NARC NEWSLINE, April 9, 2020, By Jim Allen (Includes two special race reports!) … Okay, I’ll admit it! I’m bored out of my mind! Yes, I said it in public! Do we all agree that there’s a huge difference between enjoying a nice relaxing weekend at home to recharge the batteries and “having” to stay home for an extended period of time? I’m so charged up now, I feel like the Energizer Bunny running on a pure adrenaline IV drip, except its Ground Hog Day and I’m stuck in a never ending line at the DMV.
After enduring day number “whatever” of this coronavirus shelter in place deal, I think we have a mutual understanding that entertainment comes super cheap these days. One can only scroll through social media memes so many times. And watching six Sharknado’s and all 14 Fast & Furious movies is just downright wrong on many different levels. Heck, I joined the rest of the nation and blasted through all seven episodes of Tiger King in just two sittings. If you do that long enough somebody will come fit you for a jacket where the arms tie behind your back and you get coloring books for your birthday for the rest of your life.
So with all that in mind and to keep our sanity, let’s just fantasize for just a moment and imagine that this Coronavirus deal never happened. That’s right … NO C-O-V-I-D-19, just N-A-R-C and K-W-S-2020. More specifically, let’s just say it was business as usual for the NARC King of the West Fujitsu Racing Series and our first two races of the season went off without a hitch. No rain, no viruses, no panic, and yes, we still have toilet paper. Got your attention yet? Good! For all of you locked in your homes right now looking for more cheap entertainment, here is how it (allegedly) went:
MARCH 14th – The Dirt Track @Kern County Raceway Park: With gas prices at their lowest levels in California since the great earthquake of 1906, race fans poured into Bakersfield from 11 different states. The last time this many people invaded the city, there was a 2-for-1 ladies night at the nearby Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. Local hotels were packed, Salty’s BBQ sold out of ribs by noon, and co-event sponsor Houchin Community Blood Bank had so many volunteers donating blood they had to bring in an 18-wheel oil tanker to haul it away. To say that anticipation was at an all-time high for the Fujitsu Infinite Comfort Nationals would be an understatement.
Thirty-six 410 sprint cars signed in. Four additional traveling teams from Alabama and Mississippi had committed to attend but never made it. It was discovered later that the southerners towed to the wrong Bakersfield. Not the other track in Bakersfield, but to tiny Bakersfield, Texas. That town has a population of about 30 people (Google it), which coincidentally, was about the same number of people standing in line at Rico Abreu‘s apparel truck making purchases. And … almost as many as the line at Jodie Robinson’s 83V car, where she was autographing her new “Girl’s Rule and Boy’s Drool” racing shirts.
A surprise entry in the pit area was the 69C car driven by Craven Cash of Shafter, California. The driver had a striking resemblance to 13-time NARC and KWS champ Brent Kaeding. Word got out later that BK was racing under a pseudonym (aka Jimmy Sills as Luke Warmwater) to get out of paying a $100 bet to former racer Anthony Simone. On top of that, the 2020 season was going to serve as a much-deserved “I wined ’em, I dined ’em, I’m ready to AARP ’em” BK farewell tour. Also forgot to mention that Mr. Cash is running for rookie of the year honors. He timed in sixth fast.
So why the name change? With interest, Kaeding owed Simone $4,328 and didn’t want his race winnings taken by a pending court judgement. By the way, I know you’re dying to know what the bet was. Glad you asked! More than four decades ago, Kaeding bet Simone that he couldn’t make it through a single NARC event without crashing. He lost that wager at the 1985 Pombo-Sargent Classic in Hanford when Simone blew a motor on the first circuit of hot laps and was done for the night. He’s been chasing down BK ever since.
2019 King of the West champion DJ Netto was the first car out to qualify. But it was two-time series champ Tim Kaeding who set fast time in the Bates-Hamilton 42. He did it in less time than it takes to complete two pro rodeo bull rides (which is how they time things in Bakersfield.) Dominic Scelzi, Gio Scelzi and Gary Scelzi timed in second through fourth fast in a remarkable feat of family consistency. All three were driving matching number 41 race cars.
