Steve Turnross 10/23/02
What used to be a tough pick ‘em Labor Day race
weekend has now become an easy call. Its a choice between the outlaws at
Calistoga or SCRA at Ventura and Perris. The winged outlaws provide pure
speed in a flat out assault of the track. To be fast with a winged sprint
car you must hold the throttle down and drive the car as straight as possible
to keep up your momentum. A non-wing car of SCRA is much more of a on and
off the gas, toss the car sideways, with a tap of the brake or burpin’ the
throttle to get through the turns. SCRA is the way to go for those who like
three wide racing with more passes in one heat race than you may see in
a whole night of winged outlaw action.
Ventura raceway at Seaside Park was Saturday night
short track special for the SCRA 40 lap main event. For a cool Pacific coast
evening the action sure got hot in the feature. The lead was not the place
to be as all who ran up front has mishap and misfortune throughout the race.
Super Rickie Gaunt took off to a nice lead at the start and looked
like it could be his night until a sudden steering failure and right turn
into the first turn fence ended his race upside down. Cory Kruseman
inherited the lead and kept it until a big bicycle on a restart in turn
three sent Cory up the track to a stop for a yellow. Tony Jones worked
his was to the top spot after Rip Williams led briefly, but had his
bid for win taken away by a crash in front of him. As Jones was pulling
away from the field a crash involving back markers blocked the track in
turn three. As Jones had only a split second to react to the cluster ahead,
he tried hard to avoid the melee to no avail. He was just in the wrong place
at the wrong time.
Damion Gardner became the next to take over
the top spot for the restart. As Gardner started to stretch his lead the
night came to a grinding halt for "The Ripper" as he flipped hard down the
backchute into turn three after contact with Steve Ostling. The car
was history, but Williams emerged unhurt after the red, Gardner reassumed
the point and took the victory from the deep (14th) starting spot over Ostling
and Levi Jones. Hats off to the crew chief Vince Lattner and
the dedicated bunch that help out each week. Brent, Bruce, Jeff, Kevin,
and Randy--- WAY TO GO BOYS! These guys are clickin’ and on a
The Sunday night show moved southeast to the blistering
heat of Perris Auto Speedway. It was a sweltering 110 degrees at 4pm which
kept myself and MVP announcer/cameraman Sean Buckley in the air conditioned
MVP truckster at every opportunity until sundown. "The Demon" Damion Gardner
was looking for the weekend sweep as he was elbows up, chargin’ thru the
competition. After taking the second heat win DG ran third in the dash to
gain the inside second row staring spot for the main. It took only two laps
for him to take control of the race. A furious pace by Gardner left the
field in his dust as he pulled out to a huge lead in a short time. The 50
lap race distance was a downfall for the charger from Concord as the top
side of the race track slowed significantly after lap 25. A pack of cars
running the bottom of the speedway reeled in the leader rather quickly.
On the 31st lap Cory Kruseman tried poking his nose under Gardner. The next
lap saw Kruseman pull along side on the cushion running Gardner coming out
of the second turn. An excited Gardner mashed the gas only to have the car
break loose slightly and brush the back straight wall resulting in a flat
right rear tire.
Kruseman took over until Rip willams charged by for
the lead on lap 35. Rip was leaning on his right rear tire pretty hard as
he was checking out on the field. The tire lasted only a handful of laps
until it shredded. "The Gasman" Richard Griffin saved his tire the
best, took the lead and the win at his toughest track. Its was the fifth
track that Griffin gas put the Bruce Bromme Jr. prepared ride into
victory lane this season.
The annual Watsonville WoO mid-weeker was a good
ole hook ‘em up affair. The wheelies in time trials were exciting and plentiful.
The heats were racy throughout with a photo finish even included in one
of them. The night was shaping up to be a Brad Furr benefit as he
romped in the dash to earn a front row staring position. The next biggie
for the California product was putting 30 laps together on a track that
has not been kind to him over the years. It didn’t take long to see it was
Brads night as he led wire to wire for the big victory. Stevie Smith
was making some moves to claim the runner up position at Willie Williams
SCRA offered up such a great Labor Day twinbill that
it was decided to forgo all pavement shows for the remainder of the season
if the non-wing sprints were running on dirt. A trip down highway 101 to
Santa Maria for a show at the 1/3 mile clay oval that is cut into a hillside.
The track was hooked up and tacky for the evenings events. The shootout
in the feature between Damion Gardner and Rip Williams was fierce as "The
Demon" tried all he had in his bag of tricks to get by Rip for the win but
was unsuccessful. Williams just never faltered in the ten mile contest.
Following the flying pair across the line was the steady Steve Ostling,
point leader Richard Griffin, and midget hero Josh Wise. Wise recorded
fast time in qualifying before the impressive top five finish in the main
After a week off to regroup and reload. It is off
to Chico for the 360 fall nationals for the crew before back-to-back appearances
to King Speedway in Hanford for the USAC/Rebel Cup doubleheader followed
up by the Trophy Cup the next weekend. So remember to go fast or go home.