Positivity Archives: May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006

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We finally finished the 2002 HammerDown! Hundred listing of the 100 biggest sprint car, midget, or champ-dirt car races. Check it out!

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Yearbook Headlines - ...Yet another HammerDown! "work-in-progress" that we enjoy sharing with our readers. Please check back often, as each year will be updated further.

25 Greatest Sprint Car Drivers of All-time

40 Most Exciting Drivers in NARC History

...Al Drake sent us some interesting reading in the form of a old Fresno Bee story from 1961. He got the the article from Shannon Ragsdale-Lemm. The article was offering pre-race hype for a Kearny Bowl event. Check it out here.

Your Company LOGO could be here for as little as $25 per month.

Tracks - Check out our growing directory, including Baylands Raceway Park!

People down with HammerDown!

...Did you buy your Tony Stewart action figure yet? GI Joe, and Ken lookout.


The Low Down - Lots of weekend news and results from Friday, Saturday and Sunday August 27-29, 2004.

The low down - HammerDown! brings a days worth of news. Aug 19, 2004.

Banquet payoff is stout for World of Outlaws - HD Staff - Steve Kinser earned $200,000 as a driver / owner at the 2004 World of Outlaws banquet. The event was held in Las Vegas at the Harley Davidson Café . Check out the rest of the driver payoffs: 2nd Place ($50,000) Danny Lasoski in the Tony Stewart Motorsports #20 JD Byrider Eagle. 3rd Place ($35,000) Donny Schatz in the Schatz Motorsports #15 ParkerStore J&J. 4th Place ($32,500) Craig Dollansky in the Karavan Motorsports #7 VMAC Maxim. 5th Place ($30,000) Jason Meyers in the Elite Racing #14 Elite Landscaping Maxim. 6th Place ($27,500) Joey Saldana in the Larry Woodward #2 Volcano Joe’s Coffee Maxim. 7th Place ($25,000) Kraig Kinser in the Steve Kinser Racing #11K Delco-Remy Maxim. 8th Place ($22,500) Daryn Pittman in the Donnie Woodburn #21 Sherdon Motorsports J&J. 9th Place ($21,000) Tim Shaffer in the Lonny Parsons #6 Casey’s General Store Maxim. 10th Place ($20,000) Jason Sides in the Sides Motorsports #7s Sides Motorsports Maxim. 11th Place ($12,500) Brian Paulus in the P&P Motorsports #28 Arnold Transportation Maxim. 12th Place ($10,000) Paul McMahan in the David Helm #11H Selma Shell Maxim.

...Alan Messick has some humorous symbols that no one would want to see while racing.

Ford and Esslinger join forces to address growing cost of midget racing - March 17, 2006 – Two of the most successful and longest-running USAC series engine manufacturers, Ford Racing and Esslinger Engineering, Inc., of El Monte, Calif., have joined forces to further enhance the value and performance of the only OEM production-based USAC Midget engine currently competing in the series. The new engine, badged the Esslinger-Ford, will cost $27,500 for the dirt engine and $28,500 for the pavement engine, thousands of dollars less than other OEM-supported Midget engines currently available to competitors. (Read it all)

+ Positivity +

by Bobby Gerould (Notes from around the open-wheel world)

Everyone at Kaeding Performance would like to remind all the Racers from Coast to Coast, Australia and New Zealand that the Kaeding Performance/San Jose Swap Meet is coming up on December 9th. The 17th Annual Racing Swap Meet will be held in the same San Jose Fairgrounds Parking lot on Tully Road. There are still spots available so call BF @ (408)371-3031 to reserve your spot at the biggest Swap Meet on the West Coast. Gates will open at 6:00 a.m. then immediately following everyone is welcome to the Open House at the new Kaeding Performance building from Noon to 6 p.m.

...The latest transfers in the 'Baddest Car' Poll are; the Henderson #7n (2002), the Steve Smith Black Bandit #19 (1977), the Weikert Livestock #29 (1984), and the Federal Express #91 (1979-80). ...All cars are pictured below. ...We hear that Destiney Hays plans to run Turkey Night. NASCAR's Casey Mears will take to a darty midget as teammate to Tony Hunt on Thanksgiving. Winged dirt sprint car ace, Jason Meyers, will run a pavement sprinter (his own) on Thursday at Irwindale. ...The 2007 Short Track Nationals, it was announced, will pay $20,000 to win, and $2,000 to all A-Main starters. The I-30 Speedway event is the pride of Little Rock, AR. ...Josh Wise of Riverside, CA. will run stock cars in 2007 for Michael Waltrip's team. Score another driver advancement for USAC, and the Belleville Midget Nationals.

Steve Smith's "Black Bandit" from 1977 - scanned from the 1977 Outlaw Annual.

The Federal Express #91 - scanned from the 1980 Gold Cup program.

The Henderson #7n from 2002 (John's Racing Photos)

The Weikert's Livestock #29 was the car to beat in 1984

The 13th annual Trophy Cup was the place to be this past weekend. Held at the wonderfully challenging Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, CA. - the event is one of the more interesting races held yearly in the United States. The Thunderbowl is a 1/3-mile high banked clay track with tight turns, and a predictably thick cushion. Almost every race I've seen at the track has been won by the guy who rides the rim the best. Saturday night that man was Jac Haudenschild. 'Haud' stuck `er to the top like only he and handful of others are capable of. He reminded me why I love sprint car racing with his brave moves with a razor thin margin for error. The previous night, Haudenschild was leading the race when he jumped the cushion in turn one and flipped the Rick Wright #35. The team led by Dean "Bonzai" Bruns put together another car for the Saturday show. Of Friday's flip - Haudenschild told HammerDown! that "I passed Tim (Kaeding) and I knew he was gonna get his elbows up - so I had to keep after it - and then we jumped the cushion there." ...Tim Kaeding wound up taking home the winner's share of the money which was $15,000 in a $90,000 overall purse. Kaeding was driving Rodney Tiner's #83. Greg Yanazzo, sponsor and crew member for Kaeding, won the $1500 top prize in the 'cow-pie bingo'. (Don't ask). ...Peter Murphy filled in for Tommy Tarlton - who was not feeling well. Murphy ended up tenth in the final Trophy Cup points. ...Jason Meyers, Ronnie Day and John "Sparky" Pate had a huge cheering section at Tulare. The Elite Racing Team should be a model for marketing at this level. ...I was impressed by James Sweeney, a rookie that showed speed in his first Thunderbowl experience. The 16 year-old was the Placerville Speedway Rookie of the Year this season. ...Among those that suffered hard flips this weekend were Steve Kent, Jon Allard, Brad Sweet and Brent Kaeding. BK bounced back from his Friday heat race crash to earn a top-ten in the final points. Kent crashed very hard in turn two during Saturday's feature. He walked away but I'm sure he is sore this week. ...It was good to see Burt Foland Jr. racing a winged sprint car. He raced five times at Petaluma this year but I haven't seen a race at the 'Luma in ages. ...Joey Magaruh is another California racer that I wish I could see in action more often. I thought he was very good Saturday night at Tulare. ...I want to applaud the efforts of Northern drivers who made the deep tow to Tulare. It is fantastic that Colby Wiesz, Korey Lovell, Jim Richardson, Brett Miller, Tyler Spath, Roger Crockett, Stephen Allard, Mike Henry, Seth Bergman, Scott Kinney, Ricky Fauver, Henry Van Dam, Adam Main, Brock Lemley, Mike Monahan, Mark Hall, Kyle Hirst, Rob Held, Johnny Gray, Danny Horner, and Mike Benson were part of the huge 73 driver field. ...I heard unsolicited good things about the racetrack in Quincy, CA. Improvements have been made since the last time I visited. Richardson is among those helping the staff up there. ...In Pennsylvania, Fred Rahmer is going to be a car-owner with himself as driver in 2007. ...On the World of Outlaws circuit, Ricky Warner, the Crew Chief on Donny Schatz's #15 this season, is said to be moving to Kasey Kahne's #9 WoO team in 2007. The move allows Warner to be closer to family in North Carolina. ...We hear that Kahne will field two USAC National Midget and Sprint Car teams next season. Backed by MOPAR, the leading candidates as drivers are youngsters Kevin Swindell, and Brady Bacon.

The latest transfers in the 'Baddest Car Poll" are Steve Kinser's #11 from 2003, and Bubby Jones' Gas Chem #66.

Bubby Jones - scanned from an old ASCOT program. (Mike Arthur photo)

Steve Kinser from 2003

Ted Johnson - …A generation-plus, and a considerable distance separated us so it's not like I knew Ted Johnson very well. I met him during the first WoO season in 1978 when he came west for events in California. My dad (Gary Gerould) was track announcer and publicist for the Padjen's at West Capital Raceway as well as a free-lance announcer at other WoO tracks such as ASCOT, San Jose, Santa Maria and Manzanita. Dad talked with Ted quite a bit. I knew at a young age that "TJ" - as he was known, was real fan of sprint car racing. He loved it. …As an adult, I spoke in a series of very brief conversations over the years with Ted. I interviewed him a handful of times but I knew more about the legend of Ted than I knew about the real Ted. I would see him at WoO races at the TV compound. I remember one stretch where it rained at two or three TV races in a row - and Ted would say to me, "Gerould - did you bring this weather? I know it's not me 'cause I'm livin' right." ...Ted liked my wife Kim and he would always hug her and smile. …One season it was 'Uncle Ted' that saved me from the chopping block of the TNN TV suits. They wanted one of their NASCAR affiliated on-air reporters to replace me as TV pit reporter on WoO telecasts. Ted stood up for me, as the story goes, and I was able to stick around. I am forever grateful. …I admired his ability to dream something up and have it flourish. It took many hours, and many miles traveled to make the World of Outlaws into what it is. At the end of the day - Ted Johnson elevated the sport I love. He gave me a chance to work in an arena I continue to enjoy today. He had the vision and guts to expect more from sprint car racing than what was the standard. What Ted was - was a unique man that lived his dream. I respect that.

...Heats Six and Seven in the baddest car poll produced the following transfers: Karl Kinser #11 from 1994, Bob Hampshire #63 (Jack Hewitt era), Speedway Motors #4x (1978), and Steve Kinser #11 1998. The photos of each car are below...

