This Saturday night, the top sprint car drivers on the west coast will converge on Perris Auto Speedway for the Annual Jeff Bagley Classic featuring the Valvoline USAC/CRA Sprint Cars presented by Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply and Vista Paint.
After a week off from the busy USAC/CRA inaugural season schedule, Saturday’s race will rekindle the yearlong war for the championship. The chief combatants are current point leader Rip Williams of Yorba Linda, California, Mike Kirby of Torrance, California and Northern California’s (Concord) Damion Gardner.
Williams, who has led the hunt most of the campaign, holds a 71-point advantage over 1993 CRA Champion Kirby heading into Saturday’s race. However, Kirby is the hottest driver on the circuit having won three of the last four races.
Gardner, who had closed to within 11 points of Williams in early August, trails Kirby by eight points and Williams by 79 going into Saturday. Gardner, who goes by the nickname “The Demon,” did win the main event the last time the series was at The PAS on September 18th.
In addition to the top three in the standings, a bevy of stars will be on hand for Saturday’s show. Australia’s Peter Murphy, who is looking for his first USAC/CRA win, led the first 28 laps before being passed by Gardner just before the white flag on September 18th. The “Aussie” will be back behind the wheel of Harlan Willis’ famous #45 sprint car on Saturday to try again. Cory Kruseman will be returning from the Midwest to drive for Mark Alexander. Competing on a limited basis on the west coast this year, Kruseman has steered Alexander’s silver #4 to three wins and is 12th in points.
Other top stars expected for Saturday’s action include Ojai’s Troy Rutherford, Visalia’s Greg Bragg, new daddy Tony Jones (son Grady Neil Jones was born on September 24th) of Orange, Mike Spencer of Temecula and Corona’s Steve Ostling.
In addition to the regular purse, Saturday’s event will feature more than $6,000.00 added for the Jeff Bagley Classic. More details to follow in a separate release.
The race honors 1988 CRA Rookie of the Year Jeff Bagley who lost his life in a crash at Ascot Park on May 20, 1989. Bagley, who started attending races at Ascot when he was six years old, was 29 when the crash occurred. Prior to racing sprint cars, Bagley raced Odysseys and Three-Quarter Midgets. In addition to his prowess in competition, Bagley was a well-known open wheel-racing photographer.
Thomas Schmeh, the Executive Director of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa, will be flying out to participate in Saturday’s program. From 1989 through 1998 the Hall of Fame presented the Jeff Bagley Memorial Award to individuals who carried on Jeff’s “Racer Spirit.”
In addition to the Jeff Bagley Classic for the Valvoline USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, the California Lightning Sprint Cars will bring their tremendous battle for the championship to The PAS. El Cajon’s Ernie Bartley, III leads 10-time California State Quarter-Midget Champion Donny Gansen, of Rialto, by a mere 4-points.
Spectator gates will open at 5:00 PM Saturday and the first race will begin at 7:00. All kids 14 and under will receive a free 18 X 24” poster featuring Rip Williams and Damion Gardner.
Perris Auto Speedway is conveniently located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds, home of the Southern California Fair, approximately one hour east of Los Angeles. Take the 215 Freeway, exit at the Ramona Expressway and go east two and a half miles to the fairgrounds.
For more information on this or any other event at Perris Auto Speedway events, please call (909) 940-0134.
VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR POINT STANDINGS
1. Rip Williams – Yorba Linda, CA – 1,306
2. Mike Kirby – Torrance, CA – 1,235
3. Damion Gardner - Concord, CA – 1,227
4. Troy Rutherford – Ojai, CA – 933
5. Greg Bragg – Visalia, CA – 744
6. Tony Jones – Corona, CA - 726
7. Steve Ostling – Corona, CA – 706
8. Bobby Cody – Costa Mesa, CA - 692
9. Mike Spencer – Temecula, CA – 664
10. Brian Venard – Irvine, CA – 633
11. Jordan Hermansador – Long Beach, CA – 591
12. Cory Kruseman – Ventura, CA – 550
13. Ronnie Case – Camarillo, CA – 528
14. Jeremy Sherman – Phoenix, AZ – 487
15. Rick Ziehl – Las Cruces, NM – 481
16. Adam Mitchell – Escondido, CA – 401
17. Rickie Gaunt – Torrance, CA – 385
18. David Cardey – Riverside, CA – 356
19. Charles Davis, Jr. – Buckeye, AZ – 332
20. Peter Murphy – Sydney, Australia - 331