KENNEDY: The California Coast
WoO teams like to travel at night in California to avoid as much traffic as possible. Teams traveled south from Hanford on highways 99, 5, 58, 14 or 395 to I-15 and 215 to PAS. Some teams stayed overnight in Tehachapi and Lancaster. One team used the 210 through Pasadena to the 60 and 215. Teams arrived at PAS by noon on race day. After the PAS race most WoO trailers were headed out of the track within 45 minutes. Numerous worn-out race tires were left behind in the PAS pits; some young fans took them home as souvenirs.
Again this year promoter Don Kazarian authorized the collection of money for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life to help eradicate cancer. For the eighth year sprint car drivers went through the grandstands with their helmets and fans dropped cash into helmets. PAS has contributed $89,711.00 to the cancer society over the past seven years. The goal this year is to top $100,000 via fan and PAS donations.
Former CRA car owner Ernie Duncan, 84, lost his life to cancer in Fullerton on March 31. He owned ADCO Equipment Rental for many years and owned a beautiful Al Bartz-built, 15-time CRA feature winning sprinter from 1967-71. His car numbers were 45, 3, 2 and 98 and his driver was friend Billy Wilkerson for all but one of those victories. Joe Saldana, father of the current WoO driver, won the November, 1970 Ascot Park Grand Prix in Duncan’s black No. 2. That car is now on display at Dick Woodland’s museum in Paso Robles.
Bruce Douglass, 63, won the Senior Sprint feature in the borrowed Victor Davis No. 13 over Ed Schwarz and Bill Badger. Douglass stated, “The race was fun, clean and the track is great.” Davis, a PAS Senior winner, has retired. He allowed his friend Douglass to race his car. Davis said, “The driver has to buy the fuel and tires.”
The USAC-CRA 30-lap main ran from 9:52-10:25 with a lap 23 red flag following Cody Williams’ third turn flip. The duel between winner Damion Gardner and runner-up Mike Spencer was another classic.
Gardner scored his second 2014 PAS victory and is now three for three in 2014 USAC-CRA feature victories. “I made a couple of mistakes and had to fight them off,” Gardner said. “I had to make good restarts each time.”
The WoO 30-lap feature started at 10:40 and finished at 11:01. Saldana led laps 1 and 6-30. All 13 finishers ran 30 laps. Runner-up Pittman led laps 2-5. Third finisher Brad Sweet, with his family (including grandparents) down from Grass Valley, closed rapidly during the final laps and made the top three finish closer than expected.
When interviewed by WoO’s Natalie Sather over the infield microphone, Saldana said, “I’m a fan of sprint car racing and it was great to see the USAC-CRA race tonight. Car owner Dan Motter is in Chile on business. The track was moving down. My tires were slowing so I moved down and just followed the last place car. A lot of times you want to give up and go home, but tonight it paid off.”
Runner-up Pittman said he considered a slide job, “But I couldn’t pull it off without leaving the door open for him to slide me. I’m mad at myself. We’ll just go to the El Paso race. No sense balling up both cars with a slide job.”
Third-place Sweet stated, “We had a good solid night. It was fast on top and slick on the bottom. I never had the right lane to move up. I raced hard with Sammy (Swindell) at the end to keep third.”