(Jim Fisher photo)

(Jim Fisher photo)

Tulare/Visalia (CA.) was the spot over the weekend (October 12-16, 2006). We took in the National Sprint Tour's two-day event at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, CA. The Friday show was rained out after about four flights of hot-laps. I love the Thunderbowl! As a fan - the track is simply my favorite in California. It has high banks, good clay, and enough size (1/3-mile) to let a sprint car be a sprint car. From the first moments of hot-laps on Friday I was reminded why I dig the place so much. Jon Allard was abusing the cushion in a manner that made me shake my head. HammerDown! would be an understatement. However - just as we thought we might sneak the show in - the rain came down in a flurry and dashed any hopes. Rainouts are sometimes dangerous when the party starts too early. We heard tales the next morning of a few heavily damaged bodies. One unnamed crewman, already on the 45-day DL, said there was nothing salvageable of himself after crashing 'out of the park with the motor wide open'. …In the Visalia Holiday Inn parking lot on Friday the 13th there was talk of tarantulas, while a driver with a paint-gun roamed the damp lot 'lighting up' innocent bystanders with his red laser scope. Otherwise it was an "off the record" night. ...Many thanks to Steven Gomez for his hospitality. …Saturday brought sunshine preceding a wild night at the track. Flip victims abounded. Allard had the cage on his machine crack but hold up fine otherwise in a jarring double flip with Dean Jacobs to start their heat race. The wicked crash wiped out both cars. Jacobs returned in a spare Casey's General Store #6 but Allard was done for the night. That sucked for Jon because he was battling Ronnie Day for the $4,500 winner's share of the Thunderbowl 410 championship. With Allard out - Day leapfrogged - and won the money. …Brandon Wimmer was super fast in Davey Key's #15. The Fairmount, IN. driver is someone that should have a regular ride. He is too fast not to. …Brad Sweet was impressive in the McMillen #10 - running third in Saturday's feature. Sweet is looking forward to the Western World at Manzanita in a couple weeks. He will drive for Jack Yeley in the USAC/CRA, USAC National Sprint Car big show. …Tim Kaeding was spectacular as usual with a drive from 13th to win the 40-lap feature. TK's 15 wins on the National Sprint Tour in 2006 came in just 38 events. Those numbers earned Mike Cool the Crew Chief of the Year Award at the NST banquet Sunday night. The shindig at the Holiday Inn in Visalia was attended by nearly 200 folks associated with the series. Tyler Swank, crew chief for Shane Stewart, stole the show with his guest presentation of fifth place in the NST points to Jason Solwold. Swank had the audience in stitches with his irreverent ramblings that included a shout out to Davey Whitworth for his dapper banquet attire. Swank said the notoriously scruffy Whitworth "looked like a pissed off Mr. Rogers". …The banquet offered no real breaking news. There was talk of continuing the NST in 2007, and a real sense of camaraderie between the assembled racers. …Steve Kinser, while talking of Tim Kaeding behind the wheel, said "he can make your jaw drop". …Dawne Pender, CO-owner of Brian Paulus' #28 - said she would try to be back again next season. …Paul McMahan reports he is set to run the 2007 season for Tony Stewart in the #20 car. …Shane Stewart is said to be the new shoe for Guy Forbrook. The Rudeen Racing Team #26 is slowing things down next season, and will not have a car on the National tour. …Andy Forsberg won a career high 12 races in 2006. He says he will race the Perris Oval Nationals on the first weekend of November rather than the Trophy Cup. Likewise, Danny Faria Jr. will do the same. ...Mark Dobmeier is the super-sub that filled in for Brooke Tatnell and won the World of Outlaws event at Wilmont, WI. ...Among the 65 qualifiers at Chico's Spec Sprint Nationals were the names Jimmy Sills, Darrell Hanestad, Damion Gardner, Jason York, and Nick Green. ...Terry Shank Jr. won both nights.

...The transfers from Heat Five in the 'Baddest Car' Poll were the Bailey Brothers #01 from 1976 (below), and the Joe Harz #88 from 2004 (also below).

Davey Pombo was the SCRA non-wing 360 feature winner this weekend at Hanford. ...Danny Sheridan took the USAC-CRA feature win at Perris Saturday. ...Andy Forsberg won the Fall Nationals Saturday night at Chico. Kyle Hirst won the second preliminary feature which ran on Saturday evening after rains on Friday night postponed the deal. ...The transfers from Heat Four of the 'baddest car poll' are the Bailey Brothers #01 (1982) ...Pictured below, and Karl Kinser's #11 from late 1986 - the first 'down-tube' Gambler car. (Also pictured below)

Shane Stewart raced a USAC Western Midget at Ventura last Saturday (September 30, 2006). Sources tell us Stewart was running one of the new Toyota midget engines. Garrett Hansen won the feature. He leads the tough USAC Western Midget series with four 2006 wins.

...The transfers from Heat Three of the 'baddest car poll' are Karl Kinser's #11 (1990), and Alex Morales #2 (1991). The cars are below in photo form. Jim Fisher snapped the two pics.

Jesse Hockett is flying in to run Mark Flachman's #55 at Chico's Fall Nationals. ...Jeff Shepard drove the Rush Racing #8 to a third place run at Williams Grove. "The Jet" is filling in for Brooke Tatnell who went home to Australia to be with his father George who is battling Cancer. ...The leading feature winner at Williams Grove in 2006 is Doug Esh. ...Word is that Jason Leffler is coming to Chico to run a winged 360 sprint car at the Fall Nationals. That should be fun to see! ...Track records fell at Shasta Raceway Park Saturday night with Mike Murgoitio (sprint car) and Ryan Kaplan (midget) establishing new single lap records at the 3/8's-mile paved oval. Both pilots went on to score feature wins as well. ...Kody Swanson – the 2005 USAC Western Sprint Car Champion recently completed two test sessions in General Motors’ driver development search. Swanson, 18, from Kingsburg, CA said half of test runs were conducted in North Carolina in a stock car, while the other half were done in a dirt late model at North Georgia Speedway. Swanson was praised for his quick learning curve but as of Saturday night he wasn’t sure if he would be part of the next phase of testing in Nashville. "I made some great connections and at least now they know my name", he said. ...Madera Speedway is the latest California race track to have an uncertain future. Read the Fresno Bee story here.

...Scott Benic has taken over the maintenance duties for the RW Motorsports Silver Crown car. The car is now being housed at his Benic Enterprises shop in Fairmount, Indiana. The HG Engines and Testing powered Beast chassis was driven by Mat Neely to a fifth place finish at the DuQuoin State Fair. "I have a great feeling about this weekend, with the brand new sprint car and the confidence I have in Benic preparing the RW Motorsports car," explained Neely to Marie Buffenbarger from the Benic Enterprises shop. ...Kraig Kinser is scheduled to compete in the NST race Tuesday night at Lincoln Park in Putnamville, IN. ...Nick Green won his first dirt sprint car race at Chowchilla, CA. over the weekend. Driving Brian Sperry's spec sprint, Green rode the cushion to the win. The third-generation racer is actively seeking winged sprint car rides for some of the late season action. Green previously scored feature wins in sprint cars on pavement at Altamont in events sanctioned by both CASA, and USAC. ...Heat two of our "baddest car" poll had two transfers in Karl Kinser's #5m (1996), and Kenny Woodruff's #21 (circa 1978).

The Kenny Woodruff #21 won the first World of Outlaws race with Jimmy Boyd at the wheel. Johnny Anderson drove it to Calistoga Classic WoO glory later that same year.

Karl Kinser's #5m (1996) looked like this.

Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale, California was the destination this past weekend (Sept. 15-16, 2006). USAC Western Midgets and Ford Focus Midgets were part of a six division card Saturday night. If I ever promote races you won't see me throwing a six-division race. Ever. I get so bored when the other cars are on the track I often question why I am at the track at all. Thankfully the midgets at Bakersfield usually overpower my negative thoughts simply because they are so darn fun to watch. I've said it a million times (okay - at least seven times) - that the midgets are a perfect fit for Bakersfield Speedway. The track is fast, high-banked, plenty wide (for midgets), and full of good clay. You can quickly separate the best racers from the rest of field because the track is so challenging. Rookie Alfred Galedrige said he couldn't believe how busy he was in the cockpit. The track always has a deep cushion, and usually just enough ripples, and ridges to keep the cars jumping. Maybe someday there will be a USAC National Midget race or special event at the track that will get some of you sprint car heads out to Oildale. ...Galedrige, (16), looked sharp in his heat race with a rim-riding win. Likewise, SCRA top-runner, Steven Williams, (23), was impressive in his Bakersfield Speedway debut. ...Matt Mitchell is presently the favorite for 'best cushion abuser' in 2006. His style is HammerDown! to the fifth power. ...Hall of Famer Jimmy Sills was in the pits helping Galedrige at Bakersfield.

...The first heat in our "Baddest Car" poll had two transfers to the Final 30. They were: Karl Kinser's MOPAR #5m (1999), and the OFIXCO #21- (80's).

The Irwindale Speedway USAC race scheduled for October 14th has been cancelled. Irwindale Speedway officials told USAC that "noise" was the main reason for the cancellation. All cars hoping to compete in the Turkey night sprint car and midget races will have to be 'mufflered up' in a big way. It seems clear with the cancellation that a zero tolerance policy is going to be in effect on Thanksgiving.

...The Gold Cup Race of Champions is an institution in Northern California. There is no bigger race to the natives from Sacramento to Chico and all points in between. 53 of them have now been contested following this past weekend's World of Outlaws sanctioned event at Silver Dollar Speedway. We took in all three nights of action and came away with the following thoughts and notes. ...The Donny Schatz fire on Thursday night was among the most frightening things I've ever seen at a sprint car race. His fuel cell was punctured and it ignited - sending flames higher than the scoreboard on the back chute. Brent Kaeding got to Schatz just ahead of the fire crew. With an extinguisher in hand - BK - always thinking on his feet - was the first to actually douse the burning Schatz. Donny's Dad, Danny wondered aloud to us Friday what the family could do to ever repay Kaeding. It was that kind of deal. So many factors kept this from becoming the worst tragedy in Gold Cup history, beginning with the fact that Schatz's flipping car landed upright. That made it easier for Schatz to unbuckle and get out of his car. Thankfully, Schatz never lost consciousness. As it was, Donny did suffer burns but anyone who saw the crash and fire as it unfolded could only say that Schatz was very lucky to be able to race again two nights later. ...On Saturday Schatz transferred from the D-main to the C-Main but came up one spot short of a B-Main berth. He used a provisional to start the A-Main and roared past 17 cars from 25th to eighth. You can't measure the heart Donny Schatz showed this weekend. ...The racing was very close most of the weekend. I was dazzled by the precision moves of many. Saturday night winner Daryn Pittman made one razor-thin slice of two lapped cars in turn three late in the feature that was as good a pass as you will ever see. Craig Dollansky's traffic driving on Thursday was special too. He put the car wherever it needed to be and executed a rare steal of Danny Lasoski's money. Lasoski had taken the lead from Dollansky and looked to be on his way to a prelim win until Dollansky rebounded with counter moves. ...It seemed like the entire USAC Western contingent was watching the Chico races live. We saw Tony Hunt, Mike Murgoitio, Ryan Kaplan, Jenna Frazier, and Bradley Galedrige at one point or another in the pits. ...Justin Henderson, in my mind, separated himself from some of the other first-time WoO travelers with a strong run at Chico. ...Bud Kaeding was amazingly good in a second Kaeding Performance Maxim. Bud - who doesn't have but a handful of winged starts in the last five years, started 18th and finished sixth. He told us post race that he hopes to race winged sprint cars a bunch more in the near future. He also may get a shot at some dirt late-model racing. ...Joey Saldana said he wants to win the Racer's Racing Series points standings this year. He knows that only two more WoO shows are on the points schedule though. The Williams Grove National Open and the Las Vegas race in October remain. Saldana said he would consider racing the Trophy Cup at Tulare if need be to gain some more points. ...I am happy that Kasey Kahne made 'the chase' but I don't care for the concept that limits NASCAR's championship options to ten teams. ...The track itself at Chico was as good on Saturday night as I can remember. It was hard packed yet moist enough to be fast. It provided a perfect showcase for the 850-plus horsepower sprinters. ...Maybe his result wasn't what he hoped for but Sean Becker impressed me this weekend with his blend of aggressiveness and skill. ...Kudos to Billy Wallace - who with the help of tuner Larry Shelton put the #83v car into the Gold Cup A-Main. Wallace earned his first RRS points with a top-15 finish. ...Jac Haudenschild is so much fun to watch race. 'Haud' was as always HammerDown! The 48 year-old from Ohio still runs the rim at Chico in a fashion that is uniquely his own. He seemingly gets a better drive off the turns than others do at Silver Dollar. ...Jason Solwold was excellent on Friday in scoring a prelim win. It was his first WoO victory. We'll predict it will be far from his last. ...Ted Johnson, the founder of the World of Outlaws, made the trip to Chico despite another battle with lung cancer. "TJ" smiled and shook my hand from inside his town car parked in the infield. ...Jason York is seeking a ride for 2007. York says he is selling his winged sprint car, truck, and trailer. He has a ride stationed in Southern California, and he will continue to run at Perris when his schedule allows. ...Dan Menne is a better racer than I knew he was. Menne was in the mix all weekend at Chico.

