That's a Wrap: World of Outlaws Sprint Series Concludes Gold Rush Tour Chico, CA--Sept. 11, 2006 -- News and Notes from the World of Outlaws Gold Rush Tour Dialing It In: Becca Anderson had never seen Silver Dollar Speedway until last ...
That's a Wrap: World of Outlaws Sprint Series Concludes Gold Rush Tour
Chico, CA--Sept. 11, 2006 -- News and Notes from the World of Outlaws Gold Rush Tour
Dialing It In: Becca Anderson had never seen Silver Dollar Speedway until last Thursday night, when she took to the track for the first qualifying night of the 53rd Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions. After timing in second quick, she used an impromptu invite to be a guest color commentator on the Dirt Radio Network and DirtVision Cybercast on Friday night, to learn a few more things about the track which helped her out on Saturday night. In the finale of the famed event, she raced her way from the C-Main, holding off Donny Schatz to make her way into the B-Main. Though it was her first time on-the-air, World of Outlaws Sprint Series announcer John Gibson made her feel right at home.
"It was pretty nice getting to sit up there and see the whole track from a different perspective," said Anderson. "You can see what the cars are doing a little better. I enjoyed myself up there...You know what they say, 'Every race is won from the grandstand.' It helped me being able to watch the race up there not having seen this place or had any laps at it. Johnny (Gibson) is a good guy. He has a great personality and a good sense of humor. He made me feel very comfortable and that is the nice thing. I did not feel uptight. It was easy going and just like we were having a normal conversation."
From Down Under to the Great White North: Sometimes you have to go to great lengths to find some good help. Jeremy Campbell has done just that, as he searched the globe far and wide for some dedicated crew members to help him during his rookie season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. Earlier this season he found some help by way of Australia and now he had gone north of the border to help shore up his crew for the remainder of the season.
"We had a couple of guys from Australia working on the crew," said Campbell. "They both race in Australia. Their season is staring so they are going back over there. Brody (Tulloch) left last weekend and Sam (Walsh) is leaving this week. Last weekend we picked up another guy from Canada. He'll finish the season out with us, and we'll probably pick up another crew guy when we go back to the East Coast."
Family Vacation: Brian Carlson made his first trip to the West Coast with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, and with his wife/crew chief Sarah and sons Seth and A.J. in-toe, the family made the trek into a mini-vacation. With their trusty tow rig and trailer, the Carlson's traversed across the Pacific Northwest and found their way down the coast of California to enjoy the sights.
"We saw some neat places," said Carlson. "Especially coming from Minot (North Dakota) to Skagit (Wash.) Speedway. Many of the teams take the interstate and the easy way across, if there is such a thing. We went over the mountains with the rig. We got to see the Grand Coulee Dam and the St. Joseph Dam. We saw a lot of mountain passes and went on a lot of roads that people normally don't get to on in a rig. We got to see some neat little towns. Leavenworth, Washington was a nice little Alpine like village with some big ski lodges."
Carlson surprised himself with how well he was able to maneuver the truck and trailer on some very steep, narrow, and winding roads. While he is use to wheeling a sprint car around the track at full speed, he gained a new appreciation for driving the hauler leisurely in the mountains.
"It works on your nerves when you are going down the hills a little bit," he said. "It was worth it. The kids got to see some great countryside. We stopped at Glacier National Forest on the way out. That is something I would like to come back in a car to see. We're probably atypical in getting to the next race track and working on the race car right away. We don't live from motel to motel. We spend a lot of time with the kids in the rig. We got to visit some places we normally would not get to see. We went to San Francisco and down to the bay, and San Quinton, and things around Napa."
Working It In: It's common for a driver to show up late for the drivers meeting. Oftentimes they get caught up signing autographs for fans, or catching a few winks of sleep before the racing program begins. Craig Dollansky lost track of time and missed the drivers meeting on the first night of the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway for another reason. He was getting a massage to help treat his back, which he has had trouble with for a number of years.
"My wife Julie and I enjoy going to Napa," said Dollansky. "They have some great spas there. That's where I go to get some work done on my back when I am there. I decided to get that done, prior to the first night of racing at Calistoga. We ended up running a little behind, and I really didn't realize it. I didn't know we would be starting as early as we did. I got a phone call and was told I had about three minutes to get to the race track to pack it or I would not be able to qualify. Needless to say, it was a real quick trip with Julie and I in the rental car getting to the race track and getting ready. Then I come to find out that my car is already on the track packing it with Rob (Hart) in it. It all worked out, but it was quite an interesting day."
