for a living. For a local to beat the outlaws would be like a single A pitcher striking out Barry Bonds 4 times in one game, or a Freshman in college putting a 40 spot on Kobe Bryant or maybe even a High School running back rushing for 200 yards against the Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh. I think you get my point, these guys are professionals and they don't like getting beat like they got beat on that opening night.
With the new weight rule in effect, you might see it happening more often this year than any other year. Parity will become more evident during this season as the playing field has gotten much more even. I like the weight rule with the driver and it isn't just because I am a big guy but I think it truly brings the whole weight rule premise to the forefront. Look for Gary Wright, Lance Dewease, Fred Rahmer, P.J Chesson and even a local driver from Knoxville to take home some WoO glory this year. It is going to be very interesting to see how the season turns out.
This season in California is shaping up to be one of the best since the inception of the Golden State Series. With Brad Furr and Jason Meyers home once again from the WoO tour, throw in Tim Kaeding, Brent Kaeding and even Bud Kaeding making some shows in Mike Sala's 19. That is just scratching the surface as I haven't even mentioned Peter Murphy (McMillen 10), Knoxville transplant Dennis Moore Jr. (Williams O), Jonathan Allard back in the Wright One 35, Brian Coelho, Jason Statler, Kevin Pylant, Tommy Tarlton, Craig Stidham, Garret Ishii, Andy Forsberg (Fillipich 98x) and Jason York. Then you have the guys that will run some of the shows which is a very talented group with Roger Crockett, Blake Robertson, Chad Riolo, Stephan Allard, Steve Kent, Sean Becker, Billy Wallace, Mike Faria, Ricci Faria and Danny Faria Jr. I would put that group of local racer's against any other in the country. So if you have some time, try to make it out to a Golden State race this year, it should be very interesting and just about every driver that I just listed could win on any given night.
I hope to see you all out at the Season Opener next weekend in Chico for the Mini-Gold Cup. I for one cannot wait to see old friends and new ones this weekend. See ya at the races………. BF
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