...Andy Forsberg should be proud of his performance Thursday. The 2006 SDS champion finished third behind Dollansky, and Lasoski. ...Some of the former racers we spotted at Chico included Joe Hill, Johnny Tiner, Mitch Sue, Ron Horton, Tres Gurney, Ed Watson, Jerry Ponzo, Ed Wilbur, Chuck Gurney, Greg Yanazzo, Richard Forsberg, Jimmy Sills, Shane Carson, Brad Doty, Brian Crockett, Steve Scott, and Shane Scott. ...Sills is now competing for fun in a Moto-X series that uses older bikes. He races with Mike Zine - a name some of the West Capital Raceway fans might remember. Speaking of WCR, make sure to support Brenda & Johnny Anderson's big vintage race at Roseville this weekend. Parnelli Jones is the headliner amongst a HUGE field of super-modifieds, midgets, sprint cars, and big cars. The great Kenny Takeuchi will be announcing the event.

...The World of Outlaws announced they have a deal with ESPN2 for some TV coverage in 2007. This can be a really good thing if the right announcers, and producers are hired to represent the sport. Sprint car racing ITSELF is extreme. The sport doesn't need overbearing personalities stirring up stuff for the sake of stirring up stuff. It is my opinion that, by nature, shit will happen and all ESPN2 needs to do is cover it as professionally and as skillfully as possible. The 2007 WoO TV deal on ESPN2, as I understand it, is a time-buy by the World of Outlaws. In other words they are paying to be on ESPN2. There are eight one-hour shows scheduled (eight hours total programming). I am happy that sprint car racing will have a chance to reach such a broad audience.

We were able to see five races in four nights in the span from Saturday (Sept. 2) through Tuesday (Sept. 5). The stops were Calistoga, Madera, and Hanford - all in California. Of course the notebook is overflowing with tidbits of info, and random thoughts. ...Dave Yingst and Rob Hart are the wrenches on Craig Dollansky's car right now. The 'Crowd Pleaser', said his car was "so perfect" at Calistoga that he felt he HAD to win the race. He did just that. As good as Dollansky was at Chico in 2005, I'd have to list him among the two or three favorites headed into this weekend's Gold Cup. ...The World of Outlaws have adopted some rules in 2006 that I like. They told all racers to be staged for their heat by the time the checkered flag of the prior heat falls. So simple. So common sense - yet seldom executed at the majority of races I've been to in my life. ...They have also added a second chalk line in turn four to create a box where the front row cars must be lined up together to get a green flag start. ...Danny Lasoski is in a groove right now. The Dude won Saturday's race at `Stoga although he was challenged by Paul McMahan on the final 'green-white-checkered' restart. McMahan clearly threw caution to the wind by ripping the high-side, and it took Lasoski slamming the door shut off turn four as they hit the white flag to win it for the Roth #83. I loved seeing McMahan give the effort that made the finish of the race suspenseful. Too many times we see boring last two lap efforts from drivers willing to settle for second (usually because of points). ...Randy Hannagan made me laugh on Sunday at Calistoga. He was the designated T-shirt shooter and he used a slingshot to 'ham it up' with the crowd. He was having so much fun I couldn't help but smile. Johnny Gibson and I were announcing and we were both waiting for a chance to have some wordplay fun with Hannagan's new sponsor Penthouse Magazine. The opportunity to say "Hannagan is spreading out a big lead" never materialized. ...McMahan told us he hasn't been to his Nashville home since late May. He hasn't seen his kids since the end of the Knoxville Nationals (three weeks ago). ...Jac Haudenschild should be extra strong at Chico this year. Rodney Tiner and Dean 'Bonzai' Bruns share crew duties on the Rick Wright #35. Tiner has always had fast setups for Chico, and Haud is really good there too. The Wild Child owns two Gold Cup wins. ...Terry McCarl fought engine woes most of the Calistoga weekend but he looked fast when the car cooperated. I've always enjoyed talking to McCarl who spent time in California in the early nineties. He was a San Jose Speedway regular. ...Jason Statler won the 2006 Calistoga Speedway points championship. ...Becca Anderson set quick-time Sunday at Calistoga. It was her first visit to the big half-mile dirt track. ...Jason Martin impressed me with his willingness to hold the pedal down. ...A veteran crew chief that I respect told me that Justin Henderson is a guy to keep an eye on. The feeling is that once Henderson sees the World of Outlaws tracks a few times - he will become a threat to run up front. ...We missed the Altamont USAC (BCRA & CASA) races Saturday but we were not shocked when we heard that Kody Swanson won the midget feature. It was only his second midget race. In his first race he broke the track record at the Tracy, CA half-mile. ...Nick Green dominated the sprint car feature leading every lap for his first USAC win. Nick is a great kid and I think we will hear his name lots in the near future. ...Monday it was off to Madera for a big USAC Western show. The midgets put on a great race ultimately won by Bobby Grewohl. He was strong in holding back Ryan Kaplan and Evan Margesen. ...Jerome Rodela had to jump into an unfamiliar car Monday following a deal at Altamont Saturday. I am told, although I didn't see it, that Rodela was the innocent victim in the car crushing Altamont crash. Rodela is the USAC Western points leader, defending his 2005 championship. ...Alfred Galedrige was fast again. ...The Ford Focus cars at Madera are racier than at most tracks. The size of the Madera Speedway paved facility seems to really test the Focus drivers. Laura Hayes won the Ford Focus feature with an impressive performance. ...Bradley Galedrige dominated the sprint car race lapping up to sixth place. ...Tuesday's track was Kings Speedway for the National Sprint Tour. The Elite Promotions staff deserves high praise for putting on a successful promotion with relatively short notice. The place had temporary 'fair-style' concession stands, and an air-conditioned bathroom trailer. Quality Sound brought out their boomin' system, and The Umbrella Girls looked stunning. ...It was 'Hanford-hot' Tuesday. The track changed since I was last there at the end of the 2004 season. The turns were not as wide (deep) or as high banked. The front chute was noticeably more narrow. Behind Lasoski - who ran off - there was a great battle for second between Jason Solwold, and Stevie Smith. Solwold ended up earning the runner-up. Smith, in my opinion, is a big addition to the NST drivers roster. He is a skilled racer. ...Kerry Madsen did a good job in scoring fifth place finish despite his limited laps at Kings Speedway. ...Travis Rilat was the show in the B-Main. In his first Hanford try - he rode the rim to earn a transfer spot from deep in the pack. ...Blake Robertson set quick-time in his own BR MotorSports car. ...Tommy Tarlton has a new sponsor in Fresno First Bank. ...I spent time prepping for announcing at Hanford by attempting to compile a "All-Time Winner's List" for Kings Speedway. Here are the results (updated following Tuesday's race.) ... #1 Brent Kaeding (45). #2 Steve Kent (20). #3 Ronnie Day (17). #4 Ricci Faria (15), #4 Jimmy Sills (15). #6 Danny Sheridan (12), #6 Jerome Warmerdam (12). #8 Monte Faccinto (11). #9 Tim Kaeding (9). #10 Chuck Miller (8), #10 Tommy Tarlton (8). #12 Ron Shuman (7), #12 Steve Kinser (7). #14 Luke Babereia (6), #14 Billy Boat (6), #14 Bud Kaeding (6), #14 Gene Manhire (6), #14 Davey Pombo (6), #14 Blake Robertson (6). #20 Robby Flock (5), #20 Tim Green (5), #20 Kevin Pylant (5), #20 Craig Stidham (5), #20 Jeff Swindell (5). #24 Sammy Swindell (4), #24 Rip Williams (4), #24 Danny Lasoski (4).

...The World of Outlaws show at Calistoga was a model of efficiency with both nights ending before 9:30 PM. Kudos to all involved. ...Jeremy Campbell was very impressive in his first `Stoga run. On Sunday night he finished fifth after starting in the rear.

Yahoo!! The Outlaws are coming! I always get excited as the time approaches for the Harvest Classic at Calistoga and the Gold Cup at Chico. This year, the NST will also throw in a date at Hanford, a track that seems to produce exciting racing. The Calistoga dates remain over the Labor Day weekend. This year it is a two-night affair on Saturday and Sunday. It will be fun to see who shows up for the World of Outlaws sanctioned event that was won last year by Donny Schatz. The NST guys have the weekend off so hopefully many of them will run `Stoga. ...We made a quick trip to Irwindale for the USAC Western Sprint Cars and Ford Focus Midgets on Saturday night (Aug. 26, 2006). Tony Hunt put a 'smack-down' on the field, lapping up to fifth on the fast half-mile. Hunt's 2006 success has been remarkable. He now owns 60% of the wins in the series. ...Bradley Galedrige looked as good as I've seen him look in a sprint car this year. He raced from eleventh to third in the feature. ...Audra Sasselli was back in the Ford Focus ranks for the first time since a traffic accident sidelined her for two-thirds of the season. Sasselli hadn't raced since the Chili Bowl in January but that didn't keep her from being competitive. She wound up as the runner-up in the feature to Tim Skoglund.

Be sure to support the National Sprint Tour event at Kings Speedway in Hanford, CA - September 5th, 2006. While you are at it - you should take in the USAC Western races at Madera on Monday September 4th as well. ...Dave Darland is such a racer's racer! He was in competition at both the Springfield, IL Silver Crown race and the Lakeside Sprint Bandits deal on Saturday. He finished fifth in the sprint car race in Kansas City, KS, and he was 14th in the Silver Crown race.

Australian sprint car racer Veronica McCann has lined up a ride with Brian Stewart. She will run some laps in the series that feeds Indy Car style racing. Here is a pic from McCann's 'fitting' at Kentucky...

Big ups to Robert Ballou for his win in Sprint Bandit competition at Nebraska Raceway Park. The former I-80 Speedway is a big, wicked fast, place that took Kevin Gobrecht from us in a hard, yet flukey crash a few years back. Ballou had tuning help from Duke McMillen and Heavy D. The win was impressive on several levels. It was Ballou's first run at the track, and only his fourth non-wing sprint car race ever. The 17 year-old from Rocklin, CA. is already the youngest winner in the history of the Golden State Challenge. ...Jason Statler won the Civil War 360 sprint car event at Calistoga August 12, 2006. It was Statler's first win at the historic half-mile. He now leads the Calistoga track points. ...We welcome the Sprint Car and Midget Classic as new advertisers on HammerDownUSA.com. The December race is tied to the PRI Show in Orlando, Florida. Tony Stewart is scheduled to speak at the event. As always - we encourage you to support those that support us.

...Kim and I made a quick getaway before her summer is over (She is a teacher that starts school next week). Quite a bit went down in the five days we were away. Here is what the e-mail inbox told us... Joey Saldana won again at Eldora. Kasey Kahne was present making it special for Joey who has performed well when his car-owner is in the house. (Chris Dolack photo below)

Kahne - himself drove in Monday nights Front Row Challenge at Oskaloosa. Kasey nabbed a fourth place finish in a race won by Kenny Jacobs.

...Brett Miller, a 17 year-old from Chico won the Friday night winged sprint car feature at Silver Dollar Speedway. ...Greg DeCaires won the Civil War show at Placerville Saturday night. The defending series champion leads the winged 360's to Calistoga this Saturday night (August 12, 2006). Andy Forsberg ran second at the last Calistoga race. He said, "I've won championships and some races that are pretty special to me, but a win a Calistoga versus a championship when it comes to my career, that's pretty tough to compare because a win there would be pretty special to me. I remember watching my dad race there for so many years, it would definitely rank pretty high for me."

...Rich Vleck tips that Carl Edwards will be running his first-ever ASCS Patriot race at the Black Rock Speedway in Dundee, NY, this Saturday. Edwards has already driven in one ASCS race this season, competing with the ASCS Sooner region at the Cowtown Speedway back in April, where he won the B-Main and proceeded to finish 10th in the A-Main. It will be the second night in a row that the NASCAR star will run at Black Rock, competing in a modified match race on Friday; on Saturday though he will compete with some of the best 360 sprint car drivers in the country.