The new Sunnyvalley Bacon throw didn’t go off quite as planned. To add some marketing flair this year, drivers line up on the front straightaway to throw 1.5 pound packages of frozen bacon into the grandstands. Fans were encouraged in advance to wear football helmets and goalie masks and to bring baseball gloves and fishing nets, but not everybody got the message. We apologize to Mrs. Pandemic from Santa Clara who caught a package of Sunnyvalley’s fantastic tasting Sweet & Sour-flavored bacon – with her face. When she was revived by paramedics with smelling salts and a Coors Light, Sean Watts, in a terrific gesture of sportsmanship, autographed her bacon package as a reminder to duck next time. On a side note, one vegetarian race fan complained about the lack of vegan bacon in the promotion. He was promptly arrested by Bakersfield finest on charges unbecoming an American citizen.
The first heat race was claimed by rookie Kyle Offill, the starting center of the NARC basketball team. The other three were claimed by Indiana’s Spencer Bayston, Oklahoma’s Shane Stewart and Roseville’s Willie Croft. Gary Scelzi brought out the only red flag of the night in the fourth heat. Apparently, he forgot what kind of car he was driving, forgot to turn left, and crashed into the first turn concrete wall on the first lap. The good news is that his chutes deployed. He crawled out from his car unhurt, but hungry, after racing for 3.652 seconds. He was last seen chowing down on some tasty Italian food at this hauler.
Justin Sanders won the trophy dash, but was reprimanded for spraying officials with Alkaline 88 water (his new sponsor) in a wild and very moist victory lane celebration. There was so much water on the track, it had to be wheel-packed again before the semi. Speaking of the semi, rookie Carole Baskin, driving the Big Cat Rescue-sponsored number 66, was named the winner of the 12-lap event, but only after the top three finishers mysteriously disappeared. She insisted that all three left the pits on their own accord, headed to Costa Rica to start the aptly named Tiger King Speedway. Police are still investigating why Tyler Walker, Carson Macedo and JoJo Hedberg are still missing.
The feature was one for the ages. After starting fifth and sixth in the grid, the Scelzi brothers powered to the front with Gio taking the lead away from Sanders on lap 10. After that it was a stimulating contest of the “S’s” for announcer Steve Hughes. It went something like this for the final nonstop 20-laps: “It’s Scelzi sliding Scelzi, Sanders, and Statler in some sensational side-by-side racing screaming down the backstretch on the 17th circuit.” Hughes had to wipe the window down three times with a squeegee after providing play-by-play in this Sssssaliva-inducing spitfest. To complicate matters, just about every dog in Kern County came running to the track – most of them in heat. In the end it was Dominic who scored his third straight win at the Dirt Track, this one over his little brother in a photo finish. The winning margin was … get this … .667 seconds. (For those of you from Bakersfield, that is the time it takes to open the gate to start a bull ride.)
However, in victory lane, officials discovered that Dominic was mistakenly driving Gio’s 41 car and vise-versa, resulting in instant DQ’s for both. That meant third place finisher Bud Kaeding was named the winner and everybody moved up a couple of spots. Kaeding proudly announced in his interview that he was “going to Disneyland,” but he does that all the time anyway.
Colby Copeland was the new runner-up and DJ Netto filled out the extended line of cars lined up on the front straightaway representing the podium finishers. Justin Sanders, who drove the feature wearing scuba gear and a snorkel, was fourth, chased by Jodie Robinson. With her first ever top five 410 finish, Robinson’s autographed merchandise was now selling on EBay for record amounts.
Chase Johnson and Mitchell Faccinto were next to cross the checkered. Their efforts were remarkable in that neither driver was actually at Kern County Raceway Park. Both were hooked up to remote iRacing rigs in their homes that automatically drove their cars, while they casually sipped ice cold brews in Penngrove and Hanford, respectively. Johnson said he would have finished higher but a computer glitch kept switching his 68 car from a winged car to a non-winged machine throughout the event. Faccinto’s drive was impressive in the fact his 37 car was damaged during the parade lap when he ran into the “non-virtual” pace truck. And again on lap 22 when he was shunted by Bubba Wallace.
Was that Jason Statler’s name you heard earlier? Yup, like in “Big Jason Statler,” who came to the conclusion that the only thing better than 30-years of racing with Dave Rios, was 31-years. He finished eighth, followed by Croft and TK. It was a great race. Too bad you couldn’t make it.
MARCH 21st – The Stockton Dirt Track Salute to LeRoy Van Conett: After all the tremendous hoopla that surrounded the first race of the season, race fans packed the ex-horse track in Stockton. Secretariat, Seabiscuit, Man ‘o War and Trigger were kid favorites as they grazed in the victory lane paddock area before the races kicked off.
