Steve Turnross 07/27/02
As the California
temperatures have heated up so has the open wheel action throughout the
state. Some new blood has come to the front to challenge the old pros in
many series. The most notable performances have been turned in by Damion
Gardner and Tim Kaeding. These guys have been just plain fast.
The versatile Gardner has gotten the job done in everything he's driven.
Dwarf cars to 360 sprints; on to the tough Golden State Challenge series
410s. Followed by a stint on pavement with USAC western states sprints.
He is now a star on the SCRA trail. The kid has also won in every division
he's raced. The big money sponsor is the one thing the team is lacking.
Tim Kaeding is lookin'
good in the Wright Construction team and their reunion tour. With his consistency
at all tracks this could be the season T.K. takes his initial Golden State
championship. One thing is for sure, he will be on the "go button" for all
Madera Speedway hosted
the annual Vuckovich Classic for the SRL Supers and USAC/BCRA Midgets.
The Supers was another Troy Reiger benefit show. These guys have
it figured out big time. The midget portion of the show was quite surprising
as pavement newcomers Jerome Rodela and Rob Russell held off
all of the challengers to run 1-2 ahead of veteran Wally Pankratz.
Both Rodela and Russell have virtually no pavement experience which made
their performances even more impressive.
A June 1st jaunt
took us down 101 to Santa Maria for the USAC midgets and bandit non-wing
sprints which provided some fast, exciting racing. The night was slowed
by a late start and a long delay because of a scary crash in the Ford Focus
midget's second heat. Vacaville's Garrett Andrews was the heat one
winner in a walk as he checked out on the field. The win gave Andrews a
last row starting spot for the second heat. After making his way up through
the field a flip by Josh Lakatos going into turn three brought out
the red just as Andrews was making a move on the frontchute. The outcome
was horrific as Andrews climbed a wheel at full speed resulting in a hard
series of flips into the first turn. Garrett received a broken back, two
fractures in his neck and many bumps n' bruises. The best news is that Garrett
suffered no paralysis. He will be slowed up for a while and his racing days
are likely over. We're just glad that you're okay, Garrett.
The Antioch Speedway
was the next stop on tour as the wingless spec sprints and BCRA midget Lites
were on tap. Long time sprint car driver and friend, Darrell Hanestad
was the class of the field as he methodically picked off cars to take the
win, and continued his hot streak of four in a row at the reconfigured "bull
ring". Brad Sweet was a repeat winner in the Lite's main event. Watch
this kid, he's only going to get better as he gets more laps under his belt.
The Watsonville Speedway
hosted the BCRA midgets on June 21st for a "Cowboy up" affair. The heavy
and rough track conditions made for a exciting qualifying session for the
non-wing cars. It seemed as though every car either bicycled, wheelied,
or flipped sometime during their two laps on clock. Larry
Brown brought his immaculate TCR chassis to the quarter-mile on the
coast for a hard earned victory in the main event. Dallen McKenney
looked to be a winner until mechanical woes cost him the race. A battle
between Brown, Lee Yetter and Ronnie Day had the fans on their
feet for most of the 30 lapper.
The next night the
USAC sprints rolled into Altamont for a western states points race on the
big half mile. Open Wheel--hero--turned--NASCAR--superstar, Tony Stewart
was in the house for a little Saturday night fun. He had a lot of fun as
he showed the fans who packed the stands why he is the man. A late race
pass of Jason McCord in traffic sent the crowd home buzzing about
Stewarts pure ability and desire to win. McCord held on for second followed
by Rick Hendrix.
A Calistoga cancellation
opened the door for an opportunity to catch SCRA at Tulare on July 6th.
Damion Gardner was on a mission as he was leading by a bunch in the
feature when disaster struck on lap 27. A slight push exiting turn four
caused the DG Motorsports entry to get into the wall and flip hard backwards
on the front stretch. The result was junk parts for the hard charger out
of Concord. Richard Griffin won the race over Tony Jones.
Eight weeks until SCRA will be in Williams Grove, Lincoln, and Grandview
for the PA. Swing of the non-wing world championship. It is off for five
races in seven days. The trip will take me to Placerville; Medford, OR;
Cottage Grove, OR; and back to California for Watsonville and Antioch.
Remember to keep
your elbows up and put the HAMMERDOWN! You can e-mail me at Steveovideo@aol.com
with your answers, comments, or questions.