...Bud Kaeding recaptured the lead in the USAC Silver Crown ppoint standings with a win at Terre Haute in Saturday's "SUMAR Classic". Kaeding and Shane Cottle traded the lead nine times according to Dick Jordan. Trailing Kaeding and Cottle were Levi Jones, Dickie Gaines and Tom Capie. The race had a dozen lead changes, setting a record for the series on dirt, and three short of the all-time series record, set in 1999 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. Brian Tyler suffered misfortune at Terre Haute, when he was knocked out of the event on Lap 9 after an accident. The Terre Haute round was the first of three straight dirt races for the series, which continues Aug. 19 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill.

...Tony Hunt is seeking to become only the 11th driver in USAC history to claim five driving championships. He won the 2001 and 2004 Western Sprint Car titles, the 2002 Western Regional Sprint Car title and the 1992 Russell Pro Series crown. Hunt earned a record 20th series triumph and fourth in the last five races with Saturday night's 50-lap victory at Meridian Speedway in Boise, Idaho. He led the final 46 laps of the Boise race in his Thompson Toyotas/Paul Oil Company Eagle/Chevy after passing early leader Shauna Hogg on lap 20. Hogg finished second ahead of Tim Barber, fast qualifier Mike Murgoitio and Jim Waters. The 10 drivers who own at least five USAC driving championships are: A.J. Foyt (13), Rich Vogler and Sleepy Tripp (9), Mel Kenyon (8), Michael Lang (7), Shorty Templeman and Steve Butler (6), Butch Hartman, J.J. Yeley and Roger McCluskey (5). ...Gary Wright picked up his first Knoxville Raceway feature victory since 1998 by winning Sunday night's Eighth Annual Brodix Tournament of Champions 30-lap feature win.

...Shane Golobic finished third in the feature in his first sprint car race ever at Petaluma Speedway in Petaluma, CA. The young racer qualified sixth quick in his family owned #57 winged 360 sprint car. The HammerDown! spies tell us his debut brought memories of Kasey Kahne's Petaluma performance when Kasey was a raw rookie. ...The National Sprint Tour was sold from the Brownfield Family to a group that includes Steve Kinser, Guy Stockbridge, Lonny Parsons, and Don Lamberti. ...In our own Racer's Racing Series point standings the battle for the lead is incredibly tight. One race past the halfway point in the 60-race series - we have seven points separating the top three drivers. Joey Saldana, Donny Schatz, and Craig Dollansky are the trio that have performed best at the biggest races to date in 2006. Coming on strong is Daryn Pittman who has wins in 2006 at the Eagle Nationals, the Williams Grove Summer Nationals, and the Princeton National. ...The weather man is finally giving us some good news out this way. The heatwave that pushed temps to 116 degrees in my neighborhood last week has subsided.

It is 111 degrees at the home-office in Rocklin, CA. (Yikers!!!!!) ...Sammy Swindell was driving the famous Al Hamilton #77 sprinter at Williams Grove on Thursday night. ...I stand corrected. Brent Kaeding did not race at Placerville last week. Thanks to Chris Lovett for pointing out the error. ...This week - many movers and shakers in the sprint car promotion industry gathered in Pittsburgh, PA for a 'summit' on the future of the sport. According to reports, talk centered on lowering costs for race teams.

Michael Trimble, a young sprint car / midget driver from San Jose, is healing from a broken collar-bone suffered in a sprint car crash a few weeks back. Trimble is eyeing a late July return as he looks to stay in the mix for the Grand Slam championship. The Grand Slam is a mini-series that combines results from non-wing 360 sprint car events at Santa Maria, Ventura, and Bakersfield. ...Kyle Hirst proved he is suffering no ill effects from his nasty Placerville Speedway crash a couple weeks back. Hirst won $5,000 in the Forni Memorial winged sprint car feature Saturday night (July 15, 2006). The event drew the likes of Steve Kent 'up the hill'. ...Joey Saldana is the hottest driver in the sprint car game right now. Saldana won his fourth big race of the year when he captured his second Kings Royal crown Saturday night (actually early Sunday morning) at Eldora Speedway.

Wingless spec sprints on dirt are all the rage right now in Northern California. Placerville Speedway had 39 cars Saturday night! Bob Newberry of Antioch won his third series feature event in the P-Ville affair. ...Terry Schank Jr. won in the same division at Chico Friday. ...Jac Haudenschild drove the Rick Wright #35 to a World of Outlaws win at Lawrenceburg Speedway earlier this week. 'Haud' made a sick three-wide, no-man's land, pass of Joey Saldana and Craig Dollansky to steal the win in the waning stages. ...Jason Johnson won the first two legs of the ASCS National Speedweek. (Pictured below)

Peter Murphy was the Friday night points racing winner at Chico (July 7, 2006). He backed it up with a third place run in Golden State action the following night. ...We hear that Dennis Moore Jr. will be a 'free-agent' at the end of the Golden State season (end of July). Morrie Williams' team will return to a one car operation. ...Stephen Allard has parted company with the McMillen family. We are not sure who will steer the #10 car next.

Dennis Moore Jr was the Friday night (June 30, 2006) winner at Silver Dollar Speedway. "DMJ" deserves high praise for his perseverance after injuries ruined his last two racing seasons. ...Kyle Hirst, the 2005 Golden State Challenge Rookie of the Year, took a trip to the hospital after a wild flip at Placerville Speedway Saturday night (July 1, 2006). According to reports, Hirst started his crash in turn three and landed well outside turn four of the high-banked quarter-mile red-dirt track. He was expected to be released from the 'crash-house' late Saturday night. Andy Forsberg won the A-Main at P-Ville. ...Tyler Brown won the USAC Western Midget event at Ventura Raceway Saturday night (July 1, 2006). In-so-doing Brown moved to within one point of the series leader and defending champion Jerome Rodela in the quest for the 2006 USAC Western Midget title. ...Cameron Veach was the Ford Focus division winner at Ventura on the same card. ...Racing lost another treasure last week when longtime motorsports writer and historian Gary Jacobs died of a heart attack. Our friend from Turlock, CA. probably watched more races than any other West Coast scribe. It was not uncommon for Jacobs to see 100-plus events each season. Always a champion for young drivers, Jacobs touched the lives of racers up and down the Golden State with his informative and positive reviews of their racing endeavors. He will be missed.

...Jonathan Allard won again in Golden State Challenge action at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare Saturday (June 24th). ...Cody Veenstra made the trip to Richmond Virginia for the USAC National sprint car race. The Idaho pilot snared a top 15 finish in his first run at the intimidating track. The RRS points earning event was won by All-HammerDown! Team racer Brian Tyler. ...Terry McCarl is back. McCarl won a feature at Husets Speedway before racing the World of Outlaws event at Knoxville Friday night. ...The Saturday race was rained out. ...Kyle Larson finished fifth in the mdiget show at Manzanita Speedway last Saturday. He started 18th. ...Racers planning on competing in the upcoming $30,000-to-win Non-Wing Ultimate Challenge event at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, IA, are reminded that the pre-entry deadline of June 30 is rapidly approaching. Pre-entry for the event, which will take place on Tuesday night, August 8, is $50 if submitted by June 30. Entries received after July 1 will be $100. Entry forms are available by contacting McTwo Promotions at 515-957-0020. Entries should be returned to McTwo Promotions, P.O. Box 185, Altoona, IA 50009. Last year, Levi Jones of Olney, IL, kicked off his O'Reilly Sprint Bandits TNT championship drive with a victory in the fifth edition of Southern Iowa Speedway's $30,000-to-win Non-Wing Ultimate Challenge. Other past winners include Dickie Gaines (2004), Boston Reid (2003), Travis Rilat (2002) and J.J. Yeley (2001).

Among my favorite hip-hop artists is a kid named Talib Kweli who has a lyric that says…

I don't believe I know or decide

My fate

So just go on and ride.

The loss of Fred Brownfield was and continues to be stunning. Fred was killed when he was hit by a modified while officiating a race at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA last Friday. …I had just come to know Fred a bit this year as he used me to fill-in as announcer at three National Sprint Tour events where his regular announcer Fred Rennard Jr had a conflict. From that standpoint it is hard for me to come up with a fitting tribute. I just didn't know Brownfield very well. However, I do know that he was respected by people I am close to. People that I respect looked at Fred as a pioneering risk taker, and confident businessman. I knew of him as a racer first. He came down to California from Washington where he was a champion at Skagit Speedway. I saw him run the Gold Cup just about every year - and then continued to associate his name with racing once he retired from the driver's seat in 1994. The Brownfield Enterprises logo backed cars wheeled by Steve Beitler, and later Travis Cram. When Brownfield started the Northern Sprint Tour for winged 360's he immediately had fans in the car-owner, mechanic, and driver ranks. I recall Larry Shelton telling me about the purse structure for the Northern Sprint Tour, which Larry felt was a perfect fit for such racing. Brent Kaeding and Steve Kent both offered unsolicited praise of Brownfield for the fair manner that he officiated and for the way he treated the teams. It took considerable 'sack' to step out on his own with a new traveling winged sprint car series. In recent weeks - Brownfield's plate was overflowing with details small and large connected to the National and Northern Sprint Tours. It was Fred that negotiated the National points fund for the next three years. It was Fred that emailed and phoned employees to make sure their schedules jived with the road map. It was Fred that was responsible ultimately for getting the NST touring apparel semi rig, and traveling pagoda. He was involved in every detail. Why Fred's time ended with us too soon is a question that we will never know the answer to - unless we simply say as Shelby Nicoletti of Snohomish, Mr. Brownfield's daughter, said to the Seattle Times, "We have always tried to say, it's God's timing and not ours." A memorial will be held to celebrate the life of Fred Brownfield at the Grays Harbor Raceway at 2 p.m. June 26.

Racing is in overload mode right now but all our thoughts are with the family of Fred Brownfield.

The Calistoga Speedway 2006 Scarborough Trophy point standings are here. ...Brent Kaeding is leading the SCRA non-wing 360 points. He won his second SCRA feature Friday June 9, 2006 at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville.

...Madera Speedway was my destination Saturday June 3, 2006. The USAC Western Sprint Cars put on a great show in their 50-lap feature. The first 27 laps were caution free and the top-seven on the 1/3-mile pavement track were all running in a pack through traffic. Good stuff! Kody Swanson won the race - showing me again why my gut tells me he is a special talent. He drove high or low, he was patient, he was aggressive, and he always seemed in command. Out of the cockpit Swanson is thoughtful, articulate, and grounded. If I could buy stock in Swanson I would. ...Michael Faccinto did a good job to win the companion Ford Focus feature from sixth starting position. ...Brian McClish avoided serious burns when his 'backup car' burned during Friday's practice session at Madera. ...Congratulations to Robert Ballou and his team on sweeping the weekend Golden State Challenge features at Watsonville and Placerville. The race at P-Ville was said to be "sick" by my buddy BF. Another homey, Steve-O, said the race was incredible. Steve-O gets to see Ballou race more than I do - and he says the 17 year-old is "so good it's scary".