Wild for the West Coast: Jac Haudenschild lived up to his nickname of "The Wild Child" during the Gold Rush Tour, as he finished 11th or better in every single race. He racked up three runner-up finishes including a brilliant run from the B-Main at Southern Oregon Speedway. He wrapped up the Tour with an exciting finish of second at the Gold Cup Race of Champions, using every inch of race track as he chased Daryn Pittman. Haudenschild and his team also took some time while on the West Coast to relax and kick back and enjoy their surroundings.
"We went and ran around a little bit," Haudenschild said. "We went to a couple places. We went to Lake Coeur d'Alene and did a little sight seeing. We've been having a little bit of fun on the days when we did not have to work on the car. We try and do a little something. It's been going pretty good. For the crew and the car owner and us, it has been working out pretty well for us."
Help From a Pro: Justin Henderson was looking for some added help for his crew as the season winds down. Geoff Dodge, who ran five Indy Pro Series events this year with two top-10 finishes including a 9th place run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was looking for something to keep him busy and involved in racing, as he evaluated his options for the 2007 season. Enter the fact that the two know each other pretty well and Henderson now has another set of helping hands to turn wrenches as he continues his rookie season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series.
"It's tough enough having one driver on the crew let alone two," said Henderson. "We get along pretty well since we know where each other is coming from. He kind of thinks like I do. Like I said there is only room for one driver on the team."
Dialing It In II: Having joined John Gibson last year for some of the Dirt Radio Network broadcasts and DirtVision Cybercasts to provide expert analysis, as well as pounding the clay as a pit reporter at the Knoxville Nationals for The American Dirt Network, Dion Hindi has an open invitation to make his way up to the press box whenever he wants. With the split qualifying that was in place for the Gold Cup, the native of Albuquerque was able to don the headphones and pick up the microphone to share his insight before taking to the track on Friday night.
"It's not old hat," said Hindi. "He does it 100 times a year, and I do it twice. Every time I learn a little bit more. It's still his ballgame. Sometimes I am not sure when to interject something or just wait for him to ask me questions. By watching him, I have learned a lot about how he does things up there. Every time a driver watches a race they think the other drivers are doing something wrong. It's really easy to identify what they are doing wrong, like an "Armchair Quarterback" when you are sitting in the stands. When you are in the seat, it is a different perspective."
Family Time: Randy Hannagan does not get to come back to his native state of California very often with the intense schedule the World of Outlaws Sprint Series runs. The native of San Jose was able to make it home for a few days prior to the Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway as well as after the event as he prepared for the Gold Cup Race of Champions. Having spent some time earlier this season in California to be with his mother while she was battling healthy issues, he made the most of getting to spend some time with her and the rest of his family.
"It always feels really good to be home," said Hannagan. "You get to reminisce and see some of your friends. It's a shame it's coming to an end. It's such a short time out here. We had a week in California, but I'll take any time that I can get. Maybe at the end of the season I can come back and visit them again."
In the Swing of Things: Anytime that Chad Kemenah can take to the links and get in a round of golf, it helps him relax. Though it is often tough for him to find the time to pick up the clubs during the racing season, traveling to the West Coast provided him that opportunity in between traveling to races and working on the car.
"We've actually golfed about three or four times since we have been out here," said Kemenah. "The other day we went out there for the racer's golf outing that the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame put on. It was a pretty good time. I don't think we are good enough to put a wager on golf. We just have a blast. It's good to get out there every now and then and get away from everything, and just smack a golf ball around and just go chase it."
Open Tryouts: Always with one eye on the future, Jason Martin used the final weekend of the Gold Rush Tour to look at a possible crew member for next season. Martin was a little short-handed for the end of the West Coast Swing and in addition to adding some local talent, he flew his parents in to help turn the wrenches on the car as well.
"We're already looking at things for next year," said Martin. "We're looking for some good crew help and we want to see how everyone will associate with each other and get along with each other. That's the big thing out here, how everyone gets along. We just wanted to try it out now and have all winter to get to feel each other out and hopefully be good for next year."
Two-Timer: Not only is Terry McCarl always thinking about how to make his race car faster on the track, but he is always putting on his promoter's hat and pondering how to spread the word about sprint car racing to more people. He had the perfect opportunity this past week before taking to the track in the Gold Cup Race of Champions. While some of the teams were relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of the West Coast, McCarl was racking up some frequent flier miles heading back to Knoxville Raceway, where he has won six track championships, and where the World of Outlaws Sprint Series will race two times in 2007.