Promoter Tony Noceti made good on his promise to get a jump on promoting the upcoming Asparagus Cup. His idea was to make sure that all of the food concessions featured asparagus. That included everything from the nachos and ice cream to the popcorn and beer. Surprisingly, it all tasted good, but the bathrooms began to smell funny as the night progressed.
An auto-correct error on the text invitation to Leroy Van Conett for the autograph session turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Joining Van Conett was the band Van Halen, singer Van Morrison, the cast from Van Helsing and National Lampoons Van Wilder, and some guy selling a 1976 Chevy Van on Craigslist. A good time was had by all and the music and CGI special effects were great. Gary Scelzi also took the opportunity to announce he was retiring from sprint car racing and had legally changed his name to Gary Van Scelzi to honor the eight-time NARC champion. He was last seen eating asparagus-stuffed canalloni in the pit area.
By the way, it was open muffler night at Stockton and Jodie Robinson’s new “Girls Rule and Boys Drool” earplugs were a steal at $29 per set. Each set came with a complimentary bushel of asparagus and sold out right after wheel-packing. At this rate, she will be independently wealthy before she is 30.
Tim Kaeding was the fast qualifier for the second time and debuted his brand new “Bates Hotel-Hamilton the Musical” racing t-shirts in the pits. According to TK, the shirt represents the ups and downs of sprint car racing. One side is kind of scary and the other makes you want to sing rap music and dance through the pits. Nobody was seriously injured during the bacon throw.
Heat races were picked off by DJ Netto, Cole Croft, Craven Cash, and Anthony Simone‘s grandson, who now races under the pseudonym of BK Stillowesmoney. Sean Watts, who secured a special sponsorship from the Stockton Police SWAT team and “Bullet” America won the dash in a shootout with Shane Golobic.
Carole Baskin won the semi again in the same fashion as Kern County. She finished fourth, but Buddy Kofoid, Cole Macedo and Jenna Frazier haven’t been seen since. Baskin was last seen in the pits explaining to Director of Competition Mike Andreetta how they left for a dirt track in Costa Rica. Andreetta was last seen walking a full grown lion to the scoring tower for the A-main. As a side note, Simba loves bacon.
Wouldn’t you know it, the 30-lap feature was one for the ages! (Of course it was!) It was a clash between RA, TK, DJ, and SB battling for most of the race. A flat tire took TK out of contention with five to go and Abreu pulled in the pits a lap later to restock his apparel truck. Bayston and Netto mixed it up pretty good, but in the end it was the old guys who ruled. Van Conett “backed it in” with a classic Calistoga racing move and got past both frontrunners with only two laps remaining. A lap later, Brent Kaeding and Shane Stewart did the same setting the stage for an old (pardon the pun) storybook ending. The three cars crossed the finish line together in Ford vs Ferrari style. Tony Hunt handled the victory lane interviews.
DJ Netto was fourth and Bayston fifth. The hardcharger award went to Bud Kaeding who started dead last in the 69 car after missing qualifying. Bud chartered a helicopter from the Disneyland parking lot directly to the track, but his pilot experienced a Vietnam flashback mid-flight and crash landed in the infield at Ocean Speedway. Bud finished sixth after a quick flight on Southwest. Speaking of Tim Kaeding, he was last seen in the pits spray painting “Bates Hotel” on the side of his team’s hauler. Car owner Joshua Bates plans to load TK’s Spotify account with rap music before the next race.
And that was a wrap from the Stockton Van Dirt Track. An in-depth recap of everything you allegedly missed. And wouldn’t you know it, there were a couple of twists and turns in the process. You should have been there.
Coming to you live from Auburn, CA. See ya.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The following column was meant as a parody. It was not intended to offend, upset, annoy, or outrage any of the alleged fictional characters in the story. Your spouse can do that a lot better than me! It was intended to provide cheap entertainment to fans desperate for a touch of open wheel racing sanity. It is not intended as a cure for COVID-19, VD, ED, ADHD, STD, IUD, IED, DUI, or the super explosive IBS. Names were not changed to protect the guilty. In the event you were offended by anything written here, your local Dungeons & Dragons Basement Dweller Fantasy League Draft is waiting for you. A Go Fund Me account has been set up to pay off Anthony Simone. Void where prohibited by law. Carole Baskin more than likely is a murderer. Not valid in China. For external use only. The names LeRoy Van Conett and Brent Kaeding are trademarked by the US Patent office and proudly displayed in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. The End!