Memorial Day weekend typically is a notebook filler. …I made it all the way to Ohio Thursday night late in preparation to announce at Attica Raceway Park for Friday's National Sprint Tour event. However, that deal was rained out by Friday at noon. The race was re-scheduled for Sunday but I had a prior commitment to be in Calistoga for the Gary Patterson Memorial race on that night - so I hoped back onto a Southwest jet and headed home way too early on Saturday morning. The two-day show at Calistoga Speedway produced some pretty good racing with Steve Kent sweeping both A-Mains. Kent moved into a tie for fourth place on the all-time Calistoga winner's list. He along with Johnny Anderson and Tim Green own eleven feature wins on the scary half-mile dirt track. …Kent was competing all weekend with a jimmy-rigged tape job on his thumb (left-hand). A shop incident dislocated Kent's thumb. He said he "popped it back into place" after a few tense moments of pain-induced clarity. After Sunday night's win - Kent told infield announcer George Hague that he banged his thumb during the feature and cried for three laps. …Brad Furr and Carl Droivold both were flip victims after their left-side panel on the top-wing 'folded' due to the intense air-pressure placed on them in the tight Calistoga turns. We've seen this happen far too often at Calistoga. We urge all teams who are going to race at the half-mile for the Civil War event in June to investigate which wing manufacturers have a good track record for staying strong under the duress received at Calistoga. Furr's frame was damaged in his Saturday flip - while Droivold lost a starting berth in the Sunday A-Main due to his flip after the checkered flag in his heat race. …I was impressed by Droivold - especially in his heat race on Saturday. …Cliff Sealock, and Jason McMillen were retired drivers seen by some this weekend at Calistoga. I never bumped into either. I did run into Kevin Urton and Damion Gardner who rode in on their custom motorcycles. Damion said he had salvaged an otherwise forgetful night on Saturday at Perris in USAC-CRA racing. "DG" owns the points lead in that series. …Robert Ballou - the 17 year-old masher from Rocklin, CA. led the early portions of the Sunday feature - begging the question of who is the youngest driver to win a feature at Calistoga Speedway? I don't know. A bit of research suggests that it is most likely Jason Meyers who won as a 19 year-old at the 1999 season opener. …Meyers finished second at Calistoga Saturday night and then drove two hours to Sacramento for a 6:00 AM Sunday departure back to Ohio for the NST race. Meyers won the Attica shindig Sunday to complete a hectic but satisfying 'holiday weekend'. …Jon Allard was impressive in earning a fourth place finish Saturday at Calistoga after an early feature flip. The Chico driver owns three wins in Golden State action so far in 2006.

Jimmy Sills will be among those inducted in to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame this weekend. Sills was at `Stoga with his buddy Johnny Medina. The two friends are riding their Harley's back to Iowa. Sills tipped that he will run the Masters Classic in the Kenny Woodruff prepared #94 normally driven by Natalie Sather. The Sacramento connected Sills and Woodruff join the late Gary Patterson and LeRoy VanConett (Galt) as Sacramento area racers inducted to the Hall in Knoxville, IA. …Sometimes it takes a half of a lap to see the potential in a young racer. Such was the case on the opening lap of Sunday's Calistoga A-Main. Jason Statler, who has never won a feature at `Stoga, was on the pole. To his right was Ballou. Knowing Statler would be hungry, I figured he would drive harder than hard to 'get the jump' and try to lead wire-to-wire. As expected, Statler seemingly gave it his all. He drove hard down the long narrow front straightaway - under the green flag and into turn one. What I didn't expect was Ballou - in his first weekend in a 410 at Calistoga - to stay side-by-side the whole way and emerge with the lead off turn two. When you see something like that you know a kid is going to win some races. …Bud Kaeding is now tied for the points lead in the USAC Silver Crown Series. Up next for Bud is the USAC National Midget event at Knoxville. The RRS points earning feature will also see Ryan Kaplan's Knoxville debut. …Kevin Pylant made his first start of 2006 at the Calistoga races. More responsibility at the Riley Collins Body Shop in Santa Cruz has kept Kevin away. …It has now been 21 years since a non-wing sprint car race was held at Calistoga Speedway. Bud Kaeding campaigned over the public address system for fans to write to USAC about putting the Silver Crown cars on the half-mile. Personally - if it ever happened - I would prefer to see the USAC National Sprint Car Series. I think the best of the USAC/CRA series would mix with the National drivers to provide a deep and EXPERIENCED field of drivers. …You may have noticed I am no longer writing Travel Guides for each trip. This is simply a move to make Positivity more about the racers and less about me. It doesn't mean that I won't share with you the best and worst experiences. It does mean you will not be subjected to the average toils of travel that maybe I enjoyed complaining about too much. ...Racer's Racing Series winners in the big week of late-May 2006 action were Kevin Swindell (WoO at Charlotte), Brian Tyler (Little 500), Bobby Santos III (USAC National Midgets at IRP - "Night before the 500"), and Fred Rahmer (WoO at Williams Grove). ...James Patterson has been hard at work on a tribute website for his fallen father Gary. Check out the site here!

The weekend of action upcoming for us includes an initial trip to Attica, Ohio for a National Sprint Tour race on Friday. ...Calistoga promoter Mike Kenney tipped to us that we won't be the only ones trying to hustle back to California for the Walt Ross Memorial, and Tribute to Gary Patterson races Saturday and Sunday at the Napa Valley half-mile. Jason Meyers - who won the 2002 Calistoga track championship - will return from his National schedule to run both nights. ...We also hear that Bud Kaeding, the 1999 `Stoga champ, is also making the trip from his Indiana home. Expected to join Meyers, and Bud will be Steve Kent, Brent Kaeding, Jon Allard, Dennis Moore Jr., and many more. ...Our prayers go out to Randy Hannagan's mom Marge who is fighting Cancer. Randy has flown home to be with her while Gary Wright drives the THR #1x in WoO races. ...Tim Shaffer is filling in for Terry McCarl in the Big Game #24 while McCarl nurses his broken leg.

This is the time of the year when racing goes nutso! Starting with Wednesday's World of Outlaws return to Lowe's Motor Speedway Dirt Track, the open-wheel grass roots world gets busy with big race after big race welcoming the summer. HammerDownUSA.com's Racer's Racing Series is going to tighten up with Terry McCarl pit-bound with a broken leg. McCarl dominated the earliest portions of the 2006 schedule but history tells us that the guys who are hot when the weather is - are the guys who go down in the record books as legends. ...Mike Murgoitio proved his knack for qualifying quick isn't limited to the West Coast. Murgoitio was the fastest in time-trials at Sunday's USAC National event at Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. The Idaho pilot then finished second to Bryan Clauson in the feature event. ...Andy Forsberg was the winner at Placerville Speedway (CA.) Saturday night in points racing.

Altamont Motorsports Park underwent a renovation with their new owners (Riverside MotorSports Park) making some fantastic improvements. The new pavement on the ½ mile produced ultra fast speeds and record times. Nick Green destroyed the old track record for sprint cars - ripping off a 16.595 lap that was the best of 13 drivers below the old mark of 17.20. Simply put - a sprint car can be a sprint car on a track the size of Altamont. It had been over 25 years since I last visited the track that lies roughly halfway between Sacramento, and San Francisco. The racing was consistently entertaining if for no other reason than that the cars were 'on the edge' every lap. …Rookie Jimmy Pelk did another nice job finishing eighth in the feature. However, it was another rookie, Bradley Galedrige, that won the event. Galedrige drives the #21 Davey Hamilton / Wirtgen America Eagle tuned by Larry Triguiero Jr. …Green showed me something with one of his passes at the end of the back straightaway. He dove low to steal third in the feature before a mechanical problem sidelined him. …Kody Swanson, the 2005 USAC Western Sprint Car Champion attended his Senior Prom Friday night but was ready to compete Saturday afternoon. …Nick Rescino Jr. has more sprint car wins (nine) than any other driver at Altamont. Second on the list is Ron Horton with six wins. …Tony Hunt performed a clean sweep in the Midgets. Hunt showed his patience and skill all night long. His sprint car battle for second with Tim Barber was among the highlights of the night that was breezing along until the sprint car feature. Too many yellow flag laps forced a red flag for fuel and a long delay for a wicked crash by Brian Geiszler stretched out the 50-lapper to epic proportions. …Jo-Jo Helberg is a 16-year kid that did a great job Saturday. Jessica's younger brother started 20th and finished seventh. …Travis Berryhill jumped into the E.J. Dolner sprinter for some laps Saturday. Berryhill won a BCRA midget race Friday night at "Ocean Speedway" (Watsonville, CA.). …Brea Lopez impressed me in a midget at Altamont. …NHRA Superstar Gary Scelzi was hanging out at Altamont. He is part owner of Michael Faccinto's Ford Focus Midget. Faccinto - a 16 year -old from Hanford, CA was the quickest qualifier in the Focus action. Chris Veach won the Focus feature - which was a pleasing 25 lapper. …Friday night (May 12, 2006) winner at Chico was Brent Kaeding. …Greg DeCaires won the Saturday night points race at Placerville.

People, people, people… I made my first visit to Davenport Speedway in Davenport, Iowa last Tuesday. Actually, the trip started on Monday with flights from Sacramento to Denver and then into Moline, IL. The Quad Cities include Moline, Davenport, Rock Island, IL, and Bettendorf, IA. I learned that. ...Davenport Speedway is a big half-mile (on the pole), with flat corners and concrete walls. It is narrow in a way that made passing a bit hazardous but the National Sprint Tour drivers didn't have a hard time dicing it up. The 30-lap feature ran nonstop despite a large difference in speed between the fast guys and the tailenders. Danny Lasoski was dominant, winning by 13.5 seconds! That is unheard of in sprint car racing. I think it is possible I've seen only one performance that dominating in all the years I've enjoyed watching sprint car races. The only race I can remember where something like that happened was a Jimmy Boyd Gold Cup win at the old Capital Speedway in West Sacramento, CA. Lasoski lapped up to eighth! Think about that for a second. A 13.5 second victory in anon-stop winged sprint car race where only eight cars were on the same lap as the leader. Most tracks you can turn a full lap in 13.5 seconds. Here, the laps were in the low 17's. Lasoski said his team had been reworking their engine program with Kistler. Admittedly - the car was working great but I give "The Dude" the most credit. He figured the track out early in the night and he drove away from everyone on the low side. That win for Lasoski makes the NST scorecard read: seven races, three winners. Lasoski has two wins as does Steve Kinser. Tim Kaeding leads the tour with three W's. …The battle for second position at Davenport was an unbelievable race between Jason Sides, Steve Kinser, Tim Shaffer, Jason Solwold, and Jason Meyers. In heavy traffic seemingly the full 30-laps these guys flip flopped spots with regularity. It was crazy! They would charge up on the 'lappers' and then be forced to 'checkup' in the narrowest portions of the speedway. Sides had his top-wing left side panel bend on him right at the start of the race. Somehow he held on for second place although he lost the position at different junctures of the event. The large crowd sitting in the tin-covered grandstand that was built in 1922 seemed to enjoy the feature event very much.

...Perris Auto Speedway will play host the to the 6th Annual Sokola Classic when Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply presents the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars on Saturday, May 13. The event will culminate with a 40-lap main event that pays $5,000.00 to win and $500.00 to start. ...Check out Kyle Larson driving a midget for the first time at his website.

...We are headed for Davenport Iowa for the Tuesday night National Sprint Tour event. Winners in World of Outlaws racing at Davenport Speedway in the past were Jeff Swindell (1995), and Stevie Smith (1996). Paul McMahan won a WoO Gumout Series race in 2000 at Davenport's 1/2-mile. Other winners at the joint in various sanctions are Craig Dollansky, Kim Mock, Terry McCarl, and Randy Smith. ...We made the drive south to Madera on Saturday for the USAC Western Sprint Car race. There were at least three support divisions racing so the day and night really seemed to drag on. When the sprint cars were on the track - the racing was fun to watch. Kody Swanson, as we've been saying, is the real deal. He has that special combination of poise, talent, character, and 'HammerDown! ability'. Swanson (18) won the race by attacking the track in his family #75. He won in front of many family members and friends at the Madera track where his father Mike won championships in Super Modifieds. Kody became the youngest winner in a Grand American Modified at Madera a couple years back (May 1, 2004). Since then, Kody's little brother Tanner (15) has claimed that distinction. ...Nick Green was especially good in the All-Weld #14. Green hung tough despite falling back a bit at the beginning of the 50-lap feature. He then proceeded to regain the positions he lost with some deft maneuvering. I was impressed. ...Among those walking the pits at Madera Saturday night was driving star and 2004 USAC Western Sprint Car champion Michael Lewis. The Noblesville, Indiana driver has recently parted company with the Western Speed Racing midget team. Too bad because that guy is a smart racer and a fierce competitor. I doubt if he will be without a ride for long.

...USAC Western Sprint Car champion Kody Swanson's dad Mike told us that a family can run a mini sprint for less money than the quarter-midgets that were racing adjacent to the Madera Speedway. That blows my mind. In watching a few laps of the quarter-midgets I quickly concluded that those things need left side weight, and a cage net or something to keep the kids from hanging out of the left side of the car. It was ridiculous.

