Steve Turnross 04/23/02
The Steve-0 Photo & Video
tour kicked off the 2002 race season with a trip to PAS for the SCRA daytime
opener. Former Flatout editor Kevin Eckert was kind enough to supply
a ride from the Burbank Airport to Perris. We arrived just in time for the
first hot lap session and boy was it bringing back some fond memeories of
Calistoga daytime shows in the seventies, not to mention the Ascot CRA races
I lucky enough to see.
Qualifying got ugly when
veteran Ben Astenious took a viscious looking flip after his steering
wheel came off entering the first turn. He was taken to the hospital for
a precautionary check up. He told SCRA video guru Dean Mills the
next week while ordering tapes of the carnage that "I will be back". He
also said, " I just needed a good shellacking to get back in the swing of
The heat race action was
good as the track took rubber all day which provided a tire smoke show with
wheelstands mixed in. The feature was excellent as battles ensued throughout
the pack. John Scott dealt with SCRA newcomer Damion Gardner
for nearly the whole race as the two were in the top 5 when contact was
made sending both cars up the track and the freight train going by. They
both got back up front by the end of the 30 laps.
JJ Yeley was the
man, using patience to pick off the win over Troy Rutherford, "The
Gasman" Richard Griffin, Tony Jones, and John Scott. Damion
Gardner came home a solid sixth in his initial start without a wing on dirt.
If you get a chance to go see this group race anywhere, it is highly recommended
as they put on the best show in the country.
The next month of racing
action was dominated by rain as mother nature racked up a bunch of wins
of her own, keeping California gearheads parked for most of March. It looks
to be one of those strange years with cancellations for a variety of reasons.
So far this year there has been races lost due to snow, rain, cold weather,
wind, lack of fans, television, and construction delays.
Madera Speedway hosted
the USAC western states Sprints and Midgets to open the season at the fastest
paved 1/3 mile in the west. A fine field of 20 sprinters took to the pavement
as Bryan Bullard passed with ease to start the race and took the
Ken Pierson #14 to victory lane with only a little pressure from
other challengers. Shauna Hogg took runnerup honors with a solid
run followed by Jeff Gardner, defending series champ Tony Hunt,
and Scott Hansen.
In the headliner midget
race, Tony Hunt looked to be a sure winner after swapping the lead with
Washington visitor John Starks in the final laps, but the Bob
Rosen entry ran short on fuel as the heartbroken Hunt sputtered to
a third place finish on the track. A post race inspection found Johnny
Rodriguez who finished second to be slightly too wide on the right rear
of his midget giving Hunt the runnerup position. Young, Van Knill
finished third ahead of Marc DeBeaumont in his DeBeaumont Motorsports
Madera Speedway track crews
must be given two thumbs up for mopping up two huge oildowns of the track
in the Midget semi and Supermodified main. The USAC Sprints return to Madera
on May 4th for a point race with the USAC Midgets hitting the track on May
18th for a combo show with BCRA.
After a week off to rest
and regroup the tour resumed at Watsonville for a Friday night Golden State
Challenge race. It should of been called Golden Skate Challenge this night
as the usually nice racing surface was missing moisture and grip all night
as the pack paraded around the bottom of the track. Tim Kaeding had
the field covered in the feature when he decided to hustle under a backmarker
and made contact rotating the Wright One Construction Maxim into a spin
with a wheelie coming to rest inside of turn 3-4.
With TK in the back for
the restart, Brent Kaeding assumed control of the race and drove
off the final ten laps for yet another win in his magical career. Tommy
Tarlton came home second with Ronnie Day joining on the podium.
Crowd favorite and local boy Kevin Pylant cruised to fourth followed
by Peter Murphy. The boys and their toys will be back at the bullring
on May 17th for round twelve of the Golden State Challenge.
This past weekend the Placerville
Speedway hosted the BCRA midgets along with the BCRA Midget Lites, 600 Mini-sprints,
and Drawf cars. 93 cars packed the pit area for a full night of open wheel
action. The red dirt was prepared perfectly for the non-wing midgets as
23 cars clocked in with Southern California visitor Brian Stanfill
obliterating the exsisting standard for time trials with an astounding 11.908.
Four other drivers were under the old mark as well in Qualifying.
The main event was a star
studded field with the big boys coming from the back of the pack. Rob
Russell took advantage of his fourth starting spot to bolt out to an
early advantage in the F&F Racing Stealth V4. As Russell pulled away the
packed tightened at the back as four cars entered turn 1 side by side something
had to give. Jonathan Allard was the meat in a midget sandwich as
he was up on another car while being hit on the inside at the same time.
Jimmy Christian looked to have the mess cleared when he clipped someone
and flipped high into the Placerville night sky. He climbed out of the wounded
Walker mount uninjured.
After a yellow on lap 16
for a Stanfill spin in turn four the stage was set for a final 4 lap dash
for cash. Russell was still out front in a car that was getting loose as
the race wore on followed closely by Glen Carson who had no brakes
the final laps with Ronnie Day charging up to challenge. With two
to go Carson made his make it or break it move and powered by Russell to
win on the dirt for the first time in ten years. Day wheeled the Mike Sala
19 to second followed by the impressive Russell. Young, Steven Williams
out of Merced was fourth in the Cliff Blackwell Special followed
by the ageless Floyd Alvis.
Gardner should capture the SCRA Rookie of the Year award in Las Vegas next
winter.....With very few 410 racers still going, it may be only a matter
of time before winged 410's are extinct. It could happen before we know
it in California......No Civil War races at Petaluma this year is a bummer......Former
sprint car pilot and Ascot Park 6 lap track record holder Desi Bray
is running a 11 race pavement schedule with BCRA and USAC in his lovely
wife Michelle's Sager Motorsports entry.....Tony Iacobitti
is the early season favorite for nicest car award with his Yak Graphics
chariot.....The newlook team cars of Ken Pierson fielded for Tony Hunt and
Bryan Bullard are really sharp rides.....Johnny Rodriguez showed well in
his pavement midget debut at Madera.....Cory Kruseman could be going
for a repeat title in SCRA as he has already parted company with his Silver
Crown ride for 2002.....Mark Monico will be a winner in USAC western
states sprints very soon.....Jon Allard snapped out of his early season
tailspin by capturing the win at Chico in Civil War competition.....Jason
Meyers looks a little frustrated being relegated to racing at home,
as he is running over and through his old California buddies trying to make
a buck.....Brian Matherly has been a busy crew chief thus far in
2002 with the duties of setup for a non-wing pavement sprint car, winged
dirt sprint, and non-wing dirt midget....Good to see Chuck Gurney Jr.
at Placerville in the Gary and Greg Haynes Yellow Bird.
Speaking of the little
rim rider, he was the winner of the last trivia question on how many career
USAC feature wins does Floyd Alvis have. The answer is 2. They were about
15 years apart and both at Madera. So with that in mind we will use the
Gurney family for this trivia question. How many feature wins total have
Chuck Gurney and Chuck Gurney Jr. scored combined in BCRA midget
competition? You can e-mail me at Steveovideo@aol.com
with your answers, comments, or questions.
See ya at the races. Keep
your elbows up.