"Vermeer Corporation hired us to fly back Tuesday," said McCarl. "They had a big gathering on Wednesday night at Knoxville Raceway for their customers. There were people from all over the world there. We did two-seater rides all night. It was a lot of fun. It is always good to promote the sport of sprint car racing. Bob Vermeer the owner of the corporation had never even been to Knoxville before, and he only lives about 20 miles away. We made some money and promoted the sport of sprint car racing so that was a good time. We flew back on Thursday and got ready for Friday."
Muffled by the Locals: A brief stroll through the pit area on Friday afternoon left many people scratching their heads wondering what Daryn Pittman was up to. He had pieces of cardboard laying all over the ground and was meticulously placing them under the hood of his car. After picking up the $50,000 win in the Gold Cup Race of Champions other drivers may follow suit next season when the series returns to California.
"I don't have a clue if it was doing anything," said Pittman. "We were given some tips by the local drivers that race here and deal with the noise problem in California every week. They said if you cardboard up the inside of their hoods then it absorbs some of the engine noise, not necessarily the exhaust. They say it saves two to three decibels. I have been disqualified here like a couple of guys were this week, two years ago for being too loud. It just absolutely ruins your week. With $50,000 on the line we definitely felt like we were going to be one of the cars to beat and just didn't want to take any chances. I don't know if it helped or not, but we did everything we could to stay under the limit for the noise problem."
Reeling It In: Joey Saldana and his Kasey Kahne Racing crew led by Willie Kahne, and assisted by Kevin Cardoza and Justin Adams, are all business at the track, but during the Gold Rush Tour, they got to take a day off to enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Knowing the terrain, Willie Kahne planned a fishing excursion for the crew and their driver to help them relax and clear their minds.
"It was the first time I had ever been on the ocean and fishing like that," said Saldana. "It was fun. It was definitely worth the $100 you have to spend to go fishing. They guarantee you a catch and it was a good day. We caught about 8-10 salmon. It was a pretty good swing because I never got to do anything like that before. Racing with Willie Kahne being from Enumclaw, Washington, he had an idea of where we needed to go to go fishing. All that was taken care of before we got out here and it was neat knowing we had something to do. Normally we just hang out every day and work on the car and don't do much in terms of entertainment. It was neat to get out there and do something for a day."
Safety First: Donny Schatz, the World of Outlaws championship points leader, the reigning Knoxville Nationals champion, and winner of the 2004 Gold Cup, escaped from a terrifying incident during his heat race on Thursday in the opening night of competition at the Gold Cup Race of Champions. Schatz's car was quickly engulfed in flames after contact punctured his fuel cell as he came out of Turn 2. The car came to rest on the backstretch in a blaze as Schatz twisted himself out and began to roll on the track. Drivers Brent Kaeding, Randy Hannagan, Brooke Tatnell, and Paul McMahan leapt over the pit wall as the safety crews raced onto the scene to douse Schatz and put out the fire.
Although he walked away, Schatz was transported to a local hospital for observation. After being treated for first degree burns to the back of his neck, he returned to the track before the end of the night. He was back in action on Saturday night for the finale of the Gold Cup. He won the D-Main and came up one spot short in the C-Main from transferring to the B-Main. He opted to use a provisional starting spot and charged from the 25th started spot to finish an impressive 8th on the always grueling quarter-mile at Silver Dollar Speedway, as he chases his first World of Outlaws title.
"I just want to thank Brent, Randy, Brooke and Paul, as well as the safety workers, for helping me out of the fire," Schatz said.
A Honeymoon At Last: Brooke and Amy Tatnell were married on July 30. Since then it has been business as usual for the always affable driver as battles night in and night out with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. The recent Gold Rush Tour provided the couple a chance to finally get away from the hustle-bustle of daily life on the road and enjoy some scenery in the Pacific Northwest and the Wine Country of Northern California and have some time alone. This came on the heels, of a very emotional win for Tatnell and his Rush Racing team at Skagit Speedway that netted them $25,000 in the backyard of
Tim Hanson and Bob Campbell, who own the team.
"Since the day we got married, we have had people with us 24/7," said Tatnell. "The family has departed so it is just us on the road. The car owner gave us a great weekend in Seattle. We got to have some time alone and enjoy some beautiful scenery. We also got to see the Napa Valley and we head to Lake Chester this week. It's been the biggest vacation I've had for a year."