Chase Barber purchased one of Mike Sala's pavement midgets. That was the car that Barber drove to his first career USAC Western Midget top-five finish at Stockton last Saturday. ...Darren Rusconi's #66 pavement sprinter is the former property of Amy Barnes.

...Who has the most USAC Western Sprint Car wins at Madera since 1996? The answer is: Davey Hamilton and Tony Hunt both have four sprint car wins during that ten year time span. USAC did not race at Madera in 2005 but are set for a return Saturday April 29, 2006.

Last weekend (April 21-22, 2006) we took in a National Sprint Tour race in Hutchinson, Kansas. It was my first visit to the spot that is east of Wichita and about a four hour drive from Tulsa, OK. The Hutchinson Raceway Park is a big 3/8's to a 1/2-mile dirt track with lots of potential. The second turn is narrow and the joint has no fence or wall around it. The track had a unique cut to it in turn four where it was flat, then banked, then flat. The improvements that I would immediately like to see would be in the lighting (turn one was especially poor), and the track public address system. The current P.A. was not strong enough for the masses that turned out to see a National touring winged 410 sprint car series hit the track for the first time since 1992. Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, and Danny Lasoski were all there in `92 as well as on this night. Kinser won for Karl Kinser 'back in the day'. Sammy was in the TMC #1, and Lasoski was riding for Casey Luna back then. On this 2006 Friday night though it was all Tim Kaeding. He passed early leader Jason Solwold and then withheld Steve Kinser in traffic to earn the 30-lap $10,000 victory. ...I had a chance to chat with Tim for a bit before the races started. He reports that he loves living in Indiana - especially the Sunday Fundays at his Plainfield home. He told us that so far this season his car has been a dream to drive. You will say that when you are leading the points, and batting .500 in feature events. Kaeding (Tim) was also nursing a sore broken nose suffered at the hand of his brother Bud. The two were 'rough housing' when an unexpected backhand from Bud caught Tim square on the beak. According to Tim, no-one felt worse than Bud. The nose didn't seem to bother Tim at all in his strong run at Hutchinson. Tim also said he hopes to maybe run some non-wing stuff this season. He would like nothing better than to race his brother's #29 at Eldora without a wing. "Since Bud is in (Scott) Benic's car - Bud's cars are just sitting there in the shop", says Tim. "I just want to try it." ...That - and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Yes, Tim wants to be the first to climb the mountain in under ten minutes. ...Saturday - we hit the Stockton 99 Speedway (CA.) - which is in it's final season, for the USAC/CASA Sprint Cars & USAC/BCRA Midgets. The entertaining racing was best during the sprint car feature. Tony Hunt did a super job of driving from eleventh to win the 50-lapper in Alan Kaiser's #4. Several young drivers also looked sharp. I was impressed by Jimmy Pelk, a 20 year-old from Port Alberni, B.C., Canada. Running for Bob & Lori Scott, Pelk was in the top-ten mix all night. Bradley Galedrige also made his sprint car debut, earning a top-five finish for the Davey Hamilton Racing Team. ...Ryan Kaplan ran a strong second in the Midget 100 lap race. That kid is racer. ...Cameron Beard bought Ken Molica's pavement midget car. ...Tyler Brown showed up with a new car that they took delivery of on Wednesday night. Brown earned the hard-charger award for improving eleven positions in the feature. ...Jason Meyers will run the Tulare Thunderbowl event this Saturday. With a week off from the National Sprint Tour - Jason has time to hit the local scene. On the card with the Golden State winged sprints are the SCRA non-wing 360's. We hear double duty is a possibility for Robert Ballou, Brent Kaeding, Ricci Faria, and Peter Murphy.

Capitani named sprint car racing's most influential - By Tom Schmeh - Knoxville, IA. - (April 23, 2006) - For the third year in a row, Ralph "Cappy" Capitani, director of racing at the Knoxville Raceway, has been named the sport's 'Most Influential Leader' by the North American Sprint Car Poll, an industry-wide voting panel of manufacturers, media members, sanctioning officials and promoters. Capitani, who guides weekly winged 360-cubic-inch and 410 c.i. sprint car racing at the self-proclaimed "Sprint Car Capital of the World", captured thirteen (13) of the 35 first-place ballots cast in the 2006 pre-season poll. Knoxville Raceway will also host its 46th annual Knoxville National Sprint Car Championships, which will be open-competition for the first time since 1977, on August 9-12. (Read it all)

...Don Krietz Jr. is running a MOPAR these days in Central Pennsylvania. The engine is a collaborative effort between Gary Stanton and Davey Brown. Says Kreitz, "It runs better than any Chevy I've ever had, and we're looking forward to running it again this weekend." ...Gary Wright, Lonne Wheatley notes, can add another entry to the record books this weekend, as the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour takes to Poplar Bluff Speedway in Poplar Bluff, MO, on Friday night before moving on to Little Rock's I-30 Speedway on Saturday night. Wright can tie an existing mark held by Zach Chappell on Friday night at Poplar Bluff Speedway, then set a new standard on Saturday night at I-30 Speedway. Wright enters the weekend with a streak of 100 consecutive O'Reilly ASCS National Tour feature starts, just one start short of Zach Chappell's existing record of 101 consecutive feature starts. ...A hectic schedule over the past 72 hours allowed us to take in the National Sprint Tour event in Hutchinson Kansas Friday night and the Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic USAC event Saturday in Stockton, CA. Winners were Tim Kaeding (Friday), and Tony Hunt and Billy Wease (Saturday).

Jon Stanbrough was the best among 51 entrants at Lawrenceburg Speedway (Indiana) Saturday night. Non-wing sprint car racing is obviously alive and well in Hoosier-land. ...Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Hooker Hood Sprint Shootout in dominating fashion. Stenhouse lapped up to fifth in the USCS winged sprint car feature at Garnertown Speedway. ...Super sprint car mechanic Larry Shelton is going to be helping Destiney Hays this season in Friday night winged 410 action at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Hays is making a dirt return after two years of pavement racing in USAC. You can vote for Destiney (or others) in another website's poll. Check it out here! ...I thought it was cool that Jerry Coons Jr. ran the Western Midget event at Ventura last weekend. Coons is an established National driver these days. ...Read about Carl Edwards night at the sprint car races here! ...The rain in Northern and Central California has claimed the first six Golden State Challenge events. ...Kudos to Kyle Hirst for his hustle to compete in USAC-CRA non-wing events while the rain pours over his winged tracks. Hirst made it to Tucson Arizona this past weekend. ...Brent Kaeding, Robert Ballou and Andy Forsberg also ditched their regular schedules to run an SCRA event at Chowchilla. ...Congratulations to Kasey Kahne who is really on a roll right now at the highest level of American racing. I am still waiting and hoping for Kasey to say "HammerDown" in a winner's interview on National television.

There was a tragedy at Evergreen Speedway last Friday when veteran midget racer Rory Price was killed following a throttle-sticking accident in a test session. Price was driving Robert Beck's sprint car in the single car accident on the paved 5/8's-mile track. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the Price family and to our friend Robert Beck. ...Brenda Anderson reports that her massive undertaking of gathering vintage racers is taking shape quickly. Scheduled for September in Roseville, CA, the All American Vintage Classic will gather cars and stars from everywhere! "We have a tour of Aussies coming over and I have set up a group of guys like Larry Burton, Wally Baker, Gene Welch, Mike Andreetta, The Andersons, Hash Brown, Big Ed Wilbur, etc etc that drove downunder to be there to sign autographs for them", said Brenda. Al Pombo - now 81 years old is coming and Walt James who will be 83, will be in his sprint car turning laps. Kenny Takeuchi is going to announce. 21 cars have registered so far including Roadsters, Hardtops, Midgets, Supers and Sprint cars. Display cars at the event include Bill Vukovich's Drake and the 1935 Franklin Sprint car with a double over head cam. Brenda adds, "Parnelli Jones told me he is coming Friday and Saturday." Brenda has trophies going to the top-three in the vintage car races, and fans in the grandstands are going to choose their favorites with a ballot. Plans for a 32 page magazine are being laid out so that fans will have a quality souvenir program. ...The Hall of Fame inductees for the West Capital Raceway Hall of Fame for 2006 are DuWayne Starr, Kenny Woodruff, Nick Rescino, Johnny Soares, Howard, "Captain America" Holtsman, and Richard Wyrsch.

...We learned that Bill Pratt passed away. The long-time CRA car-owner will be missed. ...We also found out courtesy of Blake Johnson that Grass roots Open Wheel supporter and Silver Crown owner, Roger Johnson is a co-owner with Ron Hemelgarn in the (formally Infiniti Pro Series) Indy Pro Series. The team has fielded a car in the series since the inaugural season including the 2004 season where Paul Dana drive the No. 91. That year he brought Ethanol to the IRL. Blake Johnson says, "Dana was an excellent marketing person who sold several companies that made Ethanol on joining him in the IRL. Today, the IRL runs a 90% methanol 10% methanol mix. In 2007, the IndyCar Series will run 100% ethanol." Blake wrote more in his blog http://openwheeler.blogspot.com/.

...(A little stream of consciousness writing today) …I am what I am and I cannot help but feel great sadness with the death of Paul Dana. I do not know him. I don't think we ever met - unless it was when I did some SCCA work. It says on the internet that Dana is from St. Louis - and that a Roger Johnson was one of his sponsors on the way to his IRL ride. (Is that Roger Johnson of Kele & Associates?). My auto racing friends in St. Louis I'm sure knew of him. Jim Compton comes to mind. I bet Danny Lasoski knows him. I read that Dana's wife Tonya was in church in Indianapolis on Sunday morning when told of the crash. I cannot even begin to imagine her loss. I admit to freaking a bit when my wife Kim told me that "an Indy driver was killed today." Immediate thought was - "not P.J." Kim was reading the scroll on the television during the NCAA basketball game. I was working in my home office (with the television on above my desk.) She said it was Paul Dana. I immediately hit Google to find out more. I see Ed Carpenter was involved. I learn that Dana is part of the Bobby Rahal/David Letterman team. The reason why this happened is secondary to the loss but I have to question how it could occur. Carpenter's crash happened way in front of Dana. Why was he going so fast during a morning warmup after his spotter told him of the crash? I pray for Carpenter's health. …I have to use my tools to deal with depressing thoughts so let's think about some stuff with Positivity. …How will Letterman react? …Bud Kaeding is a friend of Carpenter's. Bud finished sixth in the USAC Silver Crown race at Homestead. He made $5,000 for his work. That deal pays well ya know. Brian Tyler took home $25,000 for his win. Tim Barber finished third in the Sacramento area owned Ken Pierson car. They took home nine grand. …The Bakersfield Speedway USAC Western Midget show was good up to the point when the yellow-checkered flags appeared before the end of the scheduled 30-lap distance. The track made the call. Bakersfield Speedway would be wise to start earlier, given the unmovable 11:00 PM curfew. Maybe open the front gates at 4PM instead of 5PM. Start hot-laps at 4:30PM. Saturday, hot laps were running by 5:30 PM. It was a shade past 10:30 with two laps to go when Garrett Hansen's motor blew on the back chute. They had to clean up the track, and still had their late model feature race to run so they called the race. I understand. The stock cars are their regular deal and their fans deserved to see their entire event. The track was again heavy and several nasty midget spills took precious time to clear and re-start. The stock cars ran an efficient show but they had a big car count. The whole program just needed more time to be run. …It was a privilege to see so many good racers on the grounds for the event. Josh Wise, the 2005 USAC National Midget Champion, was driving for Dallen McKenney. Brad Kuhn, the 2005 National Midget Driver of the Year, was in a Mike Sala car. Johnny Rodriguez and Robby Flock - both former series champs were on-hand. And anyone who reads my stuff with any regularity knows I am a fan of Tyler Brown, and Ryan Kaplan - who were both in the house. Michael Lewis was racing on dirt! He has done plenty of dirt racing in his career but not nearly as much dirt as pavement. He looked good in winning his heat race. In the feature - aside from jumping the cushion a few times, Lewis was solid bringing home a sixth place finish. He leads the USAC Western Midget points two races into the season. Alex Pruett - teammate to Lewis will run for the Western USAC Midget championship. Lewis will mix it up on the National stage in 2006. Said Lewis of his time on the Bakersfield dirt after qualifying, "This is fun!" Both Western Speed dirt midgets are Spike chassis machines. …Danny Stratton, the 2005 Four Crown Nationals Midget winner, was also a surprise entrant. …Matt Mitchell looked as good racing as I've ever seen him. The blonde haired methanol masher was spectacular in the feature in turn three and four - carrying his front end in the air all the way around the corner. (Below photo of Mitchell at work by John's Racing Photos)

2005 USAC Western Midget champion Jerome Rodela was at the track but not competing. This season Rodela will ride at special selected midget events for NHRA star Cruz Pedregon. …Cameron Beard used some mini-sprint knowledge from the previous week to impressively win his heat race Saturday night. …Quentin Crye - a 17 year-old from Gridley, CA did a nice job in his first Ford Focus midget race at Bakersfield Speedway. He ran in the top-three most of the race before some bad luck hit him. …Bradley Galedrige's violent snap roll flips in his heat race were some of the fastest turnovers I've ever witnessed. The crash ripped the lower left side frame rail off the car - and crushed the rear-end housing into so many pieces. Galedrige turned the fastest lap in a midget of the last three seasons with a 12.618 second clocking in time trials. Eight drivers were in the 12 second bracket. …Your next chance to see the USAC Western Midgets fling around Bakersfield Speedway is June 24, 2006. We again urge you to do so. They put on a great show.

Travel Guide for Bakersfield Speedway March 24-26, 2006. ...A one day race spills into parts of three days for me. I again left Rocklin Friday night after the NCAA hoop games were done. I drove to Fresno and checked in at the Courtyard by Marriott on Shaw. On the way to Fresno I tried a Home-style Chicken Sandwich from Wendy's drive through in Turlock. It was pretty good. …The Marriott was okay but they messed up my request for a non-smoking room. That's life when you check in after midnight. You get what is available. Actually, the room was fine. Courtyard properties have new beds and high-speed internet in every room. I enjoyed both. …Saturday I drove to Selma to stop for lunch and to try to find somewhere with the LSU vs. Texas game on TV. Me & Ed's Pizza filled the bill. The pizza was excellent and although the television reception was poor (regular over the air signal with rabbit-ear antenna) I was able to make out the players and enjoy a terrific hoops contest. The rest of the drive to Oildale was uneventful. I skipped eating at the track since I had so much pizza. …Made the drive home immediately after interviewing Tyler Brown for the USAC race story. A New Track Record may have been established as I rolled into Rocklin just a tick after 3:00 AM Sunday morning.

Belated kudos to P.J. Chesson for landing an IRL ride on a team owned in part by the Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony. Chesson has undeniable star quality and as long as he doesn't have some bad luck prior to Memorial Day weekend - he will be racing in the 2006 Indy 500. HammerDown! P.J.

...Travel Guide for March 17-18, 2006. ...Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale was the ultimate destination. I trekked to Fresno Friday night after the NCAA Tournament games were complete. I stayed at the Marriot Residence Inn. As usual for the brand - the hotel was perfect for my taste. I had a fridge, a microwave, high speed Internet access, a comfy bed, and a clean overall room. From my home in Rocklin, CA - Fresno is about three hours and change - which left me a short, one hour 45 minutes to go on Saturday. I was announcing Saturday night - and I don't like to travel too much on those days. It zaps my energy. Saturday - I stopped in Delano? at the Pioneer Restaurant just off highway 99. Their billboard advertising worked. I found a cozy diner style joint with friendly service. My breakfast burrito was huge and fairly tasty. ...Doubt if I'd order it again but I would go back for something different. I did not eat at the track. I drove home after the event with a stop in Fresno at In N Out Burger. A cheeseburger and fries was typically good. I was back in Rocklin at 4:35 am. ...The overall experience Saturday (March 18, 2006) for the National Sprint Tour event at Bakersfield Speedway was a study of contrast. On one hand, we were racing - which is what they were not doing at Ventura, Marysville, or Madera. All those California racetracks were forced to cancel their events due to rain and cold that seems more and more the norm in March. At Bakersfield Speedway - in the town of Oildale, the race was indeed on. Promoters - Elite Promotions did the karmacally correct thing by pressing onward despite knowing that their 'walk-up' crowd would be crushed by the iffy weather conditions. So in that sense alone we had a victory. The loss was a curfew shortened feature event that went 12 of a scheduled 40 laps. The curfew is an ugly reality in the Golden State. Some tracks can fudge a bit sometimes - but at Bakersfield Speedway that is not the case. Saturday night there was no rain delay. No power outage. What happened was a bit fluky but also probably could have been avoided if the show moved along at a faster pace. The track was 'heavy' and ultra fast. Listed as a 1/3-mile dirt oval, Bakersfield Speedway is closer to a 1/5-mile than a 'third'. Starting 24 cars in the feature on a narrow track predictably produced mayhem. Flips by Jon Allard, Robert Ballou, Lucas Wolfe, Steve Kinser, and Mark Barrosso during the feature all took precious time off the clock. If the red flag wasn't out - the yellow flag was. There were tangles, and cars stalling. It was one of those nights. Yes, full moon too. …I don't think fans want to hear driver intros when the temperature is low. That driver intro stuff is for a warm night when you are ahead of schedule. There was probably 15 minutes wasted right there. There was a support class of mini sprints that ran two, eight lap heats, and a lengthy 20-lap main event with its own share of incidents. That probably cost 20 minutes. Finally, there was a delay between the end of the mini sprint feature and the time the first sprint car appeared on the front straightaway prior to the A-Main. On the positive side - the track record was lowered to a ridiculously quick 10.342 seconds. Jason Sides did it. …The Umbrella Girls did all the trophy presenting. They add class to any show. : )) …Back to the negative side - the ambulance EMT's were the laziest I have ever witnessed at a race track. Time after time I watched hard crashes with no response from these two jokers just standing in the infield near turn one. …A positive was seeing Lucas Wolfe rebound from losing his power steering on his first qualifying lap to turning the third fastest lap when the pressure was on - taking one at the end of time trials. The 19 year old son of Pennsylvania racer Randy Wolfe, Lucas went on to win his heat race and his dash. … Chuck Gurney Jr. raced well Saturday night. He passed and then held off Shane Stewart to earn the last 'transfer' in his heat race. Some car-owner in Indiana (where Gurney is living now) is going to get a helluva good racer when he gets his first ride back there. …Tim Kaeding was setting a blistering pace when the racing was green. He was in traffic on lap three in the feature. His second NST win coupled with Steve Kinser's two Tulare victories means that no one outside of Steve Kinser Racing has won an NST feature yet. …Brandon Wimmer from Fairmount Indiana was driving for Davey Key in the #15 car. Wimmer finished tenth in the feature. He is still seeking a full-time ride for 2006. Brandon says he will race anything; winged, non-winged, dirt, pavement - whatever. …Brian Coelho had a good night earning sixth place money. The Coelho family deserves high praise for their support of sprint car racing in the Central Valley. It was good to see them have a good night with Brian winning his heat and performing well in his dash too. …Jeff Delte made the trip from San Jose to compete. Delte has a Maxim with a 410 engine for 2006. …Tommy Tarlton tipped that he has only seven races on driving schedule for this season. He plans to run at Thunderbowl Raceway (Tulare, CA.) in the GSC events. …Ronnie Day was again faster than fast. He's going to win some races this year.

BR Motorsports released their latest Sprint Car & Midget parts catalog. With over 100 new items the 2006 super parts catalog is an astonishing 175 pages and is overflowing with the latest parts and equipment available today. To receive your FREE copy please call 1-800-328-3333 or go online to www.brmotorsports.com ...Andy Forsberg is ready for 2006. The two-time Civil War champion is setting his sights on championships at Chico, Placerville, and the Civil War series. "I am very excited to get the season underway," said Forsberg. "We will be running over sixty-five races and I am thrilled to be running at Placerville on a consistent basis." Crew chief Brian Cannon points out that the Forsberg, A&A #92 team built four new cars from the ground up during the off season.

...Kraig Kinser will be racing at Southern New Mexico Speedway this weekend, March 10 and 11. He will pilot a third Steve Kinser Racing machine. ...The ASCS is ready for their Southern start to 2006. Lonnie Wheatley points out that Thirty-three consecutive weekends of racing in the American Sprint Car Series kicks off this weekend with the O'Reilly American Sprint Cars on Tour taking center stage at Baton Rouge Raceway and Houston Raceway Park. ...Read about Geoff Dodge who won the IRL "Road to Indy" competition at the Knoxville Nationals in 2005.

...Mat Neely was driving the Garrett/Jerry Ishii #71G in his top five run at Perris Saturday. ...The 2006 version of the Tony Hunt Karting Challenge raised $15,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A lengthy spell at the RPM Indoor complex Sunday brought with it a few 'pearls' (as the late Doug Fort would say) of information. As I decompress on a rainy Sunday night I will try my best to share with you some of the tidbits I remember. Bam. Brad Sweet tips that he has 70 plus races on his `06 schedule. Brad tells me that he is excited about running at Kokomo Speedway which has undergone some transformation. Sweet said, "Kokomo is a racer's racetrack." That is good to hear since we put the Kokomo race during Indiana Sprint Week on the Racer's racing Series schedule this year. …The Green Room was buzzing with talk of Paul McMahan's WoO win at Tucson, and Cory Kruseman's triumph at Perris in USAC/CRA racing. Racers getting ready for the Kart competition were watching the Busch race from Mexico on a large TV. We heard chit-chat about Chad Kemenah's grinding crash at Manzanita. …Audra Sasselli still does not have her plans nailed down for this season. She has been racing for more than 20 years and is feeling the frustration of the lack of quality opportunities for good drivers. Among the best in the USAC Ford Focus Midget ranks, Audra said she feels it is time for a new challenge. However, the only viable opportunity for her right now is a dirt midget ride. She feels most comfy on the pavement. Audra, from Fresno, is married and works as a teacher. She admitted she sometimes wonders what life would be like if she were not at the track every weekend. We totally understand if she steps away. But we sure hope she stays with racing. Sasselli is a fan favorite that consistently shows class in all situations. If racing lost her it would be a sad day. …Jerry Kobza shared a story of his days in North Carolina when he was helping Carl Edwards meet NASCAR types. I'd say Edwards has made it. …Robert Ballou's kart team won the overall competition. It was a good day for sprint car drivers as Kyle Hirst's team was second, and Sweet's squad finished third. …Jason Meyers made the long tow from Clovis to Sacramento to participate. He was blown away by the RPM facility which is a first class establishment. The always-scheming Meyers was already having thoughts of a 'sponsor-day' at the karting joint. Meyers said he will run some events outside of the National Sprint Tour but those events will be 'hit and run' type deals where the team simply shows up without having the event as part of their posted schedule. Jason will run at Eldora, and he will run the Gold Cup at Chico. …Kyle Larson, the kid with 117 career dirt-kart wins, is going to race a full midget in Arizona at a few events later in the year. Larson still owns a track-record at the RPM facility. Readers of this space know that I try not to hype anyone under age 16 but this kid is so good I got my picture taken with him today just to say "I knew him when…".

The above pic was snapped at the Tony Hunt Kart Challenge - Sunday March 5, 2006. The Umbrella Girls are teamed with my fictional crew of (L to R) Brad Sweet, Kyle Larson, and Hunt.

…One more reason to love RPM is that they have Mountain Dew both from the soda fountain or bottled. …Matt Sherman is a fast young racer I met Sunday. His dad Frank Sherman Jr. grew up at Capitol Speedway in West Sacramento. Matt is also a track record holder at RPM. …Benny Moon tipped that he will drive a stock-car in 2006. We will miss him at the USAC events. The Shingle Springs driver won Ford Focus races in `05 for car-owner Ron Sutton. Moon is yet another young driver we think has a future as a professional racer. …Mike Henry, two-time Civil War champion, is set to drive a dozen shows in the 410 ranks for Mike Stallings. Henry said the team is seeking sponsors to keep the car as active as possible. Larry Shelton will turn wrenches on the #93. …Newly named Hall of Famer Jimmy Sills was one of many who received a stop-and-go penalty for rough kart driving. He said, "If you don't get back flagged at a kart track - you're not racing." The Professor reports he is doing great and waiting for the rain to stop so he can get going with his racing school in Marysville, CA. Sills said he spends lots of time on his Harley Davidson or riding dirt bikes. Among his friends he rides with are Jimmy Boyd, and Mike Zine. …Another pilot seeking a ride is Garrett Peterson. The son of Greg is an engineering student at Sac State that has a rich history of good performances in karting. …Greg DeCaires will run two cars this year. His 410 sprint car will be #39, and his 360 will remain #35. Greg said he is attacking the Civil War series again.

Please excuse the HammerDown! Online Store for being temporarily closed. Wells Fargo told us we had to switch our "E-Store" over to a new merchant services company because W.F. would no longer be offering the service. The whole deal is a pain in my #$$. But hopefully soon we will have our store ready to take orders through the new Serra Host configuration. In the meantime - thanks for your patience. ...Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway was the destination this weekend past. The National Sprint Tour event had many positive moments for the large fan turnout. Steve Kinser won both nights but not without challenge from the likes of Sammy Swindell, Tim Kaeding, Jason Meyers, Paul McMahan, Tim Shaffer, and Ronnie Day. Three moments really stood out to me this weekend. The first was the end of the first heat race on Friday night. Tim Kaeding, in his first drive for Steve Kinser Racing, won the heat with a last lap, last corner, high-side, pass that brought the fans to their feet.

Tim Kaeding in the new #11k. (John's Racing Photos)

Moment two was Robert Ballou's stirring B-Main transfer drive. The Rocklin Rocket, a 16 year-old, ripped around the top of the high-banked 1/3-mile clay track, scraping the wall at each end for a miraculous A-Main transfer berth. It was the kind of sprint car racing performance that raises your hair! Finally, the A-Main on Saturday at one point had the top-five all within striking distance of the lead. McMahan was flying past cars on the bottom, and Tim Kaeding was charging on the top. Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell were battling, chasing after Shaffer. Meyers and Brooke Tatnell were right there in contention. It was hard to watch all the action. …We paid Kinser and Danny Lasoski their Racer's Racing Series winnings for the 2005 season. …Meyers will now turn his attention to the promotion of a Bakersfield Speedway NST race on March 18th. He was fast all weekend at the track closest to his Clovis, CA. home. Meyers told us that Day will run the entire Golden State Challenge in 2006. Ronnie was quick in the team car of Meyers. …Our condolences - belated - to Rick Bragg and his family for the loss of his son. ...McMahan was fast in the Tony Stewart #20. Jimmy Carr, the crew-chief on the Bass Pro Shops machine said the team did not have any test time before the Tulare races. Carr confirmed that some things were changed by the team on the MOPAR engines. …37 cars turned out on Friday. 40 cars made it Saturday. …Tatnell won his fifth World Series Sprint Car Championship in his season down under. …Kevin Swindell turned 17 years old last Tuesday. He celebrated by driving across the country 30 hours to compete in Tulare. Kevin finished eighth after starting 15th on Saturday. He and Garrett Ishii had a good battle in the B-Main that entertained. …Brian Paulus accepted his All-HammerDown! Team certificate Saturday afternoon then drove from 22nd to ninth in the A-main later that night. …Morrie Williams was true to his word in supplying cars for both Jon Allard and Dennis Moore Jr. …Lucas Wolfe put the Dave Helm #11h where it needed to be. The Pennsylvania 19 year-old was seeing California tracks for the first time. …Craig Stidham was back in his own J&J. Stidham was leading the points in the 2005 Rebel Cup when Kings Speedway shut the gates last year. We understand that Kings will be operated by the Soares family in 2006. …Peter Murphy was racing his own car #4 at Tulare. Pete will steer the Redi Green #1k this season in winged events and drive his own car at non-wing races. Murphy towed into the pits in an open trailer and claimed no spare parts. …We heard sprint car engine prices ranging from the bargain of $11,000 - to the expensive - $50,000. …Phoenix driver Ben Gregg, who we last saw non-wing racing at Manzy, was winged up and dicing at the Thunderbowl.

Travel Guide for Tulare, CA. (February 23-25, 2006) …The plan was to leave Rocklin Thursday afternoon giving myself time to get to the Visalia Radisson by 7:30 pm so I could watch the Sacramento Kings play the Lakers on national television. The game was on TNT. Traffic was rough and a normal three hour and 40 minute trip took almost four hours and 45 minutes. I did stop at a Jack in the Box in Ripon. I tried the Brushetta Chicken Ciabatta sandwich which I must say was pretty tasty for a fast food sellout. So I get to the hotel having sacrificed the first quarter of the game and what do you know? Their hotel TV deal doesn't have TNT. Luckily - there was a radio station that carried the Kings Radio Network. The Radisson, I learned, will become a Marriott soon. …Friday - I hit Pick up Stix for House Fried Rice in Visalia before heading to the track. Post race - it was take-out from Carrow's. I had a Pot Roast Melt with Fries. Sandwich was good, fries were mushy. Saturday - I ate two things from the track. A Frito Boat was tasty even though they still use the little corn chips rather than the 'scoops'. I also tried the 'homemade' potato chips from the Chippery; a mobile unit that cooks specialty chips. No complaints. The races ran long - and I didn't hit the road `til 12:30 am. I was back in Rocklin bleary eyed some time after 4 am.

We are pleased to welcome Hunt's Race World, and Racing Fans Direct as new backers. Check out Hunt's new 'on-line store' for anything collectible. ...Racing Fans Direct made a donation to the Racer's Racing Series! ...What do racers do when they have an off weekend? They watch racing on television and pick fantasy teams for the upcoming season. Sunday was such a day as my buddy B.F. held his annual fantasy league draft at his San Jose, CA home. B.F. lives with his brother Burt not far from the famous Silicon Valley computer 'shops'. The Daytona 500 was playing on two TV's and after the race was finished we commenced the draft of 20 drivers per team. There were 13 teams choosing pilots this year. The concept is simple and could be followed by any race fan that wanted to devise their own fantasy league. Scoring is based on top-five feature finishes for the year. Five points for a win, four for a second place finish, three for third, and so on. In B.F.'s league we count all kinds of divisions of competition. B.F. gives each driver a designation for their respective category. You pick two nationally touring winged sprint car drivers from the WoO, NST or All-Stars, three USAC drivers from sprints, midgets or Silver Crown, four 'California' drivers, one USAC-CRA pilot, one ASCS National driver, two 'Pennsylvania' drivers, and four NASCAR wheelers. Finally when all that drafting is done - you select three 'at-large' competitors. I had the second pick overall after we picked marked pennies from a baseball hat for draft position. Fred Rahmer was the first driver selected leaving me a choice, in my mind, of Donny Schatz, Steve Kinser, Daryn Pittman, Greg Hodnett, Terry McCarl, Joey Saldana or Lance Dewease. Last year, Rahmer scored the most points overall followed by Steve Kinser. I wasn't sure that Kinser would race as much in 2006 as he did in 2005. I picked Schatz. Having the second pick means you wait a long time for the selections to snake back to you for your next choice. Rightfully, and logically BF does his draft so that if you have the last pick in round one - you are first to choose in round two. I was next-to-last in round two and I thought I could still get a 100 point scorer in Brooke Tatnell - so I snatched him up and completed my roster of national winged guys. Picking your one ASCS driver can be crucial in this pool and I was happy to find Darren Stewart still on the board when I picked in the third round. Yes, Gary Wright was long gone. …Matt Kenseth was my top NASCAR pick. He races lots of Busch races and he is a talented driver according to his peers. I don't know much about NASCAR but I did hear Dave Blaney say Kenseth was the best driver in the series. That is good enough for me. Ted Musgrave is on my team based totally on his success in the trucks in 2005 - and the fact that I knew he runs a Toyota (which I think is the right engine package in the trucks?). The other two NASCAR guys I selected were Todd Kluever and Burney Lamar. Lamar raced a USAC Western Sprint Car a few years ago and I saw him win a karting event that included some strong racers. He already has four fantasy league points from his second place run in the Busch Series opener a Daytona. Kluever was picked because I read that Jack Roush owned his car. My USAC trio came as the result of a bit of a dice roll. I tabbed Bryan Clauson very early - hoping he can get me 60 points. Mat Neely was available late as my second choice in USAC. Finally I took a chance on Kyle Nicholas who has some rides with MOPAR lined up for 2006. …My CRA pick was Mike Spencer. The front runners (Damion Gardner, Cory Kruseman, Rip Williams, Tony Jones, and Mike Kirby were 'off the board' already when I selected. I took Spencer because his smooth style impresses me almost every time I've seen him race. …My California drivers lean heavy to the USAC Western Sprint Car Series but my first CA driver picked was Kyle Hirst. I see Kyle continuing to improve as he gains experience. Tim Barber was my second 'California' driver selected. He seems to be in the hunt at all the events he enters. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick Mike Murgoitio as my third CA driver. He came on strong late in 2005 under the tutelage of Larry Triguero Jr. My final CA driver picked was Nick Green. Tim's son should score me some points on the blacktop in 2006. …I picked my Pennsylvania drivers late in the going. I think 21 of the 26 PA drivers were gone when I took Kevin Nouse. Todd Hestor was my other pick. …Minor heartbreak occurred several times during the draft for me. I would be ready to select a certain driver - and to my dismay they were taken right in front of me. This happened to me with Colby Wiesz, Kody Swanson, Johnny Sauter, and Jon Stanbrough. …At-large picks are guys that did not get selected in the first part of the draft. You can pick anyone who is leftover. My three at-large picks were Kerry Madsen, Brock Mayes and Mike Faria. ...The draft was fun despite a five hour round trip drive. The best part is having some added incentive to scrutinize those crucial top-fives when the season really gets rolling. I now have a reason to care about races in other regions that I might not pay as much (or in the case of NASCAR any) attention to. Drivers that are on my team... let's put the HammerDown!

...Please dig JackSlash.com which is run by my buddy Sean Buckley. Sean and I announced together a few times at Kings Speedway in Hanford, CA. He is a cool cat - and his site is lots of fun. ...Look for Scott Hall and Nick Green to run at selected Chico events this season. Brian Sperry is said by Hall to be the car owner in the winged 410's (Hall) and spec sprint (Green). ...The World of Outlaws announced that Joey Saldana will run the entire WoO schedule in 2006 for car-owner Kasey Kahne. ...Meanwhile the National Sprint Tour event at Tulare in a couple weeks has confirmed that Sammy Swindell will run. ...Watsonville Speedway is now called Ocean Speedway in Watsonville.

Rip Williams took the win in the Perris Auto Speedway opener. 40 cars were on hand in the USAC-CRA sanctioned event. ...I hear we may see Brad Galedrige in a USAC Western Sprint Car this season. The 2004 Ford Focus CA. North Champion showed good speed at Phoenix on the mile in a midget. ...Brooke Tatnell won the 2006 Australian Sprintcar Championship.

...Garrett Hansen is going to run a 410 sprint car in the Perris Auto Speedway season opener. The Manhattan Beach, CA driver is coming off of an impressive performance at the Chili Bowl where he made the Saturday night A-Main. Hansen has run a 360 sprinter at Ventura with good success in the VRA series.

"Travel life's road with a loving heart" - Pat Holtsman

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